The placebo effect is the nemesis of the pharmaceutical industry because, simply put, their drugs are often no more effective than a fake pill labeled as a “magic substance”. This is truly remarkable, because it means that a patient’s condition can greatly improve with positive thinking. It is the patient’s expectation that turns distilled water, salt or sugar into a “magic cure”.
The scientific study of the placebo effect was pioneered in 1955 by the anesthesiologist Henry K. Beecher (1904-1976). Beecher analyzed 26 studies and concluded that an average of 32% of patients responded to placebo
Placebo accounts for more than 50% of the drug effect
A recent study conducted the Department of Neurology of Harvard Medical School, proved once again, not only that the placebo effect is powerful and real, but that it increased substantially based on increased patient expectation. The scientists followed 60 migraineurs and randomly gave them 10mg of rizatriptan (brand name: maxalt) or a fake pill for each of their migraine attacks. The scientists played around with the labeling to find out which positive responses could be attributed to the drug itself and which responses were caused by the patient’s belief.
Relative to no treatment, the placebo, under each information condition, accounted for more than 50% of the drug effect. Increasing “positive” information incrementally boosted the efficacy of both placebo and medication during migraine attacks. The benefits of placebo persisted even if placebo was honestly described. Whether treatment involves medication or placebo, the information provided to patients and the ritual of pill taking are important components of care.
I agree wholeheartedly with the study’s authors that “information provided to patients” is an important component of care, but I disagree that “the ritual of pill taking” is a necessary one. More often than not, it is the patient’s positive thinking that initiates the healing. Both healing and positive thinking were around prior to the invention of pills, so I cannot concede that the pill is required for healing in all cases. While some drugs are life-saving under the right (rare) circumstances, it seems to me that it would be wise for doctors to exploit the placebo effect to its fullest potential prior to even attempting a (real) drug that has harmful side effects.
Real drugs have real side effects
The main difference between taking a real drug as compared to a fake drug is with regard to the harmful unwanted side effects. One of the most common side effects of triptans (the most commonly-prescribed drugs for migraines) is that they actually cause migraines to increase in frequency and severity. In fact, the term M.O.H. (Medication Overuse Headaches) was coined to deal with this issue. Using a fake pill, or even a glass of water with some (non-existent) magic powder dissolved in it as a placebo, can never produce the terrible condition called M.O.H.
The best natural cure
The best natural cures for nearly any medical condition will involve positive thinking as part of a healthy lifestyle. For information on healing migraines without any pills (real or fake), please see my articles: The Lotus Lifestyle and Help for Migraines and Headaches. Hint: you need only natural things like sunshine, clean food, and the right kind of exercise for getting and staying wiggly.
This recipe takes less than five minutes to make, and it’s nutritious and delicious:
lots of love
three roma tomatoes
one small beet
one medium carrot
three juicy lemons or limes
fresh basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary
one clove of garlic
optional: a cayenne pepper
Wash and chop everything. Juice the limes. Toss all ingredients into a high power blender and blend for 90 seconds for warm delicious soup. You can draw a heart in the soup before serving it if you desire.
I wholeheartedly agree with the great majority of this book. I recommend buying it or borrowing it from your local library, as it is filled with valuable information, studies and anecdotes from real people that have achieved extraordinary results by eating a diet of mostly fruit. I consider it to be among the best health books on the market.
Here are just a few selected quotes:
Will eating raw make me healthy?
A proper raw diet will result in improved health, but I must emphasize that the body, not food, creates health. Food does not build; the body builds. Food does not cleanse; the body cleanses. Good health, after all, is the result of a healthy lifestyle.
The raw diet is but one component of healthful living. Adequate rest and sleep, regular, vigorous physical activity, plenty of fresh air, sunlight, a positive outlook on life, and many other factors are also essential to creating good health. (Page 239.)
“We propose that there is only one illness: toxemia, this is a condition of unclean blood and tissues, caused primarily by unchecked diet and lifestyle. Unchecked, toxemia and its attendant enervation (nervous exhaustion) get progressively worse over the years, leading to all manner of symptoms.” (Page 257.)
On Weight Loss
Dr. Graham tackles the popular issue of weight loss. When people switch to a diet that is exclusively raw, “the first dramatic change that people frequently notice is a rapid and dramatic loss of weight”. Since most Westerners are indeed overweight to begin with, most people are delighted with the change. Other folks see themselves getting too thin, and sometimes even mistakenly believe they are losing muscle.
“what actually happens…is that we lose so much of the padding (fat) around our muscles and also the fat marbled within our muscles. In addition, on a raw diet, we begin to lose the water that we once retained to dilute toxins. This water also added to the appearance of inflated muscles. Many people mistake this excess fat and water as part of their muscle.”
“No diet exists that results in muscle loss or muscle gain. If there were a diet that resulted in muscle gain, bodybuilders would be found in the kitchen instead of the gym. .. In spite of what we have all been told, consuming protein (or any other nutrient) will not assist the muscle-building process.” (page 148)
On page 156, Dr. Graham states that digestive, absorptive, or assimilative problems could contribute to unwanted weight loss in new raw fooders, yet he believes these to be the exception rather than the rule, and that these problems will quickly correct themselves when the person switches away from high-fat, cooked, processed and toxic foods unsuitable to our physiological design are moved from the diet. I can not argue with Graham’s extensive clinical experience, but I believe that digestive, absorptive, and assimilative problems are extremely common (although widely under-diagnosed) due to the cooking of food and the consumption of animal products.
If Dr. Graham mentions fasting in this book, then I missed it. It is understandable that Dr. Graham would not discuss fasting in a book on the opposite of fasting, eating. One of the main outcomes of a water fast is the elimination of intestinal plaque, which blocks the proper absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Here is a video of Dr. Graham speaking on fasting to recover health:
(Dr. Graham discusses the benefits of fasting after 13 minutes.)
Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram is always a fountain of inspiration and encouragement for living a healthy lifestyle that features raw fruits and veggies. In this heartwarming video, Kristina shares her tips on becoming more conscious of everything that surrounds the your mealtime. She reminds us that the things we put into our body will be used to produce an entirely new body (in which nearly every cell is re-built) twice yearly!
Kristina’s first tip for conscious eating is consistent with my #1 for life in general: do it with love. Kristina says “Love your food so that it loves you back.”
Her second tip “meditate while eating” corresponds with my advice to meditate always, since meditation is really a synonym for observation. By observing every color, taste, texture and every other aspect of each bite more profoundly, we can enjoy our food more and reap more health benefits as compared to eating the same food with an agitated, superficial mind.
Finally, she advises us to become a conscious consumer. Kristina and I are in total agreement here, that we vote with our money… so we ought to invest wisely to support our health and a sustainable planet.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine(1), headache symptoms, including migraines, were up 193 percent between 2009 and 2011. The study, conducted by Benjamin M. Althouse and others, compared the number of Google searches done pre- and post-recession and found an increase of 1.52 million queries for headache-related terms at the end of the recession, compared with the beginning. The number of queries had declined steadily in the three years prior to the recession (2006-2009).
Using Google searches to estimate the total number of headache and migraine sufferers is not an ideal method, as there is no guarantee that every headache and migraine sufferer will check with Google. But headaches and migraines are conditions that are both under-diagnosed by doctors, as many patients self-medicate with over-the-counter medications or simply wait for the symptoms to pass. Patients may neglect to mention these symptoms during a later visit to the doctor when the patient is feeling better. Considering this, the Google trend does seem to give a valuable insight into the overall trend. Plus, Google search results are much more readily available and less expensive to analyse than the old methods of conducting surveys and counting visits to hospitals and clinics.
As you can see from the graphs below, the trend for both headache symptoms including migraine (bottom graph) and ulcer symptoms (top graph) shows a clear and dramatic increase during the years hardest hit by the recession.
Althouse and his colleagues looked at the searches related to 383 medical conditions. The report, which was blocked from publication until just this month, gives greater details on the 100 conditions that increased most substantially during the recession. Ulcers and headaches were the two conditions with the greatest increase, 228% and 193% respectively.
How is (Economic) Stress Related to Headaches and Migraines
Money certainly doesn’t buy happiness or health. Some folks live in abject poverty and manage to sidestep ulcers and headaches, while many of the world’s wealthiest indeed suffer both of these conditions regularly.
But for some people, economic stress seems to put them on a downward spiral that starts with negative emotions, followed by declining lifestyle habits (especially diet and exercise). Dr. John W. Ayers, a research professor at San Diego State University, said “by the end of the great recession in 2011, queries were still substantially higher than before the recession… People were not getting better with the economy. People were potentially much sicker.” (2) If lack of money could directly cause ulcers, headaches and migraines, then these conditions should have improved notably at the end of the great recession. This study clearly shows that economic stress is but one contributor to these and many other conditions.
Health problems most often result from an accumulation of stress and toxins. If you have lived in a toxic environment, or have eaten a toxic diet for a number of years, then you can expect that you have accumulated toxins in your body. Moving to a less toxic area and choosing less toxic food will certainly help you avoid worsening the accumulation, but this will not necessarily mean that the prior accumulation will disappear.
Similarly, stressful situations such as an economic recession may elicit an unhealthy physical/mental response in some people, leading to accumulated physical/mental tension. When the stressful situation passes, this does not automatically mean that the accumulated tension will dissipate. Unless one takes a specific action to eliminate the accumulated toxins and physical/mental tension, then the symptoms are likely to persist beyond the removal of the external causal factor.
How to Stay Healthy and Avoid Headaches and Migraines, Even During Stressful Times
My wellness-generating Lotus Lifestyle contains all of the essential lifestyle elements for getting and staying healthy. The 9-point system includes a proper diet, the right kind of exercise, and seven other key points. Following my system costs nothing, and will give you the best chance at eliminating and avoiding stress-and-lifestyle-related symptoms.
It is certainly wise to avoid whichever toxins and stressful situations that we reasonably can. But we must recognise that some toxins and some stressful situations are impossible to avoid, therefore we must adopt a healthy attitude and select a healthful response to such situations.
Whenever there is an uncomfortable situation, such as getting robbed, yelled at, accused, attacked, or when dealing with economic problems such as filing taxes, paying bills or getting fired, it is easy to become so absorbed in emotion that one fails to observe the physical consequence: often a tightening of certain muscles and of the myofascial tissues. Over time, our bodies adjust (unhealthily) to the repetitive stress. This results in a cumulative loss of “wiggliness”, which upsets the normal energy flow that is required to keep all of our systems functioning healthfully.
The healthy response to stressful situations is to continue observing one’s inner (physical/mental) state while also taking care of the external situation. If one is forced to react to the external situation immediately, as in the life-threatening situation of being attacked, then look inside as soon as the danger passes. When we look “inside” we can often notice that our heart rate has increased, our breath has become more shallow and some muscles have become tighter. We should remind ourselves to breathe deeply and slowly, and this will directly cause a normalisation of the heart rate and will leave us feeling much better overall. The tightening of the muscles must also be released, since tight muscles leads to a lack of wiggliness. And when we lose our wiggliness, conditions like headaches and anxiety “suddenly” appear.
If the anxious person fails to take the appropriate steps of breathing deeply and getting wiggly, he may instead seek instant gratification with a mad dash to the fridge or an urgent stop at a fast food restaurant for some . The anxious person is not thinking about long term health, which would involve selecting proper foods and lovingly preparing them without adding harmful chemicals. The anxious person is looking to stuff his face and his belly right this moment to divert his attention from the anxiety itself or from the stressful situation he is facing.
Sadly, it seems the world fully caters to the anxious customer… 24-hour drive-throughs and supermarkets provide so many choices, almost none of which are free of toxins, and almost all of which cause acidity. Stomach acidity directly causes ulcers and indirectly leads to a host of other physical and mental symptoms including anxiety and headaches.
Eating healthy food is the best way to avoid ingesting harmful chemicals. But even if you select the very healthiest option, an organic raw vegan diet (recipes here), that doesn’t mean that you will never take in any toxin. There are plenty of toxins that will find their way into your body without your having eaten them, such as from the air that we breathe. So we still need to consider a regular detox regimen such as the daily use of a sauna, or perhaps a yearly (supervised) water fast.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Benjamin M. Althouse et al. 2014. View report.
New York Times. January 8, 2014. Hard Times and Headaches. Nicholas Bakalar.
FullyRaw Kristina shares this extremely helpful recipe for those coffee lovers that are looking to cut out the caffeine to enjoy a more balanced energy level without the crashes or “lows”. Be aware that serious addicts will likely experience some withdrawal or detox symptoms such as headache and/or lethargy. But you will definitely recover, and you will feel lighter, fresher, and more liberated.
Vitamix or Blendtec blender
1-2 cups of coconut water
5-10 pitted dates
¼ cup carob powder
a few fresh peppermint leaves
a small vanilla bean or a few drops of vanilla extract (without alcohol)
a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
2 tablespoons of raw cacao
fresh almond milk (make your own with the following instructions)
Almond milk creamer:
Run 1 ½ cups of soaked raw almonds through a slow juicer (or blend with a Vitamix and strain with an almond milk bag). Run through juicer with water or if you want it to be sweeter, use coconut water instead.
You may already know how to make delicious vanilla ice cream using only frozen bananas and a few drops of vanilla. But here, Kristina raises the banana with a magnificent arrangement of three ice cream flavors, topped with gooey delicious fruit sauce and fresh cherries.
5-10 ripe bananas, frozen overnight
One perfect banana for your banana split
the water of one young coconut
1 – 1 ½ fresh pitted dates
½ cup of sliced pitted cherries and 3 perfect cherries to put on top
1 cup sliced mango
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
¼ cup Carob powder
¼ diced mango bits and ¼ blended
¼ chopped raspberries and ¼ blended
¼ finely chopped blackberries and ¼ blended
Vitamix or Blendtec blender
Blend the ice cream ingredients together as shown in the video, then blend the topping ingredients and pour over the ice cream. Sprinkle with more toppings!
Instructions: Juice the tomatoes, the red bell pepper, and a few stalks of celery. Strain several times until you are left with a tomato broth as a base. Pour your base into a large soup bowl, and sprinkle in the other chopped ingredients! Your soup is now ready, but if you can resist the temptation to eat it immediately, the soup will become even more flavorful by waiting about an hour for the broth to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.
This can be a fully raw (cold) soup. If you want it warm, you can use the warm soup function of a Blendtec or a Vitamix blender, which warms the soup slowly (due to the friction of the blades). Although this method does not actually cook or boil the soup, it is possible that some of the nutrients could be destroyed during this process.
In this beautiful video, Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram will inspire you to love yourself, reward yourself, forgive yourself. Deep down, we all want to be healthy, but we must be understanding of our human flaws… if ever we give in to the temptation of unhealthy food, self-forgiveness and self-love is a much healthier response than feeling guilty, weak or broken. Here are some of Kristina’s suggestions for getting back to good health as quickly as possible:
Take responsibility: Others may have tempted you but ultimately your own decisions will lead you to either wellness or illness.
Make a list that includes your most profound reasons for wanting to get healthier.
Meditate on these innermost desires to bring back the spark that will ignite you into positive action
Surround yourself with inspiring people and find or create a supportive community
Have fun in the kitchen, making delicious recipes alone or with a loved one
Stay informed through articles, books and documentaries
Use the buddy system for getting healthy together
A supervised fast can clean out your system prior to returning to a healthy raw diet
Move your body for 30 minutes per day or more
Reward yourself with healthy food. Recognise that unhealthy food is more of a punishment than a reward.
Volunteer in your community. Giving feels great.
Be humble, gentle, understanding and patient with yourself
Make a plan for your meals and exercise
Inspire yourself frequently by leaving notes-to-self all over your home
GIVE THE LOVE YOU WANT TO RECEIVE
This is crucial, since it is the love that we give that nourishes us the most. Each of us came to this world to provide a service. When we give the service that we came to give, we are living our dream, and following our mission. When we follow our mission, our body, mind and spirit function as a team. We feel more balanced when we are more balanced.
A tiny plant will push its tiny leaves above ground to absorb some nourishing sunlight. But the plant does not exist to receive. Its mission is to give… perhaps a nourishing food or a potent medicine or a beautiful, colorful, fragrant flower. Find your mission and give that service to the world.
Using a sauna or a steambath is one of the healthiest habits that you could adopt on a daily or weekly basis. You may already associate the sauna and steambath with relaxation and luxury, as most high-end hotels, spas and health clubs include both a sauna and a steam room, yet most American homes do not. But after you consider all of the lesser-known, but equally-important health benefits of saunas and steambaths, you may find yourself visiting these gyms and spas more frequently, or you may decide to install a sauna or a steam bath in your home.
The following are just some of the health benefits that saunas and steambaths provide for the mind and body. Doctors and scientists confirm what the sauna enthusiasts of other countries such as Finland and Russia have known for many centuries:
The sauna or steambath will improve your overall health and sense of well-being
The sauna or steambath will bring more oxygen to your cells
The sauna or steambath will relax your sore and tired muscles
The sauna or steambath will reduce pain such as lower back pain
You will lose weight due to the calories burned in perspiration
Using a sauna or a steambath will reduce the number of colds and flus by half
The sauna or steambath will improve your heart health
Using a sauna or a steambath will provide you more energy throughout the day
Using a sauna or a steambath may relieve conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism
Your skin will look and feel better and younger, with fewer blemishes and a healthy glow
Improved circulation, which in turn solves a plethora of conditions (even erectile dysfunction)
You will feel great; peaceful and relaxed after using a sauna or a steambath
You will sleep better after using a sauna or a steambath
The specific ailments that are frequently relieved with the use of a sauna or a steambath include: anxiety, muscle tension, acne, chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression, back pain, fibromyalgia, circulatory problems, erectile dysfunction, lethargy, poor circulation, lower back pain, and many more.
*Note that saunas and steambaths are not identical but the two provide similar benefits. To avoid repeating the phrase “saunas and steambaths” in every sentence, I shall use the terms interchangeably for the remainder of this article.
Detoxification and purification: The Primary Reasons to use a Sauna or a Steambath
The primary purpose of a sauna or a steambath is to cleanse the body through perspiration. The sauna’s heat causes a slight increase in the body’s core temperature, just enough to activate the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism, perspiration. The pores of the skin to open, allowing perspiration to flush out the impurities in the body. Toxemia
What Happens to Your Body in a Sauna or a Steambath?
When you take a sauna, the heat pumps up blood circulation near the skin and stimulates sweating. The sauna elicits about a quart of sweat per hour. Sweating helps the body rid itself of toxins and other unwanted materials and improves general circulation. In the sauna, the temperature your skin rises. Blood vessels dilate, increasing circulation in the skin and decreasing the resistance to blood flow through your veins and capillaries. This causes your blood pressure to go down briefly. Then your heartbeat increases to normalize your blood pressure.
Pain Relief and Muscle Relaxation
After a heavy workout, lactic acid often accumulates around the muscles that have been strained. It is this lactic acid that causes the pain that may linger for days due to improper circulation to those muscle groups. The steambath relieves this pain by pumping more oxygen-rich blood into the muscles, which dissipates the lactic acid. If you often feel tense muscles or “knots” in your back, you will feel similar relief from the increased circulation obtained in the sauna.
Recent scientific evidence also suggests that the sauna can relieve rheumatism and arthritis.
Increased Circulation: Goodbye Cold Clammy Hands and Feet!
The sauna increases the blood circulation to your entire body. This improves nearly every function of the body and mind, but tends to show the most dramatic effect in the extremities, which are the areas most deprived of oxygen when you have poor circulation. The steambath will dilate (open) the blood vessels to allow easier passage. In cold climates, many people know the misery of cold, clammy hands and feet, due to poor circulation. The sauna corrects this problem.
The Sauna: Better than Viagra!!
Erectile dysfunction (or E.D.) is the nemesis of many older men (and their wives!). E.D. can have several causes, including poor circulation, and mental stress. The sauna is one of the best treatments for both of these underlying conditions for erectile dysfunction. Factor in the fact that most people feel sexier when they are clean and healthy, and you will understand why one of my best friends, a 75-year-old man has assured me “Michael… the sauna is much better than Viagra!”. It bears mentioning that Viagra is a toxic substance that comes with a plethora of risks, including heart attack and chemical dependence. The sauna will help heal your whole and all of your parts, without any harmful side effects.
Younger, Healthier Skin
Your skin will look and feel younger, as the sauna flushes your clogged pores, which clears the complexion. Because the sauna brings more blood near the surface, and therefore more oxygen, skin cell renewal is increased. Some sauna users like to scrub away the top layers of dead skin cells, and allow these new cells to show through. The result is a brighter, smoother, and more youthful complexion.
Permanent Weight Loss
Saunas and steambaths are frequently used for weight loss. The weight loss has nothing to do with water loss, and everything to do with the number of calories burned. Sure, you will indeed lose some water weight, but you’ll gain that back immediately. To understand the reason that permanent weight loss occurs, you must consider that sweat does not simply “leak” out of the body… the body must push it out.
Perspiration is your body’s natural system for temperature regulation. When the core temperature rises above 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), the body pushes the excess heat into the water inside your body, then pushes that water through the open pores to expel the excess heat. This process burns around 600 calories per hour, regardless of whether that sweat is from physical exertion, or simply from the sauna’s relaxing heat. So your body is exercising even while you feel relaxed!
Relief from Insomnia
The ‘exercise effect’ described above will leave your body ready for a peaceful rest. After a sauna or a steam session, you will fall asleep quickly and easily (when you are ready, that is). Insomniacs often resort to sleep medications, and sometimes perform strenuous physical activity to the point of collapse. But sauna users have no need for these extreme techniques. It easy to fall asleep naturally after taking a relaxing steambath.
Euphoria, and Mental Peace
Saunas and steambaths induce a feeling of euphoria, which includes mental peace and contentment and physical invigoration. The sauna will sharpen your senses and will heighten your tactile sensitivity.
The Best Anti-Depressant
Saunas and steambaths are known to help people with anxiety and depression. After leaving the sauna or steambath, the mind is in a relaxed, lucid state, free of worries. Also, since the body and mind are one, all of the physical benefits described above are at the same time helping the mind and emotions. As well, it is important to note that the sauna offers these benefits without the troubling side effects of chemical anti-depressants.
The Benefits of Light
Natural sunlight is an important factor in a person’s well-being, as there would be no life without the sun. Sunlight includes ultraviolet light, the visible spectrum (all of the rainbow colors from red to violet) and infrared light.
If you live in a warmer climate, you may already get a healthy daily dose of light. But those living in cold climates are frequently light-deprived, since the cold urges us inside, where the light we see comes from light bulbs, which only reproduce a small portion of the visible spectrum (mostly yellow).
Doctors have recently begun prescribing light therapy for a host of conditions. Blue light is known to kill some bacteria beneath the skin, while red light reduces inflammation. Infrared light penetrates through the skin and is absorbed by the muscles, relieving pain and loosening and expelling toxins through the skin. Even ultraviolet light is prescribed by doctors to treat psoriasis. UV light does carry some risks, in that it kills skin cells and stimulates oil production, which will block your pores and can cause skin blemishes. Despite a prominent fear that UV causes skin cancer, recent studies show that those living farther from the equator (those that receive less sunlight) have dramatically higher cancer rates than those that receive more sunlight.
Infrared light has no known risks. In fact, it is the safest form of heat, so safe that doctors use infrared light to heat newborn babies born prematurely.
A little common sense goes a long way. Be sure to replace the water you’re losing. Do not drink alcohol, which is a poison and a depressant that slows the blood and dulls your nerves, counteracting the benefits of the sauna. Ask your doctor for advice if you have a medical condition that causes you to worry whether you are fit to be in a sauna. Saunas and steambaths are supposed to be enjoyable. If you feel ill in the sauna, leave the sauna. Otherwise, enjoy, and be well!