Influenza: Help from Healthy Habits


Meditation and Exercise could protect from the Flu

Who knew meditation could be so handy during cold and flu season? A small new study finds that mindfulness meditation and moderate exercise seem to have protective effects against cold and flu, with people who engage in the practices having less severe, shorter and fewer symptoms of acute respiratory infection — and fewer days missed from work due to the sickness — than people who don’t engage in either practice.

Specifically, undergoing mindfulness training was linked with a 40 to 50 percent decrease in symptoms, while exercise was linked with a 30 to 40 percent decrease in symptoms, researchers reported, compared with people who did neither activity.

“The apparent 40 to 50 percent benefit of mindfulness training is a very important finding, as is the apparent 30 to 40 percent benefit of exercise training,” study researcher Dr. Bruce Barrett, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said in a statement. “If this pans out in future research, the impact could be substantive indeed.”

Researchers found that people who did meditation had 27 total “episodes” of cold or flu symptoms, lasting a total of 257 days. And the people who exercised had 26 total “episodes” of cold and flu symptoms, lasting 241 days. But the people who did neither exercise nor meditation had 40 total “episodes” of cold or flu symptoms, lasting 453 days.

Recently, a review of research published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science broke down what exactly it is about mindfulness meditation that seems to make us healthier. They deduced that mindfulness is able to promote regulation of attention, body awareness, self-awareness and regulation of emotion — all of which help us in different aspects of our lives.

VIDEO: Influenza Deaths: The Hype vs. the Evidence

The CDC has been telling the public for nearly a decade that an estimated 36,000 people die from influenza in the U.S. every year. This number is grossly inaccurate as it includes not just influenza death cases, but also other respiratory, circulatory, cardiac and pulmonary deaths that potentially might have been associated with influenza

State health department officials are increasingly joining with medical trade association lobbyists in many states to severely restrict or eliminate medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions for all children. In Connecticut and New Jersey, mandates are already in place that force parents to give their six-month-old babies flu vaccine or be banned from daycare.

Global Flu Vaccine Market: U.S. Biggest Customer

Today, the global market for seasonal influenza vaccine is $3.6 billion and forecasters have recently reported that the U.S. is the single biggest and most profitable market in the world.45 They say the huge U.S. market is “driven by price increases” and high vaccine coverage rates generated by the 2009 influenza pandemic and the government’s “universal” flu shot recommendation in 2010. They add that “campaigning by U.S. authorities” will continue to drive up flu shot sales.

CDC: We Don’t Know How Many Influenza Deaths There Are

Meanwhile, doctors at the CDC now quietly admit on their website that the “CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year.”46 Having gotten that cradle to the grave flu shot recommendation firmly in place, they are backing away from the 36,000 influenza death figure. CDC now says that “only 8.5 percent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths and only 2.1 percent of all respiratory and circulatory deaths” are influenza related.

From the CDC website:

How many people die from seasonal flu each year in the United States?

The number of seasonal influenza-associated (i.e., seasonal flu-related) deaths varies from year to year because flu seasons are unpredictable and often fluctuate in length and severity. … CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Death certificate data and weekly influenza virus surveillance information was used to estimate how many flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death was listed as respiratory or circulatory disease on their death certificate.

What does this study tell us?

The MMWR study found that during seasons when influenza A (H3N2) viruses were prominent death rates were more than double what they were during seasons when influenza A (H1N1) or influenza B viruses predominated. In addition, the study confirmed previous findings that about 90% of influenza associated deaths occur among adults 65 years and older.

Why doesn’t CDC base its seasonal flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that specifically list influenza?

Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It has been recognized for many years that influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates and testing for seasonal influenza infections is usually not done, particularly among the elderly who are at greatest risk of seasonal influenza complications and death. … Statistical modeling strategies have been used to estimate seasonal flu-related deaths for many decades, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Only counting deaths where influenza was included on a death certificate would be a gross underestimation of seasonal influenza’s true impact. …

The number of people in the US who die from flu annually is about the same number that die from gunshot (homicide and suicide).

In 2010 two virologists, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, filed a lawsuit against their former employer and vaccine manufacturer Merck. The lawsuit, which was unsealed in late June, alleges that Merck defrauded the U.S. for over 10 years by overstating the MMR vaccine’s effectiveness.
The virologists claim in their lawsuit that they “witnessed firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to artificially inflate the vaccine’s efficacy findings.”

More at   National Vaccine Information Center – Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice.

Human Rights Invent Americans

“America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it’s the other way around. Human rights invented America.” ~ Jimmy Carter

Judy Colligan’s life brings former President Carter’s statement up to the present moment.  Judy took initiative, acted with compassion from her commitments, and inspired her friends and neighbors to recognize:

Judy and Tahira“Human rights invent Americans.”

Yes, Americans. Like Judy. Her most recent communication to me expressed her concerns for our county’s children, teens and young adults, particularly girls and women. On Dec 19 at the Howard County Delegation hearing she came to oppose HoCo 9-13, a bill which in October 2013 would prohibit Howard County from adopting and enforcing sound level limits for Merriweather Post Pavilion, a venue of 15,000 that regularly exceeded civil sound levels in the neighborhood where Judy lived for over thirty years.

Judy watched online the remainder of the hearing she had missed a week after it. Her grave concern from watching the broadcast was proposed bill HO.CO. 08-13 (LR 768)  Howard County – Casino Events – Authorized, Submitted by W. Miller and Malone. This bill sets up ways to hold “Casino Events” in our local Howard County. Judy emailed me on Dec 31:

“After most of us had left due to the late hour,  Delegate Guzzone said they had one more bill to consider. Its sponsor had requested that it be last.  When Delegate Miller of District 9A presented it, there were no speakers for testimony.

I couldn’t believe it –if  I understood what he said–he was proposing there be some form of casino “like” gambling in Howard County, in order to raise money for veterans. He said he had met with “veterans”  and they appreciated  this.

He had requested to be at the end when he knew most folks would be gone; there were no testimonies; there was no definition of what Veteran orgs he had spoken to. This smells very much like a politician seeking to help casino owners so they will help him financially. We just saw O’Malley, Ulman, Baltimore Mayor campaigning for casinos in Md, and I don’t believe for a minute they do this just for growing money for education.”

“Casinos anywhere provide more opportunities for pimps and cartels to sell and exploit kids and women for sex to the men coming to gamble to fill out their entertainment outing. The victims are sold over the internet for “tourist sex dates”, and local hotels and houses are used. So you can see that this has to be fought against.  After seeing what this Miller was proposing ‘under the radar’, I already started to alert our AGAST most active volunteers that we need to get on this.”


“I hope you will support us if we need to rally community support. “

Last night Judy did not show up at Art’s house to drive to see the Singing Sensations Youth Choir perform their Gospel Extravaganza in Baltimore. He could not reach her by cell or phone. He called her friend and neighbor Normale who used Judy’s key when she did not come to the door. Going through the downstairs rooms calling her name with no response, Normale “found Judy laying on the floor beside her bed.  When I touched her, her body was already cold.  … Her candle was lit on her meditation altar.   Judy looked like she had a peaceful passing.”

We walked to the gathering for Judy at the Kittamaqndi Community in our neighborhood. Her memorial is planned for this week. Please hold Judy and her family in your meditations and prayers.

kc church

C.H.O.R.D.S.: Community Health Over-Rides Disruptive Sound

Use ear protection when visiting commons in your town. Sound meter apps help.

Dear President Obama,  Zep Obama

At C.H.O.R.D.S. Community Health Over-Rides Disruptive Sound. Here’s a remembrance of your tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center last month, with Heart’s “Stairway to Heaven” moving Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

What you may not know is that In “Stairway to Heaven,” Robert Plant is describing the tinnitus of hearing loss resulting from exposure to harmful decibel levels:

“You´re head is humming and it won´t go in case you don´t know

The piper’s calling you to join him,

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know

Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.”

Damage from Harmful Noise lasts a lifetime. Once hearing is damaged or lost there is no reversal for these conditions.

In downtown Columbia MD, 30 miles from the White House, as in many towns around the world, excessive noise levels erupt from speakers in and around our restaurants, movie theatres, and shopping mall. From April through October, one outdoor concert venue of 15,000 individuals sends out 95 to 110 dB’s from a structure built in 1967 to house the National Symphony, bouncing Disruptive Sound off thermal inversions for miles and miles. Zep Obama familyHarmful Noise causes pain in the nervous system, the severity of which depends on intensity and length of exposure. Generating tinnitus and hearing loss, sleep interruption, and chronic stress, it raises men’s heart attack risk by 50%; women’s, by 300%. Babies develop digestive problems and inhibited language development. An autonomic response is to crave carbohydrates and overuse alcohol, prescription medications and recreational drugs.

When EPA funding was cut in 2004, states took on the responsibility for maintaining civil decibel levels. Follow through has been sporadic and ineffective. In May 2012 the Maryland General Assembly passed HB-190, giving local jurisdictions the ability to collect fines up to $10,000. In our county Noise Ordinance both police and the Health Department are named with power to protect citizens, but police will not do so, saying our County Executive gave a “Special Exemption” to the outdoor venue and that they have no jurisdiction to do so in the movie theatre or local mall.

Health care providers have a “duty to warn” about potential harm to our clients and their families. We have a legal and ethical responsibility to speak up when local leadership allows certain commercial interests to repeatedly send Harmful Noise to our workplaces, marketplaces and homes.

Add ear protection when visiting these common areas in downtown. Use phone apps like Sound Meter to check levels where you go and ask managers to turn it down if you can’t hold a conversation without raising your voice. That means sound levels are over 65 dB which violates the Noise Ordinance and is unhealthy.

Create Vibrancy NOT Vibration

Noise adversely affects general health in the same way as chronic stress by:

  • causing digestive problems,
  • inhibiting language development in children,
  • creating social handicaps,
  • reducing productivity,
  • impairing teaching and learning, and
  • increasing absenteeism, alcohol and drug use, and accidents.[5]

Noise impairs the ability to enjoy one’s property and leisure time and increases the frequency of antisocial behavior.[6]

Noise “adversely affects future generations by degrading residential, social, and learning environments with corresponding economic losses.” [7]

MPP’s proposed legislation HoCo 9-13 contradicts all five priorities of County Executive Ken Ulman’s commitment to “make good government even better”:[1]

  • Public Safety and Education: Noise causes carbohydrate craving, including sugars, white flour products, and alcohol. Piling sand on county parking lots does not cover up this fact. Even if Mr. Ulman had police enforce the current county noise standards, citizens are not adequately protected.
  • Finding Efficiencies Within Government: MPP’s proposed bill opposes Maryland’s HB-190 effective October 2012 which revises the framework for enforcing noise standards for more efficient and cost-effective responses to citizen noise complaints.[2]
  • Exercising Sound Fiscal Management: MPP’s proposed legislation prohibits the County from collecting fines up to $10,000 for noise violations. Fines last season would have recouped much of our police overtime budget deficit of $500K.
  • Protecting Our Environment: MPP’s Harmful Noise interrupts treatments and classes at Four Gates Wellness Center, psychotherapy, psychiatry, insurance offices, and the innovative political image-making firm in our building—only one of Columbia’s 57% professional workplaces.[3]
  • Creating a Healthier and More Vibrant Community:  Vibration is NOT vibrancy. Generating hearing loss, interrupting sleep, and preventing rest and renewal, noise raises men’s heart attack risk by 50%; women’s, by 300%.[4]