Are there limits to what evolution can produce?


Evolution has produced some exquisite examples of biological machinery, from bat echolocation to the human brain. But are there things that cannot ever evolve? And why?

To answer this question, we first need to understand a couple of things. The first is that natural selection is about preserving what works, not what is in principle the best “design” for something. We can envisage more efficient designs than those found in nature, but given that evolution is a population phenomenon that compares how well contemporaries do against one another, it will favour those designs that happen to work best, even if they are shoddy solutions (relative to a universal optima that we can imagine) to a problem.

Secondly (and related to this first point), is that what gets selected has to be built upon what’s already there. This means that selection will result in things that are ad hoc and convoluted. As Richard Dawkins has said about the laryngeal nerve (a nerve that exists in the pharynx or throat region of vertebrates), it is easy to imagine a more efficient, less resource-wasting design that has the nerve pass straight through the pharynx rather than under it and back up again, but the cost in embryological upheaval of such a change would likely be prohibitive because of the negative effects on other morphological arrangements as a side-consequence. The intermediates would never be selected for, and hence the less efficient, sub-optimal version is what gets preserved. Of course, it needn’t have been so if organisms had been designed afresh by a deity or some other intelligent agent. What we actually see, though, are solutions to life’s problems that clearly show the imprint left behind by history, because the solutions are often a patchwork of prior solutions that are “stuck” at local rather than universal (effectively imaginary) optima. Organisms carry, as Charles Darwin said of human beings (the most exalted of all organisms), the indelible stamp of their origins.

There will probably never be cheetahs pursuing gazelles on the African savannah at Mach 2.0. There will probably never be sharks that fire torpedoes at seals. There will probably never be birds with electronic radar. But we can find analogues of these; we find fish that spit water at insects to knock them out, and tarantulas that shoot hairs at adversaries. We find bats that use sound waves to determine the location of prey, and dolphins that use sonar to find food hiding beneath the sea bed. Natural selection is all about the allocation of resources in direct proportion to the suite of demands imposed by the environment that is pertinent to the organism in question – the ease of acquiring nutrients, the ease of finding a mate, the risk of being predated upon, abiotic factors like temperature, and so on. All these factors impose selection pressures of their own – often in opposition to other pressures – and what results will normally be a compromise between them, a design that represents a solution to the average set of pressures in an environment over a period of time. There will be a lot of historical baggage that will be dragged along, and if there are no efficient means of getting rid of it, it must be tolerated, as it were.

Lineages can change in dramatic ways, but there are definite limits on what evolution can do, defined, first of all, by the laws of chemistry and physics, and by the immediate needs of the organisms that comprise populations.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Menopause

Some women choose to begin hormone replacement therapy after the symptoms of menopause begin. This therapy can reduce the strength and number of hot flashes that occur. Many hormone replacement therapies replace the loss of estrogen. The production of the hormones progesterone and testosterone are also affected by menopause.

While the female ovaries will no longer create progesterone, the adrenal gland will often continue making testosterone though the levels may be lower than before the onset of menopause and thus the change in sexual desire and vaginal moisture. Bone reduction begins soon after menopause begins due to the relationship between the female hormones and bone production.

Estrogen hormone replacement therapy is prescribed on an as needed basis. Some women choose to naturally enter into menopause and never supplement with artificial or synthetic hormones. Others, especially those who have surgically induced menopause and osteoporosis or osteopenia, will choose hormone replacement therapy.

Testosterone replacement therapy can also be a part of post menopausal therapy. This replacement is a bit more complicated than estrogen replacement therapy. In order to supplement testosterone, the woman will need to undergo testosterone level tests before therapy and during therapy to ensure the levels are not too high or too low.

As an alternative to estrogen replacement, many women are find relief in the form of an all-natural herbal female libido supplement, which may help to restore hormonal balance and assist in alleviating many of the symptoms they experience.


FDA Approves Cefaly, First Device For Migraine Prevention

So, I did write about this device awhile ago and I wondered how long it would take to be approved by the FDA in the U.S. Well, they just approved it.
The FDA said in a statement:

“The user positions the device in the center of the forehead, just above the eyes, using a self-adhesive electrode,” the agency explained. “The device applies an electric current to the skin and underlying body tissues to stimulate branches of the trigeminal nerve, which has been associated with migraine headaches.”

“This device is a promising step forward in treating migraine headaches, as it addresses an important part of what we believe triggers and maintains a migraine attack,” said Dr. Myrna Cardiel, a clinical associate professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center and NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

Now, I am looking online right now, there are a few places to purchase it,one needed a prescription. The best thing to do would be to talk to your doctor about it. I have no idea, since it is so new, if it will be covered under insurance.

Since it is newly approved in the U.S. I imagine supplies will run low. I plan on getting one, I will be talking to my doctor. These are not cheap, they run from $250-349. Now, there are also Elecotrloads sold in packs of 3 for about $25.00.According to one of the sites that sells them, each Electrode lasts 20 times, it adheres the device to your forehead.

Here is the link on the FDA approval.

I am posting two links that sell them, just to give you the information, the first does not require a prescription, the second one does. Keep in mind, I am sure there are more sites.

Gastric Bypass: An Overiew of Bariatric Surgery


Gastric bypass, or bariatric surgery, is quickly becoming the most popular weight loss tool in America. This form of weight loss is very risky.

No one can hide from seeing or hearing about personal accounts of gastric bypass success. For those who have had the surgery and were successful in losing a significant amount of weight, their stories can be a convincing advertisement for the procedure. But there are a lot of risks when a person undergoes gastric bypass surgery, and anyone thinking about getting the procedure should know who qualifies for the surgery and how this can affect the rest of someone’s life.

The first step in learning more about gastric bypass surgery is to contact a doctor that specializes in the procedure. Many people make the mistake of going to a professional who is not qualified or skilled in the procedure, and this could raise the rate of complications. In order to get a safe, reliable surgery with a low risk of complications, research the doctor who will be doing the procedure. Make sure the doctor is skilled in this type of medicine and that he is committed to successful results.

The Effect On Your Life

Before approaching a doctor, one must think about how gastric bypass surgery will change one’s life. Getting gastric bypass surgery is just one step in many in order to change not only the weight of a person, but the lifestyle choices of a person. Gastric bypass surgery requires that a person must meet physical requirements for surgery as well as the determination to change his life.
First, anyone who is thinking about gastric bypass surgery will have to undergo a physical exam. This exam might be a little different for everyone, depending on the risk factors of the person. Heart health, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels will all play a factor in whether someone qualifies to get gastric bypass surgery.

The Necessity of Strict Diet and Exercise

Those who are thinking about getting this procedure will also need to make lifestyle changes that are not just to get the surgery and give the body time to heal, but permanent changes that will affect the rest of their lives. There must be a strict diet and exercise program set up in order to let those who have had gastric bypass surgery live a healthier life. These issues are some of the most important factors in determining whether someone qualifies for gastric bypass surgery. If a person cannot handle changes in diet and exercise, then gastric bypass surgery may not be the right choice.

Those who are thinking about gastric bypass surgery should think carefully about the affects this will have on their life and the lives of those around them. A doctor also needs to be consulted so that the doctor can provide the patient with more information about the benefits, risks, and overall changes that will happen with gastric bypass surgery.
Cost may also be factor when a person determines whether gastric bypass surgery is right for him or not. Many insurance companies will not pay for the surgery unless the doctor can provide proof that this is a necessary procedure in order to reduce medical risk factors.

What is a Consumer Confidence Report?


The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act implemented the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) rule. The CCR rule required all community water systems to issue annual drinking water quality reports to their consumers by July 1st of each year.

A CCR is required to include all of the following:

  • The lake, river, aquifer or other source of your drinking water
  • A brief summary of the pollution threats to the sources of your drinking water based on investigations called “source water assessments.” All states must have their source water assessments completed by May 2003.
  • Information on how to get a copy of the water company’s “source water assessment” or any “sanitary surveys” that have already been done
    1. Sanitary surveys are carried out to evaluate: (1) the capability of a drinking water system to consistently and reliably deliver an adequate quality and quantity of safe drinking water to the consumer, and (2) the system’s compliance with federal drinking water regulations.
  • The level or range of levels of certain contaminants found in local drinking water, as well as EPA’s enforceable standard MCL (maximum contaminant level), and health-based goal MCLG, (maximum contaminant level goal).
    1. The maximum contaminant level is the greatest level of contaminants allowed in water that is delivered to anyone using the public water system. Exceedances of MCLs are considered violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
    2. The maximum contaminant level goal is a non-enforceable concentration of a drinking water contaminant protects human health. These numbers, allowing for an adequate margin of safety, are considered to be target levels to assure no adverse effects on human health.
  • The likely point source and/or non-point source of pollution or the category of pollution for that contaminant in the water supply.
  • The likelihood of adverse health conditions from any contaminant detected in violation of an EPA standard and documentation of actions taken to restore safe drinking water.
  • The water system’s compliance with other drinking water-related rules.
  • A statement for vulnerable people about avoiding the parasite Cryptosporidium because it is thought to be present in so many drinking water sources.
    1. Cryptosporidium is a parasite that is recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (drinking and recreational) in humans in the United States. Sources of contamination include human and fecal waste. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and a slight fever.
  • Information on the health effects of nitrate, arsenic, lead or trihalomethanes when these contaminants are found at levels above half of EPA’s standard.
    1. Nitrate is an inorganic chemical that may contaminate water by being leached from septic tanks, sewage and natural deposit erosion, as well as fertilizer use. Excess nitrate can cause “blue baby syndrome” in infants less than six months.
    2. Arsenic is an inorganic chemical that contaminates water through erosion of natural deposits and runoff from glass and electronics production wastes. Exposure to excessive levels of arsenic can cause skin damage, circulatory problems, and increased risk of cancer.
    3. Lead is a chemical that contaminates water through corrosion of household plumbing systems, and erosion of natural deposits. Exposure to lead among infants and children can result in delays in physical or mental development. Exposure to excessive levels of lead among adults can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure.
    4. Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are by-products of drinking water disinfections. Exposure to TTHMs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems, an increased risk of cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
  • Phone numbers of additional sources of information including the water system and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Information on how an individual can find out about public meetings where decisions about your water are being made.
*Campaign for Safe & Affordable Drinking Water, Making Sense Out of Drinking Water “Right to Know Reports,” Fall 1999.

The Case History of Everyman


Let’s call him John Doe. John is a real patient and this is a real case history; however, this scenario could apply to any man. John came in about eight months ago for a “wellness check-up.” His affect made it clear that he really didn’t want to be there. His mind was on the golf course, or worse yet, on his overwhelmingly stressful job. It was an act of love that his wife made him come in, mentally kicking and screaming the entire way. It was also an act of reciprocal love that he consented to make the journey. After all, what was the big deal? A few extra pounds around the middle is just a part of growing older. OK, he was getting a bit more irritable, but it was certainly the job that was making him so fatigued. He figured that his mild erectile dysfunction was probably due to stress.

Of course it worried him a bit that he had heart disease in the family, and he was starting to accumulate quite a few risk factors himself. As it turned out his “wellness check up- up” revealed that he wasn’t so well after all. In fact he was careening down the road to ruin with a faint vision of an imminent crash in sight in the form of diabetes, heart attack, and/ or stroke. Until we got his labs back, we didn’t fully appreciate how dire things really were.

His triglycerides were through the roof. His cholesterols were elevated with lots of the bad kind. The good kind was barely to be found. His C-reactive protein, a sensitive measure of inflammation and an excellent predictor of heart disease, was also sky high. His testosterone was i n the basement. His vitamin D was tanked with serious implications for his immune function and cardiac function. We tested his overall nutritional function and found numerous other deficiencies. If all this was n’t bad enough, his blood sugar was elevated and he met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a complex metabolic condition which portends heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Fortunately, the labs got his attention when his wife and I had failed. They painted an undeniable picture of pending catastrophe. Life had a bullet with his name on it, heading straight for his heart. He realized that he was at a cross roads in his life. The age old cardinal sins of gluttony and sloth, along with the modern day curse of unrelenting stress were taking its toll. It also didn’t help that he was an unwitting victim of the modern American diet (MAD diet) and ubiquitous environmental toxins. John Doe realized that he had a choice, as most of us do. He could continue on the same path destined to result in misery and premature death, or he could turn his life around and travel down the path of wellness and vibrant living.

The first and most important step in this process is the mindful realization of the problem. Instead, the insidious slippery slope of illness stealthily stalks us day by day. Most of us never see it coming until the heart attack hits us. Men in particular live in a perpetual state of denial. Oh, we might pump a bit of iron to keep the biceps firm, and we might take some Viagra to keep other things firm, but the light bulb of wellness often does not illuminate until it is too late. Fortunately for John Doe, he got it!

The next important step is Intention. That is, intention to make a change. This step is never easy. It means altering a lifetime of bad habits. Habits that we got away with for
so many years i n our youth, but which then come back to haunt us. Fortunately for John Doe, he clearly saw the light and headed toward it full steam ahead. He started an exercise program, heavy on the cardio. He went on a serious diet appropriate for his condition. We corrected his underlying metabolic and hormonal deficiencies. He started a targeted supplementation plan to correct his nutritional deficiencies, and to provide therapeutic relief from some of his conditions. It was an amazing transformation.

When John arrived back in the office for his follow up visit, I could hardly believe my eyes. He had lost more than 20 pounds, as well as four inches from his waist. He was looking fit and trim and full of energy. He announced that he was feeling fantastic. We sat down to go over his labs and i n every instance there was remarkable improvement. His bad cholesterols were significantly down, and his good cholesterols were up. His markers of inflammation were dramatically improved. His metabolic syndrome had gone away. His vitamin levels were robust. In summary, John Doe was like a new man. He felt better than he had felt for years.

As we dedicate this edition of Natural Awakenings to men, I hope that all men will take hope from Joh n Doe. Just as John Doe turned his illness into wellness and will reap a longer more vibrant life, so too everyman holds within him the potential for greater wellness. We have been given precious gifts of mind, body, and spirit. To reach our full potential, we must nourish and grow these gifts with mindful attention.

Take note of the path that you are on. Are you at a crossroad? With steadfast intention, day by day, and step by step, begin your journey down the path of wellness. You and your loved ones will reap immeasurable and priceless rewards for the rest of your life.

This article is meant to educate. It is not intended to diagnose or treat. Anyone with a problem related to the issue discussed in this article should consult a qualified health care provider.

What is Hormone Imbalance? Is it Andropause or Menopause?


Hormone imbalance is a medical condition that arises when one or more hormones get out of balance with the rest of the hormones. When this occurs in women it is called
menopause. When it occurs in men, it is known as andropause.

The world we live in today is not the same world we had 100 years ago. Today we see many factories producing man-made chemicals at an alarming rate and discharging the waste products into our environment or putting them in our food and water supply. Once these chemicals are in our environment we are then exposed to them via breathing, drinking contaminated water, or eating foods that contain these chemicals, etc.

Many different chemical products that we come in constant contact with can cause the estrogen to increase in the body. This in turn can result in a compromise of the endocrine system which can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Once these chemicals are in our body, they have the opportunity to do considerable damage to whatever they come into contact with or disrupt.

If we are to understand the origins of hormone imbalance, then we must first examine how age affects the body itself. In a natural progression of aging, normal production of testosterone decreases as we grow older, and the percentage of testosterone vs. estrogen is reduced. Combine that with the exposure to harmful substances in our food and environment, and the estrogen levels begin to increase steadily resulting in a hormonal imbalance in men.

The modern world finds us contsantly exposed to a new type of environmental compound known as xenoestrogens. This particular type of estrogen, generally classified as petrochemicals, posess an extremely powerful estrogen-like effect. These xenoestrogens can be found in the air we breathe, plastic materials, clothing, herbicides and pesticides as well as personal care produtcs. As you can see it is not very difficult in today’s times to be exposed to a number of these chemicals.

Sadly, the modern diet is also polluted with hormones. Synthetic estrogens are now commonly found implemented for the production of larger cattle and other meat-producing animals, as well as to boost egg and milk production. Many of us are eating our way into estrogen dominance as many foods now contain small to large amounts of estrogen. Farmers put estrogens in the foods they feed their livestock. Many birth control pills are not biodegradable and can be found in many of our towns and cities water supply. Synthetic hormones have chemical structures that are not compatible with our bodies and therefore tend to interfere with normal body functions.


So what does all of this mean to men when they have too much estrogen? It means that they are in the male form of menopause, called andropause. Andropause is similar to menopause in women. The difference is that women begin to have a decrease in estrogen and men tend to have an increase in estrogen or a decrease in testosterone. Testosterone does tend to decline
with advancing age which will cause a change in the ratio  of testosterone to estrogen. Andropause finally takes over when the men have a higher level of estrogen than they do

When this condition occurs it can take the form of many different ailments and conditions. It can produce enlarged prostate, low sex drive, impotence, urinary problems, depression, fatigue, foggy thinking, and an unusually rapid increase in weight. Some medical studies have also linked low testosterone to diabetes as well as an increased risk for having a stroke.

What should any man do that is experiencing any of these conditions? The first step is to make an appointment with a doctor to have your hormone levels checked. This is not quite as easy as it sounds because there are many different ways to check hormones; blood is just one of the ways. Other tests appear to be more accurate than blood; however, sometimes a combination of different tests is what is needed to find the imbalance.

Once this imbalance has been identified, you then need to be treated to reduce your estrogen levels and increase your testosterone levels. Do not make the mistake of simply taking more testosterone! Why? Because taking more testosterone and not finding out why your estrogen is elevated is asking for more problems. This is like putting fuel to the fire because your body can convert the increased testosterone into more estrogen.

For information on all-natural testosterone boosters and finding the best male enhancement supplements, visit

Your choice of doctors is certainly your decision, so make a wise choice. At Madison Clinic we work with hormones every day. We have different methods of testing your levels, as well as natural treatments to help reverse the problem.

What is Swine Flu?


Ignorance is truly bliss under many circumstances, but when it comes to a person’s health and well-being, knowledge is definitely power.

A case in point is the recent public health scare occurring in response to the swine flu. With the barrage of media attention, it’s easy to get lost among the flurry of information, creating confusion and, ultimately, panic within the population. To lessen fears, it can be useful to understand exactly what makes the influenza virus, something that already affects many people each year, tick.

An Influenza virus invades the cells of a person’s respiratory system in order to accomplish one goal: to multiply, or make more copies of itself. After gaining entry to a cell, the virus hijacks the machinery contained therein, forcing it to make the components necessary for new viruses. When the task is complete, the newly created virus particles burst out of the cell and search for other healthy cells to invade. Its “life” cycle then begins again.

An influenza virus has two components that are needed to enter and then exit a cell. These proteins are called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, respectively. The scientific terminology for the swine flu virus, H1N1, actually corresponds to the names of these two proteins, and the numbers correspond to particular variants of these proteins. Hence, H1 is hemagglutinin variant 1 and N1 is neuraminidase variant 1 .

There are 16 varieties of hemagglutinin and 9 varieties of neuraminidase, and the combinations of these two constitute different strains of the virus. Some may remember when the world turned its attention to H5N1, or the “bird flu,” only a few short years ago. The virus’s neuraminidase protein has become an effective target for anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu. Because a virus needs its neuraminidase to leave the cell it invaded, blocking its ability to function keeps the initial virus and all its new copies bound inside the cell instead of being able to leave and prey upon other cells.

Each year, scientists keep a close watch on influenza outbreaks that occur across the country; based upon the information, a prediction is made about which influenza strains are likely to affect the human population during the upcoming flu season that typically occurs from December to March. Vaccines are then tailored to these predicted strains so that the immune system will be armed with protective molecules to recognize and kill a virus in the event of infection.

Flu vaccines are not effective from year to year, however, because the virus mutates continually in an effort to avoid being noticed by the immune system. Influenza type A viruses, which includes 2009 H1N1, have a high rate of mutation and can affect people of all ages, pigs, and birds. In some cultures, it is common for people to live closely among these species, breathing the same air and creating an opportune environment for the influenza subtype A viruses to be passed between each other. These conditions, combined with the propensity of the virus to mutate, facilitate the evolution of a strain such as H1N1 that is problematic because it spreads easily from person to person, people do not have immunity to it, and there is not yet a vaccine.

You Know You’re a Natural Man If…

natural man

Ok, guys, I know you’re making the shift. You might not notice, but it’s happening – you’re slowly but surely evolving into a more sustainable, mindful, sensitive and peace-ful way of life. It may start as simple as taking your own bags to the grocery store and shopping for local produce or tak- ing a yin yoga class and getting regular massages. I whole- heartedly commend you. But just in case you’re not convinced, here are a few hints to determine if you are indeed embrac- ing the art of natural living.

You Know You’re a Natural Man If…

• You faithfully recycle your organic beer cans
• You go fishing with the guys and try and to save the fish
• You get lost driving and meditate for 5 min. to figure out the directions
• Your boxers and briefs are made from hemp and bamboo
• Your idea of kicking butt is doing T’ai Chi
• Instead of getting road rage when you’re stuck in traffic, you chant “ommmm” until the feeling passes
• You smudge yourself after a bad day at work
• At the first sign of feeling sick, you whip out a bulb of garlic and chew it
up without wincing
• You drum and dance naked under the full moon
• You read Nature Magazine

Live It Up Natural Guys.