Tom Ballard, ND's blog


ADHD and Pesticides
December 9, 2010, 10:40 am
Filed under: Commentary, Research | Tags: , , ,

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is thought to affect 3 to 7 percent of U.S. children. Various reasons for the increasing incidence have been proposed, including mercury preservative in vaccines, food additives, dietary sugar, and the ubiquitous “genetics.”

New research out of Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley have added pesticides to the list of potential causes of ADHD. The studies found a striking correlation among children with ADHD and their level of organophosphate pesticides.

Looking at ADHD as a microcosm of how medicine is practiced is an interesting exercise.

1.   Few doctors ever ask why a child has ADHD. Treatments are designed to modify the symptoms, not treat the underlying cause.

2.   Rarely would a doctor read a journal such as Environmental Health Perspectives where the University of California study was published. They’re reading journals associated with their specialty which are heavily subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry.

3.   Of the list of potential causes, genetics is the one they usually cite, although the evidence for this is no better than any other. Furthermore, the latest genetic research shows that toxins and nutrition influence the expression of genes. That is, they turn genes off and on.

4.   It is counter to all we know about disease to propose a single cause. This is rarely the case. Most diseases are caused by a web of factors. Even bacterial infections are not merely the result of single bacteria, but also depend on the state of the victim’s immune resistance. Science supports a whole-system, wholistic, orientation to diagnosing and treating disease.

5.   The recommendation by the researchers was “…thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables…” That’s it? What about eating organic, detoxification therapies, eliminating the use of 73 million pounds of organophosphate pesticides sprayed annually onto our crops? These pesticides contaminate our soils, water and ourselves, while at the same time encouraging the growth of new and stronger pests.

Is it too “radical” to ban organophosphate pesticides? Too “unproven” to use detoxification therapies? Too” expensive” to eat organic? Not at all. These are the rational, whole-science  and, long-term, least expensive options.

Government policies currently subsidize millions of dollars for pesticides. Drug companies make billions treating symptoms. Doctors fall back on the old straw man “genetics” instead of asking “Why?” and treating appropriately.

ADHD, like the other chronic diseases, will not be cured by finding a single magic pill, but by a wholistic approach that forces the medical system to close the door on simplistic pharmaceutical answers and exploring what lies beyond the door marked “Environmental toxins – Beware!”



Statins Harm More than Help
November 18, 2010, 11:50 am
Filed under: Medications, Research | Tags: , , ,

It may seem like I’m picking on statin (cholesterol) drugs, but they’re such an easy target for scorn.  They’re such a good example of how bad science and greed walk hand in hand in our current medical system.

Example 1:

You may have read reports of the push to prescribe statins to younger, healthy people. The rationale for this is that the sooner you stop heart disease the better. The research support for this was the JUPITER study, funded by a drug company, which claimed a 44% reduced risk of a cardiovascular event for those using a statin.

One obvious problem with the study is that it was conducted on sick people, not healthy ones. There has been no study on the consequences of giving statins over prolonged periods to healthy people.

In other words, the “scientific” medical community’s attitude is: Hey, don’t let the lack of scientific evidence stop the prescriptions. Let’s proceed on assumptions.

Example 2:

You’d think from the advertising and 20 million prescriptions that statins are miracle drugs. The scientific truth is something completely different. The British Medical Journal in 2010 published yet another study showing how poorly these drugs perform. They found, in following over 225,000 people, that only 2.7% benefited (271 out of 10,000). Not what you call cost-effective.

Even more damning in the BMJ study was the number of people suffering side effects, including liver damage, kidney failure, cataracts, and extreme muscle fatigue. This group made up 4.4% of participants. In other words, almost twice as many people did worse on statins than did better.

Mathematics is a science: 4.4% of 20 million is 880,000 people suffering, even dying in the hopes that 2.7%, 540,000, will have less heart disease. Clearly doctors who prescribe statins are not doing their math.



Antibiotics and Birth Defects
February 25, 2010, 8:40 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , ,

A recent study looking at 2300 postpartum women is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it showed that women taking antibiotics during pregnancy had two to three times the risk of delivering babies with birth defects. The defects included brain and heart problems, shortened limbs, and cleft palate.

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary and even life saving, but this report adds more weight to the argument that antibiotics should be the prescribed judiciously (the growing problem with antibiotic-resistant bacteria is another reason to view antibiotics with caution).

The second interesting revelation of this study is that it was hailed as “the first large analysis of antibiotic use in pregnancy”. In other words, for all the drug company claims of “scientific medicine”, they have not done proper testing of antibiotics. This is not surprising, since it has been estimated that fewer than fifteen percent of drugs have had thorough, unbiased, large-scale studies on humans.



Credit Card Health Debt
February 18, 2010, 10:04 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , , , , , ,

Using a credit card may be dangerous to your child’s health.

Researchers have linked exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) in pregnant women to behavioral changes in their newborn children. Girls became more aggressive and boys became more anxious and withdrawn.  One researcher noted that the magnitude of these changes was similar to the IQ drops attributed to lead exposure in children.

The richest sources of BPA exposure? Plastic food containers, cash register and credit card receipts.

This is another example of the thousands of ways we are exposed to toxic chemicals in our everyday lives and why we benefit from ongoing detoxification therapies.

Prevention: Don’t eat food that has been in contact with plastic, including the lining of metal cans. Avoid handling industrial chemicals. Hand washing isn’t just for killing germs, but also removes toxins.

Home Treatment: For daily exposure to synthetic chemicals, fortify your detoxification processes with antioxidants such as vitamin C, zinc, and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables.



Fish vs. Ritalin
January 4, 2010, 11:20 am
Filed under: Research

Anthropologists believe high intake of omega-3 oils, as found in fish and free-range meat, are associated with increased brain size and intelligence. Unfortunately, consumption of these vital oils has decreased over the past 100 years. Some researchers believe this is partially responsible for the behavior and mood problems that our society is experiencing.

One recent study found that six fish oil caps a day (6000mg) worked more effectively for treating hyperactivity than Ritalin. The fish oil also didn’t cause any side effects, while Ritalin is known to cause heart problems, dizziness, insomnia, and has been blamed for the deaths of nine children in the UK and dozens more in the US. The improvement in hyperactivity in this study took three to seven months, so it’s not quick.

Shockingly, almost two million prescriptions for Ritalin are written each year. How many of these children are deficient in omega-3 oils? No one knows, but rates of essential fatty acid deficiency are very high in the general population and it is estimated that, despite known benefits to the heart and circulation, people take in one-fifth of the recommended dose of 1000 mg daily.

How many MDs and school psychiatrists start children on fish oil before trying the more dangerous Ritalin? I wouldn’t say none, but it’s rare. The pharmaceutical industry dominates thinking about hyperactivity, just as they do medicine in general.

While Ritalin prescription numbers are high, even more prescriptions of Adderall (8.7 million) and Concerta (8.2 million) are prescribed for hyperactivity. This means that nearly 20 million children are being medicated for what may be an omega-3 oil deficiency (allergies and digestive problems are also implicated).

This is one of the advantages of being older. When I was a high-strung student, the ability to drug students did not exist. Nowadays we should think of omega-3s first, before deciding to drug our children.



Mercury where you’d least expect it
October 26, 2009, 9:46 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , ,

Score another one for the processed food industry. Recent studies have found that high fructose corn syrup, a major ingredient in sweetened beverages and snacks, also contains the deadly toxin mercury. So, in addition to the other problems associated with fructose – diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, and inflammation – we now have mercury poisoning.

Who consumes the most fructose? Kids. Who has developing nervous systems susceptible to mercury toxicity? Kids. What is to be done? Avoiding processed and especially sweetened foods. Lose the sweet tooth – it will make you smile.