An Excerpt From Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”

Source: Biography

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 27 September, 1962

Through all these new, imaginative, and creative approaches to the problem of sharing our earth with other creatures there runs a constant theme, the awareness that we are dealing with life — with living populations and all their pressures and counter pressures, their surges, and recessions. Only by taking account of such life forces and by cautiously seeking to guide them into channels favorable to ourselves can we hope to achieve a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves.

The current vogue for poisons has failed utterly to take into account these most fundamental considerations. As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life -– a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no “high-minded orientation,” no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper.

The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from that Stone Age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modem and terrible weapons and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.

The book’s dedication:

To Albert Schweitzer who said,

“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.”

Cover of the first edition. Published 27 September 1962.

Wikipedia:

Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting the industry’s marketing claims unquestioningly.

Exactly 60 years ago. Has anything changed?

That We Think Carrots Improve Vision, Especially In The Dark, Was Borne From World War II Propaganda

And propaganda can be pretty powerful.

Do Carrots Really Help You See In The Dark?, BBC Science Focus, 2013

Yes and no. Carrots contain vitamin A, or retinol*, and this is required for your body to synthesise rhodopsin, which is the pigment in your eyes that operates in low-light conditions. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, you will develop nyctalopia or night blindness. Eating carrots would correct this and improve your night vision, but only to the point of an ordinary healthy person – it won’t ever let you see in complete darkness.

The idea that it might is due to a myth begun by the Air Ministry in World War II. To prevent the Germans finding out that Britain was using radar to intercept bombers on night raids, they issued press releases stating that British pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them exceptional night vision. This fooled the British public, as well as German High Command and an old wive’s tale was born.

* The carotenoids in carrots are not technically retinol, the body converts them to retinol as needed.

A World War II propaganda poster:

One of the many advertisements that appeared during WWII that encouraged the consumption of carrots for help seeing during the blackouts. Image courtesy of Flickr user US National Archives Bot

So, the Germans started eating carrots…

There are apocryphal tales that the Germans started feeding their own pilots carrots, as they thought there was some truth in it.

And Britons started eating carrots…

the British public generally believed that eating carrots would help them see better during the citywide blackouts.

And Americans did too.

That was one bit of war propaganda that worked because I just can’t let go of the notion that eating carrots improves vision. It probably doesn’t:

Although there is a grain of truth to the claim, most people will not experience positive changes in their vision from eating carrots unless they have a vitamin A deficiency.

Are Americans deficient? The NIH says, “vitamin A deficiency is uncommon in the U.S. population.”

And really, if it’s vitamin A we’re after, a half cup of boiled spinach has more vitamin A than a half cup of raw carrots. And a sweet potato has more than 3 times the vitamin A of those carrots. Amazing how effective propaganda can be.

Image and two quotes above from:
A WWII Propaganda Campaign Popularized the Myth That Carrots Help You See in the Dark, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 August 2013
How a ruse to keep German pilots confused gave the Vitamin-A-rich vegetable too much credit

Walking Through A Doorway Impedes One’s Ability To Retrieve Thoughts Made In A Different Room

Can The Act Of Walking Through A Doorway Cause Forgetfulness?, Brian Roemmele, Quora

The author replies: “Yes, there are studies that are compelling.” He cites this study:

Walking Through Doorways Causes Forgetting: Further Explorations, Quarterly Journal Of Experimental Psychology, August 2011.

Study author:

We found that the subjects forgot more after walking through a doorway [either virtual or real] compared to moving the same distance across a room, suggesting that the doorway or “event boundary” impedes one’s ability to retrieve thoughts or decisions made in a different room.

Also, subjects couldn’t remember what they forgot if they returned to the original room:

Subjects in this leg of the study passed through several doorways, leading back to the room in which they started. The results showed no improvements in memory, suggesting that the act of passing through a doorway serves as a way the mind files away memories.

From the study:

Overall, it is quite clear that memory for recently experienced information is affected by the structure of the surrounding environment.

As Roemmele says, this can be helpful in two ways … Feeling upset? Walk into another room, better yet, walk outside. Want to focus? Stay where you are.

We “Must” Eat Animal Food

Approximately Half Of Total Protein Intake By Adults Must Be Animal-Based To Meet Non-Protein Nutrient-Based Recommendations With Variation Due To Age And Sex, Journal of Nutrition, 11 July 2022

Notes:

Sources of Support: MS-Nutrition and MoISA received financial support from the French National Interprofessional Association of Livestock and Meat (Interbev).

Hahhahaaa…

It’s Harder For Older Adults To Maintain Body Temperature When It’s Cold (Fluid Is Vital)

In light of heating limitations throughout Europe this winter, I’m reposting this. e.g. Germany:
Germany Approves Limits On Heating Public Buildings To Save Energy, The Guardian 24 August 2022

Public buildings ranging from town halls to railway waiting rooms may not be heated to warmer than 19C (66.2F), and that radiators in corridors, foyers, entranceways and technical rooms must be turned off.

It’s happening in Spain too. France is lowering temps to 18C (64.4F). There’s also plans for temporary 2-hour blackouts, if needed. It’s going to be a cold winter in Europe.

So, here we go…

________
It’s harder for older people to stay warm when it’s cold:
Body Temperature, Kevin Kregel, PhD, Healthy Aging Project, University of Colorado Boulder, 2017

Some of the mechanisms we rely on to regulate internal temperature become less effective as we age.

I’ll just post the cold conditions. They also discuss hot conditions.

Cold Conditions
In an effort to defend body temperature, our bodies decrease blood flow to the skin to reduce heat loss. We also increase internal heat production through several mechanisms. One example is shivering—or the rapid contraction of muscles—which can quickly produce large quantities of heat within the body. But as we grow older, our bodies become less effective at controlling skin blood flow and generating internal heat. In addition, the layer of fat under our skin that acts as an isolator and helps to conserve body heat thins with age. Because of these changes, it is harder for older adults to maintain internal body temperature in the “normal” range in cold conditions.

Their recommendations are intuitive: raise the temperature of the room, wear more clothes, drink warm beverages. One they didn’t emphasize was to drink more fluid overall. We lose more fluid during cold conditions (see below), and as we age our thirst sensation decreases so we don’t replace lost fluid effectively. And adequate fluid is necessary to regulate our body temperature (thermoregulation).

It looks like the US military commissioned a report on the nutritional needs of personnel in cold temperatures. Chapter 9 dealt with dehydration. Great information:

Nutritional Needs In Cold And In High-Altitude Environments: Applications for Military Personnel in Field Operations, National Academy of Sciences, 1996.
9. Influence of Cold Stress on Human Fluid Balance

Factors Causing Dehydration In Cold Conditions

1. Cold-Induced Diuresis – We urinate more when we’re exposure to cold. It’s thought to be caused by movement of fluid from peripheral tissues to core when peripheral blood vessels constrict to keep the core warm.
2. Respiratory Water Losses – The amount of water vapor exhaled approximately doubles at -4 degrees F (100% humidity) versus 77 degrees F (65% humidity) (Despite high relative humidities cold air contains significantly less water vapor than does warmer air of even lower relative humidity.) The more one exercises in cold weather, the more vapor is lost.
3. Cold-Weather Clothing – Heavy or well-insulated clothing can trap heat and induce sweating to rid the core of that heat. Moderate-to-heavy exercise performed in clothing with high insulation can generate upwards of 2 liters of sweat per hour.
4. Metabolic Cost of Movement – Walking in snow versus a clear sidewalk increases our metabolic rate. Also, cold-weather clothing can be cumbersome and has been measured to increase metabolism by an additional 10 to 20%. Increased metabolic rate = increased water losses through lungs and sweating.
5. Reduced Fluid Intake – Voluntary dehydration (a reduced sensation of thirst) occurs when humans undergo stress. It occurs in hot climates and may be more pronounced in cold climates.

Did you see that number 5? Reduced thirst sensation? Older adults already have a reduced thirst sensation. Add to that reduced thirst due to cold weather and they may never feel like drinking!

Impact Of Dehydration

1. Physical and Cognitive Performance – Studies document significant reductions in muscular strength, muscular endurance, manual dexterity, coordination, and both aerobic and anaerobic work capacity, due to cold-induced dehydration. It has also been shown to reduce cognitive performance.
2. Thermoregulation – You can get too hot (because of reduced sweating) or too cold when dehydrated..
3. Cold-Injury – Dehydration can blunt cold-induced vasodilation, increasing susceptibility to cold injury. (Have you ever banged your hand when it was cold?)
4. A Change in Disposition:

Orth (1949) provides a summary of the potential effects of dehydration on soldiers’ health and performance in cold environments: “The lack of sufficient fluids in the diet to maintain a positive water balance causes at first a change in disposition, sullenness, loss of appetite, chronic thirst, discipline begins to suffer … and finally failing physical efficiency. The final step is dehydration exhaustion, this can take place in 3–4 hours in the desert, but it also can take place in as little as two days in the Arctic where solid water abounds” (p. 205).

Shivering? Irritable? Headache? Constipation? Fatigue? Inability to focus? You may not be drinking enough.

Hot beverages, even if they contain caffeine, can count towards your daily fluid intake. The diuretic effect of caffeine-containing beverages is weak and won’t compromise hydration.

The Thymus Gland

I’ve been reading about the thymus gland. I thought this was a good review:

An Overview of the Thymus Gland, Lynne Eldridge MD, Very Well Health, 18 April 2022
Playing a role in immunity, autoimmunity, and aging

The thymus gland is a small organ in the upper chest … under the breast bone, above the heart, and sandwiched between two lung lobes. (it is distinct from the thyroid gland which sits several inches higher.)

The site above has a great interactive that you can use to view the gland from various perspectives. Here’s its basic location:

Note the location of the thyroid.

As we age, the thymus – a very important immune system organ – shrinks.

Your thymus gland reaches its maximum size when you’re a teenager. Then, it starts to shrink slowly. By the time you turn 75 years old, your thymus gland turns to fat.

The thymus makes lymphocytes or white blood cells. Actually, those cells are made in bone marrow and travel to the thymus to mature.

T-lymphocytes (T-cells) protect against infection and keep cancer cells at bay.

There are 3 main types:

  • Cytotoxic T-cells: These cells directly kill infected cells (include CD8+ T-cells)
  • Helper T-cells: These cells enlist B-lymphocytes (B-cells) to make antibodies. They also activate cytotoxic T-cells to kill infected cells. (include CD4+ T-cells)
  • Regulatory T-cells: These cells function as “police.” They suppress both B-cells and other T-cells if they are mistakenly harming the body.

As T-cells mature inside the thymus, they are taught to recognize foreign particles:

The part of the thymus called the cortex is where the T-cell boot camp training is held. Here, young T-cells learn to identify antigens or toxins linked to foreign cells and matter. This process is called “positive selection.”

Once the T-cells recognize specific pathogens, they travel to another part of the thymus gland called the medulla. Here, they get a different kind of training, “negative selection.” They’re introduced to the body’s antigens, so they don’t attack and harm them.

This prevents autoimmune disorders. These are medical conditions where things go wrong, and your cells attack your body tissues and cells instead of foreign invaders.

Not all T-cells make it through this selection process. Only about 2% eventually make it through both positive and negative selection.

Next, the survivors get exposed to hormones produced by the thymus gland to complete their training. Then they are released to do their job.

The body takes autoimmunity – self attacks – quite seriously. If T-cells start attacking our own tissues, we’re cooked. Multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, are some of the autoimmune diseases that develop when the immune system goes awry.

The tapping issue …

Some people tap or thump their chest in the area of their thymus purportedly to “stimulate” it. I can’t find any good research that says tapping the thymus “strengthens or boosts” the immune system. (Vague terms!) Does it increase production of T-cells or something else that can be measured? Maybe it does, I just haven’t seen it.

I am inclined to believe that tapping this area, or any particular area, falls under the umbrella of energy therapy (e.g. acupressure or qi-gong tapping). Some of these therapies do have research to back them up (like this study on wrist acupressure and nausea.)

People are either quick to dismiss energy therapies as unscientific or quick to embrace them. In the middle are people like me who try to keep an open mind. I like to see well-run trials or controlled population studies but just because I don’t understand how something may work doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

One more point … Saying that tapping near the thymus somehow affects the immune system seems like a way to legitimize energy therapy to a non-energy-therapy-believing Western world. It gives focus to an actual immune system organ.

Further reading:
Histology, T-Cell Lymphocyte, StatPearls, 8 May 2022
Is There Any Benefit To “Tapping” Therapy?, Dr. Weil, 14 October 2021

Spike Protein Found In Hearts Of Myocarditis Patients Post-Vaccination

The CDC has confirmed that heart inflammation or myocarditis can occur after receipt of mRNA COVID vaccines.

What is the mechanism?

This study found mRNA-generated spike protein in biopsies of some of those patients’ hearts:

Intramyocardial Inflammation after COVID-19 Vaccination: An Endomyocardial Biopsy-Proven Case Series, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22 June 2022

Myocarditis in response to COVID-19 vaccination has been reported since early 2021. In particular, young male individuals have been identified to exhibit an increased risk of myocardial inflammation following the administration of mRNA-based vaccines.

Here, we present a comprehensive histopathological analysis of endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs) from 15 patients with reduced ejection fraction (LVEF = 30 (14-39)%) and the clinical suspicion of myocarditis following vaccination with Comirnaty® (Pfizer-BioNTech) (n = 11), Vaxzevria® (AstraZenica) (n = 2) and Janssen® (Johnson & Johnson) (n = 2).

Immunohistochemical EMB analyses reveal myocardial inflammation in 14 of 15 patients.

Importantly, infectious causes have been excluded in all patients.

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has been detected sparsely on cardiomyocytes of nine patients, and differential analysis of inflammatory markers such as CD4+ and CD8+ T cells suggests that the inflammatory response triggered by the vaccine may be of autoimmunological origin. Although a definitive causal relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and the occurrence of myocardial inflammation cannot be demonstrated in this study, data suggest a temporal connection. The expression of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein within the heart and the dominance of CD4+ lymphocytic infiltrates indicate an autoimmunological response to the vaccination.

How did spike protein get into their hearts? CDC said spike was produced locally (in the arm) and removed by the body in a week or two.

The spike protein was found in sparse cells (cardiomyocytes) in 9 of 15 cases (Figure 2).

Autoimmunity a factor?

Because viral infections have been ruled out as the cause for myocarditis/myocardial inflammation, autoimmunological mechanisms might be an explanation.

Why is the body attacking itself (autoimmunity)?

Cross-reactivity of spike protein antibodies with myocardial contractile proteins, mRNA immune reactivity and hormonal involvement, have been discussed as potential mechanisms by which COVID-19 mRNA vaccines induce hyperimmunity [20].

Spike protein has been found in post-vaccine shingles lesions and now the heart.

Thus, vaccine-encoded spike protein seems to reach the heart, where it might trigger an inflammatory response, resulting in the development of myocarditis.