Pushing buttons

Pushing buttons


PAST

Those of you who have read my Substack since the beginning, may recall the story about me poking a stick in the yellow jackets nest. There were other more benign, but related events of me probing and testing the world and its inhabitants. In fact, there are many memorable non-events. Did escalators scare you as a child? Heck, did the bathtub drain scare you? I know it scared at least some of us, because Mr Rogers sang a song about it. “You Can Never Go Down the Drain.” Hah!

I wish he’d done a song about the sharp teeth of the escalators, but at least he did produce a sweet episode about up and down which included escalators. In my little kid brain, it seemed absolutely possible that my sneakers could get caught in moving stairs, pulled into them and mashed into bits! Every Christmas my wife and I watch Elf, with Will Ferrel, and I think the scene with him doing that fearful split on the ascending escalators is brilliant.

The escalators in our local Sears Roebuck were particularly captivating— and terrifying— to me as a child. One year around Christmas I saw the big red button at the base of the handle belt, with letters underneath that said STOP. Without much thought and zero premeditation I leaned over and pushed it. Then, those mashing metal teeth stopped. The silence was eerie. I felt this sensation of power over my destiny, that little old me could stop this enormous machine with the push of a button. I looked around and saw no one. Realizing that I maybe should not have done that, I hastily made my getaway. I ran down the now still stairway which released a hollow clunk with each step. I caught up with my mom and we left without further incident— until twelve years later….

SLIGHTLY MORE RECENT PAST

As a teenager, I lived with my Nana and Pop pop in the tiny village of Parkerford, PA, in a little house, with a corn field in our backyard.  My high school was named after the former Supreme Court Justice Owen J Roberts.  We had an active chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), and in the Fall and Spring seasons, when the windows of our classrooms were open, the sweet smell of cow manure being spread on the fields filled the air.  There was also a farm store across the street from our school where many of us headed for snacks before catching the late bus home.  

Trips into the vast city of Philadelphia were therefore a very big deal.  My friend Larami, now an esteemed Interventional Neurologist in the University of Pennsylvania health care system, loved, loved, loved to initate those trips.  We would drive to Paoli and catch the R5 SEPTA Regional Rail line into Center City Philadelphia.  Before Christmas of 1986, Larami, his brother Monk , Chris and I made one such trip.  Larami’s inspirations and infatuations of the moment circumscribed our plans.  So, first we went for the buffet at Salad Alley in the Bourse Building for lunch. Then we headed to The Galleries for some shopping. This was an urban mall with at leat four levels opening onto a vast interior, and it…was…packed.  We entered on the street level and approached the escalator.  Without premeditation, and with an impulsivity that I cannot explain or defend, my eyes landed on the big red STOP button below the escalator railing, right where it had been all those years ago. I leaned over, and pushed it.

Unlike the Sears escalator of my boyhood however, this one was packed with people, who all gave a little forward and backward bobble as the escalator suddenly stopped.I was just ahead of my friends, and when they saw what I had done, they looked at me in surprise, perhaps amusement, and then concern. Within moments I was surrounded by at least six very large security officers. The Gallery didn’t mess around with security. Gang activity and drive by shootings were on the rise, and off-duty police officers could pick up some nice extra pay during Christmas. These security officers were at least twice as tall and three times as wide as me.

Their radios crackled. Ccckkkk “Level one escalator has stopped. Nobody appears to be hurt.” Ccccckkkkkk “We have a white male teen in custody.” Cccckkkkk. Before they even bothered asking me what I had done, they turned to my friends and asked “Is he with you?” They all shook their heads no and slowly backed away. F#@*?rs!! Obviously we were together. Then the guards all turned back to me. I remember looking up and seeing about five hundred people lining the railings of the different levels to see what was gong to happen to this crazy little white boy.

Time passed. I was contemplating what I would tell my Pop pop when I called from the city jail. “You what!?!” More radio crackling. Cccckkkkk “Yes sir. Yes sir. No sir. I don’t think so sir. Roger that sir.” Cccccckkkkk. One of the very big men looked at me and said “We’re going to have to ask you and your friends to leave and not return to the premises.” Really? That’s it? No jail? No report? They escorted me and my disavowing friends to the nearest exit and stood inside the doors to make sure we went on our way.

Well, dear reader, I’d be lying if I said that was the last button I ever pushed. Which brings me to the present moment.

PRESENT

Once a month I meet with wise man who I’ll call my business guru and emotional mentor. His name is Geep, and he likes to tell me instructive stories which I don’t always enjoy. One thing which he has told me more times than I can remember is, “Scott, try not to piss people off by accident.” Well, last week on the FLCCC Webinar, I think I pissed off a lot of women who are keen on using collagen to soften their wrinkles, harden their nails, and keep their hair from falling out. Frankly, I’m lucky to be alive!

It was great fun being on the weekly webinar with Dr Marik. During the webinar, when I shared my observations that collagen appeared to be provoking platelet aggregation and activaton in my patients, it didn’t seem like a big deal. Perhaps what I forgot to say was what all of the Tarot readers my wife watches on You Tube say: “The following is for entertainment purposes only.” When Pierre texts me on Saturday and writes “I known it’s your one day off, but….”, what follows is never good. It seems that I stirred up a shit storm with those observations and the FLCCC was trying to manage it.

To differentiate the players, the FLCCC is a rigorously science-based organization, and Dr Marik is the guardian of that galaxy. If there aren’t studies to back an assertion, or a heck of a lot of clinical observeration, it isn’t going to make it onto the FLCCC protocols. On the other hand, the Leading Edge Clinic is our private telemedicine practice, and as diligent clinicians, if we see signals that a therapy is harming our patients, we won’t wait until a study comes out to warn them. For example, Dr Peter McCullough asserted months ago that shedding wasn’t real, because he couldn’t find any studies which supported the ideas. The rest is history, as we began acting based upon our clinical observations re: shedding almost a year ago, instead of waiting for a study which may never happen to confirm it. Now I can’t count how many interviews Pierre has given on the topic!

Back to collagen. I understand that it could be upsetting to hear me assert that the supplement your functional medicine physician / chiropractor / naturopath / yoga instructor (not kidding here) recommended to you may be exacerbating coaguloptahy in your body. All you were trying to do was not look so damn old. As John Stewart recently said during his second episode of The Daily Show in nine years: “I have sinned against you. I’m sorry. It was never my intention to say out loud what I saw with my eyes and then brain. I can do better.” Instead of Stewart’s ironic statement that “democracy dies in discussion”, I could say “science dies in discussion.”

Forgive me for my habit of risk benefit analysis. Not only are there no studies supporting my position on collagen and clotting, there is even one research paper from 2004 which may contradict it. Of course that paper was written before space aliens zapped us with a bioweapon made in the distant galaxy of Wuhan and deranged our bodies to such a degree that most of our pre-exisitng lab studies, radiologic tools, and diagnostic approaches have been nearly useless. It’s also worth mentioning that the collagen market is estimated at 5.1 billion USD in 2023 and is projected to reach 7.4 Billion USD by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% from 2023 to 2030. This is a minor matter though, because I’m sure that the good people of supplement sales only have our best interests at heart. It also doesn’t really matter that there really isn’t substantial evidence to support the benefit of collagen in attaining beautiful skin, full bodied hair, strong nails. We also need not be troubled by the lack of any standardization or FDA regulation of these collagen products which are ingested in good faith by so many.

Did you know that collagen is a waste product? It’s made from the leftover connective tissue of fish, pigs and cows (unless you’re getting the vegan version). I love waste products as much as the next guy. We have had a worm composter in our basement for years. I love making them smile with a bruised avocado half. Their excrement feeds the beautiful lives of our houseplants and garden. Our cat litter is made from the refuse of lumber mills, pine wood sawdust. It smells great and we can compost it. Even yummy apple cider is a refuse product made from the seconds. The thing is that besides apple cider, I can’t think of another refuse product which I would ingest, let alone pay big money to consume.

According to historian Roxeanne Dunbar Ortiz, at its peak, the Native American population of North American reached 450 million people. They lived on this land for millenia. Uniformly, they used every part of the animals and fish which they hunted and harvested. Tendons and sinews were used to make bowstrings and thread. Cartilage and hooves could be ground into glue. But, they didn’t routinely ingest connective tissue, the basis of animal collagen. Why not? Did they intuitively understand something which escapes us in the present moment?

What follows is a case series of patients in whom I think that collagen played a role in their pathology and in most cases, may have set them up for their original injury, and often exacerbated coagulopathy. You’ll see references to Vitamin K2 as well. I won’t entertain questions about that until I’ve been able to explain my observations and strategy in next weeks’ Substack. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time on this project in the last week. Because the number of cases is fifteen and growing, I’m going to divide this up between today and next week. As a disclaimer, the following is for entertainment purposes only, and it is not to be misconstrued as frontline clinical insight or evidence from an expert in the field. ; )

Patient 0

18yo female x2 mRNA Pfizer vaccine injury within two weeks of second shot.  Family unvaccinated. First visit 2/23.  Previously healthy, s/p tonsillectomy, competitive athlete.  Intake reports fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, dizziness when standing, fast or pounding heart rate (HR), worsened symptoms after activity. Blurred vision when exercising, dizzy, light headed, nauseous, swollen ankles, chest and back pain, heavy weight on chest, sharp pains on left side of chest, trouble breathing, high heart rate and high diastolic blood pressure when exercising. 2/23 live blood analysis showed RBC aggregates, Rouleaux formations, poikilocytes, echinocytes, schisocytes, acanthocytes, and platelet aggregation.  Initiated Aspirin, Eliquis, IVM and NAC Augmentata 3/23.  By 5/23 had seen tremendous improvement in leg movement and strength,adjusting fine motor movements, working with an unvaccinated personal trainer.  4 of 4 microclotting, severe and widespread in study 10/23.  It was surprising that her level was still this high despite five months of anticoagulation therapy.  11/23 visit revealed that several months ago she had tried collagen for 3-4 days.  During that time, leg pain and weakness which was associated with her microclotting became much worse.   Spike ab not available due to location and lack of access to a Lab Corp facility.

Batch ADRs Deaths Disabilities Life Threatening Illnesses

FN7924 No data

FM2952 2

Patient 1

20yo female, x2 mRNA Pfizer vaccine injury.  First seen 2/24.  Previously healthy with no surgical history.  Spouse is not vaccinated, and shedding exposure is primarily from her boosted mother.  Intake reports fatigue, shortness of breath, fast or pounding heart rate, possible enlarged atrium, low blood pressure.  Interview reveals strong signal of MCAS with childhood migraines and many food sensitivities. Also had pediatric GI issues which continue into the present moment.  Developed increased anxiety post-vaccine and started Lamotrigine, currently weaning.  Fainted following a competitive sports event in July 2023.   Started collagen on and off for hair/skin/bones in August 2023.   Started iron supplementation due to fatigue about December  2023.   DC’d oral birth control December 2023.  Had a second fainting episode at work in January of 2024.  Developed chest pain, dyspnea and fatigue.  ED visit showed abnormal ECG, and follow up cardiac echocardiogram was abnormal with possible atrial enlargement, further evaluation pending.  Labs for spike ab, D-dimer, neurotransmitters (urine) pending.

Patient 2

55yo female, post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC), unvaccinated.  Spouse is vaccinated. First seen 1/24.  Hx TBI, cervical cancer, asthma, hypothyroidism S/p incarcerated inguinal hernia, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, cholecystectomy, appendectomy, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, right knee replacement x3 in 18 months. Intake reports fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, dizziness when standing, symptoms worsening after activity, distant Hx of PE. Pain in the spleen, increased CRP values, inflammation, severe constipation.  COVID in late 2019, early 2020, and early November 2023.  Strong signal of MCAS,with very narrow range of foods she can eat.  Taking collagen and Vitamin K2.  Guided to DC both.

Spike ab 2345 U/mL

>>D-dimer 0.87 mg/L FEU

PAI-1 4G/4G polymorphism (denotes high risk of developing venous thromboembolism)

ADAMTS13 >100%

ADAMTS13 Ab 3 U/mL

Factor VIII Activity 70%

Serotonin, serum 76 ng/mL

Patient 3

68 year old male with PASC, unvaccinated.  Initial symptoms in 2/23 were sinus congestion, impact on right ear hearing, new diagnosis of asthma, and wet end-expiratory breath sounds.  Raynaud’s began before COVID and receiving monoclonal antibodies in the Winter of 2020.  Post-COVID, developed an arrtyhmia and worsening GERD.  Has had allergies his whole life.  Most recently, feeling well overall, but has intermittent muscular trouble with focal pain in one leg and bilateral leg fatigue after exertion.

Spike ab level: 3564 U/mL in 2/23, down to 157 U/mL 5/23, up to 2172 U/mL 12/20/23 following travel and shedding exposure. Microclotting score 3 of 4 moderate in 8/23, drop to only 2.75 of 4 in 1/24.  Question arose re: why there was such a small drop in microclotting after five months with use of Aspirin, IVM, Serrapeptase, Nattokinase, Flavay, Baobab, NAC Augmentata.  Scrutiny of medication reconciliationg (med rec) revealed that he was taking collagen protein peptides as a powder along with Vitamin K2 in an MVI.  The collagen had been recommended by a functional medicine physician for muscle soreness several years ago.  Collagen and Vitamin K2 DC’d.

Patient 4

54 y.o. female x2 mRNA Pfizer with vaccine injury.  First seen for acute COVID in 9/22.  Seen in follow up 10/22 for persistent enlarged, painful lymph nodes, then 11/22 for vaccine injury.  Had been on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) when she was originally infected with COVID and vaccinated, which likely contributed to her injury.  She stopped this in early 11/22.  Lymph nodes in bilateral axillae continued to be painful, and she noted outbreak of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) lesions on her lips.  Reporting persistent heel pain, GERD.  In 12/22, had extended menses of twenty days, which stopped 4-5 days after initiation of high dose IVM.  We then dropped the dose due to emerging photosensitivity.  Nattokinase was started.  Lost weight, followed a lower histamine diet, had COVID again around Memorial Day 2023.  Menses began to be prolonged again, following acute COVID and extensive travel for work.  Was experiencing increased fatigue.  Started sipping Baobab in 7/23 as one of our twenty pilot study participants.  Spike ab level has consistently been >25,000 U/mL since first testing in 7/23, and with repeat testing in  9/23 and 1/24.  Microclotting score was 3 out of 4, moderate 8/23.

Batch ADRs Deaths Disabilities Life Threatening Illnesses

EW0177 1458 6 12 18

Fasting glucose decreased from 99 to 96 over the first month of sipping Baobab.  Menses stabilized.  Began anticoagulation with Aspirin, Eliquis and Plavix in 9/23, along with IVM, NAC Augmentata, Nattokinase.  In 10/23 saw decreased dyspnea with exertion, but injured left shoulder while lifting a heavy object. At this time she stopped taking collagen, and began taking colostrum to help heal her gut. I was not yet suspecting the role of collagen in provoking coagulopathy.  Use of the Arc Microtech helped minimize bruising and bleeding concerns on anticoagulation.  Despite stress of family health issues, job changes, and her own health challenges, she was doing well during this period.  Flavay was started in 11/23, and we fine-tuned treatment for MCAS by adding Antronex, a natural antihistamine from Standard Process.  She had an acute viral illness around Thanksgiving following exposure to many family members who were acutely ill.  We initiated peptide BPC-157 for gut healing and ProTandim for emerging cognitive concerns.  Chronic connective tissue concerns began to yield, with less shoulder and heel pain, improved appetite, resolution of skin issues.  She had backed off the Baobab use for two months.  Menses became elongated again, and she was having sleep disturbances.

Patient 5

49 yo female, PASC, unvaccinated.  Husband not vaccinated.  Hx migraines, MTHFR gene mutation, S/p ACL reconstruction.  Previous COVID-19 infection by testing or presumptive by symptoms, January 2022 and December 2022.  Onset ~ four weeks after initial COVID infection.  Intake reports brain fog, memory problems, anxiety and depression. Mother, sister’s husband and all of their close friends have been vaccinated. Was around them after sick first time. Unvaccinated daughter and son attend schools around many vaccinated students.  Husband works around many vaccinated individuals.  Shedding is an active dynamic and ongoing consideration in her care.  2/23 labs showed spike ab 844 U/mL and slight elevation of D-Dimer at 0.51 mg/L FEU, a late sign of microclotting.  3/23 labs reflected reactivation of EBV with early antigen level of 10.4 U/mL.  8/23 microclotting study showed stage/grade 4 of 4, widespread and significant.  Patient and her husband asserted that there was a mistake in the labs and this was another patient’s blood. When she went to the lab for another draw, the phlebotomist couldn’t draw her blood, because it kept clotting.  They then agreed this was in fact her blood, and wished to initiate treatment.  Started triple anticoagulation with Aspirin, Eliquis and Plavix as well as IVM, LDN, NAC Augmentata, Nattokinase.  Repeat microclotting study 11/23 showed reduction to 2.5 of 4, mild.  Patient felt 95% recovered.  In 12/23 and 1/24 visits, patient was exhibiting some relapse of symptoms secondary to shedding, but still doing well overall. In 1/24 visit she remarked, “Two weeks ago I was feeling really good.  I haven’t felt that good since 2022.”  Then her menses came, and she experienced a return of severe migraine.  At the end of the visit, in response to questioning from this provider, she reported that she had started taking collagen a few weeks ago.  Collagen DC’d after this visit. End of 2/24 patient reports that she is feeling much better, and was able to go for a one mile walk.

Patient 6

39 yo female, x2 mRNA Pfizer vaccine injury.   Increased fatigue over 2021 following vaccination.  Previous COVID-19 infection by testing or presumptive by symptoms, December 2021.    Husband vaccinated, works in health care.  Hx chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches, migraines. S/p no surgeries declared.  Intake reports fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, dizziness when standing, chest pain, tachycardia, headaches, depression or anxiety, worsened symptoms after activity, new onset daily headaches/ migraines, nausea.  One night she didn’t take her Aspirin, and the next day she had a severe headache.  “This is like dementia. I would open the fridge ten times and not knowing what I was looking for.”  During discussion late 2023, patient reported that she would use collagen supplementation in a liquid form regularly in the years before she became sick with COVID.   2/23, spike ab was 9814 U/mL.  8/23 study showed 4 of 4 microclotting, severe and widespread.  

Batch ADRs Deaths Disabilities Life Threatening Illnesses
EL0140    1243           52                    20                  24
EJ686             8

Patient 7

61yo female, PASC, unvaccinated.   First seen 4/22.  Hx of hypertension (HTN), s/p tubal ligation and foot surgery.  Three previous COVID-19 infections by testing or presumptive by symptoms, 11/2020 around Thanksgiving, and again 1/21, 7/22.  Onset 3/21, with lost of taste and smell, hypertension, fatigue, brain fog and memory problems, with worse symptoms after exertion. Stress from a busy work week also exacerbates symptoms.  Eating a low histmaine diet.  Completed BioAnalytics cytokine panel with Dr Patterson, started on Maraviroc for one month and most of symptoms resolved, although CCL4 remained elevated.  Excercise with HR > 100 provokes post-exertional malaise, and allergy symptoms with increased phlegm production and watering eyes for several days afterwards, at worst with vertigo, nausea and vomiting.  Low dose Dexamethasone was helfpul, as well as short-term, low dose Fluvoxamine.  HR improved and tapered off a beta blocker.  High dose IVM didn’t resolve loss of taste and smell; we then tried Vascepa, again without benefit.  Spike ab was 2497 U/mL.  During 2/23 visit, secondary to shedding from spouse traveling to a trade show, going to the gym, and being around vax/boosted people, saw increase in sympotm burden.  Experiencing eye twitching, vertigo, heat on back of her neck, returning fatigue, and increasing BP.  Initiated Arc Microtech after 7/23 visit.  At 11/23 visit, vertigo resolved, drop of spike ab to 940 U/mL continuing with low intensity exercise, modulating MCAS with antihistamines, and eating lower histamine diet.  Aspirin and Flavay initiated for presumed microclotting.  In successive visit Antronex and Ketotifen for MCAS initiated, and Oxytocin for taste/smell.  Completed microclotting study 1/24, which showed 2.5 of 4, mild.  During that visit, in response to my questions, she reported that she had been taking collagen 1 Tablespoon daily for years.  Collagen DC’d.  Within about two weeks of stopping the collagen, and initiating low-dose Nicotine patch, her taste and smell, which had remained elusively absent for more than two years, began to return, albeit inconsistently.  

P.S.. Thank you to Dr Ronald Epner for your generous financial support as the first reader to become a Founder. And thank you to each of the individuals who has chosen to support this work by becoming paid subscribers.

P.S.S. If you know someone in Wyoming or West Virginia who would enjoy reading Lightning Bug, please share. Those are the only two states from which I don’t have subscribers. I’m offering a free lifetime subscription to the first person from each of those states to become a reader.

P.S.S.S. I tried to send out a brief survey re: collagen and it didn’t work out of the box, so I deleted it. I’ll try again after learning more about this tool.



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One thing from another – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C

One thing from another – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C


History

I had at least four fathers. My biological father, my stepfather, my paternal grandfather, and the father of my best friend in high school. Only the last of these is still alive. One thing which each of them had in common was a facility with explanations about the world around us and how things work. Instead of facility, I thought to use the word alacrity, but my Pop pop could be grumpy when I asked him the meaning or spelling of a word. “There’s a very big dictionary on the book shelf at the end of the hall Scotty.” Yes, I knew that. It was the one that each of my siblings, cousins and myself would take turns sitting on at the dining room table during holidays growing up. “But you’re right here Pop pop, and you explain it so well.” That would usually get a look up from his Travis McGee novel and over the rims of his glasses, then an answer. Yes!

Because my dad had the first shift in this province of fathers, his patient explanations overshadow all others. Why is the sky blue? What makes wind? Are cats smarter than dogs? Why do dogs eat cat poop? (seriously, that made me doubt that dogs are smarter than cats) Do girls ever fart? Do all fish have teeth? (the movie Piranha had come out) How does Santa get down the Chimney? If God created the world, who created God? How does a lightbulb work? Why do you use a radar detector? That’s just for starters. Clearly he had his work cut out for him.

Learning from my dad, 1971

I marveled that he knew so much about so many things. As an adult, I remember my dad and think that it would be fair to say he was a Renaissance man. He played tennis and volleyball, and took up martial arts before his death. He built a passive solar house, restored a Model A Ford coupe with a rumble seat, had a beautiful garden, and was a decent cook by his third marriage. He was a successful salesman, an introvert who taught himself to be socially engaging, and was well-respected by his colleagues. He knew things, things that mattered. He had the answers to my questions, and on the rare occasion that he didn’t, he didn’t fake it.

Recent Past

One of my favorite novelists is Barbara Kingsolver. The last book I read by her was Demon Copperhead which is a story of life and love in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. A line early in the novel has stuck with me as I have struggled to master this novel medical realm of Covid. “If you care, you’ll learn one thing from another. Anybody knows a sheepdog from a beagle, or a Whopper from a Big Mac.”

In the emergency setting, knowing one thing from another can make a big difference in the how the day goes for the patient in your care. Was that Morphine (MS04) or Mag Sulfate (MgS04) which caused you to stop breathing? Before I hang your blood, are you Bill Jones (DOB 6/24/59) or Bill Jones (DOB 6/23/59)? Did that telemetry monitor just show you brushing your teeth, or did you enter a potentially fatal dysrhythmia of ventricular fibrillation? You know, things that matter.

I have a decent understanding of how drugs work, at what doses, through what mechanisms of action, and with what side effects. It helped to spend nearly a decade on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca. But I still relied heavily upon the expertise of my pharmacy colleagues while working in the Emergency Department (ED). When I started work in the trauma center at Upstate, this reliance grew, both because there were expert clinical pharmacists stationed in the ED itself, and because they actively participated in bedside care. During care of a trauma patient, it was Rob or Greg who was right behind me at the bedside, mixing drugs, passing syringes, reminding the team when the next dose of Epinephrine was due. They mixed the drips which made intubation work, hearts keep beating, blood pressure supply vital organs.

In this complex environment, I outsourced some of my learning. When the Covid vaccines were being rolled out, it was our pharmacist Greg to whom I turned. He had spent twelve hours watching expert testimony about the vaccines. I remember in the med room he assured me that the technology was at least a decade old, that they were safe, and he had done his homework in order to answer questions from colleagues like me. That was enough for me, because this was the guy who had my back when the chips were down, every damn time.

Present

I don’t outsource many of my questions anymore. Since I received two bad batch shots in January of 2021, I do my homework. In fact, I’ve read more studies in the last three years than the previous thirty. At this point, my study and clinical practice have propelled me into the position of trying to teach you.

The longer we are in practice at the Leading Edge Clinic, the more I encounter patients who still have almost both feet still in the land of conventional medicine. They still trust their PCP, their Cardiologist, their Gastroenterologist. The people who advised them to get the shots. They have been through the ringer, and haven’t been getting any answers. They are talking to me because their friend, family, neighbor, co-worker referred them. All they know is that they were told I might be able to help them.

This is a weak position from which to question the guidance of the trusted medical professionals in their lives. One way in which I approach this is by offering a framework. I suggest that when they next speak with their practitioner, they ask them this: “Sir/madam, can you please help me understand what is spikopathy, the pathologies it causes in long-haul and vaccine injury, and what you know about how to evaluate and treat those injuries?” I suggest that when that doctor/NP/PA gives them a blank stare, they remember it. You figure that into your calculations about whether their evaluation, testing, diagnosis and treatment is based upon reality.

The same practitioners may also tell you “We just don’t know much about long-haul and vaccine injury, and it will be years before we understand it and can effectively treat it.” My response is that today, not tomorrow or years from now, there is a graduate level course in long-haul and vaccine injury available at no cost. It is the eighty-two (and growing) part series by Dr Syed Mobeen, known as Dr Been. It is the Long Story Short series from the FLCCC Alliance. Any layperson or practitioner who watches and learns from that series will acquire knowledge that currently evades 99.9% of the practitioners in the United States, if not the world.

Along those lines, a patient recently told me that we need to share a list of medications that people experiencing spikopathy shouldn’t take. She was right. This is a start. In upcoming Substacks I will cover proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), statins, and polyethylene glycol (PEG). In this Substack I’ll start with aluminum-containing over-the-counter and prescription medications. Examples are Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Carafate or Sucralfate.

What are these products supposed to do? Aluminum hydroxide (Maalox, Mylanta) is a basic inorganic salt that acts by neutralizing hydrochloric acid in gastric secretions. Aluminum hydroxide is slowly solubilized in the stomach and reacts with hydrochloric acid to form aluminum chloride and water. It also inhibits the action of pepsin by increasing the pH and via adsorption. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) consists of trivalent bismuth and salicylate suspended in a mixture of magnesium aluminium silicate clay. The medicine forms a protective coating over the lower part of your esophagus, and partly coats your stomach. This helps protect them from stomach acid. It also has weak antacid properties that may help reduce too much stomach acid.

Sucralfate/Carafate works by forming a barrier or coating over a gastric ulcer. This protects the ulcer from the acid of the stomach, allowing it to heal. More technically, it dissociates in the acid environment of the stomach to its anionic form, which binds to the ulcer base. This creates a protective barrier to pepsin and bile and inhibits the diffusion of gastric acid. Sucralfate also stimulates the gastric secretion of bicarbonate and prostaglandins.

Why use aluminum in these antacids? One word, flocculation. If your house is connected to a municipal sewage system, when you flush the toilet the waste flows to your local sewage treatment plant. It is common practice in the United States to add aluminum powder to the raw sewage in order to make the solid waste settle out of the solution, so that it can be collected and removed. How does that work? Aluminum is what chemists call a cation. It has a +3 charge. The organic waste from your poo has a negative charge. Aluminum binds to the organic waste and this joint venture becomes sludgy. Ergo, flocculation. What happens when you ingest medications which have aluminum? Flocculation, in your blood. Sludging, in…your…blood.

It is not rare that during my first visit with a patient who has post-acute sequelae of Covid (PASC) or vaccine injury they will have one of these medications on their list. Or, as we progress through the visit, it comes out that they take one of these medications, Carafate being the worst. That is the moment when I try to explain to them that we have a bit of work to do just to get to the starting line of healing.

When I assert to you that 100% of the population has microclotting, regardless of vaccination status, the import of what I shared about aluminum gathers weight. For now, I’ll direct your questions about microclotting to Dr Jordan Vaughn’s presentation on Microclotting at the FLCCC Alliance in May 2023. We have lost the controls in this dystopian medical experiment, and we have all been contaminated by spike. On a scale of 0-4, the best we have seen when testing blood for our patients is a 1.5. This was only one patient, and after months of anticoagulation therapy. Dr Vaughn, who I consider the United States national expert on microclotting, after testing thousands of patients, would assert that the best score we see in the general population is microclotting at a level of 1 out of 4.

Some of you are old enough to remember the white stick which your dad or grandad had in the medicine cabinet and would use to stop bleeding from a cut suffered while shaving. I’m old enough that I still have one of these. Safety razors have mostly made this a thing of the past, but that white stick was a styptic pencil. Anhydrous aluminium sulfate is the main ingredient and acts as a vasoconstrictor in order to disable blood flow. The stick is applied directly to the bleeding site and it stings. The high ionic strength promotes flocculation of the blood, and the astringent chemical causes local vasoconstriction. It has 56% aluminum.

If you doubt that the little bit of aluminum in these medications is enough to cause trouble, I’ll give you a couple of examples. One of my unvaccinated patients is a band teacher who was relatively stable. Then he went on a trip to Disney with his students. He took along his travel kit, in which he had a travel deodorant with aluminum, and travel hair gel, with aluminum. During the trip he drank soda out of aluminum cans. After the trip his health deteriorated dramatically. When we had the next visit, he reported symptoms reflective of microclotting: severe headache, vision changes, arm and leg muscle pain, joint pain, GI upset. Shedding was contributing to these changes. When he returned to his non-aluminum deodorant at home, and stopped using his aluminum containing hair gel, he saw improvement in his symptoms.

Another patient is a radiologist who had symptoms reflective of microclotting, with cognitive issues, headache, myalgia and joint pain. With the simple intervention of eliminating his habit of drinking seltzer out of aluminum cans, he achieved a remarkable reduction of his symptoms. Just avoiding this tiny amount of aluminum had enough impact that this trained medical professional could clearly identify the benefit.

Sucralfate/Carafate contains 21% aluminum by weight. A typical regimen of 1 g 4 times/day contains 828 mg of elemental aluminum. I used to love Carafate, and would introduce patients to it by saying it was an old-fashioned drug which was very effective at helping heal peptic ulcer disease or esophagitis. Ironically, the underlying autoimmune dysregulation, antibody response, mast-cell activation, and microclotting from spikopathy can easily lead to heartburn and gastrointestinal dysregulation. Along comes a general practitioner or gastroenterologist and they prescribe Carafate. The result is a catastrophic escalation of microclotting, as each dose of aluminum provokes more and more and more flocculation or sludging in the patient’s blood.

What are your alternatives to these aluminum containing drugs? First and foremost, knowledge. Dr Sherry Rogers recently updated her classic No More Heartburn: The Safe, Effective Way to Prevent and Heal Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders. Buy it, read it, and act upon it. Take time to chew your food, drink less liquids with your meals, drink less alcohol, eat fewer processed foods, and limit caffeine intake. Try using oral liquid aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and slippery elm bark to heal your inflamed gut. Eat a healthier diet, and cultivate a more robust microbiome, preferably with cultured foods and liquids rather than proprietary pills and potions promising probiotic nirvana. For the unfortunate with bleeding ulcers, get a juicer, and drink raw cabbage juice. There were two excellent studies from the late 1940s and 1950s which demonstrated this intervention to be a safe and quick way to completely heal ulcer craters. See references here and here.

One thing from another. If you care, you’ll learn.

P.S. This last week I appeared on the Shaun Newman Podcast episode #554. The content of his show has taken a giant turn from focusing on sports to discussing current events in Alberta and Canada. We had a fun and informative visit together. After this podcast was released on Friday December 22, 2023, bad actors hacked Shaun’s website and diverted web traffic to a bogus site in Indonesia. They stole his domain and registered it under GoDaddy. We understand from expert cyber security consultants that the cost of such a job for a talented hacker would be $20-40,000. Somebody, some organization, or some government (Canada?) doesn’t want Shaun broadcasting. My translation is that in the content of our discussion, we are over the target. Don’t let Them win. Please give a listen, and share with others.



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Keep it moving – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C

Keep it moving – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C


HISTORY

Are there boys who don’t like jokes about poop? I haven’t met them, and I wasn’t one of them. When I was a kid, we had Dr Seuss books, but Everybody Poops by Justine Avery had yet to be written. Honestly, I feel silly using the word poop, but I’m trying to keep this Substack at least PG rated.

Poop was the word my stepfather Em instructed me to use. He landed in my life when I was eleven years old. Em was short for Embury. He was Embury T Jones, Jr, the only son of an engineer and inventor. He was a big man, 6’2”, 260 lbs of muscle, with a voice that carried the entire bass section of the men and boys choir of Christ Church Episcopal Church in Hartford, CT.

Em was a corporate headhunter, and a former computer scientist from when computers occupied entire buildings and used punch cards for programming. He was a Captain in the US Naval Reserve, who bounced a quarter on my bed to test whether I had tucked the corners tightly. He was, well, a Captain. If you didn’t like the way he ran his ship, you could walk the gangplank. He didn’t like swearing. We didn’t agree about what constituted swearing.

Scott the St James choirboy 1978

By fourth grade I was singing in the St James Episcopal Church boys choir in West Hartford, CT. Thus, Em and I would come to share a love of sacred choral music. The church choir was where I learned to swear, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, shoplift, and kiss girls. Not necessarily in that order, but all in the same year.

I shouldn’t blame all my vices on the boys choir. Swearing came naturally to me. I’ve always been small, so I made up for it with expletives. My elementary classmates from Cuba and Puerto Rico were more than happy to teach me swear words in Spanish. Enough to get cuffed by Mrs Rodriguez our Spanish teacher.

In prescience of the tumultuous relationship we would have, Em rescued my petulance tuckus years before he became my stepfather. St James choirs joined Christ Church Cathedral choirs for a special performance of …who knows what? I don’t remember the music. What I remember is that when the choirmaster from Em’s church saw me sticking my tongue out at the junior high hotty I had my heart on, he grabbed me by the scruff and tossed me in the stairwell. Ouch! Em came into the stairwell a few minutes later and made sure I was okay. I was just a tad humiliated, but otherwise figured all is fair in love and war.

So, swearing. There are so many words for human excrement. None are quite as definitive and satisfying as s**t. The French have merde. The Brits have shite. Under the house rules of Captain Jones, poop was permissible, crap was not, s**t definitely not. There would be consequences. A battle of wills ensued. Ultimately I walked the plank, and went to live with my Nana and Pop pop in another state. My grandparents thought they were going to enjoy their golden years in peace and instead ended up raising a teenager.

Pop pop was more my speed. A former US Marine who fought in Okinawa. He was a gentleman and had good manners, but he also knew his way around some serious vernacular. Heck, even my Nana would drop a s**t bomb now and again. In his later years Pop pop was bald on top with a horseshoe of hair. He ran a service station for forty-five years, and was happy to be under the hood of a car tinkering. Except that on more than one occasion he would bang his exposed scalp on the propped hood of said car, which would lead directly to a Pop pop classic: GOD…DAMN, goddamn, goddamn!

Pop pop’s objection to profanity was more about timing. Not a big deal to say s**t, but do we have to talk about it at dinner? Well, if you were me you did. Another battle of wills ensued, although better matched, as we were both Marsland men after all. An enlisted man couldn’t exercise too much probity.

RECENT HISTORY

My comfort level with expletives is a perfectly valid reason why I ended up working in the Emergency Department (ED). The floor nurses were really just too proper, and had a bit too much value judgement going on, perpetually. The ED was the realm of hoodlums, prisoners, homeless, drug users, and working folks in medical crisis. Do you think that patients with 10 out of 10 flank pain from kidney stones are focused on keeping their conversation Disney-appropriate? No. By the time I landed in a level 1 trauma center, it was generally a non-stop s**t show. F-bombs were de rigeur.

Fortunately for me and my patients, my familiarity and comfort level with s**t was more than vowel and consonant deep. Ask any nurse what her/his/their hot button body fluid is and you’ll get some interesting conversation going. I worked with a nurse, who shall remain named Chicken Nugget (you know who you are), and she has this super power of turning off her sense of smell when she starts a shift in the ED. She was impervious to s**t.

I’m not so lucky as Chicken Nugget, but my Kryptonite is sputum. One time when I was still sporting a crew cut, I was in an isolation room doing tracheostomy suctioning. The patient coughed a huge, green, sticky sputum clump that skidded across my scalp, slowly settling in for a landing. I could only finish the job I started as the goo slowly sank into my hair. So, sputum, no thanks. But vomit, urine, blood, sweat, tears, and s**t, no problem.

In fact, I’m so relaxed around s**t, that I developed a reputation for being a masterful disimpactor. I just made up that word, but that’s what I was good at. May you never have need of fecal disimpaction, but if the occasion did arise, you for sure want someone who brings plenty of lubrication, a sturdy constitution, a gentle and kind manner, patience, and long fingers. That’s me. When you’re the one experiencing a disimpaction, it’s very intense, but when it’s done well, you are very, very appreciative. No joke, I once had a grateful patient’s wife force a wad of hundred dollar bills down my scrub top after I got him unplugged. It’s a shame that I was a serf of New York State and couldn’t legally accept the tip. This is all to say that s**t happens, the ED is often a s**t storm, and a satisfying s**t is one of the elusive pleasures of a well-lived life. Now let’s talk about how to keep things moving.

PRESENT

As promised in my last Substack, I’m going to cover supplements and medications which are harmful in general, but specifically problematic in patients experiencing post-acute sequelae of Covid (PASC) and Covid vaccine injury. Last week I wrote about aluminum containing medications. This week I’d like to discuss polyethylene glycol or PEG.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a petroleum-derivative compound that is made from ethylene glycol (ethane-1,2-diol), the main ingredient in antifreeze. PEG can be found in a number of other products, including skin creams and personal lubricants, and as a food additive for anti-foaming purposes. PEG may be familiar to you by its brand name MiraLAX. This is pure PEG crystals, sold over-the-counter, and marketed as a laxative. In 2019, the MiraLAX brand generated about 29.7 percent of laxative/stimulant liquid/powder/oil sales in the United States. Sales of laxatives in 2023 topped $1.5 billion annually, and apparently there is a shortage.

How does MiraLAX work? It is classified as an osmotic laxative. This means that it works by drawing water into the colon. The water softens the stool and may naturally stimulate the colon to contract. These actions help ease bowel movements.

If you have been using PEG for years, you are probably wondering what the fuss is about? This is a great example of the difference between the pre- and post- Covidian world. You know the song “The Old Gray Mare”? She ain’t what she used to be. These bodies we are living in are changed, with innumerable pathologies and complications to confound us.

The PEG story goes back to an important decision made by the Covid mRNA vaccine manufacturers. PEG-modification (pegylation) conjugates PEG with the lipid nanoparticles (LNP) in the shots. It coats the surface of the LNPs reducing opsonization, aggregation, and improving mRNA delivery to the target cells. Translated, it helps the LNP glide past our immune system surveillance and through the phospholipid membranes of our cells. This action enables longer circulation of nanoparticles. However, there is now evidence that PEG causes immunogenic responses when conjugated (PEGylated) with other materials such as proteins and nanocarriers. See studies here and here. It has been estimated that up to 25% of people who received a Covid shot have developed antibodies to PEG.

If we have learned anything from the censorship of HCQ, IVM and other repurposed drugs which could effectively treat Covid, we should bear in mind that the scientific literature on occurrence of PEG antibodies is compromised. When you read a study which minimizes this, i.e. concludes that PEGylation in the Covid shots is safe and effective, make sure to also read the conflicts of interest declared.

What happens when a person develops antibodies to PEG? If you are allergic to something, and you ingest a sizable quantity of it on a daily basis, it is going to make you sick. Signs of a new allergy to PEG include pruritus (itching), tingling, flushing, urticaria (raised, red welts on your skin), angioedema (facial swelling), hypotension, and bronchospasm.

Spike protein destabilizes mast cells provoking mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) in many PASC and vax patients. When mast cells are unstable, they are frequently releasing histamine. Whereas white blood cells have a lifespan of about a week, mast cells last 2-4 years. We’ll be dealing with this dynamic for some time to come. In the context of MCAS, PEG antibodies mean that PEG-containing products have the potential to trigger anaphylaxis or hypersensitivity reactions in some people. In the most extreme of cases, a new PEG allergy has created enormous obstacles to treatment as there are many beauty care products, medications and even foods containing PEG. I have found this to be the case with more than six patients under my care. One patient would experience severe anxiety, tachycardia, flushing, and dizziness from the tiny amount of PEG in a dose of the anti-histamine Pepcid/Famotidine. My experience is that when patients wean off MiraLAX, there is a significant improvement in their global symptom burden.

Products containing Polyethylene Glycol

Medications using Polyethylene Glycol

Foods containing Polyethylene Glycol (See these WHO 2021 food additive details)

  • Emulsifiers, stabilizers and sweeteners

  • Chewing gum

  • Food supplements

  • Water-based sports, energy and electrolyte drinks

  • Surface treated fresh fruit

What now? Laxatives are habit forming. If you have come to rely upon MiraLAX/PEG to have regular bowel movements, it would be unwise to stop abruptly, even if you are slowly poisoning yourself. If you develop a small bowel obstruction and need emergency surgery, you haven’t gained any ground. A more strategic response is to wean yourself over several weeks and replace the MiraLAX/PEG with safer alternatives. My favorite supplement in this case is OxyPowder, a combination of ozone-oxygenated magnesium and citric acid. I also like to use Garden of Life Prebiotic fiber which you mix with water and drink. Metamucil is readily available in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Prunes are an old standby.

We also need a longer-term plan to get off the laxative train, but keep things moving. Regular bowel movements require three components: hydration, dietary fiber, and mobility. Just like a three-legged stool, if you take away one of those three components, it isn’t stable. Hydration can be the easiest part. More than twenty-five years ago, a college classmate of mine changed my life with some simple advice. It was Mohit Bali, an introverted computer major who was observant if not elegant in his delivery. He told me that every morning when I wake up, I should drink a big mason jar of water right away. He explained that this was a basic teaching of Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3,000 years, and would help me lead a long and healthy life.

What Mohit didn’t share, but which I later learned, is that every human being wakes up dehydrated. Our body spends the time we are asleep engaging in cellular repair, burning fuel, making waste, using up oxygen and water. What we do instead of hydrate upon waking? We drink coffee. Yes, it stimulates our bowels, but the caffeine is a diuretic, which makes us pee and dehydrates us further, so that we start the day deeper in the hole. If you must drink coffee, then have at it, but drink a 32 oz of water first thing and you’ll thank yourself for it. The water will also stimulate you to have a marvelous BM.

Mobility is the next challenge, especially if we have the fatigue and post-exertional malaise of PASC and vaccine injury. Simply put, moving your body stimulates gastrointestinal motility. Move your body less, and waste will take longer to pass through you, permitting more of the moisture to be reabsorbed by your intestinal walls, creating bigger and drier stool.

Obtaining dietary fiber is as easy or hard as you choose to make it. You can use the options I mentioned above, but food is best. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber gives stools bulk. Foods that are good sources of soluble fiber include apples, bananas, barley, oats, and beans. Insoluble fiber helps speed up the transit of food in the digestive tract and helps prevent constipation. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, most vegetables, wheat bran, and legumes. Foods that have fiber contain both soluble and insoluble fibers.

Diametrically opposed to fibrous foods are processed foods. White rice, white flour, refined pasta, and sugar have the effect of gumming up the works. Minimizing these aspects of your diet, and maximizing whole foods will produce long-term health benefits and more regular BMs.

Water, movement and fiber. Drink water early and often. Happy trails to you.

P.S. I have no financial interest in the products which I recommend, such as OxyPowder, Garden of Life Prebiotic Powder, or Metamucil.



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Characters, capital C – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C

Characters, capital C – by Scott Marsland, FNP-C


HISTORY

In fourth grade I became a paper boy for the New Britain Herald. It ws an afternoon paper, second fiddle to it’s morning counterpart The Hartford Courant. It was my first job, and it taught me a lot about living. I had responsibility, collected money from my customers, and paid my bills. Whether there was a raging thunderstorm, winter blizzard, or rubber-melting summer day, I had to get out there and deliver those papers. My territory was sizable. There were big hills, and ferocious dogs that wanted a piece of me. I started off with a single speed green bike, and after a couple of years and some good Christmas tips, traded up for a red Ross ten-speed.

Over time I developed friendships with many of my customers. They were mostly grey and white-haired suburbanites. There was the politcal campaign manager whose yard signs changed with the election cycle. Helen was the caregiver for a grumpy, wheelchair-bound policeman injured on the job. Her blue budgie parakeet was named Little Baby Bird. She would invite me in to play cards and eat her homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. There was the couple who had a farmette in the country and would share some of their vegetables to me. I would eat their fresh green peppers like apples. There were two confirmed bachelorettes who shared their home with a big grey cat.

Then there was a customer who told me he was a bionic man. He was a capital C Character. As he pulled up his pants leg to show me his shiny metal hardware, he explained that he had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. His leg had been blown off by a Viet Cong booby trap, and they gave him a bionic replacement.

The Six Million Dollar Man was a popular TV show at the time, and a favorite of mine. Lee Majors played a character who was The Bionic Man with superhuman strength, speed and intelligence. The introductory soundtrack and the sound effects of him lifting heavy objects in slow-motion are etched in my memory.

The Colonel, as I came to think of him, liked to smoke cigars. These were thick long cigars like the Winston Churchill in my history book had smoked. My Pop pop smoked cigars too, so I enjoyed the smell, and I liked playing solider, so I didn’t mind hanging out on his front steps as The Colonel told me stories of his exploits. He told me exactly how many North Korean and Vietnamese soldiers he had killed in combat. It was a chilling number, something like thirty two and forty one. I was a boy that liked watching war movies, but The Colonel’s statement was disturbing and challenged the romantic illusions I had about soldiering.

Writing this Substack got me thinking about the many, many permutations of the word character. My favorite use of the word is to describe what Webster’s Dictionary defines as a person who is peculiar or eccentric. I enjoy the company of such people, and aspire to be a capital C Character myself. There is another definition which I also appreciate, closer to the Greek origin of the word character; kharassein, which means to inscribe. Inscribe: to write a brief message on a photo or book when giving it as a gift. When I remember The Colonel, and all of the Characters who have touched my life, I think that they have inscribed the gift of their peculiar worldview on the pages of my life, and for this I give thanks.

Back to the story! One hot summer day as I rode up to The Colonel’s house to deliver his paper, there he was on his stoop sipping from a can of Foster’s Lager. For the uninitiated, Foster’s Lager is an Australian beer which comes in an enormous can. Google tells me it is 25 oz. I recognized the can from some war movie I had seen on TV. I would bet it was “The Odd Angry Shot” about Australian soldiers fighting in Vietnam. I said “Oh Foster’s Lager, I know that beer.” Natural-as-can be, like I was one of his old Army buddies, he said, “Well, let me go get you one.”

Here I was, a fifth grader who looked more like a third grader, who didn’t weigh eighty pounds dripping wet, and had only sneaked a sip of beer from the rare can of Miller High Life my dad would drink while watching a football game. The Colonel comes back out with a nice big, cold can of Foster’s Lager. And a huge cigar. He handed me both and proceeded to explain that this wasn’t just any cigar, but a Cuban cigar. “They’re illegal you know? Damn buur-row-crats don’t like Commie Castro, so they try to keep me from smoking ‘em, but I’ve got connections.” With the remainder of my paperboy duties on standby, I popped the can open, and he lit me up.

I’ll say, the first few puffs were pleasant. The first few sips of the beer were tasty too. If I could have stopped there, it would have all been an interesting wrinkle to my day. Not wanting to appear ungrateful for this bionic hero’s generosity and comradeship, I kept at both the cigar and the beer. By the time he relieved me of both, I felt seasick, but hadn’t left shore. Somehow I finished delivering the rest of my papers, and arrived safely home. To my surprise, my mom told me that we were going out for pizza, which normally have sent me over the moon with delight, but didn’t sound so good at the time. I thought for sure that I would get busted for smelling like beer and cigar smoke, but the only comment I received was, “Hmmm, you look a little green Scotty.”

RECENT HISTORY

If you know anything about the miliary, you know that the non-commissioned officers run the show. In the Army, Air Force and Marines it’s the Sergeants. In the Navy and Coast Guard it’s the Chief Petty Officers. In the Emergency Department, it’s the Charge Nurses. In my nursing career, there have been Charge Nurses who loom larger than life. They have enough chutzpah to fill a stadium. Susan Rainbow was one, a traveler when we first met, and years later my manager at Upstate. Don’t let her last name fool you. Yes, a hippie at heart, but tough as steel and more self-possessed than an NFL quarterback getting blitzed in the last minute of play. Paul Czarnecki and Joseph Zelynak were two others from Upstate. Paul made his own musket balls, created trucks with a blow-torch, and fought fires in his off-hours. Joseph was a soft-spoken maestro conductor of the ED symphony, if you can imagine making music out of chaos. Philip Glass perhaps? Then there was Kathy Fox.

Kathy and I didn’t part on great terms. I was one of two nurses who led an attempt to unionize our smallish community hospital. She was at the top of the pay scale, pulling down six figures between her wage and crazy overtime hours. She wanted nothing to do with a union.

She was a terrible gossip. It’s fair to say she was vindictive, because she once mentioned running her ex-husband’s credit cards to the limit to try and drive him into bankrupty. She was a big-boned woman, with a bit of a waddle, I assume because of aches and pain from arthritic joints. That can happen after forty three years of lifting and moving patients. I judged her for taking the patient parking spot closest to the ED, but I shouldn’t have.

Kathy had a husky, nasally voice, and a wicked laugh. Her IV skills were beyond reproach. I would say that she could throw an eighteen gauge in a dehydrated, obese, diabetic patient from across the room. Somehow, miraculously, she kept her heart from turning to stone. With all the tragedy, drama, blood, sweat and tears she witnessed over decades, she still cared. She could still be empathetic and diplomatic. She was also a cat lover, which gets her bonus points in my estimation.

After last weeks Substack, Chicken Nugget wrote me to report that Kathy died recently in a car crash. I’ve been thinking about her since. When I went to Quaker Meeting on Sunday, I spoke up during joys and concerns. I told the Meeting that anyone there who had lived in our county for more than a decade, whether they had gone to the ED themselves, or a family member had, were touched by the life of Kathy Fox. She was the Chief Petty Officer, who kept that ship afloat and in fighting shape. She was a capital C Character, and with her death, this earth has lost one of its better angels.

MORE HISTORY, MOVING INTO THE PRESENT

In 2014 I graduated from the Family Nurse Practitioner program at SUNY Upstate Medical University. I was still working part-time in the ED at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY. A local internal medicine physician named Muhammad Wattoo hired me as the second practitioner in his primary care office. Wattoo, as he is called, is a doctor’s doctor. Literally. We had more doctors as patients than about any other practice in town, except maybe Ann and John Costello, two more doctor’s doctors.

I can’t say enough good things about the three of them. Ann was kind enough to let me do two of my clinical rotations in her office, and John gave me the best lesson ever on the proper technique to take a blood pressure. Mind you he was talking to me many years into my nursing career, and yes, I did learn something from his fifteen minute teaching moment. For his part, I still hear Mohammad’s voice in the back of my mind sometimes when I’m seeing a patient or working out a clinical problem.

In the olden days, and I’ll tell you this is starting to feel like I’m grandpa spinning a yarn about an event in the time of Lincoln, but it was actually just a decade ago…. In the olden days, the Costellos would host a journal club. They invited Wattoo, Adam Law (a British ex-pat guru of diabetes in our community), and little old me, to their home. They would pick a topic, about twenty relevant medical journal articles, and maybe even a book. We would read ahead of time, and after office hours, convene at their home around a table with hummus, crackers, nuts, fruit, tea, and an earnest desire to learn.

It was on such an occasion that the scales fell from my eyes on the topic of statins and cholesterol. Adam or John had put forth a book called Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, written by Dr John Abramson in 2008. Harbinger of the pandemic to come, the synopsis read: “Commercial distortion pervades the information that doctors rely upon to guide the prevention and treatment of common health problems, from heart disease to stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. The good news, as Dr. Abramson explains, is that the real scientific evidence shows that many of the things that you can do to protect and preserve your own health are far more effective than what the drug companies’ top-selling products can do for you—which is why the drug companies work so hard to keep this information under wraps.”

Dr Abramson lays out how the American medical obsession with cholesterol originated with Big Pharma. It was a planned epidemic, with drugs ready to solve it. Sound familiar? It’s still running strong today, despite the fact that the Framingham Diet Study put to rest the connection between saturated animal fats, cholesterol and heart disease beween 1948 and the 1960s in Boston, MA. “No association between percent of calories from fat and serum cholesterol level was shown; nor between ratio of plant fat to animal fat intake and serum cholesterol level.” AND, “There is, in short, no suggestion of any relation between diet and the subsequent development of CHD [coronary heart disease] in the study group.”  Why don’t we know this? Because these conclusions were not incorporated into the final report of the original investigators of the Framingham Heart Study. Never you mind those inconvenient details. Nor the fact that insurance compensation to medical practices is directly connected to their rigorous adherence to cholesterol management guidelines formulated by Big Pharma and rubber stamped by organizations such as the American Heart Association.

This was all obscene and disturbing before 2019, but then along came Covid and the spike protein, which has wreaked such havoc on our bodies that medical preoccupation with lowering blood lipids using statins has taken on much deadlier proportions. Here is a statement of observation for you. As a clinician who has treated several thousand patients for acute covid, post-acute sequelae of Covid (PASC) and Covid vaccine injury, I don’t think that I can help a patient fully recover if she/he/they is taking a statin. Period.

Let me step back from what is simply my expert opinion, as that is technically the lowest level of evidence. The Epoch Times, which has been almost consistently spot-on in its reporting of all things Covid (except the poorly written and researched article advocating exercise as the solution for PASC and vax injury, Lord help us), recently printed an article by Vance Voetberg about statins. The Epoch Times article featured a 2015 review, published in the Journal Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, which suggests that statins actively contribute to heart disease and heart failure by killing mitochondrial function, creating accumulated mitochondrial DNA damage, causing Vitamin K deficiencies, raising heart calcification, and ultimately driving millions of patients into heart failure. Say what!?! You read correctly. The authors state: “Thus, the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs.”

It is my observation that patients who I cannot persuade to leave behind statins inevitably plateau in their recovery, and then start to backslide. Why would that be? Covid is a mitochondrial slaughterhouse, and statins pour gasoline around it and light the fire. Without functional mitochondria, we don’t have ATP and energy, and so we witness the plague of fatigue in the wake of Covid infections and Covid vaccination. Without cholesterol entering our cells, we can’t make progenolone, our own homemade steroids, which we need to dampen the inflammatory fire. Without progenolone, we don’t have the building blocks to make hormones which control many body functions and are necessary for healthy endocrine function.

Alternatively, when we discontinue statins, and initiate therapy with Nattokinase, a soy-derived fermented supplement, what results is a very dependable magic trick. Patients who were not only on statins, but also one, two, and even three medications for their blood pressure are able to stop all four. They end up with picture-perfect blood lipids, an HDL level to make their cardiologist fawn, and rejuvenated blood vessels that are reflected in lower/healthier blood pressures. It happens in the relatively short time span of 2-6 months.

The benefits don’t stop there, because Nattokinase crosses the blood brain barrier and breaks down spike protein. Most importantly, it is part of a multi-pronged strategy in breaking down microclots. Now, not everyone can use Nattokinase, because it is soy-based, and patients with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome may not tolerate its embodied histamine from being a fermented product. Patients need to closely monitor their blood pressure and reduce or discontinue their blood pressure medications under their practitioner’s guidance as they advance Nattokinase dosing. In this way one can avoid low blood pressure, passing out, and falls. The main point here is that statins are unnecessary, dangerous, and vastly inferior to safer over-the-counter alternatives. This was true before the pandemic. Since 2019, it is a matter of health and sickness, life and death, to leave statins behind in the rear-view mirror.

In Memoriam to Kathy Ann Fox, April 3, 1954 – April 13, 2023.



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Drink it like you mean it

Drink it like you mean it


PAST

In 1976 my dad bought a meter maid scooter at the West Hartford, CT town auction. It was a 1969 Vespa with a 150cc engine. The Vespa was made in Italy, and derives its name from the shape of its body which resembles a wasp. The West Hartford Police had spray-painted over the POLICE lettering on the sides and it was a pretty metallic blue. I suspect this was one of those impulse buys which Dad didn’t clear with Mom, kind of like the Model A Ford he stored in some farmer’s barn until my mom saw a receipt for the monthly rent and extracted a new Singer sewing machine in the ensuing disagreement. He would have been about thirty-five years old, with three kids, a wife, steady job and about on time to feel a little restless.

I can reach back to that time and find the elusive feeling that all was right in the world, even if for a brief moment. Rides on the back of the Vespa, holding onto my dad, are some of the sweetest moments of my childhood. It would have been warm and sunny. He felt strong, and smelled good, like soap and aftershave – and dad. For a guy that had never ridden a motorcycle before, he was smooth with his shifting and handling in the curves of the road.

My dad died after New Years in 2000 from metastatic renal cancer. The Vespa we rode together in my childhood came to reside with us in Ithaca, NY. It had 10,000 miles on it, a tempermental clutch, a flywheel ready to seize at any moment, and many more dents and dings at the hands of my stepbrother and his pals. It afforded me many more moments of joy and laughter, as there was a scooter culture in Ithaca with an annual rally, and contingent in the parade during the annual Ithaca Festival. She was even dressed up with a grass skirt for the Hawaiian theme one year.

The day finally came when I passed the Vespa on to someone who would appreciate her, could fix her mechanical woes, and ensure more years of riding. Working in the ED has its hazards, and as time went by I cared for more patients injured, maimed and killed in motorcycle crashes. I lost my enthusiasm and gumption to ride. What I held onto were the moments riding with my dad. What makes me connect this to a Substack on healing the gastrointestinal tract is that it was a time when I felt calm, loved, and settled in my gut. The mind-body brain-gut axis isn’t just an idea. It’s an existential state.

Scott and the 1969 Vespa in a Hawaiian skirt for the Ithaca Festival parade

RECENT PAST

My classmates at SUNY Upstate in the MS-FNP program chose very reasonable topics for their Master’s research: antibiotic resistance in the ICU, throughput in the Emergency Department (ED), diabetic education in the outpatient clinic. I don’t set out to be the weirdo, it just happens. My focus was juicing, as in fruits and vegetables, as a transitional tool for better health. When we presented our research my classmates were committing death by Power Point, i.e. reading every word on the slide that you can read faster than them. I lugged in my Breville juicer, two grocery sacks of produce, and made the audience some juice to remember!

There are a lot of studies about juice. It turns out that the NIH has funded many of these due to an interest in the power of phytonutrients. Some of my favorites included sour cherry juice in marathon runners as an alternative to Ibuprofen or NSAIDS, or use of fresh orange juice to reduce incidence of stroke. The standout studies for me were a trio on raw cabbage juice to heal peptic ulcers.

In the world of evidence based medicine, new is sexy, and old is not. There are however some very well done studies if you are willing to go back in time. There was also a change in attitude about the rights of test subjects in the 1970s.

Between 2010, when I began my studies at SUNY Upstate, and 2021, when I left employment in the ED, I had to complete biannual training related to the ethics of experimenting on human subjects, the origins of Instituational Review Boards (IRB), and my role in regulatory compliance. There was a lengthy online program through Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). If the intention of these trainings was to ensure that the entire clinical staff of our research institutions understood the history of unethical research practices and stood up for the right to informed consent, the pandemic proved it was an epoch fail. Upstate was no better than any place else, pushing patients to receive Remdesivir, providing unequal treatment to the unvaccinated, and mandating the Covid shots for all of its employees. Some day in this Substack I will write about how the first Covid shot which I received, which countless Upstate staff and volunteers also received, was Pfizer batch EK9231. It was a bad batch which injured, disabled and killed more people than any other Pfizer vaccine batch in recorded history.

The history which we were supposed to study and learn from starts with The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. It was conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the United States Public Health Service (PHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a group of nearly 400 African American men with syphilis. Its participants were not informed of the nature of the experiment, nor were they treated, and as a result, up to 100 of them died. The study’s gross ethical violations hit the press in 1972, which led to the 1979 Belmont Report and the establishment of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) and federal laws and regulations requiring IRBs for the protection of human subjects in studies.

Back to the human labs rats. In 1949, 1952, and 1956 there were three separate studies which evaluated the effectiveness of raw cabbage juice in healing peptic ulcer disease. The 1956 double blind experimental study was conducted on prisoners at San Quentin in California, after obtaining permission from Dr Morton Willcutts, the medical director. The authors commented that “The advantages of using the prison facilities for investigation of this type cannot be overemphasized.” Ahh, the good old days.

Unlike the men of the Tuskegee Experiment, the prisoners of San Quentin who received the experimental treament got better, really quickly in fact. Most had complete healing of the ulcer craters within three weeks. Prisoners who had failed treatment with placebo were later rotated through treatment with cabbage juice and also had complete healing.

Ironically, at the time I was immersed in my study of more than 200 research articles on juicing, I was experiencing a severe bought of esophagitis. My Cardiologist had increased my daily potassium supplementation over time as he chased a serum level above 4.0 mEq/L, reaching a dose of 40mEq twice a day. I hadn’t made the connection that the potassium was injuring me, but my PCP did, and we stopped the potassium. The question was how to heal my esophagus? An NP colleague in the ED suggested a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) such as Omeprazole, but I already had reason to be wary of them. See below. I settled on two weeks of Zantac, an H2 or acid blocker. Then I bought some cabbage and got down to juicing.

Raw cabbage juice could be described as cruel and unusual punishment, but if you are motivated to heal without drugs that could injure or kill you, it’s a fabulous option. My advice would be the same as Canadian country singer Corb Lund, just substitute cabbage juice for whiskey:

Drink it like you mean it, like the serious people do
If you’re down and broken hearted and you’ve got good reason to
Drink it like you mean it to the bottom of the glass
With resolve and strong intention, drink it right down to the last

Speedy isn’t fast enough to describe my recovery. It took two days flat to be healed. That made quite an impression upon me, and I’ve been more than happy to share this experience and recommend the cabbage juice adventure with many patients since that time.

Here are a couple of pointers. When using fresh vegetable or fruit juice as a transition to a healthier diet, or a tool for healing, only make enough juice for immediate consumption. The phytonutrients break down quickly. Try to use only enough fruit or sweet vegetables like carrots to make the juice palatable to you, as the sugars are calorie laden and can promote inflammation. With cabbage juice in particular, buy a large head as it will be sweeter than a small head. Organic produce can have more than three times the nutrient content of conventional produce and doesn’t have the herbicides and pesticides which could be counterproductive to healing. A quarter of a large cabbage head is usually enough to make about a cup of cabbage juice. It is best to drink it by itself on an empty stomach. If you have to cut it with another veggie or fruit, you can.

PRESENT

Proton-pump inhibitors or PPIs such as Omeprazole (Prilosec), Nexium, Prevacid and Protonix are used to treat gastroinestinal disorders such as heartburn, acid reflux, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and Barrett’s esophagus. They are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world. The US market is currently valued at $2.3 billion and forecast to grow to $4.9 billion within the decade. About 15 million Americans use them annually,

Before the pandemic, I understood that PPIs were problematic. The National Health Service (NHS) of the UK had found that PPIs were the source of increased antibiotic resistant gastrointestinal (GI) infections. This lead to a decrease in their use in the UK. (An aside, which is a rabbit hole I couldn’t bear to go down, is that the NHS withdrew previous guidance re: limiting use of PPIs to prevent harm. Under whose influence?) It was also known that PPIs cause iron deficient anemia, and inhibit absorption of B-12 and calcium, so can contribute to neuropathic symptoms, osteopenia and osteoporosis. More recent evidence suggests contributions to neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. These drugs were never meant to be long-term therapies, but that is exactly what they have become for many patients in the United States.

In China, only the wealthy minority could afford PPIs, and the rest of the population had to settle for H2 blockers like Famotidine or Pepcid. In 2020, there was a Chinese study which spoke to this dynamic. I read it in January of 2022, just as we were launching our telemedicine practice. It concluded that use of PPIs within the previous 30 days was associated with a 90% increased risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19.

With this information in mind, I was alert to the presence of PPIs on the med lists of new patients we were treating for acute Covid, as well as those presenting with post-acute sequelae of Covid (PASC) or vaccine injury. At the time I would tell them that although we didn’t yet know why, use of PPIs was associated with worse outcomes in Covid, and we should try to wean them off that medication. The simplest thing I could say was that millions of years of evolution had lead to every mammal on earth having an acidic stomach, and it was probably unwise to fiddle with this process.

Most patients were willing and able to discontinue their PPIs. One of the Registered Nurses in our practice, Kara Gabrielson, became adept at crafting weaning schedules for patients, so that they could slowly titrate their dose and transition to H2 blockers, then non-prescription approaches. We knew that sudden cessation of PPIs was a terrible idea, because our bodies stop making as much acid when we are on these medications. When we stop them abruptly, there is usually a burst of acid production which can leave a patient in agony from terrible acid reflux and heartburn.

In July of 2022, I was on the floor of our living room doing stretches one morning. It had become my routine to listen to the Wednesday FLCCC Webinar broadcast on Saturdays. During one of these episodes with Dr Paul Marik and Dr Mobeen Syed I learned why PPIs lead to more severe clinical outcomes in Covid. Dr Marik dropped the truth bomb, and I sat straight up, yelling out. My wife thought I’d been hurt and came running in to see what was wrong. I reassured her that I was fine, but just found out that PPIs don’t just decrease the acid in our stomachs, but also in our cells.

A fundamental process by which our bodies take out the garbage and combat pathogens is via the lysozomes in our cells. These are little pockets of acid, which are gathered together, and fused with little sacks that contain deformed proteins or pathogens. If there aren’t enough lysozomes, or they aren’t acidic enough, they can’t do their job. It would be like chewing a piece of meat, but not quite enough, swallowing, and then choking on it.

After this revelation I doubled down on guiding patients to get off PPIs. The pattern became clearer. There was a small number of patients who could not or would not discontinue their PPIs, and they were not progressing in their recovery. They could get to a certain point, but would then plateau, or backslide. The worse case scenario was that they were on both a statin and a PPI, and their PCP, Gastroenterologist, Cardiologist, and other system practitioners were lobbying hard for them to continue these medications. Often they aren’t ready to dedicate the time and energy to learning new behaviors such as chewing longer, avoiding alcohol, and eating at least four hours before bedtime. I’m sympathetic, as I love wine and know enough about it to find a good glass or bottle on a menu in a restaurant, but at this point, it mostly isn’t worth the adverse effects. I’m also sympathetic, because I know how ferociously the system docs defend the use of these harmful medications.

What are your alternatives to PPIs? As mentioned in my Substack on aluminum containing drugs, first and foremost, knowledge. Dr Sherry Rogers recently updated her classic No More Heartburn: The Safe, Effective Way to Prevent and Heal Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders. Buy it, read it, and act upon it. Take time to chew your food, drink less liquids with your meals, drink less alcohol, eat fewer processed foods, and limit caffeine intake. Try using oral liquid aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and slippery elm bark to heal your inflamed gut. Eat a healthier diet, and cultivate a more robust microbiome, preferably with cultured foods and liquids rather than proprietary pills and potions promising probiotic nirvana.

Aligning our mind and body along the brain-gut axis is essential to recovery in PASC and vaccine injury. Each day that I work with our team at The Leading Edge Clinic, I’m sensitive to how we are pushing against the limits of a broken healthcare system which peddles harmful medications to patients who are suffering. What buoys my spirit is when patients realize their body’s inherent capacity to heal. Every day we expand our knowledge and capacity to counter spikopathy, reject harmful chemicals and poisons, and harness safer resources to regain function and hope in our lives.



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