Thursday, August 31, 2006

Our Big Screen is Back!

Okay, I'm following up on my post about our Toshiba Theatreview Projection TV. It flaked out two weeks ago and we got the service man here today from Electra Sound.

He was great. The whole repair cost us $350, including the service call. He said it was our convergence integrated circuits (also called convergence amplifiers) that shorted out. It happened, not from lightning strike or power surge, just from wearing out over time. We have the TV on a surge protector, but still, it just wore out.

He said they usually last 4-6 years, so we were lucky to have it last almost 10 years. Still, he said we can expect another 1-2 years from this set before we should replace it. He said most people replace their sets after the second big repair. This was our first big repair.

He also cleaned the inside of the lens and the mirror, which did help the clarity of the picture. I thought there was no burn-in problem on this type of projection TV, but he said it "can" happen. It's just unusual. He said when there are TVs that have the ticker running across the bottom of the screen all day long, that can burn in. Also, the shopping channels where the screen image doesn't change for hours. We haven't tuned in to the friggin' shopping channel ever, I don't think.

So, our beloved TV is back. That's the good news. The bad news is, we don't get to get a flat screen TV just yet (LCD, plasma, etc.). He said he has been repairing a lot of the flat screen TVs, and he frankly suggested that it is good to either wait another year or two for the components to get more field tested, or to get a big long warranty on anything you buy today.

Great advice, I thought.

After he said to wait, I asked him if he had bought one yet. He said he had. An LCD DLP.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Coming in November - Fast Food Nation - The Movie!

This is CRAZY good news!

I just read the book Fast Food Nation a few months ago, years after it was published, and now there's a movie coming out on that same theme, with the same name.

Fast Food Nation - The Movie. Coming to theaters in November.

Here are the movie notes on IMDB.

This is a movie about the seamy underbelly of the fast food industry - what REALLY goes into that burger.

If it is anything like the book, it will be a shocking look at what we take for food in fast food restaurants, and an even bigger slap of reality than Super Size Me.

The list of actors is amazing. Bruce Willis as a farmer who doesn't mind if "people eat a little cow shit." Greg Kinnear as a marketing guy for the fast food chain, known as "Mickey's." (Their burger is called "The Big One." As in...bite the big one.) One of the illegal immigrants is Wilmer Valderama, who played Fez on That 70's Show, and another is Catalina Sandino Moreno, who was in Maria, Full of Grace.

I think they absolutely went over the top casting this movie. It's probably because everybody wanted to work with Richard Linklater, who directed The School of Rock and Waking Life.

I can hardly wait! I actually go to a movie theater about once every two years, and then it's when we're on vacation. But this...I don't know, I might have to make a BIG exception.

However, there is one word of caution. The reviews on IMDB from the Cannes Film Festival aren't very good.

Standard of Living Vs. Quality of Life

Sometimes I think I focus too much on my standard of living, rather than my quality of life.

Ditto when I'm thinking of people in other countries. Just because they have less money than we do, are they necessarily less happy?

Of course, if someone is destitute and starving, that would be a situation where standard of living impacts quality of life. But above that, does money really make us happier?

There's no evidence that it does.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Solve the Health Insurance Crisis...For Free

I've decided to make the e-Book version of my book "Health Insurance Off the Grid" totally free.

To me, it's more important that this information get out to everyone than to have someone suffer because they couldn't afford the book.

The book "Health Insurance Off the Grid" is a guidebook to help make the cost of health insurance reasonable again. And no, I'm not a health insurance agent, I don't sell health insurance.

This is a set of steps that will give you the ability to reduce your healthcare and insurance costs by thousands of dollars every year, and will also help you be healthier as a result.

This book is for people who:
  • are Americans

  • want to lower their cost of health insurance

  • are interested in using holistic health practices, or alternative medicine

  • are interested in learning about Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

  • want to become healthier, as individuals or families

  • feel poorly served by current health insurance

If you're interested, please download the free e-Book by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy it!

Why You Often Don't Manifest What You Visualize

This has been a big question for me. Why don't I always manifest what I visualize? I can see that pile of cash or whatever, just sitting there, can imagine what I'll spend it on, but it doesn't come into reality. Why?

Steve Pavlina, who writes for the best personal development blog I've ever read, has an excellent perspective on it. He says that just by observing your current situation, being poor or overweight or lonely or whatever, you are reinforcing it.

And he has a great solution for this that he calls "creative observation."

Check out his blog by clicking here.

A New Approach to Natural Search Optimization

It makes a lot of sense to advertise your site using pay-per-click ads on sites like Google.

But, if you can get high placement with the "natural search results" on Google and others, that's even better.

This has been my current strategy. I've been using a free tool called Hittail from Connors Communication, a PR firm.

It allows me to see what people are searching for when they come to my site, then it does some analysis on those search phrases and categorizes them as to how important they are.

For instance, right now I'm seeing that the search phrase "Daryl Kulak" comes up a lot for people coming to my blog and Websites, but it is not important that I blog about "Daryl Kulak" because I'm already high in the rankings for that phrase (imagine that).

But, there are phrases like "holistic marketing" and "health savings account downside" that I should be blogging about, because those are terms where people came to my site, but I am quite low in the rankings on those ones.

I am really enjoying using Hittail. I'm glad it is a free service, and I'm thankful to Connors for providing it. Also, I really like Mike Levin's blog about Hittail, it's very informative and he updates it often. Hittail is a bit hard to understand, so I suggest you subscribe to his blog and let him teach you about it each day, a little at a time.

When you sign up, you will have to embed a code snippet in your blog or Website, so make sure you have the capability of doing that, or have your Webmaster take care of it.

It's Not Just Dell and Apple - Now Sony Vaios are Exploding

Free Image Hosting at

Tech news site reports that a Sony Vaio has exploded...twice. Again, it seems like a battery problem that caused this laptop to burst into flames.

The Shawnee, Kansas owner was able to put out the fire with his fire extinguisher the first time, but when it blew up again, he called the fire department.

This means the battery explosion problems are not just limited to Dell and Apple. Please keep checking back to this blog for more updates, or go to Google and enter "laptop exploded" for more updates elsewhere.

Sony has NOT issued a recall on their own laptops at this time. It was a Sony-manufactured battery that caused the Dell and Apple problems, so it seems likely that Sony Vaio's could have problems also, especially after this incident.

Bill Maher is a Juicer

In Rolling Stone magazine this month, there is a feature article on Bill Maher, the comedian who hosts Real Time on HBO.

I was interested to find out that Bill is a very holistically-minded person. He juices daily, veggies and fruit, and takes care to eat right. He doesn't see Western doctors at all. It sounds like he goes to a naturopath, although he didn't say that specifically.

"Since I stopped seeing doctors, I never get sick, not even a cold."

This explains his fury at the pharmaceutical and fast food industries. It was a great article.

This is a link to the article online, however it is not the entire article, and it is missing the part where he discusses health.

Also, Real Time is back on the air as of tonight! I'm so happy. But I couldn't believe it when Bill's normally hysterical "New Rules" actually bombed. They were terrible. His ending monologue was on Pluto! Of all the pressing issues, he chooses Pluto?? And the rest of the jokes didn't go off well, either. I had trouble even cracking a smile, when usually I'm cracking up.

And Christopher Hitchens was a surprisingly lousy guest. Here is a guy who wrote a book on Thomas Jefferson. He started out by describing himself in the "Top 1% of the intellectual elite" and the proceeded to give the audience the finger THREE TIMES. Very intellectual.

Oh well, maybe new writers, or maybe Bill's a little rusty after so much time off.

I'm sure he'll be back in form next week.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Holistic Doctors in Columbus Ohio

Jan Offutt, MD

Hari Sharma, MD

Jacqueline Chan, DO

Yeah, we got 'em.

Holistically-minded doctors right here in Columbus, Ohio? No problem.

From the top:

Dr. Jann Offutt, MD
Hari Sharma, MD
Jacqueline Chan, DO

To find out more about these great doctors, who incorporate holistic healthcare into their everyday practices, please check out my book "Doctors of the Future."

Profiles of 11 Central Ohio physicians who use holistic healthcare and alternative medicine with their patients, their healing philosophies, the practices they use, the practices they refer out to, and the insurance programs they're covered under.

Plus, a phone number list of another 15 more holistic physicians (without the profiles) that didn't make the publishing deadline.

Holistic Holiday at Sea IV

This sounds really cool.

Castle Cruises is selling cabins on a cruise called "Holistic Holiday at Sea IV." This is a normal cruise on a big boat, but it has a variety of speakers and workshops.

What I found most interesting is that this is not a "Woo Woo" cruise with talk about fairies, angels, crystals and stuff like that.

No, the speakers are actually top notch researchers and doctors who you will learn a lot from. T. Colin Campbell, who has done some huge studies on nutrition in China, and Dr. Neal Barnard, the founder of Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Plus, lots of healthy food (on a cruise??), yoga classes, meditation, pilates - you name it. The cruise is sponsored by A Taste of Health.

Sounds like fun? The cruise is happening in March 2007, but you can book now.

Call Marci at Castle Cruises at 877.651.2250 or e-mail her at

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Amazing Television

I'm really enjoying the History Channel series "The Revolution" this month. It's so nice to hear these stories again. Particularly after reading "Burr," the book by Gore Vidal. Vidal's book was from the perspective of Burr, so it was very critical of Washington and Jefferson. This series is much less critical, of course, and it's nice to have that balance.

Anyway, love the series. Click here for details.

And, yes, I've been watching the damn thing on our tiny TV.

Dell and Apple Laptop Batteries Being Recalled

Dell and Apple laptop batteries, made
by Sony, have, on VERY RARE OCCASIONS,

There is no need to panic.

But you should definitely look into whether
your particular laptop battery needs to be

Pictures of the explosions are
and here:

For instructions on what to do, click the link below corresponding to your laptop brand:

For Apple

For Dell

Follow the instructions on the Website. Check
for your laptop's model number in the lists.

Please be patient, these Websites are
getting hit HARD, so you may get an
error message if their servers are too busy.

If that's the case, try the Website
again later.

The actual danger to you is very minimal,
there are only a few instances of actual
explosions, so just be patient.

This does not affect ALL Dell or Apple
laptops, so you just need to check if yours
is on the list.

Here is a USA Today story on this issue.

As I said, there is no need to panic or worry.
I just want you to go to these Websites and check
if your computer is involved in the recall.

I will be providing updates and answers to questions on this blog for all Simplicity Institute customers.

Check this blog periodically for the answers to questions
that I hear back from you.

Podcasts 27, 28 - Healthy Show Biz

Podcasts #27 and #28 are now up on the site at Holistic Health Nation. This is a two-part series of my chat with Robert Rickover, Webmaster of and an Alexander Technique teacher.

We talk about what it's like to have an Alexander lesson, and how the Technique has helped many people, including musicians, singers and actors. We also discuss how the Technique can help anyone who isn't in one of those professions.

Click here to listen to Part I and Part II.

We had a great conversation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another Firefox Image You'll Like

Here's another Firefox image worth remembering. Yes, Firefox is "eating" into the market share of Microsoft's IE browser. I think current figures stand at around 10% market share for Firefox, up from nothing just a couple of years ago.

When I look at my own Websites, the Simplicity Institute Website has 7% Firefox visitors, Health Insurance Off the Grid has 17% Firefox, and Bikini Guru has 11% Firefox. And those numbers have been steadily increasing too, which validates the overall picture we've been seeing.

Many technology Websites and podcasts say that they get about 50% Firefox visitors, which tells me that the technology people are ahead of the curve and advising their own customers, family and friends to switch.

So let me just throw in my two cents. If you are still using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your browser, STOP IMMEDIATELY! Download Firefox (or anything else!) and start using it. IE is too dangerous to use, even the U.S. Government has warned against it!!

NOTE: The link to the U.S. government warning is not a hoax. And even though that warning was issued more than two years ago, do not believe anyone who tells you IE has been fixed since then and that there's no problem. There is still a problem. I have heard that the newest IE version under Windows Vista (unreleased version of Windows coming up in 2007) may fix the problems, but for now, it is still not safe to use IE.

And for e-mail, nobody should be using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. Use Thunderbird instead, or, if you're on a Mac, use Macintosh Mail, which comes with Mac OS X.

Oh, The Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth...

Well, our venerable projection TV bit the dust this past weekend.

It's a Toshiba Theatreview. It's been a great TV for almost ten years, but this past weekend the TV just wouldn't start up and the power light was flashing red. Looking it up in the discussion boards, it sounds like it's the power protection circuit, and it will be a costly repair - $300-400.

As you can see, we've adlibbed our little TV on top of the big one for now. How trailer park!!

Actually, we are both secretly hoping it costs a lot to repair, so we can just go out and buy a new flat screen plasma screen and hang it on the wall. Does that make us bad people?

UPDATE: The service man came and fixed it. Here are the details. We're up and running again. By the way, the forum posting above was not correct in our case. The power protection circuit was fine.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Oregon State University Students Create a Firefox Crop Circle

The Linux User Group at Oregon State University painstakingly created this beautiful crop circle in the shape of the Firefox browser logo. How creative!!

UPDATE: Here's a link to a "behind the scenes" video of how the crop circle was made. See the magic!

Miracle II and Poison Ivy

This guy posted a testimonial about how he applied Miracle II to poison ivy on his arms and photographed the healing.

If the dates are true, this happened really fast! I know when I got poison ivy a few years ago, it got worse and worse for about six weeks before it let up and started to heal. This guy had good results within a week, and within three weeks it was totally gone.

What's really interesting to me is that, in the story, he explains that they didn't have any Miracle II so they had to order it and wait for it to arrive by mail. I wonder what would have happened if he had applied Miracle II right away??

Here are the photos if you're interested. Click the photos to see the original story.

If you're interested in finding out more about Miracle II products, click here.

NOTE: I have not been paid to provide this information. The link takes you to a Miracle II online store run by my friend Steve Heimlich. I don't receive any money from Steve or another else.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ayurvedic Practitioners in Cincinnati Ohio

A friend of mine happened to send out a e-mail to lots of people asking for ayurvedic practitioners in her home town, Cincinnati. She was kind enough to collate the information and send it back to all of us, so I'm posting it here for my blog readers.


Dr. Vijay Jain, M.D., has had a successful General Surgery Practice in Greater Cincinnati for the past 27 years. He has studied mind/body medicine with Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D; Ayurvedic Medicine with Dr. Sunil Joshi, M.D. Nagpur, India; and has taken courses in Integrative Medicine with Dr. Andrew Weil in Tucson, Arizona. For the past 10 years, in addition to his Surgery practice in Lake Cumberland area, Dr Jain lectures on Ayurvedic Principles and Practices and how to create Optimal Health based on those principles.

Mercy Fairfield
1251 Nilles Road - Suite 6
Fairfield/Cincinnati, OH 45014
(513) 829-2123
Press 1 - Center for Holistic Healing and Ayurvedics


Cincinnati Yoga School has a yoga therapist who is trained in Ayurveda. She teaches on Mondays at 5:45pm

11130 Kenwood Rd.
Corner of Kenwood & Cornell,
Blue Ash, Ohio 45242, USA
513-247-9642 Phone
513-247-0078 Fax


Sia Spa (SIA stands for South Indian Ayurveda) offer Ayurvedic spa services.
8127 Montgomery Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236


Carrie Demers, M.D., Medical Director of The Himalayan Institute’s Center for Health & Healing. A holistic physician, board certified in internal medicine, she received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, and completed her residency at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Doctor Demers is also trained in homeopathy, Ayurveda, and yoga, and blends modern medicine with traditional approaches. She lectures on holistic health across the United States, and is a featured columnist for Yoga International magazine.

952 Bethany Turnpike
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: 570-253-5551 ext. 3100
Fax: 570-253-4164


Anjula Brannon. She is not an MD, but is very well trained in Ayurveda. She is the founder of the Ayurveda Natural Health Center.

1342 N Fairfield Rd
Dayton/Beavercreek OH 45432
(937) 429-9355


Dr. John Peterson. He is very good, and draws patients from around the country. He is very good at Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis.

Muncie, Indiana


Dr. Hari Sharma, M.D. Dr. Sharma is also author of Awakening Nature's Healing Intelligence, The Answer to Cancer: Is Never Giving It a Chance to Start, Awakening Nature's Healing Intelligence
Columbus, OH


Shama Chavan, M.D, B.A.M.S.
In the Clifton area
Cincinnati, OH 45220
Phone: 513.861.1353 / 513.237.4937


Sujatha Reddy, B.A.M.S.
B.A.M.S., Bangalore University, Karnataka, India, 1988
M.S., Community Counseling, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, USA, 2005
PC Professional Counselor, Ohio, USA, 2006
Sujatha Reddy graduated from the Govt. College of Indian Medicine in Bangalore, India in the year 1988. She came to the United States in 1989 and has been practicing Ayurveda since. Sujatha Reddy also trained under Dr. Vasant Lad, a renowned Ayurvedic practioner and teacher for Pulse Diagnosis, at the Ayurvedic Institute in the year 2002. Sujatha Reddy started her Masters program in Community Counseling in the year 2002. She graduated from the University of Dayton in 2005. She passed her National Counselor Exam and was licensed as a mental health counselor for the state of Ohio in May 2006. She practices mental health counseling parallel to Ayurveda. Her Ayurvedic expertise includes pulse diagnosis, dietetics and cooking, nutritional herbs and spices, women’s health concerns, musculoskeletal problems, skin diseases, allergies, Ayurvedic mental and physical health. She also specializes in Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counseling and Domestic Violence Counseling.

New Albany, OH 43054
Phone: 614.939.0265


Peter Sheng, M.D., OMD. While Dr. Sheng is not an Ayurvedic practitioner, he is a Chinese trained Oriental Medical Doctor. He is also board certified in oncology. Half is practice is oncology and the other half is general practice, using Chinese medicine.
Natural Healing Arts
8220 Northcreek Dr.
Kenwood, OH
(513) 528-2900

A Cross-Reference of Health Conditions to Herbs and Homeopathic Remedies

I found this great directory of healing herbs, vitamins and homeopathic remedies which links them to particular health conditions.

It's a part of the PCC Natural Markets Website. This is a health food store chain in Washington state. My guess is that it's some syndicated content from somewhere, but it really is comprehensive. I mean, Wow!

I guess what blows me away is how many studies and articles they cite for each condition and/or remedy. It's dozens! For insomnia, there are 41 articles and peer-reviewed journal entries listed. For arthritis, 114 listed! I had no idea there was such a complete resource available for us online, for free! How friggin' cool...

Here's the link. Take a look. Pick a health condition, and see what natural remedies apply. Or, pick a remedy, and see what conditions it's helpful for.

Our favorite local health food store in Westerville, Raisin Rack, has a similar listing, syndicated from a different source. It's good too.

And if you want a directory that has herbs and drugs, and that focuses a lot on herb-drug interactions, DrugDigest is for you.

I have no idea of the authority of these Websites, but my impression is that they are very good. Well laid out, easy to navigate, and not overly biased towards Western medicine as the "only way to go" like WebMD.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Detailed, Critical Look at Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals and the FDA

You will really enjoy this blog. It's written by Aubrey Blumsohn, a professor at Sheffield University in Britain, who claims that P&G messed with his research.

I came across this very critical blog concerning Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals. It is incredibly detailed and goes into exactly what is going on at this Big Pharma company (did you know P&G did drugs? I didn't). It also examines the cozy relationship between Big Pharma and the FDA.

This guy has written letters to P&G and also posts the responses he gets. He goes into how the FDA accepts all kinds of funny data when it comes to drugs, but then goes ape-shit on fairly harmless non-drug products.

I highly recommend that you take a look at this blog - Scientific Misconduct. What I sometimes do with long blog posts is I print them out and then I read them while I'm standing in line at the post office or whatever.

Let me know what you think of this blog.

The story of Aubrey's ordeal with Sheffield University and P&G was documented at Slate magazine in 2005.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Podcast #26 - Retrospective I

I just released the latest podcast for Holistic Health Nation. It is a look back at my previous 25 shows, the interviews and the music.

I plan to do this every 25 shows or so. It's fun because I give updates on what has happened since those interviews, which in some cases is a LOT. For instance, the Campus President of Tri-C (Cuyahoga Community College) who I interviewed way back when is now gone from the college but we're still continuing the holistic programs without him (for now at least).

Click here to listen to the show.

I love doing these podcasts! (This is surprising, because usually I get bored of something after this long.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jon Barron Talks about the Current State of the FDA

The following is from Jon Barron's e-mail newsletter. If you're not already subscribed, I encourage you to sign up by clicking here.

El Guapo and the FDA

Jon Barron

There is a great scene in the movie, The Three Amigos, in which Chevy Chase talks about the villain, El Guapo. "I suppose you could say that everyone has an El Guapo. For some, shyness may be an El Guapo. For others, lack of education may be an El Guapo. But for us, El Guapo is a large ugly man who wants to kill us!"

Just swap out the name El Guapo for FDA and you have the theme of this week's newsletter. It doesn't matter what country you live in, you have an El Guapo/FDA-type regulatory authority promoting questionable pharmaceutical solutions while at the same time limiting your access to far safer alternatives. Here in the US, our FDA is the actual FDA, a large ugly agency that despite its best efforts sometimes seems to be trying to kill us.

FDA isn't doing its job

A recent article in the Washington Post once again brings home the point that FDA approval (heck, any government approval) does not guarantee safety. It also makes it clear that approved pharmaceuticals, over the counter medication, medical devices, and even food products are not what you think they are!

This article highlights the findings of a 15-month-long reactionary investigation of the FDA following the flu vaccine shortage. In the process of their investigation, however, investigators documented profound and disturbing indications of much more far-reaching and deep-seated problems.

While the motivation for the investigation was undoubtedly political, the results are inarguable. First, consider the trends:

In the past 5 years the number of warning letters that the Food and Drug Administration issued to drug companies, medical device makers, etc. dropped 54 percent to 535 in 2005 from 1,154 in 2000.
The seizure of mislabeled, defective and dangerous products dipped 44 percent.
The biggest decline was found at the agency's device center, where enforcement actions decreased 65 percent in the five-year period of the study despite a wave of problems with devices including implantable defibrillators and pacemakers.

The most disturbing indicator in these statistics is that the research found no evidence that such declines could be attributed to increased compliance with regulations. Investigators at the FDA continued to uncover about the same number of problems at drug and device companies during the study as during comparable time periods before the study. The inquiry found instead that top officials at the FDA increasingly overruled the investigators' enforcement recommendations.

In fact, the only rise in percentages was found in the number of products that had to be recalled from the market after approval by the FDA: up 44 percent.

Some might argue about the ultimate meaning of these statistics; but at the very least, they are the proverbial canary in the coal mine giving warning of severe problems lurking in the background. Before we can understand what those problems are, though, we need to understand how we got ourselves into this predicament.

What is the FDA?

The FDA was designed as an "intelligent, necessary regulatory agency or 'watchdog' for Foods and Drugs." Sounds simple, yet the size and scope of this job is a tangible example of eyes being bigger than the stomach.

To give you an idea of the monumental task the FDA faces, consider that 'Food and Drug' has been broken into 8 categories, each with a number of subcategories:

Foodborne Illness, Nutrition, Dietary Supplements...
Prescription, Over-the-Counter, Generic...
Medical Devices
Pacemakers, Contact Lenses, Hearing Aids...
Vaccines, Blood Products...
Animal Feed and Drugs
Livestock, Pets...
Safety, Labeling...
Radiation-Emitting Products
Cell Phones, Lasers, Microwaves…
Combination Products
Any combination of the above categories...

Considering such a monumental task, the health environment has definitely benefited in some areas. Since the FDA's inception, instances of food poisoning, for example, have decreased dramatically. Understand, not everything the FDA touches is bad; not everyone who works for the FDA is a villain.

To be fair, there are many, many good, conscientious people working for the FDA. I've talked to a number of them. (It's not hard. They're available to you if call up. Most are very nice.) The problem is that the nice people don't really control the agenda. The reality is that in many ways, the FDA follows the same bell curve that I talked about in Why Your Doctors Do You Like They Do, June 21, 2004. Let me illustrate:

At the bottom of the curve, particularly out in the field, there are a handful of petty bureaucrats -- little people who sit behind very big desks -- people who get off on wielding power and intimidating anyone who crosses their path. (Most of us have met this type of individual at least once in our lives.)

In the middle, and comprising the biggest part of the curve by far, are the hardworking, conscientious people trying to do the best they can. Some are open minded, and some religiously follow the party line -- but all are trying to do the best they can, and in their way protect consumers.

At the executive level, there are some very bright people, but unfortunately, too many, as you will see, who are either negotiating their next job in the pharmaceutical industry or who have just arrived from there to work at the FDA. You can't have a relationship between a multi-billion dollar industry and the people entrusted to oversee it, and not expect, given enough time, to see people crossing the line.

That said, let me restate that there is trouble afoot. So let's take a closer look at what is going on (or going wrong) at the FDA.

FDA Missteps

On July 20th, the Union of Concerned Scientists published the results of a survey of just under 1,000 doctors who work for the FDA. The results were disturbing:

Almost one in five (18 percent) responded, "I have been asked, for non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or my conclusions in an FDA scientific document."

More than three in five (61 percent) knew of cases in which "Department of Health and Human Services or FDA political appointees have inappropriately injected themselves into FDA determinations or actions."

Three in five (60 percent) also knew of cases "where commercial interests have inappropriately induced or attempted to induce the reversal, withdrawal or modification of FDA determinations or actions."

Fifty percent also felt that non-governmental interests (such as advocacy groups) had induced or attempted to induce such changes.

Less than half of them (49 percent) agreed that "FDA leadership is as committed to product safety as it is to bringing products to the market."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! To see all of the profoundly disturbing results check out the complete survey.

Another glaring example of conflict of interest affecting health decisions at the FDA can be found in the history of Aspartame, which was approved for use in foods by Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, the former Commissioner of the FDA, two months before retiring. Shortly after leaving the FDA, he accepted a position as Senior Medical Advisor to Aspartame's public relations firm at the rate of $1,000 per day. You can read details in my newsletter, The FDA and Government Regulators.

More Conflicts of Interest

The example of Dr. Hayes above is not isolated. Many FDA managers have conflicts of interest from holding stock in the pharmaceutical industries they are entrusted to regulate to holding jobs at these same pharmaceutical companies either before they work for the FDA or, as with Dr. Hayes, immediately after. Yes, top FDA officials frequently end up with top paying positions at the very same drug companies they were entrusted to regulate. Does this automatically mean that these positions are improper or that "improper" decisions were made as a result? No, of course not. But sometimes the appearance of impropriety is so overwhelming, it's more than enough to convict.

Consider too that the FDA admits this failure.

In a July 25th article, the FDA issued a preemptory mea culpa: FDA Pledges Conflict Reforms: The agency says it will clarify rules on advisory panel members with ties to drug companies. But a quick review of these proposed reforms makes it clear that they are unlikely to stop many doctors and researchers with such conflicts from serving on the panels whose recommendations can determine the fate of drugs that may be worth millions of dollars in corporate profits -- but that may endanger consumers at the same time.

Looking back at the Vioxx fiasco, for example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest evaluated the 32 scientific experts chosen by the FDA to evaluate Vioxx and its brother Cox-2 inhibitor drugs. The CSPI research uncovered affiliations between 10 of the scientists that served on the committee and the three manufacturers of Cox-2 inhibitors (Pfizer, Merck and Novartis -- including G.D. Searle and Pharmacia, which are now part of Pfizer). According to a New York Times analysis of the votes, the advisory committee would have voted against Bextra and Vioxx staying on the market had scientists with conflicts of interest been excluded from the vote.

The FDA has about 50 advisory panels that are supposed to provide impartial technical advice on issues such as over-the-counter allergy medicines, silicone breast implants, and chemotherapy drugs with toxic side effects. A study published this year found that 28% of panel members disclosed financial conflicts, but only 1% recused themselves.

In case you are wondering, here are the FDA's current guidelines for waivers.

Drug companies are doing their own safety testing!

If all we were talking about was conflict of interest, that would be bad enough; but the problem goes much deeper.

While the world is still dealing with the aftermath of the Vioxx scandal, let us keep in mind that this specific (highly publicized) situation is actually representative of a pervasive problem. Drug companies have been given too much of a role in defining their own approval process -- controlling everything from the drug safety information used to evaluate their products to lab safety information used by the FDA.

Drug safety

The drama surfacing at the FDA concerning drug safety issues plays out much like a movie of the week as accusations fly and tempers flare. Trust is given and taken away, and the ultimate victims of this drama are the consumers. A July 19, 2006, article in highlights that not much has changed since the Vioxx experience as the safety of a new antibiotic approved by the FDA was challenged by Dr. David Graham. As Dr. Graham says, "For F.D.A. to refer to its being reassured by postmarketing data from Latin America and Europe as a basis for declaring 'Ketek is safe' is, in my opinion, a great abuse of such surveillance data."

Vioxx, Keretek, or any of a number of other pharmaceuticals, it doesn't seem to matter. It case after case, FDA executives deem scientific data gathered by their own researchers to be irrelevant and biased data gathered by the pharmaceutical companies themselves all-persuasive. Again, has anything improper occurred? Not necessarily. But then again, sometimes the appearance of impropriety rises so high, it becomes its own proof.

Lab safety

As I mentioned above, the FDA out-sources the inspection of pharmaceutical laboratories -- sometimes to employees of the lab itself. An article in the New York Times describes how even if government inspectors have found widespread problems in a pharmaceutical factory, the Food and Drug Administration sometimes approves new medicines to be made in that factory without inspecting it again, relying on company employees or consultants to verify that the problems have been fixed.

The practice came to light after a trade journal called Dickinson's FDA Webview reported that the F.D.A. had approved Clarinex, the allergy drug made by Schering-Plough, based on factory inspections done by consultants hired by the company rather than by the government. How can you possibly have any confidence in the certification of a lab when that certification was bought and paid for by the company that had a financial interest in seeing that certification go through?

Inaccurate Labels

We are taught as consumers to read and to trust the labels on products. We are told to use these labels as guides to improve our health and nutrition and, in some cases, our safety. The very definition of the term 'label' implies an accurate disclosure of ingredients. But if you were to rely exclusively on FDA approved labels you might be dangerously misled. As explained in another New York Times article, Medicine's Data Gap, when it comes to a drug's "government-approved uses," FDA labeling regulations give doctors important data from clinical tests involving those treatments while spelling out the drug's risks and providing directions for administering it to patients. But FDA regulations have allowed labels to remain silent about a test when the FDA turns down a company's application for approval of a new use or a new patient group. In those situations, the company can then promote that drug for its rejected off-label use with no requirement for full disclosure.

And it's no better for food labels. A recent announcement by the FDA stated that it had checked 28,000 food labels in a 14 month period, however, it failed to mention that they had merely checked to see if labels were present -- not if they were accurate.

As CSPI senior staff attorney, Ilene Ringel Heller, said concerning this issue, "The FDA's report obfuscates the Agency's abdication of its responsibility to ensure honest food labeling by touting irrelevant statistics concerning routine Agency inspection activities. The FDA has been less than forthright with Congress."


I could go on for several hundred pages citing case after case, incident after incident, but I still want to cover the second key issue in this newsletter: the FDA's failure when it comes to dealing with alternative health. For now, suffice it to quote from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD. "This agency has been politicized and degraded. Many FDA employees don't feel the FDA is doing enough to protect the public's health and are afraid to speak candidly about it."

Can the FDA turn itself around and do a reasonable job at regulating pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices? Absolutely, if:

It had an expanded budget.
It was more limited in scope.
It completely separated itself and its personnel from the companies they regulate.
If pigs could fly.
How this relates to alternative medicine

At the top of this newsletter I said, "It doesn't matter what country you live in, you have an El Guapo/FDA-type regulatory authority promoting questionable pharmaceutical solutions while at the same time limiting your access to far safer alternatives."

In the time we have left, let's deal with the second half of this statement: the part about the FDA limiting your access to alternative health.

I could give you all kinds of obvious bias in this area, but probably no example is more obvious than testing, the great sine qua non of the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry. These tests are important because government regulators such as the FDA make their decisions based on these tests. It's the big knock held against all alternative health treatments. Pharmaceutical drugs are rigorously tested. Alternative health programs are based on anecdotal evidence and when tested, consistently fail those tests. The list is endless.

Vitamin E failed testing

Echinacea has failed testing

Antioxidants have failed testing

The Antioxidant Myth

And the list goes on.

But this is a crock. As we've already seen in this newsletter, the tests that pharmaceutical drugs pass are hardly bullet proof, and in fact, as we've seen, are often misleading. On the other hand, the tests that alternative health treatments fail are almost always fatally flawed.

Check out the links above on vitamin E and Echinacea.

Why does this happen? Because as has been made abundantly clear in this newsletter, the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry work closely together:

Sharing personnel.
Taking each other's word on test results.
Getting paid by one entity while working for the other.
Owning stock in one entity while working for the other.
Asking the FDA to be unbiased while monitoring alternative health is like asking the National Football League owners to oversee the future of professional world soccer (that's real football for everyone outside the US). Consider that:

The NFL owners don't understand soccer.

They don't like it.

At best they view it as irrelevant. At worst as an economic rival.

In the best of all possible worlds, they would much rather that it just go away and that everyone in the world watched the NFL.

And thus we have the position of the FDA and their partners, the pharmaceutical industry, when it comes to alternative health.

They don't understand it.

They don't like it.

At best they view it as irrelevant. At worst as an economic rival.

In the best of all possible worlds, they would much rather that it just go away, that anyone involved would just go to jail, and that everyone in the world would fall into line and see their doctor and take a drug for every conceivable condition known to man -- plus those conditions soon to be created by the drug companies' marketing arms.

In effect, the unofficial position of the FDA is that "alternative health" is a contradiction in terms.

Conclusion: take responsibility for own health

Awareness is the key. Most people spend more time taking care of their cars than they do their bodies. You only get one body (this lifetime anyway) and no owner's manual, no warranty and (for the most part) no spare parts. With all the trouble the FDA is having regulating Food, Drugs, Medical Devices, Biologics, Animal Feed and Drugs, Cosmetics, and Radiation Emitting Products, it is imperative that you pay attention to your own body and your own health. In this newsletter I have raised several questions:

Is the FDA doing its job if drug safety issues are not tightly regulated without bias?

Is the FDA doing its job if employees profit from the same agencies they are trusted to regulate?

Is the FDA doing its job if they do not follow up or follow through when problems are found?

Is the FDA doing its job if the food and drug labels Americans are told to trust are not accurate?

Is the FDA doing its job if it dismisses alternative health solutions out of hand with support for biased testing and harassment of practitioners?

The answer of course is a resounding NO!

Remember, FDA approval does not guarantee safety. And as I have said in many previous newsletters, while pharmaceuticals have their place in health care, as a general rule, they should always be the choice of last resort.

Finally, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the FDA should not play any role in regulating alternative medicine. A separate regulating agency that at least has a feel for the discipline needs to be in charge. Far better for the FDA to gets its house in order, work with a more limited scope, and start doing a good and honest job regulating the medical industry.

And for those of you outside the US, don't be smug. Remember you have your own El Guapos -- in most cases even worse than the FDA. Just look at the European Health Initiative and Codex or how Canada treats naturally occurring substances such as DMAE as drugs or Australia's brand new rules requiring massive amounts of documentation for the importation of even the most innocuous natural health supplements. Don't think for one moment that what happens in the US with the FDA doesn't matter to you, or that what happens in your country vis a vis alternative health regulation doesn't matter to those of us in the US. It most assuredly does. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: "We must all stand together (regarding our health rights), or assuredly we shall all hang separately."


While writing this newsletter, I was contacted by Hummingbird Pictures about their new documentary, Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety. This documentary addresses a number of issues specifically covered in this newsletter. What's even better, Hummingbird has put an extremely informative 8 minute trailer of the film online. Check it out. Note: since it is an 8 minute clip, it does take a couple of minutes to load, even on broadband.

Drink This Instead of Soda Pop

Okay, yes, I used to drink pop all the time. Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Root Beer, Ginger Ale - you name it. I like the taste of pop. I like the sweetness. The fizziness is okay, but I could do without that aspect.

Over the past few years, however, I've found out a lot that's bad about soda. The high fructose corn syrup does a tap dance on my blood sugar levels. The phosphoric acid is a harmful chemical. The sodium levels are high, adding to water retention, etc.

So I quit drinking soda. Totally. If I have 3 sodas a year, that's a lot.

What to substitute though? Soda does taste really good, so what is a sweet drink without all the sugar, sodium, etc. Basically, I want a sweetened, no calorie water.

Forget about the high priced "flavored waters."

Here is my solution.

I buy Sweet Leaf liquids in various flavors. I add a few drops to a big glass of water. And I have it! No calories. No sodium. Just water.

Sweet Leaf liquids contain stevia. Stevia is a plant that grows in South America (but actually can thrive here in the U.S. too) that has very sweet leaves. Incredibly sweet. So, if you take an extract from those leaves, put it in a liquid, you have a sweetener that makes a lot of sense.

No sugar. No calories. Zero aftertaste. (If your stevia has aftertaste, you're using the wrong stevia.) Nothing bad at all.

But there's more to stevia.

It is actually anti-viral and anti-bacterial. If you have a cut, you can put stevia concentrate (not the same as the sweetener liquid) on the cut and it will not get infected and will heal more quickly. Likewise, you can take stevia concentrate (again, this is not the sweetener liquid that I use) and spray it on your throat to inhibit a sore throat.

Sound good? It does to me too. The little bottles are very expensive - about $18 for a 2 ounce bottle. But, you have to take into consideration that you use about 15-20 drops in a big glass of water, so that costs you about a total of 40-50 cents per drink. Very comparable to soda costs (if you buy in bulk) and yet much, much better for your health.

Learn more about stevia at the Sweet Leaf Website. And you can buy the stuff online here.

(I'm not being paid by Sweet Leaf or anyone else to say all this.)

For some "not so good" studies on the manmade chemical sweetener Splenda, click here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Being a Professional

Here are a set of ideals from a Website called "Tips for Success" on what it means to be a professional.

See for yourself if these apply or not. I've added my comments in italics.

A professional learns every aspect of the job. An amateur skips the learning process whenever possible. This includes the skills of marketing, sales and business admin in your business.

A professional carefully discovers what is needed and wanted. An amateur assumes what others need and want. This is a process of experimentation. You are constantly searching what what people want, and determining if it is changing.

A professional looks, speaks and dresses like a professional. An amateur is sloppy in appearance and speech. This does NOT necessarily mean business suits or uniforms. It needs to fit what you are embodying in your practice. If you are a reiki master, it might mean wearing a long flowing, tie-died robe.

A professional keeps his or her work area clean and orderly. An amateur has a messy, confused or dirty work area. Yeah, I know this is true, but I have a hard time keeping my papers in order. I've resolved to get better at this. Will you try too?

A professional is focused and clear-headed. An amateur is confused and distracted. Focus is so important. My students in the classes call it the "F" word.

A professional does not let mistakes slide by. An amateur ignores or hides mistakes. I agree. Hiding mistakes is a big problem, even if you're just hiding them from yourself.

A professional jumps into difficult assignments. An amateur tries to get out of difficult work. This is a very interesting thing to notice about yourself. I'm good at fooling myself that I "just didn't have time to get started on that thing," but in reality, I am totally avoiding it because it's hard.

A professional completes projects as soon as possible. An amateur is surrounded by unfinished work piled on unfinished work. Again, this is something I struggle with. I know it's right though.

A professional remains level-headed and optimistic. An amateur gets upset and assumes the worst. I agree.

A professional handles money and accounts very carefully. An amateur is sloppy with money or accounts. Intention and money are closely linked. I had one coaching client who was able to change her intention about money overnight and almost doubled her income in the process. This is an amazing thing. By working on your finances, you are applying your intention to them.

A professional faces up to other people’s upsets and problems. An amateur avoids others’ problems. So important.

A professional uses higher emotional tones: Enthusiasm, cheerfulness, interest, contentment. An amateur uses lower emotional tones: anger, hostility, resentment, fear, victim. Yes, I agree. This sets your vibrational level, as written about in the book Power Versus Force.

A professional persists until the objective is achieved. An amateur gives up at the first opportunity. Persistence. No small business owner can have success without this personality trait..

A professional produces more than expected. An amateur produces just enough to get by. True.

If you're interested in reading the whole article, click here for the details.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What Type of Doctor Should I See Using HSA Money?

You can withdraw money from your Health Savings Account (HSA) to visit an MD, DO or a chiropractor.

Since you will be writing a check or using your debit card to pay for these visits at the time of service, you will really notice how much it costs. Since you have a high-deductible health insurance policy (a must for an HSA), you will be spending HSA money for the first thousand or more dollars every year. It will hurt!

Because of this, you may decide to look around. You might decide that it is cheaper and still effective to visit a naturopath, a type of doctor who specializes in using natural remedies instead of drugs or surgery. These doctors typically charge less and spend much more time with their patients, often more than one hour per appointment.

Or you may still want to stick with an MD. If you do, you may decide to use a particular kind of MD.

Certain MDs have been “opting out” of the health insurance business completely. They refuse to take any patients who want them to process health insurance claims. They focus only on patients who pay “at the time of service.”

If you are using HSA money, that’s you! You are paying at the time of service, using your HSA dollars.

Here’s what’s wonderful about these kinds of doctors. Their fees are much lower. Much, much lower.

Why? Because they don’t have to wrangle with insurance companies day in and day out. They can cut their administrative staff down to just one receptionist and one nurse. All the other paperwork jockies who filled out forms and made phone calls to insurance companies aren’t needed anymore.

You can expect that an “opted-out” doctor might actually charge you only $80 for a half-hour visit. (This is just my estimation. The cost of an actual doctor visit could vary.) That’s right, I said a half-hour. Once doctors are free from insurance restrictions, they often choose to spend much more time with their patients. They can really ask all the right questions and get down to the true health problems you’re suffering.

Sound great? Good!

The best way to find an “opted-out” doctor is to start calling around to doctors in your area and ask what insurance they take. If they say “We don’t take any insurance” you know you’ve found an opted-out doctor. Also, you can check your local holistic health publications, often available at libraries, coffee shops, health food stores and holistic centers.

Another method might be to call the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine at 202-686-2210 or the American Holistic Medical Association at and use their “Doctor Finder.”

Health Savings Accounts will change how we think of health insurance. They are a wonderful tool that almost every American can and should benefit from. And they're available today!

Daryl Kulak is the author of the book "Health Insurance Off the Grid - A Wonderful Way to Use Alternative Medicine and Save Money on Insurance Using the New Health Savings Account (HSA)." The book provides a nine-step plan to get your individual health insurance costs under control using a unique approach you won't find anywhere else. The book is available for sale as an e-Book or paperback at the Website

Article Source:

Ambrotose or Ambritose??

I was getting a lot of hits on the word "ambritose" on my Website, which confused me because I didn't even realize it was on my site!!

It turns out that when I took a set of notes from a meeting we had a couple of years ago called "MD Panel on Cancer" one of the doctors mentioned this glyconutrient, and when I noted it on the Web page, I spelled it wrong.

My spelling was "ambritose" but the correct spelling is "ambrotose." Everyone else who was spelling it wrong when searching on Google were visiting my site.

So I got a good explanation from a source that I trust on the subject, to post it here for all my fellow misspellers!

I talked with Mari De Zago, who is a Mannatech rep. I've known Mari for over a year. She lives and works here in Columbus, Ohio.

Ambrotose is a plant-based blend of the eight necessary carbohydrates that our body needs for proper cell-to-cell communication. Ambrotose is a product in capsules or bulk powder that has recently received a patent from the US government. Currently, about 20 other countries have recognized this patent.

The science of glycobiology has been validated in labs around the world and in the US. There are glycomics centers which have been established by grants from the NIH (check out the list of participants in the Consortium for Functional Glycomics, or CFG, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, or NIGMS), to further study the health benefits of the sugars.

Mannatech makes no claims that Ambrotose, or any supplements that contain Ambrotose can cure, treat, mitigate or ameliorate (improve) any health conditions. However science has established that there is a connection between nutrition and good health.

Thousands of journal articles and studies have been gathered together by the Research and Development staff of Mannatech and are posted on the award-winning website, My suggestion for a first step of due diligence on a nutritional supplement is to check out the science behind the products. Re: Ambrotose and Mannatech's other products, that site is

The search engine can provide information on effect on specific diseases, general educational articles, or specific ingredients in any of Mannatech products (just type in the name of the product). (Daryl: But spell it correctly!!)

Additionally, there are many testimonials that speak to a wide range of health benefits. However, they are NOT posted on the Science education website.

If you desire more specific information, I would be happy to provide that for you.

Mari De Zago, Worthington, OH

Thanks Mari!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ten Ways to Reduce Health Insurance Costs

A lot of people ask me about ways to reduce their health insurance rates, known as premiums.

Today, let's look at ways to reduce the cost of insurance for the individual. In another post, I'll talk about ways for small businesses to do the same.

  1. Raise your deductible. The deductible on a health insurance policy is the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance kicks in each year. Once you reach that point, the insurance will pay 80% or 100% or whatever from then on, until January and then the deductible starts back at zero again. You may think you're getting "better insurance" if your deductible is low, but that's just not true. Overall, you will pay LESS with a high deductible policy. Less money during years when you're healthy. Less money in years when you're sick. It's always less. Your deductible should be at least $2,500.

  2. Start a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA is not insurance, it is a savings account that you can dip into when you have healthcare costs that happen before you reach your deductible. It is a pre-tax account, so whatever amount you put into it each year gets taken off your taxable income. With an HSA and a high-deductible policy, you are basically covered from the first dollar, and you're "self-insuring" for the small stuff and using the insurance company for the big stuff. Here's where we get our HSA - HSA Trustee Services.

  3. Use a health discount card. Yes, I know, these cards can be troublesome. Just know what you're getting. These cards can be very useful in getting discounts on prescription drugs, glasses and contact lenses. For other things, they're pretty useless. For instance, they supposedly cover "alternative practitioners" and dentists. But look into them further and you'll see that most dentists have dropped out of the discount programs, because they're tired of discounting their services. Same with alternative practitioners like chiropractors, nutritionists, massage therapists, etc. They just get tired of discounting their services so heavily, so they quit the program. HSA Trustee Services offers a discount card for free if you sign up for their HSA. (No, they're not paying me to say this.)

  4. Put ALL Western medical costs through your insurance. It seems strange to put your healthcare costs through your insurance company if you know they aren't going to pay for them because you haven't hit your deductible yet. But you earn two big advantages from doing this. First, you get the "insurance company price" for services, which often means a 30-90% discount. Yes, I've seen discounts of 90%. It's incredible. Second, you have to submit your costs to the insurance company in order to meet the deductible each year. If you've spent $5,000, but your insurance company didn't process it, they won't start paying your bills until you've run that amount through them. You need to run those costs through the insurance company, even while it's still deductible money, because you never know if this will be the year you hit the deductible.

  5. Look into ways to cut your healthcare costs. When you're seeing a doctor out-of-pocket, or even using HSA money, you will see exactly how much stuff costs. It's amazingly high! A doctor visit will often cost $150 for a few minutes. Add an MRI scan for $800, a bottle of prescription drugs for $90, and you'll see what I mean. How can you pay less? Look into Minute Clinics, quick service clinics popping up around America that offer visits to nurse practitioners with fixed prices for common services. No, it's not the place to go if you have cancer, but for smaller things, it can make a lot of sense. Check out their Website here.

  6. Consider seeing a naturopathic doctor as your first line of defense. Compare that $150, seven minute doctor visit to seeing a naturopathic doctor. Naturopaths will probably charge you $90-100, and the appointment might last an hour or more. You heard right, a naturopathic doctor will get to know you and your health issues over the course of an hour or more! Is that worth something? Further, naturopaths use herbs, supplements and dietary advice to get your health on track, not expensive drugs. Again, you'll save money.

  7. Practice defensive medicine. The least costly path in healthcare is to never get sick. Don't believe the doctors who tell you everything up to chance, or "genetics." You can do an incredible amount to help your health. Changing your diet, exercising, changing how you think can have excellent results on your overall health. The best advice I've seen on the Internet regarding this approach is from Jon Barron. Click here for his Website. Be sure to download his free e-Book, it's packed with great information.

  8. Budget for healthcare. Paying for yoga classes, naturopath visits and personal trainers might seem excessive, but if you work these costs into your monthly budget, you'll have the money to do them when the time comes each week. Budget how often you can attend the yoga classes. Maybe it's every day, maybe it's twice a month. The rest of the time you could use a yoga video at home. But budgeting for these types of preventive healthcare options will show you how investing in your own health can offer paybacks when you DON'T have to pay for that triple-bypass surgery later.

  9. Meditate. Few daily practices have as much impact on your health as meditation. Clearing your mental clutter and just sitting without thinking lowers blood pressure, calms stress and changes the way your body works - for the better. Start with very modest goals, like meditating 5 minutes twice a week. Work up to more if you can, if not, do what feels workable.

  10. In a family, insure a sick person on a different policy. If you have a family, and one person gets a chronic disease, like cerebral palsy or even cancer, you should insure that person on a separate policy. That policy will be expensive, no doubt. But the rest of the family will pay less if it's insured separately. This can be a significant amount over the course of even a year.

These ideas are taken, in large part, from my book "Health Insurance Off the Grid."

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment on this blog.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What is Consumer-Driven Healthcare?

Consumer-driven healthcare is a label that we’ve put on a movement in America to change the way decisions are made in our healthcare system. Instead of insurance companies making all the decisions about how people will receive their healthcare, consumers are taking back the power over their own lives.

Likewise, the days of a patient totally putting their lives into their doctor’s hands are over. People don’t trust doctors to always do the best thing. How could they? The doctor does not know the situation as well as the patient. It must be the patient’s choice, and they must be making an informed choice, not one based on a five minute sales pitch from a doctor.

If consumer-driven healthcare sounds good to you, that's because it is. It is a very good thing. Dr. Bernie Siegel, a holistic MD and author, noticed many years ago that the patients who took the most interest in their own well being while in the hospital had the best recovery rates from diseases and injuries. These patients are called “troublemakers” by hospital staff. But the truth is, they live. The “compliant” patients die in much greater numbers. Take your pick.

The consumer-driven healthcare revolution is represented in the insurance industry by the emergence of the health savings account (HSA). This is a savings account (like a bank account) that allows you to save tax-deferred money for healthcare expenses whenever you might need it. You can take the money out without paying tax, as long as you're using it for healthcare expenses.

The Health Savings Account allows people to use a much higher deductible on their health insurance, reducing the cost of insurance payments by 40%, 60% or even 80%.

My wife and I would pay about $1000/month for low-deductible health insurance. But with a high-deductible plan and an HSA, we pay $175. That’s an $825, or 82.5% savings every month, $9,900 a year. That buys a lot of yoga classes, or acupuncture treatments, or massage therapy. Or it can go towards a very nice retirement savings. Or a car after two years. Whatever we like.

The downside of consumer-driven healthcare is that whenever you take over control of a situation, you also have more responsibility. You have control of your healthcare dollar, but now you have the responsibility to spend it in the right places. And you need the discipline to do what you know is right. That’s often very hard.

But overall, consumer-driven healthcare is a big step forward. In the next two or three years, many Americans will take charge of their own healthcare.

Join the consumer-driven healthcare revolution! You’ll save money, be healthier and have more choice over your own life.

Daryl Kulak is the author of Health Insurance Off the Grid, a book that provides a simple, effective plan to reduce insurance costs for the self-employed, unemployed and underinsured. The book is available at the Website

Article Source:

Alternative Medicine is Preventive; Western Medicine is Curative

Have you heard the term “wellness?” It has two contexts, one in alternative medicine and one in Western medicine.

In the alternative medicine world, wellness means taking care of yourself so you don't get sick. Let's find ways to avoid cancer, heart disease, mental illness. We can do this through changing our diet, exercising more, and changing our energy fields.

In Western medicine, we wait until we get one of these diseases, then we rush heroically to “beat the disease.” In Western medicine, the term wellness means “early detection” of disease. If you walk into a “Wellness Center” in a hospital, you'll see mammogram screening rooms, MRI machines and other tools to scan for the existence of disease.

Is that wellness? To me, it's not. Wellness is about staying well, it is about avoiding disease in the first place. When a person is told “You have cancer,” it is a major blow to their psyches, and their lives. Why go through that if you don't have to? Why not do whatever you can to avoid that terrible day?

Western medicine treats the “pre-detection” part of life as a kind of random soup of nothingness. You can't really do anything about any of these diseases, you just get them or you don't. No rhyme or reason to it, it just hits you, and then you deal with it.

Genetics is a big factor in the Western medical model. If you get cancer, ah, well, it was in your genes that you'd get it. You see, your great grandfather had cancer, so it was inevitable that you'd get it too.

Huh? Unfortunately, Western medicine can't explain why siblings get or don't get diseases supposedly passed on from their parents. One sister dies of cancer at a 25 (because of genetics) and the other sister lives to be 100 (also genetics?).

For my part, I'm going to take the best care of myself possible, and not play a silly waiting game for disease.

Daryl Kulak is the author of Health Insurance Off the Grid, a book that explores how a combination of holistic health and the new Health Savings Account (HSA) can make an enormous difference in the budget and health of the self-employed. Daryl is not a medical doctor, nor is he an insurance agent.

Article Source:

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Finding an HSA

I've had many people ask me how to find an HSA. HSA stands for Health Savings Account.

My response is that they are available everywhere. You can get an HSA at your health insurance company (like State Farm), your bank (like National City) and you can also get them online.

I've personally used State Farm, where I get my health insurance (I'm self-employed and so is my wife). But I recently switched to start using an online service called HSA Trustee Services. I've been really happy with their service so far, and the investment options are EXCELLENT. I can invest some of my HSA money in bonds, stocks, mutual funds, you name it.

That was my big reason for leaving State Farm. They only allow investment into a money market account.

If you're interested in more about HSAs, please take a look at my book "Health Insurance Off the Grid," which is about combining health insurance, the HSA and holistic healthcare into the "perfect" health plan.

Doctor's Advice on Chemotherapy

Global Healing Center's Website has a whole page dedicated to quotes about chemotherapy.

Go to Global Health Center's Website to get all the quotes.

Among them:

"Two to 4% of cancers respond to chemotherapy….The bottom line is for a few kinds of cancer chemo is a life extending procedure---Hodgkin's disease, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Testicular cancer, and Choriocarcinoma."---Ralph Moss, Ph.D. 1995 Author of Questioning Chemotherapy.

"A study of over 10,000 patients shows clearly that chemo’s supposedly strong track record with Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma) is actually a lie. Patients who underwent chemo were 14 times more likely to develop leukemia and 6 times more likely to develop cancers of the bones, joints, and soft tissues than those patients who did not undergo chemotherapy (NCI Journal 87:10)."—John Diamond

Children who are successfully treated for Hodgkin's disease are 18 times more likely later to develop secondary malignant tumours. Girls face a 35 per cent chance of developing breast cancer by the time they are 40---which is 75 times greater than the average. The risk of leukemia increased markedly four years after the ending of successful treatment, and reached a plateau after 14 years, but the risk of developing solid tumours remained high and approached 30 per cent at 30 years (New Eng J Med, March 21, 1996)

"Success of most chemotherapy is appalling…There is no scientific evidence for its ability to extend in any appreciable way the lives of patients suffering from the most common organic cancer…chemotherapy for malignancies too advanced for surgery which accounts for 80% of all cancers is a scientific wasteland."---Dr Ulrich Abel. 1990

The New England Journal of Medicine Reports— War on Cancer Is a Failure: Despite $30 billion spent on research and treatments since 1970, cancer remains "undefeated," with a death rate not lower but 6% higher in 1997 than 1970, stated John C. Bailar III, M.D., Ph.D., and Heather L. Gornik, M.H.S., both of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago in Illinois. "The war against cancer is far from over," stated Dr. Bailar. "The effect of new treatments for cancer on mortality has been largely disappointing."

"With some cancers, notably liver, lung, pancreas, bone and advanced breast, our 5 year survival from traditional therapy alone is virtually the same as it was 30 years ago."---P Quillin, Ph.D.

"Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy…Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade. Yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumours…Women with breast cancer are likely to die faster with chemo than without it."—Alan Levin, M.D.

"The five year cancer survival statistics of the American Cancer Society are very misleading. They now count things that are not cancer, and, because we are able to diagnose at an earlier stage of the disease, patients falsely appear to live longer. Our whole cancer research in the past 20 years has been a failure. More people over 30 are dying from cancer than ever before…More women with mild or benign diseases are being included in statistics and reported as being "cured". When government officials point to survival figures and say they are winning the war against cancer they are using those survival rates improperly."---Dr J. Bailer, New England Journal of Medicine (Dr Bailer’s answer to questions put by Neal Barnard MD of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine and published in PCRM Update, sept/oct 1990.

"I look upon cancer in the same way that I look upon heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, or even obesity, for that matter, in that by dramatically strengthening the body's immune system through diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise, the body can rid itself of the cancer, just as it does in other degenerative diseases. Consequently, I wouldn't have chemotherapy and radiation because I'm not interested in therapies that cripple the immune system, and, in my opinion, virtually ensure failure for the majority of cancer patients."---Dr Julian Whitaker, M.D.

"We have a multi-billion dollar industry that is killing people, right and left, just for financial gain. Their idea of research is to see whether two doses of this poison is better than three doses of that poison."—---Glen Warner, M.D. oncologist.

John Robbins:

* "Percentage of cancer patients whose lives are predictably saved by chemotherapy - 3%
* Conclusive evidence (majority of cancers) that chemotherapy has any positive influcence on survival or quality of life - none.
* Percentage of oncologists who said if they had cancer they would not participate in chemotherapy trials due to its "ineffectiveness and its unacceptable toxicity" - 75%
* Percentage of people with cancer in the U.S. who receive chemotherapy - 75%.
* Company that accounts for nearly half of the chemotherapy sales in the world - Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
* Chairman of the board of Bristol-Meyers - Richard L. Gelb.
* Mr. Gelb's other job: vice chairman, board of overseers, board of managers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, World's largest private cancer treatment and research center.
* Chairman, Memorial Sloan-Kettering's board of overseers, board of managers - John S. Reed.
* Reed's other job - director, Philip Morris (tobacco company).
* Director, Ivax, Inc., a prominent chemotherapy company - Samuel Broder.
* Broder's other job (until 1995) - executive director, National Cancer Institute."from Reclaiming Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Source of True Healing by John Robbins.

Be sure to check out the Global Health Center's Website for all the quotes, there are many, many more than I've listed here.

Some of the quote are quite outdated, but you can see what these doctors and researchers were saying in the late 1990s were absolutely accurate for what happened since then.

Alternative Medicine is Holistic, Western Medicine is Reductionist

The major difference between alternative medicine, or what I'll call holistic health, and Western medicine, is in approach.

A Western doctor, or MD, sees his duty as searching out disease, diagnosing it, and treating it. If he does that correctly and effectively, he's done his job. Most often, this means the doctor prescribing a pharmaceutical drug or a surgical procedure to remedy the situation. The patients is passive in all of this.

A holistic health practitioner sees her duty as an educator and a facilitator. She feels that the body can heal itself, and it doesn't necessarily need outside influences (drugs, surgery) to heal from an illness or to prevent an illness. In holistic health, the patient is an active participant.

This is the best and the worst thing about holistic health! The patient is actively involved in the healing process. Everything you know about your body says that this is the right approach. It makes so much sense. That's the good part. The bad thing about this is that it is HARD WORK for the patient. In most cases, the patient must make changes to their lifestyle. Change your diet, do more exercise, stop using sugar, do these stretches, stop negative thoughts, meditate twice a day, etc.

Making lifestyle changes is immensely difficult. The only time it's easy is when you are faced with a life-threatening disease. When you find out you have lung cancer, it's pretty easy to quit smoking. However, it's far too late by that time. Lifestyle changes need to come before the illness becomes manifest.

Let's examine one of the big differences between holistic health and Western medicine: holism versus reductionism.

Holistic versus Reductionist

This is a major shift in perspective. Taking a holistic perspective means that you cannot understand a single problem with a single part of the human body without looking at the whole person. We use the short-hand “mind, body, spirit” to refer to the whole person.

This is not how a Western doctor is taught to see a patient. He sees the patient as the disease. “This is an epileptic,” it is not a whole person who has epilepsy. He feels that he can administer a drug or perform a surgery that will cure a person's liver without making any difference to the rest of the person. Of course, this is never possible, so when the inevitable “complications” arise, the Western doctor deals with those one at a time, often causing additional problems for the person, whether in body, mind or spirit.

Even those three parts of the person are treated by separate people in Western society. The body is the domain of the medical doctor. The mind is the domain of the psychiatrist. Spirit is left to the priest, rabbi or pastor. There is no overlap in roles, except for referrals from one to the other. In our bodies, of course, there is tremendous overlap. A loss of connection to God or the universe will cause no end of mental and physical problems. Mental stress causes many physical diseases, as we well know. Who can coordinate between these in the Western system? No one. Problems falling “through the cracks” between mind, body and spirit is a common failure of Western medicine.

A holistic practitioner understands the interconnections between mind, body and spirit. They work on the connections, and, although the practitioner may not be an expert in all three, they focus on the overlaps rather than ignoring them.

In my opinion, a holistic approach is better in almost every case for almost every person. Understanding the linkages between mind, body and spirit is essential to understanding how to stay well and how to heal. Western medicine can play a part within the scope of holistic health by offering emergency solutions to problems that arise quickly and need to be fixed immediately.

Daryl Kulak is the author of Health Insurance Off the Grid, a book that explores how a combination of holistic health and the new Health Savings Account (HSA) can make an enormous difference in the budget and health of the self-employed.

Article Source:

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Brazil Fights Big Pharma Name-Nappers

Boing Boing quotes from an article in Intellectual Property Watch that examines how Brazil is fighting against the big pharmaceutical companies that are trademarking plants.

This means that a guy in Brazil who prepares the local plant and serves it to local customers, using the name of the plant (now trademarked) gets sued by the big pharma company. But Brazil is taking steps to stop this from happening, and they've even proactively published a list (in Portuguese) of native plants that they won't allow foreign companies to trademark.

I think this is a great step for Brazil to take. How effective it will be, in terms of each countries' patent authorities enforcing it - who knows. But it is proactive.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Posing Suits for Figure, Fitness Competitors

My wife is in the posing suit business. She specializes in suits for fitness, figure and bodybuilding competitions. She's done hundreds of these. I'm so proud of her!

Her Website is I help her with some of the graphics, here is an example below. I'm not bad, eh? (Of course, the suit is the real artwork.)

Posing Suits, Bikinis and Photo Shoot Microkinis

Open Letter to Alternative Medicine Magazine

I've subscribed to Alternative Medicine magazine for many years. You'd think it would be my favorite subscription, it's right up my alley with my focus on holistic healthcare.

But that's just it. I'm feeling more and more that this magazine is not promoting a holistic approach to health. Don't get me wrong. They haven't changed. It is just that my perception of the magazine is changing, the more I learn about health.

Here are some headlines from this month's issue:
  • 3 Herbs to Lower Blood Sugar

  • 8 Ways to Lower Your Stress

  • A Yoga Fix for Carpal Tunnel

  • 12 Ways to Balance Your Cholesterol

  • 9 Herbs to Tame Your Growing Prostate Problem

  • Botox Alternatives That Really Work

  • 10 Dietary Choices that Defeat Diabetes

  • ADHD: Alternatives to Ritalin

Sounds like a bad day at Cosmo magazine! Instead of "8 Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed" its "8 Ways to Lower Your Stress." This is great marketing, but I think it's bad health advice.

It seems like we're just substituting an herbal remedy for a pharmaceutical drug. Okay, that's probably better, but are we really being holistic? Are we going after the original cause, or just looking for an herbal "quick fix?"

And the stress reducers, for instance, are just a grab bag of various ways to solve the problem. It is NOT a holistic, coherent plan. It includes guided imagery, single-pointed concentration, restorative pose (from yoga), biodfeedback and passive muscle relaxation.

The whole thing about holistic healthcare (for me) is to put together a program of diet, exercise, thoughts, attitude, meditation, supplements and energy that makes sense for a particular problem. It's not a situation of trying a bunch of grab bag ideas and seeing if one works.

Damn it! Holistic health is not about quick fixes! It's not about "one off" solutions. That's the Western medicine model!! Holistic health is actually very hard. It often means changing my diet, exercising, changing my lifestyle habits. Those are the lasting solutions, right?

What's worked for me for my various issues is a multi-pronged approach, usually mind, body and spirit components. That is what works for me. The typical herbal or dietary quick fixes never do much in my experience. My naturopath puts together a whole program for me, or I figure one out for myself.

This takes me back to a comment that Jon Barron, the nutrition expert, made on my podcast a few weeks back. If you didn't hear those episodes (Parts 1 and 2) please have a listen. He gave some great examples of how we need to treat our conditions from a "whole person" perspective. Listen especially to his football team analogy.

Another problem I've noticed with this magazine is that they tend to go chasing after all the latest studies, even when it contradicts what last month's study proclaimed. They seem to uncritically parrot the results of the study. "Coffee causes heart problems" one month becomes "Coffee seen as beneficial for your heart" the next month. Are you really informing me about anything just by reporting on these back-and-forth study results? Are you helping me make better choices, or are you just adding to the noise??

Again, I'll point you back to Jon Barron's lucid comments about controlled trials and why the results are so often unusable (Parts 1 and 2).

Sorry Alternative Medicine magazine, I do love you but I want you to do better. Will you try?