Time is now to look for causes of unusual diseases that are cropping up

I was happy to read in this week’s A.M. Costa Rica that scientists have finally found that mild electrical shocks to the brain can improve the thinking abilities of individuals and may even help with some mental problems.

When we were kids, my brother spent hours experimenting with electricity and radio.  I was his greatest fan and loved to watch him at work, half thinking he was the reincarnation of Thomas Edison.  But he was less than daring when it came to getting shocked, so I was also his guinea pig.  He would simply touch my elbow with a wire, and if I jumped, he knew it was hot.  It never did me any harm (my belief, not others).

Years later when the movie “The Snake Pit,” came out and there was much negative thinking about electric shock therapy, I wondered why they did not experiment with milder doses.  Our brains, after all, have electrical chemical neurons, so electricity is not an alien element.  Electric shock treatments are still being used in cases of severe depression or bipolar conditions.

Now, finally some researchers are looking into it and discovering that mild shocks to the brain actually enhance the learning abilities of normal people.

There are many things in the world that in large doses can be lethal or harmful, but in measured amounts are beneficial.  It is similar to the products of nature, when left with their original contents and not extracted or modified by chemicals, and overdosed, can be a boon to humans not a threat.

The coca leaf comes to mind.  It could be a powerful addition to our pharmacopeia if we used it as nature intended and as the Incas and their ancestors used it.  And once again we are back to that dangerous egocentric thought that we humans can improve upon nature.  Isolating the mind altering or appetite suppressing aspects of the leaf also removes the modifying and necessary vitamins and minerals that have for centuries helped the people of the Andes to work long hours and survive the high altitudes without becoming addicted.  They chewed the leaf.

Because tampering with this leaf has created serious social and personal problems, governments have acted to outlaw its cultivation. In short, once again they throw out the baby with the bath water.

Another case in point is the opium poppy. It has many useful naturalchemicals that can benefit humankind.  Isolating certain properties of a plant deprives the final solution of what are vital minerals and vitamins necessary for its beneficial effects.

If I seem to be concentrating on what have been labeled illegal drugs, it is to make a point.  We are learning that the same thing is happening to the food we grow and eat. Vital ingredients are removed and replaced by chemicals with an end product that is often harmful to those who consume it, but that fulfills the outcomes that goal-seeking individuals (including corporations in the United States) are after.  That outcome is profit, whether legal or illegal.

This week at lunch with some friends I heard a litany of sad tales of people and relatives, some of them toddlers who are suffering from some rare or uncommon disease, everything from strange cancers to lung and stomach ailments to babies being born with heart defects.  These are illnesses I never even heard of when I was a child, or even a young adult.

It has been the custom of the medical profession to put the responsibility on the individual and their personal bad eating or behavioral habits.  Since more and more people are eating the same food (because that is all that is available), it is time for researchers to look into other possibilities.

Billions are being made on expensive medications and treatments that often have serious side effects that need further treatment with more medications.  Medical researchers keep talking about finding a cure for this or that.

It is time to not just look for a cure for all of these ailments. It is time to seriously look for the causes. I realize that the rewards for that are about the same reward a whistleblower gets.

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