Philip had been steadily losing his grip—literally—for four years, since he first began to notice that his left hand would shake when he tried to hold his fork. He got really alarmed when his left foot started to go. Before long one could trace his route by the marks his toe left on floors after he went by. He bumped into doors, took a few spills, dropped things and began to lose the self-confidence that had given him the courage to start his own real-estate business. He also became steadily more fatigued and he mysteriously lost 20 pounds in weight. He was only 38 years old. Where would it end?

I remember a drug company advertisement this past year, which used the expression "strong medicine" to catch the eye of the wary and erudite doctors. I have already forgotten what the medication was—so much for advertising. What does matter is that the phrase did catch my eye and I thought the thought: "too bad that most patients and their doctors fail to realize that nutrients are also strong medicine." In fact, in treating deficiency diseases, the corrective nutrients are the strongest possible medicines. No matter how clever or powerful a new drug treatment may be, the fact is that sickness is not likely a result of medication deficiency. This is not to deny the benefits of pharmacology; and "strong medicine" can improve the odds of recovery and perhaps give some comfort or relief of symptoms. But there is no known disease that is caused by drug deficiency. On the other hand every nutrient deficiency is potentially fatal! That is one of the most persuasive arguments in favor of putting nutrition first. To correct a nutrient deficiency is "strong medicine."

Nutrition and Pollution are moving to center-stage in medicine today, competing with Infection and Genetics, i.e. germs and genes, which have been the main concepts in our classification of disease for the past 100 years. Germs and genes are 19th century concepts that have matured in the light of 20th century chemistry and molecular biology, culminating in antibiotics and genetic engineering. Food and poisons, are pre-historic concepts, they have been with us forever; but advances in science and technology help us to see them in a new light, beyond the concept of food and into the realm of nutrients, components of food that are essential to health.

The blowing of the wind provides some of life’s pleasures. Whether it is a breeze on a sunny day or an exciting gale before a storm, we enjoy the stimulation and aliveness of the various winds that clear the air and lift our senses in different ways from day to day. But winds can also carry pesticides and that is a different matter, the very embodiment of the expression “an ill wind that blows no good.” It is hard to imagine that the air we breathe can be a risk to our health. It is unreal to think that a drive in the countryside can provoke nervousness and depression from pesticides carried on the wind. I have had reports from patients, especially those who were unusually sensitive to organophosphate pesticides, such as malathion, diazinon, chlorpyrifos and dursban, to name a few. Measurement of plasma cholinesterase, which is destroyed by these chemicals, provides convincing evidence of low cholinesterase. Pesticides bring it down, too low to control acetylcholine neurotransmitter activity. Out of control acetylcholine overstimulates synapses and thus causes nervousness and a myriad of physical symptoms: tremor, asthma, stomach upset, frequent urination, headache, insomnia, nightmares, temper outbursts—and eventual memory loss.

In my last column I described one of my actual dreams. This time I am describing reality—but it is so unexpected that it feels like a dream. Yes I am awake. Yes I am dressed. Yes this is the New England Journal of Medicine I am reading. And yes, it says: "among middle-aged women the use of vitamin E supplements is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease." That is the conclusion of Dr. Meir Stampfer and his colleagues[1] at Harvard Medical School in their report of a questionnaire study involving 87,000 nurses with follow-up over an 8-year period. They found a 45 percent reduction in coronary heart disease amongst nurses taking vitamin E supplements over 100 units per day compared to those who relied on dietary sources alone. This is important because it has been the dogma of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the past 50 years that "the average American Diet is adequate in vitamins and minerals." I addressed this as the "nutrition death sentence" in my 1980 book, MegaNutrition.

Health and sex go together. In fact, loss of sexual desire and function is a sign of physical illness and mental depression. Anyone afflicted with loss of sexual responsiveness should seek a medical evaluation. While illness is not commonly found in cases where loss of libido is the sole presenting complaint, there is an over-all 2 out of 3 probability of a physical cause in formal medical studies of sexual impotency. This increases to 90 percent for those older than age 50.

Melatonin is not a vitamin, it is a hormone particularly active in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, and its major function is to coordinate some of the internal systems of the body, especially brain, immune and reproductive systems, in relation to the light-dark cycles of the day and the changes in length of day and night from season to season in the course of the year.

Sunshine, salt, sugar and fat all used to be categorized among the pleasures of life. Lately we are told that all are dangerous to our health, not as bad as smoking but worse than coffee or chocolate. There is a case for the other side in terms of health benefits. Each of the above—sugar, salt, and fat—is essential to life and health—but there is an optimal dose at which benefits are obvious, and a toxic dose at which illness develops. The same general interpretation applies to sunlight.

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