On morality, herbal remedies, and scientific methodologies — A correspondence between Dr. Russell L. Blaylock and Dr. Miguel A. Faria

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dear Miguel,

I just read your magnificent papers recently appearing in Surgical Neurology International (SNI). Your rebuttal to the comment on your original article on ethics and morality was a masterpiece of scholarship and reasoned logic.(1) It was a delightful tour of moral history. You made a well-reasoned argument against the leftist mentality of excluding ideas that are contrary to the accepted leftist paradigm. This is a holdover from the Marxist idea that since Marxism/Leninism is "scientifically" determined, no further discussions are needed or should be allowed — in their view such additions to the argument only create confusion and discord. As I wrote in my article on contrary views as a "mental illness," not only are these contrary views considered by the left as a social irritant, but also they are dangerous to the social body and therefore should be treated as such.(2)

I also particularly enjoyed your handling and discussions of the blatant double standards exercised by such critics — that is, how the leftist-leaning medical journals are at liberty to expound endlessly, most often with extremely poor scholarship, on their views of the perfect society and in discussing every leftist pet theory and dogma. They do so as if these issues have been settled and are a forgone conclusion.

Morality quote by SocratesYour discussion of the twin pillars of Western Civilization was excellent.(1) So often the secular humanist conveniently forgets that the entire tenor of modern civilization is the echo of four millennia of Judeo-Christian moral influence. I also frequently ask the secular humanist the question — name all the moral principles created by the seculars and not borrowed from Judeo-Christian theology. They will name restrictions against stealing, murder, taking others property, etc. — all taken from the Ten Commandments. When penned down they finally come up with rights to abortion, homosexuality, redistributive justice, etc., which shows their duplicity — redistributive justice violates the Eighth and Tenth Commandments; abortion violates the Sixth Commandment; homosexuality violates both the Old and New Testaments and the First and Fifth Commandments. Like most leftist dogma it is consistently inconsistent — they want it both ways.

When the secular humanists claim that a person is fully moral without a trace of religion they are ignoring that all are affected by Judeo-Christian moral teachings even if at a subconscious level. So, at present they may claim to be free of Christian influence, but they are deceiving themselves and others.

My only disagreement with your paper is when you write, "These altruistic individuals keep their religion to themselves (as it should be)...."(1) In fact, as a Christian one is obligated to profess belief in God and in Jesus as one's savior and to preach the word to the entire world. The leftists propagated the idea that religion should be a "private thing" and be kept from the public square — that would be a violation of Jesus' teachings.

This was an excellent paper and I hope all will read it with great care.

I also enjoyed your two papers reviewing the multi-volume tomes by Dr. Plinio Prioreschi.(3,4,5) They were very nicely done reviews of a very interesting historical work. I would take exception to your conclusion in your review of Volume 1 that the herbal effects and acupuncture are most likely due to autosuggestion and placebo effects.(3) The concept of the "placebo effect" is undergoing a radical revision in that these are not psychological phenomenon but rather elicit physical changes within the brain that result in physiological changes. Acupuncture has been shown, for example, to be secondary to a release of endorphins from the CNS and can be reversed using naloxone. The herbs have been shown to affect a great number of cell signaling processes and membrane receptors.

I am not as entranced by the "scientific method" as you.(6,7,8,9) It has great usefulness within a small segment of the universe, but for the vast majority of phenomenon it is useless. There is a lot more to life and existence than can be tested in the laboratory. Interestingly, it is within the world of physics that we are seeing this elucidated. The more they look the more bizarre the world appears and less certain are its laws. In fact, we see the physicists telling us that we must have faith that a lot of what they say is true. Virtual particles are a case in point — they appear out of nothing and disappear in a like manner. The whole concept of matter has undergone a radical change — now there is only one form of existing "substance" — energy. Now that matter is nothing more than a conformation of energy the universe becomes less certain in physical terms and more subject to mysterious forces, what in the past we called the supernatural. The Bible tells us that the world is made of things that cannot be seen (energy) and that God created the universe by His word. As for energy, the world of science cannot accurately define it and when it no longer moves — it disappears into nothingness. In essence, when this nothing is moving, it has properties and when it no longer moves, it does not exist. It makes the miracles of the Bible seem a lot more reasonable and possible and the world of science far less assured.

Excellent articles. Your scholarship is very, very impressive.

Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
Theoretical Neurosciences Research, LLC
www.blaylockwellnesscenter.com
www.russellblaylockmd.com

References

1. Faria MA. Religious morality (and secular humanism) in Western civilization as precursors to medical ethics: A historic perspective. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:105. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/religious-morality-and-secular-humanism-western-civilization-precursors-medical-ethics-hist

2. Blaylock RL. When rejecting orthodoxy becomes a mental illness. Hacienda Publishing.com, August 15, 2013. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/when-rejecting-orthodoxy-becomes-mental-illness-russell-l-blaylock-md

3. Faria MA. A fascinating look at primitive and ancient medicine by medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:87. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/fascinating-look-primitive-and-ancient-medicine-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-pli

4. Faria MA. A journey through time to ancient Greek medicine with medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:100. Available from:  http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/journey-through-time-ancient-greek-medicine-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-

5. Faria MA. Another medical journey to ancient Rome and Roman medicine with medical historian Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 15-Jun-2015;6:104. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/another-medical-journey-ancient-rome-and-roman-medicine-medical-historian-plinio-prioreschi

6. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part I). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(2):211-214. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/public-health-social-science-and-scientific-method-part-i

7. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part II). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(3):318-322. Available from: http://haciendapublishing.com/articles/public-health-social-science-and-scientific-method-part-ii

8. Blaylock RL. Regimentation in medicine and the death of creativity (Part 1). HaciendaPublishing.com, March 14, 2015. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/regimentation-medicine-and-death-creativity-part-1-russell-l-blaylock-md-ccn

9. Blaylock RL. Regimentation in medicine and its human price (Part 2). HaciendaPublishing.com, March 20, 2015. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/regimentation-medicine-and-its-human-price-part-2-russell-l-blaylock-md-ccn

Dr. Faria Replies:

Dear Russell,
correspondence
Your comments are very instructive and insightful as usual. I always appreciate your thoughts, your praise, and even your constructive criticisms.

As to the herbal effects, Dr. Prioreschi and I both were referring to ancient preparations that for the most part had limited pharmacologic value. As disappointing as it may be to many of us, who in admiration wish to attribute medical knowledge to the ancients, medical knowledge that unfortunately they did not really possess — herbal preparations, even those containing opium, were not specifically used for analgesia but for a variety of contradictory conditions for which they had little or conflicting effects if any. The fact is that the ancients knew much more about the preparation of plant poisons than herbal remedies, probably because of the immediate effects in the former and the principle of vis medicatrix naturae (i.e., “the healing power of nature”) in the case of the latter. Most ancient preparations were improperly prepared and did not have enough active pharmacologic substance (i.e., the active principle) to be therapeutically effective. This was discussed and supported with extensive evidence by Dr. Prioreschi in reference to the pharmacopeia of both primitive as well as Graeco-Roman medicine in the work you cited.(1,2,3)

As for acupuncture, I had kept an open scientific mind, but here too I was surprised, but was again persuaded by Dr. Prioreschi’s evidence and arguments. Prioreschi was not only a practicing academic physician and pharmacologist, but also an experienced investigator, possessing a degree in experimental medicine. He actually conducted some of his own research as well as thoroughly reviewed the literature. He was also a Latin and Greek scholar, who reviewed and translated original documents.

The fact is that despite apparent societal evolution, the discernment of purportedly new scientific trends, not to mention the outright premature disclosure of scientific information in vogue,(4,5) some general psychological principles are intrinsic to the nature of man, have been since recorded history, and remain true and possibly eternal — and the susceptibility of man to placebo effect and autosuggestion are two of them, even if they are associated with apparent structural and physiologic neuronal changes. The chronicles of man reveal that has been the case in all of recorded history. And thus, it appears that Solomon’s precept, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun,” is and remains eternally true.(6)

Again thanks for your continuing interest in my writings.

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.
Hacienda Publishing, Inc.
www.haciendapub.com

References

1. Faria MA. A fascinating look at primitive and ancient medicine by medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:87. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/fascinating-look-primitive-and-ancient-medicine-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-pli

2. Faria MA. A journey through time to ancient Greek medicine with medical historian and classical scholar Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 2015;6:100. Available from:  http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/journey-through-time-ancient-greek-medicine-medical-historian-and-classical-scholar-plinio-

3. Faria MA. Another medical journey to ancient Rome and Roman medicine with medical historian Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD. Surg Neurol Int 15-Jun-2015;6:104. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/another-medical-journey-ancient-rome-and-roman-medicine-medical-historian-plinio-prioreschi

4. Faria MA. Public health, social science, and the scientific method (Part I). Surgical Neurology 2007;67(2):211-214. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/public-health-social-science-and-scientific-method-part-i

5. Faria MA. Glyphosate, manganese, neurological diseases and the scientific method. Surgical Neurology International, in press.

6. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11, New International Version (NIV).

This article may be cited as: Blaylock RL, Faria MA. On morality, herbal remedies, and scientific methodologies — A correspondence between Dr. Russell L. Blaylock and Dr. Miguel A. Faria. HaciendaPublishing.com, July 4, 2015. Available from: http://www.haciendapublishing.com/articles/morality-herbal-remedies-and-scientific-methodologies-%E2%80%94-correspondence-between-dr-russell-l

Copyright ©2015 Miguel A. Faria Jr. M.D.

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Comments on this post

BMI/HEAVEN Surgery

I have been out of touch for a while, but all very good comments here, as usual. I am actually out of state now, and I have limited access to my references, but I did want to point out that BMI is often used as a statistical measure for populations, rather than a "guide" for an individual. Perhaps I should say that BMI is considered a statistical measure by many neuroscientists, who are looking at cerebral pharmacological or surgical effects of treatments in mass animal populations. Even here, because of the lack of differentiation of type of tissue, many have moved on to 1D NMR scanners, which are basically hydrogen nuclei based spectrometers. If they were 2D, they would be called MRI scanners, but only 1D is needed if you want to quantify the amount of fat, muscle, bone (to some extent), etc. They are expensive, but not nearly so expensive as MRI producing a 2D or 3D image, because no ultra strong magnet is needed to help separate the signals coming from different areas of the scanning planes, since only quantification of the total amount of body constituents is desired. Some form of magnetization can never be avoided, but for different reasons. A neuroscientist friend of mine at Kent State, Dr. Colleen Novack, uses this method, and if I were home and had access to her papers and emails I could explain better why she is against using BMI for the individual charting their own ideal body composition in greater detail. It is not something that I do, and so I don't want to say much more about it right now.

Also, in private communication with Dr. Faria (who I am sorry I did not respond to yet), he suggested I read the Surgical Neurology International series on the HEAVEN project, which many of you here are probably familiar with. I was completely against it, but now I am almost completely for it. Yet, there are a few interesting issues on my mind about some assumptions the authors make, and I would like to discuss them in a comment when I return.
Good Evening,
ARB

PS: The "HEAVEN surgery" being the proposition that we now have the technology to transplant a healthy human head on to another healthy human body, and that we should be doing it in cases where the brain is healthy but the body might be useless and/or dying from a number of conditions. The objections to this usually break down into two components: scientific and ethical.

Body Mass Index (BMI) vs body fat

Health always plays fundamental role in all tasks or fields of our life because every thing is totally depend on it even health or fitness is necessary to achieve the goal or to get success. So, we always concentrate on our health. Our ancestors are more healthy and happy than us weather we are in developed age. Why is that so? I recognized that we have left most of the activities which our ancestors performs just like the use of herbs and plants in food as well as for curing diseases like mardana taqat. The BMI (body mass index) correlates our body weight and body size with each other. It provides a rough guide to whether we are normal, underweight or overweight. However, the BMI does not provide any information about the composition of the body mass. This information is provided by the body fat content. It indicates the percentage of the body mass of fat. The figure does not necessarily say something about the body fat content: Even lean people can have too much body fat. Because fat deposits are not always visible from the outside - some fat is also stored in internal body cavities. Thanks for through attention towards this topic.

Ayahuasca weed ceremony!

Despite risks, Americans flock to Amazon for Ayahuasca ritual and spiritual awakening

By Rebekah Sager, April 28, 2016 Fox News Latino

A centuries-old ritual from the Amazon region is finding its way to a growing number of Americans, who are giving Ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, a try in their quest for spiritual enlightenment, usually in the form of faraway retreats.

A select group doesn't need to travel far, since a few years ago the Supreme Court authorized Ayahuasca’s use in six U.S. states – though the court limited its use for religious purposes only.

While shamans, indigenous priests who perform the ritual, have been around forever in the Amazonian rain
forest, where the days-long “trip” is meant to do its magic in conjunction with nature, in recent years the practice has become increasingly popular among Americans — to the point that many are venturing to remote jungles of Latin America for the experience.

But those who do so could be putting their lives at risk.
Even some celebrities have been known to have traveled south for an Ayahuasca experience, including Sting, Chelsea Handler, Michelle Rodriguez and Jim Carrey. The cost for an average six to 12 day retreat in Peru is between $1,000 and $3,500, which typically includes housing and moderate meals but not airfare.

The ritual has been around for centuries. Shamans were already cooking up the brew, also known as “La Medicina,” when Spanish conquistadors landed on South American land in the 16th century.

“Ayahuasca opens you up to possibilities,” Christine Breese, founder of the Gaia Sagrada Shamanic Retreat Center in Ecuador, told Fox News Latino.

“People think it’s about tripping and seeing colors or just a psychedelic journey, but the real message is beyond that. It’s about getting the ‘a-ha’ moment or realization about life and others and why you do what you do. It opens your mind to seeing things in a different way.”

Ayahuasca typically is a beverage produced from two plants: and Chacruna (Psychotria viridis), which contains Dimethyltryptamine or DMT, and the Ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) which acts as a neurotransmitter. Together they create a powerful – and potentially deadly – psychedelic compound.

“Studies have shown that it literally interrupts brain pathways. Neural pathways are like grooves – [it’s] difficult to move or switch them,” Breese said. “Ayahuasca interrupts those into a healthier pathway."

But there are plenty of skeptics, and DMT is a Schedule I drug, so Ayahuasca is illegal in most parts of the U.S. And, many experts say, it could be fatal...