UV rays and you

beach umbrella

People who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. And it would be unwise to stay inside if it would keep you from being active because physical activity is important for good health. But getting too much sun can be harmful. There are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays. Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day and it happens every time you are in the sun.

An obvious, but very important, way to limit your exposure to UV light is to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long. This is particularly important between the hours of 10AM and 4PM when UV light is strongest. If you are unsure how strong the sun’s rays are, use the shadow test; if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are the strongest and it’s important to protect yourself.

UV rays reach the ground all year, even on cloudy or hazy days, but the strength of UV rays can change based on the time of year and other factors. UV rays become more intense in the spring even before temperatures get warmer. People in some areas may get sunburned when the weather is still cool because they may not think about protecting themselves if it’s not hot out. Be especially careful on the beach or in areas with snow because sand, water and snow reflect sunlight, increasing the amount of UV radiation you get. UV rays can also reach below the water’s surface so you can still get a burn even if you’re in the water and feeling cool.

Some UV rays can also pass through windows. Typical car, home and office windows block most UVB rays, but a smaller portion of UVA rays, so even if you don’t feel you’re getting burned your skin may still get some damage. Tinted windows help block more UVA rays, but this depends on the type of tinting.

If you plan to be outdoors, you may want to check the UV Index for your area. The UV Index usually can be found in local newspapers, TV, radio, and online forecasts.

Protect your skin with clothing: When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to cover your skin. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective. Dark colours generally provide more protection than light colours. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.

Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too. Many companies now make clothing that’s lightweight, comfortable and protects against UV exposure even when wet. It tends to be more tightly woven and some have special coatings to help absorb UV rays. These sun-protective clothes may have a label listing the UV protection factor (UPF) value (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun’s UV rays, on a scale from 15 to 50+). The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.

Some products, which are used like laundry detergents in a washing machine, can increase the UPF value of clothes you already own. They add a layer of UV protection to your clothes without changing the colour or texture. This can be useful, but it’s not exactly clear how much it adds to protecting you from UV rays so it’s still important to follow the other steps listed here.

Use sunscreen: It’s important to know that sunscreen is just a filter; it does not block all UV rays. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. Even with proper sunscreen use, some UV rays still get through. Because of this, sunscreen should not be thought of as your first line of defence. Consider sunscreen as one part of your skin cancer protection plan, especially if staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing aren’t available as your first options.

Read the labels: Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.

Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection (although it says nothing about UVA protection). For example, when applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, one hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending two minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen so they get less actual protection.

Sunscreens labelled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people don’t understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely.

Sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 must now include a warning on the label stating that the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.

Broad spectrum sunscreen: Sunscreen products can only be labelled “broad spectrum” if they have been tested and shown to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some of the chemicals in sunscreens that help protect against UVA rays include avobenzone (Parsol 1789), ecamsule, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Only broad spectrum sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures.

Water resistant sunscreen: Sunscreens are no longer allowed to be labelled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because these terms can be misleading. Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant,” but they have to state whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, based on testing.

Expiration dates: Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it’s still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least two to three years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods, such as if they were kept in a glove box or car trunk through the summer, may be less effective.

Wear sunglasses that block UV rays: UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.

The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. Those labelled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Source: American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org

photo © Joao Virissimo

The importance of good bacteria

miso soup

by Dr. Mercola

Your gastrointestinal tract is home to the largest part of your body’s immune system, protecting you against foreign invaders by producing acids and housing colonies of beneficial bacteria that act as a defensive army fighting to protect you from pathogens that find their way inside your body.

There are about 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut. That’s 10 times more than the total number of cells in your body (about 10 trillion). These tiny creatures make up between three to five pounds of your body weight!

Your body receives help breaking down foods into their component parts from the organisms that live in your gut (intestinal flora). These bacteria, yeasts and fungi can produce beneficial waste products as they feast on your digesting food, such as B and K vitamins that your body needs. They also function to break down some foods that your body cannot absorb by itself; they change carbs into simple sugars and proteins into the component amino acids.

Jack hirose 3 day mindfulness intensive in Banff

But when you eat too many grains, sugars and processed foods, these foods serve as fertilizer for the bad bacteria and yeast and will cause them to rapidly multiply. One of the best things you can do for your health, including your digestive health, is eliminate sugars and processed foods as much as possible. In fact, millions of people currently suffer from yeast overgrowth and a host of maladies related to the rapid spread of the bad bacteria in your intestines. And most conventional doctors will not be able to identify the cause of your symptoms if you suffer from bad bacteria or yeast overgrowth.

Estimates are that as many as 80 million people, mostly women, are currently suffering from harmful yeast overgrowth. Symptoms of this yeast overgrowth include: Irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, PMS, cancer, vaginitis, asthma, fibromyalgia, weight gain, food allergies chronic fatigue, yeast infections and depression.

As you can see the list is long and varied, and the symptoms mimic those caused by many other diseases. So the key to good intestinal health, especially in your small intestine, is keeping an optimum balance of the helpful and harmful microorganisms. This is why probiotics (“for life”) supplements are so important; they increase the ratio of “good” bacteria in your gut, and why antibiotics (against life) can interfere with the delicate balance in your gut.

In fact, contrary to what you might have heard about probiotics not surviving in the highly acidic wash of your stomach, the helpful bacteria like acidophilus thrive in an acidic environment and not only survive the stomach environment, but acidophilus will actually also create lactic acid to maintain a more acidic condition in your small intestine. Some examples of health problems that you may face if your gut microorganisms stay out of balance for long periods of time include bad breath, foul gas, toxemia, candida yeast overrun, chronic fatigue, brain fogginess, lowered immunity and impaired digestion and absorption.

This is why it pays dividends to eat some fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, black garlic, miso, natto, kefir, lassi and tempeh.

Dr. MercolaIf you are unable to find quality fermented foods, supplementing with a high quality probiotic product will also serve the function of multiplying the “good” bacteria found in your digestive tract. When searching for probiotic supplements, be sure to buy the highest quality you can find, because when it comes to feeding your beneficial bacteria, not all products are created equally.j

© Dr. Mercola. www.mercola.com

What Health Canada won’t tell you about their NHP proposals

pill bottle

– but you should tell your MP

Health Canada (HC) never changes! They say one thing when behind the scenes their true motivations are completely different. With the media in tow, they have launched another round of consultations attempting to whitewash their proposals for the regulation of Natural Health Products (NHPs).

See: “Report of Online Consultation on Modernizing the Regulation of Self-care Products in Canada” (March 2017): www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-regulation-self-care-products/full-report.html

Make no mistake; the sole purpose of these consultations is to ‘manufacture consent’ from stakeholders, the public and politicians for what HC is actually attempting, which is to provide a mechanism for pharmaceutical companies to monopolize NHPs for serious chronic diseases, as drugs derived from natural constituents appear, protected by use-patents.

As has been the case for over three decades, Health Canada’s policies on NHPs are being heavily influenced by the Therapeutic Products Division (TPD), which regulates prescription drugs. The TPD acts as an ambassador(s) for Big Pharma. It is all part of an international alliance between pharma and regulators called ICMRA, the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities. (See www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/intactivit/drug-medicament/icmra-eng.php)

ICMRA is looking to internationally harmonize regulations on all medicines, an agenda Health Canada has ardently supported and prime in their sights are NHPs. The current HC proposals boil down to a purely bureaucratic and corporate agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with the benefit of Canadians.

How can such statements be made? In light of examining what Health Canada is actually doing, what they are saying doesn’t hold water.

Firstly, their most prominent theme is that they are committed to “modernizing” the current regulations.
Fact: Canada already has the most modern NHP regulations on the planet! This is like saying you are committed to modernizing a car that automatically drives itself. There isn’t anything more modern. Our regulations are light years ahead of any other country, with mandatory Good Manufacturing Processes and testing of ingredients. As a result, Canadian-made NHPs are in high demand in international markets. So what is HC so intent on changing??

The answer involves the fact that when HC formed the NHP Regulations they never thought so many NHPs would be able to support their claims with scientific evidence demonstrating efficacy. In fact, it was assumed by both HC and the natural health industry that scores of products would be eliminated. One prominent HC inspector was quoted during a plant inspection as estimating that up to 70% of the NHPs on the market would vanish. But the NHP industry rose to the challenge.

As new science on NHPs continued to mount, HC was faced with a new problem: that a large number of claims were being approved by the HC directorate in charge, for example, the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD). These claims were/are based on peer-reviewed scientific or traditional evidence. Hence, large amounts of information have been disseminated to the public about what NHPs are capable of. The pharmaceutical industry began to complain NHP claims were not supported, when in fact most were and the NHPs were approved by Health Canada.

Yet the HC document above states the following: “…Many participants from the NHP sector are not supportive of this proposed requirement for scientific proof to support health claims, fearing that it would negatively affect the affordability, availability, and diversity of these products.”

This is doublespeak. The direct inference that NHP claims do not have to be proven is totally false and a major deception being purported by both Health Canada and the media. Presently, to be licensed, a
product must make a claim and it must support it using at least two peer-reviewed human trials or show it has been used for at least 50 years for the claim in question. Also, every ingredient in a formula has to provide a scientific or traditional rationale for its inclusion. The Natural Health Products Directorate (still operating within the larger NNHPD framework) routinely rejects submitted studies for inadequacy because of poor design or small sample size, etc. So it is untrue that the new proposals are just trying to ensure that NHPs prove their claims because they already have to prove their claims, as per the Natural Health Products Regulations.

What HC is actually proposing is that if any NHP claim involves a medical condition, the company in question would have to run clinical trial(s) to be approved, just like pharmaceutical drugs, regardless of how many peer-reviewed third-party studies there are supporting the NHP claim.

This is ludicrous. Firstly, with zero Canadian deaths on record from NHPs in over 60 years, their safety
levels eclipse that of prescription and [over-the-counter] OTC drugs, virtually every one of which has caused death. Further, many NHP ingredients have been used for centuries and intensely scientifically studied for decades. So if both the safety and efficacy of an NHP have already been firmly established, what purpose do further clinical trials serve, other than making it more expensive? The answer: a scheme to keep NHP companies out of the market. This is where the pharmaceutical industry is planning to exert their patents, such as this one on apigenin from chamomile (or celery) for cancer: www.google.com/patents/EP2403497A1?cl=en

Other falsehoods being purported by HC are that they are taking a “Risk-based Approach” and the more serious the condition, the “higher risk” the product in question. This is totally invalid. For example, there is ample evidence that quercetin, derived from citrus or onions, is effective for allergies and is anti-cancer. But what you use it for doesn’t change quercetin’s inherent safety! By this logic, eating a teaspoon of cinnamon on porridge isn’t dangerous, but taking the same amount of cinnamon, at the same meal, in a capsule for high blood sugar is. This is not a “risk-based” approach, it is a “USE-BASED” approach and the only thing it protects is pharmaceutical dominion over disease. If HC was really taking a risk-based approach, they wouldn’t be lumping NHPs together with OTC drugs because their risk levels are not comparable. This exact point was already considered and decided on by the Standing Committee on Health and was one of the driving forces behind establishing a separate set of regulations for NHPs.

HC says it combined the two directorates to save money. Yet if they were really trying to save money, why would they abandon a set of regulations that took 10 years to complete, and at the same time create an entire new directorate, the Marketed Health Products Directorate (MHPD), just to monitor product claims?

Is this how Canadians want their tax-money spent? Inspectors roving all over the country inspecting NHPs who have killed no one? Just think about how disproportional the concern and resources that HC has spent policing NHPs is compared to the low level of harm they have caused, not to mention their benefits or how much money they have saved our health care system. Does this make sense? No, it doesn’t because that’s not what its about. It’s about money and market control.

It is critical that you provide your viewpoint to both Health Canada and your elected officials in Ottawa. The best form of communication is a letter mailed to your MP. But whether by letter, fax, phone, or e-mail, concerned Canadians need to communicate with the MPs and express their views.

Take action at www.citizensforchoice.com/action-page
Source: Citizens for Choice in Healthcare,
www.citizensforchoice.com

Citizen assisted genetic testing

photo of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS
by David Suzuki

Since I started working as a geneticist in the early 1960s, the field has changed considerably. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins won the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Researchers then “cracked” the genetic code, which held promise for fields like health and medicine. It was an exciting time to be working in the lab.

More than 40 years later, in 2003, an international group of scientists sequenced the entire human genetic code. Researchers can now find a gene suspected to cause a disease in a matter of days, a process that took years before the Human Genome Project. As of 2013, more than 2,000 genetic tests were available for human conditions. Forty years ago, I never dreamed scientists would have the knowledge and manipulative capabilities that have become standard practice today.

Inner engineering

In a couple of decades, genetics has allowed for systematic inventorying of the world’s biodiversity. Canada’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph has the genomes of more than 265,000 named species identified with barcodes in its database. The cost to analyze a sample against this free public database is about $10.

Young citizen scientists in San Diego were recently able to help compile information about the area’s biodiversity through their local libraries. Kids signed out genetic testing kits… through Catalog of Life @ the Library.

People in Canada can also help identify seafood fraud with the LifeScanner service. Genetic testing helps consumers identify the species and possibly the origin of fish they buy, important for people who care about sustainability and health and nutrition.

Identifying and tracing seafood has long been a challenge, especially because about 40 percent of wild-caught seafood is traded internationally and labelling is often inadequate. Once fish are skinned, cleaned and packaged, it’s not always easy to tell what they are. If you buy something labelled “rockfish” in Canada, it could be one of more than 100 species. Often, labels don’t indicate whether the fish were caught or processed sustainably. Although the European Union and US require more information on seafood labels than Canada, one study found 41 percent of US seafood is mislabelled.

A European study found stronger policies combined with public information led to less mislabelling. People in Canada have demanded better legislation to trace seafood products. More than 12,000 people recently sent letters to government asking for better labelling.

SeaChoice (the David Suzuki Foundation is a member) is working with LifeScanner to register 300 people in Canada to test seafood, in part to determine whether labels are accurate.

With the help of citizen scientists, genetic testing can offer a powerful approach to righting environmental wrongs. Combining crowd-sourced scientific data, public policy reform and consumer activism is already showing positive results. The same approach could work in areas such as testing for antibiotics, pesticide and mercury residues and more.

Excerpted from “Citizen science and genetic testing yield positive results.” David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

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Hidden health risks of glyphosate

glyphosate-molecule

compiled by Jasmin Schellenberg

The government calls it safe, but studies show it shouldn’t be used at all. Dr. Don Huber, Dr Stephanie Seneff, Anthony Samsel and Nancy Swanson found alarming correlations, in a list of over 30 human debilitating diseases, with the increased use of glyphosate (molecule shown above) , the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, and the increased prevalence of genetically engineered proteins in our food.

USDA administrators are unable to show any evidence of the safety of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops, though the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed in food. Soybean oil is now allowed to contain 400 times the limit at which it can impact your health.

Glyphosate is not just an herbicide. It was originally patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, making them unavailable in the body. It’s also patented as a potent antibiotic that can devastate human gut bacteria. Governments in Canada have clearcut areas sprayed with glyphosate. In BC, 10,000 hectares of publically owned land are sprayed with glyphosate every year.


Jack hirose 3 day mindfulness intensive in Banff


Dr. Seneff strongly suspects that glyphosate is getting into proteins by mistake in place of glycine. This has huge consequences to our health because the human proteins contaminated with glyphosate don’t work properly in their function in the body, and the glyphosate- contaminated food proteins tend to resist proteolysis, sticking around and causing autoimmune disease through molecular mimicry. This explains the epidemic in allergies to foods likely to contain high amounts of glyphosate contamination, such as gluten, casein and soy.

One molecule we can predict to be severely affected by glyphosate substitution for glycine is collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is essential for cushioning the joints. Glyphosate contamination causes it to perform poorly, leading to joint pain and tendonitis, among other things. This explains why so many people suffer from chronic pain conditions, such as shoulder and back pain and why we have an epidemic in opioid drug abuse. Foods with high amounts of gelatin can be expected to be highly contaminated with glyphosate, including bone broth, ordinarily very nutritious. One must also consider the implications of glyphosate contamination in gel capsules.

Probably the most ominous consequence of glyphosate contamination in collagen is the implications it has for vaccines. Vaccines are injected directly into the body past all the normal barriers and this makes any toxic ingredient in the vaccine very problematic. MMR vaccine, in particular, was found to have much higher levels of glyphosate than other vaccines and this may well explain the association between MMR and autism that shows up in the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) database.

Adverse reactions to MMR are much more severe today than they were in the ‘90s when much less glyphosate was used on core crops. Dr. Seneff notes that, if nothing changes, we will have a one-to-one ratio of healthy to autistic children by 2032.

Do not use herbicides in your garden and avoid all GMO foods. Replace with organically grown products, vegetables and meats.

Compiled by Jasmin Schellenberg, www.pasture-to-plate.com Sources: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, www.westonaprice.org and and Dr. Stephanie Seneff. Visit www.pasture-to-plate.com or www.thegreengazette.ca for “Nourishing our Children” newsletters.

Can Cannabis be the Remedy for the Opioid Crisis?

Dr Lumir Hanus presenting at 2016 Hemp Conference

At UBC, May 6 – 7, the largest cannabis conference in Canada will feature scientific presentations by international and national speakers, panel discussions, hands-on workshops and 25+ Exhibitors.

by Salimeh Tabrizi

It has been a confusing month in Canada with the recent raids of Cannabis Culture and the arrests of long-time Cannabis activists and advocates Jodie and Marc Emery on March 8th at Pearson International Airport coinciding with the Trudeau government’s promise to release legislation on Cannabis Legalization on April 20th.

Amongst recent reports, it has been stated that Cannabis will be nationally legalized in Canada by July 1, 2018. However, many people are wondering why people are still getting arrested and having to face criminal charges when Canada is paving the way for legalization.

According to Health Canada, Cannabis (marijuana) remains a “Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act since 1923, and unless otherwise regulated for production and distribution for medical purposes, is subject to offences under that Act.”

However, Marc Emery states that all uses of Cannabis are therapeutic and hence in this time of major constitutional change, the government should introduce an interim period of decriminalization.

On February 24, 2016 renowned defense lawyer John Conroy, who has been working on Cannabis laws for over 40 years stated “Mr. Trudeau’s government could simply pass an order-in-council by cabinet, removing Cannabis from schedule 2 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.”

Nevertheless, old beliefs do not die easily and changing public perception and government policy often takes years.

However, with the opioid crisis in Canada becoming worse everyday, the shift in ideology and acceptance of Cannabis, in general, and more specifically as an alternative to opioids might happen sooner than expected.

According to a publication by the Health Officers Council of British Columbia back in 2007, there were “47,000 drug-related deaths yearly in Canada.” The number one cause of these deaths was prescription opioids.

Opioids are synthetic depressants drugs that are prescribed for pain relief. Some common opioids are Oxycodone, Tylenol with codeine and Fentanyl.

Canada has become the “second largest consumer of prescription opioids, second only to the United States, and with a 203% increase in usage between 2000 and 2010.” A report by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, found that from “2009 to 2014, at least 655 Canadians died as a result of fentanyl.”

Now, it’s important to note that opioid medication can be extremely helpful in alleviating acute pain, and controlling symptoms of pain and discomfort, especially for those people who are terminally ill. However, the overuse and abuse of these prescription opioid medications is painting another story.

Many people start with acute pain, where their doctor prescribes Hydromorph Contin, oxycodone or fentanyl to lessen their pain after a sports injury to ease back pain, or muscle aches; but, due to the addictive nature of these opioids, these people soon become dependent and have to consume higher amounts of the pain killers in order to have the “relief” or the “high.”

Now, where does Cannabis fit into this story?

We are still at the tip of the iceberg, regarding cannabis research, due to Cannabis being a schedule I drug in the United States, under even more strict regulations than Canada. However, there is substantial evidence for the benefits of Cannabis in regards to pain reduction.

As a result of thousands of patient cases, Cannabis has been shown to be especially helpful for autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Celiac Disease, all of which become exasperated due to inflammation. This is because inflammation prompts the body to start attacking itself.

So, how does Cannabis help with these issues? Our human body has receptors for cannabinoids, two of the most common being THC and CBD. Hence, Cannabis works with our own endocannabinoid system that regulates homeostasis, appetite, sleep, pain reduction, and neurotransmitter levels.

Hence, Cannabis does not only alleviate the symptoms of pain, like opioids, but rather brings the body back to a state of balance.

While research in this area is still growing, studies show increasing evidence for the benefits of Cannabis for chronic pain. In 2015, a Canadian study published in the Journal of Pain found “medical marijuana was mostly
safe for treating chronic pain.” In addition, Barth Wilsey, the director of University of California Center for Cannabis Research, who has evaluated 63 studies on the THC for treating pain, concluded, “THC significantly reduced neuropathic pain.”

Although further research is needed for the effects of Cannabis on pain, the one thing that does remain a constant is that Cannabis products are not fatal, unlike opioids, and with thousands of positive patient cases, it’s only a matter of time until the government starts to increase funding for Cannabis research in Canada.

Amidst all of this, it is important to remember that we are speaking about a plant medicine, which has been used for over 5,000 years. As people living in Canada, it’s important that we stay well informed about the cutting-edge research on Cannabis for our health and our future.

On May 6-7th, don’t miss your chance to educate and empower yourself, by joining hundreds of inquisitive attendees, patients, consumers, health-care professionals, environmentalists and industry experts at the 3rd annual 2017 Cannabis & Hemp Conference and Expo at the Nest, at the University of British Columbia. At the largest Cannabis conference in Canada, you’ll have access to scientific presentations by 50 international and national speakers, 13 Panel discussions, 25+ Exhibitors and 4 Hands-On Workshops including: Growing Your Own Cannabis Organically, Making your Own Topicals, Cooking with Cannabis, as well as Cannabis Juicing and Healthy Edibles.

Highlighted speakers include: Graham Hancock, Dr. Ethan Russo, Jodie Emery, John Conroy, and Anndrea Hermann.

Questions for the panelists include:
• How will the Cannabis laws change with the new legislature for legalization?
• What can we learn from the USA legalization initiatives?
• What is the public health approach to cannabis legalization?
• How can Cannabis be de-stigmatized in the mainstream medical community?
• Will Canadians be able to grow their own Cannabis?
• How can hemp be utilized as a fuel and/or an alternative to plastics?

Staying educated regarding the latest up to date news on Legalization from the leading industry experts, researchers, scientists, lawyers and public health professionals will also enable each one of us to further establish and secure our personal sovereignty and exert greater freedom and choice regarding holistic and natural alternatives instead of having to be over-reliant on pharmaceuticals.

To see a full list of speakers, and workshops, please visit CannabisHempConference.com.

Salimeh Tabrizi, M.Ed is a Clinical Counsellor and Plant Medicine Advocate. She is inspired by the co-evolutionary process between humans and Entheogenic plants such as Cannabis, Ayahuasca, and San Pedro. She believes that humanity is at a pivotal point and has a chance and choice to step into self-healing and full responsibility for environmental stewardship and protection

Which party has your back on health care?

DRUG BUST
by Alan Cassels

There are stark contrasts between the BC Liberals and the NDP

Let us say to the people not ‘How much have you got?’ but ‘How best can we serve you?’
– Dr. Norman Bethune

An election is looming and this may be one of the most crucial turning points in our province’s history. The market for prescription drugs is worth about $4 billion in annual spending in BC, and the way governments set policies around prescription drug approval, coverage and safety are vital to all of our futures. So the question is “Who do you trust?”

Below are six insights I’ve gathered over the last 23 years of watching provincial pharmaceutical policy, under both the NDP and Liberal governments. You may want to think of these when you step into the voting booth on May 9.

1. Evidence: When the NDP formed government in the early ‘90s, it was notable in how quickly they fostered a culture of evidence based policymaking at the Ministry of Health. They established an independent drug watchdog (UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative) and made sure science based decisions were going to undergird provincial drug coverage decisions. When the Liberals took power 16 years ago, they started to erode that base almost immediately, appointing drug industry lobbyists to oversee a panel on Pharmacare reform, sidelining the Therapeutics Initiative and ramping up the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement in drug coverage decisions. The quality of pharmaceutical governance under the BC Liberals, concerning approval, monitoring and safety of prescription drugs, has been an epic failure, and is the best way to explain why BC leads the country in opioid deaths.

2. Lobbying: Under the NDP, you almost never saw drug lobbyists wandering the halls of the Ministry of Health. Back in the ‘90s, the head of Pharmacare forbade his staff from meeting with them. The noticeable absence of pharmaceutical reps in the apparatus of government meant the ministry could get on with its job, unbefuddled by marketing messages and lobbying pressures. What a contrast to today where the BC Liberals have kicked open the door and invited industry officials, their experts and their funded patient reps right into the heart of government. The result? Even though the Liberals spout the aphorisms of evidence based policymaking, we can’t avoid watching a steady stream of often useless and expensive medicines being approved for coverage, and wasteful health spending decisions that may please Big Pharma’s lobbyist donors, but deliver little impact on public health.

3. Drug research: Under the NDP, BC established an internationally recognized cohort of independent drug policy researchers who studied changes in drug coverage policies, such as Reference-Based Pricing, which was responsible for eliminating much waste in the system. We studied the safety of drugs for acne (which cause birth defects), smoking cessation products (which cause psychiatric episodes) and drugs for ADHD (which are inappropriately prescribed), yet the message was loud and clear. The Liberals and their “partners” in the pharmaceutical industry didn’t want any independent research sullying their brands and most of that independent research was killed during the Health Ministry firing scandal in 2012. Meanwhile, millions in funding was ponied up for UBC’s Centre for Drug Research and Development designed to recycle our tax dollars into commercially viable products for private companies.

4. “Patient” groups: From the ‘90s onward, I remember seeing groups, such as the Osteoporosis Society, the BC Alzheimer’s Society and assorted astroturf patient groups, viciously attack the NDP. While patient groups can do good work for the diseases they represent, because so many of them are soaking in Big Pharma funding, they found allies in the Liberals. When the BC Liberals took office and warmly invited these patient groups into consultations and asked for their opinions about the latest pharmaceuticals, they were made to feel special. Sadly, the fine folks at BC Pharmacare who feel they are genuinely working in the public interest have been silently worn down by a steady stream of industry funded opinions and the drug-addled patient groups just make things worse.

5. Transparency: Under NDP premier Mike Harcourt, BC produced “model legislation for access to information,” according to the Vancouver Sun’s Vaughn Palmer. Palmer is certainly one who knows what a farce it is trying to access government documents through Freedom of Information (FOI). Hiding misdeeds from the public has become high art under the Liberals where politicians and bureaucrats routinely omit to write things down, use personal email or cell phones and “triple delete” to avoid anyone learning about government business. This corruption helps to partly explain why drug coverage decisions are often suspect and how the mysterious health firing scandal from 2012 remains the most expensive scandal in the BC Ministry of Health’s history.

BC’s Ombudsman may soon release his report on who called in the drone strike on the Health Ministry, resulting in the firing of eight drug safety researchers and millions of dollars of associated costs. Don’t tell me that the influence of pharmaceutical companies, many of which donate to the political BC Liberal Party, may not have wanted their products independently analyzed by those researchers. One of them, Rod MacIsaac, committed suicide before he could complete a study on Pfizer’s controversial smoking cessation drug. And yes, Pfizer, one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, has multiple ties to people within the BC Liberals. Quelle surprise!


Jack hirose 3 day mindfulness intensive in Banff


6. Wastebusting: One thing I noticed under the BC NDP’s culture of evidence based drug decision-making was a commitment to reduce waste. Not all new prescription products coming to market (happening all the time) are going to be worthy of coverage. Paying for the most expensive newer medicines, which aren’t any more effective or safer than those currently covered, only benefits the manufacturers. The BC Liberals have eroded this culture of wastebusting, allowing itself to be swindled on million-dollar drug coverage decisions. Is this because they’ve spent too much time cozying up to the drug companies and listening to the entreaties of officials, lobbyists and patient groups? Suffice to say every dollar spent on a useless, unnecessary drug is a dollar that isn’t going to be used where it is actually needed in the healthcare system. The Liberals don’t get this, while the NDP, in my opinion, always did.

Finally, when it comes to elections and political discussion, we all need to talk about what underpins health coverage decisions. Is it the needs of manufacturers and their armies of lobbyists? A conservative estimate would say we waste about $10 billion per year on what are sometimes unnecessary, useless or potentially harmful medicines, diagnostic tests and procedures. Every single person working in the health system has seen this shameful waste, yet the independent analysis and research needed to keep people from taking harmful drugs or useless tests no longer exists under the Liberals.

If a new government were to start by eliminating the pharmaceutical corruption of our health decision making, we’d be able to spend millions more on what is actually needed: more affordable drugs, better care for seniors, thorough homecare, manageable childcare and getting serious about affordable housing in BC. Let’s be clear, Alan Cassels is not about sticking it to the pharmaceutical industry. I’m about defeating waste because much of the money we send to the drug companies isn’t being used where it needs to be.

The BC Liberals have, for the last 16 years, shown their capacity to be tainted by drug industry messages, lobbyists and donations. At the end of the day, we need clean, clear health decisions as urgently as we need clean, clear water.

That’s what I think, but what do you think? Visit my website www.alancassels.com and answer my survey. Or tweet me at @AKECassels and put this in the tweet: #healthcarewastebusting Tell me what we need to do to make BC’s drug coverage affordable and appropriate. We need a dialogue on avoiding waste and I need your voices.

Say cheese!

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

The significant health hazards associated with red meat are so well known by now that people are happy to avoid the Neu5Gc (N-Glycolylneuraminic acid) present in all beef, pork and lamb that increases risk of tumour formation. We also know that the gut microbiota of meat eaters change carnitine in meats to the toxic TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, including early atherosclerosis and stroke.

Many people can be heard to say, “I’d love to go vegan, but I could never give up cheese.” Cheeses bring a wealth of flavour to menus and their textures have wide appeal, but until recently, plant-based cheese replacements have been a pretty dismal lot. But this situation has changed, and for the better.

It turns out the flavour development so fundamental to cheese-making depends not on cow’s milk, but on the culturing process. Thus, a variety of entrepreneurs are using non-dairy milks, such as cashew milk, as a foundation and producing amazing products. Miyoko’s extensive line of cheeses (available through www.vegansupply.ca) is a bit pricey, but the Smoked Farmhouse, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Herbes de Provence and many others will change your perspective in a very positive direction. This website has many other tasty options, too.

One local company that has made good across North America is Burnaby-based Daiya. Their products are affordable and widely available in mainstream supermarkets. Their Pepperjack and other flavours provide superb meltable toppings for plant-based pizzas. One great favourite is their Key Lime Cheezecake. For others, see daiyafoods.com

Karen McAthy’s book, The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking (New Society Publishers), will be released on April 25. This BC author helps do-it-yourself cheesemakers understand the process of culturing and fermenting the ingredients that form a top-quality product and provides recipes for quick, or more lengthy, production methods.

People may wonder why anyone making compassion a key feature of their dietary choices would want to avoid dairy products. After all, doesn’t a cow just give milk and we humans can enjoy the excess? It turns out that cows give milk specifically in response to being impregnated and then giving birth, an entirely natural process. The forced separation of dairy cow and her young is far from natural; it involves extensive suffering for mother cow and for her calf. If her calf is female, this calf can be turned into a repeatedly impregnated milk producer. In contrast, male calves typically become veal at a young age. And when the dairy cow’s productivity slows, she too heads down the slaughterhouse line to be turned into burgers.

For decades, Canada’s food guides have featured “Milk and Milk Products” as essential foods. The most recent version allows for one alternative: fortified soymilk. But a food guide that ignores the fact that the majority of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance is hardly suitable for our multicultural population.

Alternative substitutes for dairy products can provide the same nutrients as dairy products, without the animal abuse. Humans have no requirement for cow’s milk or its products so start exploring the immense and expanding range of dairy alternatives.

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and co-author of the award winning Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and other books. www.nutrispeak.com

Your natural health products under illegal attack

Health Canada moves to put natural remedies in checkmate

by Shawn Buckley

We all have defining moments when it becomes clear that what we believe is simply not true. In the area of the regulation of natural health products (NHPs), I have had two defining moments that made it clear my beliefs were false. Prior to these two defining moments, I actually believed Health Canada wanted to protect us. I also believed the wishes of the people meant something to the government.

My first defining moment happened during a trial where I was defending an NHP company from Health Canada charges, such as selling their product without a licence. At the time, only the chemical drug regulations existed and such a product could not be licensed. A Health Canada inspector was in the witness box. I suggested to her that the purpose of Health Canada was to protect the health of Canadians. I thought this was a no-brainer suggestion. I fully expected her to say yes. She did not. Rather, she explained that the purpose of Health Canada was to enforce the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. People in the courtroom were stunned. We all believed that the purpose of Health Canada was to protect us. This was a false belief.

The purpose of Health Canada is to enforce the law as it is currently written, not to protect our health. Fortunately, in that case, the court acquitted the company of all charges finding it was legally necessary for the company to protect people rather than be in strict compliance with the law. This was a case in which I asked the Court to rule that Health Canada caused deaths by restricting access to a natural remedy.

My second defining moment happened when I was lobbying in Washington DC concerning proposed changes to how their dietary supplements were regulated. We had just finished meeting with a Senator. While we were packing up, the Senator’s aid asked if he could speak to us. This aid was around 50 years old and had been an aid to senators and congressmen his entire working life. In short, he was a Washington insider. He explained to us that, at that time, there were one and a half full-time pharmaceutical lobbyists for every senator and congressman. He went on to explain that the influence of the pharmaceutical lobby is so great that most senators and congressmen are aware of the share prices of the pharmaceutical companies. He was, in effect, trying to make it clear to us that we would in no way have any influence on government policy, as we could not compete with the pharmaceutical lobby. I knew that there was a strong pharmaceutical lobby in both the US and Canada. I simply did not appreciate how pervasive it was. In my defence, this was before the release of Dr. Shiv Chopra’s book Corrupt to the Core, which gave an inside view of corruption within Health Canada. Dr. Chopra’s book should be required reading for anyone who thinks Health Canada can currently be trusted to protect us.

These two defining experiences made it clear to me that:

  • Health Canada is not there to protect my health. They are there to enforce the law (regardless of the flaws in the law) and
  • I could not count on the law being drafted to protect my health where my interest in health conflicted with the interests of the pharmaceutical lobby.

My dealings with Health Canada over the years have strengthened my belief that Health Canada is not there to protect us. In every instance where I have been involved as a lawyer and Health Canada is seeking to take an NHP away, Health Canada has never taken into account the risk of removing the NHP from Canadians who may depend on it. In the court case I referred to earlier, I led evidence of deaths caused by Health Canada restricting access to a NHP. Despite warnings that restricting access to the NHP could lead to deaths, Health Canada never took into account the danger of removing the product. Health Canada was only concerned with enforcing the law, regardless of the law causing harm and death. I have never seen Health Canada do a balanced risk analysis (i.e. one that balances a risk posed by a product against the risk of removing the product) to ensure that the safest course of action is taken. Health Canada is only concerned with strict compliance with the law, even if strict compliance will lead to harm.

Because Health Canada always demands strict compliance with the law, you should be very concerned about any moves to strengthen Health Canada’s ability to take natural remedies away.

Currently, Health Canada is signalling they want to change how natural remedies are regulated. These changes may signal the endgame for any practitioner or company that is more concerned with good health outcomes than the over-regulation of natural remedies.

Currently, NHPs are regulated as a special type of drug. Much of our knowledge of natural remedies comes from experience. For example, the British Navy learned that the vitamin C in limes prevented scurvy. Limes or lime extract could be licensed as an NHP based on this learned experience. It would not be necessary to run expensive clinical trials to prove limes treat scurvy. Indeed, if it were necessary to run expensive clinical trials for a lime scurvy remedy, we would never have access to limes to treat scurvy. This is because of our intellectual property right laws.

If a chemical drug company invented a new drug they wanted to use to treat scurvy, they would have a patent on the new drug. Their patent would prevent any other company from selling a copy of the drug until the patent expired. The patent, in effect, creates a monopoly. Because there is a monopoly on the drug, the company can afford to go through the expensive clinical trial process. If they are successful, they can recover the costs of the clinical trials by charging a high price for the drug. They have a monopoly so the high price has to be paid. This is why new drugs are so expensive until after the patent expires.

An NHP company wanting to sell a lime extract for scurvy would not have a monopoly on their product. They did not invent limes and will have no intellectual property rights to limes or lime extract. In short, they cannot patent limes or lime extract. They would not be able to raise funds to go through the clinical trial process, as they would not be able to recover the cost by charging high prices. This is because they would not have a monopoly on the remedy. Any other company could copy the product and sell it at a lower price because there is no patent.

If you want to maintain your access to natural remedies, it is essential that NHPs are not subjected to the same types of evidence as is required for chemical drugs. Unfortunately, Health Canada is currently proposing subjecting NHPs to the same evidence standards imposed on chemical drugs. Not only does this ignore the differences in intellectual property rights, but it also ignores the risks of further restricting our access to natural remedies.

It is important to understand that there has never been a death caused by a NHP in Canada. Years ago, I made an Access to Information Act request of Health Canada asking for evidence of any deaths caused by NHPs going back to confederation in 1867. Health Canada could not point to a single death caused by a NHP. When our current NHP Regulations were introduced, the Regulatory Impact Statement made it clear it was inappropriate to regulate NHPs the same as chemical drugs because the NHPs had such a low risk profile.

Unfortunately chemical drugs do not share the low risk profile of natural remedies. Indeed, chemical drugs are one of the leading causes of death in Canada. Even over-the-counter chemical drugs like common painkillers and cold remedies cause a number of deaths each year. It is because chemical drugs are so dangerous that restricting our access to natural remedies will lead to death and harm.

Let me use nattokinase as an example. Nattokinase is a naturally occurring enzyme that can thin the blood. It is freely sold in the US. It used to be freely sold in Canada. Then Health Canada decided to restrict our access to nattokinase saying it was risky. I searched Health Canada’s Adverse Reaction Database and could not find a single harm event, let alone a death, caused by nattokinase in Canada. When I searched the same database for harm and death caused by the chemical drug blood thinners, there were many reports.

When Health Canada is demanding a natural product be removed and it is unsafe to follow Health Canada’s direction, the current penalties under the Food and Drugs Act are fines of up to $5,000 and/or three years of jail. Most persons or companies who have put a natural remedy on the market can survive such penalties. This enables them to act responsibly when following Health Canada’s direction would put Canadians at risk. If Health Canada’s directions are not followed, Health Canada can apply to a Superior Court for an injunction or other orders to ensure the law is followed. However, a Court will also have the opportunity to hear about the risk of removing a product, and will try to steer the safest course.

Health Canada is wanting to change the status quo. They want to be able to order recalls for NHPs without involving a Court. They also want to increase the penalties to fines of $5,000,000 a day for any violation, including for not following Health Canada recall orders. In addition, any management or employees involved in the violation could also be personally subjected to the $5,000,000 a day fines. I cannot think of a single NHP company that could withstand such fines. In effect, resisting Health Canada directions when it would be unsafe to follow them will be at an end.

Anyone who is concerned about giving a regulatory body the absolute say about what remedies are available should be concerned about the proposed changes. When new regulations and/or amendments to the Food and Drugs Act are introduced, we are all going to have to be ready for action. This is the most threatening proposal since the infamous Bill C-51. I am inviting all readers to do three things to prepare: 1) For a more thorough understanding of the proposed changes, visit www.nhppa.org and read my Discussion Paper on them; 2) Visit www.charterofhealthfreedom.org to familiarize yourself with the Charter of Health Freedom, which is a solution to the over-regulation of natural products, and 3) Financially support groups that will be resisting these changes. Advocacy for your health rights does not happen in a financial vacuum. You will either support groups such as the NHPPA or they will not have the resources to work on your behalf.

We are entering a time where unless we stand up and be counted, we will forever lose the right to decide for ourselves how we will treat ourselves or our loved ones when we/they are sick. Will you be counted?

Shawn BuckleyOriginally published in Vitality magazine, December 2016 (www.vitalitymagazine.com) Excerpted from the article “Freedom of choice threatened – again.” Shawn Buckley is president of the National Health Products Protection Association (www.nhppa.org).