Monday, August 22, 2005

School Days Stress Reliever

In the wanning of summer and falling ahead, it's the time of year when resolutions are revisited. School starts, routines bump up to accommodate an array of activities, not the least of which is keeping active. Here's an easily incorporated exercise approach via LifeHacker For more concentrated resource in getting rid of the stress around clutter try Get Organized Now .

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


How do they do that, is the medial question of the day. Check this out.

This is a heart monitoring pill It's being used by the NFL to monitor players, during training camp, in the wake of a couple of fatalities. It is rather amazing, however scary too. Imagine the dark side every pill contains a monitoring device hmmm. It's now possible. Thinking a little further, this technology could go along way to resolving the mystery around herbal therapies and what they do or don't' do. At the same time Vioxx might not make it. However no doubt someone can figure out how to 'tweak' the monitor.

And this is an interface for a laser surgery procedure that can be done and has been done over the Internet.

"In an effort to combine sophisticated laser and Internet technologies, scientists in Australia have successfully performed laser surgery and “optical trapping” in a Southern California laboratory via the Internet.

...In a proof-of-principle series of experiments, the scientists from UC Irvine, UC San Diego and the University of Queensland employed RoboLase to produce surgical holes in a distinct pattern of less than one micron in diameter (1/1000th of a millimeter) in single cells"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Waiting List For Herbs

Macleans reports Canada Health Food Directorate has approved 522 of 8180 applications for certification since its inception 2 years ago. All alternative health care products must be licensed by June 2006. There are 30,000 applications in the pipeline.

How do you spell boondoggle? The Health Food Directorate, arbitrarily created by Health Canada monitors the alternative medicine industry. It creates and applies standards similar to those applied to drugs, manufactured from synthetically created chemicals.

Alternative products are not drugs. They are food, plants, or minerals, which have medicinal properties established by practice as opposed to patent.

"Edmonton-based CV Technologies Inc. has a hit with its COLD-fX capsules, made from an extract of chemicals found in North American ginseng. ... For a new natural product like COLD-fX, scientific support is required to show that it does what it's supposed to and is safe to use -- similar to what's demanded for the approval of non-natural drugs and prescription medicines. "

Ginseng is not a chemical. Blending natural ingredients does not make them chemicals.

Compare alternative product policy regulation to this Health Canada advisory . Regulations that create waiting lists and statutory bias are impediments to good health.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Knee TV - update

A couple of clarifications are required from yesterday's Knee TV post. Dale Alton, from AMMS, says the extremity MRI is focused on foot- ankle-knee- hand- wrist and elbow. Also, internet distribution of the images will come via local internet providers, not Alberta Teleheath.

"The term Telehealth is used to describe the delivery of health services, educational programs, or collaboration in research using interactive video, audio, and computer technologies. It allows instantaneous consultation, physical examination, study of x-rays and laboratory findings, supervision of treatment or educational discussions among participants in diverse locations." Alberta Telehealth

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Joint TV

Imagine, 'Knee TV' watching your own MRI, with instant commentary, from a radiologist 300 kilometers away

Knee TV' isn't going to generate 'Survivor' type ratings. However, if you've got a 'joint' or some other extremity, in need of repair, there's a leading edge Alberta solution designed to get you back in the game, quickly.Alberta public policy, in health care and communication, has intersected two image technologies-- digital image distribution and medical imaging.

The health care policy is Alberta's third way. Internet distribution comes via Alberta Telehealth Consider it a heath care dividend, for your portion of the $400 million invested in Alberta Supernet. The medical imaging technology comes from Advanced Medical Mobile Services, an Edmonton based medical imaging company.

AMMS is testing its' extremity MRI machine, at the NorMed Rehab centre, in Sherwood Park. Extremity MRI technology focuses on body parts: knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles.

The service isn't licensed yet. Capital Health is sorting out some issues. When it is, here's how you'll be able to use it. You'll need a medical referral. Your doctor or physiotherapist can provide that. Once you have it, you'll be able to book an appointment directly, or through Alberta Health. The direct service will be available on demand. It costs $395 for a single joint MRI.

"This will change physiotherapy procedures", says Audrey Bjornstadt, owner of NorMed Rehab. Currently, the first couple of sessions of physiotherapy are typically assessment and program development. " With this, we'll be able to condense rehab time", Bjornstadt says.

Imagine, what "Knee TV" may do for your health and well being. Looks good to me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Supreme Court Champions Choice for Medical Care

"Access to a waiting list is not access to health care."

That is the key message from the Supreme Court's ruling this week.

The duplicity of Canada's (non) Universal health care system has been exposed. Not only is there private service delivery in the current system, there is privileged service too. Mindelle Jacobs reported there are four medical care tiers not two.

Monopolies do not foster innovation. They limit choice and charge high prices. Canadians have been duped. Government measures it success by how much of your money it spends. Then turns around and restricts access to what you can receive from so called universal medical care coverage by de-listing or creating approved services lists. On top of that, it creates criteria for clinically approved waiting periods, entrenching wait lists as opposed to eliminating them. Just a few weeks ago health Canada said it was spending $15 million to determine what is acceptable waiting time.

There is no acceptable waiting time. There is no need for it. Waiting list were created by politicians for their benefit. The next election is shaping up as more than just a referendum on political integrity it will determine the future of your accesss to medical care.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Half a Billion Dollars to market Vioxx

In the year 2000, Merck spent $590 Million marketing Vioxx. Total sales of $40 Billion, of which Vioxx's category comprised $2.3 Billion. These are just two pieces of financial data uncovered by Elisa Camahort in a piece called Pharmaceutical Marketing Costs.

Most of the marketing effort is targeted at doctors. So when the drug companies say "consult your doctor", know they already have. Transparency and the ethics of marketing might be good point to make to Health Canada. It has opened the floor to you, as part of a public hearing into Cox-2 Inhitibtors, anti inflammatory drugs. The public hearing is slated for June 9th . You can participate through a Health Canada website. It is rather detailed process to get to the survey form. However it is your chance to influence some health care policy. It is worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dandelion Good for you and your Garden

It may sound incredulous however, Dandelions are good for you, and your garden.

Pesky Weed

Perhaps the lesson is in the fact that all the effort to eliminate the plant has not worked very well. Juli Knight has insight on how to prepare the pesky weed for the salad bowl. Dealing with Dandelions is for those willing to consider options in the garden. Dandelion Wine may be worth a

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dandilion Cures my Itch

So on my early morning constitutional with my canine companion on Saturday morning I picked up a skin rash following him through the grass. By this morning the itch was quite annoying. So I went for the dandelion. I read somewhere awhile ago that the old "weed" is good for a number of things and promptly unconsciously dismissed the notion.
Dandelion field However while venturing through the same field this morning I took the dandelion cure. Three applications later and no itch. I rubbed the flower on the itchy area. In the event this anecdote doesn't reach the new England Journal of Medicine, you may consider giving it a try for whatever psoriasis you stumble into this summer. It works for me on mosquito bites too.

So while Canadian science seeks ways to elminate the plant by killing it, harvesting it offers less invasive alternative uses wine and salad come to mind.

University of Maryland Medical Center
Holistic Online

Organic Food Resource

If you are looking to eat a little better, and to learn what it takes to do that , click here

Friday, May 27, 2005

West Nile Headlines = Deet Commercial

Newspaper headlines can sure be misleading.

"Camp life can make you sick"

"Risk is Lower in the north but West Nile Virus is still out there"

Conditions ripe for outbreak of West Nile Virus health officials say

"West Nile Virus panel prepares for o5 on onslaught"

mosquito2 The best punch line to a headline ..."if you go out, make sure you wear products that contain DEET." Is there a better commercial than" expert" endorsement, in the news ?

There are lots of natural alternatives to Deet. It is not good for your skin and is bigger threat to your health than West Nile.

“But to put it in perspective, if 100 people were bitten by a mosquito that had West Nile Virus, 80 of them would show no symptoms. Out of roughly 20 percent that would show symptoms, about one percent of those would have serious symptoms.”

The West Nile 'buzz' is generated by concocting an issue. Mosquitoes are dangerous to your health. That effort induces you to buy repellent and local municipalities to use your tax money to buy mosquito eliminating pesticides. The campaign is adroitly marketed under the guise of public health and safety. It is repeated every spring and summer, producing guaranteed royalty revenue for Johnson&Johnson a health care company.

Will Rogers got it right 062903 Mosquitoes

Just a sample of today's West Nile News ... Where's Amanda Congdon?

"Camp life can make you sick"
"Risk is Lower in the north but West Nile Virus is still out there"
Conditions ripe for outbreak of West Nile Virus health officials say

"West Nile Virus panel prepares for o5 onslaught"

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Waiting Lists Befuddle Supreme Court

You may not have heard of Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, however you may very soon. He's a Montreal Doctor. Last June, he got a Supreme Court hearing challenging the constitutionality of the public medical system. He claimed waiting lists are unconstitutional . For some mysterious reason in the last week, this case has garnered the attention of a host of vested interests, the media, the Council of Canadians, and the Fraser Institute. The latter two are polar opposites, when it comes to what should be done to shorten waiting lists.

The Supreme Court creates its own waiting list. It has taken just about a year to make a decision on this case. It began7 years ago. Will it rule in favor or choice or in favor of publicly funded monopoly? Depends which vested interest is to be served. Remember each Justice notwithstanding their credentials and experience in law, is a Prime Ministerial appointee. That's the way it is in Canada and that may not necessarily be beneficial to your health.

Meanwhile Health Canada confirmed it is putting up 15 million over 4 years to study determined standards for "clinically" approved waiting periods. Translation the bureaucracy is going to tell you how long you will wait for service depending on what your medical condition is. If the public medical care monopoly is ruled constitutional, your options are removed you wait.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


We're into the very brief warm weather season in Northern Alberta. For the next 16-20 weeks, Albertans will make the most of the very short spring and summer. Given that most of northern Alberta is mainly a giant bog, mosquitoes are a problem. A big problem for me, if there is one in 500 hundred miles it'll get me. If you want to know why those ornery little critters bite some people and not others, and what you can do to to prevent them from doing it, check out Mosquitoes and Mosquito Repellents.

Here are some plant based products that have proven to work for some people.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent (WPC Brands) – 120.1 minutes protection time

Fite Bite Plant-Based Insect Repellent
(Travel Medicine) – 120.1 minutes protection time

Soybean Oil
Bite Blocker for Kids
(HOMS) soybean oil – 94.6 minutes protection time

The citronella-based repellents tested protected for 20 minutes or less.

Mineral Oil

Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil (Avon) - 9.6 minutes

If you got a remendy feel free to add it in the comments and we'll update the list


Bugs and Home
New England Journal of Medicine

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Globe and Mail's Misleading Headlines are Bad for Your Health

Lazy journalists, complacent editors combine to perpetuate an eastern Canadian myth. Alberta is about to dismantle publicly funded medical care.

"Alberta denies picking fight with Ottawa", screams the Globe and Mail's head line for its' report on Alberta' Health Care Symposium. If you were looking for analysis, insight and trends in medical care service delivery, from the just concluded international conference sponsored by Alberta Health, you won't find it in the Globe and Mail.

You will find inflammatory language used to misinform. ... "pick a fight .. controversial plans to transform the province's health-care system' . Who is picking a fight? What controversial plans? There is in nothing in the report to support the fighting allegation. Mythology masquerades as journalism.

There is no Globe and Mail 'reporting' on Alberta's medical care pilot programs. Last month, Alberta Health created Alberta Joint and Bone to test new methods of delivering deliver orthopedic surgery, within the publicly funded medical care system. Nothing in the Globe and Mail on that program. However there is a fight going on somewhere!

To foster the great eastern Canadian medical myth, semi- erudite national reporters and their compliant editors, blithely attach Holy Grail status to the Canada Health Act. Have any of them read it? If so where's the analysis of the benefits it creates for Canadians?

What the Canada Health Act, does is to perpetuate the monopoly of government supplied medical care service. A service which governments can no longer deliver. So they ration it, creating barriers to getting it, called waiting lists.

The fundamental principle of the Canada Health Act is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.”

Here's an example of an unintended consequence of the Canada Health Act. It is illegal under the act for a patient to use Canada's leading edge telephony and Internet telemedicne technology for intra- province consultation. A patient cannot go outside their province to reference a Canadian medical expert. That is a barrier to receiving care. The act contravenes itself. So instead of embracing change and innovation, the act inhibits the development and application of leading edge technology that can improve medical care, create employment, and provide options for Canadians in their medical care decisions.

It is time Canada's lethargic national journalists and their smug editors, actually took the time to analyze the Canada Health Act. They and you, assuming they tell you, may conclude it has many unintended consequences for your medical care. The most important is; it limits your ability to choose what is best for you.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Parents Switching to Altnerative Therapies

Dr. Sunita Vohra, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta has published a study about parental use of alternative therapies for their children. She makes a couple of keen observations. Parents are reluctant to confide in their physician about the use of natural products. They have lost confidence in traditional medical treatments including vaccinations, which in some cases they view as harmful. What is impeding the physician/ parent dialogue is lack of natural health care product knowledge on the part of the general medical practitioner and an unbridled trust in 'natural' products. That latter may have more to do with distrust of pharmaceutical products.

Here's a short list of resources that examine Alternative Therapies for children

Motherisk - A Web based resource for evidence-based information about the safety or risk of drugs, chemicals and disease during pregnancy and lactation. Motherisk is produced through a program at the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto. The site includes studies and information on several NHPs, including Folic acid, and Echinacea.

Sick Kids Foundation - Proceedings from the first Sick Kids Foundation forum can be found at: - a US Web-based resource created in collaboration between Children's Hospital Boston, and other centres of health research in Massachusetts as a tool for educating pediatric medical residents. Its range of high quality resources is limited at this time, but under development.


Unleashing Innovation in Health Care Systems starts this afternoon. The Alberta Government is the sponsor of an international gathering of health care practitioners. The objective is to tap the expertise of 400 international delegates with the intent of improving the delivery health care services to us, the people who pay for it. You can watch or listen to it on the net. Get your unfiltered conference news here. No need to check with the Globe and Mail for an interpretation.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Eat Well- Be Active- Live Long- Live Well

Cook you own food, eat your vegetables, junk the junk food, including the daily double double at "Tim's, Starbucks, Second Cup et al ." Keep in touch, exercise a little, that's the mantra of the Adams siblings all 7, aged from 76- 90 . They've celebrated 582 collective birthdays, so from experience they speak, if we listen and hear, there's a useful message.

Adams Siblings
Source Edmonton Journal

There's a pretty good chance we'll all live a little longer, if we chose to make the investment, now. See yourself at 90, what's the picture? It's bright if we can walk, talk, read, and connect. Small adjustment now leads to productivity, living well, at the back end of the timeline.

Research Sources
Senior Peer Mentoring
Older Women and Excerise
Attitude and Aspirations of Older People

Monday, April 18, 2005

Media Bombast =Distortion= Bad for Your Health

Thomas Wolkom is influential writer for the Toronto Star. He's an apologist for Canada's failing medicare system. He uses his Toronto Star pulpit to distort and disparage . He had this to say about Canada Strong and Free, a policy paper on Health Care in Canada presented, last week, by Mike Harris and Preston Manning.

Mr Wolkom wrote... the pamphlet is classic Preston Manning, with funding and research — much of it dubious — provided by British Columbia's right-of-centre Fraser Institute.

Who says the research is dubious? That statement is columnist opinion presented as fact. The international research presented in Strong and Free, measuring how effective Canada's medical system is, and how it ranks in the world, came from the OECD.

Mr. Wolkom wrote .... Manning and Harris want to get rid of universal, comprehensive, public health insurance and replace it with a pared-down system that covers only catastrophic health problems and so-called "core" services.

Here is what the report said.

"... Most importantly, you and your family will be fully insured against catastrophic illness, just as you are now, and will have continued access to all medically necessary services regardless of ability to pay. These features of our current system will not only be re­retained. They will be made far more sustainable. But in addition, you will have more choice in health-care services resulting in shorter waiting times, access to the latest medical technology and better care"

Mr Wolkom wrote ...Everything else would be paid for out of pocket or through private insurance. Even the slim-line public scheme would be financed in part by user fees. The Canada Health Act, the federal law governing medicare, would be scrapped.

Here is what the report said.

"In most provinces, when you are sick you will still most likely enter the health-care system through the door to a doctor’s office, clinic, or a hospital that is part of the public health-care system. But if your needs cannot be attended to promptly or satisfactorily, you will have the option of being referred to another facility offering equivalent or more specialized care where you can be treated sooner, and that facility, while licensed by the government, may well be financed and operated by a qualified private operator."

"If the services provided by the private facility are core services covered by your provincial health-care insurance plan, upon presentation of your Health Care Card the cost of your treatment will be covered by the province in accordance with the same fee schedule used at publicly run facilities. If the services you require or desire are not covered by your provincial health-care insurance plan, they may be paid for directly or through any private supplementary health-care insurance plan (which is the case now)."

Core services and user fees, for services not covered by the public insurance program, are in play now. Alberta, just de-listed physiotherapy from six medicare covered visits to two. Physiotherapy is provided by private practitioners operating for profit business, within the medicare system. Government insurance pays for very little. You may have private insurance that pays for more. That insurance policy carries a deductible, which keeps the premium cost at the level you choose. Those who can't afford private insurance, and are not covered by an employers program, are restricted to two medicare paid physiotherapy sessions, in Alberta.

Mr Wolkom wrote ... It's similar to the kind of scheme that former Alberta Social Credit premier Ernest Manning, Preston's father, pushed in the 1960s. And it is straight out of the play book of the Fraser Institute, which has long had a true hate on for Canadian medicare.

Currently, Canadian Medicare makes Canadians less healthy, as they wait for government supplied services, which take longer and longer to deliver.

Alberta Health's website says waiting times in Calgary are as follows:

- 62 weeks for a hip replacement at Peter Lougheed Centre;

- 62 weeks for general surgery at Rocky- view General Hospital;

- 30 weeks for MRI scans at Foothills Medical Centre;

- 54 weeks for knee replacement surgery at Rockyview General Hospital;

- 11 weeks for cardiac surgery at Foothills Medical Centre.

The impact of waiting is completely dismissed by Canadian Health Act propagandists. The apologists stifle reform by trying to scare you.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Medicare Time Bomb- Media Bombast

Canada Strong and Free is worth a read. The report, co authored by Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Reform Party Leader Preston Manning, was presented April 13 the and brought all the health care nationalists, who perversely wrap Canadian Culture and Canadian values into the delivery of a essential service. A service that is not being delivered very well.

The Prime Minister said: "The Conservative agenda is no longer hidden, it is no federal role in health care, it is no Canada Health Act, it is no one saying no to the privatization of health care.''

The report has one major premise. Canadians need more freedom of choice in their lives. The concept promotes, greater use of private insurance to cover the costs associated with health care, incentives for those who take care of themselves, and a guarantee of universal access.

Here are the main recommendations..
  • Remove jurisdictional roadblocks to better health care for patients by sub­substantially amending or replacing the Canada Health Act and transferring responsibility for health-care delivery and financing, including federal tax points, entirely to the provinces. Make Freedom of Choice a fundamental principle of any future health-care legislation.
  • Expand health-care facilities and cut waiting times by removing all federal restrictions that prevent provincial governments from using private capital­, non-governmental providers, and market-based pricing mechanisms in the development of health-care facilities and the delivery of health-care services to Canadians.
  • Focus federal support for health care in the areas where it can do the most good: health-care science and research, no-strings-attached equalization payments to have-not provinces to enable them to meet national standards­, and the collection and dissemination to health-care users of information­ on the performance of the Canadian health-care system including the portability of benefits between provinces.
  • Reduce the federal personal income-tax rate from 6% to 5% for the low­lowest bracket, eliminate the next two brackets, and reduce the top rate from 29% to 25%. The reduction and elimination of these brackets would equal the current federal spending on health care and allow the provinces ex­expanded tax room to finance health care. The equalization for­formula will provide additional revenues to those lower income provinces for which a “tax point” is worth less than for higher income provinces.

What will the adoption of these measures mean to you and your family in practical terms? Most importantly, you and your family will be fully insured against catastrophic illness, just as you are now, and will have continued access to all medically necessary services regardless of ability to pay. These features of our current system will not only be re­retained. They will be made far more sustainable. But in addition, you will have more choice in health-care services resulting in shorter waiting times, access to the latest medical technology­, and better care.

In most provinces, when you are sick you will still most likely enter the health-care system through the door to a doctor’s office, clinic, or a hospital that is part of the public health-care system. But if your needs cannot be attended to promptly or satisfactorily, you will have the option of being referred to another facility offering equivalent or more specialized care where you can be treated sooner, and that facility, while licensed by the government, may well be financed and operated by a qualified private operator.

If the services provided by the private facility are core services covered by your provincial health-care insurance plan, upon presentation of your Health Care Card the cost of your treatment will be covered by the province in accordance with the same fee schedule used at publicly run facilities. If the services you require or desire are not covered by your provincial health-care insurance plan, they may be paid for directly or through any private supplementary health-care insurance plan (which is the case now).

Canada Strong and Free

Team Approach - Health & Business Sense

There has been some quantitative movement this week in reorganizing medical care delivery services, Canada

Ontario has announced a Health Team approach, integrated facilities which incorporate doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and possibly pharmacists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, dietitians, and nutritionists.

Health Canada and Canadian Nurses Association are coordinating an effort to re-evaluate and upgrade the role of Nurse Practitioners, registered nurses, who can diagnose and treat common illnesses, prescribe medication, order tests and refer patients to other health-care professionals.

The intention is to reduce wait times for those who need treatment, more importantly including dietitians and nutrionists preventative therapy emerges as part of medical practice.

The Health Team model could be the harbinger of a new medical care business model. Rather than these professional being employees of public institutions, these emerging health care teams may present themselves as integrated corporations, that includes both medical and diagnostic services. The benefit is the potential for a significant reduction in 'administrative costs', no contraction of service, with all services billed, as they are now, to public health insurance program.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Take Control -Self Care- Be Healthy

Bill C420 is a piece of legislation intended to amend the Canadian Food and Drug Act. It has disappeared into the amending stage, the legislative abyss of committee review, where the vested interests tell the government what they think, we need.

The Non Prescription Drug Association , NDMAC , sees some value in specific amendments that Bill C420 has to offer. NDMAC is on side with the natural health products industry in revamping Schedule A section 3 of the Act.

"Many self-care health products have been scientifically proven proven to either treat or reduce the risks associated with a specific Schedule A disease, are prevented by passing on that knowledge to Canadians in the most direct way possible: advertising "

St John's Wort is one of several products, cited as a product that is prevented form advertising its proven health claims by the current edition of the Act.

"All self-care products should fall under the same regulatory framework and the regulations should be consistent with the lower risk profile of products intended to be used without requiring the intervention of a physician. ..."

"Furthermore, it is incomprehensible that some aspects of the drug regulations are less onerous than the NHP regulations. PABA sunscreen can be approved in less than 45 days, while the zinc formulation has a 60-day standard. The regulatory requirement should be the same and they should be simplified. All self-care products should be regulated in the same way and distinct from prescription drugs."

NDMAC does not support the notion that NHP's should be regulated as food. Its' brief to the Standing Health Committee offers several valid reasons why categorizing NHPs as food may be not serve Canadians best self-care needs. NDMAC seems to be supportive of a third category, something between food and and prescription drugs. However the Association does not amplify this notion. It should.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Supplements Get Reprieve

A European Union plan to eliminate natural l ingredient based supplements and replace them with synthetic versions has been stalled.

The Alliance for Natural Health has won the support of the Advocate General of the European Courts of Justice (ECJ . The Alliance vigorously opposed the The Eu Food supplement Directive, which if passed would replace natural ingredient products with synthetic versions by banning natural ingredient products from approved EU Food Supplement lists.

There is a Canadian connection. Last January, ( 2004), Health Canada issued a directive, by passing Parliament, and declared all natural ingredient products, were to be classified and regulated as drugs. The impact of that regulation is the herbs and vitamin you are now able to purchase at a health food store may be restricted to purchase through prescription only. One possible effect is higher prices.

In Canada Bill C-420 is equivalent legislation, to the Health Alliance EU legal challenge. Bill C-420 when passed will rescind the Health Canada Directive and restore supplements to the food category for regulatory purposes. Bill C-420 has passed two stages and is currently in Committee for review.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Canadians - Need to Lose Some Weight

Statistics Canada says we are a little on the hefty side and have been putting on the poundage for a sustained period.

"Canadians who had been overweight in 1994/95 had become obese by 2002/03. On the other hand, only half as many, about 10%, who had been overweight were in the normal weight range eight years later."

cbc photo
The reason we are bursting around the midriff is what we eat. Tthe ingredients, in what we eat can be short on nutrition and large preservatives that enhance product taste and product shelf life.

Health Canada thinks the solution lies in product labeling and created new regulations in 2003 to deal with the issue. Here is
what the Food and Consumer Products of Canada requires its' members to do.

"Provide Nutrition Facts information on all pre-packaged foods (with minor exceptions). The Nutrition Facts table has a standardized format that is consistent from product to product and includes a mandatory list of calories plus an expanded list of 13 core nutrients. The list includes:
Calories, Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrate, Protein, Fibre, Sugars, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron."


Labeling is a small issue, literally. They are difficult to read. Label reading is a confounding experience.There is too much information crammed into a small space. A label may tell you what is in the product. It doesn't tell you what effect the ingredients have on you. Success, in battling the bludge and associated serious side effects, is knowing what the ingredients do.

Enriched food may not be nutritious food. Enriched is a marketing message implying an enhancement has been made. We need a better understanding of what the benefit of the enhancement is. Does the process create a more nutritious ffood? We need to be assured by regulators and industry the process and ingredients are nutritious, not shelf life and taste enhancers.

Post Script
Trans Fatty Acid
Essential Fatty Acid
Know Your Labels

A short list for more information

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Efficacy - Economic Benefit of Vitamin Supplements

A major self care issue confronting the aging population is the use of vitamin supplements by the elderly. There are a several of key questions. Do vitamins compensate for what may be missing in a diet? What health risks does supplementation reduce? On the business side, what is the saving to the health care system? What are the opportunities in this market place? A recent study by the Lewin Group shines a bright light on the issue.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Apparently lots, and it may not be good for you, if you, like me, thought that a soy was a useful dietary supplement. That notion is worth re-examination. For a definitive review of the issue you may want to read Soy the Whole Story .

The issue is further complicated by what government regulators approve on product labels. This is where the science gets pretty murky, and marketing takes over. "Soy protein may reduce the risk of certain cancers". Says who, would be an appropriate question? However, from a marketing perspective 'reducing a risk' suggests soy protein is beneficial to your health.

What is really important for consumers is the concentration of the ingredients . The word natural on a label can be misleading too.

Watch for media campaigns trumpeting the benefits of soy, as Solae a major manufacturer, seeks to have labeling requirements revised. This is at odds with recent regulatory policy demanding more stringent evidence based labeling for vitamins and herbs and the intent to classify those natural products as drugs,
under a public health policy of consumer proection. Buyer be very aware.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Canadian Medical Care - study - talk - more waiting

Have you ever heard about the Wait Time Alliance? A group of Canadian medical associations has issued a report on how the government should deal with the time it takes for you to get medical care.

"No More Time to Wait" - identifies wait time thresholds for these five areas, beyond which best available evidence and clinical consensus indicate patient health is likely to be adversely affected. The report also provides governments with recommendations on establishing a framework to improve access and reduce wait times.

Here's the report.

Here's an index of media reports on the report.

The Minister of Health says his department 'Health Canada' will have it's own bench marks ready for December of this year with a goal towards seeing significant reduction in wait times by March or 2007 . How many Canadians will get seriously ill, before the system delivers on the bench marks.

The Minister is quoted; "When you put yourself in the position of being a patient, you want to make sure that the health-care providers on the front lines are able to tell you, based on medical evidence and clinical requirements, what the wait times ought to be" .
The Globe and Mail

Confirmation, wait times are endemic to the government delivered medical care system. The objective of this exercise is to reduce wait times, as opposed to creating a patient centered system, with multiple delivery options, to be used at the discretion of the user. What Canadians get is a continuation of a fundamentally flawed government controlled, rationed service, in which wait times maybe reduced, however they remain systemic. The best a monopoly can do is ration service while charging higher fees. One of the highest costs is your well being as you are forced to cue. That is hardly universal access.

Canadians are once again being duped to accept waiting, as simply part of the medical care process in Canada. Political leadership presents the public medical care system, as an uniquely Canadian institution. Canadians. naively. believe universality in medical care, equates to compassion. A trait that hits a Canadian nerve. We seem eager to trade the perception of compassion for access to medical care when we need it. Compassion doesn't go far on, while one waits for care.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Death Notice Canadian Medical Care Is Terminal!

Here's an excerpt from a news piece from Brunswick Hospital that tells a sorry tale.

"If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies."

The patient wasn't dead. He was advised it would be three months to get an electrocardiogram. That little mis- communication gem has been picked up news services around North America. The Canada Health Act not withstanding, Canada's medical care system, as currently constituted, is very dangerous to your health.

The Canadian medical care egalitarian myth is exposed. It's an illusion that makes Canadians feel good about a system that offers, but does not provide, timely universal medical care insurance coverage. Coverage that theoretically can be converted to service when is needed. One of the key principles of the Canada Health is : All insured residents are entitled to the SAME LEVEL of insured care. Our medical care system doesn't provide that.

From its inception Canadians have been deluded by government, that government supplied single payer medical care insurance is a bromide that reflects our compassionate nature.

"Ever since universal health insurance was first proposed by William Lyon Mackenzie King back in 1919, Canadians have been witness to an ongoing debate about how health services should be organized and funded. Over the course of some twenty-five years, starting with Saskatchewan in 1946,Canadians made a series of democratic and deliberate decisions that gave Canada its system of universal hospital and medical care --Medicare. The obstacles were formidable and at times seemed insurmountable, but we succeeded."

"Canadians have become accustomed to the notion of a perpetual health care "crisis". Health care systems are prone to emotional debates because they involve two things that we care a lot about: health and money --in fact, a great deal of money. Mix this with the mostly single-payer, publicly funded approach that Canada has adopted, and you have already-made recipe for an ongoing debate among governments, health providers and the general public. There is also something distinctively Canadian in all of this: Medicare is more than a health care system --it reflects a shared commitment to fairness and compassion."
Source: The Public and Private Financing of Canada's Health System, National Forum on Health, Sept. 1995.

Call it the 'culturalization' of medical care a feel good notion that is detrimental to your health. Since that report was published wait times have doubled from 9 weeks to 18 weeks for surgery, according the Fraser Institute. Does waiting exacerbate a medical condition? It doesn't help that's for sure. How fair and compassionate is that?

Canada and North Korea are the only two countries, in the world, that do not allow their citizens to insure themselves for hospitalization and medical surgery. Why? If the system can't deliver, which it can't, why does the government insist on maintaining its medical care monopoly. The government collects the fees, your taxes, to underwrite the insurance coverage. It licenses all the practitioners. It decides what procedures are insured, a so called 'list of eligible services. If you can't get the service, when you need it, what kind of access do you have? Further you can't take measures to insure that you pay for the service, even if you wanted to chose that option.

Self care, a preventative strategy, is also discouraged by keeping alternative products and therapies, outside the government medical insurance program. Self care is private health care in action. Despite what you may read and hear. Canadians are voting with the pocket books in ever increasing numbers that self care is an option they want and need. Canadians are taking independent action to be healthy, to stay off the waiting lists. The government should recognize the obvious benefit of reduced demand on the medical system, and reward those who have the knowledge and the ability to look after themselves. This does not jeopardize those who are unable to do so.

It would seem logical that governments would embrace that concept, they don't. They make it harder to get those products and services. Health Canada did just that in January 2004, when it re-classified all supplements minerals and vitamins as drugs, complete with an expensive, time consuming, process for licensing labeling. It also seeks to limit dosages to render these natural products just about useless. Why is the government making it difficult for us to take care of ourselves?

The argument against privatizing medical care service is bogus. It implies private delivery will divert resources from the public system.

All Canadians physicians are private contractors. They bill the medical care insurance program for a set of predetermined 'approved' services. All the laboratories that do the diagnostic testing 'prescribed' by physicians are private companies. The only thing public, about the relationships, is they both bill the government for the services they provide. The government is the single payer insurance company. You pay the bill through your taxes.

Medical care rationing is insidious. It has many forms. There is creeping downloading, called de-listing. Alberta, which is redesigning its medical care system, just did that. It de-listed physiotherapy reducing insured coverage by 66 % from 6 treatments to two. That's from a government that has an $8 billion surplus. In Ontario which has $4 billion deficit, if the government doesn't increase funding, up to 10,000 health care professionals will get pink slip notices, in the mail, economic death, which may or may, not be terminal! The best the current system can do is to ration. For some reason the Canada Health Act proponents seem to think that's ok!

Ironically, the current medical care system is providing a giant subsidy to wealthy Canadians. When they need special treatment, in a hurry, they can get it anywhere. That group with the ability to pay, receives the same service, at the same price, as those at the bottom of the scale with limited meager resources. Currently neither group has 'timely' universal access. Access when it is needed.

Despite what you hear and read, there is a growth in private delivered medical care in Canada. Quebec and British Columbia are leading the way. Any Canadian physician can opt out of the system and create a private practice, with in the purview of the Canada Health Act.

There is a solution to the current crisis. Take the system back to where it was intended to be a universal medical insurance program.

  • Codify the Hippocratic Oath.

  • Retain universal access. Universal so that all Canadians have access to insurance coverage, which entitles them to medical care, when they need it.

  • No resident in Canada will be refused medical care, when they need it.

  • Premiums are based on taxable income, starting at $50,000 for a family. As in any insurance program there are deductibles, at the discretion of the insured. Similar to auto insurance the insured chooses a deductible up front, and that effects the cost of the premium.

  • If the government can't deliver, then it pays to send the patient to where it can be done.

  • Invest in preventive care expand the list of insured service to include alternative therapies.

  • The premium is paid by taxes, not in addition to current taxes.

  • Allow Canadians to purchase either private insurance against hospitalization and surgery. This will create medical insurance competition.

  • Allow Canadians to create medical savings plans on the RRSP model. These plans would be funded with after tax funds. There would be no tax deduction. Earnings in the fund would be not taxed, when used for medical and alternative products and services.

  • Invest in prevention, by expanding the list of services eligible to include alternative therapies and products.

  • Open the system allow Canadians to use their medical insurance, either private or public, on alternative products therapies, at their discretion.

  • Turn over testing and diagnostic services to private contractors, who can operate those very expensive machines 24/7 , at less cost than is currently the case. Operate those machines around the clock, 'they' don't tell time.

  • As you get set to file your taxes this month, remember 40% of every tax dollar goes to medical care that more and more you can't get!

    The Commonwealth Fund
    Fraser institute

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    Vitamin D The Sunshine Vitamin

    In anticipation of heading out doors, those of us in the Northern part of North America are full of it. We can also expect dire warnings about exposure to the sun, perhaps that should be over exposure. That latter is not a good thing; the former is. There is a whole range of issues around the sun, not the least of which is we can't live without it.

    It seems rather silly to subscribe to the notion that avoiding the sun is good for you. The intent of the various advisors on the subject is help you avoid sun burn, and other more serious ailments, which may or may not be, linked to exposure to the sun. Actually, a sun burn like any other burn is your body's way of telling you that you've had enough!

    For a definitive look at the topic you may want to read The UV Advantage; written by Dr Michael Hollick Ph.D., M.D. Professor of Medicine, Dermatology, Physiology and BioPhysics, Director of the General Clinical Research Center and Director of the Bone Health Care Clinic at Boston University Medical Center.

    What you'll get is; what's good and not so good about how you expose yourself to the sun.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Off the Couch...

    ... And outside we go. If we inspired you with Coach Potato Procrastination, it follows that we should help out a little, by sharing what we've learned along the way. If you decide to give yoga a try, it is always best to enroll in a class, to learn the basics.

    Community recreation programs, private health clubs, community colleges, and university outreach programs offer instruction. It is important to learn the postures and breathing under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor. The 'law of least effort" produces the best results

    Here's an index to help you sort out the terminology. As you move forward Sissel, the global exercise equipment company, has an extensive library of free exercises, that allows you to customize your own program.

    Couch Potato Procrastination

    So how has that New Year's resolution been going? Remember that January first, commitment to get up off the coach, loose a few pounds, get in shape, feel better, change the diet. It's April 1, the day of fools, practical jokes, and jokers.

    From now on nature offers the incentive, warmer and longer days, to get outdoors to work the garden, fix the house play golf, slow pitch, jog cycle, hike, swing, ski, camp, et al, are we ready? The mind maybe, however is the body. That's where those unfilled resolutions can comeback to haunt us. Perhaps this is a better time to revisit that January strategy, refine it, focus on one element, and see it through.

    For me golf is the warm weather activity of choice. The goal is to play to my ability level, which has been stymied over the last few of years by back pain and lack of flexibility. The back pain is still around although Dr. John Sarno , and Neil Wolkodoff have provided insight and knowledge to manage it, and weekly yoga class and practice, at Grant McEwan College has made a significant impact on flexibility, enough to say meeting the goal will not be hindered by physical capacity or lack their of.

    To get here has taken time, effort, determination to stay the course, particularly, when progress was less than expected, more often than not! Patience is the key virtue. Setting a realistic goal is critical starting point. Flexibility, the mental variety, is paramount to staying with it. Initially my goal was to be pain free. I was quickly admonished by one health care practitioner, asking if that is realistic? So the short term goal morphed to increasing function to be able to 'play'. The long term objective is to be pain free, most definitely a work in progress.

    The residual is, the knowledge that's been gained, and the changes that have been made. I'm the least likely 'guy' I know to be practicing yoga! However if you want to learn to quiet your brain, increase your strength, and gain more function through increased flexibility, I recommend it, as a precursor to what ever your favorite activity is.

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Self Care Archive

    Whole Health MD, bills itself as a leader in Complimentary and Alternative self care education. It is. A key issue for self care practitioners is the need to obtain pertinent verifiable information, quickly. The Whole Health reference library meets that challenge. It is easy to use. It provides comprehensive, clearly presented, extensively researched analysis of diseases, treatments and expected results for those seeking options in managing their own care.

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    In "Oh Canada " Mathew Holt presents an authentic, detailed, and extensive( it's a long read) analysis, about US and Canadian medical care systems.

    It dispels perceived myths, creates perspective, and provides context for the issues and beliefs, surrounding the systems that deliver medical care on both sides of the border.

    Medical care systems are not immune from the economic integration process already engaged. It is logical they will be become part of the trend. In that milieu, separating fact, fiction, hypobole, and rhetoric will be a benefit to your health.

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Vitamin E - Efficacy- Historical Record- Last Post... For now

    Here are two historical perspectives on the value of Vitamin E to our health.

    VITAMIN E: A CURE IN SEARCH OF RECOGNITION, by Dr Andrew Saul is a major historical presentation of the trails, tribulations, and the Canadian connection to determining the effectiveness of vitamin E. In compelling detail, Dr Saul lays out why it does what it does. More importantly, he proves it.

    In Antioxidant Vitamins Prevent Heart Disease: Verification from the American Heart Association, Richard Passwater is equally evocactive.

    There is no doubt about Vitamin E efficacy.

    Vitamin E- More of The Rest of the Story

    Heart disease is primary cause of death in US. In "Vitamin E Safe- Effective- and Heart Healthy", Chris Gupta says:

    "If all Americans daily supplemented with a good multivitamin-multimineral, plus extra vitamins
    C and E, it could save thousands of lives a month."

    His commentary is vociferous. There is absolutely no doubt where he stands on the issue of supplementation.

    "Instead of regulating toxic and dangerous drugs
    we have our regulatory bodies chasing innocuous
    nutrients so their pharma buddies can continue
    making obscene profit from sickness and death!"

    Once you get past the vitriol, there is a body of pertinent well researched evidence to support his claims.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Bill C-420 - Why Care

    Here's two reason why Bill C-420 is important to you. We are aggressively, in steadily increasing numbers marching down the preventative self-care path. Bill C420 provides a critical option for those Canadians who have decided self-care is a key health care strategy. It also creates a modicum of competition for the drug companies.

    When passed, Bill C-420 will re classify supplements, herbs vitamins and minerals as food, as opposed to their current listing as drugs. A key side effect of the legislation is to maintain current dosages. If it is not passed, proposed dosage restrictions will severely impair the efficacy of many common supplements.

    Vitamin E ... The Rest of the Story

    ... Yes I do like that quote from Broadcaster Paul Harvey. A couple of weeks back there was a great hue and cry in mainstream media about a Vitamin E study. The hue was Vitamin E was not a panacea for preventing heart disease. The cry was Vitamin E is not as useful as 'we' think.

    We said the reported results were incomplete. They were. Here's a resource you want to consult to help you sort out the facts, when it comes to medical research studies.

    Bill C-420 -- What is it Anyway

    Bill C-420 is a private member's bill, drafted as a response to a 'directive ' issued by Health Canada, in January 2004. The directive was an aggressive unilateral action to classify all supplements and herbs as drugs. It was 'deemed' necessary to protect Canadians from purported un-substantiated medicinal claims made by food based products.

    Health Canada's intention with the directive is to keep Canadians safe, an important, but narrowly focused public health policy. Simultaneously, the directive is detrimental to our health. Restricting access in the self-care genre is not a strategy to keep Canadians well. It exacerbates the current crisis in the Canadian medical care system. A system paralyzed by systemic service rationing, and high drug costs.

    Self care is preventive. It keeps people out of the medical system, shortens waiting lists, and by doing so, lowers costs in the medical system. That's one of many reasons why Bill C-420 is important to your health.

    The bill is in committee for final drafting. Three readings are required to pass a new law, in Canada. If approved without amendments, Bill C-420 will re-classify supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs as food. It will reinstate a critical self care option.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Imagine Radio -- No Screaming -

    Check out World Talk Radio . Here's the internet at its best delivering on demand information that you are not likely to get from your local station. The program schedule is an eclectic array of pertinent, personal, practical information, including several self health themes .

    Most importantly they are delivered in a intelligent, rational style, with a low decibel level, a welcome reprieve from main steam talk radio. Radio you can program yourself.

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Here Comes the Sun...

    ...Hopefully very soon, for those of us living in the northern half the continent, as the dregs of a dreary winter linger too long.

    As we head outdoors, come warnings about over exposure to the sun. The key issue is full spectrum protection. Protection from difference spectrums of sun light- UVC, UVB, UVA .

    Current products to do a pretty good job of protection against skin burns, from radiation in the UVB spectrum. Consumers need to know that Sun Prevention Factor numbers or SPF, the numbers commonly found on product labels, ranging from 4- 40, are not a very good barometer of full spectrum protection.

    The key ingredients to look for in full spectrum UVA protection are avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), Mexoryl SX, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. There is on going research into the efficacy, or effectiveness of the ingredients.

    There is also some dispute about the immune depressing factors of sunlight. As we move into spring and summer, there is a consistent public health advisory, to stay out of the sun between peaks hours, 10 Am-4PM. Such admonition pretty much precludes getting outside at all, if taken literally. And there is another school of thought, with a much more different perspective, exposure to sun light is crucial to the body's production of vitamin D

    As Paul Harvey says ... Now the rest of the story... In a series of posts we'll cast a ray intending to gleam a "sun strategy"!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Evidence in the Numbers

    Statistics Canada says Canadians are using more complimentary and alternative health services and therapies.

    More Alternatives

    The trend has been up for the last 5 years, since the first major study on Complimentary and Alternative Health, CAM was completed. Most, if not all of these services are paid 'out of pocket'. They are not covered by provincial health care plans. Nor are they tax deductible . Few are insured by private insurers with the exception of corporate group plans.

    Despite that Canadians have determined, there are benefits in alternative therapies and services they are willing to pay for. One reason could be because they can get them. They don't have to wait in line.

    The numbers say, self health care in the alternative sector is growing, is privately financed by Canadians individually, is creating business and employment, and generating tax revenue, a panacea indeed!

    Bill C-420 Update

    Check out Chris Gupta for update on the current standing of Bill C 420 . There is a wealth of background material on the history of the bill, as well as some strident commentary on the issue surrounding it. One of those being your ability to manage your own self care, as you're accustomed.

    Headlines Misleading

    Two headlines designed to get your attention.
    The Heart study concluded, "after seven years, those taking the (VitaminE) supplements had a slightly higher rate of heart failure. Although no one knows why. Conclusion presented "It ( vitamin E) does not reduce the risk of these diseases if you take supplemental vitamin E."

    Did the study prove that? What does a slightly higher rate mean? Vitamin E was given to people who already had heart conditions and diabetes to see if it would prevent them. How can risk be reduced, when the disease is prevalent?

    The news reports on the study do not reveal, how prevalent the diseases were in the subjects studied. Were the subjects severely incapacitated, mildly so, or in the middle? The news reports did not discern the type of vitamin E used or what bearing that may have on the results.

    A supplementary regime is intended to prevent a disease condition, not cure it Current drug therapies are designed to manage such conditions not cure them. The study proves that in the boundaries of its focus , Vitamin E may not be a curative therapy. However, there is a body of evidence that draws other conclusions. This is an important distinction, mostly ignored by news reports, for people actively engaged in self care.

    On the Prostrate cancer study, report here's the lead line: "High blood levels of the major vitamin E components, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, seem to cut the risk of prostate cancer by about 50 percent each, a study shows"... That would seem to be good news. This study concludes the antioxidant activity of Vitamin E is the catalyst in reducing the risk of prostrate cancer.

    Conclusion, just like that car you buy, check under the hood of medical studies, particularly the conclusions drawn by headlines, your health may depend on it.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005


    CV Technologies, the Alberta based manufacturer of Cold-fx is emerging as one of those 'instant' 10 year success stories. The company recently held its annual meeting in Edmonton and probably got more notoriety for its master Promoter Don Cherry than for the accomplishment embedded in its business plan. However the plan and track record are worth a hard look. The company has embraced the current prove it regulatory culture and is emerging as a leader in " developing evidence-based natural therapeutics for disease prevention and health maintenance"

    The company has a 'pipeline of products' and perhaps more importantly a research technology that took $15 million, and a decade to perfect. Going forward that process, known as ChemBioPrint technology may be more valuable than the product line. Chem Bio Print is a proprietary tool that allows the company to meet evidential standards demanded by regulators. It could very well be the catalyst to a dominant position in the market place.

    Codex 6 - ELUCIDATION

    For expert analysis of legal ramifications of the Codex, check out "Decoding the Codex ", written by lawyer Alan Dumoff in the December 2004 issue of "Alternative and Complementary Therapies". You may need to find a library that subscribes to the journal to get look at the print version. Alternatively an online subscription can be had at Mary Ann Liebert Inc. Publishers..

    Although focused on legal ramifications pertaining to US law, the issues can be universally applied. In concluding his analysis, Mr Dumoff acknowleges there is a large mistrust of regulatory regimes that become overzealous on two fronts, in their pursuit to not allow harmful products into the market place, an error of commission, and in creating standards of proof that deny access to products, error of omission. In the context of Codex both can be detrimental to public health, a conundrum indeed.

    Codex 5 - A Reference

    Here's a sampling of websites that address codex issues.

    Codex Official Website

    International Sites and Position Papers
    European Commission International Affairs
    National health Freedom Organization
    Alliance for Natural Health
    Council for Responsible Nutrition
    American Holistic Health Association

    Canadian Sites, Canada is the chairman of the food labeling committee.
    Health Canada Food Program
    Chairmanship of Codex Committees
    Canadian Representatives to Codex Committees
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Canadian Dairy Information Center
    Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food

    A few Related Sites
    Center for Science in the Public Interest
    Chris Gupta
    Citizens Voice for Health Rights

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Codex 4 - Bill C-420 Health Outsourcing!

    Your favorite vitamins herbs and supplements are about to re-classified, again!. Currently all vitamins in Canada are considered drugs. That may come as a surprise. Bill C-420 seeks to put neutraecuticals, supplements and vitamins back into the food category. That's a good idea according to the Non Prescription Drug Manufacturers Association.

    The association is uring it members support the change to the definition of natural health products because of the confusion and costs associated with changing the regulatory status of NHPs. As NDMAC sees it Canadians will retain the right to choose their supplements with good selection and affordable prices if Bill C-420 succeeds. Natural Health Products are a sizable portion of a $3.6 billion the self-care industry, in Canada.

    The bigger picture affecting Canadians be they consumers, or business is confusing . It involves international trade and the agreements Canada has concluded. Health and business are inextricably link to CODEX. Once CODEX becomes law, it already has in Germany, all signing countries (Canada included) must comply to these "world" regulations. That means Bill C-420 could be trumped by international trade agreements. The impact is Germany which classifies its natural health care products as drugs could issue a complaint against Canada which classifies them as food. The consequences of that is imports and exports of the raw materials for natural health care products could be curtailed. Or Canada could be forced to adopt European standards in Natural Health Care Products to preserve other trading relationships.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    Codex 3 - Lots of Action In Canda

    Here's a summary of political activity on Codex in Canada.

    Second Opinion

    Distortion is the bane of mainstream journalism. Objectivity has long ago given way to advocacy. The reportage of the World Health Ogranization's policy on Traditional Complimentary and Alternative Medicine and their application for self care is a case in point.

    Codex 2 - Self Care - Not So Good

    There's confusion about how Codex Alimentarius Commission standards and a European Union Dieteary Supelement initiative affects Canadian consumers and business. Codex in Canada is managed through several government departments. Health Canada says the standards are voluntary. However in creating of the Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Canada has effectively classified all of those products as drugs with requisite licensing requirements. Next could be the adoption of Codex dosage standards. Those standard are very low. Simply put you might not be able to get 1000 mg dosage of Vitamin C, if these standards are enforced through international trade agreements. A portion of self health care is about to be outsourcing!

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Codex - Your Health Managed in Europe

    The Codex Alimentarius Commission is a global organization that is going to play major role in your life. Actually it has been doing that since 1963. In Canada, the effects of the Commission's activities can be seen in the new licensing requirements for natural health care products. These new policies bring Canada into line with global standards.

    The regulatory intent is to bring these products into a regulatory regime that creates standards and tests for medicinal and health claims. Standards are fine. However there is growing concern that under the guise of public health safety proposed regulations may have rather serious implications for the type of food you eat, the vitamins you take, and the ingredients for the medicines you use

    Over the next few posts we'll take a look at what's going on

    Jerry McGuire Syndrome

    "Evidenced Based"

    "Show me the money" from a punch line in the 1996 “Jerry McGuire” to an idiom today. Type it into Google and you get 25 million that’s right, 25 million results. It’s' meaning has morphed to mean: ‘prove it,’ ‘show me’, where's the evidence?

    In health care Jerry's admonition is "what's the evidence base?" Governments everywhere are demanding practitioners and companies show them the evidence. One could say not any too soon! In the complimentary, alternative, self- care genre, in Canada, two new government bureaus have been setup. Health Care Network is mandated to understand the policy dimension of complementary and alternative health care. These include: educational approaches, regulatory options,consumer utilization, information and informed choice issues. The Natural Health Products Directorateis the body that now licenses all natural health care products.

    For consumers informed choices are critical in self-care management. For business, in this environment, there's a demand for companies who create processes, products, and services that meet the 'evidence' test. Given recent controversies in prescription drug regulation, credible may well need to be added to the evidence based lexicon.

    For consumers an evidence based system has the potential to deliver vetted unbiased standards, which embrace safety and efficacy. For regulators it means rules need to be crafted with a patient /consumer based public health focus. There is a danger. Regulation can mean restriction, which benefits the status quo, while potentially disabling innovation. Consumer/patient diligence in the process needs to be high, remember Jerry's admonition, “show me", applies across the board when it comes to preserving our health, through unfettered access to a spectrum of therapies.