The Tree of Life – A Healthy Reframing

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and various fraction branches), The Book of Mormon contains many important themes, primarily the process of coming to Christ. In the early part of the book, there is a story told by one of the prominent characters named Nephi about a dream called The Tree of Life. On October 6th, 2019, Church leader Neil Anderson described the importance of the Tree of Life dream in a conference talk aired to Church members worldwide. In his talk, Anderson spoke critically of distracting voices and portrayed the Tree of Life dream from a church-obedient perspective. I want to offer what I feel is a healthier perspective for believing and nonbelieving Mormons.

Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life dream describes a path leading to a beautiful tree with highly desirable fruit. For those along the path, arrival at the anticipated destination is ensured by holding firmly to a rod of iron. Grasping the rod is significant since the path is occluded by a mist of darkness. In the dream, some lose hold of the rod by listening to the shaming voices of individuals in a large and spacious building who mock those who travel along the path (1 Nephi 8, Book of Mormon).

In the Book of Mormon, the iron rod is interpreted as “the word of God” (1 Nephi 11:25, Book of Mormon). While not mentioned implicitly, many Church leaders have taught this is the equivalent of following the prophet, because the word of God is found in the scriptures, and the scriptures are superseded by the words of the living Prophet (Nelson, 2009). Not all agree with this interpretation. Some have suggested the rod of iron is best interpreted as personal revelation (Cook, 2018; Pontius, 2002). This uncommon reframing of this symbol yields healthy perspectives in contrast to Anderson’s views.

Elder Neil Anderson accurately describes the symbolic representation of the tree, as interpreted in the Book of Mormon; the tree represents the love of God. Anderson takes creative license and adds the following additional interpretations including the fruit of the tree is synonymous with ordinances of the Church, contemptuous individuals are mocking followers of Christ, holding the iron rod means obedience to commandments, assailants in the building are the construction crews of Satan who operate with “Internet megaphones”, and more.

Anderson’s perspective is not entirely new. An obedience-oriented interpretation is straightforward. It provides a framework for strict adherence to church leaders, creates an othering strategy to dissuade individuals from listening to nonapproved sources, and provides value for an open canon (i.e., living prophets). However, this approach severely minimizes the experience of hundreds of thousands of Mormons whose experiences are not simple. These experiences include sexual orientation and identity differences (LGBTQ+), non-nuclear family formats, differing spiritual beliefs, and a broad diversity of cultural backgrounds.

In contrast, the Book of Mormon defines the fruit of the tree as the love of God (1 Nephi 11:22, Book of Mormon). If the destination of the path doesn’t lead to God’s love, or one’s experience of God’s love is not a part of self-love with the divine, it may not be a path worth celebrating. Isn’t God’s grace and unconditional love the fruit by which we know Him (Matthew 7:16, King James Version).

If, however, the iron rod is epitomized as personal revelation, the application of the dream becomes adaptive for both observing and transitioning Mormons. Instead of Anderson’s description of the rod being strict orthodoxy, individuals create a pathway to the divine (the tree) by establishing a personal relationship to God in a way meaningful to them. This substitutes the buildings naysayers from nefarious anti-Mormons to individuals who openly resist others who claim spiritual sovereignty. This approach creates space for a broad spectrum of spiritual experiences. It reinterprets the relationship with God (and one’s spiritual journey) as a personal experience of growth thwarted by ignorance instead of obstructed by questioning. It replaces being lost from “rebellion to authority” with a traumatic response to shame.

I know this perspective is threatening for some believing Mormons. It suggests there is more than one path to the symbolic tree and proposes the building of detractors could be insiders of the faith. This interpretation wouldn’t be untimely. In the dream, the building is described as ornate, and its occupants are dressed to the nines (1 Nephi 8:29, Book of Mormon). Critics of the Church suggest many presentations of the Church and its members match this description. According to the dream, the outcome of the building’s occupant’s criticism results in path-seekers falling away and becoming lost. There is nothing more lost than disconnecting from one’s own journey to God (or whatever that is for them) whether they are a faithful member or not. If the fruit of the tree is, according to the Book of Mormon, the most precious above all, the product of the journey along the path, with the rod, must be more than church ritual. This path must include the unique diversity of a plan tailored for an individual by way of personal revelation. Wouldn’t a loving Creator want nothing more?

References:

Elder Neil L. Andersen – The Tree of Life [Video file]. (2019, October). Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/general-conference/2019/10/media/6092742593001?lang=eng

Cook, J. (2018, December 5th). Nephi’s iron rod may not be what you think it is. Retrieved from https://bycommonconsent.com/2018/12/05/nephis-iron-rod-may-not-be-what-you-think-it-is/

Pontius, J. M. (2002). Following the Light of Christ Into His Presence. Cedar Fort.

Nelson, Z. (2009). The Rod of Iron in Lehi’s Dream. Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel10(3), 5.

How Institutional Organizations Create Mental Health Disorder Milieu

Various institutional and organizational systems create community by connecting the needs of its members to an agenda. While nefarious motives are rare, social patterns and self-interests of institutional benefactors often evolve by harboring and cultivating conditions where mental health disorders flourish. Left unchecked, group members may be psychologically abused (or used) by the organization originally created to help them.

1798 — by William Holland — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

There are many types of organizations, clubs, churches, corporations, schools to name a few. Healthy organizations establish mission statements where their purpose is well defined. Benefits from the organization help advance and foster healthy people. Institutions altruistic attitudes become eclipsed when codependent patterns emerge. For example, what happens when the membership composed of an anxious or depressed population finds mood regulation solutions in the aggrandizement of church leadership. In this case, the member becomes subject to messaging and hidden agenda’s that imprison the member in their emotional struggle. I’m my opinion, this creates situations where unhealthy institutions cultivate environments that attract and keep suffering, instead of encouraging vigor and growth.

Maybe the following three ideas would help reduce the harm on people. First, organizational leaders should educate themselves on psychological challenges including abuse, emotional dysregulation, trauma, other disorders. Second, it may be helpful to view membership as a transition between the various stages of development. This approach is widely accepted in educational systems, but not often sanctioned in clubs or churches. Lastly, transparency in policy and practices (especially in larger organizations) would contribute toward a greater awareness of problematic areas.

Just a few thoughts, curious what you’ve experienced or observed.

Benefits of Magical Thinking

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the backbone of psychiatric assessment and diagnosis (American Psychiatric Association, 2014).  In addition to offering a common set of diagnostic language and classification for various health providers, the DSM-5 provides clear and concise diagnostic criteria for dozens of various mental health conditions.

Magical Thinking

Many of these disorders contain a diagnostic criterion labeled “magical thinking.”  This feature is often seen in various situations including schizotypal personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and others.  In these situations, the individual may experience mystical or superstitious thoughts about themselves or others.  Such thinking is often thought of as harmful because these thoughts contribute toward maladaptive behaviors.  However, not all research supports these judgments (Damisch, Stoberock & Mussweier, 2010).

Children are powerful teachers.  One culturally accepted example is the fascination with fictitious characters such as Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny.  Most parents and children celebrate these pseudepigraphal figures into normal childhood development in healthy ways.  These beliefs and attitudes promote social bonding, create positive feelings and foster healthy development.  Maybe the words of Jesus as recorded in the Bible suggest that becoming childlike also includes being open to intangible and potential and possibilities in childlike ways.  There is the power in dreaming; to me, this feels healthy and powerful.

In religious circles, various spiritual traditions promote prayer and healing.  Sometimes these beliefs are challenged as scientifically unprovable. However, scientists cannot ignore the power of the placebo.  Individuals experience genuine miracles with significant results based in “magical thinking”.  These changes are so tangible that Eastern spiritual philosophy is now integrated into western medicine in the form of mindfulness.  Many spiritual believers and objective observers affirm these perceptions promote well-being and an increase in social, physical, and mental performance.  Interestedly, some researchers suggest that even extremely dysfunctional psychopathology (such as schizophrenia that can include auditory hallucinations) may merely be an unhealed expression of an emerging spiritual gift, instead of a dysfunctional neurological psychosis (Richardson, 2018).

Of course, like anything, “magical thinking” can be harmful.  However, I propose in many cases, what may be cultural objectionable to some, is part of our strength, and is very real.  These may include beliefs in a higher power, eccentric beliefs, unique spiritual gifts, and are exactly what we need to become our best self.  Some therapeutic models such as solution-focused or brief therapy include a miracle question, helping an individual to explore the reality of a miracle in their life.  We cannot discount the power and positive benefits of “magical thinking”.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.

Damisch, L., Stoberock, B., & Mussweiler, T. (2010). Keep your fingers crossed! How superstition improves performance. Psychological Science21(7), 1014-1020.

Richardson, P. S. (2018). The Misunderstanding between Schizophrenia and Clairaudience.

Men’s Fear in the Workplace of the MeToo Movement

In a recent article in the New York Post, columnist Rob Bailey-Millado describes how some employers are reluctant to engage female employees for fear of reprisal. This is an interesting observation because it puts a spotlight on what I feel is an unhealthy response to women’s equality and abuse in the workforce in the United States.

Here we are a year later, after the #MeToo movement burst open stories of abusive professional relationships where women were subjected to inappropriate treatment by male authority figures, often employers. This new transparency is helpful for abused women, who find themselves in the situation of confronting their abuser or reliving their trauma.

I’m not surprised male employers would feel challenged to engage their female employees. However, I see this as an opportunity for male business owners and managers to treat women with equality and respect. This means to honor and respect their boundaries, and treat them in a way that they deserve because they are powerful human beings with a great deal to contribute. The result of this affirming attitude toward women will, eventually, create acceptance by all.

Interviews are not a Contributor for Healthy Mormon Children

(Image retrieved from lds.org)

I’m a Mormon and an advocate for marginalized communities and children. As a graduate student in the mental health field, I’m interested in how institutional policies affect individuals, especially in the context of cultural traditions.

In a recent opinion article published in the Deseret News (a paper owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), BYU professor and church employee David Dollahite commented against the recent “Protect LDS Children” movement lead by Sam Young. Dollahite is an active church member and former LDS bishop. Dollahite currently teaches marriage and family life classes at BYU. Young is also an active LDS church member and former bishop. Young is petitioning the LDS church to change a long-standing policy where LDS bishops conduct one-on-one interviews behind closed doors and ask sexually explicit questions.

While I respect the dialog, I take exception to Dollahite’s arguments and feel impressed to comment on his article.

Dollahite suggests research supports the current LDS interview policy. Dollahite correctly cites Kenda Creasy Dean who says Mormon teens were ”the least likely to engage in high-risk behavior and consistently were the most positive, healthy, hopeful and self-aware teenagers” (Dean, 2010, p. 20). However, Dean does not conclude this was a result of one-on-one interviews. In fact, she suggests positive Mormon-youth outcomes stem from high-level religious observance, religious vitality, and spiritual congruence between beliefs and practice. What Dollahite is doing is taking a correlative factor and implying causation. Dean also cites several other Mormon practices including family devotion (family home evening), ritual service, peer accountability, goal oriented orthodoxy, and religious education (seminary) as key influences (Dean, 2010, p 52). Dollahite correctly mentions Dean’s opinion that non-parental role modeling is a positive contributor for Mormon youth. However, most role leader-to-youth modeling is performed in a public setting with a diverse set of adults.  Healthy role modeling does not occur in private settings with a man. In short, while research suggests Mormon social practices are adaptive, this study doesn’t conclude the results come from LDS interview policies.

Dollahite also references a study where at-risk youths who participated in mentoring programs experienced less depressive symptoms, had greater acceptance among peers and experienced higher levels of positive experiences at school (Herrera & DuBois and Grossman, 2013). While this study speaks highly of one-on-one mentoring, it says nothing about one-on-one interviews behind closed doors involving sexually explicit questions. Furthermore, the authors express their inability to describe how this process works, suggesting uncontrolled factors were not isolated (Herrera & DuBois and Grossman, 2013). Also, the authors remark the study is problematic due to self-reported exaggerations and a lack of emotional disclosure. Dollahite’s confidence in drawing conclusions from this study are misleading and potentially unethical.

Dollahite also references an article in The Atlantic where the professor of psychology Jean Twenge says social media caused depression is reduced when youth attend religious services (Twenge, 2017). However, Twenge also says depressive symptoms were also reduced when youth participated in sports. Twenge is not suggesting one-on-one interviews behind a closed door with an older man with no training in human psychology and sexuality while asking sexually explicit questions is a factor, nor should Mr. Dohaite.

Dollahite suggests violations of ecclesiastical trust are uncommon and rare. I agree that the vast majority of LDS bishops are good men with no ill intent toward the children in their stewardship. However, all youth (especially girls, and minorities) are inadvertently taught grooming behaviors through current LDS interview practices. Even if the bishop is not a sexual predator, the impact to children creates psychological heuristics to trust authority figures without protective boundaries afforded boy scouts, tithing receipts, primary age children, and young women at girls camp. Such grooming practice results in adolescents or adults granting trust to potential victimizers in situations as demonstrated in the 1984 rape of an adult female LDS missionary while in the LDS missionary training center (MTC), in similar interviews with an authority figure and MTC President Joseph Bishop.

Dollahite says recent church policy changes have taken steps to ensure the protection of youth. While these baby steps are positive, they do not add anything substantial to previous policies. Bishops are not required to have another adult present, and an adult “nearby” doesn’t constitute safety. Can you imagine the outrage if LDS scouting policies allowed for a boy scout leader to sleep in the tent with a young boy, even if another adult was in an adjacent tent?

I agree with Dollahite that religious standards are healthy for most LDS youth. What Young is asking for is the end of one-on-one interviews, not a change in moral standards. Bishops are not trained in human development or psychology. Also, LDS Bishops do not understand, nor are they trained in trauma, abuse, or the complex nature of human sexuality.

Dollahite says the value of the priest-penitent relationship is valued in society. The vast majority of the supporting evidence contributing to social support for what Dollahite says is “candid and confidential conversations” comes from ecclesiastical leaders who have been trained and certified in pastoral counseling. This may be why no other mainstream religious organization conducts worthiness interviews or asks questions of their minors in the manner the LDS church practices.

Dollahite suggests there is no substitute for confidential conversations and counsel. While I agree parishioner confidentiality is important, the current LDS handbook of instructions for bishops enumerates allowances for breach of confidentiality, and do not include informed consent regarding how confidentiality is practiced (as if a minor can provide consent).  This lack of pastoral care confidentiality standard creates an augmented unsafe environment for victims of abuse, individuals struggling with mental health disorders, and complicates social shaming dynamics in lay membership models.

Other religious institutions (like the Catholic church) have navigated many of these same situations in years past.  Author John Cornwell, describe the horrific practices that occurred in the confessional by Catholic church leaders who didn’t understand how “shame heaped upon the laity caused incalculable and unnecessary suffering” (Cornwell, 2014). Other researchers note historical attitudes in Mormon attitudes toward human sexual behaviors are deeply problematic (Malan & Bullough, 2005). Should we be asking how many of these cultural viewpoints are influencing private conversations behind closed doors?

Dollahite fails to connect any evidence that one-on-one interviews with untrained bishops asking sexually explicit questions are connected to Mormon youth satisfaction and positive behaviors. While we agree Mormon youth success stories exist, we may disagree that private one-on-one interviews are required for healthy psychosexual and spiritual development for youth. Respectfully, Dollahite’s belief in the reliability of LDS confessional neglects the reality of real-life situations experienced by thousands of LDS children.  I support Young, we should focus on creating safety for youth and children, so bishops can do their job in helping augment the goals of parents in the spiritual development of our children.

References:

Cornwell, J. (2014). The dark box: a secret history of confession. Basic Books (AZ).

Dean, K. C. (2010). Almost Christian: What the faith of our teenagers is telling the American church. Oxford University Press.

Herrera, C., DuBois, D. L., & Grossman, J. B. (2013). The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles. MDRC.

Jean M. Twenge. (2017, August 3). Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

Malan, M. K., & Bullough, V. (2005). Historical development of new mas…tion attitudes in Mormon culture: Silence, secular conformity, counterrevolution, and emerging reform. Sexuality and Culture, 9(4), 80-127.

The Power of the Placebo

placebo-effect-one-a-day

The placebo effect is a very interesting bane in scientific research. It cannot be easily dismissed, nor can it be readily explained. Yet it is a factor in clinical research, and scientists must deal with it scientifically as an abnormality. The real question is the placebo the only actionable method of action at work, or is the procedure, drug or chemical being tested (the alternative hypothesis) actually “doing something”. Should we have research that accepts where the placebo is scientifically effective, and where it isn’t?

Scientists rarely study the placebo effect, because it can be problematic to isolate variables. In addition, allopathic medicine tends to think of the placebo effect as a negative factor. Researchers and doctors could accept it as a viable and ethical factor to healing if fully disclosed. That is to say is there enough evidence to warrant using the good side of the placebo, scientifically, to improve the quality of care and treatment?

Placebo effects have been shown to be less of a factor in some disease states such as cancer (Chvetzoff & Tannock, 2003) or infection, and more of a factor in things like pain management (Hunter, 2007). If the placebo effect is a tool for healing, is there justification to use it when it has been proven to work?

One of the most profound discoveries on the strength of the placebo effect was a study using Novocaine from dentists (citation pending). These dentists were given a placebo and told to administer it as Novocaine to their patients. Even though the doctors didn’t do anything different in administering the placebo the effect the placebo was, as you would expect, very low. However, when the doctors were given blinded placebo, not knowing if they were giving real Novocaine or the placebo, the placebo rates went up statistically higher. Somehow, patients felt that they were getting the real thing, and the only change was the doctors were blinded. But the most profound aspect of this study came from looking at the doctors were all given a placebo, and told it was real Novocaine. The rate of agonistic effect was very high. In other words, for some reason, doctors were able to transfer the belief that the treatment would reduce pain. If they believed it, so did their patients.

Is it possible then to realize that there is value in the placebo effect? Should “above the board” disclosure include the use of clinical situations that contribute to areas where a placebo effect is a part of the treatment? Where do we draw the line, when the placebo effect should be used, or when it shouldn’t be used. Clearly patients expect the cost of their medication or treatment should be above and beyond the value of the placebo. Scientist are now starting to explore the ethical use of the placebo.

References:

Chvetzoff, G., & Tannock, I. F. (2003). Placebo effects in oncology. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 95(1), 19-29.

Hunter, P. (2007). A question of faith. EMBO reports, 8(2), 125-128.

The “Mac-Do” Effect

Most people have been to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, or any number of favorite fast food restaurants. Our first experience is either as a young child when our parents seek to provide relief from proper parenting, by purchasing some “happy meal,” where the purpose of the food is anchored in the toy included in the meal or our attempt to save some money during our growing up years. Thus, the last 30 years we have seen a surge in the growth in the fast food industry in markets globally, where fast food formats have become infused into the diets and cultures of peoples around the world in what I call the “Mac-Do” effect. That is: traditional culinary delights in many countries have been displaced by french fries, cheap hamburgers, soda’s and deserts and with each emerging generation some sort of sick homogenization of a poor global diet has emerged, leading to poor health and dietary behaviors, and a loss of thousands of years of culinary perfection.

I’m sure executives of fast food chains don’t have a hidden agenda to destroy culinary excellence, and lately many have diversified their menu’s to include healthy alternatives, yet I believe the damage has already been done. Young children and youth globally often prefer a diet laden with bread and sugars over traditional foods. In many asian countries, for example, young people are consuming alternate foods that “taste better,” and no longer eat rice and fish. In western cultures, the migration from vegetables and local meats and dairy have given way to sodas and fried foods. But the problem goes well beyond fast food restaurants but includes choices of beverages and snacks. Coca Cola, for example, leads the way as a drink choice over water or juice, and even as a juice choice, most turn to processed juices with corn syrup and have little “fruit” in them, if at all. They are less expensive, and in developing countries where income is spent on energy, housing, and electronics, there is often little “leftover” to help pay for good food.

The “Mac-Do” effect has also changed the way the food industry works. Instead of large local farms producing food aligned by centuries of genetic cultivation, large corporate entities now produce low cost ingredients making alien foods cheaper to manufacture and consume. While not all of these foods are represented in the fast food menu, they are profoundly represented in grocery stores and local shops, nearly completely displacing tradition food in marketplaces for younger generations.

The net effect is both a high caloric diet of non-native foods, but densely calorically packed cheap foods, low in nutrition leading to disease and dietary complications including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. But more profound is the loss of generations of culinary mastered dishes and dietary flavors, that for centuries aligned to the dietary requirements both nutritional and in a medicinal capacity. Younger generations find their tastes are changing and with it the benefits of thousands of years of culinary perfection.

In a recent article, a study shows diabetes and obesity linked to a number of nearby fast-food outlets: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/11/diabetes-obesity-fast-food-outlets-study More emerging research support this and other studies.

The solution to this may exist in re-localizing food choices, in a return to native foods, but the pressure from a profit-centered economy built around food is enormous and dynamically powerful. The “Mac-Do” effect may be stopped through education programs both proactive by groups and councils to promote proper diet and by reacting to nutritions decay of world health populations now more susceptible to “cheap food.” Either way, times are changing, and some foods are disappearing and are being changed, if we recognize this, we may be able to change it. For me, I hope we can retain the perfection in a diverse food marketplace, and personally, I resist the homogenization of a global food economy by always selecting local dishes as much as possible.

Diet drinks linked with heart disease and death

dietsodasI find it amazing most people think diet soda is healthy because it has less to no calories.  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.  Billion dollar companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi aren’t really interested in health and wellness, right?  Of course a 12 can of “Coke” with nearly 40g of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), is chemically toxic, containing a dramatic “punch” of processed sugar that is nearly instantly converted into belly fat, increases insulin resistance (over time), and increase cancer risks due to an increase sugar intake that feeds out of control cancer cells.

However a recent study shows that diet soda consumption is linked with an increase in heart disease and increased mortality rates.

Reference: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101536768

This study shows: “Researchers found women who drank two or more diet drinks a day were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular “event,” and 50 percent more likely to die, than women who rarely touch such drinks.”.  The research also notes: “The women who drank the most drinks were also more likely to smoke, to be overweight, to have diabetes and to have high blood pressure, Vyas noted.”.

Either way, its pretty clear that diet soda’s content of ingredients is not a mix for health success.  Aspartame, a sweetner, is linked to increased cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Phosphoric acid, added to provide a “kick”, reduces calcium absorption. Caffeine (also found in many things), isn’t really a big problem, but long term can lead to issues related to sleep problems, or addictions.  If Aspartame isn’t used, Acesulfame potassium is, and its linked to brain tumor growth and risks of hypoglycemia.

Diet soda’s might be a very dangerous and hidden element in our daily habits.  I’m sure those who have their daily “diet Coke” would admit, its not “good for them”, however it may be time to reevaluate weather drinking diet soda’s is harmful!  We widely accept cigarette smoke and drugs this way, while I don’t think diet soda is on the same scale, I think historically we think of them as harmless, and that’s clearly not the case.

Other links: http://grist.org/scary-food/2011-02-16-aspartame-soda-caramel-bpa-diet-soda-kill-you/  and http://www.livestrong.com/article/521667-harmful-effects-of-soda-acidity/

Amazon has sellers with Counterfeit Supplements

amazonlogoI buy from Amazon all the time, if you find the right seller, you get a really good deal., and Amazon themselves has good prices on the goods they sell.  What most people don’t understand is Amazon is a marketplace.  There are thousands of “sellers” like those on eBay or other places like Craigs List etc.  A recent article talks about one aspect that I agree.  Do not buy dietary supplements and healthcare products off Amazon.  Its too risky.  Its easy to validate if your iPod cover works, or if your book is the the “real deal”, but there are many reports of sellers selling vitamins or other supplements and they are not what they say.

I also don’t understand why somebody would not buy a food supplement from the best quality and reliable source possible, but then I guess to “save a dollar” is ever present on ones mind.

Be that as it is, please be careful.  If you buy off Amazon, buy something where the selling is Amazon themselves, not a 3rd party nameless merchant.  I would contact the company that makes that product and ask them if Amazon sales are authorized.   Contact the seller in advance and ask them where they source the product, and if they would give you their name and phone number, to discuss the nature of the product.  These are simple yet effective things anybody can do.

Source: http://m.naturalnews.com/news/043057_Amazoncom_counterfeit_products_misrepresentation_and_fraud.html

Other links: http://www.marilynglenville.com/beware-fake-health-supplements-amazon/

http://www.beyondhealthnews.com/wpnews/index.php/2013/12/heads-up-fake-dietary-supplements-selling-on-amazon/

Antioxidant Vitamin’s May be Harmful

VitaminsVitamin’s Harmful?

Recent large scale studies now suggest that Vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C or Vitamin E may not be healthy, and may be harmful.  Scientists have known for a long time that free radical damage was the cause of most of the major diseases related to the natural aging process, and at its root, the process that is paired with natural aging.  In an attempt to curb this process, even scientists suggested that Antioxidant supplements like C or E would lower the levels of oxidative stress in the body, reducing the signs and effects of aging.

Most people think that if some is good, better is more, so many companies addressed this problem by suggesting that their customers use products that are high in dosages of Vitamins.. particularly those with antioxidant capacities.   However, recent research shows that this may not be the case, and infact taking antioxidant vitamins especially in larger dosages, disrupt a set of complex systems in the body, where the body uses free radical damage to help destroy cancer cells, fight infection and other problems.  By injecting external sources of these chemical ingredients, customers may be doing more harm than good, suggesting that the days of “vitamin supplements” is coming to and end.

For example Nature World News recently reported:  that vitamin C and E reduce the body’s ability to train for endurance events such as marathons. see: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5854/20140203/vitamin-c-e-negatively-affect-endurance-training.htm and http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20140103054005.shtml

Another example found that vitamin C and E accelerate Lung Cancer in Mice.  The study suggests that external chemical antioxidants interrupt the system that the body uses to destroy tumor cells. see: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/6/221/221ra15.abstract

And another example a research article suggest vitamin’s such as β-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful and other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases. see:  http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253

But why is this?  Well its simple.  The body was designed to work naturally.  While true, the amount of toxins and exposure are harmful, adding supplements to the body aren’t effective.  Rather the natural approach is to stimulate the natural systems and processes used in the body.  These natural pathway’s like Nrf2 are much more effective, and research shows that Nrf2 activation and support may be a much more effective way to help the body cope with many physical stress situations.  see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965188/

I’m still a supporter of vitamin’s however, but they must come from a wholefood sources, not a chemical one.  But additionally, and importantly, using external sources of antioxidants is simply not an effective method to lower oxidative stress.  Studies also show that in most cases they are simply not effective in doing that, and the body actually metabolizes them to create additional free radicals, or in maybe a Kinase inhibitor (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444845/).  Kinase receptors are responsible for signaling to vital cell proteins such as Nrf2 who’s job is to naturally regulate the body’s own antioxidants.

In conclusion the latest research suggests some harmful side effects to external vitamin supplementation.  This new trend suggests a better approach would be to assist the body in the natural system response to fighting oxidative stress.  Instead of taking antioxidants (with the potential side effects), that the body simply makes its own, like Superoxide Dismutase, Catalase and Glutathione. Having said that, a whole food source of vitamins for those who are deficient may be in order.

More related links: 

https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/02/more-evidence-for-antioxidant-supplements-to-cause-harm.php

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20140121/LIFESTYLE20/301210008/Antioxidants-powerful-tool-war-aging