Another well-done study is showing that medical researchers have now firmly established the relationship between Brain Inflammation and Depression. Brain inflammation rarely occurs by itself; much more commonly, the brain is inflamed because the whole body is inflamed. Put another way, if you are inflamed, your brain is probably inflamed too. While whole body inflammation has a number of possible origins, none are more common than (1) autoimmune disease and (2) inflammatory diets. (Which are quite likely themselves closely linked)
A wide range of diseases from heart disease to obesity, and from ME/CFS to Depression are now clearly associated with, if not caused by whole body inflammation. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent “treating” these diseases, but the suffering and dying have not slowed down. If anything, human life on planet Earth is approaching, or at least edging up on some kind of terminal disease that we don’t even have a name for yet. But you can bet that it will work its deadly toll through some kind of inflammation.
Given the enormous range of sources of inflammation in today’s societies worldwide, and given that there are no good, simple ways for people in the grip of whole body inflammation to get it under control, you would think that some group of responsible scientists somewhere, would run even a small, well-controlled study on whether or not Coca leaf Tea could treat even some of the common inflammatory conditions.
Medical researchers are portrayed in the media as risk-takers, and some may be. There may even be some innovative thinkers working today. But so far none appear to be able to learn, or even take a hint from history.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that if a responsible medical researcher who was interested in inflammatory processes read the following few paragraphs they might suggest a worthwhile direction for some inexpensive, potentially breakthrough research.
Well, that’s what I’m hoping. These three quotes are from 600+ pages of hyperlinked historical documents in “The Coca Leaf Papers” that I published in 2012. These observations were made by doctors living and practicing well over 100 years ago, and sum up their lifetimes of observations of the healing effects of pure, natural Coca Leaf.
I’m still waiting for those first clinical trials of Coca Leaf, aren’t you? There are lots of Pig Pharma studies on “treatments” costing six-figures per treatment, but not one peep on that little cup of tea.
Dr. William Tibbles
” Although our materia medica includes many valuable remedies for human affliction, it is a matter of certainty that in all cases where the animal vitality is failing, or where exhaustion or disease exist, Erythroxylon Coca is decidedly superior to every other remedy at present known. It will work effects such as no other single drug will produce, and it possesses the great advantage of not causing, when its use is relinquished or discontinued, the slightest reaction or depression.
So valuable are the properties, and so extensive the field in which this new remedy may be employed in the amelioration of human suffering, that the author now brings it before the public, in the hope that a great amount of present affliction may be removed, and, in the future, prevented.“
Dr. William Searles
“… increased arterial tension throws a greater strain upon the heart, which becomes overtaxed, dilated, and there are produced breathlessness, a sensation of lightness in the head, etc. Coca, by its toning action on the nervous system, increases the amount of nervous influence over the whole organism, diminishes the waste of tissue, regulates the various functional actions – as circulation, excretion, etc., and prevents such results as above given.
Thus its efficacy as a therapeutic agent in all forms of disease cannot be doubted. In consumption, in inflammation, in fevers, in which states of the system there is an increase in temperature, disorder of nutrition, abnormal disintegration of the tissues of the body’s nervous and muscular fibres, increased production and excretion of urates, carbonic acid, etc.; in the brain exhaustion consequent upon mental labour, and in the fatigue produced by physical exercise.
In all states and conditions of men coca is invaluable both as a preventive of exhaustion and a repairer of wasted tissue. In all the years through which I have used these leaves, I have administered them in large and small doses, to man and animals, without inducing, in any one case, injurious effects, but always, on the contrary, the beneficial results required.”
Wm. TIBBLES,MD, Syston, Leicester. N 2
“The discovery of the Western Continent, whether due to the forethought or ignorance of Columbus, or to the hardihood of the Norsemen several centuries before his time, brought a multitude of bounties to humanity. Among these none is greater than the countless plants which have been gradually unfolded to usefulness by the processes of science. Particularly is this true of the economic and medicinal plants of South America, which on the eastern declivity of the Andes and towards the valley of the Amazon, spring forth in all the luxuriance of the tropical jungle, over a vast portion of which it is supposed the foot of man has never trodden.
In this locality – and among this wild profusion, grows a beautiful shrub, the leaves of which in shape somewhat resemble those of the orange tree, but in color are of a very much paler green, having that exquisite translucence of the most delicate fern. The properties of this plant more nearly approach that ideal source of endurance than is known to exist in any other one sub stance.
Its leaves have been used by the natives of the surrounding country from the earliest recollection, as a masticatory, as a medicine, and as a force sustaining food. Its use is not confined to emergency, nor to luxury, but as an essential factor to the daily life work of these people.
As a potent necessity it has been tenderly cared for and carefully cultivated through the struggles, trials and vituperation it has been the occasion of during so many hundreds of years, until to-day its cultivation forms the chief industry of a large portion of the natives and a prominent source of revenue to the governments controlling the localities where it is grown.
It will be shown by ample testimony that Coca is not only a substance innocent as is tea or coffee – which are commonly accepted popular necessities – but that Coca is vastly superior to these substances, and more worthy of general use because of its depurative action on the blood, as well as through its property of provoking a chemico-physiological change in the tissues whereby the nerves and muscles are rendered more capable for their work.
Strong as may appear this assertion, I believe that the facts here presented will amply indicate that sufficient has not been said upon the benefits to accrue from the liberal use of Coca, Indeed, our knowledge of it is yet in its infancy, and if this present writing will but excite others to continue these investigations and experiments. Coca will achieve the position it should maintain as an aid and support to humanity worthy the greatest popularity and the highest possible respect.
Dr. Golden Mortimer
Well, here we go again. The “New England Journal of Medicine” has just published a new study that shows – prepare to be amazed – that with an amazing new drug called Canakinumab you can reduce the risk of heart attacks by reducing inflammatory processes in the heart. Will wonders never cease? Apparently not, because this article announces a new drug that was tested using the most rigorous scientific methodology (double-blind placebo-controlled) and has been proven to reduce the occurrence of second heart attacks in the cohort receiving the drug and not the placebo by 15%.
Of course the drug Canakinumab is horrendously expensive and oh, by the way, 12% of the people who took it suffered complications having nothing to do with heart attack or stroke, many of them life-threatening infections like Sepsis, but at least they were lowering their risk of having a second heart attack. Damn near miraculous – unless you do the math and discover that the drug decreases your risk of a heart attack by 15% but taking it means that you have an approximately 12% chance of developing Sepsis, or worse.
So basically this new miracle treatment offers you a choice of how you would prefer to die – heart attack or infection. Hmmmm. Choices. Choices. What to do?
Readers of this blog will have already seen my numerous posts on the role of pure, natural Coca Leaf Tea in reducing whole body inflammation. If you don’t recall that info, just use the “search” window in the right-hand column to search for “inflammation” and “inflammatory”. What you’ll find is that there are reams of good, solid evidence from the 1800’s that a cup or two of Coca Leaf Tea per day will do wonders for almost any illness or disease where inflammation is a factor including, without any doubt, inflammatory heart disease. And that relief comes with ZERO negative side-effects, but with some extra fine positive side-effects like anxiety-reduction, appetite control, better sleep, higher energy levels, and a more efficient metabolism.
Of course, the problem is that the FDA is falling all over itself to approve Canakinumab but, especially under the watchful beady little eyes of rat-face Jeff Sessions, will never allow Americans to use whole, pure, natural Coca Leaf Tea. But hey – where’s the profit for Pig Pharma company Novartis in a (non-patentable) cup of tea? God bless the American way. Ain’t it great – again?
Eat, enjoy, pump.
Well, at a minimum I suppose its better than fingers down the throat because at least you don’t damage your esophagus barfing up all that stomach acid.
This remarkable invention is evidently clean and santiary too. Your chewed and swallowed food is pumped right out before it can be digested. Of course you better be standing by the toilet or have a bucket handy.
Just think – no more nasty bowel movements. Chew, swallow, pump, flush. The savings on TP alone might be worth the implant!
And if you have pets there could even be some big savings there too. The phrase “doggie bag” unfortunately comes to mind.
On the other hand, wouldn’t a nice cup of Coca Leaf tea a few times a day be a little less, um, complicated? After all, there’s plenty of evidence that Coca Leaf tea can be a safe, natural way to treat obesity.
“The Intercept” has just run an excellent piece outlining the lobbying efforts of the Opioid Manufacturing sector of the Pharmaceutical Industry to scuttle new Federal regulations that would attempt to make it harder for doctors to prescribe Opioid drugs like Oxycontin. The major manufacturers involved in the lobbying are Purdue, Cephalon, Endo, and Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
The efforts of these parasitical manufacturers to maintain open season on the wholesale addicting of new “patients” while at the same time keeping up the flow of millions of tablets of these drugs that somehow manage to leak into the street market ( who, us?), is symptomatic of the thug-like nature of virtually the entire pharmaceutical industry.
When you look at the numbers you see that pills are the main “Opioid” killers, not Heroin, not Morphine, and certainly not Opium from the Poppy, and for all the hype about synthetic Opium pills like Oxy, the job they do of relieving pain is no better than a pipe of good opium. Of the 47,000+ drug overdose deaths counted by the CDC in 2014, 8800 were due to Heroin, which leaves +38,000 due largely to pills.
The single justification for the “Opioid” pill industry’s existence is that their products are claimed to be safer than natural Opium, Morphine, or Heroin. If you want to find the reason for the industry’s panic at the increase in Opioid pill deaths, look at the ratio between deaths from the dreaded slayer of youth Heroin and the supposedly safe if used as directed wonder pill.
If a huge part of your industry’s claim to fame is that your product is safer than the juice of the poppy then you have to be pretty upset when people are finally realizing that your pills are killing users nearly 5:1 compared to the fruits of the little flower.
Consider for a moment two possible tracks for our society – the one we are on and the one that could have been, and yet might be.
The track our society has taken is to turn our health, just like we’ve turned most of the other key aspects of our lives, over to highly intrusive institutional management. Most of us no longer have any management role in our food, our children’s education, our family and community security, our finances, or our privacy. One of the results of our capitulation to pervasive institutional management of our lives is that the exponentially-growing health industry, always quick to spot (or make) an opportunity, responded by creating vast numbers of expensive, enormously profitable drugs for all those astounding new diseases of modern society that patients are required to take by their doctors who give no natural options in place of the medical management system’s proprietary pharmaceuticals.
The second track, which might have been, is that all of the medical knowledge gained by doctors, patients and society at large in the 1700s and especially the 1800s regarding three of the great natural drugs – Opium, Coca and Cannabis – might have been kept and nurtured rather than discarded and largely forgotten. Had those three natural medicinal drugs not been demonized and outlawed as part of the warped spiritual movement of the early 1900s that gave birth first to Prohibition and later to the War On Drugs, these three great natural drugs would be available today as a part of the :People’s Pharmacy” just like hundreds of other herbal, natural medicines.
The industrial pharma industry would still have developed, and a lot of people would still be victims of their concoctions, but without the legal framework lovingly erected over decades by authoritarian conspirators there would be a whole segment of the Medical industry devoted to the use of all natural medicines, not just those permitted by the state as part of its role in enforcing the monopoly of Industrial Pharma over medicinal products.
Even more important, a nationwide, community-bases network of natural medicine practitioners would have evolved – people in every community who knew how to grow all of the ancient medical herbs and who utilized the advances of technology to produce ever-more effective but still natural medicines.
Of course we have a great model for this system in the network of Medical Cannabis growers and patients who are finally emerging after the long night of Prohibition – which is still in the very earliest stages of dawning – to point to and see what might have been for ALL the great natural medicines and not just Cannabis, and not just in a few states in the US and a few countries in the world.
In a society where those who wanted any form of any natural drug could grow and prepare it for themselves, or could go to a reputable dispensary or belong to a regulated collective, then we would certainly have some addicts among these people, but they would be able to lead as normal a life as they chose to live without the constant suffering, pain, and jeopardy of addiction to “illegal drugs” and all the horrors that go with that scene.
People with little income would not be driven to prostitute themselves and do violence to feed a drug habit if the drugs they wanted were freely available in safe, natural forms. It is possible, is it not, that given access to natural drugs in a climate free of violence and exploitation many if not most people could use drugs and still lead a normal life even if trapped in circumstances of poverty.
I believe that centuries of recorded experience in societies worldwide shows that the overwhelming problem with addiction is how society treats addicts. If an addict is free to lead an otherwise productive and normal life, many will do so, and those who won’t would have been lost whether drug laws made them criminals or not.
Perhaps what makes addiction so awful for so many people isn’t what the drug does to them, it’s what society does to them as a consequence of their addiction. The popular image of addiction is what is used to sell all the prevention/intervention programs that flourish around addicted people. Human degradation in every form is shown as a consequence of drug addiction, and many people buy that and think no further. But consider the number of people who are technically addicted who lead normal, productive lives in comparison with those whose lives are supposedly ruined by addiction, you begin to realize that plenty of people are addicted to drugs and other substances and don’t descend to street prostitution, emaciation, bleeding scabs and sleeping in alleys. It seems that one begins to see that maybe it is circumstances and not the drugs themselves that determine the direction that addiction takes. Remove all the harsh punishments for addiction and I wonder – what would happen to addiction?
If the illegal status of drugs and the consequences for addiction were removed, at least drug addiction would no longer be part of the trap that ensnares millions of people in the US. Poverty and exploitation would continue in other ways – unless of course (you never know) some kind of new dynamic was released in poor communities by removing the key role of criminalized drug addiction in keeping the iron collar of poverty and exploitation firmly clamped around their necks.
The roles of Coca Leaf and Cannabis in controlling systemic (whole body) inflammatory conditions in the human body have been discussed in a number of posts on this blog, and there is a growing understanding in the medical community of the links between systemic inflammatory conditions and major diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, dementia and depression.
These are among the leading causes of death in the US and the rest of the so-called advanced civilizations, and for the most part the medical and scientific communities of these nations seem to be either just saying “Oh well, that’s what happens when you get old” or else “Hey, we have this new, expensive, dangerous drug that will give you an extra week or two of life strapped to a hospital bed and invaded by tubes.” Oh thank you medical saviors!
However, the interaction between systemic inflammation and Insomnia, or chronic sleep deprivation, has rarely been explored, and considering that systematic inflammation is a key factor in so many debilitating and fatal diseases and conditions this is an area of research that desperately needs attention.
Since there is already substantial documentation that the right strains of Cannabis are effective sleep aids, as well as safe and effective treatments for many of the diseases and conditions related to the inflammatory processes that arise as a result of chronic Insomnia, I’ll forego reciting that evidence here and concentrate on the potential of Coca Leaf as a complimentary natural medicine. The key word here is “Complimentary”; while there is much that Cannabis can do to aid the healing process, there is also much that Coca Leaf can do, and while there is some minimal overlap each has its own place in an apothecary of natural medicines.
So first, let’s take a quick look at the existing evidence that Coca Leaf is a safe and effective treatment for systemic inflammation and many its consequences.
Here are links to some of my posts that discuss the scientific and medical evidence from the 1800s that Coca Leaf can be a safe and effective treatment for the underlying systemic inflammatory conditions that drive a wide range of deadly diseases and conditions, whether these systemic inflammatory conditions arise from Insomnia or from other known causes including diet and environmental toxicity.
Finally, for a more comprehensive view of the medical and scientific applications of Coca Leaf please consider reading my book “The Coca Leaf Papers” which includes an extensive bibliography with hyperlinks to original sources of the writings by doctors, scientists, and intelligent lay persons from the 1700s and 1800s on virtually every aspect of the healing powers of Coca Leaf – including, by the way, its very useful role in helping people sleep when sleep is made difficult or impossible by a wide range of problems including chronic illness, chronic pain, exhaustion, and nervousness, among others.
A recent major study ( see an abstract of the study below) has just been published that followed people suffering from persistent insomnia for over 20 years and has found solid evidence that persistent lack of sleep is associated closely with many of the major killer diseases and conditions in the US and around the world. And most relevant for those of us who advocate the medical use of both Coca Leaf and Cannabis the link between insomnia and disease and death seems to be a startling level of systemic inflammation in the body – specifically in the blood.
It is especially interesting, as mentioned earlier, that Coca Leaf and Cannabis are highly complementary but only minimally overlapping in their healing properties. In other words, it isn’t a question of having to choose between these two natural medicines. For almost every medical application, current medical and scientific research on Cannabis and historical medical and scientific research on Coca Leal make it quite evident that these two natural medicines can be most effective, and offer the greatest potential for healing, when they are used together.
With regard to the Insomnia study that we’ll examine in a moment, it’s important to note also that the researchers controlled for “confounding factors” like cigarette smoking, alcohol use, sedative use, age, physical activity levels, etc. In other words, they eliminated any role that these “confounding factors” might play so that they could say with confidence that they were looking at just the effects of persistent insomnia. This means that when they point to inflammation of the blood as a major effect, they are looking just at inflammation that is being caused by insomnia and not by other factors.
However, as they also point out, “the role of systemic inflammation in such an association is unknown”. Translated that says “We know that it’s there, and that it’s being caused by persistent insomnia, but we don’t know precisely its association with death.”
I do love scientific verbal precision because in the search for truth its important not to claim you know something for a fact when all you really know is that it seems to be a fact, but you can’t prove it. In that same vein, I don’t know for a fact that Coca Leaf controls systemic inflammation and therefore heals hearts, controls diabetes, helps the body to shed obesity, perhaps helps to reverse some forms of cancer, and reduces or eliminates dementia and depression – all I can really say is that according to my interpretation of the evidence in the writings of doctors and scientists of the 1800s, it sure looks like it could. And of course, increasingly, the healing powers of Cannabis are now being documented, and it seems like every week brings new evidence for increased efficacy in existing applications for Cannabis and findings that support new applications as well.
And it would be so damn simple to investigate and document the efficacy and safety of Coca Leaf, confirming what is still only hints and bits of historical evidence from the 1800s, so that people could finally see that BOTH Coca Leaf and Cannabis deserve a place in the hands of people suffering from literally dozens of serious, life-threatening and life-ending diseases. We’re not talking about huge, expensive studies here, nor about massive government programs, nor about regiments of over-priced consultants, nor about the participations of Pig Pharma control freaks.
We’re talking about a few simple studies under controlled conditions among groups of people who suffer from each of these conditions using simple infusions of pure, natural Coca Leaf in the form of tea or tonic. The Coca Leaf studies probably would not be done in the US – at least at first they would have to be done in Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay, because these are the only countries in the world where enlightenment has illuminated the human mind on the subject of Coca Leaf as a natural healing medicine. Once these studies were done and published however, I can’t imagine that people in the US and Europe would allow their governments’ “War on Drugs” to continue to keep Coca leaf from assuming its rightful place in the pharmacy of natural medicines alongside Cannabis. And at the same time, since Cannabis is illegal even in countries that recognize the legitimacy of Coca Leaf, the same complimentary political, scientific and medical processes would have to take place there also.
However, there is another possibility that needs to be discussed and examined. There are many countries in the world where Cannabis is now legal, but where Coca Leaf is not. If people in any of those countries recognized the good common sense of having both Cannabis and Coca Leaf available to treat disease then it would be no problem to begin Coca cultivation in those countries.
For one thing, as pointed out in a recent post, Coca species are already widely distributed around the world, but of course only a few are really suitable as potent medicinal plants. Nevertheless, where one species of Coca flourishes as an indigenous species, the more useful spcies could also be brought into cultivation either in a natural or artificial environment.
In the 1800s Coca was widely cultivated around the world, and with modern growing technology even in those countries where Coca might not grow well in the natural outdoors environment it could easily be cultivated under indoor growing conditions. There is a vast literature available from the 1800s on experiments that were conducted on growing Coca across the planet under a wide range of conditions. In fact one of the most successful indoor growing projects was that of Angelo Mariani, inventor of the then-famous “Vin Mariani”, whose conservatory greenhouse in the center of Paris was one of the wonders of the botanical world.
In one of my recent posts I discuss how this “Journey To Healing” could be organized as an ongoing project that would enable groups of people suffering from the same diseases to travel to Peru, Bolivia and/or Uruguay to be treated with not just Coca Leaf but with the whole range of Andean ethnopharamacological resources – and in the case of Uruguay patients who are already on Cannabis treatments would not have to be concerned about legal issues as they would have to be in both Peru and Bolivia, at this time.
When this happens, and when medical and scientific researchers can begin studying and documenting the healing powers of both natural medicines, as well as individual people taking the initiative into their own hands even before the formal studies have been done, perhaps then at last millions of people who now are victimized by the medical industry, Pig Pharma and Pig Government will be able to break free and heal themselves.
Let’s work together to make that day come as soon as possible.
So here’s of the Insomnia study I referred to earlier. If you want to read the full paper Elsevier will be happy to charge you an obscene amount for access, but personally I have never, and will never, pay those ripoff artists a penny for access to their chattel.
“Persistent Insomnia Is Associated With Mortality Risk”
(By) Sairam Parthasarathy, M.D. et al, published online Oct. 14, 2014 in the “American Journal of Medicine”.
Insomnia has been associated with mortality risk, but whether this association is different in subjects with persistent versus intermittent insomnia is unclear. Additionally, the role of systemic inflammation in such an association is unknown.
We used data from a community-based cohort to determine whether persistent or intermittent insomnia, defined based on persistence of symptoms over a six-year period, were associated with death during the following 20-years of follow-up. We also determined whether changes in serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels measured over two decades between study initiation and insomnia determination were different for the persistent, intermittent, and never insomnia groups. The results were adjusted for confounders such as age, sex, body mass index, smoking, physical activity, alcohol and sedatives.
Of the 1409 adult participants, 249 (18%) had intermittent and 128 (9%) had persistent insomnia. During a 20-year follow-up period, 318 participants died (118 due to cardiopulmonary disease). In adjusted Cox proportional-hazards models, participants with persistent insomnia (adjusted Hazards Ratio [HR] 1.58, 95%CI: 1.02-2.45) but not intermittent insomnia (HR 1.22, 0.86-1.74), were more likely to die than participants without insomnia. Serum CRP levels were higher and increased at a steeper rate in subjects with persistent insomnia as compared with intermittent (p=0.04) or never (p=0.004) insomnia. Although CRP levels were themselves associated with increased mortality (adjHR: 1.36, 1.01-1.82, p=0.04), adjustment for CRP levels did not notably change the association between persistent insomnia and mortality.
In a population-based cohort, persistent, and not intermittent, insomnia was associated with increased risk for all-cause and cardiopulmonary mortality and was associated with a steeper increase in inflammation.
End of abstract
So there you have it. A well crafted longitudinal study that unequivocally makes the point that anything that prevents you from getting a good nights sleep on a regular basis is moving you swiftly toward an early grave. And all it would take to head off this morbid end of life would be a nice pipe of Cannabis at bedtime and a nice cup of Coca Leaf tea upon rising. Sounds entirely too simple, too unprofitable, and too straightforward to be worth the attention of all those important people in boardrooms and government offices worldwide, doesn’t it.
Or maybe they have a different agenda. But the marvelous thing is – they are insomniacs too. So whatever their agenda, they are as much victims as those who they are intent on victimizing. The planet is tight.
Dear Bill & Melinda:
I’ve just finished browsing your “Grand Challenges” website where you announce funding for ideas that will change the world for the better. You certainly use all the right words to sound like you are committed to innovation.
You say: “One bold idea. That’s all it takes.”
You also say: “Unorthodox thinking is essential to overcoming the most persistent challenges in global health. Vaccines were first developed over 200 years ago because revolutionary thinkers took an entirely new approach to preventing disease.”
And also: “Grand Challenges Explorations fosters innovation in global health research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $100 million to encourage scientists worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas to fight our greatest health challenges.”
So far, so good. So when I saw one of the topics in your latest “Grand Challenge”, I was pretty excited. I mean, “New Ways to Reduce Pneumonia Fatalities Through Timely, Effective Treatment of Children” is a pretty cool cause to support. After all, as you point out “Over 1.2 million children died from pneumonia in 2011. Ninety percent of child deaths from pneumonia occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where the proportion of deaths among children with pneumonia can reach as high as 30%.”
That’s a lot of children dying needlessly. Good for you for caring about them.
So, like you say, you’re looking for “One Bold Idea”, right?
Well, let’s just pause and catch our breath here before becoming too excited, because in the next paragraph on your “Grand Challenges” website it becomes starkly clear that you aren’t really looking for “One Bold Idea” – you’re really only interested in rather incremental ideas that fall into three narrow little boxes of pre-defined “solutions”.
I say – Merde!
You say: “We are looking for innovative ideas in the following specific areas of interest under this exploration:
1. Child friendly formulations of amoxicillin
2. Optimizing Oxygen concentrators
3. Devices for measuring oxygen saturation (or optimizing pulse oximetry)”
In other words, you will only fund unorthodox, innovative, bold ideas that fall within a conventional, and somewhat limited approach to treatment of bacterial (not viral) pneumonia. And that’s a real shame, Bill and Melinda, because I can offer you an idea that is truly innovative, bold and outrageous, that can be tested and proven with a simple, inexpensive series of trials, and that can then be implemented anywhere in the world at very low cost. Furthermore, this solution to pneumonia deaths isn’t limited to children. That’s important because while a horrible number of children die each year of Pneumonia, they aren’t the only age groups at risk. As many elderly people die from Pneumonia every year as children, but neither your charity nor your vision seems to extend that far. What you are asking for, essentially, is bold, innovative solutions that demonstrate that the world is flat, and you will not consider funding any proposal that seeks to establish that the earth is any other shape.
Further, when demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction this idea will not just offer a new, inexpensive, safe and effective treatment for Pneumonia, it will also offer treatment solutions and cures to a wide range of diseases and conditions including Asthma, Obesity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Congestive Heart Failure, Depression, and possibly Alzheimer’s.
Is that Bold enough for you? I’m guessing not. But I would like to lay it on the table anyway. Please feel free to ignore it.
However, before we get to my proposal, let’s get a bit more clarity on Pneumonia itself. This from “The Lancet”, Vol. 377, Issue 9773, pages 1264-1275, 9 April 2011:
“About 200 million cases of viral community-acquired Pneumonia occur every year—100 million in children and 100 million in adults. Molecular diagnostic tests have greatly increased our understanding of the role of viruses in pneumonia, and findings indicate that the incidence of viral pneumonia has been underestimated.”
“In children, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, human metapneumovirus, human bocavirus, and parainfluenza viruses are the agents identified most frequently in both developed and developing countries. Dual viral infections are common, and a third of children have evidence of viral-bacterial co-infection.”
“In adults, viruses are the putative causative agents in a third of cases of community-acquired pneumonia, in particular influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses. Bacteria continue to have a predominant role in adults with pneumonia.”
“Presence of viral epidemics in the community, patient’s age, speed of onset of illness, symptoms, biomarkers, radiographic changes, and response to treatment can help differentiate viral from bacterial pneumonia. However, no clinical algorithm exists that will distinguish clearly the cause of pneumonia.”
“No clear consensus has been reached about whether patients with obvious viral community-acquired pneumonia need to be treated with antibiotics. Apart from neuraminidase inhibitors for pneumonia caused by influenza viruses, there is no clear role for use of specific anti-virals to treat viral community-acquired pneumonia. Influenza vaccines are the only available specific preventive measures. Further studies are needed to better understand the cause and pathogenesis of community-acquired pneumonia.”
“Furthermore, regional differences in cause of pneumonia should be investigated, in particular to obtain more data from developing countries.”
So it seems that Pneumonia can be caused either by viruses, or by bacteria, or by both. Hmmmmm. And it also seems that the “incidence of viral pneumonia has been underestimated.” Double Hmmmm. And “a third of children have evidence of viral-bacterial co-infection.” Triple Hmmmm.
Well, I suppose I could go on and belabor more of the problems of treating Pneumonia in children as simply a bacterial problem, but I’m sure you catch the drift. I would rather turn now to the three categories where you are willing to fund “Bold” and “Innovative” ideas.
Area #1 – Child friendly formulations of amoxicillin
You say “Amoxicillin is an effective beta lactam antibiotic with activity against the pneumococcus. The World Health Organization recommends amoxicillin dispersible tablets as the first line antibiotic for outpatient treatment of children with pneumonia. However, the availability and use of this formulation as treatment for pneumonia in high burden countries remains limited. Many countries only have the capsule and powder for suspension formulations on their licensed medicines register, while others continue to recommend cotrimoxazole as front-line treatment.”
“The capsule is difficult to administer to children, while the suspension is bulky, requires clean water to reconstitute, is costly, and may require refrigeration in locations with extremely high temperatures. Also, liquid dosage forms, such as syrups and suspension are usually not amenable to long-term storage or transport under high temperature conditions common in many low and middle income countries and must be consumed once opened or reconstituted. Dispersible tablets have improved shelf life and cost but continue to have associated challenges including time to dispersal and requirement for clean liquid.”
“The ideal oral pediatric dosage form is tasteless/taste-masked and orally dissolvable or easy to swallow. We are looking for innovative ideas on dosage formulation of amoxicillin for children between birth and 5 years of age (the most affected age group). Ideas such as orally disintegrating tablets (not requiring dispersal in liquid prior to consumption), or transdermal patches will be accepted. While established techniques exist for disintegrating tablets including freeze drying, molding, spray drying, sublimation, direct compression, cotton candy process, mass extrusion, and melt granulation, we are looking for formulations that are user friendly, simpler than dispersible tablets, and of equivalent or lower cost to current amoxicillin formulation.”
OK Bill & Melinda –You’re ignoring the fact that a very significant % of Pneumonia isn’t caused by bacteria at all, but by viral infections, and you’re looking for a better formulation for a standard antibiotic. That’s all you’re interested in funding. Wow, that’s bold! (a little snarky, I know – sorry)
So how about area #2 – Optimizing Oxygen Concentrators
Here you say “Oxygen is a life-saving intervention, yet many hospitals and health centers do not have access to reliable oxygen supply. Cylinders are costly to refill and logistically challenging to transport especially to rural areas with poor road access. Therefore, many low resource settings rely on oxygen concentrators, where facilities have access to grid power or reliable backup power. In settings where electricity is not reliable however, current oxygen concentrators are less suitable.”
“We are looking for innovations that would improve the adaptability of oxygen concentrators to low resource settings including improving power or maintenance requirements of the equipment. Power supply is a major known challenge, and we are therefore looking for systems that have low power needs, increased storing capacity or are able to operate continuously from grey power or alternative energy sources. Other improvements to reduce maintenance needs are also encouraged as are improvements to system efficiency.”
Well Bill & Melinda – I have to give you a tiny thumbs-up on this one. You’re close. Getting oxygen to the lungs is indeed critical to saving the lives of pneumonia victims. Their lungs are so inflamed and filled with mucous that they are literally drowning in their own body fluids. So – limited kudos here. You see the problem, but your vision for the solution is to improve on existing technology. I suppose some might call that bold, but I’m afraid that I can’t agree. It’s just a search for a slightly better mousetrap – not for a solution to the underlying problem. But good for you – you’re trying. I suppose. After all, that approach has worked for MicroSoft – kinda.
OK – onwards – Number Three area where you’ll fund Bold and Innovative solutions: Devices for measuring oxygen saturation (or optimizing pulse oximetry)
I can understand why you are big believers in Technology Bill and Melinda – technology has been very, very good to you. So let’s see why you think this is an area for bold innovation.
“Hypoxemia (low oxygen level in the blood) is associated with mortality. Identifying children with hypoxemia is a key step to provision of life saving oxygen supplementation. Hypoxemia is difficult to detect using clinical signs alone because they lack sensitivity. The primary method for measuring oxygen saturation at the point of care is pulse oximetry, however its availability is highly limited in the developing world due to cost. The initial investment is considerable, and the maintenance costs have been reported to be as high as 50% of the initial capital costs on an annual basis2. The low longevity and high costs of parts particularly the finger sensors constrain their use in low resource settings.”
“The last few years has seen innovations around mobile devices that can potentially measure oxygen saturation. Examples of such devices are limited, and remain costly. We are looking for innovations that will deliver reliable devices or tools for measuring and monitoring of oxygen saturation in children with pneumonia in low resource settings. These innovations should be of lower cost than existing devices, require less frequent and affordable maintenance, and be usable with limited or no training by non-professional health providers. The ideal device would have a long sensor life without disposable parts and be able to communicate with or integrate into a mobile technology (cell phone) platform.”
OK – so you’re looking for technology that offers a better way to monitor children who are dying of pneumonia – presumably so that they can be treated more effectively. And how are they going to be treated more effectively? Please see Bold Solutions #1 and #2 above.
What a nice, neat little package. You’re looking for a better antibiotic, a better machine to pump oxygen into little lungs, and a better machine to see how well the antibiotics and oxygen pumps are doing. And you’re focused like a laser on young children in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. I guess old people dying of Pneumonia in nursing homes in the US just aren’t as photogenic as little brown and black babies cuddling in Melinda’s loving arms while hubby Bill looks on admiringly. Too bad Grandma – no Big, Bold solutions for you.
Then of course on your Grand Challenges website there’s a long list of proposed solutions that you won’t fund – too long to list here. Suffice it to say that if a solution doesn’t fall directly under 1, 2 or 3 you aren’t interested. Even if it is a real, safe, effective, simple, and inexpensive solution – one for which there are reams of historical evidence that it will work, because it used to work pretty well, before it was lost and forgotten for the past hundred years or so.
And it won’t take millions of dollars to prove this solution to every clinician’s satisfaction and then get it into the field and start saving lots of those little lives. And my guess is that it will address a huge part of the risk to life of both bacterial and viral Pneumonia – the inflammation in the lungs and the clogging of those lungs with cement-like mucous, which of course cuts off the oxygen supply.
Readers of this blog have already guessed precisely where I’m going with this, haven’t you? I’m betting that a simple tonic made from pure, natural, high quality Coca Leaf will do the trick. Certainly not the entire trick – you will still want to be able to treat the underlying bacterial and/or viral infection, but throughout the 1800s doctors in Europe and America who of course had no recourse to antibiotics or high technology routinely treated cases of Pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract diseases with Coca Leaf tonic. Of course they weren’t always successful – plenty of people were carried away into death in spite of having their pulmonary inflammation reduced and their lungs cleared of mucous by Coca Leaf treatment. I am sure that today’s doctors could do better, given the anti-bacterial and anti-viral medicines and the technologies available.
You can check out the arguments regarding efficacy in Pneumonia, and the references, at one of my recent posts: Coca Leaf, Cannabis, Consumption, Pneumonia & HIV/Aids
But wait – Bill & Melinda are focused on sick children in poor countries where there often is no technology, and where the antibiotics are primitive and limited, and anti-viral treatments (which Bill & Melinda don’t seem to have as a priority) are likely to be unavailable. So why not give at least some thought to the contribution that a simple, natural medicinal plant could make in many of those 1.2 Million children who are dying every year in God-forsaken places of the earth.
The answer is easy. Because that particular idea doesn’t fit into one of Bill & Melinda’s three little boxes. Well, hell, even with their zillions of dollars Bill & Melinda can’t be expected to fund every Bold and Innovative idea that comes along, even really, really simple and inexpensive ideas that could easily make a difference in the life or death of millions of people every year – not just children, but the elderly, who are the group most at risk next to young children, and many, many others.
Now, I may sound like I disrespect Bill & Melinda, but I don’t. They at least give the appearance of trying to make a positive difference in the world, and they actually do some good work. I guess what I do disrespect, and resent, is self-anointed big shots and their sycophants who toss around words like “Bold” and “Innovative” and then turn out to be interested only in the sound of their own voices, praising themselves for qualities of mind and imagination that, upon close inspection, they so clearly do not have.
So what would I do if I had even a tiny fraction of your resources, Bill & Melinda?
If I had $100,000 available to me to address the terrible issue of Pneumonia (and not just in children), here is what I would do.
I would go to Peru, and probably also Bolivia, and network with doctors and indigenous healers who already know how to treat respiratory disease (not just Pneumonia) with Coca Leaf. I would find out from them how they use Coca Leaf – as a tea, or as a tonic, or a syrup, or a lozenge, or perhaps in other ways like a solution in a vaporizer or nebulizer. I would interview these people and document the interviews on video, and I would post these videos where the world could have access to them. My good friends at Wiracocha have offered to introduce me to their extensive Peruvian network of indigenous healers, shamans, and natural medicine practitioners, so I wouldn’t simply be wandering around the mountains looking for people to interview.
Then I would use some of the money to fund one or more small but first-class and methodologically sound studies in Peru – and, again, probably Bolivia – comparing the efficacy and safety of Coca Leaf treatments of comparable respiratory disease in every age group. With credentialed scientific and medical people, as well as respected indigenous healers, as authors of the findings these results would find a peer-reviewed journal where they could be published.
Finally I would work with Peruvian and Bolivian food chemists to investigate how to make tonics and syrups and other medicinal Coca Leaf products that would be highly palatable, especially to children, and would be shelf-stable for long periods without refrigeration, and that could be manufactured inexpensively using all-natural ingredients.
And finally I would work with the Governments of Peru and Bolivia and with the leadership of the indigenous Coca-producing communities in both countries to ensure that these Coca leaf medicines would be readily available to Pneumonia patients in any country that would allow them – and I would work to ensure that any country that denied access to these Coca Leaf treatments for its people with Pneumonia and other respiratory diseases – was prominently and endlessly shamed in public for their callous disregard for human life.
Oh, and let’s not forget, as I mentioned earlier, that this simple treatment might very well also benefit people with Asthma, Obesity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Congestive Heart Failure, Depression, and possibly Alzheimer’s – among other scourges of humankind.
All for $100,000 to prove ( actually re-introduce the concept to this generation’s medical community) the concept and then perhaps $1 Million to see it rolled out to clinics and treatment centers in whatever countries would accept them.
Is that Bold and Innovative enough for you, Bill & Melinda?
I didn’t think so. I think I’ll just put this project up on a CrowdFunding website and see if there are some people out there who are actually willing to support real, simple, bold, innovative and almost certainly effective solutions that don’t necessarily have to fit into some tiny, pre-designed little box.
In the meanwhile, dear reader, you can use the “donate” button on this blog to let me know that you support this idea. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of any sources of potential support for this project.
And good luck with those Grand Challenges, Bill & Melinda, which in truth seem more like Grand Standing to me. But hey, you’re rich and famous, and surrounded by high-priced experts, so what the hell do I know?