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Letters to the Editor Issue 132

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listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 132 - February 2007

The Real Reason Flu Hits In Winter – And How To Stop It Naturally

Second Opinion Health Alert by Robert Jay Rowen MD

For decades we’ve heard the myth that flu strikes in winter because of the colder weather. But numerous studies have all debunked that theory. Studies have shown that flu hits the tropics in their ‘winter’ when it’s still quite warm (usually during the rainy season).

No, there’s another reason flu hits in winter. And it gives you an easy way to stop the flu before it hits. And it doesn’t involve getting a flu shot.

We already know that our bodies produce a lot less vitamin D during the winter. But is it possible the reduced vitamin D levels in winter contribute to the flu?

The evidence is there. Years ago, an observant British general practitioner, R Edgar Hope-Simpson, connected influenza epidemics in the northern hemisphere with winter solstice. So, flu hits right when vitamin D levels begin to plummet. Conventional medicine has largely ignored his work, until now.

Just this year, two major medical journals released a report written by Dr John Cannell, a California psychiatrist at the Atascadero State Hospital in California. This is a maximum security facility for the criminally insane. In his report, Dr Cannell noted that wards all around his got hit hard with a severe flu-like outbreak in April 2005. None of his 32 patients caught the flu – even after they mingled with infected inmates from other wards.

Dr Cannell wondered why his ward avoided the flu when it hit all the others. He soon realized it was the high doses of vitamin D he prescribed to all the men on his ward. He had found that his patients, like most other people in the industrial world, had a deficiency. (He must be one of the very few psychiatrists that pays attention to nutrition!) His efforts to correct the deficiency boosted their immune system and completely protected them from the flu.

Why does it work? Science recently discovered that vitamin D stimulates your white blood cells to make a substance called cathelicidin. Researchers haven’t studied this chemical on the flu virus yet, but they have previously reported that it attacks a wide variety of pathogens. These include fungi, viruses, bacteria, and even tuberculosis.

So, it turns out that my suggestions for you to have your vitamin D levels checked this time of year were right on target. But now, armed with this new information, I don’t even think it’s necessary to spend the money on a test. Vitamin D is cheap. And it stimulates your body to make what might be the ultimate antibiotic! One with no toxicity at all and only kills those organisms invading you (not your own cells).
Arm yourself with the incredible protection of vitamin D. Get sunlight when you can. Just be sure not to burn. If you are mostly indoors, I strongly suggest that you add vitamin D to your daily regimen. I recommend 5,000 IU per day. I see no downside to this dose, especially in the winter months!

Dr Robert Jay Rowen MD
FASEB Journal July 2006; Epidemiology and Infection, online, December 2006.
Source: Chris Gupta

Comments Re: Lack of Vitamin D – The Real Reason Flu Hits In Winter

I’m also very impressed with the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation, but I understand there are caveats. If you get too much, the consequences are serious. Krispin Sullivan, CN, has been researching vitamin D for years and has written a book, Naked at Noon, that is just about to be published. She has found that, while many people are very vitamin D deficient, some are not, and supplementation for those that are not deficient disturbs calcium metabolism, and can be very dangerous. Dr Mercola was also very enthusiastic about vitamin D supplementation. However, through personal experience, he discovered it’s easy to get too much, both from cod liver oil and from supplementation. Mercola is now very clear that testing is critical if you want to reap the benefits of vitamin D supplementation. Krispin lives in California, where people get varying amounts of sun. Mercola lives in Chicago, where there is practically no UVB in the winter. Most of his patients were severely deficient, and for awhile he was recommending high dosages for everybody. Then he found his own blood levels of D skyrocketed when he went south to the sun after doing long term cod liver oil supplementation. How much sun you get is critical, and how much UVB is in the sun you get is also critical. Another factor is the colour of your skin. Dark skinned people need 10 times more sun to make vitamin D, so are almost always deficient if they live out of the tropics. Each person’s situation is different. The upshot is, for supplementation higher than 800-1000 iu, testing is critical! Sullivan’s web article, Miracle of Vitamin D, and the website excerpt below give some idea of the complexity of the subject and how to supplement safely.
    Adeha Feustel

I have received a brief reply from my colleague and include it below. I’d like to add a few thoughts here as well. While in an ideal world it would be good that everyone could get tested for vitamin D deficiency or overdose, given current circumstances regarding widespread low income levels and lack of medical care among much of the population, I doubt that is a realistic short-term goal at this point in time. I will maintain that quite significant evidence is emerging that favours safe supplementation of vitamin D3, at least at the 2000 IU level. There seems to be plentiful literature to support this. The product is quite inexpensive and could have a major public health impact. Again, in an ideal world it would be wonderful to ingest cod liver oil as opposed to what Chris has mentioned as a ‘synthetic’ source. I have several thoughts about that: first, many people cannot afford the expense of cod liver oil; second, many are under time pressure in their lives and would find it more convenient to take it as a pill supplement (likely to contain a synthetic D3); third, levels of cod stocks in the ocean are under depletion pressure, and it is not realistic to think that large numbers of the public can be sustained by cod liver oil for their source of optimum vitamin D levels over the long term. The benefits to the public sector in decreased respiratory disease incidence alone, would warrant consideration of higher levels of vitamin D supplementation. It would result in lowering of lost work and school days. And the overall benefits in good health for low-income infants and children could be astounding over the long term. In my personal opinion, I now rate supplementation of vitamin D at the same level of importance as that of vitamin C. I am seeing a better level of protection against life’s assaults in my own life, since taking 2000 IU per day. And I have got sun exposure for years since I do organic growing. Without a doubt, continuing research at the molecular level will continue to provide abundant material for using it in Orthomolecular medicine, to ameliorate a number of disease conditions. For these reasons, I was disappointed to see doubts cast about above-800 IU dosing levels, to a widespread audience. While the discussion is important, it deserves more input and clarification, so as not to imply to the readership that there is only one viewpoint on this matter. There are a number of scientists behind the scenes, that have dedicated themselves to helping prove nutritional approaches to good health, and it seems the current effort surrounding vitamin D is one of the more successful examples of this. We are all working for the same goal, good health for as many as possible. 

Please note location in southeastern US, where there is high sunlight level

In the interests of remaining anonymous, I would prefer simply to state that the research is primarily being conducted in the southeastern US, although we do have a multi-site study starting up with one site in NY. When we evaluate deficiency rates, we do so separately for Caucasian, Hispanic, and African-American participants, and power our studies to achieve respectable precision regardless of ethnicity. In our location, the deficiency range is approximately 30% among Caucasians, upwards of 60% among Hispanics, and nearly 90% among African-Americans, averaged over season. We have supplemented in clinical trials with 2000 IU/day, 4000 IU/day, and 6000 IU/day with no indication of toxicity as measured by urinary calcium:creatinine ratio, serum calcium, and so forth.    

I’d love to know where the researcher who responded to Char is conducting research. I have this theory that the differences are resulting from the latitude people are testing, that is, how much sun their patients are getting. Krispin is getting southern Ca. folks, who may have a lot of sun or protecting themselves from sun. Half of the 2000 patients Mercola had tested in Chicago were deficient, and he himself only ran into overdose problems when he got subtropical sun after high dose cod liver oil. Those two would never be combined in nature. Another critical factor will be what percentage of the people tested are dark skinned?   
Adeha Feustel

Good to hear from you Char, and thanks for the feedback. Have cc’d to Krispin Sullivan for a response, my own view is that supplementing from a good quality cod liver oil (one’s that are not spiked with synthetic vitamins) is unlikely to cause problems. Further given the widespread deficiency it is unlikely one could overdose particularly in Northern winter and especially if one is dark skinned. Although being a fat soluble vitamin at least an occasional test should a good idea.
Chris Gupta

Thank you for helping to raise awareness of vitamin D supplementation issues. I was however concerned about Krispin Sullivan’s recommendation that people should not take above 800 IU per day without testing, because I now take 2000 IU per day with no testing. I made this decision a few months ago, after reviewing some of the literature indicating such a level would be safe. I personally know someone professionally involved with current vitamin D research, and I forwarded the information from the email about Krispin’s info and book to that person, asking for a response. I also looked at the sample chapter and references from Krispin’s upcoming book. While being unsure when she wrote the book, there were only 2 journal references from 2003 in that sample chapter. Performing a search at PubMed on just one of the major vitamin D researchers’ names (Holick MF), shows that name listed in 16 citations from 2003 alone, and 56 additional cites from 2004-present. Indeed, there seems to be research pouring out which indicates widespread benefit and safety at supplementation levels higher than 800 IU. Further, there is more research coming out showing that AMPs (anti-microbial peptides) are produced in the body once vitamin D has been ingested. This will be of interest to anyone concerned about the recent emergence of resistant bacteria and viruses.  

Source: Chris Gupta

Statins and Vitamin D Deficiency

Duane Graveline MD MPH
In my book, Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol, and on this website I have discussed the vital role of cholesterol in the human body. Our most important hormones depend upon adequate reserves of cholesterol for their production and nowhere is this more important than as the precursor substance for the synthesis of Vitamin D, know also as calcitrol.

Researchers in this field are sufficiently concerned from the results of their studies to pronounce that we are in the midst of an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency of immense proportion. Study after study of nursing home populations, of nursing mothers, of healthy male and female volunteers and of various children’s groups have consistently documented how relatively rare it is to have optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Some authorities support more liberal dietary supplementation of Vitamin D in our foodstuff. Others are urging that practical new approaches for vitamin D repletion in our country are urgently needed. This high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, even in those taking multivitamins, indicates that a critical review of vitamin D needs is a major priority.

A vitamin D precursor is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol in response to absorbing UVB rays. It then gets converted in the liver to an intermediate form. In the kidneys it joins with an important enzyme for conversion into its active hormonal form.

Many factors potentially interfere with the UVB conversion. People having darker skins are much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The aged skin of the elderly impairs cholesterol conversion as does the presence of obesity. Our present day emphasis on protecting our skin from the sun, using sun-screens and blockers, also cuts down on the ability of UVB to convert cholesterol to vitamin D. Last but not least, one needs UVB exposure.

Without any sun exposure you need about 4,000 units of vitamin D a day. In the absence of other supplements you would need 40 glasses of milk or ten multi-vitamins capsules daily to supply your vitamin D needs. Most of us make about 20,000 units of vitamin D after 20 minutes of summer sun due to UVB conversion of cholesterol. Numerous studies document that the majority of our society falls short of meeting either their dietary of UVB conversion needs for vitamin D.

Now consider the impact of statin drugs on a society already overburdened with an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Cholesterol must be available in our bodies in amounts sufficient to allow UVB conversion to vitamin D. We are all genetically blessed with a ‘natural level’ of cholesterol. What is natural for one person may be completely inadequate for another. Into this heterogeneous pool we dump statins indiscriminately in a misguided attempt to bring everyone’s natural level of cholesterol down to some artificially low level. Need I add that eight of the nine people making the 2004 cholesterol guidelines were subsidized one way or another by the statin drug manufacturer?

I cannot think of anything more likely to aggravate our already immense, vitamin D deficient state. There is little doubt that the availability of statins drugs these past two decades has made a major contribution to this problem.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
Statin Drugs Side Effects is available from
Duane Graveline MD MPH Tel: 001 321-453-7297
Chris Gupta:
Further Information
Bad News About Statin Drugs:

Raw Milk Seizure in Canada

The incident has widespread implications, not only for the raw milk movement but for the basic right to farm, and the outcome could affect America and other nations as well as Canada.

On Tuesday, November 21 2006, Glencolton Farms in Durham, Ontario, Canada was raided by agents of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Health. The proprietor of Glencolton Farms, Michael Schmidt, has operated a cow-share program without incident for the past eleven years. (

On the morning of November 21, Michael loaded up the vehicle that carries his goods into Toronto – the famous Blue Bus that arrives at the Toronto Waldorf School every Tuesday. There, the shareholders line up to receive the products of their cows. But as Michael drove out of the laneway, the bus was surrounded by a swarm of armed Ministry of Natural Resources officers approaching from all sides. They presented Michael with a search warrant and, for the next seven and a half hours, the investigators searched, questioned and confiscated.

The six individuals who live and/or work on the Farm were ordered to stay in the kitchen. Visits to other areas of the house or outdoors had to be conducted accompanied by an officer. Two investigators from the Ministry of Finance also arrived and spent several hours in the office, eventually leaving with one computer hard drive, its monitor and keyboard, back-up CDs and boxes of paper files.

The investigating officers were very polite, respectful and, somewhat  surprised, it seemed, at the farm crew’s friendliness and cooperation. Michael and his son Markus filmed much of their activities. Every bottle of milk, cultured milk, quark, cream and sour cream, along with fresh cheese, that had been put on the bus was confiscated… and then dumped into a local landfill site in the contaminated substances area! The farm’s cheese-making and other dairy equipment was completely dismantled and carted off.

On Thursday, two days after the raid, Michael Schmidt publicly vowed to continue distributing raw milk products and announced that he had begun a hunger strike to back his demand that the provincial government stop interfering with the business. Schmidt, 51, told the gathering of press, supporters and interested individuals, held at his family farm northeast of Durham, that he will live on one glass of milk a day until his milk processing equipment is returned. He also wants the province to compensate the 150 families he supplies with raw milk products for their loss when their food was seized. He’s also demanding the province’s assurance that it will not interfere in his unpasteurized milk operation until or unless the matter is resolved in court or in the provincial legislature.

“Eleven and a half years ago, when I asked (the government) for co-operation in researching the raw milk issue and they turned me down, I said I would go ahead alone and if (they) interfered again with legal action I would go on a hunger strike… I’m simply following up on what I had promised at that time,” he said.

According to Schmidt, the government has been fabricating stories that linked milk products from his farm to two cases of sick children last summer. He said that it was common knowledge that they had become sick from eating tainted hamburger meat. The family was unknown to Schmidt, were not members of his cow share program and did not consume his unpasteurized milk.

Bill Murdoch, Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in Ontario where Glencolton is located, has expressed outrage at the strong-armed tactics used against the Schmidt farm. He plans to introduce a private member’s resolution on December 7, calling for an all-party task force to look into the issues surrounding legalized sale of unpasteurized milk.

Thus, while the actions taken against Schmidt were inexcusable, this situation actually presents a golden opportunity for positive change in Canada, even perhaps legislation to legalize the direct sale of raw milk.
Action To Take
Please write letters of outrage
and protest. We ask all members, but especially Canadian members, to contact the individuals listed on the website below. Canadian members should write a letter and fax it as well as send it through the post as this carries much more weight than an email. US members should send emails, or have any Canadian friends or relatives send your letter for you from a Canadian address or fax.

Please stress the following points:
A.    Ask for the immediate return of Michael Schmidt’s property and compensation for the cow share holders so that this folk hero may end his hunger strike;
B.    This is an issue of freedom of choice and the right to farm;
C.    The Canadian constitution ensures the right of conscience and religion;
D.    Describe how the consumption of raw milk has helped you and your family;
E.    Remind them that good science shows that raw milk is safe.
F.    Finally, urge them to end the harassment of small farmers and to take action to legalize the provision of raw milk through direct sales or cow-share programs.

Further Information

For updates, contacts and further details, visit
Source: Chris Gupta

Comments re Carrots and Cancer by Dr Gerson Machado PhD
I would like to comment on premium Baccharis dracunculifolia Brazilian propolis supplementation, with the note that I distribute the only brand that is extensively used by MDs around the world, Pharmanectar. This is not a part of the Gerson protocol. Propolis is a millennia-old natural food produced by bees from the buds of plants and composed by a mixture of wax and resins showing a variety of colours and consistence. Traditional use of Brazilian green propolis in Brazil and Japan has initiated a series of scientific investigations in both countries regarding its biological and pharmacological activities, there are over 2000+ peer reviewed papers on propolis activity worldwide. Brazil and Japan represent together 26% of the world’s scientific production on propolis. Many studies have proven propolis’ effectiveness in fighting viruses, bacteria (including MRSA), fungi (including the causative organisms of thrush, ringworm and athlete’s foot), and protozoa (including Giardia), and as an anti-inflammatory agent.

A range of other properties are constantly being identified, including anticancer effects, antioxidant effects, wound healing and tissue repair effects, gastro-intestinal effects, skin infection effects, anti-inflammatory effects, anaesthetic effects, effects on the immune system, cardiovascular effects and dental care effects. In Brazil and Japan Baccharis propolis is used to support chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients but also in the biological therapy of cancer. I am co-author on a paper to appear shortly (about Jan) in the International Journal of Cancer Research entitled Biological Therapy using Propolis as Nutritional Supplement in Cancer Treatment. Baccharis dracunculifolia is also the strongest arrester of dioxins known to mankind today – see below a table comparing how many times stronger than carrots and other fruits and vegetables it is.

Reference and Further Information

Yong K Park et al. Suppressive Effects of Ethanolic Extracts from Propolis and Its Main Botanical Origin on Dioxin Toxicity. J Agric. Food Chem. 53 (26): 10306-10309. 2005.

Dr Gerson Machado PhD Tel: +44 (0)7766662552;
PS. No I’m not a relative of Dr Gerson even though he lived for a while in Brazil!
Chris Gupta


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