News Notes

Zip Dobyns

The turmoil in the world dominates so much of our daily diet of news whether we turn to newspapers, magazines, radio or TV, I wanted to start with something positive in this report. I’ve recently acquired two paperback books by Melvin Morse M.D. and Paul Perry: Closer to the Light and Transformed by the Light. Both books discuss the research of Dr. Morse on near-death experiences, following up on the ground-breaking books by Raymond Moody, M.D., who first publicized these “NDEs”. Most of our readers are probably familiar with Dr. Moody’s work. In the so-called “core” experience, an individual who is near death (in some cases they are considered clinically dead but are resuscitated) finds himself outside his body, usually floating above it. He or she watches the doctors try to restart the heart or whatever the problem is, then moves through a dark area like a tunnel, comes to a light, sees a being who emanates boundless love, and finally returns to the damaged body. Often, while consciously “out” of the body, the individual sees relatives, both living and “dead,” meaning the latter are no longer in their physical bodies. Often, the individual (whose body is lying unconscious in a hospital or a morgue) can later describe accurately what was happening in the location of the body and sometimes in distant areas. Many people have a “life review” during which they watch an incredibly rapid “mental movie” of their life.

The first book by Dr. Morse is mostly devoted to children who had near-death experiences. He read about Moody’s work, which was strictly anecdotal, and wanted to do something more “scientific,” meaning organized and systematic. Also, he reasoned that young children would be less likely to have heard of the descriptions of NDEs so their experiences would be less easily explained away. Morse compared the experiences of children who were really in danger of dying and of children who were very ill, getting similar hospital treatment, but not in danger of death. He found that only the ones really close to death had the core NDE elements. He also located the area of the brain which was active while these experiences were occurring—the right temporal lobe.

In his second book, Dr. Morse studied the lives of individuals after their NDEs, getting their answers to a variety of questions and comparing them to several other groups of people who had not had NDEs. Some of the control groups had experienced being out of their bodies or other psychic phenomena. In general, presumably as a result of their experience, the NDE group had less fear of death and more zest for life. They had become more loving and also more psychic after the experience! Both books are full of personal accounts of NDEs. In some people, one of the interesting consequences of the NDE was an inability to wear a wrist watch. Dr. Morse thinks that the experience alters the electro-magnetic fields of the brain and body, and that this produces the increased psychic ability and the effect on watches. My mother may have been psychic from birth, but it is also possible that she had an NDE when she was critically ill around the age of two. She also had a problem with wrist watches which were never accurate when she wore them.

Both of Dr. Morse’s books are published by Ballantine Books. Paul Perry is also the co-author of two of the books by Dr. Raymond Moody who estimates that he has now heard NDE accounts from at least 10,000 people.

I have also recently acquired two very nice video cassettes. One was done with Dr. Moody and it includes interviews with a number of people describing their NDEs. The individual reasons for their close brushes with death were very different, but the core experiences were very similar. The other video is on mysticism. It includes interviews with representatives of many different religious orientations, mostly from traditional Christian, Jewish, Moslem and Buddhist groups but including some unaffiliated individuals. It is narrated by a television reporter named Bill Kurtis and distributed by Advent Video. I recommend both videos for anyone interested in the spiritual search who would like to supplement reading with some nicely done visual material.

By now, readers know that my favorite newsletter on unconventional healing is Alternatives which is researched and written by Dr. David Williams in Texas. The February 1994 issue includes a cautionary discussion of root canal therapy and an enthusiastic description of the potential value of the neem tree. Derivatives of the neem are used in many forms in India, and are helpful for many conditions. It is an ideal insecticide, working on a variety of pest species but harmless to humans and animals. It is an antibacterial for staphylococcus aureus which has recently become resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics and has the medical world worried. It is a fungicide, deadly to 14 different common fungi. It has proved effective against malaria which is becoming resistant to conventional treatments. It relieves pain and reduces fever. Oil from its seeds is an effective contraceptive and apparently it has no side effects. Neem oil and soap can be purchased from The Ayurvedic Institute, P.O. Box 23445 , Albuquerque, NM 87192.

The March 7, 1994 issue of Newsweek magazine has a science article titled “The end of antibiotics?” which includes much more information on the potential threat of staphylococcus. Staph comes in many varieties, and the scientists say that the common garden-variety of the bacterium lives on the skin and in the nose of half the population. Currently, many strains of staph are only vulnerable to one lone antibiotic, and if the common variety of staph were to develop resistance to that last drug and to get loose in the population, it could kill tens of thousands of people every month. Many common bacteria are evolving resistance to more antibiotics, and diseases once thought to be under control, such as TB, are coming back. The drug companies are trying to develop new, stronger drugs while doctors over-prescribe existing drugs for humans and farmers feed antibiotics to their animals, both of which help to produce more resistant bacteria.

I am concerned about the FDA ruling that a new drug is safe to give to cows to make them produce more milk. Additional milk production stresses the animals, more cows develop infected udders requiring additional antibiotics to keep them “healthy” and consequently producing still more resistant bacteria. Meanwhile, the FDA is still threatening our right to buy vitamins and supplements which help to strengthen our immune systems. The Hatch-Richardson bill is still stalled in Congress. Of course, the most effective solution is to maintain a healthy immune system which doesn’t need drugs.

Another of my health newsletters is written by Dr. William Douglass in Dunwoody, GA, who seems to be a Type A personality, always raging at the world. The January 1994 issue of his newsletter, Second Opinion, has a scary article about what he calls the “Gulf War Syndrome,” or GWS. Douglass describes the symptoms which have been appearing in Gulf War veterans as staggering, slurred speech, fatigue, hair loss, and joint pain. He also claims that 13 of every 15 babies born to Gulf War vets since the war have had some sort of birth defect or blood disorder. He believes that GWS is some sort of infection or chemical poisoning, but its cause is still unknown and Douglass thinks that the Pentagon may be covering up the possibility that the soldiers were exposed to either biological or chemical agents or perhaps both. Douglass also claims that the government is attacking a New Orleans doctor named Hyman who is successfully treating the problem with antibiotics. If this information is accurate, it is a serious matter, but Douglass does not give his sources and I don’t remember seeing anything about the problem in other sources.

A lot of doctors and hospitals and universities are getting into the newsletter business. I recently subscribed to several new ones, some of which I will probably drop once their time is up. An article in the February 1994 issue of Dr. Atkins’ Health Revelations discusses the French paradox. French people eat a diet which is very high in fat and they smoke heavily. They do have the lung cancer associated with smoking, but they do not have the heart problems associated with both a fatty diet and tobacco. Dr. Atkins believes that the healthy hearts and longer lives of the French support the claims of Professor John Yudkin of the University of London that excessive sugar is the main cause of heart problems. I would add that an increasing amount of evidence points to hydrogenated fats as a main source of heart problems. We better throw out the margarine and go back to butter in moderate amounts.

In another article, Atkins recommends folic acid as a protection against heart disease. He also praises garlic to reduce cholesterol and possibly help prevent cancer. An article in the same issue by guest writer Harris Coulter, Ph.D., describes the possibility that some of the physical problems which have increased in the last 50 years are due to widespread vaccination. Obviously, the medical community is not eager to consider such a possibility, but a committee of the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine in 1991 stated that available evidence did support “a causal relation” between the DPT vaccine and “acute encephalopathy.” The article includes much more detail.

On the whole, I like the style of Dr. Atkins, who writes with a touch of humor even though he is obviously serious about his work. But we do have to recognize the potential for bias. Atkins wrote the book on losing weight with a largely protein and fat diet. Such a regimen can produce problems unless the individual drinks a great deal of water, but it does help some people who fail to lose weight on the diet of low fat, high fiber, and complex carbohydrates which is currently recommended for everyone. The reduction in heart attacks in the Netherlands during World War II was associated with a diet lower in fat as the Germans took much of the milk and butter which the Dutch produced. I think that people are different, and we need to experiment to see what works for us.

A health newsletter which is not produced by a doctor, the Last Chance Health Report by Sam Biser, devotes much of its current issue to praising the healing ability of cayenne pepper to open up clogged arteries and veins, to relieve asthma, to help the heart, to normalize blood pressure, to eliminate hemorrhoids, to stop bleeding from a wound, etc. Biser quotes Dr. John Christopher as the source of the stories of these seemingly miraculous cures. He suggests taking three level teaspoons of cayenne a day mixed in some cold water, and warns against substituting black pepper, vinegar or mustard. ??? Biser tends toward hyperbole. I would want to see more evidence before believing that cayenne is really a cure for almost everything, but life is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Copyright © 1994 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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