Preventing and treating influenza

It is currently flu season and I know several people who have been recently or are currently ill with the flu. So it is high time for me to address both preventing and treating influenza here.

I will start by defining influenza. Influenza is a viral illness that can be quite severe. The term “flu” is used casually and people talk about things like stomach flu, but stomach flu is not influenza. The best description I ever heard of influenza was one that I heard in medical school, which is that when you have influenza you feel like you have been hit by a truck. It tends to come on quite suddenly, and people usually get a high fever, are exhausted and achey all over and unable to function, along with a sore throat and cough.  It generally lasts about a week. While influenza can rarely be fatal, those who die generally die from secondary infections, especially bacterial pneumonia. There are 3 main types of influenza, Types A, B and C, though most of the seasonal flu epidemics are Type A. There are many subtypes or strains of the flu and it these strains are constantly changing.

Public health authorities and most doctors recommend the flu vaccine as a main strategy for preventing the flu, but, unfortunately, a large amount of mainstream research shows that not only is the influenza vaccine largely ineffective, but that it may do more harm than good. There are many excellent articles reviewing the science on this, so rather than repeating the information in these articles I am linking them.
If you were to just read one I recommend this excellent summary of the science by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:

Here is an article from a very mainstream source on the lack of effectiveness of influenza vaccine:

Given the lack of sound evidence to support the effectiveness of flu shots it is very disturbing that public health authorities put so much effort into promoting flu vaccines. What especially concerns me is that the CDC is very adamant in recommending everyone get  the flu vaccine when the best available science does not support this, and this is obvious to anyone who investigates the matter. So by doing this, the CDC destroys its credibility and in light of this it is reasonable to then question all of their other recommendations regarding vaccinations!
This is an excellent essay by Peter Doshi from the British Medical Journal, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Public Health at Harvard at the time he wrote it, questioning the rationale for these irrational policies:

One of the problems with vaccines is that there tends to be a paucity of controlled studies on their effectiveness. A rare placebo-controlled study on flu vaccine was done  in 2008-9, with 115 subjects age 6-15 receiving flu vaccine or a saline placebo shot. They were then followed for 9 months. There was no significant difference in the incidence of influenza between the 2 groups, but those who got the flu shot had 4.4 times the incidence of non-influenza respiratory infections (colds, sinus infections, bronchitis) than those who got the placebo vaccine!


There is also evidence that, while getting the flu shot slightly decreases one’s chance of getting the strains of flu included in the vaccine, it appears to actually increase one’s chances of getting strains not covered by the vaccine:

It is especially disturbing that the CDC (and thus most doctors) strongly recommend giving flu vaccine to pregnant women, when there have not only been no safety studies but good reason to believe this practice is killing many babies in utero!

So, given that the flu shot appears to do more harm than good, how can one reduce their risk of getting influenza?  A lot of it comes down to common sense: a healthy diet (esp. avoiding large amounts of sugar, which lowers immune function), a quality multivitamin, adequate sleep and stress reduction (exercise, meditation etc.) can go a long way to reducing risk of getting the flu. Adequate Vitamin D is also very important; it is thought that cold and flu season occurs in fall and winter because that is when many people are deficient in Vitamin D that time of year.
We get Vitamin D mostly from the sun but in fall and winter months in most of the US  it is impossible for us to get any Vitamin D from the sun because it is not high enough in the sky. Most adults need to take 5000-8000 iu of D3 per day in fall and winter to achieve optimal levels of 50-80. See

Immune-boosting herbs can also help prevent influenza. My favorite is Andrographis. a herb widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. One controlled study showed that those taking Andrographis 200 mg 5 tines a week had half the number of viral upper respiratory infections than controls. But there are also many other excellent immune-boosting tonic herbs, including Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) and medicinal mushrooms including Reishi, Turkey Tail, Shiitake and Cordyceps.

N-acetyl cysteine, an amino acid (often labeled NAC) has been shown boost immune function to reduce influenza-like illnesses when taken preventively at a dose of 600 mg 2x/day.

But what if you have gotten the flu?
While the flu can come on quickly, aggressive measures at the first sign you are getting ill may help head it off. One useful thing to try is Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy. A mainstream review of research on Oscillococcinum by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that there is sound evidence that Oscillococcinum does reduce the length of influenza. Like all medicines (and even more so for homeopathic medicines) it will not help everyone, but some people experience magical recoveries. But since it may work best if taken as soon as one gets symptoms, I recommend everyone get some to keep in your medicine cabinet. It will stay good for many years.

Another good strategy, which also helps most at onset, is high doses of Vitamin C. When someone is healthy they will usually only absorb 5-10,000 mg of Vitamin C. After they have absorbed all they need the unabsorbed C will stay in the intestines and act as a laxative. But the sicker one is the more C one needs so it is not unusual for someone with influenza to absorb 100 grams or more. It is thus recommended to take about 3000 mg every 20 minutes at the onset of illness until they get loose stools (which is known as bowel tolerance). Obviously it is wise to use Vitamin C in powder form when doing this; most Vit. C powders have 2-3000 mg per tsp. Once you determine how much you need it is advised to take that amount in about 6 divided doses per day. While  doing this at onset may help head off the flu, it is likely to help at any stage, but, again, it is useful to have Vitamin C powder on hand at home so you will have it when you need it. Another good option in liposomal vitamin C, the best-absorbed oral form, discussed in the first link below:

A related approach requires the help of an integrative physician like me, who can administer Vitamin C as an IV drip. 50 grams is usually very effective. It takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours to do this.

Extra Vitamin D is also helpful, esp. if you have not been supplementing. Taking 50,000 units of D3 a day for a week is reasonable. While one can get toxic from excessive Vit. D, for toxicity to occur one must take at least 40,000 iu/day for months to reach toxic levels.

Herbs can be very helpful as well. The best-proven is an elderberry extract known as Sambucol, widely available at health food stores. I recommend Organic Sambucol by Nature’s Way. See

The aforementioned Andrographis is useful  only for prevention but treatment. I advise 400 mg 2 to 3x/day (I like Paradise Herbs brand) or 2 droppersful of tincture from HerbPharm 2-3x/day (it is bitter so add to a little juice).

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) can be another beneficial herb for influenza and can be taken as a tea or tincture:

Astragalus is a herbal tonic with a long history of use in Chinese medicine. 2 droppersful of the tincture 3-4 times a day is a decent dose:

Essential oils can also be very helpful, especially oregano oil, which is a powerful anti-viral. It can be taken as capsules or by adding the oil to water and drinking. For detailed instructions on how to use it see

The above article also mentions N-acetlyl cysteine (NAC) 600 mg 2x/day as reducing severity and duration of flu-like illnesses according to a 1997 study. At the very least NAC is a great expectorant, supports our liver and enhances our body’s ability to produce glutathione, an endogenous anti-oxidant and immune-booster.

Colloidal silver is another natural remedy that has anti-viral activity, though I prefer silver hydrosols, which appear to be even safer and more effective.
I recommend 2 brands- Sovereign Silver or Argentyn 23 from Natural Immunogenics (Sovereign Silver is widely available at health food stores) and Silvercillin from Designs For Health. A good dose is 2 tsp every 3-4 hours, best on an empty stomach, though if you have a cough it can also be administered via nebulizer: add 1-2 tsp into the chamber and breathe in the nebulized solution every 3-4 hours.

A favorite treatment that can be very powerful for influenza is individualized homeopathy.
Homeopathy is known  to be very helpful for influenza, in fact the validated information on homeopathy’s success in the 1918 flu pandemic is still among the best evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy.

It is documented that in the 1918 pandemic up to 30% of patients seeking conventional care died. However, almost all of the deaths werenot directly from influenza but from secondary pneumonia. This was before the discovery of antibiotics, and undoubtedly western medicine today is much better able to successfully treat pneumonia.However, during the 1918 pandemic it documented that those treated with
homeopathy had dramatically better outcomes.

The following is an extract from an article entitled “Homeopathy In
Influenza- A Chorus Of Fifty In Harmony” by W. A. Dewey, MD that appeared
in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1920 (thanks to
Julian Winston and David Warkentin for this).

“Dean W. A. Pearson of Philadelphia collected 26,795 cases of influenza
treated by homeopathic physicians with a mortality of 1.05%, while the
average old school mortality is 30%.

Thirty physicians in Connecticut responded to my request for data. They
reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%. In the
transport service I had 81 cases on the way over. All recovered and were
landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One ship lost 31 on the
way. H. A. Roberts, MD, Derby, Connecticut.

In a plant of 8,000 workers we had only one death. The patients were not
drugged to death. Gelsemium was practically the only remedy used. We used
no aspirin and no vaccines. -Frank Wieland, MD, Chicago.

I did not lose a single case of influenza; my death rate in the pneumonias
was 2.1%. The salycilates, including aspirin and quinine, were almost the
sole standbys of the old school and it was a common thing to hear them
speaking of losing 60% of their pneumonias.-Dudley A. Williams, MD,
Providence, Rhode Island.

Fifteen hundred cases were reported at the Homeopathic Medical Society of
the District of Columbia with but fifteen deaths. Recoveries in the
National Homeopathic Hospital were 100%.-E. F. Sappington, M. D.,

I have treated 1,000 cases of influenza. I have the records to show my
work. I have no losses. Please give all credit to homeopathy and none to
the Scotch-Irish-American! -T. A. McCann, MD, Dayton, Ohio.

We treated over 300 cases of influenza among the members of the Student
army Training Corps with no deaths.Gelsemium, Bryonia and Ferrum
phosporicum were the leading remedies. Only in those cases having had
aspirin was convalescence delayed and pneumonia produced.
C.B.Stouffer, M.D
Ann Arbor

One physician in a Pittsburgh hospital asked a nurse if she knew any
better than what he was doing, because he was losing so many cases. “Yes,
Doctor, stop Aspirin and go down to a homeopathic pharmacy, and get
homeopathic remedies.” The Doctor replied; “But that is homeopathy.” “I
know it, but the homeopathic doctors for whom I have nursed have not lost
a single case.”
W.F.Edmundson, M.D

Three hundred and fifty cases were treated and I only lost one.
Cora Smith King, M.D
Washington D.C

Eleven men reported 3,600 cases with 6 deaths. My records show 750 cases
with one death.Gelsemium, Bryonia and Eupatorium were the remedies
F.A.Swartwout, M.D
Washington D.C.

In the Public Health service in New Mexico among the Mexican population
chiefly Veratrum viride, Gelsemium and Bryonia were introduced and
excellent results followed their use in influenza. No cases died under
homeopathic medication.
E.Fisher, M.D

While it is optimal to consult with a homeopath, one of my favorite things about homeopathy is that it is truly a people’s medicine, in that by reading about the symptoms associated with the most common remedies for flu there is a good chance someone can figure out on their own which remedy is most likely to help. It is very safe to try; if you try a remedy and do not notice improvement within several hours then it is safe to try a different remedy until you find the right one.


for advice on choosing the proper remedy. These remedies are widely available at heath food stores.

One treatment NOT to try is Tamiflu. This is a very toxic and dangerous drug with many side effects and minimal benefits at best. See

Another treatment to minimize is drugs to reduce fever, such as aspirin, Tylenol and ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). Fever is how our bodies fight infection; when we have a fever our immune system functions better and microbes do not survive as well. Thus, lowering fever sabotages our immune system and prolongs illness. Indeed, it is thought that one of the reasons people who saw homeopaths in the 1918 flu pandemic had such dramatically better survival than those treated by allopaths is that allopaths recommended aspirin whereas homeopaths did not.
Many people worry that fever can cause brain damage or other organ damage. This will not happen unless one’s fever exceeds 106, and that almost never happens.
The one instance where you can make a case for fever-reducers is if one is absolutely miserable, in which case you may want to take something to reduce your suffering. That is OK as long as you realize that while you will suffer less, you will likely suffer longer.

Obviously rest and plenty of fluids are essential (it is usually not an option to not rest if you have the true flu). Chicken soup has proven benefits.
One common mistake that people make is trying to do too much when you are just getting over the flu. One is often still weak and fragile and it is easy to get another illness if you try to overdo it, so it is wise to not overdo things when you are recovering.

I hope this advice helps. Remember, no matter how miserable you feel, you will get better and some feel that this is a great way for our bodies to detoxify and to exercise our immune system. When one does get the flu it usually provides natural immunity to the flu for many years to come.









My thoughts on this bizarre election

While as a holistic physician, the focus of this blog is health, from a holistic perspective our physical and emotional health is inextricably intertwined with the environment we live in. The outcome of this coming election may have a profound effect on the health of every person on this planet. And, no matter the outcome, our electorate has never been more polarized and our nation will have a lot of healing to do following the election. So I hope that even those who do not share my political views will find my perspectives of interest…

This current election cycle is widely considered the ugliest in American history, with the average voter disgusted, dismayed and unhappy with our choices. While there are certainly some Democrats who love Hillary and are excited that she will probably be our next president, and certainly many Republicans who see Trump as their savior, there are undoubtedly many Democrats who dislike Hillary and many Republicans who are still stunned that Trump was nominated, are embarrassed by him and reluctant to support him. Of greatest concern to me is the extreme polarization of the electorate. Many Democrats see Trump as a complete buffoon, a narcissist who only cares about himself, who will not listen to the advice of experts, who will be easily manipulated by Russia and who wants to be a Hitler-like dictator. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters paint Hillary as corrupt and evil, a tool of corporations, a war-monger who will lead us into a nuclear war with Russia. Each side appears to fear the opponent more than actually embrace their candidate.

Adding to the polarization is social media. I have seen Clinton supporters ban those who support Trump from posting on their page or asking Trump supporters to de-friend, and I have no doubt many Trump supporters have similar policies towards Clinton supporters. On sites like Facebook birds of a feather tend to flock together, creating reality tunnels where people mostly see posts from like-minded people supporting their views and have little exposure to opposing perspectives. But a few weeks ago when I posted an article “Trump’s refusal to accept intelligence briefing on Russia stuns experts”
( a mini-war erupted in the comments with some people (mostly not my fb friends but friends of my fb friends) defending Trump and inciting inflammatory responses from my friends. Things got rather nasty (it should be noted I wrote this before Trump’s “nasty woman” comment). The rancor has continued with comments on my posts in recent days.

So no matter who wins on Nov. 8th (and while I still think the odds are with Hillary, it certainly seems possible that Trump might win), about half of the country is going to be very upset and also afraid. As a segment of Trump supporters are white supremacist extremists and Trump has fanned the flames of their extremism and outright said that if he loses it will be only because the election is rigged, I think there is, unfortunately, a high chance of violence in the streets if Hillary wins, and there may be people who will try to assassinate her.

There is so much going on. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but am just riffing here on how intense and crazy it all is and trying to make some sense of it all.

Of course everyone comes to this election with their own perspectives and biases. I was a huge supporter of Bernie Sanders because I feel the most pressing issues are the incredibly high concentration of wealth in our society (do you think it is reasonable that the top 0.1% in the US has as much wealth as the lower 90%?- see ), the inordinate amount of political influence that the very wealthy have, so that we are much more a corporate oligarchy than a true democracy, and the degradation of our environment in the name of corporate profits, all of which were central concern of Sanders’ campaign and have barely been mentioned in the campaign since the conventions.

The Sanders campaign generated tremendous hope and enthusiasm among the young, the idealistic and those who are very frustrated by the injustices of our current society. Those who supported Bernie tend to believe that the Democratic primary process was rigged against him, with the large role of super-delegates (the vast majority of whom were committed to Hillary before the voting began), irregularities in many state primaries and caucuses and the clear and now-admitted bias that the DNC had for Hillary. I know Bernie delegates who went to the convention and told me horrific stories about how very poorly Bernie’s delegates and supporters were treated by the Clinton machine, often being barred from even entering the convention hall let alone being able to participate. It seems like Bernie’s supporters were FAR more enthusiastic than Hillary’s, so Bernie’s supporters now believe that the nomination was stolen from Bernie and many are still holding a strong grudge against Hillary. Of course, her supporters point out that during the primaries Clinton won 16.9 million votes to 13.2 million for Sanders nationwide (and detractors going out that these results would have been far different if independents had been allowed to vote in the Democratic primaries in the many states where this was not allowed, and feel some of the votes may have been rigged).

Trump surprised many mainstream Republicans who first expected Jeb Bush and then later expected Rubio or Cruz to get the nomination. Trump did a masterful job of playing the media and casting himself as the rebel outsider. Many consider Trump to be stupid but he is a very sharp and shrewd politician and I think he knows just what he is doing. This is what makes him so dangerous and why he still has a chance to win.

I have many fb friends who were Bernie supporters who are frequently posting the most venomous, vitriolic things about Hillary, memes etc. that paint her as evil incarnate and draw right from the Trump playbook of demonizing her. They accuse her of not only being a totally corrupt tool of big business including Big Pharma but a warmonger likely to start a nuclear war with Russia. They also believe she is complicit in the murders of many who have opposed the Clintons. One friend noted that the articles and memes circulated by those left-wingers are the same ones their Trump-supporting uncle sends them.
These friends never post anything critical of Trump. When I ask them if they think Trump is a better choice and if they plan to vote for him they usually say they plan to vote for Jill Stein. They certainly realize that Stein has no chance of winning, but their idea is to vote their conscience and hope that the Green Party gets 5% of the vote, which would qualify them for Federal funds and make it easier for them to get on the ballot for the next election. This may be a reasonable luxury in a state like California where the odds are extremely high that Hillary will win, but could cost her the election if many people did this in the “swing states” like Florida and Ohio.

Of greater concern to me is the notion some of my Bernie/Green supporting friends have advanced that there is no real difference between Trump and Clinton so it does not matter who wins. I could not disagree more.
Tonite my wife’s cousin Gabe wrote on fb “If my only worry were which piece of Halloween candy to eat next and not that a racist, sexist, homophobic, inexperienced, misogynistic, ignorant, mean spirited narcissistic child rapist might have a rats ass chance of being our next president. Ugh.”
While that characterization is extreme, it unfortunately seems surprisingly accurate, and it boggles my mind that Trump still has a real chance of winning. In trying to understand why so many people support Trump, clearly he does attract the KKK/neo-Nazi ultra right-wing fringe, but I would hope that is a fairly small fraction of the electorate. Some of the people I know are also largely one-issue voters, that issue being abortion, so they support Trump/Pence because of their avowed opposition to abortion. However, I find it very difficult to believe that in his heart of hearts Trump is really anti-abortion; it seems a very insincere politically-expedient stance. Those Right to Life voters tend to be religious Christians and I find it sad and ironic that they look to a man who advised others to “grab them by the pussy” as someone who will uphold Christian values.
While most evangelicals appear to support Trump, it is refreshing that “80 evangelical Christian leaders, many well known across America, have joined together to publicly denounce the “morally unacceptable” candidacy of Donald Trump.”

I believe many Trump supporters are the disaffected working class who are fed up with our current system, understanding that the public has been largely disenfranchised and have little power, and believe Trump when he promises to “drain the swamp” and shake thing up in DC. Unfortunately, he appears to have little concrete plans to do this, just assurances that only he can fix things, and I have a hard time believing that making things better for the working poor is high on his agenda. And there are many who are afraid, afraid of immigrants, terrorists, African-Americans, hispanics, the LGBT community etc. and Trump is fanning those flames of fear. It is the politics of fear, divisiveness, us versus them and scapegoating.

I believe that our country is more an oligarchy than a true democracy. This is not just my opinion but that of President Jimmy Carter and many political scientists. See
In that sense, I believe that no one can be elected president unless the powers-that-be behind the scenes approve that candidate. Usually both candidates have been vetted by the powers-that-be, but in this case I don’t think they really approve of Trump. Hillary is clearly their person, someone who is well-ensconsed in their structure, whereas Trump, rather than being subservient to them, covets power to be “the decider’ for himself and is a bit of a loose cannon. This is why I will be surprised if Trump wins. The one thing I DO like about Trump is that he is not yet totally bought and sold by those people. He has the courage to speak out and say things like our elections are rigged. I believe that George W Bush only became president in 2000 because the Florida vote was rigged, and only won in 2004 because the vote in Ohio was rigged, and, for that matter, Kennedy probably only won in 1960 due to rigging in Illinois, so yes, I agree that our elections are often rigged (I also appreciate that Trump understands that vaccines can have significant hazards, a stance for which he is widely criticized and which the ignorant use to demonstrate that he is ignorant).
I know many people who feel Trump is part of a conspiracy to elect Hillary as he is the only candidate that she can beat. This makes a certain amount of sense, though I don’t know if Trump would willingly choose to be humiliated by losing the election. But it sometimes seems that Trump’s candidacy has been a performance art piece of sorts, where he is deliberately trying to say inflammatory things that will alienate voters and ruin his chances, but it backfires and the more outrageous things he says the more his followers love him. It is like a surreal satire come to life.
But some wonder if the powers-that-be are orchestrating this campaign to increase fear, division and divisiveness among the electorate. If so, I wonder what their game is, though it is speculated that by keeping the populace at odds with one another it distracts them from focusing their attention on the 0.001% behind the scenes who they should really be angry with. That is why some of my friends feel supporting either major party is a trap and why people should vote for a third party this time.

My greatest concern about Trump is that he does appear to be a textbook example of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. While it is a bit dangerous to psychoanalyze someone from afar, there is every indication from those who know Trump well that his private persona is no different from his public persona and what you see is what you get.
Here are 2 good articles on what this means:
For the many of you who will not click on those, the DSM-V criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder are
1 Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment by others.
2 Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
3 Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions.
4 Needing constant admiration from others.
5 Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others.
6 Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain.
7 Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs.
8 Intensely jealous of others and the belief that others are equally jealous of them.
9 Pompous and arrogant demeanor.

One looks at those traits and thinks of Hitler as well as Trump, one of the reasons many have made such comparisons. But I do like this article that examines this comparison in detail:
Quotes from this article:
“Is Trump a megalomaniacal demagogue? Yes. Is he a sociopath? Undoubtedly. Is he dangerous? Maybe.”
“Hitler was a megalomaniacal psychopath who should burn in Hell for eternity… who actually believed in something.
There’s a difference. Trump is a two-bit con man. He’s playing the fools.”
However, the dangers of a narcissist like Trump is that they are over-confident in their own knowledge and opinions and generally uninterested in the counsel of others, such as Trump’s famous statement “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”
Narcissists tend to be very aggressive and take big chances, not the qualities I seek in a commander-in-chief.

As for Hillary, she seems to be an old-school politician who milks the system for personal gain and kow-tows to the banks and corporations who run this land, but I do not see her as any more evil than our recent string of presidents.
Here are a few of well-written articles in defense of Hillary: (nice piece by Bill Moyers on how the media manufactured hatred for Hillary)

While there are many other people I would prefer to be the Democratic nominee, I believe Hillary is a MUCH better option than Trump. Hillary voted in tandem with Sanders in Congress 93% of the time.
She does not plan to gut environmental regulations as Trump does. She does not plan to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would make abortion illegal and even further abridge civil rights. The justices appointed by her would hopefully overturn the Citizens United decision.
Hillary is not campaigning to build a wall or deport millions of immigrants.
She is planning to increase taxes on the rich rather than give them a huge tax cut.
And in supporting Hillary vs.Trump I am also supporting the Democratic Party platform, which is FAR more progressive than the Republican platform.

As previously mentioned, I believe the health of our environment is critical to human health. While I believe Hillary is still far too influenced by the oil, natural gas and coal industries which are the main cause of global warming, her environmental policies are FAR more progressive than Trump, who does not believe in global warming and promises to roll back many of our hard-won environmental protections. See     for a comparison of their environmental policies.

I have one fb friend who has been continually criticizing me for “fear-mongering” every time I post an article that is critical of Trump. I believe that the opposite of love is not hatred but fear (though from fear comes hatred). So I generally am not a “fear-monger.” But sometimes fear is appropriate. Fear prevents people from doing things that might be dangerous and from breaking laws such as those that encourage safe driving. This is not a black-and-white world and at times fear is appropriate. An old saying is fight fire with fire, and indeed, sometimes firefighters do start backfires to prevent fires from spreading. As a homeopath, this concept appeals to me. It seems appropriate to fight the fear that is motivating many Trump supporters with enough fear to motivate those who oppose Trump to vote.
I do not feel it is wrong to admit that I am afraid of a Trump presidency, very afraid.

The biggest threat in this election is apathy (and disgust). I do have the impression that many Trump supporters are more enthusiastic than Hillary’s supporters.
Studies show that the majority of Americans have surprisingly progressive views, which makes it surprising that this election is forecast to be so close. Bur studies also show that those with progressive views do not turn out as much as more conservative voters:            The best thing that could happen for Trump is if Democrats, especially the significant percentage who supported Bernie, either do not vote or vote for a third party.
I believe it is crucial for Democrats and Independents and responsible Republicans to go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for Hillary Clinton and make a statement that we will not allow Trump to be president. Hopefully they voters will also replace the many Republican Senators and Representatives who have vowed to obstruct a Clinton presidency.

As Bernie Sanders said on 9/5/16, “When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton and then work after the election to mobilize millions of people to make sure she can be the most progressive president she can be.”


As I said when I wrote the above shortly before the election, there appeared to be a real chance of Mr. Trump winning.
On the nite of the election I wrote the following on facebook and thought I would add it here:

“So many people are trying to move to Canada that the government’s website” reads another.
Many people (in fact the majority of voters, since Hillary appears to have won the popular vote) are unhappy and a good percentage are really frightened at having someone they see as an obnoxious, narcissistic, racist, sexist homophobe as President. They are strongly opposed to his announced intentions to make abortion illegal, deport millions of immigrants while closing our borders to the 1.6 billion followers of Islam, roll back environmental regulations, restrict LGBT rights etc. They are dismayed that so many of their fellow Americans voted for Trump and concerned that all those people condone racism, sexism etc.
In recent weeks when I posted things critical of Trump the people who came to his defense, mostly by denigrating Hillary, were not Trump voters but disaffected Bernie supporters who were very angry at Hillary and the DNC. These leftist folks are happy that Trump won, because they saw Hillary as totally enmeshed in the corporate oligarchy/military-industrial complex/Big Oil/Big Pharma/Monsanto/globalist elite and see Trump as nationalist who will fight the globalists who are marching us towards fascism. So while many who abhor Trump fear he is a fascist, my leftist friends saw Hillary as an even greater threat to continue our transition to fascism.

Besides watching some of the coverage on PBS, MSNBC and CNN tonite
I listened to George Noory on Coast-to-Coast AM. This show presents a balanced spectrum of political commentators, but most have the perspective that globalism is a serious threat to our democracy as they talk about the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group etc. Most of the many people on that show saw Trump as an opponent of the globalists and see this election as the people’s rebellion against this. One of the guests was John Hogue, who had successfully predicted the outcome of the past 12 presidential elections over the past 48 years. He has written a book about Trump and a book about Hillary, based on their astrology, and predicted a Hillary win this year, but he had hedged his bets by saying he could foresee a possibility of Trump winning. Of interest, though he forecast that if Hillary won he foresaw a difficult first term by her with a possible nuclear war or huge scandal leading to impeachment. However, he sees in Trump a potential to be a good president and make positive changes. He felt based on his chart that Trump is very bright, complex and unpredictable but could rise to the occasion. His website (which at the moment still has his Hillary winning prediction up) is here:

The point of this all being that, while I disagree with many of Trump’s avowed policy plans, am concerned about his narcissism and temperment and am very concerned about his tendency to be intolerant of others and fan the flames of fear and hatred in the populace as shown in this election, there is the yang to his yin (or is it the yin to his yang?), the side of him that challenges the assumptions that vaccines are safe, that favors labelling GMO’s, that opposes the TPP and is not a puppet of the powers that be. So there may be a major silver lining to this huge political upset.
The most hopeful advice I can give to my fellow Democrats, Greens and Socialists is yes, we did not get what we wanted but maybe this will be the sometime where we are surprised to find we get what we need…

And if Trump is the disaster so many fear, hopefully 4 years from now the Democrats will nominate a Sanders-style progressive and we will change Congress and get the type of change so many voters on both sides were hoping for this election…
(unless Trump cancels the next election 😉 )





Update on California’s Mandatory Vaccination Bill

6/16/15 On 2/19/15 California State Senators Richard Pan (a pediatrician) and Ben Allen introduced SB 277, called by some the Mandatory Vaccination Bill, which requires all children in both public and private schools, with the exception of certain types of homeschools (those that do not have classrooms as part of the curriculum, but most homeschools do have classrooms) to be fully vaccinated with more than 40 doses of 10 different vaccines in order to attend school (and attending school is mandated by California law).

I have previously written about this bill here. Please read first if you have not read it yet for an overview of this important and complex issue.

This post is an update, as there have been some important developments since my previous blog post. On 5/14/15 the California State Senate passed SB 277 by a 25 to 10 vote. On 6/9/15 SB 277 was considered by the State Assembly Health Committee. Hundreds of concerned citizens attended the hearing and voiced their opinions, with those opposing it (including many doctors, scientists and teachers) outnumbering those in favor by at least 5 to 1. There was extensive testimony by experts both in favor and against the bill, the most notable expert against it being Dr. Jay Gordon. While those who testified against the bill made many valid points as to why this bill is unnecessary and unlikely to significantly have any positive impact on public health, the testimony of citizens and scientists appeared to make no impact upon the Assembly members, who apparently already had their minds made up, and the Committee voted yes by a 12-6 margin along party lines (the Democrats voting yes and Republicans no). That means that the State Assembly is likely to vote on the bill next week (probably on 6/25) and the odds of it passing appear quite strong, given the strong majority of Democrats in the Assembly.

I was rather amazed when Senator Pan said at the Assembly Health Committee hearing (with a straight face) that “Thimerosal has been studied and found to be safe.” Even though this is a side issue, as thimerosal has been largely removed from vaccines and aluminum and other adjuvants are currently of greater concern, I wanted to examine the science on this and was stunned to see that in a sense Pan does have a leg to stand on. Remarkably, the CDC claims that thimerosal is safe, despite dozens of studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature demostrating its toxicity. This excellent journal article from 2014 explains why the CDC makes this claim and is another great example of why the CDC, unfortunately, can not be trusted due to its many conflicts in interest:

Below is a letter that I co-wrote with some other doctors who oppose SB 277 and SB 792, a bill mandating vaccination for all workers in all private and public school early childhood education programs (Headstart, Private preK and preschools), family daycares and daycare centers) addressed to our State Assemblymen:

Dear California Elected Officials,

I write to you as a member of a coalition of Medical Doctors who believe in Medical Freedom, which is why we are joining to oppose SB 277 & SB792. We operate under the American Medical Association Code of ethics that states: “the patient should make his or her own determination about treatment… Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor…” The mandatory vaccine interventions being proposed in this legislation violates our code of ethics as medical professionals.

Furthermore, we are not in a current state of epidemic. The Disneyland Measles outbreak affected only 24 out of the 6.7 million school-aged children in California. This equates to just 18% of the total 134 cases of measles. The outbreak was not centered in schools and there was not a single documented transmission of the disease in a school setting. The majority of cases occurred near the epicenter and where measles spread to communities removed from the epicenter it was well contained with a small handful of cases per county. On April 17, 2015 the measles outbreak was declared over and did not result in any deaths. Does mandating 10 different vaccines for every child attending public school in response to this minor outbreak seem justified?

There is no current nor forseeable public health crisis related to vaccine-preventable diseases. Currently about 2.5% of students entering kindergarden have parents who filed a Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) . This number has steadily declined since the introduction of AB2109 just last year. Most of those who file a PBE are partially vaccinated but have parents who opt out of particular vaccines such as the Hepatitis B vaccine that have little scientific justification. OUR CURRENT SYSTEM IS WORKING and there is no public health rationale for the draconian measure of mandating vaccines.

Vaccination does not come without risk. Every year, almost 4000 severe reactions are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS), which result in prolonged hospitalization, permanent disability, or death. Since VAERS is a passive reporting system, many reactions aren’t even reported. The FDA says that as few as 1% of serious adverse reactions are reported while the CDC and American Association of Physicians and Surgeons both state that about 10% of serious adverse reactions after vaccination are reported. It is clear that there are tens of thousands of serious adverse reactions to vaccines each year. The Supreme Court has ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” Over 3 billion dollars have been paid out to victims of vaccine reactions while many others who have suffered serious reactions have been denied compensation by the poorly-designed and run Vaccine Court. Knowing this, how can we take away a parent’s right to choose in the absence of any real public health crisis?

The main argument by proponents of SB 277 is that it will protect those who can not be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised. However, a child who is immunocompromised is at substantially greater risk of becoming seriously ill from a classmate with a cold, flu or stomach virus than from vaccine-preventable diseases transmitted by a classmate who is not fully vaccinated. Thus, most children who are seriously immunocompromised stay home from school.

Even if one believes that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks (which, surprisingly, has NOT been scientifically proven), many of the vaccines mandated by SB 277 make absolutely no sense from a public health perspective. For example, tetanus is not a transmissable disease. The Hemophilus influenzae Type B (HiB) vaccine is only recommended by the CDC for children through the ages of 59 months. An excellent case can be made for the benefits of this vaccine in young children but there is no good reason to force a child entering elemetary or junior high school who has not received this vaccine to get it. However, a 12 year old who has not previously had the HiB vaccine will be forced to get it, risking serious adverse reactions for no significant benefit. Another required vaccine is for  Hepatitis B, which is only transmissable through blood contact such as sharing needles and certain unsafe sexual practices. There is no good reason to mandate this for entrance to elementary school.

Doctors take an oath to “First, do no harm.” It is our responsibility to protect the interest of our patients, first and foremost. The ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk taking must be respected, especially when the procedure has been legally classified as “unavoidably unsafe.” We should not take a “one size fits all” approach when we know some individuals are at greater biological risk than others for suffering vaccine reactions. Ultimately, medical decisions for children should be made between a parent and doctor.

This country was founded in the spirit of freedom. Let’s not allow fear motivate us to begin chipping away at our most basic freedom to choose what medical procedures are best for ourselves and our children. Please protect a parent’s right to choose, and oppose SB277 & SB792.

Sincerely, Randy Baker MD

Since I co-wrote this letter, much to my dismay and disappointment, on June 8th the AMA voted in favor of new policy that “recommends that states have in place an established decision mechanism that involves qualified public health physicians to determine which vaccines will be mandatory for admission to schools and other public venues. States should only grant exemptions to these mandated vaccines for medical reasons.”

Obviously I disagree with this policy that violates informed consent. I am not optimistic about the prospects of stopping SB 277 from passing, but if our representatives in the Assembly are inundated by calls, letters and faxes by constituents asking them to vote no perhaps they will reconsider.

For another well-written commentary please see

Addendum on 6/17/15:

The current Vaccine Schedule is set by the CDC and most doctors trust the CDC as an impartial authority that has the public’s best interest at heart. Unfortunately, while that is the way it once was as well as, of course, the way it should be, it is no longer the case.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently said
“”There are four federal studies that have looked at CDC and said the vaccine program at CDC is a cesspool of corruption.”

On 5/15/15 one of the most respected medical journals in the world, the British Medical Journal, published a very important article which received scant media attention,
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: protecting the private good?”
by Jeanne Lenzer an associate editor of the Journal.
Quoting from this article:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes the following disclaimer with its recommendations: “CDC, our planners, and our content experts wish to disclose they have no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products . . . CDC does not accept commercial support.”

The CDC’s image as an independent watchdog over the public health has given it enormous prestige, and its recommendations are occasionally enforced by law.

Despite the agency’s disclaimer, the CDC does receive millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly, and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes, and the money it is taking.”

For the full article see

Measles Hysteria and California SB 277

We live in a polarized nation with major schisms of Democrat vs. Republican, religious vs. secular, pro-life vs. pro-choice, believers in mainstream medicine vs. adherents of alternative medicine, those who trust our government and authority vs. those who question our government and authority, etc. The current widespread debate about vaccination is a near-perfect storm that brings many of these into collision, igniting strong feelings, anger and fear in many quarters.

People have passionate views on this subject. Many of those who are “pro-vaccination” seem to believe the “anti-vaxers” are paranoid conspiracy theorists who are unaware that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s research has been (supposedly) debunked (as if that is the entire body of science that questions vaccine safety) and who base their beliefs on the teachings of Jenny McCarthy; after all, how can a former Playboy Bunny who gets most of her information from the internet possibly have anything valid to say about vaccine hazards? (it is nearly impossible to find an article critical of “anti-vaxers” that does not mention Jenny McCarthy).
Most proponents of vaccination and SB 277 appear to have an attitude of smug arrogance as they believe that science is on their side and that it has been firmly proven that vaccines are “safe and effective.” They generally believe those those who question vaccine safety are emotional and “anti-science.” (for a wonderful article that explores the complexities and sublteties of the modern scientific process, both in general and with regards to vaccines, I highly recommend ).

Some people believe this issue is so black and white that any doctor who questions vaccine safety and efficacy should have his or her medical license taken away. In reality, studies have found that those who question the safety and efficacy of vaccines as a group have a higher level of education and income than those who champion vaccination and these “vaccine-skeptics” include many thousands of well-credentialed doctors and researchers.

Vaccine skeptics tend to see the pro-vax community as mindless people who do not question authority and have been gullible enough to believe the narrative of government officials and the fear-mongering mainstream media which is unduly influenced by Big Pharma, which stands to profit handsomely from more widespread vaccination. Of course those who are pro-vaccine are genuinely afraid and concerned for the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones and see people who do not
vaccinate as directly threatening their safety. Thus, many in the pro-camp are calling for mandatory vaccinations, which has the “anti-vax” camp extremely fearful of the prospect of being forced to have something toxic and hazardous administered against their will.    
No wonder people are so upset!

In the midst of all of this polarizing conflict I would like to take this opportunity to look at the actual facts and examine both what is known and not known about this issue. I am going to focus on what we know for sure, and one thing I know for sure is that not all vaccines are created equal. While many in both camps may see all vaccines as good or bad, the reality is that each vaccine has its own unique sets of risks and benefits, so I going to focus a great deal upon the MMR vaccine and on Measles, as this is the current focus of people’s concerns.

Before delving into this topic I want to briefly review my background and
qualifications. I earned my undergraduate degree in Biology at Stanford University.
I studied Biology because I am fascinated by biochemistry, physiology and
understanding how our bodies work.
I then attended medical school at the University of Michigan where I also completed my residency in Family Medicine. While mainstream Western medicine is often miraculous, it has very few cures to offer for most chronic disease, instead treating superficially and symptomatically with expensive and often-hazardous pharmaceuticals. I thus studied nutrition, herbal medicine, mind-body medicine, homeopathy and other complementary therapies which I integrate with conventional therapies as appropriate. I was a founding diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine in 2000. I have had a solo family practice in Soquel, CA since 1988. I do not consider my self pro or anti-vaccination but, as mentioned, I look at the potential risks and benefits of each vaccine as well as the health of
the potential recipient. Because these issues are so charged and controversial I encourage my patients to study the research and be involved making in these decisions.

Currently 20 states allow for exemptions from vaccination based on personal beliefs or philosophy, while 48 states allow exemptions based upon religion. Shortly after the “measles outbreak” that started at Disneyland in December 2014 legislation was introduced in several states including California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington to eliminate exemptions based on personal beliefs and, in some cases, religious beliefs. As of 4/17/15 this legislation has already been withdrawn in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington after encountering public opposition.

Currently the California State Assembly is considering SB 277, a bill that requires ALL children, even if they are home-schooled (with very rare exceptions) be FORCED to receive vaccines for
“(1) Diphtheria.
(2) Hepatitis B.
(3) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(4) Measles.
(5) Mumps.
(6) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(7) Poliomyelitis.
(8) Rubella.
(9) Tetanus.
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).
(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.”

(for the complete text of SB 277 see )

The current personal belief and religious exemptions would be removed. The only exemptions allowed would be medical exemptions (more on these below).

SB 277 was recently approved by the California State Senate after being approved by the Health, Education and Judicial Committees despite many hundreds of concerned citizens who came to the hearings to ask the Senators to oppose it (those who attended to oppose it dramatically outnumbed those who expressed support).

(On a personal note, I have been a life-long liberal Democrat. To the dismay of myself and many others who oppose this bill, it is the Democrats who are strongly pushing SB 277 and the Republicans who are questioning its wisdom.)

Our local State Senator, Bill Monning, played a key role in the passage throught the Senate because he sat on all 3 committees that approved it. I am among Senator Monning’s many local constituents who requested to meet with him to discuss this important bill. To the great disappointment of many in our community, Senator Monning refused to personally meet with any of his constituents about this issue despite many pleas to listen to our views.

As Senator Monning is my district’s representative, I wrote him a letter before the 4/8 vote summarizing why I feel SB 277 would be a huge mistake. I am sharing that letter here:

Dear Senator Monning,

I am writing to express my concerns about SB 277 as a Family Physician who has practiced in California since 1984. I am a graduate of Stanford University (where I earned a degree in Biology) and the University of Michigan Medical School, where I also completed my residency in Family Medicine.

As most members of the Senate Health Committee probably already know, in 1970 the normal childhood vaccination schedule included 23 doses of 7 vaccines. There are currently 68 doses of 16 vaccines recommended by age 18 (35 of which are given in the first 18 months). There are currently nearly 300 new vaccines in development. If Senate Bill 277 passes, we are agreeing to not only to most of the current schedule without any adjustments, but we are also agreeing to force children to take any future vaccines that are introduced to the schedule and “deemed appropriate by the department” without giving parents or doctors the option to choose.

A central tenet of SB277 is the elimination of all exemptions from any vaccination on the state’s prescribed schedule except for “medical reasons.” These medical reasons are not further defined in the bill as currently written, but the CDC contraindications for vaccines, which many doctors would likely use as guidelines for issuing medical exemptions, are extremely restrictive. I believe that doctors will feel quite constrained in their abilities to approve medical exemptions, so virtually all school-aged children and those in daycare will be forced to comply. Conscientious doctors who believe that some of their patients might benefit from an altered vaccination schedule, beyond the narrow contraindications in the CDC’s “Pink Book,” will either feel they can not grant exemptions or might very well come under attack for deviating from “standards of care”. This troubles me deeply.

One of the primary tenets of medical ethics is voluntary informed consent. Quoting the American Medical Association, “Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent.” This means explaining to a patient the risks and benefits of any medication or procedure before administering it,
especially when the risks include serious injury or death, and then allowing the patient a choice whether to receive the treatment.

Every medication has inherent risks. Anyone with online access can quickly find a list of 20-30 common and/or serious potential reactions to any vaccine, including in the manufacturers’ own product information pamphlets. The adverse reactions listed tend to be only those that are obvious within a few days of vaccination (generally only reactions obvious within 4 days) and the frequency of serious long-term effects such as autoimmune diseases are unknown. There are, of course, also risks with any illness so it is also important to educate people about those as well. When I meet with patients, we discuss, for example, the hazards of high blood sugar or obesity or measles and then discuss the risks and benefits of various treatments. Then I allow my patients to choose whether a particular treatment or medication is right for them. SB 277 TAKES AWAY INFORMED CONSENT. I find this an outrageous assault on personal liberty, and it is deeply disturbing to me that, due to this legislative action, I will be prevented from helping a parent make an educated, informed, and appropriate decision for one of my patients.

The reason given by proponents of this bill is that those who do not get vaccinated are endangering others, but over 90% of children in California are fully vaccinated and most of the rest are partly vaccinated. Only 3% of children have parents that file the personal belief exemptions that this bill outlaws. Unfortunately, vaccines are not universally effective. For example, up to 15% of those who are fully vaccinated for measles are not immune to it, and some of the 3-5% of children who have not gotten measles vaccines are likely immune because those who have not been vaccinated may catch the vaccine version of the virus from their friends and become immune (while it has been documented that some children can shed the attenuated measles virus in the MMR, it is not known how commonly this occurs). The 5-15% who have been vaccinated but are not immune are a greater risk of spreading measles than the unvaccinated, since they outnumber those who are unvaccinated. Even fully vaccinating everyone will probably not wipe out measles and many other diseases such as whooping cough due to limitations of the effectiveness of vaccines (there have been documented measles outbreaks in populations that are 99% vaccinated).

As for the measles outbreak that apparently precipitated SB 277, as of 3/27/15, in a nation of over 300 million people there have been 178 cases of measles (120 in California), with 74% related to the Disneyland case. Less than half of those infected are known to have not been vaccinated (see Not one single person has died; in fact there have been no confirmed deaths from measles in the US since 2003.

As a medical doctor I have additional concerns. Every disease is different and every medication is different. Thus, each vaccine has a unique set of risks and benefits so it makes little sense to mandate all 10 that are mandated in SB 277. For example, the Hepatitis B Vaccine is typically given during the first day of life. However, a young child can only contract Hepatitis B from IV drug abuse, sexual activity with an infected partner, a blood transfusion using contaminated blood (and all blood is first screened) or from its mother. Thus, the only significant risk is if the mother has Hepatitis B infection. If a mother has been screened for this (as most mothers have), there is NO rational reason to expose a newborn to this vaccine, which is not without risk (see pages 5-7 for a lengthy list of adverse reactions from the official package insert:
Many studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature have documented that receiving the Hepatitis B vaccine is associated with increased risk of an autoimmune disorder similar to Multiple Sclerosis as well as arthritis and other serious hazards ( see and and

The CDC states “There is no confirmed evidence which indicates that hepatitis B vaccine can cause chronic illnesses.” I believe the studies I just cited are “confirmed evidence” of this and this is evidence why the CDC, unfortunately, can not always be trusted. Quoting French vaccine researcher Dr. Marc Girard “hepatitis B vaccine is remarkable for the frequency, variety and severity of complications from its use. The toxicity of this vaccine is so unusual that, even if crucial data are regrettably concealed or covered by Court order, scientific evidence is already far higher than normally needed to justify severe restrictive measures.“
The objectivity of the CDC in these matters has been questioned by many including US Congressman Bill Posey who criticizes “the incestuous relationship between the public health community, vaccine makers, and public officials” including the CDC (see ). Mandating that all newborns receive the Hepatitis B vaccine, even when their mother is proven to not have Hepatitis B, makes absolutely no sense from a public health perspective. I can think of no rational reason to mandate this vaccine (other than to increase the profits of Merck and GlazoSmithKline).

As for the side effects of vaccines, while a medication may be safe for most, I am not aware of a single medicine, herb or supplement that is safe for everyone. For example, penicillin clearly saves lives and is safe and well-tolerated by most, but many also have life-threatening reactions so it would be unwise to mandate that everyone who has an infection must get penicillin. While some would counter that medical exemptions are allowed, it is likely one could only obtain a medical exemption for someone who has
already had a severe reaction. While a reaction to penicillin will not have long-term consequences (if one survives the acute reaction), reactions to vaccines can result in life-long disabilities.

One of the many things that can contribute to the toxicity of vaccines is that many of them contain aluminum as an adjuvant (including 5 of the 10 currently mandated by SB 277). Quoting from “Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are They Safe?” by Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic and Dr. Chris Shaw, a Neuroscientist and professor at the University of British Columbia, “Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences. In our opinion, the possibility that vaccine benefits may have been overrated and the risk of potential adverse effects underestimated, has not been rigorously evaluated in the medical and scientific community. (see ).
One of the reasons I mention this is that the toxic effects of aluminum do not manifest within the 4 days after vaccination during which adverse reactions to vaccines are typically studied.

Another concern about vaccine safety is that, just as two medications can be reasonably safe when given individually, they may have serious and even fatal interactions when given together. There have been NO research studies on the safety of the current schedule of 16 different vaccines. There have been NO studies comparing the health of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations, so there is no research proving that there is a benefit to the current schedule. Clearly, most authorities and doctors, as well as the authors of this bill, simply assume that the vaccination schedule is beneficial but this should not be mandated for everyone without clear unequivocal scientific evidence, and this is, unfortunately,
completely lacking. While vaccination almost certainly has reduced the incidence of many serious infections, many highly-credentialed scientists and researchers believe that there is strong evidence that vaccines increase the incidence of a variety of chronic autoimmune diseases.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.”
(Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC131 S. Ct. 1068, 179 L.Ed.2d 1)

Another important consideration that is often overlooked is that naturally acquiring certain infections such as measles may result in significant long-term benefits to immune function and thus health. There are several studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature showing that adults who had measles in childhood have significantly lower rates of several common forms of cancer than those who did not have measles (see ).
While there is an approximately 1 in 7000 risk of death in those who get measles, of the 7000 who do not get measles due to getting the MMR vaccine, there might be literally hundreds of cases of cancer that they would not have gotten if they had gotten measles instead of the vaccine.

I am not saying that vaccines do more harm than good. Clearly most who have been fully vaccinated enjoy good health. However, there is no denying that a significant number of children have had serious disabling and even fatal adverse reactions to certain vaccines. Until there is a quality study comparing the health of vaccinated to unvaccinated populations, it is impossible to know for certain if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. And since we can not yet be certain that the current vaccine schedule ultimately improves the health of our population, it is premature to mandate it for those who would prefer to be cautious and exercise their rights to decide whether they or their children should do a particular medical treatment that has known risks.

Thus, I can find very little scientific rationale for mandating universal vaccination. There is no current imminent (or foreseeable) threat to public health drastic enough to warrant such a draconian, intrusive law that is such an extreme violation of individual liberty and informed medical choice. The state legislature enacted AB2109 very recently to encourage more conversation between doctors and parents who wish to have their children on an adjusted vaccination schedule or to forgo some vaccinations. This type of law has been effective in other states at reducing exemption rates, and it appears to be working in California as well. Doctors can be very persuasive with parents, and we are also able to note differences in individual situations that can’t be accommodated by a forced, one-size-fits-all mandated vaccination schedule.

Please drop this proposed bill, as states like Washington, Oregon, Maryland and North Carolina have recently done, and please focus on other ways to achieve the public health goals that do not infringe upon the relationship between doctor and patient. A better approach would be one that focuses on education and encouragement (as the federal government recommends in its National Adult Immunization Plan), particularly targeting areas of concern that parents have regarding vaccine safety.
Lobbying the federal government to fund more scientific work to better understand why some children experience serious adverse effects from vaccines could be an excellent long-term component of such an “educate and encourage” approach, as well as conducting overdue research on the long-term health outcomes of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations. Gathering better data about our actual public health situation is important before considering any change in vaccination legislation.

While there is a great deal of misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of this heated issue, I believe every statement I have made is both factual and verifiable. Thank you for considering my perspective. I would be happy to speak or correspond with any members of the Health Committee about any of these points.

Randy Baker M.D.
Soquel, CA 95073

As you can see, I covered quite a bit of ground in my letter but there are a few more points I wish to make and a few articles I wish to share for any of you readers who have been interested enough to read this far (and if you are among those, I appreciate your time and interest!).

One of my first thoughts when I learned about this bill is that some people believe vaccines are safe and effective while some question this. Those who support this bill obviously believe vaccines are safe and effective. If this is the case, why are they so concerned that a small percentage of their children’s classmates are not fully vaccinated? If they believe vaccines are effective, then they should have faith that their fully-vaccinated children are fully protected from any exposures they might get from unvaccinated classmates.
However, Dr. Pan and other proponents say they are concerned about immunocompromised children, such as those who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer and who are thus unable to be immunized and who might have serious illness if they got an illness such as measles. However, such immunocompromised children are far more at risk from getting common viruses like cold and flu viruses that their fully-vaccinated classmates often get. Typically children who are significantly immunocompromised do not attend classes at their public schools and the schools provide teachers who visit them at home. This is wise, as immunocompromised children are more likely to be exposed to live vaccine viruses shed by classmates recently immunized with the MMR or varicella or live influenza vaccine than a classmate ill with “wild measles.”
As an interesting aside, there is research being done showing that modified versions of the measles virus can be very effective in treating certain forms of cancer! See

If SB 277 passes, children will be required to get a large number of vaccines in a relatively short amount of time as advised by the CDC’s “catch-up schedule,” the safety of which has not been studied.

Even if one agrees that it is wise to vaccinate children for infectious diseases, some of the requirements of SB 277 make no sense. For example, all children would be required to be immunized for Haemophilus influenza Type B (Hib), even though the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices does not recommend routine Hib vaccination of healthy children 59 months of age or older, even if they have no prior history of Hib vaccination. So why does SB 277 mandate this?

Update: on the afternoon of 4/17/15 some anti-SB 277 constituents had an opportunity to briefly chat with Senator Monning at a reception at his office. One reported that he said something to the effect that “the needs of the few are outweighed by the needs of the many.” Even if one agrees with this, one can say that the vast majority of the population that wants the protection of vaccines are fully vaccinated and thus not significantly threatened by the 8% or less who are not fully vaccinated. So if one considers the needs of those who can not be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised, those few are FAR outnumbered by those whose parents would rather decline full vaccination. So the needs of the few who can’t be vaccinated should be outweighed by the needs of the (relative) many who do not want to be vaccinated.

In my letter I mentioned evidence that getting actual measles as a child reduces risks of adults getting several types of cancer. There is also evidence that getting measles can prevent lifelong allergies:
Info on Measles and how much of a threat it really is:

A good review of the research on how effective (and ineffective) the MMR vaccine is:

An Open Letter to Legislators Currently Considering Vaccine Legislation from Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD in Immunology:

It has been interesting to observe media coverage of SB 277 and those who are opposing it. Major papers like the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News and Sacramento Bee have run editorials and opinion pieces in favor of SB 277, which invariably mention scientifically-proven safe vaccines and emotional opponents who are “science-deniers” such as this quote from an editorial by the Sacramento Bee urging the passage of SB 277: “It simply makes it harder for a vocal, misinformed minority of science deniers to endanger the health of the majority’s children.” (see )
I was honestly surprised that no one at these papers seems concerned about how obtrusive this bill is but this excellent article may explain why there is such uniformly biased coverage in the mainstream media. This article explains why this issue is symptomatic of the insidious corporate takeover of American politics:

Some additional commentary on the politics of this debate and how this could even lead down the slippery slope of a totalitarian state; at first that may sound extreme but is a country where people are forced to have toxic chemicals and biological agents injected into them against their will a free country?


Thanks for reading!
PLEASE feel free to share this essay with anyone who you believe would be interested…
Those who want to read my overview about the Vaccine Debate written in 2012 can visit

Randy Baker MD 4/17/15t

Multivitamins are NOT a “waste of money”! Beware of flawed studies and biased conclusions!!!

Multivitamins are in the news again with the publication of 3 studies in the 12/17/13 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine purporting to show that multivitamins do not prevent cognitive decline in men, do not reduce risk of heart disease in those who already have it and do not prevent heart disease and cancer, along with an accompanying editorial. These articles were reported on with headlines like “New Study: Daily Multivitamins, Supplements ‘A Waste Of Money.’” A sharply-worded editorial in the same issue titled
“Enough is enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral
Supplements,” stated “We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

However, as many researchers have stated, the case is FAR FROM CLOSED, in fact there is very good reason to believe, based on the preponderance of evidence, that it is wise for nearly every adult to take a good-quality multivitamin. This essay explains why.

Before doing so I would like to give some context.
I am a Family Practitioner certified by the American Board of Holistic Medicine who has been practicing for over 25 years in Soquel, CA. I have a special interest in nutrition and preventive medicine. In my spare time I volunteer on HealthTap, a website where people can ask questions of doctors. HealthTap gave me an award as the Top Family Physician in California in 2011 and Awarded me as the “Top Holistic Medical Practitioner” in the entire US in both the Winter and Summer of 2013. My fellow physicians on HealthTap have voted me to be the leading expert (among the 53,000+ physicians on HealthTap) in the U.S on Lyme Disease, Supplements, Herbal Supplements, Vitamin Deficiency, Vegetarian Diet and Vitamin C, as well as the 2nd leading expert on Vitamin D and Homeopathy. I invite readers here to visit me on HealthTap, where you can see my answers to hundreds of questions, at

While I enjoy participating on HealthTap, I was recently contacted by a fellow physician there who is quite upset that I still counsel people to take multivitamins despite the recent studies. I am thus writing this in response to him and the many others who have been fooled by the recent studies.

Before discussing the studies in the 12/17/13 Annals I want to discuss why it makes sense to take multivitamins. But one thing that I want to make very clear is, however beneficial vitamins may be, taking vitamins is never a good substitute for a healthy diet. It is always best to get our nutrients from food whenever possible. Given a choice between someone eating a healthy diet and taking no supplements and someone who eats an unhealthy diet (rich in junk food/fast food/GMO’s/sugar etc.) who takes hundreds of dollars of supplements I would say the person with no supplements but a healthy diet will likely experience far better health. But judicious use of supplements in addition to a healthy diet is the best choice for everyone.

One of the greatest reasons it is wise to take supplements is that most people do not have a particularly healthy diet. For example, there is a large body of evidence that eating Genetically Modified Food is unhealthy, but most of us eat it every day. The only way to be sure to avoid these hazardous “foods” is to eat only organic foods and only eat at restaurants that use only organic ingredients. I would estimate that less than 1% of the population does this (and, health-conscious as I am, I am not among that group). For a more detailed discussion of the hazards of eating GMO food see my essay “Why Eat Organic Food?’ at

Those who say that vitamins are a waste of money seem to have the delusion that most people get adequate vitamins from their diets, so let’s examine the average American diet. The Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated SAD) is one of the main causes of our epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. Some frightening facts about the Standard American Diet: Only 7% of calories consumed by Americans are from fruits and vegetables. Half of the vegetables are potatoes and half of those are chips and fries. 23% of the calories consumed by Americans are from white sugar and about 20% from white flour. (see ).

Authorities have enumerated the DRI or Dietary Reference Intake levels for vitamins and minerals. This is similar to the RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance. While many authorities feel that getting the DRI’s of nutrients is adequate for good health, it can be argued that they are far from perfect. The DRI’s are generally the level that will prevent an otherwise healthy person from having gross deficiency symptoms but do not apply to people who are ill, do not take into account the wide range of genetic variation of the population and do not reflect the amount of a nutrient that supplies optimal health. There are many cases where doses of vitamins and minerals far above the DRI’s have been shown to have therapeutic benefits. For a further discussion of DRI’s see

So, given that the DRI’s represent the minimum most people need for health, let’s look at how many Americans get the DRI’s of various nutrients from their diets.The source of this information is at

According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, only 24.9% of Americans get the DRI of Folate (which appears to lower risk of heart disease and cancer), only 14.1% get the DRI of Vit. E, 27.1% get the DRI of Calcium, 32% for Magnesium, 45.3 % for Vit A, 51.7 for Vit C, 58% for Zinc, 64.7% for B6, 65.7% for Iron, 69.3% for Copper, 70.1% for B12, 71.7 % for Vit B1. You can see the whole list at

In summary, over 2/3 of Americans are deficient in Folate, Vitamin E, Calcium & Magnesium and over 1/3 are deficient in Vitamins A, C and B6 as well as Zinc and Iron. Thus, these deficiencies are widespread and can have serious long-term consequences. Vitamin D deficiency, not measured by the USDA, is also extremely widespread, probably affecting most Americans who do not take at least 1000 iu/day in fall and winter months.

In 2002 the American Medical Association released a groundbreaking position paper published in the JAMA titled “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults”
Quoting from this review  “In the absence of specific predisposing conditions, a usual North American diet is sufficient to prevent overt vitamin deficiency diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi. However, insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic diseases. Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins, even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A large proportion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason…

We recommend that all adults take one multivitamin daily. This practice is justified mainly by the known and suspected benefits of supplemental folate and vitamins B12, B6, and D in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis and because multivitamins at that dose are safe and inexpensive.”

Now let’s examine the recent studies that lead some to conclude that multivitamins are “a waste of money.” Many of these conclusions are based on the Physician’s Health Study. This same study was in the news in Nov. of 2012 when it was claimed that this study showed multivitamins don’t prevent cardiovascular disease in men. The current conclusion from the same study is that multivitamins don’t prevent cognitive decline in men as they age.
I analyzed this same study in 11/12- see

The criticisms I had then are the same I have now. The first thing to realize is that not all multivitamins are created equal. I will mostly quote much of my previous essay with a few minor changes.

It took quite a bit of searching to discover what the multivitamin used in this study was, as it is buried in the fine print. The multivitamin used was Centrum Silver. This is considered a perfectly adequate multivitamin by those with only cursory knowledge of nutrition, those who believe that the RDA is perfectly adequate, but for doctors who are knowledgeable about nutritional medicine it leaves a great deal to be desired.

Below is a list of the nutrients in the multivitamin used in this study:

Vitamin or Mineral Amount
Vitamin A (IU) 5000*
Vitamin C (mg) 60
Vitamin D (IU) 400
Vitamin E (IU) 45
Vitamin K (mcg) 10
Thiamin (mg) 1.5
Riboflavin (mg) 1.7
Niacin (mg) 20
Vitamin B6 (mg) 3
Folic Acid (mcg) 400
Vitamin B12 (mcg) 25
Biotin (mcg) 30
Pantothenic Acid (mg) 10
Calcium (mg) 200
Iron (mg) 4
Phosphorus (mg) 48
Iodine (mcg) 150
Magnesium (mg) 100
Zinc (mg) 15
Selenium (mcg) 20
Copper (mg) 2
Manganese (mg) 3.5
Chromium (mcg) 130
Molybdenum (mcg) 160
Chloride (mg) 72.6
Potassium (mg) 80
Boron (mcg) 150
Nickel (mcg) 5
Vanadium (mcg) 10

More detail as to the form of the vitamins/minerals and excipients is here: calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, dibasic calcium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ascorbic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate, pregelatinized cornstarch and modified food starch.

Centrum Silver contains less than 2 percent of the following ingredients: acacia, ascorbyl palmitate, beta-carotene, bht, biotin, boric acid, calcium pantothenate, calcium stearate, cholecalciferol, chromium picolinate, citric acid, cornstarch, crospovidone, cupric sulfate and cyanocobalamin. More ingredients include FD&C blue no. 2 aluminum lake, FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake and FD&C yellow no. 6 aluminum lake.

Further, Centrum Silver contains folic acid, gelatin, hydrogenated palm oil, hypromellose, lutein, lycopene, manganese sulfate, medium-chain triglycerides, niacinamide, nickelous sulfate, phytonadione, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, potassium iodide and pyridoxine hydrochloride. It also contains riboflavin, silicon dioxide, sodium ascorbate, sodium benzoate, sodium borate, sodium citrate, sodium metavanadate, sodium molybdate, sodium selenate, sorbic acid, sucrose, talc, thiamine mononitrate, titanium dioxide, tocopherols, tribasic calcium phosphate, vitamin A acetate and zinc oxide.

The amount of Vitamin C used in the study was 60 mg a day. I believe everyone should take a minimum of 500 mg twice a day to get the benefits of Vitamin C, and many people may need to take 5-10,000 mg a day in divided doses for optimal health. Taking a form of vitamin C known as  lypsospheric C is likely to be much more effective due to enhanced absorption, in which case 1,000 mg/day may be adequate for most. See
For more on the benefits of Vit C see  &

The 60 mg of Vitamin C used in this study likely has virtually no benefit in preventing heart disease (and no benefit in preventing cognitive decline).

Another key nutrient in preventing cardiovascular disease is Vitamin E. Everyone knows that cholesterol plays a role in heart disease. However, the role is a bit more complex than commonly thought. Cholesterol only causes problems if the wall of the arteries are damaged (via inflammation/oxidative stress in situations where Vitamin C levels are suboptimal) and if LDL cholesterol is oxidized, in which case the LDL will bind to or enter the arterial wall. Vitamin E prevents LDL cholesterol from being oxidized and also protects the arterial wall from oxidative stress.

This study used 45 IU of Vitamin E in the form of dl-alpha tocopherol, a synthetic form of Vit E that has been shown to be toxic in several previous research studies. Unlike synthetic E, which contains the synthetic chemical l-alpha tocopherol, natural E has only d-alpha
tocopherol as well as delta, beta and gamma tocopherols. Doses of 400-1200 units of natural E with mixed tocopherols have been proven to be highly effective in preventing heart disease. 45 units of synthetic E may do more harm than good! Taking only d-alpha tocopherol can lower our levels of gamma tocopherol which can have adverse health consequences, so even supplements with “natural E” that do not have mixed tocopherols may be harmful.

See for more on the research proving that Vit. E prevents heart disease.

Another key factor in the cause of heart disease (and preventing cognitive decline) is homocysteine, a toxic metabolite of the amino acid methionine. Vitamins B6, B12 and Folate have been shown to significantly lower homocysteine, reducing risk of both heart attack and stroke. The amount of B6 used in this study was a woefully inadequate 3 mg. A much more reasonable dose to reduce homocysteine is 25-50 mg. Many people may benefit even more from pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the activated form of B6. The form of B12 used in this study was 25 mcg of the cyanocobalamin form of B12. B12 is poorly absorbed by many, and cyanocobalamin is the least beneficial of the 3 common forms of B12. At least 1000 mcg of the methycobalamin form is advisable. While the 400 mcg dose of folic acid used is relatively reasonable, about one-half of the population has genetic difficulties converting folic acid to the active form, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF). There is also evidence that folic acid, a synthetic chemical, may increase risk of certain cancers including breast, prostate and colon. I thus advise taking at least 800 mcg of L-5-MTHF to prevent heart disease and stroke.

For more on homocysteine and heart health see

Vitamin D has also been shown to dramatically lower heart disease risk. A recent study done in Denmark involving more than 10,000 people found that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D experienced a 64 percent higher risk of heart attack, 57 percent higher risk of early death, 40 percent higher risk of ischemic heart disease and at least an 81 percent higher risk of death from heart disease. See

This study used the RDA of 400 IU of Vitamin D. However, to achieve optimal levels of  45-80 nanomoles per liter most adults need to take 5000-8000 IU/day of Vitamin D3.
It is also wise to take Vitamin K along with Vit. D for synergistic benefits.

Minerals can also be very helpful. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common and taking Magnesium has many proven benefits but Centrum Silver has only 100 mg of magnesium oxide, which is very poorly absorbed (approximately 4% absorbed). At least 200 mg of a well-absorbed form like taurate, citrate or glycinate would undoubtedly help more.

Selenium is also a useful antioxidant but the 20 mcg of sodium selenate is not nearly as beneficial as 100 mcg of selenium monomethionine might. 15 mg of zinc is reasonable but the zinc oxide form is, once again, relatively poorly absorbed compared to other forms of zinc.

Centrum silver also contains 4 mg of iron. This is, fortunately, a tiny amount, as iron is a pro-oxidant that is best avoided by all men and post-menopausal women as the evidence suggests that iron actually increases cardiovascular risk!

Added to the inadequacies of the quantities and forms of the nutrients in Centrum Silver, it also contains FD&C blue no. 2 aluminum lake, FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake and FD&C yellow no. 6 aluminum lake, hydrogenated palm oil, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, sodium benzoate, pregelatinized cornstarch (undoubtedly of GMO origin), sucrose, talc and titanium dioxide, ingredients that I strongly recommend avoiding. Hydrogenated oils are among the greatest known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Aluminum in particular has been linked by many studies to Alzheimer’s disease. Giving a pill with 3 different aluminum-containing chemicals in an attempt to prevent cognitive decline is questionable at best!

As for the study “Oral High-Dose Multivitamins and Minerals After
Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Trial” I have not yet learned the exact doses and vitamins used in this study but know that they gave only 100 iu of Vit D when, as discussed above, 5000 iu would be a much more reasonable dose. They also only gave 100 mcg of Vit B12, an inadequate dose for many due to its poor absorption. They also only gave the alpha tocopherol form of Vit E (I don’t know if it was natural or synthetic) and that is known to reduce levels of gamma tocopherol, which is probably more important in reducing cardiovascular disease. A study using mixed tocopherols would be more likely to show benefits.

Other flaws in this study include the fact that an astounding 46% of subjects discontinued the multivitamins during the study, making any conclusions questionable. Also, the group taking multivitamins had a higher rate of diabetes (which dramatically increases heart disease risk) than the control group, tending to bias the study against the treatment group.

In this study all subjects had already suffered a heart attack. They were only given vitamins for an average of 31 months (2 1/2 years). It is much easier to prevent than reverse heart disease and one might expect it would take a longer time to see clear benefits. Despite all of the above limitations, the group receiving vitamins had an 11% reduction in their primary endpoint (composite of time to death from any cause, heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization or hospitalization for angina). This was not considered statistically significant but that may be a product of the size of the study and does not mean that multivitamins may not have been beneficial!

The third study in the 12/17 Annals was a review study titled “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: An Updated Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force” which is available here:

It concluded “Limited evidence supports any benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation for the prevention of cancer or CVD. Two trials found a small, borderline-significant benefit from multivitamin supplements on cancer in men only and no effect on CVD.”
One of those 2 trials that found significant benefit for multivitamins preventing cancer is the same Physician’s Health Study using Centrum Silver that found little benefit in preventing cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. That study showed an 8% reduction in cancer incidence and 12% reduction in cancer death after 11.2 years of follow-up. If there can be such good results using such a poor quality multivitamin I would expect much more impressive results with a good-quality multivitamin.

Another fine doctor who is also a friend and mentor, Alan Gaby, recently wrote an editorial in the Huffington Post commenting on the Annals editorial. His article is much more succinct than this one and he makes several good points that I have not because I want everyone reading this to read his fine article at

(PS in the few hours since I’ve posted this article WordPress tells me 75 people have read this post so far and only 1 of them has clicked on the link to Dr. Gaby’s article. It is REALLY worth taking a gander at it!)

Quoting Dr. Gaby “Multivitamin-mineral preparations have been shown in published research to have a wide range of benefits, including increasing energy and stress tolerance, improving pregnancy outcomes, decreasing infection rates, slowing bone loss, and improving cognitive function in schoolchildren. Some studies have also demonstrated protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer, although the evidence is conflicting. Furthermore, various individual nutrients or combinations of nutrients have been used successfully for the prevention and treatment of many other health conditions, including migraines, congestive heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney stones, diabetes, and depression.”

For another extensive critique of the Annals studies and editorial see
That article also discusses many studies that do show benefits of vitamin therapy.

A meta-analysis published in the Feb.-March 2013 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal, titled “Effects of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation on Stress, Mild Psychiatric Symptoms, and Mood in Nonclinical Samples: A Meta-Analysis” analyzed eight double-blind,placebo-controlled studies on the effects of multivitamins on aspects of mood in 1,292 men and women. Quoting “When the research duo looked at trials that examined stress, supplemented subjects had a 65 percent lower risk of perceived stress compared to those that received a placebo. The analysis uncovered a 70 percent lower risk of mild psychiatric symptoms, a 68 percent lower risk of anxiety, a 73 percent reduction in experiencing fatigue and a 77.25 percent lower risk of confusion among supplemented participants. Happiness and decreased hostility levels were also likelier among supplement users in analyses of studies that analyzed these factors. Supplements that contained high doses of B vitamins tended to elicit greater benefits than those that had lower amounts.

“It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the diets of the samples in the studies evaluated did not provide optimal nutrition,” the authors write. “The fact that there was a greater response to the supplements that offered doses higher than those suggested by RDAs calls into question whether RDAs or dietary reference values (DRVs) provide intakes that adequately meet the needs of the brain. The present findings also call into question the existing wisdom that, in industrialized societies, the consumption of diets containing sufficient energy and protein will naturally provide sufficient levels of micronutrients.”

“Multivitamin/mineral supplementation has a beneficial effect on many aspects of mood and mild psychiatric symptoms in healthy populations,” they conclude.

I find this study particularly significant because as a holistic practitioner it is clear that stress and anxiety are among the greatest and most common contributors to physical health problems, so any treatment that reduces stress and anxiety is certain to benefit our physical as well as our emotional health.

I could go on and on about the well-conducted studies that do show significant benefits of multivitamins but will limit myself to one more. This study,”Reduction in the Frequency of Arrhythmic Episodes in Patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Arrhythmia with a Vitamin/Essential Nutrient Supplementation Program,” was authored by Matthias Rath, M.D., Tatiana Kalinovsky, MSRN, and Aleksandra Niedzwiecki, Ph.D. and published in the Nov. 2005 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association. This double-blind placebo-controlled study showed very impressive reductions in cardiac arrhythmias in patients who took a multivitamin vs. a placebo. For a detailed report on this study see

So is it reasonable to conclude that “the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”?

I believe it is reasonable to conclude that incredibly inadequate/subtherapeutic doses of vitamins in poorly absorbed forms mixed with a variety of toxic excipients are mostly ineffective. I could have told you that before this study. It is also reasonable to conclude that the authors of the quoted editorial are either extremely misinformed and/or incredibly biased against supplements.
But, unfortunately, the message the general public is receiving is that “Vitamins are a waste of money” This is, as demonstrated, TOTALLY WRONG and I am concerned that the blind acceptance/uncritical reporting of studies like this will lead many people who are taking one of the many high quality multivitamins that do have reasonable doses and forms of these nutrients to stop taking them out of the mistaken belief that they have been shown to be ineffective. This would be tragic.

Addendum: If you have concluded that it is wise to take a multivitamin, you may wonder which one to take, as clearly some are MUCH better than others. There are many good choices and no single one is best for everyone. I advise looking for one that contains the L-5-MTHF form of folate as at least 40% of the population has difficulty converting folic acid to folate. I also advise choosing one that has the methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin forms of Vitamin B12 rather than the cyanocobalamin form. Ideally it should have relatively well-abosrbed forms of minerals. For example, if it has magnesium oxide I consider that a sign of a poor-quality vitamin, whereas if it has magnesium glycinate, taurate, malate, citrate or aspartate it is better quality. The best have natural Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. I also like vitamins that have auxiliary nutrients such as Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Lutein etc. I personally prefer capsules, are GMO-free and like those with minimal fillers, binders and excipients.
Some of my favorite multivitamins are UltraNutrient by Pure Encapsulations, Basic Nutrients (and other multivitamins) from Thorne Research and DFH Complete from Designs For Health.
Some protein powders such as UltraClear by Thorne also contain all the ingredients of a multivitamin combined with protein and other nutrients.


This essay is part of my ongoing series of essays on Diet and Health but I thought I would also give it its own section here so it does not get lost in the shuffle!


A common concern regarding diet is the importance of choosing organic food. While I am a strong supporter of organic food, it is significantly more expensive than conventional food. Also, if one eats at restaurants many of them do not have organic food (or only some of their food is organic). So a common question is “Is organic food really worth the extra expense? What is the risk of eating non-organic foods?” And, like everything related to the complex realm of diet and health, the answers are not black and white.

Many people question whether there are even any benefits to eating organic foods. Indeed, in Sept. of 2012 the media was awash with reports of a major study at Stanford University that claimed that organic food was not substantially different than factory-farm foods in terms of its nutritional content. These results are actually highly questionable (see below) but even if true, totally ignores the main reason most people originally have chosen organic foods, which is to minimize exposure to pesticides. These days, however, I feel there is a much more important reason to eat mostly organic foods, which is to avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods.

While natural substances like sulphur were used as pesticides since about 2500 BC, pretty much all food grown would have met modern organic standards until after World War II, when DDT use became widespread. In the 1960’s DDT was found to cause environmental havoc as it spread through the food chain and its use in the US was curtailed, but by then many other pesticides had come into widespread use.

Over 600 registered pesticides are in use in the US currently. In 2007 877 million pounds of pesticides were used in the US. Also, 150 million pounds of the toxic herbicide Round-Up are used annually in the US. Significant amounts of pesticide and herbicide residues are found in many non-organic foods.

Those who choose organic generally believe that organic foods contain no pesticides, except, perhaps, trace amounts that might have drifted from adjacent fields being sprayed. However, as my favorite nutrition blogger Denise Minger writes in her post The Lowdown on Organic Food,
unknown to most, organic farmers can and do often use pesticides- it is just that the pesticides they use are natural “organic” pesticides like pyrethrum and rotenone. Just because something is natural does not mean it is non-toxic- consider mercury, cyanide and death-cap mushrooms as natural substances that are harmful. Some of the natural pesticides used in growing organic foods can be more hazardous than many of the synthetic pesticides used, some of which break down rapidly and are gone by the time you eat the food!


Despite the findings of the “Stanford Study” ( “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?: A Systematic Review”, Crystal Smith-Spangler et. al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 9/4/2012, ) that purported to find no significant difference in the nutritional content of organic vs. conventional foods, a similar large-scale review of the literature, “Agroecosystem management and nutritional quality of plant foods: The case of organic fruits and vegetables” by Kirsten Brandt et. al. published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 4/29/11 ( found a significantly higher level of beneficial nutrients such as flavanols. Quoting from Lynne Peeples’s article “Stanford Organics Study: Have Faulty Methods, Political Motivations Threatened Kids’ Health?” ( “Brandt wondered how the Stanford team, led by faculty from the School of Medicine and Center for Health Policy, could have found no difference in total flavanols between organic and conventional foods when her own results showed organics carried far more of the heart-healthy nutrient. Upon further inspection, she noticed that the team had actually calculated the difference in total flavonols, a different nutrient, and reported the result with the swap of an “o” for an “a”.

Many of the other nutrients Brandt analyzed and found to be greater in organics were also missing altogether from the new review, she noted. “The choices they made don’t seem to make sense — they seemed to include ones where the difference was smallest to begin with,” said Brandt. “I’d like to know why they chose these and not others that were just as well-described in the same papers they included.””
Quoting Ms. Peeples more, “Further obscured in the review…are organics’ more important selling points. Organic farming methods encourage soil and water conservation and reduce contamination of air, water, food and human bodies by avoiding antibiotics, hormones, synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Genetic engineering, under increased scrutiny by health experts, is also prohibited for organics.
While the researchers didn’t address many of these health concerns, they did note lower levels of pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in organic compared to conventional foods. But critics suggest that these points were glossed over or manipulated.
For example, the authors reported that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination compared to conventional fruits and vegetables. Not included in the publicly-available abstract or press release was the fact that pesticide residues were found in 7 percent of organics and 38 percent of conventional foods. In relative terms, that’s a more impressive 81 percent difference.
“Come on, that’s simple math” ”
For more critiques of the Stanford Study see and
Another fascinating though completely unrelated study, done as a 10th Grade Science project, gives strong evidence that an organic diet increases longevity:

Another recent meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies by researchers at Newcastle University University in England published in Sept. of 2014 concluded “the concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods, with those of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins being an estimated 19%, 69%,28%,26%,50% and 51% higher, respectively. Many of these compounds have previously been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including CVD and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers…Additionally, the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal Cd (cadmium).”

The bottom line is that Organic Foods are more nutritious and have an 81% lower chance of having measurable pesticide residues and even when such residues are present are likely to have much fewer pesticides. Organic meats are less likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Organic farming is also, of course, much better for our environment and for the health of farmworkers.
Not all foods are equally prone to pesticide contamination. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of the “Dirty Dozen” foods with the highest level of pesticide contamination, as well as the “Clean Fifteen” that tend to have few if any residues. The worst of the Dirty Dozen are Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Peaches & Spinach. The best are Onions, Pineapple, Avocado and Cabbage. For those who can not afford to eat exclusively organic (or for when one is eating at restaurants) this list can be a helpful guide. See

An excellent recent article on the science of how even tiny amounts of pesticide residues well below the levels considered “safe” by the EPA may still cause very serious health problems is “Stealth Attack” in the 10/12 issue of Psychology Today and also here:


While I believe it is optimal to eat organically to avoid pesticide exposures both personally and for our planet, these days a far more compelling reason to choose organic produce is to avoid Genetically-Modified Foods, also known as GMO’s. GMO foods have permeated the American food supply. Over 80% of processed foods contain GMO’s. The most common GMO foods are corn, soy, sugar beets, canola & papaya- see
Most processed foods contain GMO corn, soy or canola oil- the corn and soy is often present as vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, dextrose, soy sauce, lecithin etc.- even “natural flavoring.” Of great concern to me is that most animal-derived foods- meats, dairy and eggs, comes from animals fed GMO corn and soy. I don’t want to eat cheese from cows fed GMO corn or eggs from chickens fed GMO soy. I don’t care if a chicken is “All-Natural Free-Range Hormone & Antibiotic Free.” If it is not certified organic it has almost certainly been raised on a diet of GMO corn and/or soy! There is an old saying, “You are what you eat.” In the case of dairy, eggs and meats, you are also the food that what you eat eats! I don’t believe that an animal fed GMO corn and soy can possibly be healthy and I certainly don’t want to eat it (or its products like eggs and dairy).

Unfortunately, most restaurant food is cooked with GMO oils.
Thus, the only way to avoid GMO’s is to choose whole foods that are not yet genetically modified, choose foods such as corn, soy and papayas that are certified organic and choose processed foods that are organic or labelled as GMO-free and, besides wild fish, to only have meats, dairy & eggs that are certified organic.
So, given how much an effort it takes to avoid GMO’s, why should we make the effort? Let’s examine the most commonly eaten GMO food, corn. In his superb book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan discusses evidence that most of the carbon in our bodies ultimately comes from corn, either from eating corn directly, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, or from eating dairy, eggs & meats fed on corn. The way corn is genetically modified is by inserting a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces a chemical called Bt-toxin. Bt-toxin is a pesticide; when certain insects eat Bt-toxin it breaks open their stomachs and kills them.
Think about this- normally pesticides are sprayed onto plants. If we are lucky only traces of it remain and perhaps some of the residues can be washed off, but not in this case. Each ear of corn has been turned into a pesticide factory. Pesticides permeate the entire plant; there is no removing them. Thus, it would be nice if there was evidence that Bt toxin was safe for human consumption. Such evidence does not exist. Monsanto claimed that the Bt toxin would be completely destroyed by the human digestive system. However, research in 2011 found that Bt toxin can be found in the blood of 93% of pregnant women and in the umbilical cord blood of 80% of their babies.
Incredibly, there have not been any safety studies done on this powerful toxin that now permeates our food supply, but animal studies show it can trigger allergies and autoimmune disease. See for a more thorough discussion. A  recent study found that Bt toxin may cause anemia and be a cause of leukemia. See

For more on the animal studies demonstrating the hazards of ingesting GMO’s see this position paper by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine see

and this recent assessment by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility:

Here is an article from 9/24/14 by Thierry Vrain, a former research scientist for Agriculture Canada. Part of his job was to address public groups to assure them that GMO foods were safe. Quoting his essay, “I have in the last 10 years changed my position. I started paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe, some from prestigious labs and published in prestigious scientific journals, that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food.

I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.”

Here is a link to the second edition of GMO Myths and Truths, co-authored by genetic engineers Dr John Fagan and Dr Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson, released on 19 May 2014 as a free online download by the sustainability and science policy platform Earth Open Source:


The other main food source of GMO’s is soy, which  has been modified to be “Roundup Ready.” Other crops that have been genetically modified to be “Roundup Ready” include corn, sugarbeets and canola. Roundup is a powerful herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. GMO soy is modified so that huge amounts of Roundup, which would otherwise kill the plant, won’t affect it. However, the resultant crop contains large residues of Roundup. The “active ingredient” in Roundup, Glyphosate, has been shown to cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death at levels that are legal in our food (see ). There is also evidence that the glyphosate in Roundup kills much of our friendly gut flora which can create many adverse consequences- see
Glyphosate is also dramatically reduces the mineral content of plants sprayed with it- see
According to this review “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases” published 5/13 in the journal Entropy, Glyphosate disrupts Cytochrome P450 and the “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders,obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.” (see ). However, science is not black and white but often controversial, so I will also link this article that is highly critical of the aforementioned review:

Recent research shows that one of the “inactive ingredients,” POE-15, may be much more toxic than Glyphosate. See

I recently learned that the VAST MAJORITY of conventionally-grown wheat (that is, virtually all wheat that is not certified organic) is drenched with Roundup to kill the wheat plants prior to harvesting! Thus, the huge number of people who have discovered that they feel worse when they eat wheat and attribute their problems to gluten sensitivity may actually be feeling worse due to the Roundup residues in conventional wheat! Based upon this I strongly advise not eating wheat products unless they are organic. See

for more on this important concern.


There are NO research studies demonstrating that GMO foods are safe for humans to eat. ZERO. NONE AT ALL.

However, there are many quality studies on the effects of GMO foods on the health of animals that consume them. Quoting, “independent studies showed stunted growth, impaired immune systems, bleeding stomachs, abnormal and potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, impaired blood cell development, misshaped cell structures in the liver, pancreas and testicles, altered gene expression and cell metabolism, liver and kidney lesions, partially atrophied livers, inflamed kidneys, less developed organs, reduced digestive enzymes, higher blood sugar, inflamed lung tissue, increased death rates and higher offspring mortality as well.”
Here is another well-written article on the hazards of GMO foods: “Why genetically engineered food is dangerous: New report by genetic engineers” :

61 countries including the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil and Australia require the labeling of GM foods (see

In a March  2013 survey, 82% of the American public think GMO foods should be labeled while only 9% say they should not ( ). It would seem that in a democracy this wish would be honored, but Monsanto has an undue influence on government agencies through lobbying and having many of their former executives now put in charge of regulating Monsanto! See  
Given how unlikely it is that our leaders will respond to the   public’s desire for GMO labeling, the best hope is the action of individual states. However, in the November 2012 election, California State Proposition 37 to label GMO foods was narrowly defeated after Monsanto and companies that produce GMO-containing foods outspent proponents five to one with a very deceptive advertising campaign. Prior to the campaign 91% of Californians said they supported GMO labeling!  A similar proposition was narrowly defeated in Washington State in Nov. 2013 after another massive and deceptive advertising campaign by opponents. And another proposition was defeated 50.5% to 49.5% in Oregon in Nov. 2014. However, in April of 2014 the Vermont legislature passed the first law requiring GMO labeling, slated to take effect in 2016, though 4 national organizations have filed a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional!

Unfortunately due to the current lack of labeling, the only way to avoid GMO exposure is to eat mostly organic!!!