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Letters to the Editor Issue 260

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 260 - February 2020

Vaccinations, Vitamin C, Politics, and the Law

Commentary by Thomas E. Levy MD JD

The ability of properly-dosed vitamin C before and after a vaccination to block any potential short- and long-term toxic side effects while enhancing the antibody-forming aim of the injection was covered in an earlier OMNS article.[1] The points made in that article, along with their validation in the scientific literature, remain pertinent 8 years later. As emphasized in that article, the purpose of this article is not to praise or condemn the administration of vaccinations. Most who know me know my stance on this issue, coming from what I consider to be a purely scientific perspective. But that is not the purpose of this article.

Even the most ardent of vaccine supporters should be able to admit that vaccinations, however infrequently, sometimes result in an undesired outcome on the health status of the recipient. The ‘argument’ then shifts as to whether the chance of such an outcome is so rare as to be reasonably and permissibly ignored. The pro-vaccine community maintains that population-wide vaccinations confer a high degree of protection against even more morbidity and mortality that would otherwise be inflicted by the diseases or conditions for which the vaccines are being given. However, here I emphasize the need for mitigation of the side effects of vaccination.

To fully appreciate the toxic origins of all disease, it is very important to understand the critical roles played by vitamin C and other major antioxidants in counteracting and minimizing the impact of new toxin exposures and old toxin damage. All toxins, whether originating from an infection, food or water intake, or environmental source, or even as an unintended consequence of a vaccination, inflict their damage on the body by directly or indirectly causing the oxidation of critical biomolecules in the body. When biomolecules are oxidized (depleted of electrons), they lose some or all of their natural chemical roles throughout the body and inside the cells. Essentially, oxidation inactivates the natural physiological role of a biomolecule.

Biomolecules include proteins, sugars, fats, enzymes, nucleic acid, or structural molecules. Depending on the chemical nature of a given toxin, it will oxidize a unique array of biomolecules, varying in location, concentration, and degree. These are the primary factors that determine the resulting clinical medical condition. And the presence of sufficient antioxidants can either prevent this oxidation from taking place by directly donating electrons to the electron-seeking toxins, or it can repair the toxin-oxidized biomolecules by contributing electrons back to them (reduction). However, it essential to realize that the oxidized state of the biomolecules is the disease, or toxicity. There is no additional ill-defined "disease” that is impacting the cells and tissues with the increased numbers of oxidized biomolecules. Once enough biomolecules are restored to the reduced state, "disease" no longer exists. [2]

With this concept of the aetiology of all diseases in mind, it can then be appreciated that any potential toxic side effect of a vaccination (or any other toxin exposure) can literally always be blocked or rapidly repaired by counterbalancing it with sufficient levels of antioxidants (primarily vitamin C). When this is combined with the established concept that vitamin C is essential for a fully competent immune system capable of producing an optimal antibody response to an antigen presented by a vaccination, it is only logical that optimizing the vitamin C status of a baby, child, or adult (as with influenza vaccinations) should always be an essential clinical goal.

Numerous articles in the mainstream medical literature clearly indicate that the infectious diseases for which vaccinations are given are effectively prevented by vitamin C.[1-3] Furthermore, when vitamin C levels are low in the body, infectious diseases are effectively eradicated by vitamin C-centred protocols (that can include other anti-pathogen interventions).[1-5]

The pharmaceutical industry makes billions of dollars on selling vaccinations and continuing to develop new vaccines for different conditions in an ongoing basis. However, in the current environment of politics, big business, and the law, such billion-dollar businesses will arguably never lose. They also will never be minimized and their profits will never be substantially decreased. Such businesses have many congressmen and senators owing them for campaign contributions, along with many judges as well. Furthermore, most of those politicians and members of the judicial system actually believe that opposing vaccinations is tantamount to opposing the most significant intervention available supporting optimal public health. Many of us understand how much this enrages those who are convinced that vaccinations are doing a great deal of harm.

With all of these issues in mind, the overriding concern is how to protect as many babies, children, and adults from any possibility of a negative vaccine side effect. Even if, say, 10 years from now the scientific community finds that some vaccines are doing more harm than good and largely eliminates them, how many more lives (and families) will have been devastated in the meantime? Whether autism ever results from vaccination is actually not the primary issue. The issue is how to protect the infants that will be vaccinated today. All old and new evidence of any vaccination-induced toxicity should continue to be revisited and given its due publicity. But protection needs to take place now.

Also, while it will likely displease most of the anti-vaccination community, a successful vitamin C-centred vaccine-protection protocol will make the vaccine manufacturers look like the good guys. Very few individuals will sustain side effects, and the vaccine companies will ultimately be given credit for making "better and safer" vaccines, and they will ultimately make more money rather than less. However, and this cannot be overemphasized, the vaccine damage will drop, and even largely disappear. The immediate protection of everyone's health has to be the top priority.

My personal recommendations for an effective program of toxin protection with optimization of a vaccine antibody response are as follows:

Start the supplementation at least 7 days before a planned vaccination (the longer, the better since everyone at any age should regularly supplement vitamin C). This regimen should be followed as well on the day of vaccination and continued for at least one week following the vaccination. However, it will be best to continue the recommended vitamin C dosing for life.[1-5]

For infants and very young children, 1,000 mg of liposome-encapsulated vitamin C. This can readily be mixed in a flavoured yogurt or other favourite baby food. This higher dose is possible relative to the sodium ascorbate powder below since liposomes only rarely cause the loose bowel effect seen with higher doses of vitamin C. Liposomes also allow a much better intracellular uptake of vitamin C to occur.

When liposome-encapsulated vitamin C is not available, proceed with sodium ascorbate powder (this can also be done in addition to the liposome form for even better protection). Infants under 10 pounds can be given 500 mg daily in a favourite juice (just a salty taste). For infants between 10 and 20 pounds, this can be increased to as much as 1,000 mg daily, in divided doses. Very roughly, the daily amount of non-liposome-encapsulated vitamin C can be increased by 1,000 mg per year of life.

Magnesium chloride can significantly augment the anti-toxin and pro-immune effect of vitamin C.[6,7] Mix 25 grams in a quart of water. Depending on body size, give 1 TBSP to 1/2 cup (15 to 125 ml) of this solution at least once and preferably twice daily in the days leading up to vaccination. As with vitamin C, the solution is salty (and a little bitter) and to be palatable is best diluted further in juice.

Vitamin D3 and zinc supplementation can also afford additional benefits. Again, depending on body size, 1,000 to 25,000 units of D3 can be given daily. These doses should not be continued in small children beyond a week after the vaccination. However, D3 is a valuable supplement, and it is of value for everyone. Long-term dosing requires validation that the regularly administered dose is raising the blood level to the range of 50 to 100 ng/ml. 10 to 50 mg of zinc (as zinc gluconate or other well-absorbed form) daily can be given by pill or drops for the week before and the week after vaccination. Long-term supplementation with zinc (and D3) should be done in concert with the advice of your integrative physician.

Finally, if a vaccination simply can't wait, taking the recommended doses of vitamin C, magnesium chloride, vitamin D3, and zinc the same day or just following the vaccination, and continuing for several weeks can also offer enormous protection. The above regimen simply aims to help optimize the protection being provided.

An addendum regarding a practical treatment approach to coronavirus, currently at epidemic levels in China:

1.         If the virus is actually as contagious as is being currently asserted, modern air travel and the purported time of incubation and asymptomatic status (about 2 weeks) means it can spread anywhere on the planet. As with nearly all other contagious viruses, spread is most commonly due to airborne virus in microdroplets from sneezing, coughing, and the exhalation of infected individuals. Similarly, when the virus gets on the hands in a sufficient amount, touching the nose, eyes, and mouth can initiate the process of transmission as well;

2.         The measures that most readily inhibit transmission include regular hand washing or sanitizing, containment of the microdroplets with high virus concentration (protective masks), and avoidance of areas with multiple infected individuals. And even when these measures do not completely block the transmission of virus, they massively decrease the amount of viral exposure, and a strong immune system will often do the rest;

3.         A strong immune system is really the only significant protection an individual has, unless, of course, an individual can completely eliminate the possibility of virus exposure, which is virtually impossible;

4.         A great deal of immune system strength, possibly most of it, comes from the vitamin C content in the immune cells. When the levels of vitamin C in the body are low, the immune system can never function at full capacity. There are many measures that can strengthen and support the immune system, but regular supplementation of vitamin C with multi-gram doses (2,000 mg daily or more) is probably the single most important preventive measure. Much larger doses can be given if it is determined that the virus has already been contracted. If IV vitamin C is available, this is optimal. But always take as much as can be afforded and tolerated, in both liposome-encapsulated form and sodium ascorbate powder and by intravenous administration;

5.         Follow the magnesium chloride regimen discussed above, but take the recommended doses four times daily during a time of active infection;

6.         The virus grows rapidly in the mucosa of the naso- and oropharynx. It is this quickly-growing ‘reservoir’ of virus that continues to feed the viral presence throughout the body and sustain the infected state. Nebulization with 3% hydrogen peroxide quickly destroys all or most of this source of virus, and the body, with the help of vitamin C and magnesium, can then ‘mop up’ the rest of the virus and rapidly accelerate clinical resolution. This is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT intervention to rapidly eradicate any systemic viral infection. Also, if available, ozone treatments of the blood can further accelerate the clinical resolution of infections such as the coronavirus.


By way of disclosure, I am a paid consultant to LivOn Labs. I am only comfortable recommending their liposome-encapsulated products, including vitamin C. Although "liposome" products are available from a variety of other vendors, many contain no liposomes at all. Also, contrary to popular belief, there are no liposomes in many homemade versions of "liposome" vitamin C. (See my article )


1. Levy TE.  Vitamin C prevents vaccination side effects; increases effectiveness. OMNS 8:7. 2012.

2. Levy TE  Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. 3rd Edition, Medfox Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0977952021. 2011.

3. Levy TE  Primal Panacea. Medfox Publishing; 2nd Printing edition, ISBN-13: 978-0983772804. 2011.

4. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 9. pii: E1211. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211. . 2017.

5. Spoelstra-de Man AME, Elbers PWG, Oudemans-Van Straaten HM.  Vitamin C: should we supplement? Curr Opin Crit Care. 24:248-255. . 2018.

6. Dean C (2017) The Magnesium Miracle, Second Edition, Ballantine Books; ISBN-13: 978-0399594441. 2017.

7. Levy TE  Magnesium: Reversing Disease. Medfox Publishing. ISBN-13 978-0998312408. 2019. 

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: 

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: 

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ilyès Baghli, M.D. (Algeria)

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)

Prof. Gilbert Henri Crussol (Spain)

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)

Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)

Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)

Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)

Michael J. Gonzalez, N.M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)

William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)

Tonya S. Heyman, M.D. (USA)

Suzanne Humphries, M.D. (USA)

Ron Hunninghake, M.D. (USA)

Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)

Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)

Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)

Jeffrey J. Kotulski, D.O. (USA)

Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)

Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)

Homer Lim, M.D. (Philippines)

Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)

Victor A. Marcial-Vega, M.D. (Puerto Rico)

Charles C. Mary, Jr., M.D. (USA)

Mignonne Mary, M.D. (USA)

Jun Matsuyama, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Dave McCarthy, M.D. (USA)

Joseph Mercola, D.O. (USA)

Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)

Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)

Tahar Naili, M.D. (Algeria)

W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)

Dag Viljen Poleszynski, Ph.D. (Norway)

Jeffrey A. Ruterbusch, D.O. (USA)

Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)

Thomas L. Taxman, M.D. (USA)

Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Garry Vickar, MD (USA)

Ken Walker, M.D. (Canada)

Anne Zauderer, D.C. (USA)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor-In-Chief

Editor, Japanese Edition: Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA), Associate Editor

Helen Saul Case, M.S. (USA), Assistant Editor

Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA), Technology Editor

Jason M. Saul, JD (USA), Legal Consultant

Comments and Media Contact: OMNS welcomes but is unable to respond to individual reader emails. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

Click here to see a web copy of this news release:

Riordan Clinic |

3100 N Hillside Ave, Wichita, Kansas 67219 United States


Vitamin C Protects Against Coronavirus

by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

The coronavirus pandemic can be dramatically slowed, or stopped, with the immediate widespread use of high doses of vitamin C. Physicians have demonstrated the powerful antiviral action of vitamin C for decades. There has been a lack of media coverage of this effective and successful approach against viruses in general, and coronavirus in particular.

It is very important to maximize the body's anti-oxidative capacity and natural immunity to prevent and minimize symptoms when a virus attacks the human body. The host environment is crucial. Preventing is obviously easier than treating severe illness. But treat serious illness seriously. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention. It is not an either-or choice. Vitamin C can be used right along with medicines when they are indicated.

"I have not seen any flu yet that was not cured or markedly ameliorated by massive doses of vitamin C."

(Robert F. Cathcart, MD)

The physicians of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service and the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine urge a nutrient-based method to prevent or minimize symptoms for future viral infection. The following inexpensive supplemental levels are recommended for adults; for children reduce these in proportion to body weight:

Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (or more) daily, in divided doses.

Vitamin D3: 2,000 International Units daily. (Start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000)

Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate, or chloride form)

Zinc: 20 mg daily

Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily

Vitamin C [1], Vitamin D [2], magnesium [3], zinc [4], and selenium [5] have been shown to strengthen the immune system against viruses.

The basis for using high doses of vitamin C to prevent and combat virus-caused illness may be traced back to vitamin C's early success against polio, first reported in the late 1940s.[6] Many people are unaware, even surprised, to learn this. Further clinical evidence built up over the decades, leading to an anti-virus protocol published in 1980.[7]

It is important to remember that preventing and treating respiratory infections with large amounts of vitamin C is well established. Those who believe that vitamin C generally has merit, but massive doses are ineffective or somehow harmful, will do well to read the original papers for themselves. To dismiss the work of these doctors simply because they had success so long ago sidesteps a more important question: Why has the benefit of their clinical experience not been presented to the public by responsible governmental authorities, especially in the face of a viral pandemic?


1. Vitamin C:

Case HS (2018) Vitamin C questions answered. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, .

Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Duconge J (2018) High dose vitamin C and influenza: A case report. J Orthomol Med. June, 2018, 33(3). . 2018.

Gorton HC, Jarvis K (1999) The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manip Physiol Ther, 22:8, 530-533. . 1999.

Hemilä H (2017) Vitamin C and infections. Nutrients. 9(4). pii:E339. . 2017.

Hickey S, Saul AW (2015) Vitamin C: The real story. Basic Health Pub. ISBN-13: 978-1591202233. 2015.

Levy TE (2014) The clinical impact of vitamin C. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service,  

OMNS (2007) Vitamin C: a highly effective treatment for colds. .

OMNS (2009) Vitamin C as an antiviral .

Taylor T (2017) Vitamin C material: where to start, what to watch. OMNS, . 2017.

Yejin Kim, Hyemin Kim, Seyeon Bae et al. (2013) Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses through the production of interferon-α/β at the initial stage of influenza A virus (H3N2) infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.  2013.  

2. Vitamin D:

Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC et al. (2006) Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 134:1129-1140. . 2006.

Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF et al. (2008) On the epidemiology of influenza. Virol J. 5:29. . 2008.

Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA Jr. (2009) Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 169:384-390.  2009. .

Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL et al. (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. 356:i6583. . 2017.

Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M et al. (2010) Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 91:1255-60. . 2010.

von Essen MR, Kongsbak M, Schjerling P et al. (2010) Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nat Immunol. 11:344-349. . 2010.

3. Magnesium:

Dean C (2017) Magnesium. OMNS,  

Dean C. (2017) The Magnesium Miracle. 2nd Ed., Ballantine Books. ISBN-13: 978-0399594441. 2017.

Levy TE (2019) Magnesium: Reversing Disease. Medfox Pub. ISBN-13: 978-0998312408  2019.

4. Zinc:

Fraker PJ, King LE, Laakko T, Vollmer TL. (2000) The dynamic link between the integrity of the immune system and zinc status. J Nutr. 130:1399S-406S. 2000. .

Liu MJ, Bao S, Gálvez-Peralta M, et al. (2013) ZIP8 regulates host defense through zinc-mediated inhibition of NF-кB. Cell Rep. 3:386-400. . 2013.

Mocchegiani E, Muzzioli M. (2000) Therapeutic application of zinc in human immunodeficiency virus against opportunistic infections. J Nutr. 130:1424S-1431S. . 2000.

Shankar AH, Prasad AS. (1998) Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 68:447S-463S. . 1998.

5. Selenium:

Beck MA, Levander OA, Handy J. (2003) Selenium deficiency and viral infection. J Nutr. 133:1463S-1467S. .  2003.

Hoffmann PR, Berry MJ. (2008) The influence of selenium on immune responses. Mol Nutr Food Res. 52:1273-1280. . 2008.

Steinbrenner H, Al-Quraishy S, Dkhil MA et al. (2015) Dietary selenium in adjuvant therapy of viral and bacterial infections. Adv Nutr. 6:73-82. 2015.. .

6. Klenner FR. The treatment of poliomyelitis and other virus diseases with vitamin C. J South Med Surg 1949, 111:210-214. . 1949.

7. Cathcart RF. The method of determining proper doses of vitamin C for treatment of diseases by titrating to bowel tolerance. Australian Nurses J 1980, 9(4):9-13. 1980.  

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: 

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: 

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ilyès Baghli, M.D. (Algeria)

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)

Prof. Gilbert Henri Crussol (Spain)

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)

Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)

Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)

Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)

Michael J. Gonzalez, N.M.D., D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)

William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)

Tonya S. Heyman, M.D. (USA)

Suzanne Humphries, M.D. (USA)

Ron Hunninghake, M.D. (USA)

Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)

Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)

Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)

Jeffrey J. Kotulski, D.O. (USA)

Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)

Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)

Homer Lim, M.D. (Philippines)

Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)

Victor A. Marcial-Vega, M.D. (Puerto Rico)

Charles C. Mary, Jr., M.D. (USA)

Mignonne Mary, M.D. (USA)

Jun Matsuyama, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Dave McCarthy, M.D. (USA)

Joseph Mercola, D.O. (USA)

Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)

Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)

Tahar Naili, M.D. (Algeria)

W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)

Dag Viljen Poleszynski, Ph.D. (Norway)

Jeffrey A. Ruterbusch, D.O. (USA)

Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)

Thomas L. Taxman, M.D. (USA)

Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Garry Vickar, MD (USA)

Ken Walker, M.D. (Canada)

Anne Zauderer, D.C. (USA)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor-In-Chief

Editor, Japanese Edition: Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA), Associate Editor

Helen Saul Case, M.S. (USA), Assistant Editor

Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA), Technology Editor

Jason M. Saul, JD (USA), Legal Consultant

Comments and media contact  OMNS welcomes but is unable to respond to individual reader emails. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

Click here to see a web copy of this news release: 


New Treatment Triggers Self-Destruction of Pancreatic Cancer Cells         

Research conducted on human pancreatic tumours transplanted in mice reveals promising results, TAU researchers say. Pancreatic cancer is resistant to all current treatments. Patients have extremely poor chances of surviving for five years after being diagnosed.

A new Tel Aviv University study finds that a small molecule has the ability to induce the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells. The research was conducted with xenografts – transplantations of human pancreatic cancer into immunocompromised mice. The treatment reduced the number of cancer cells by 90% in the developed tumours a month after being administered.

The research holds great potential for the development of a new effective therapy to treat this aggressive cancer in humans.

The study was led by Prof. Malca Cohen-Armon and her team at TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Talia Golan's team at the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center. It was published in the journal Oncotarget on October 22.[1]

"In research published in 2017, we discovered a mechanism that causes the self-destruction of human cancer cells during their duplication (mitosis) without affecting normal cells," explains Prof. Cohen-Armon. "We have now harnessed this information to efficiently eradicate human pancreatic cancer cells in xenografts. The current results were obtained using a small molecule that evokes this self-destruction mechanism in a variety of human cancer cells.

"The mice were treated with a molecule called PJ34, which is permeable in the cell membrane but affects human cancer cells exclusively. This molecule causes an anomaly during the duplication of human cancer cells, provoking their rapid cell death. Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells."

A month after being injected with PJ34 daily for 14 days, the pancreatic cancer cells in the tumours of the treated mice experienced a relative drop of 90%. In one mouse, the tumour completely disappeared.

"It is important to note that no adverse effects were observed, and there were no changes in the weight gain of the mice, nor in their behaviour," says Prof. Cohen-Armon.

This mechanism acts efficiently in other types of cancer resistant to current therapies. The molecule PJ34 is being tested in pre-clinical trials according to FDA regulations before clinical trials begin.

The research was funded through contributions to American Friends of Tel Aviv University.


1. Visochek L, Atias D, Spektor I, Castiel A, Golan T1, Cohen-Armon M1.The phenanthrene derivative PJ34 exclusively eradicates human pancreatic cancer cells in xenografts. Oncotarget 10(58):6269-6282. Oct 22 2019. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27268. eCollection 2019 Oct 22.

Contact and Further Information

George Hunka, Communications Manager, American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Tel: 212.742.9070, ext. 117

Jordan Isenstadt, Marino. Tel: 212.402.3510



Magnesium Sulphate Infusions Safe During Pregnancy

Fears that intravenous magnesium sulphate can harm unborn babies have been proven unfounded by South Australian researchers. A systematic review of almost 200 studies, including 40 randomised trials, by researchers from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide found newborns whose mothers were treated with intravenous magnesium sulphate had no adverse reactions.

The findings – which are published in PLOS Medicine[1] today – follow observational studies suggesting intravenous magnesium sulphate could cause a range of negative outcomes in newborns. These include bone fractures around the time of birth, gastrointestinal tract issues and death.

University of Adelaide and SAHMRI Women & Kids PhD candidate Emily Shepherd said she hoped the paper would help alleviate international concern around the treatment’s potential adverse outcomes.

Intravenous magnesium sulphate has increasingly been used to treat mothers with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. It has also been used as a treatment for pregnant women who are likely to have a very preterm birth to reduce the chances of their baby developing cerebral palsy.

“Around 3500 births are very premature, at less than 30 completed weeks of pregnancy, every year in Australia,” Shepherd said.

“Our findings support the continued use of magnesium sulphate as a safe treatment for these women, as well as for pregnant women suffering from pre-eclampsia or eclampsia.”

According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Australia, when given to pregnant mothers who are at high risk of very preterm birth, magnesium sulphate can protect babies from the brain injury, which may lead to cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disability that can affect a person’s posture, balance and ability to move, communicate, eat, sleep and learn.

Pre-eclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in urine during pregnancy. It can result in seizures, at which time it is known as eclampsia.

Shepherd, pictured above, said countries such as the United States had overused magnesium sulphate treatment in an attempt to prevent preterm births, despite a lack of beneficial evidence.

“With the increasing use of intravenous magnesium sulphate internationally there’ve been small observational studies published showing some possible adverse outcomes from the treatment,” Shepherd said.

“Some women, in preterm labour, are receiving an intravenous treatment for a number of days leading to very high dose exposure. In those cases, there have been some suggestions that there can be adverse outcomes – including death or bone fractures in the newborn.

“This observational evidence really led us to want to conduct a more systematic review of all of this evidence, including those observational studies. But also, the high-level randomized evidence to look at whether these were true effects that we were seeing.”

Shepherd said unlike the United States, in Australia magnesium infusions were only recommended in the 24-hour period prior to giving birth

She said the researchers were conducting a randomized trial examining whether the treatment could also prevent cerebral palsy for preterm births between 30- and 34-weeks’ gestation.


1. Emily Shepherd, Rehana A. Salam, Deepak Manhas, Anne Synnes, Philippa Middleton,    Maria Makrides,Caroline A. Crowther. Antenatal magnesium sulphate and adverse neonatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis PLOS; 6 December 2019.

Source and Further Information

The Lead SA Health & Medical



Nanotech Being Used in the Fight against Cancer

Cancer treatments complemented with nanomaterials may be more effective than traditional treatments alone such as chemotherapy and radiation, say researchers from Nazarbayev University.

Diagnoses and death rates due to cancer are rising year after year, with current treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, the multitude of limitations and side effects these treatments have mean alternative approaches are needed.

Researcher Zhannat Ashikbayeva, Professor Daniele Tosi, and Professor Vassilis Inglezakis, focused on the application of nanomaterials in thermal ablation therapy. Thermal ablation is a technique used in cancer therapy to destroy cancerous cells or tissue with heat.

However, the choice of a suitable heat delivery route to the cancerous tissue is a problem as existing methods show difficulty in differentiating between tumours and surrounding healthy tissue, leading to the damage of non-cancerous cells. The use of nanomaterials is an attractive solution as the nanomaterials can increase the temperature in specific tumour regions. This allows the therapy to target and destroy the cancer cells specifically without affecting healthy surrounding cells. This technique is flexible, low cost, and minimally invasive.

Prof Inglezakis, Associate Professor of Chemical & Materials Engineering, said: “The goal is not to replace existing therapies but complement in a way that is beneficial to the patient. This should reduce side-effects and help to remove harmful by-products that are produced when patients undergo traditional cancer treatments.”

At present, scientists have successfully tested nanomaterials to heat animal tissues in vitro but the translation to commercial clinical use on human patients has not yet occurred. The researchers of this project aim to stimulate further research into the use of nanomaterials in cancer treatments.

Contact and Further Information

For more information or to speak to the researchers, contact Kyle Grizzell at BlueSky PR:  Tel +44 01582 790 709;



Fibroblasts Involved in Healing Spur Tumor Growth in Cancer

Vital to healing wounds, fibroblasts have a "misguided" response to cancer cells, according to TAU researchers. The connective tissue cells known as fibroblasts are vitally important for our recovery from injury. Sensing tissue damage, they gravitate to the site of a wound, instigating an inflammatory response that mends damaged tissue.

A new Tel Aviv University study published in Nature Communications[1] on September 26 finds that fibroblasts also play a devastating role in the development of breast cancer. In cancer tumours, fibroblasts are triggered to respond to tissue damaged by tumours and create inflammation. This inflammation facilitates tumour growth as well as metastases in the lungs.

"We have shown, for the first time, that in breast cancer these fibroblasts activate a 'misguided' wound healing response, responding to the tissue damage caused by the cancerous growth," explains Prof. Neta Erez of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who led the research for the study. "Inhibiting these inflammatory signalling pathways may be beneficial in preventing metastatic relapse of breast cancer."

The study was conducted by former TAU student Yoray Sharon and TAU MD-PhD student Nour Ershaid in Prof. Erez's lab at TAU's Department of Pathology.

According to the study, the inflammatory response of fibroblasts not only supports local tumour growth in the breast, but it also creates a hospitable niche for metastatic growth in the lungs.

"The fibroblasts are 'activated' and, because of this activation, they recruit immune cells and affect blood vessels," adds Prof. Erez. "In other words, breast tumors 'hijack' the physiologic response to tissue damage to facilitate their growth, and create a niche in a distant organ, the lungs, by 'remote control.'"

Research for the study was performed using transgenic and transplantable mouse models of breast cancer, and validated in human samples of breast cancer and in human expression data.

The researchers isolated fibroblasts in transgenic mice from different stages of breast carcinogenesis and profiled the expression of all their genes. They were then able to identify that the inflammation pathway is unregulated in cancer-associated fibroblasts, as compared with fibroblasts isolated from normal mammary glands. Finally, they performed functional experiments to understand the role of this pathway in breast cancer.

"Our findings encourage the design of preclinical and clinical studies to examine the benefits of targeting the inflammation pathway in breast cancer, which may be effective in blocking metastatic relapse," concludes Prof. Erez. "We are now studying the microenvironment of metastasis in an effort to identify targets for preventive intervention that may inhibit metastatic relapse."


1. Ershaid, N., Sharon, Y., Doron, H. et al. NLRP3 inflammasome in fibroblasts links tissue damage with inflammation in breast cancer progression and metastasis. Nat Commun 10: 4375 26 Sept 2019.

Contact and Further Information

George Hunka, Communications Manager, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Tel: 212.742.9070, ext. 117

Jordan Isenstadt, Marino. Tel: 212.402.3510


How is Cancer Diagnosed?

by Dr Peter H Kay

I provide a much needed information service for cancer patients and their carers. One of the most common questions I am asked is how is cancer actually diagnosed. To help everyone understand a little more, I have included a brief summary of some available techniques.

There are many ways of diagnosing cancer.  The most effective diagnostic method largely depends on the site of the neoplasm. For example, different types of blood borne cancers such as leukaemias are readily diagnosed simply by reference to a simple blood test which shows the presence of abnormal bone marrow derived cells in a peripheral blood smear. By contrast, some cancers may only be detected by non-invasive means such as MRI, CT, X-ray and PET scans. Generally, these diagnostic methods may not be able to detect neoplasms that are much less than about 0.5 cm in diameter

At a gross level, there are a number of non-invasive ways in which neoplasms can be detected.


It is important to recognise that many neoplasms can be detected by simple palpation. In this regard it is necessary to be aware of the normal palpable features of a healthy body. Detection of neoplasms may be quite difficult in obese subjects.

MRI Scan

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to develop three dimensional images of the whole body. Such images can identify abnormal cell growths or tumours in any part of the body.

How does MRI work?

All tissues in the body contain water molecules. Water molecules consist of hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

At the centre of each hydrogen atom is an even smaller particle called a proton. Protons are like tiny positively charged magnets and are very sensitive to magnetic fields.

When a patient is exposed to the powerful magnets in the MRI machine, the protons in the body line up in the same direction, in the same way that a magnet can orientate the needle of a compass.

Next, short bursts of radio waves are then sent to areas of the body under investigation. These radio waves disrupt the alignment of protons. When the radio waves are turned off, the protons realign sending out radio signals, which are picked up by receivers. Because the protons in different types of tissue, including neoplastic cells, realign at different speeds, it is possible to detect abnormal tissues such as neoplasms because of their different proton re-alignment speeds.

CT Scan

A computerized tomographic (CT) scan is another way of identifying abnormal growths. It is an X-ray based procedure that uses a computer to take detailed, three-dimensional images of normal and abnormal tissues in the body.

Tumour detection is very effective by use of such technologies. However, exposure to excessive X-rays can damage DNA in radiation sensitive people.

PET Scan

The positron emission tomography (PET) scan is another important non-invasive detection system. This neoplastic cell detection system relies on identification of cells that have developed the abnormal energy producing pathway referred to as glycolysis or the Warburg effect. Many neoplastic cells develop an unusual inefficient way of producing energy which requires an excessive amount of glucose.

The PET scan is usually performed by introducing a glucose derivative that includes a gamma radiation emitting radioactive marker, usually in the form of fluorodeoxyglucose. This radioactive glucose derivative is preferentially taken up by neoplastic cells. The excess gamma radiation emitted by the neoplastic cells is then detected by the PET scanner.

Other non-invasive procedures such as simple X-ray and ultrasound investigations can also be used to identify suspicious tissue masses

Once an abnormal tissue mass is identified, a biopsy is usually taken for more precise characterization of the tumour mass. Invariably, this is an invasive procedure.

How are Abnormal Tissue Masses Investigated?


As soon as possible after the biopsy is taken, it is ‘chemically fixed’ usually by immersion in a solution of formaldehyde. This fixation process is necessary to preserve the tissue as much as possible in its original state.

Thin sections of the biopsy can then be prepared and examined microscopically by a pathologist. Sections of the tissue can be treated or stained with a range of different reagents or dyes (usually immunohistochemicals) that can help the pathologist to comment on the possible source of, and many other features of the neoplasm;

There is a wide range of reagents and immunohistochemicals that the tissue sections can be treated or stained with that can be used to identify important features of the neoplasm and whether cells within the neoplasm have or have not started to spread.

Many such reagents are used to determine clonality of cells (that is, has the neoplasm been derived from a single neoplastic cell) in a biopsy specimen. Confirmation of clonality is an important step for diagnosis of cancer. Once clonality is established, other markers can be used as prognostic indicators, such as the use of a reagent that identifies cells containing a protein called Ki-67. Ki-67 is a marker of cellular proliferation, therefore, the number of neoplastic cells that are positive for Ki-67 gives an indication of the rate of proliferation of cells within the tumour. Generally, the higher the number of Ki-67 positive cells, the worse the prognosis.

Whether cells within a primary neoplasm have developed the capability of spreading to other parts of the body can be investigated by examining the content of sentinel lymph nodes which provide drainage to the neoplasm.

Using immunohistochemical analyses, properties such as oestrogen receptor status and HER2 status can be used to determine whether anti-oestrogen therapy or other would be helpful in cases of breast cancer for example with regard to treatment selection. The significance of these properties are discussed in another part of a course that I offer to enable patients and practitioners to understand much more about the evolution of cancer and the pros and cons of a wide range of treatment options.

Molecular Pathology

There is a wide range of molecular pathological tests that can be performed on DNA or mRNA isolated from neoplastic tissues. As there are very many tests, only a few are referred to here. Many of these tests are also used to determine clonality of a neoplasm. Importantly, molecular pathological tests can also identify precise genetic lesions that are responsible for neoplastic transformation of the original aberrant cell. Knowledge of the genetic re-arrangement that is present in neoplastic cells is useful for prognostication as well as diagnosis.  For example, chronic myelogenous leukaemia can be identified by testing for aberrant DNA re-arrangements such as the Philadelphia chromosome, a translocation event involving fusion of part of chromosome 9 with chromosome 22, or B-cell and T-cell IgH and TcR gene rearrangements respectively for diagnosis and classification of lymphomas and leukaemias.

Circulating Tumour Cells

A few years ago, a technology was developed which permits recognition of metastatic cells that have escaped from the primary tumour and are circulating in the blood, see ] This test is able to identify neoplastic cells of epithelial origin such as those derived from breast, colon or prostate cancer that have escaped into the blood. In breast cancer patients, studies have shown that the presence of more than about 6 epithelial cells per 10 millilitres of blood is associated with a worse outcome. This test can be used to monitor the efficacy of treatment.

Evaluation of epithelial cells in the blood at any time during the course of therapy allows assessment of patient prognosis and is predictive of progression-free survival and overall survival. As shown in Ref., the validity of the use of counting epithelial cells in peripheral blood has been confirmed by well-planned investigations. This test, however, cannot be used as a screening test because a small number of healthy people do have epithelial cells in their blood.

As this test only identifies cells in the blood that have epithelial cell markers, it cannot detect cells that have been derived from sarcomas, neoplastic cells of mesenchymal origin.

There have been other tests developed by various laboratories based of the isolation of epithelial cells, presumed to reflect metastatic cells, from peripheral blood, such as the testing system outlined in . Mostly, these tests are difficult to perform and further assessment of the diagnostic and prognostic validity of the results of these tests is required.

Further Information

For further information and courses available, please contact Dr. Peter H Kay at or tel:- 01772 691 443.



Strongest Link yet between Nitrites and Cancer; But “Not All Processed Meat has Same Risk”

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have questioned the World Health Organization’s blanket classification of processed meat as carcinogenic after finding significant evidence gaps between processed meat treated with nitrites and nitrite-free processed meat.

Dr Brian Green, Dr William Crowe and Professor Chris Elliott OBE, all from the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s, reviewed existing peer-reviewed literature on the relationship between processed meat and the development of bowel, colon and rectal cancers. The results of their meta-analysis have been published in the high-impact journal Nutrients.[1]

They found that not all processed meats carry the same level of cancer risk. They initially reviewed all recent, English-language studies into consumption of processed meat and cancer risk and found the results inconclusive – around half the studies evidenced a link with colorectal cancer (CRC). This explains the appearance of contradictory claims in the media in recent years.

 But when the researchers isolated research which only tested the consumption of processed meat containing sodium nitrite – a preservative used to extend shelf life and enhance colour – evidence of a link with CRC jumped from half to just under two-thirds – 65%.

“When we looked at nitrite-containing processed meat in isolation – which is the first time this has been done in a comprehensive study – the results were much clearer,” explained Research Fellow Dr William Crowe. “Almost two-thirds of studies found a link with cancer.”

The WHO classified all processed meat as a carcinogen in 2015 – including bacon, sausages and ham as well as continental European products like prosciutto and salami.

Not all processed meat, however, contains nitrites. British and Irish sausages, for example, are not processed with nitrites even though many of the Continental and US sausage equivalents – like frankfurters, pepperoni and chorizo – are. Some newer types off bacon and ham, processed without nitrites, are also appearing on the market.

In its 2015 statement, the WHO did not distinguish between processed meats containing nitrites and those without. Based on the results of their meta-study, the IGFS researchers now believe there is a need to define the health risk of both types of processed meat – separately.

Co-author Professor Chris Elliott OBE, who carried out the UK Government’s inquiry into food safety after the horsemeat scandal, said this latest research brought more clarity to what has been a confusing area for the food industry and the public.

He said: “Because there have been conflicting claims in the scientific community and the media about which types of meat may be carcinogenic, this study couldn’t have come at a better time. It brings much-needed rigour and clarity and points the way for further research in this area.”

So should the public immediately stop eating processed meat containing nitrites? “It’s important we eat a healthy, balanced diet in line with the government’s ‘Eatwell Guide’,” said study lead author, Dr Brian Green. “The current Department of Health guidance advises the public to consume no more than 70g of red or processed meat per day.

“That remains the guidance, but we hope that future research investigating the link between diet and CRC will consider each type of meat individually rather than grouping them together. Our findings clearly show that not all processed meats, for example, carry the same level of risk.

“There is more research to be done before we can definitively prove causality regarding processed meat and cancer – there are so many variables when it comes to people’s diets. But based on our study, which we believe provides the most thorough review of the evidence on nitrites to date, what we can confidently say is that a strong link exists between nitrite-containing processed meat, such as frankfurters, and CRC.”

The IGFS team intends following up its evidence review with a pre-clinical study probing the effects of nitrite-containing meat on CRC.


1. The paper in Nutrients is open-access. William Crowe, Christopher T. Elliott and Brian D. Green[OrcID]. A Review of the In Vivo Evidence Investigating the Role of Nitrite Exposure from Processed Meat Consumption in the Development of Colorectal Cancer Nutrients 11(11):2673. 5 November 2019.

Further Information

For further information or to request an interview one of the research team, please contact IGFS Communications Officer Una Bradley on  or +44 (0)28 9097 6571; / +44 (0)7920 088450. The IGFS meta-analysis was funded by Invest NI through the Agri-Food Quest Competence Centre, which links scientific researchers with industry partners for research projects. The industry partners in this study were: Karro, Cranswick and Finnebrogue Artisan



Autism-Related Genetic Mutations Occur in Ageing Brains of Alzheimer's Patients          

Significant overlap found between Alzheimer's-related mutations and those producing autism and related intellectual disabilities, TAU researchers say.

Researchers believe that autism is caused by mutations that occur sporadically in the egg or sperm or during pregnancy. Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) is a dominant gene whose de novo (during pregnancy) mutations are known to cause autism-related intellectual disabilities. A new Tel Aviv University study has found that ADNP mutations continue to occur in old age and accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients.

The study was led by Prof. Illana Gozes and conducted by her PhD students Yanina Ivashko-Pachima and Adva Hadar, in collaboration with Iris Grigg, Oxana Kapitansky and Gidon Karmon. Hadar was co-supervised by co-author Prof. David Gurwitz of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Collaborating laboratories included those of Vlasta Korenková (BIOCEV, Czech Republic), Michael Gershovits (Weizmann Institute of Science), C. Laura Sayas (Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain), R. Frank Kooy (University of Antwerp, Belgium) and Johannes Attems (Newcastle University, UK). It was published on October 30 in Molecular Psychiatry.[1]

Prof Gozes is the first incumbent of the Lily and Avraham Gildor Chair for the Investigation of Growth Factors, head of the Elton Laboratory for Molecular Neuroendocrinology at TAU's Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Sackler Faculty of Medicine and a member of TAU's Adams Super Center for Brain Studies and the Sagol School of Neuroscience.

"We discovered thousands of mutations in aging human brains, especially in the individual Alzheimer's brains," explains Prof Gozes. "We were surprised to find a significant overlap in Alzheimer's genes undergoing mutations with genes that impact autism, intellectual disability and mechanisms associated with the cell skeleton/transport system health. Importantly, the cell skeleton/transport system includes the protein Tau, one of the major proteins affected in Alzheimer's disease, which form the toxic neurofibrillary tangles."

The protein ADNP was first discovered in Prof. Gozes's laboratory at TAU 20 years ago. Post-mortem studies have indicated that it undergoes mutations in the ageing Alzheimer's brain.

"Brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease may begin 20 or more years before any symptoms appear," adds Prof. Gozes. "As neuronal damage increases, the brain can no longer compensate for the changes, and individuals show cognitive decline. Currently, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's occurs when the brain damage of individual patients is already widespread, so that current drugs can at most offer symptomatic relief. But they provide no cure."

In their new study, Prof Gozes and her group propose a paradigm-shifting concept in the understanding of Alzheimer's disease. According to the research, accumulating mosaic somatic mutations – uninherited genetic alterations passed on during cell division – promote brain pathology. This could provide an avenue toward developing new diagnostic measures and therapies.

Through a complete sequencing of protein encoding DNA (a technique called RNA-sequencing) and further bioinformatics analysis, the team identified thousands of mutations in the ageing Alzheimer's brain. Further sophisticated cell cultures and live cell imaging technologies allowed for the identification of protective molecules that could serve as potential drug candidates.

"We found in cell cultures that the ADNP-derived snippet, the drug candidate NAP, inhibited mutated-ADNP toxicity and enhanced the healthy function of Tau, a key brain protein involved in Alzheimer's disease and other brain diseases," says Prof Gozes. "We hope that new diagnostics and treatment modes will be developed based on our discoveries."

The study was partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation, AMN Foundation, ERA-NET Neuron, Alicia Koplowitz Foundation, Spanish Friends of Tel Aviv University, Anne and Alex Cohen, Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University, and Drs Ronith and Armand Stemmer, French Friends of Tel Aviv University. Additional support included UK, Czech, Spanish and EU grants to the international collaborators.

The use of ADNP and related mutations for Alzheimer's diagnosis and for ADNP-related peptide/peptide mimetics AD/ASD treatment is under patent protection (I. Gozes, A. Hadar, Y. Ivashko-Pachima). Prof. Gozes also serves as the chief scientific officer of Coronis Neurosciences, a company developing NAP (CP201) for the treatment of ADNP syndrome, the autism spectrum disorder.


1. Vashko-Pachima, Y., Hadar, A., Grigg, I. et al. Discovery of autism/intellectual disability somatic mutations in Alzheimer's brains: mutated ADNP cytoskeletal impairments and repair as a case study. Mol Psychiatry 30 October 2019.

Contact and Further Information

George Hunka, Communications Manager, American Friends of Tel Aviv University Tel: 212.742.9070, ext. 117

Jordan Isenstadt, Marino. Tel: 212.402.3510


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