The May 13, 1995 issue of Science News has a feature article on the hormone Melatonin which is produced by the pineal gland in larger animals. Melatonin was discovered in 1959 and occurs naturally throughout the living world from algae to primates. The pineal gland is located in the center of the brain and is activated by darkness to produce melatonin. Scientists have only discovered some of its functions within the last ten years. It is now implicated in the regulation of the body’s internal clock, as the trigger for sleep, as a coordinator in the hormones involved in fertility, and in our defenses against biologically damaging free radicals so it may be a defense against aging. For a little gland which was considered relatively unimportant a few years ago, the pineal has come a long way.
Of course, a scientific article would not mention the fact that Descartes discussed the pineal as the “seat of the soul,” speculating that it was the connecting link between the incorporeal mind and the physical body. Melatonin is available in health food stores and individuals are taking it, including many of the scientists who are researching its potentials and are impressed by it. Since Science News has to stay close to the establishment line, they end by advising against such “self-medication.” They suggest that when taken at the “wrong time,” it could disturb our body clocks and that unregulated sources might not provide pure and reliable substances, so they advise waiting until melatonin is taken over by the drug companies. Naturally, they do not add that when that happens, it will cost a great deal more.
The Volume IV, Number 1, 1995 issue of Mental Medicine Update, which is published by David Sobel, M.D. and Robert Ornish, Ph.D., includes several interesting articles about the effects of emotions on physical health. A British study found that watching bad news on TV not only made people concerned about what they were watching, but also left them extra bothered about personal and unrelated worries. Is that a surprise? Emotions feed on themselves and attract related emotions so there is a “snowball” effect until we shift into different emotions.
Another article says that not only can changes to more healthy life styles be helpful, but personally chosen and carried out change can be helpful, even when not specifically aimed at self-improvement. Dr. Sobel suggests that successful changes boost one’s self-esteem and sense of personal power which then help the individual. Sometimes the change is an internal one, a release of old rigid beliefs and a new and wider faith. Dr. Sobel points out that the Chinese word for “crisis” combines the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” Change strategies need to be matched to the “stage” of change which begins without any desire to change, shifts to considering it, then to planning it, then to action, and finally to maintenance.
The June 1995 issue of World Press Review features an article on the UN’s mid-life crisis at the age of 50. Some of our far-right citizens fear that the UN (or a more secret ruling group like the Trilateralists or the Bilderburgers) is moving rapidly to take power over the world, including the U.S. Others just resent the cost of the UN, pointing out the unfulfilled needs of many U.S. citizens. Since the article spells out the heavy costs of the UN activities, it might be a two-edged sword if its opponents read it. However, I think this is unlikely, since my impression is that they mostly only read sources which agree with their views and reinforce them.
The original source of the article is the London Review of Books. I try to stay somewhat informed about what is happening in the world, but I was surprised to learn the number of regions where the UN currently has peace-keeping operations. 15 different regions are listed, along with the annual cost of maintaining UN troops there. Missions in two other areas were ended just recently in Mozambique and Somalia. It does seem as if the U.S. should be able to help in this effort to prevent civil wars from becoming even more widespread and deadly. But the present climate in our country seems to be getting more mean-spirited and the current crisis in Bosnia looks headed for the hotter and wider war which the UN has tried to forestall.
The June 1995 issue of Harper’s magazine carries the latest in their series on the escalating class warfare in the U.S. The magazine (and the writer, Michael Lind) are clearly in the liberal corner of the ring, which is obviously also my corner, though I try to listen seriously to all viewpoints. The following quotation provides the gist of Lind’s view.
“While public attention has been diverted to controversies as inflammatory as they are trivial—should the Constitution be amended to ban flag-burning? Should dirty pictures be allowed on the Internet?—the American elites that subsidize and staff both the Republican and Democratic parties have steadfastly waged a generation-long class war against the middle and working classes. Now and then, the television cameras catch a glimpse of what is going on, as they did last year during the NAFTA and GATT debates, when a Democratic President and a bipartisan majority in Congress collaborated in the sacrifice of American labor to the interests of American corporations and foreign capital. More recently, with a candor rare among politicians, House Speaker Newt Gingrich argued against raising the minimum wage in the United States—on the grounds that a higher minimum wage would handicap American workers in their competition with workers in Mexico.” p 35-6
In short, if we do not give a still bigger percentage of the profits to the people at the top, they will take their factories to another country where workers are glad to work for any wage. And to make sure there will be plenty of desperate workers, don’t teach birth control, limit abortions as much as possible, lower taxes on the rich to persuade them to stay here, and spend the limited resources on jails to protect the elite rather than on education which makes for “uppity” workers. Meanwhile, continue assuring people that we are a classless society, there is no “elite,” some people obviously start with nothing and succeed, so anyone who is not doing well is lazy or stupid. It is not a pretty picture.
It is pretty amazing to read the contrasting views of the “left” (in The Nation, and In These Times) and the “right” (in The Spotlight). I’m not currently subscribing to any publications from the official “religious right,” but I get at least the gist of their views from a variety of more general news sources including news magazines, radio, and TV. LaRouche does not fit neatly into either side though he seems closer to the right, but he has his own unique and bizarre beliefs. LaRouche and The Spotlight are openly anti-Semitic. Still other variations which tend toward the “right” but are each unique are the Libertarians who favor so little government as to approach anarchy, and the National Rifle Association’s leadership (as distinct from many more moderate members) and militias who see the federal government as an enemy about to crush their freedom. And still another voice comes from the Elite themselves. I get the Strategic Investment newsletter, which (like all economic newsletters) appeals to those who have something and want to either preserve it or get more, so the newsletters appeal to greed and fear. It makes a fascinating mix—human emotions in the raw—a psychologist’s or astrologer’s heaven if your pleasure lies in exploring what makes people tick.
Another whole area includes an increasing number of monthly health letters dealing with both mental and physical issues. Some are from orthodox medical sources such as the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, the University of California at Berkeley, the Menninger Clinic, etc. After trying a few of the former, I am currently only subscribing to some of the ones which specialize in alternative approaches to health. In past issues of The Mutable Dilemma, I have quoted from my favorite, Dr. Williams in Texas, but I also enjoy Dr. Atkins in NY. A modification of his diet is working well for me. I lost 45 pounds in November through March. I have mixed feelings about Dr. Douglass in Georgia. I don’t know how he has escaped a stroke in light of the anger he projects in his writing, but sometimes his maverick approach is interesting. I expect to drop three others when my trial subscriptions run out since there is a lot of repetition in them. Everyone advises vitamins and supplements (many sell their own brands). Everyone encourages exercise and staying away from conventional medicine if you can—that is, using it for crises but realizing it rarely offers much help for chronic problems. My newest trials are two magazines, Natural Healing and Explore More, but so far they have not rung any bells for me.
The foregoing summary is by way of an introduction to information in recent issues of two of these alternative health letters. Most of the MDs writing these letters are concerned about the high-handed actions of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Last year, I wrote about the FDA attempt to require prescriptions for vitamins and herbs. Senator Hatch of Utah and House member Richardson offered a bill which prevented some of the blatant power grab of the FDA, but under Dr. Kessler, they are still acting in ways which are supposedly illegal in a democracy. They will not allow sellers of vitamins to give information on how the products can be helpful, even though the information is from multiple, careful scientific studies. Though it edges into paranoia, one has to conclude that the authorities are basically “in the pocket” of the big drug companies and the allopathic orthodoxy of the AMA.
Clinton, Bush, and others protested the letter from the head of the NRA which called some members of the ATF and FBI “jack-booted thugs.” But when you read about the Ruby Ridge attack on the Weaver family and the mishandling of Waco, plus the treatment of some alternative doctors and businesses which offer herbs, supplements, etc., the language is not so out-of-line. There are some similarities between the actions of Kessler’s storm troopers and the Nazis. The FDA sets itself up as police, prosecutor, judge and jury and the victim has no way to fight their decisions. The growing climate of distrust, fear and alienation in the U.S. is discussed more in the Asteroid-World article on the Oklahoma bombing, but the FDA actions are another log on the fire. My most recent newsletters from Dr. Atkins and Dr. Douglass include details on this misuse of power and denial of democratic freedoms. If anyone is willing to write to their Congress people, I can send photocopies of some of this material.