Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Great American Con Game:

“Health” Care in America

Rick Malter, Ph.D.

© 2008

America’s “health” care system is full of contradictions. On the one hand, emergency medicine often performs outstanding life saving actions with some people. Organ transplants frequently seem miraculous. On the other hand, a great deal of medical and psychiatric practice seems to be mindless and robotic as one prescription after another is written to “treat” elusive diseases and vague diagnoses. Much of medical practice and “health” care today seems to be offered with little evidence of sound scientific data or thinking that makes any sense. There seems to be little understanding of what is really occurring with the health problems and concerns of people. Many doctors and psychiatrists practice as if they were wearing blindfolds and earplugs. They really don’t see their patients and they don’t listen to them. These health care professionals practice as if they were programmed to operate on a reflex level simply to write prescriptions for powerful and toxic drugs and medications based on the flimsiest “diagnosis.” Mindlessly writing prescriptions for toxic and dangerous drugs has become the “standard of care” in medical and psychiatric practice as if these toxic and dangerous drugs really had scientific data supporting them.

The FDA has been maneuvering to re-define dietary supplements as "drugs" so the FDA can take over total control of supplements that most of us use for maintaining good health. By this semantic change, they hope to place dietary supplements entirely within "medical" practice. The FDA historically has used its semantic manipulations to create new laws without Congressional oversight and action. “Only a drug can cure, prevent, or treat a disease” has been the watchword of the FDA to protect the market for drug companies. This statement is patently untrue, but it serves as one of the primary foundation pieces for the health care con game. For too many years, Congress has allowed the FDA to act as a rogue federal agency to set health policies like this that assure high profits for drug companies at the expense of people's health. One way they do this is to knock out competition from dietary supplements by re-defining them as "medical." Another agenda of the FDA is to push the passage of highly restrictive CODEX standards for limiting the dosage of vitamins, minerals, and herbs to such low levels as to render these supplements virtually useless for maintaining good health. CODEX is on an international level and would be tied to World Trade Organization (WTO) policies.

The number of vaccines that are either mandated for children or strongly recommended has increased dramatically over the past two decades as rates of autism have substantially increased during the same time period. The CDC in its infinite wisdom, grandiosity, and just plain blatant corruption keeps mandating more and more vaccines with only the flimsiest of scientific data to support such dangerous “health” policies. Congress and state legislators buy into this health care con game by passing legislation to mandate vaccinations supposedly in order to “protect” the public health. Press releases and the media support and participate in this great American con game by putting out “news” reports lending credence to this con game.

In the great American con game involving health, disease, and people’s well being, it is money, profits, power, prestige, and insatiable greed that trump everything else. Caring, honesty, integrity, safety, effectiveness, and real science are glaringly absent. Disease mongering is an essential part of this incredibly corrupt system that is presented to the public and politicians as “health” care. Inventing diseases and using scare tactics are integral components of this con game. The safety and effectiveness of drugs and vaccines are grossly exaggerated while anything related to nutrition is viciously and maliciously attacked as “quackery,” a hoax, a waste of time and money, and lacking in any “scientific” support. Junk science is often used to get FDA approval of dangerous and toxic drugs while junk science is used to discredit nutrition and dietary supplement products. The news media is complicit in touting the results of junk science in medicine and psychiatry and playing a significant role in the great American con game.

“Bio-psychiatry” has taken over the entire mental health field with the expanded DSM series of diagnostic manuals. In my view, over the past 40 years, the development of the psychiatric diagnostic manuals -- the DSM-III and then the DSM-IV -- has resulted in a "dumbing down" of mental health diagnosis from a highly sophisticated diagnostic system that was developed right after World War II, primarily by clinical psychologists. This "dumbing down" diagnostic process has produced what I call the "Psychiatric Thinking Disorder" (PTD) that leads to mindlessly prescribing extremely dangerous and toxic drugs to be given to young children. There is also a strong grandiosity associated with this thinking disorder. As for child bipolar disorder and the "Psychiatric Thinking Disorder," it's sometimes hard to tell which psychiatrists and Medical Schools, Universities, and Hospitals are just blatantly corrupt and evil, and which ones are just grandiose, believing that they are doing valid diagnoses of children's “psychiatric” problems.

In the great American con game, more government regulation of dietary supplements is sold as an urgent necessity in order to “protect” the public health from being conned by supplement manufacturers, health food stores, and, of course, non-medical health practitioners. The medical “standard of care” is the gospel that is used to enforce drug and vaccine treatments and other toxic and dangerous medical practices. Intimidation and threats are used to enforce compliance with these ineffective and/or dangerous practices. Legislation by ignorant and/or corrupt politicians is passed in order to put teeth into these coercive fascist marketing practices to sell more and more dangerous toxic drugs, vaccines, and other risky medical interventions. “Evidence based” medicine is the latest term to be added to the public relations arsenal of the great American con game. As politicians argue about what needs to be done to deal with problems in the health/disease care system, “evidence based” medicine is sure to be thrown into the mix.

Scott McClellan’s new book What Happened about the Bush administration and the selling of the Iraq war is quite revealing about how politics involves the use of deception, manipulation, and deceit to get what is wanted no matter what the costs are in lives lost or destroyed. What he reveals about the inside view of politics in Washington, D.C. can also be applied to the great American con game related to the health and disease system. Until the domination of the big drug companies over the American Health/ Disease system enterprise is broken, we will continue to see millions of Americans victimized by an incredibly corrupt and dangerous system. Not only does this great American con game take their money, but this con game often poisons them, taking a horrific toll on their health and, in hundreds of thousands of cases, even their lives. Congress and state legislatures continuously legitimize this con game and empower it with unwarranted legal status.

Fortunately, the internet provides some truthful information and resources that the public is able to use to avoid being taken in by this massive health/disease care con game. Medical doctors like Russell Blaylock, MD, a neuro-surgeon, write highly informative health newsletters that shatter the cholesterol myths and explain the dangers of statin drugs; he also clearly explains the fraud and the dangers of vaccines. Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, publishes a highly informative health newsletter that comprehensively exposes the junk science, fraud, and disease-mongering that permeate allopathic medicine and psychiatry. Many other resources are now available to help break up the great American con game that is marketed as our “health” care system. However, it is important to be aware that some on line internet health and medical web pages appear to be fronts for the drug companies in their aggressive marketing strategies to sell their toxic and dangerous drugs and vaccines. Medline and Web MD appear to be fronts for drug marketing. However, some good information about diseases and health disorders may be obtained by selectively reading these web pages. The health consumer must be extremely vigilant in obtaining health related information. When government health agencies and politicians claim to be interested in pushing an agenda or piece of legislation to “protect” the public health, the word “protect,” especially in regard to mandated policies, should be a red flag that the coercive power of the government is going to be used to force public acceptance of dangerous drugs and vaccines. This is another example of drug company profits trumping anything else related to maintaining good health with healthy food, dietary supplements, and exercise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Magnesium Deficiency & Mind/Body Connection

Magnesium Deficiency and the Mind/Body Connection

Rick Malter, Ph.D.
Education & Health Resources
© 2008

As health care professionals and the public become more informed about the importance of magnesium in maintaining one’s health and vitality, the assessment of a person’s magnesium status takes on even greater importance and urgency. For decades, it has been well established that magnesium deficiency is very closely related to cardiovascular and neurological problems (1, 2, 3). Magnesium deficiency has also been related to problems with glucose regulation, including hypoglycemia and diabetes. Cancer can now be added to the long list of health problems related to magnesium deficiency (4). As Mark Sircus Ac., OMD states:

“There is a power and a force in magnesium that cannot be equaled anywhere else in the world of medicine. There is no substitute for magnesium in human physiology; nothing comes even close to it in terms of its effect on overall cell physiology. Without sufficient magnesium, the body accumulates toxins and acid residues, degenerates rapidly, and ages prematurely. It goes against a gale wind of medical science to ignore magnesium chloride used transdermally in the treatment of any chronic or acute disorder, especially cancer.” (4)

This topic involving magnesium status is of special interest to me, both personally and professionally, because I am highly susceptible to magnesium deficiency. Almost 30 years ago, I was fortunate that a friend and colleague of mine, Ken Candelaria, Ph.D., was well read and informed about the cardiovascular health risks associated with magnesium deficiency (1). Among the major health risks associated with magnesium deficiency are heart attacks, serious glucose regulation problems leading to diabetes, and cancer. I was already showing signs of all three of these health risks. Dr. Candelaria strongly recommended that I get a hair tissue mineral analysis (TMA). The results of this simple lab test clearly showed that I had a severe magnesium deficiency of 0.9 mg/% (the ideal hair TMA magnesium level is 6.0 mg/%).

Several challenges are presented by the vital issue of magnesium deficiency. One has to do with the valid assessment of a person’s magnesium status in order to determine the presence and the extent of magnesium deficiency in a particular person. Even among the best magnesium researchers and clinicians, obtaining a valid measure of magnesium status has been a substantial challenge. Since obtaining a valid measure of a person’s magnesium status has been such a challenging problem for medical doctors and researchers, Medline (5). has made the astonishing assertion that “magnesium deficiency is rare.” In contrast to the view expressed on Medline, in my personal and professional experience, I would assert that magnesium deficiency is and has been at epidemic proportions for decades. As I will explain below, most medical doctors and researchers simply don’t obtain and look at magnesium laboratory data that would clearly show the prevalence of magnesium deficiency. What they are not looking at are hair TMA data.

The other challenge has to do with the impact of stress on magnesium status (1, 2) and, in particular, how the psychological aspect of stress depletes a person’s magnesium. Since magnesium is a vital nutrient mineral that is involved in hundreds of important functions in the body, most concerns about magnesium deficiency tend to focus on the physical and nutritional aspects of magnesium deficiency. However, over the course of nearly 30 years of psychology and nutrition practice, I have learned that dealing with magnesium deficiency is far more complex than meets the eye. There is a “mind” or psychological factor that can have a profound effect on a person’s magnesium status. This is because magnesium is closely related to the functions of the adrenal glands and the stress response – the “fight or flight” response.

Besides the well-known physiological aspects of the stress response, there is also a powerful psychological part of the stress response. This psychological part, of course, involves emotional reactions of the “fight or flight” response -- anger, rage, fear, anxiety, panic, and terror. But, there also is another profound psychological factor associated with stress and, ultimately, magnesium deficiency. As stress intensifies, not only do the basic “fight or flight” emotional reactions occur, but also stress tends to inflate a powerful psychological entity that I refer to as the “Judge” or “Inner Terrorist” (6).

When the psychological “Judge” becomes activated under stress, the “Judge” either maintains an intense stress reaction or it intensifies it. The “Judge” or “Inner Terrorist” is the dark “shadow” side of human nature that feeds on intense stress that is closely related to anxiety, fear, anger, and hate. The “Judge” or “Inner Terrorist” can be viewed as one of the shadow elements that Carl Jung described in his conception of human personality and archetypes. It is important to recognize that, despite all of our technological and cultural advances, there still remains within each one of us this dark destructive psychological part that is the “Judge.” The “Judge” is inherent in human nature and is closely related to our survival mechanism – the stress response. This will be discussed in greater detail below.

Assessing Magnesium Deficiency

Dr. David Watts (7) strongly advocated making the distinction between an “absolute” magnesium deficiency and a “relative” magnesium deficiency. Dr. Watts also uses hair TMA to determine a person’s “metabolic type” – fast or slow (8, 9). Metabolic type is closely related to measuring magnesium status. Using hair tissue mineral analysis (TMA) and an ideal magnesium level of 6 mg/%, it is easy to detect an absolute magnesium deficiency. If a person’s hair TMA shows a magnesium level substantially below 6 mg/% as in the fast metabolic type individual, then clearly there is an absolute magnesium deficiency at a cell and tissue level.

Dr. Watts has made a major contribution to our understanding of magnesium deficiency with the concept of a “relative” magnesium deficiency. He defines a relative magnesium deficiency in relation to the TMA calcium level. This is reflected in the hair TMA Ca/Mg ratio. He has established the ideal hair TMA Ca/Mg ratio as 7/1. As this ratio increases above 7/1, a relative magnesium deficiency begins to manifest. In fact, as mentioned above, my hair TMA in 1980 showed that I had both an “absolute” and a “relative” magnesium deficiency. My Ca/Mg ratio was 19/1. The ideal TMA Ca/Mg ratio is 7/1.

The relative magnesium deficiency can occur in the TMA of both the fast and the slow metabolic types. In many TMAs, it is possible to have both the absolute and the relative magnesium deficiency. This occurs most frequently in the fast metabolic type individual. Occasionally, both an absolute and a relative magnesium deficiency are observed in the hair TMA of a slow metabolic type person. It is relatively rare that both an absolute and a relative magnesium deficiency are found in a slow metabolic type individual. The relative magnesium deficiency is commonly found in slow metabolic type individuals, especially if there is a high sodium/potassium (Na/K) ratio also present.

Since an absolute magnesium deficiency is one of the defining characteristics of the hair TMA of a fast metabolic type individual, Dr. Watts’ concept of the relative magnesium deficiency is much more significant in understanding the magnesium status of the slow metabolic type individual. In the slow metabolic type hair TMA, it is commonly observed that both the calcium and magnesium levels are above the ideal level for each of these nutrient minerals. However, it is frequently found that a high ratio of Ca/Mg occurs in the hair TMA of slow metabolic types. The more that the Ca/Mg ratio exceeds the ideal Ca/Mg ratio of 7/1, the more likely symptoms of magnesium deficiency will manifest. Also, health risks associated with magnesium deficiency are likely to increase. Since slow metabolic type people almost always have a high level of magnesium in a hair TMA, Watts’ concept of a relative magnesium deficiency has both clinical and research implications for understanding individual cases and group health trends. As an illustration, relative magnesium deficiency in slow metabolic type women may be a significant factor in their increased risks for heart attacks that seem to baffle most clinicians and researchers.

One of the major functions of magnesium in cells is that it acts as a calcium channel blocker. In the presence of magnesium deficiency, this calcium channel blocking function is diminished. When a calcium channel blocking medication is prescribed for a person with an absolute and/or a relative magnesium deficiency, such a medication will obscure the serious magnesium deficiency that may be present. By not detecting and dealing with the magnesium deficiency, the prescribing physician leaves the person in a very vulnerable state. The calcium channel blocker simply does not perform the hundreds of functions of magnesium in the human body. In fact, calcium channel blockers do not even perform that function well. From my perspective, the prescribing of calcium channel blocking medications is a poor substitute for assessing the magnesium deficiency and taking steps to build up cellular magnesium reserves.

Stress and Psychological Factors in Magnesium Deficiency

As the psychological “Judge” intensifies the stress response, magnesium will very likely continue to be lost from cell and tissue reserves. As the magnesium loss continues, this allows the adrenal glands to intensify the stress response. The activation of the adrenal glands will raise sodium levels that will very likely further reduce cellular magnesium reserves. As this process continues, the level of sodium (Na) will increase in relation to potassium (K) so that a high Na/K stress ratio results. The higher the Na/K ratio, the more intense the stress response will become. This results in further reducing magnesium levels in cells and tissues. This process involving magnesium reduction will further inflate the “Judge” psychologically, and this will maintain a high level of stress within the person. Some individuals will become so trapped in this serious vicious cycle involving stress that they will experience a health crisis, either physically and/or psychologically. An acute magnesium deficiency will be a significant part of this vicious cycle.

Psychologically, when the “Judge” is activated under stress, the body tension that is built up may prevent the retention of adequate magnesium from the diet and/or supplements. There may be a cellular loss of magnesium with intense stress. As stress intensifies, the person has a much greater need for magnesium.

When a person becomes aware of the “Judge” phenomenon and can “shrink” its size and psychological effect, a significant reduction in stress often occurs. As the intensity of stress is diminished, magnesium status often improves with greater retention of magnesium in the body. More magnesium tends to be absorbed and retained in cells and tissues. With the buildup of magnesium reserves, the “Judge” loses some of its psychological power over the person. This allows the person to manage stress much more effectively and with greater resilience. Health risks associated with the impact of stress and magnesium deficiency are greatly diminished.

In doing “Judge-work” (a form of art therapy) with many people, the visual channel and the positioning of their head when looking at a “Judge” drawing or clay sculpt have a great deal to do with the quality and the intensity of their stress response associated with the their “Judge”. Many people “lock on” to the “Judge” image with their eyes. This gives them a tunnel vision focus, blocking out most of the other stimuli that would normally be within their visual field. Some people even become mesmerized by intensively looking at their “Judge” image. That is, they quickly enter an altered state of consciousness, often becoming detached from conscious awareness of their body and its reactions. Their stress reaction intensifies and they bypass their higher cognitive processes. They revert back to reacting on a basic survival reflex level of functioning. Also, over time, developmentally in childhood or adolescence, their “Judge” image or symbol (unique to each person) becomes imprinted on their brain tissue, usually via the visual channel and the optic nerve. When they are in a stressful situation, the “Judge” can inflate instantly by means of a reflex response. This instantaneous inflation of their “Judge” further intensifies their stress response and inflates the “Judge” in a vicious cycle. Anger, rage, anxiety, panic, terror, and/or depression are triggered, often resulting in further magnesium loss from cells.

Drugs, Medications, Hormones, and Magnesium Deficiency

Any prescription drug, over the counter (OTC) drug, or street drugs that induce a magnesium deficiency poses serious physical and mental health problems for the user. Stimulant drugs are notorious for the cardiovascular problems that often occur with the use of these types of drugs. Numerous deaths have occurred in children and adolescents who have been given a “diagnosis” of ADD or ADHD and a prescription for Ritalin, Adderall, or other stimulant drug. The most obvious explanation would be the fact that
stimulant drugs consistently trigger a magnesium loss. Individuals who already have an absolute and/or a relative magnesium deficiency would be at much greater risk for a serious or even fatal cardiovascular event. The web site was
started by the father of a 14 year-old boy who died suddenly following years of Ritalin use that was pushed by teachers at his school when the boy was in first or second grade. For years now, school personnel have been in the forefront of pushing dangerous use of powerful prescription stimulant drugs in order to “treat” ADD or ADHD. Teachers have been brainwashed in continuing education and training programs about ADD and ADHD, being led to believe that ADD and ADHD are real mental illnesses. School personnel are also led to believe that stimulant drugs are safe and pose no serious health risks for children or adolescents. School personnel are never told that stimulant drugs and magnesium deficiency have serious consequences for the health and well being of the child. In some cases, school personnel have actually involved the courts in forcing resistant parents to drug their child with these dangerous drugs that adversely affect the child’s magnesium status. Stimulant drugs put a person at very high risk for magnesium deficiency with all of the adverse health implications related to this vital mineral deficiency.

Diuretics (Thiazide drugs) for hypertension are known to deplete magnesium reserves. Calcium channel blockers also affect magnesium status, often masking the presence of a significant intracellular magnesium deficiency. Many drugs produce symptoms that can be related to magnesium deficiency, suggesting that these drugs may also deplete magnesium reserves. Unfortunately, the FDA does not require drug manufacturers to study the effects of their drugs on magnesium status. This state of affairs in drug oversight and regulation allows drugs to be put on the market that can have serious consequences for the patient if the drugs deplete magnesium reserves.

Estrogen in the form of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can be viewed as a major contributing factor to magnesium deficiency in teen girls and women. Hair TMA data show how estrogen affects copper, potassium, and calcium levels to produce the kind of nutrient mineral imbalances that are reflected in high Na/K and high Ca/Mg ratios. Estrogen tends to slow a woman’s metabolism as the hormone increases copper and calcium levels while lowering potassium levels. The high Na/K ratio reflects more intense stress, the “fight or flight” response, and inflating the “Judge” psychologically. As sodium levels increase, magnesium is lost from cells and tissues, resulting in a higher Ca/Mg ratio that reflects a relative magnesium deficiency. This state of nutritional mineral imbalance is exacerbated by the increase in the calcium level that is the effect of estrogen and increases in copper. Estrogen thus plays a major role in inducing a relative magnesium deficiency in countless numbers of women and teen girls.

Summary and Conclusions

It is a well established scientific and clinical fact that magnesium is an extraordinarily important nutrient mineral for maintaining both physical and mental health. Cardiovascular functions, glucose regulation, stress regulation, cellular energy production, and neurological functions are among the most important functions involving magnesium. In maintaining the healthy functioning of cells, magnesium also plays a role in reducing the risk of cancer. Therefore, it is critically important to (1) accurately assess a person’s magnesium status and whether a magnesium deficiency is present and to (2) assess a person’s stress condition and whether the person is adversely affected by powerful psychological factors that decrease cellular magnesium reserves. The hair tissue mineral analysis (TMA) is extremely accurate and is the best laboratory tool available at reasonable cost for assessing both an absolute and a relative magnesium deficiency.

The concept of the “Judge” is a powerful psychological entity that is closely related to the stress response, regulation of the adrenal glands, and magnesium deficiency. Awareness of the “Judge” and dealing with it (shrinking its image) greatly reduces the intensity of stress associated with this powerful psychological entity that has a profound effect on a person’s magnesium status.

Since magnesium deficiency has profound adverse effects on the health of vast numbers of people, I strongly believe that magnesium deficiency should be a major issue in public health policy and health care reform.


1. Seelig, M. “Magnesium Requirements in Human Nutrition.” Contemporary Nutrition, January, 1982, Vol. 7 No. 1.
2. Galland, L. “Magnesium, Stress and Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” The Foundation for Integrated Medicine.
3. Blaylock, R. “Food Additive Excitotoxins and Degenerative Brain Disorders.”
4. Sircus, M. “A Magnesium Deficiency Increases Cancer Risk Significantly.” April, 2008.
5. Medline.
6. Malter, R. & Malter, R. Shrinking the Judge, Freeing the Inner Child. 1995, 1998. Education & Health Resources, Inc.
7. Watts, D. “The Nutritional Relationships of Magnesium.” 1988, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.

8. Watts, D. Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients: Clinical Applications of Tissue Mineral Analysis . 1995. Trace Elements, Inc., Addison, TX.
9. Malter, R. Strands of Health, A Guide to Understanding Hair Mineral Analysis. 2003. Education & Health Resources, Inc.

Many of these references may be accessed on the internet with a Google search.

Magnesium is a key mineral cofactor for many anaerobic as well as aerobic reactions that generate energy, and has an oxygen-sparing effect. It is essential for the cell's mitochondria "powerhouses" to function normally, being involved in both the production and utilization of ATP.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quack Busting and "Junk Science"

Dr. Stephen Barrett is the top "quack buster" of the quackwatch website. Back in August, 1985, he published a "study" he did on hair analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He did his study of "commercial" hair analysis by cutting shoulder length hair from two 17 year-old girls. Despite this shoddy methodology of using shoulder length hair instead of the first inch to inch and a half from the scalp (the proper sampling method), when I looked closely at his hair analysis results, they showed that the two girls were both copper toxic as one might expect. The two teen girls had high calcium and magnesium and high copper. If anything, his own data validated and supported hair mineral analysis. But, Barrett had no idea what his own data really revealed because he has virtually no experience with hair mineral analysis or basic understanding of what if really reveals. It should also be noted that his study was immediately accompanied by quite a slick PR and media campaign reporting his study as if it had Nobel prize-winning value. This 1985 JAMA publication made Barrett an overnight "expert" in hair analysis.

Years later, in January, 2001, another "study" of hair analysis was published in JAMA, citing Barrett's 1985 JAMA study as a major reference. This latter JAMA study in 2001 was based on hair samples from one person! Again, the January, 2001 JAMA article was accompanied by a big PR and media campaign putting hair analysis in a very negative light. I wrote a detailed critique of this "junk science" and published it in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in the 2nd quarter of 2001.

I note a pattern with this kind of junk science attacking hair analysis or even vitamin E. Junk science is used to give a scientific aura to a strong attack on something related to nutrition, whether it is a nutritionally oriented lab test like hair analysis or a nutritional supplement like vitamin E. These slick PR and media campaigns are well designed and well placed in order to put nutrition and alternative health approaches in a very negative light. These PR and media campaigns do great damage because they strongly influence the public and health care professionals before the published JAMA articles can be critically reviewed and rebutted. It usually doesn't matter that these negative hair analysis and vitamin E studies can be easily criticized and rebutted. As you can tell by your mother's skepticism, the PR and media campaigns as well as the quackbuster web site create a very skeptical and negative attitude regardless of how bad the so-called science really is. At the end of my article critically reviewing the junk science attacking hair analysis, I raise the question of how many heart attacks over the past 20 years could have been prevented with the use of hair analysis to detect a serious magnesium deficiency that is known to be related to heart attack risk? Magnesium supplementation based on the hair analysis results then could prevent the sudden fatal heart attack.

The main threat to the obscene profits of the drug companies that peddle their toxic concoctions known as "medications" is nutrition and food supplements including hair analysis. A combination of junk science, PR, and media campaigns are skillfully used to knock out the nutritional competitors to toxic drugs.

As is so often the case, I wind up having to go into a detailed explanation of the situation because just a few words are insufficient to counter these malicious attacks on nutrition that pose as "scientific" studies.

There are other books and articles besides my own that support hair analysis. I hope this is helpful to you.

Rick Malter, Ph.D.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dietary Supplement "Safety" & "Risk Assessment"

Dietary Supplement “Safety” and “Risk Assessment”:

Observations on the Role of the Media

Richard Malter, Ph.D.

© 2005

During the past 20 years, I have had numerous opportunities to observe the manner in which the media have covered health issues in general and dietary supplement “safety” and “risk assessment” in particular. My overall impression is that journalists and the media are easily manipulated when it comes to many health issues, especially those related to dietary supplements. The media provide extensive coverage when the “safety” of dietary supplements is raised by so-called “research” studies or by the FDA and other sources of press releases. The media provide a great deal of publicity for what are clearly anti-supplement views. This most often occurs before experienced professionals can properly respond in appropriate professional channels. This state of affairs often results in negative impressions about dietary supplements being set in the public’s mind before the content of these negative press releases can be properly challenged and rebutted. Invariably, professional rebuttals are rarely if ever picked up by the media so that the negative media impressions about dietary supplements are not changed.

In my view, many of the “research” studies and reports of “expert” committees regarding individual dietary supplements (most recently, vitamin E) and the broad category of dietary supplements have had a frightening or confusing effect on both the general public and health professionals. The recent highly publicized vitamin E study was a “meta-analysis” of many different vitamin E studies that were generally done with subjects over 60 years of age who had one or more serious health conditions. Despite the fact that there were many flaws in this particular vitamin E study, it was highly publicized before it was even published or critically reviewed. But, this seems to be a standard procedure when handling negative views of dietary supplements. Research professionals provide the pre-publication research results to journalists and the media who lap them up and alarm the public, legislators, and health professionals. This is essentially a public relations ploy that reports what Dr. Abram Hoffer refers to as a “factoid” rather than a true fact. Factoids usually are distortions or exaggerations that are presented as facts that are later refuted.

In regard to the activity of several “expert” committees that have issued reports about the “safety” or “risk assessment” of dietary supplements, Dr. Alan Gaby observes in a recent article:

The apparent anti-nutritional-supplement, anti-self-care bias that permeated the process of setting safety limits is evident both in the way in which the SUL was defined and in the fact that the benefits of nutritional supplements were purposely ignored. The SUL was defined as the maximum dose of a particular nutrient "that potentially susceptible individuals could take daily on a life-long basis, without medical supervision in reasonable safety." In other words, it is the highest dose that is unlikely to cause anyone any harm, ever, under any circumstance. Furthermore, the EVM ("Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals", was specifically instructed not to consider the benefits of any of the nutrients, and not to engage in risk/benefit analysis.” (italics added)

In a similar manner, the US FDA also commissioned a study of dietary supplement “safety” by a committee of “experts” with the stipulation that the committee only examine “safety” and “risk” factors related to dietary supplements, but NOT benefits of these vital supplements. This is a curious state of affairs when we note that, both in England and in the US, government agencies that have a regulatory interest in dietary supplements commissioned studies of “safety” and “risk” factors related to dietary supplements, but with an explicit directive NOT to consider supplement benefits. These conditions immediately set up a BIAS in the work of each committee. Yet, the final reports of each of these committees are to be viewed as “scientific” documents. These documents then are to be used to support legislative action that would either re-define dietary supplements as “drugs” or would severely restrict the dosages and the ready availability of these vital supplements to the public. The FDA also selects the so-called “experts” that appear before Congressional committees to provide the kind of spin that the FDA wants in order to manipulate the legislative process.

The built-in bias in the work of these “expert” committees tends to grossly exaggerate “risks” and “safety” issues related to dietary supplements with no possibility of providing proper balance with a review of the many different health benefits of these vital supplements. Whereas, a “risk/benefit” model is routinely applied to the review of even the most dangerous prescriptions drugs that kill or maim thousands of people, the FDA and its English counterpart explicitly directed their “expert” committees not to consider benefits of dietary supplements, but only “safety” and “risk” issues. These biased directives by the FDA and its English counterpart clearly remove these “expert” committee reports from the scientific domain and squarely place them in the political/ economic domain. From this perspective, it is important to ask, “What is the real agenda of the FDA and its English counterpart vis-à-vis dietary supplements? What kind of additional power and control over dietary supplements are these governmental agencies seeking? What are the implications for the public health of legislating greater power and control over dietary supplements by government agencies? Who are the people behind this dietary supplement agenda that seeks to use “experts” to lend a scientific aura to the writing of inherently biased reports about dietary supplements?”

In regard to the FDA’s latest approach to determining the “safety” of nutritional supplements, embarrassing describes this new paper that the National Academy of Science has just put out. I struggled reading through the first 1/3 of their supplement safety paper. Reading it is even more tedious than reading the NAS Risk Assessment paper they wrote a few years ago that I wrote a rebuttal to. Except for the fact that an esteemed group was assembled to write this abomination of “science” and they selected 6 nutritional supplements to apply their new hypothetical safety model to, it is hard to detect anything in this new NAS paper that is related to nutritional supplements in any meaningful way.

One of the noteworthy elements in this NAS supplement safety paper is a “flow chart” of steps for FDA to take to assess the safety of supplements. It is a very elaborate 3-stage flow chart with arrows going in different directions depending on whether a question is answered “yes” or “no”. It looks and sounds very scientific to the person who is unaware of what is really going on.

As far as safety and health issues are concerned, in my view, the most important and valid flow chart is shown below. I call it the “Conflict of Interest Flow Chart.”

Conflict of Interest Flow Chart

FDA <----------------------->Drug Companies<---------->Universities/Med Schools
As many of us know only too well, the flow of people between drug company employment or consultants, the FDA, and the Universities and their Medical Schools makes it very easy for the drug companies to corrupt the entire healthcare system, including research having to do with the effectiveness and safety of drug products. The toll that this corrupt system takes every year in human lives and the damages to people’s health is appalling.

There is also an inherent conflict of interest when the drug companies are in the nutritional supplement business, especially when they buy up existing supplement companies that have established good reputations for high quality products. We have already seen how blatantly dishonest some drug companies have been with the price fixing of raw materials for manufacturing supplements and the hundreds of millions of dollars of fines that were levied on them.

This case of price fixing raises serious questions about the integrity of drug company business practices and the integrity of any drug or supplement research that they are involved in. In fact, we could reasonably say that they have corrupted large segments of the research and healthcare community in both the physical and mental health sectors. Under these circumstances of such blatant corruption, how is it possible to trust any research carried out and submitted by any drug company today?

A strong case could be made that drug companies should be compelled to divest themselves of any of their interests and control over nutritional supplement companies. The involvement of drug companies in the ownership and operation of supplement companies has a serious adverse impact on the operation of a free healthcare marketplace affecting competition, pricing, and availability of a good quality, safe and inexpensive nutritional product. In many cases, nutritional supplements are direct competitors of drugs and medications in both function and effectiveness.

A perfect example of this point is the comparison of a good magnesium supplement with a calcium channel blocker medication. Magnesium is “nature’s” calcium channel blocker (in addition to the more than 300 known functions of magnesium in the human body). It is much safer and far less expensive than a calcium channel blocker medication that requires a prescription and also carries serious health risks (such as death.) A high quality chelated magnesium supplement (100 mg) costs about $7 retail for a bottle of 90 tablets. Clearly, magnesium is a major competitor of calcium channel blockers (and other expensive and dangerous blood pressure medications for that matter.)

If a drug company markets a very expensive and highly profitable calcium channel blocker as well as a cheaper magnesium supplement through its supplement company subsidiary, there is a high probability that the drug will be marketed and promoted much more intensively than the safer and cheaper magnesium supplement. The parent drug company is likely to exercise control of its supplement subsidiary to the detriment of the health of its patient consumers in order to maximize its profits by selling the far more expensive, but much more dangerous medication.

The ImClone scandal is an excellent example of the financial incentives involved in drug research and getting FDA approval to market a new chemical substance. When we’re dealing with the invention and patenting of new drugs, there are enormous financial incentives that lead scientists and business executives to stretch and distort the data (“lie”) in order to create the illusion of safety and effectiveness for their new drug compound. When it does get FDA approval, then it is aggressively marketed to unsuspecting people.

The Rezulin disaster with diabetics a few years ago is another good example of a company pressuring FDA to approve its drug even though serious safety and health risks were known. Rezulin had a lot of company with other recently approved drugs that were pulled off the market shortly after FDA approval because of deaths and health damage to unsuspecting patients. It’s really amazing how some of these new dangerous drugs get approval under the scrutiny of FDA’s well credentialed “experts” and, shortly after FDA approval, the real dangers of these FDA approved drugs show up with alarming numbers of patient deaths, liver damage and damage to other organs. This is often followed with FDA removal of these dangerous drugs after they have done so much damage (and after they have made a lot of money for the drug manufacturer.)

It is ironic that so-called “safety” studies of vitamins and minerals by the FDA and the “experts” that they rely on to do these questionable safety studies often refer to the risks that diabetics are exposed to by taking different nutritional supplements. The risks that diabetics take when they are given such toxic, poorly researched drugs as Rezulin are far greater than the risks they take with most nutritional supplements.

Now that attention has become focused on how corrupt corporate executives and accounting firms are in cooking the corporate books, it’s time to examine the corruption between the drug companies, the FDA, and other institutions of our healthcare system. What’s even worse about the FDA and drug company corruption is that the lives and health of our entire population are at stake as well as the integrity of the health sciences.