Outside the robins are gobbling hawthorn berries, one after the other. The tree will be bare in another day. Hawthorn berries contain the same antioxidant, oligomeric procyandins (OPCs), as grapes, as well as the flavanoid quercitin, which can be found in the outer rings of red onions and in cranberries, broccoli, blueberries and several other vegetables and fruits. As every organic-seeking shopper knows, antioxidants destroy free radicals, the compounds that damage cell membranes in your body. Free radicals mess with your DNA, especially as you age. Free radicals occur naturally in your body's internal systems, but things like smoking release an inordinate amount of the suckers, and in excess with too much freedom the radicals will literally kill you. Hence, you need antioxidant filled foods like raw blueberries and kale, to name just two, to do battle with the free radicals which bring on cancer and heart disease.
For 2,000 years or more hawthorn berries have been consumed as an unofficial treatment for heart disease. Two hundred years ago American doctors were employing hawthorn berries as a curative for circulatory and respiratory ailments. A 2008 study concluded that a hawthorn extract provides “a significant benefit in symptom control and physiologic outcomes” in the treatment of chronic heart failure. A 2010 review noted a need for further study, but also stated that Crataegus (hawthorn) preparations “hold significant potential as a useful remedy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.”
The benefits of natural remedies have served mankind for thousands of years, but in the television and computer age those have largely been replaced by prescription medications, especially in the United States. Scan a cross section of television channels and you'll find a miasma of drug commercials. That's right, drugs — but we're not talking cannabis here, we're talking drugs with side effects as serious as meth or heroin. Heroin is not that far from what big pharmaceutical companies have been peddling to the American populace. Heroin kills about ten Americans per day. Prescription drugs kill approximately 50. And that's after a slight drop in deaths attributable to prescription drugs in the past few years.
The trend for the last two decades is decidedly upward. More and more of our fellow citizens are becoming addicted to, and being killed by, prescription drugs. Here are some specifics: more American women are dying from painkiller overdoses than cervical cancer and auto accidents. Over the last decade and a half, those death rates stand side by side with the rise in sales for opioids like Vicodin.
With over 12 million Americans addicted to prescription painkillers, the problem might appear to have moved beyond a negative tipping point; however, there could be a ray of hope on the horizon. Chronologically speaking many readers have probably been passed by and left in the dark by the mainstream media. How many of you knew that six months ago Santa Clara and Orange Counties filed suit against five of the largest pharmaceutical producers of painkillers? The lawsuits accuse the corporations of causing a nationwide drug epidemic through “a campaign of deception” in which the goal was to boost sales of potentially lethal painkillers such as OxyContin. The legal filings allege that the pharmaceutical companies violated California's unfair business practice laws as well as laws aimed at preventing false advertising. The complaint specifically accuses the five drugmaking giants — Actavis; Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson); Purdue Pharma (producer of Percocet and Percodan); and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' Cephalon Inc. — of encouraging patients such as well-insured seniors and veterans to ask their doctors for prescription painkillers to treat relatively common maladies like headache, back pain, and arthritis. The lawsuit further alleges that narcotic painkiller prescriptions have become so commonplace that they have created “a population of addicts” that has also given rise to a resurgence in the use and abuse of heroin.
At last month's Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) candidates' forum the emphasis was on the then-upcoming Wellness Festival which highlighted health screenings, nutrition, local providers of yoga, and a river walk/run event. Those are all fine pursuits, but not a single candidate for the MCDH Board of Directors mentioned any type of drug issues on the Coast, let alone problems arising from overuse of prescription drugs. According to those present at least one question noting this imbalance in priorities was submitted to the intermediaries asking the questions, but no such drug addiction query was deemed worthy of mention. Such are the blinders in place on the otherwise lovely Mendocino Coast.