I’ll Have a Side of Farver Beans and a Nice Chianti Please

There are talks of a restaurant called Flime opening in Berlin.  It has been getting much attention in German media because the restaurant has started a campaign to find donors.  The donors are not being asked for money or any type of investments into the company, instead they are being asked to donate body parts.  Supposedly ears, testicles and stomach fat are being asked for, so they may be turned into high class gourmet meals.  According to this soon-to-open restaurant they will follow old cooking habits of age old cannibalistic tribe of the Amazon.   

In Flime’s campaign, through German media they are calling for donors to be involved in with what they call the new diners movement.  Flime is also calling for “open-minded surgeons” as well.   It is no surprise that this campaign has stirred up a bit of controversy.  Already groups of protesters are fighting for a ban of this restaurant, claiming that it is highly distasteful and disrespectful following a case of real cannibalism which occurred in Germany in 2001. 

The inspiration, Flime says, come from a ritual called “compassionate cannibalism” in which the indigenous Brazilian Waricaca tribe would eat pieces of loved ones to help with mourning on their passing.

Michael Braun, the vice-chairman of Berlin’s Christian Democrat party is trying very hard to get to the bottom of what he feels is a “stunt” or “warped joke.”  Sadly he has had no luck. 

Braun said “it’s disgusting, not least because it wasn’t long ago that we had the case of the Berliner who was murdered by a cannibal,” referring to Armin Meiwes , who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering and consuming Bernd Jürgen Brandes in 2001.

Experts believe that Germany alone has approximately 800 followers of the underground cannibal movement.

I am almost 100% positive Germany officials would step in to assure something this disturbing wouldn’t happen.  The dangers of consuming humans can possibly be extreme.  Just research the outbreak of kuru in the Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea, which came from something they called mortuary feasting.

References:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/26/cannibal-restaurant-flime-germany

UFO Spotted on Google Earth?

So as I was doing a quick search for some woo news, I stumbled across this photo. 

This was part of a collection by Google called ‘the most mysterious sightings ever.’  The most mysterious sightings ever, are you serious?  This picture isn’t that puzzling at all, when I first glanced at it, I was looking for the UFO.  I had no idea they were talking about the top of a man made structure, most likely a water tower.

It seems people just label anything that is spherical or circular a UFO.  No sightings of this gargantuan craft were ever reported, not even by the person driving the red truck in the photograph.  My favorite thing about this photo is the lonely road which travels right up to “UFO.” 

I laugh because I wouldn’t have even written this article if I didn’t see so many comments that “this is proof alien space craft’s have visited earth.”  “This is proof of a UFO, because Google earth doesn’t photoshop images,” well I guess I partially agree with that last statement, Google earth didn’t photoshop the picture but it’s not proof of a UFO, it’s proof of manmade structures.   Sadly it is also proof that some people are so blinded by a belief that they will subscribe to any possible piece of “evidence” as hard fact.

Me and the Neti Pot

Lately I have been plagued with a serious series of insane sinus issues; complete with itchy watery eyes, scratchy throat, congestion of the head and the nose. All of these are pretty much tolerable except for the nose congestion. This year it seems to be worse than ever! One side is clogged and the other side is constantly dripping. It lasts this way for about 5-8 hours then alternates, like they are in perfect synchronization with each other. Saline spray wasn’t working and neither were any of the over the counter decongestants, in complete misery I was willing to try anything just to get a quick feeling of relief, the sensation of oxygen filling both nostrils, the feeling of comfortably breathing which we all take for granted so often.

I was told to try something called a Neti Pot. Quickly I had to ask what it was, the response actually shocked me. I was told it was something that looked like a tea pot that was filled with luke warm water and a salt solution. I was told that this salt solution was something that had to be bought strictly for the Neti Pot, I couldn’t just use regular table salt. Then what I heard next literally made me cringe, it sounded so bizarre I didn’t believe it.

After the Neti Pot is filled with the warm salt water solution, the individual is to lean forward and tip their head to the side and place the spout in one of the nostrils. The water travels up the nose and pours out the other side. That’s right; supposedly the water goes up one nostril and out the other. Insanely skeptical, I decided the only way to find out if this Neti Pot was real was to test it out myself.

First, I did some research on exactly how this device really works. I refrained from typing things like “Neti Pot skeptical” in the Google search because I didn’t want to bias my test. What I found was this: “The Neti Pot irrigates the sinuses with a steady, low-pressure, stream of warm water. If done properly, the water should flow into one nostril, up into the sinus cavities and out the opposite nostril. When we are sick, the mucus tends to thicken in order to trap viruses and bacteria. Pollen is also very sticky and may cling to the nasal passages. The warm salt water flushes dust and other debris out of the sinuses that blowing your nose may miss. Salt also has mild antiseptic properties and can kill some bacteria on contact. The salt also has some mild detergent effects. Some nasal irrigation formulas also use baking soda, which provides an extra level of cleaning. Neti Pots also work preventatively by cleaning out the sinuses, and have been proven effective as a treatment for chronic sinusitis.”

The word that caught my attention in that description on how the Neti Pot works is in the last sentence, the word proven. I instantly thought, I have to purchase this thing ASAP. So I went out my local pharmacy and dropped about $14 on my very first, personal Neti Pot.

When I got home I went right into the bathroom and opened my Neti Pot and found out the water used has to be distilled, so I quickly went into the kitchen to boil some water. After about 45 minutes everything was finally ready. I have to admit, the thought that I was about to pour salt water into my nose was a bit nerve wrecking. Hundreds of crazy thoughts were running through my brain. What if I choke? What if I drown? Finally after a few minutes and a quick pep talk, I placed the spout in my nose, leaned forward and tilted my head to the side.

The feeling was very weird, similar to… well, water going up your nose. My eyes started to water slightly and I thought, “Wow this is stupid.” Then it happened, a stream of water started to pour out my other nostril.

Instantly I started to laugh, which wasn’t a good idea, because it cause some of the salt water solution to drip down my throat. The taste is awful. I let about half of the pot drain into one nostril, when I stopped and switched sides. When I was finished, I let the excess water drain out of my nose and gently blew my nose into a tissue. Mucus galore. I have to admit, it’s very soothing and surprisingly I could breathe a little better. I wasn’t 100% normal but I was definitely breathing out of both nostrils.

So what do the doctors say about this home remedy? Is it really effective? Does the Neti Pot really work?

To my surprise E.N.T’s (ear, nose and throat doctors) actually recommend nasal irrigation by use of Neti Pots. They use this method as a way to clear away any crusting in the nasal passages. The basic explanation of how the Neti pot works is that it thins mucus to help flush it out of the nasal passages.

On WedMD it reports “A more biological explanation for how the Neti pot works has to do with hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. These cilia wave back and forth to push mucus either to the back of the throat where it can be swallowed, or to the nose to be blown out. Saline solution can help increase the speed and improve coordination of the cilia so that they may more effectively remove the bacteria, allergens, and other irritants that cause sinus problems.”

On one of my favorite, Science Based Medicine, Dr. Harriet Hall cautions not to overdue Neti Pots she says “

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in November 2009 found that while short-term nasal irrigation is therapeutic, long-term use of nasal irrigation is harmful. Regular users of irrigation who continued using it had an average of 8 episodes of recurrent rhino sinusitis per year, while those who discontinued it only averaged 3 episodes per year. The investigators hypothesized that the nasal mucosa serves as the first line of defense, and irrigation depletes the nose of its immune blanket of mucus, thereby increasing the risk of recurrent infection.”

I know most people are thinking salt water solution, why not just use saline spray? Well truth be told, I thought the same thing, but study actually shows that saline spray is not as effective as nasal irrigation, that can be seen here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025315?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=3.

So turns out medically this method does work. It doesn’t cure the common cold or even your sinuses, it does however provide temporary relief of horrible symptoms, just be careful and don’t overdo it.

References:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/26053-neti-pot-work/#ixzz0w4hfxfs6

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-pain-pressure-9/neti-pots

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2841

Toss Out The Q-Tips, Bring In The Ear Candles

Anyone who has ever held a job knows that people in the workplace often engage in conversations completely unrelated to work. Recently, a woman in the customer service department at my job has been praising a form of alternative medicine called thermal-auricular therapy also know as ear candling. After overhearing a couple of women talking about how amazing ear candling was, I couldn’t help but involve myself in the discussion.
 
Although I don’t remember what was said word for word, I was basically told that using cotton swabs, or Q-Tips, to clean my ears was not only ineffective at removing the ear wax but it was also very dangerous. Instead I should be using ear candles. Intrigued by this claim, I asked how they worked. Sadly none of the women knew the science behind this technique. They proceeded to tell me how great their ears felt after using them and that the best part was cutting open the base at the end to reveal just how much ear wax was removed from the ear.
 
Instantly something went off in my brain telling me that this was crap but still I asked where I could purchase some of these “amazing” candles. I figured I was going to have to order them online, but I was surprised to find out that they are readily available my local all natural store Bassett’s Health Foods. After work I picked up a tape recorder and went to purchase some ear candles. As soon as I walked in I noticed the candles behind the cash register and quickly got in line to purchase them. In front of me there were 3 individuals standing in line and I was absolutely shocked to watch each person buy 6 candles a piece. “Is this really that popular?” I thought to myself.
 
Just before going up to the counter I turned on my audio recorder and started to play dumb. Below is the actual conversation I had with the two women behind the counter
.
Me: Hi. Some people at my work told me I shouldn’t use Q-Tips but I should
(I was quickly cut off)
Girl 1: Ear candles!
Me: Yes, ear candles. I was just wondering how do they work?
Girl 1: Um (she grabbed one of the candles) you light this end of it (pointing to the top of the candle) and stick this part into your ear canal (the bottom part of the candle) and what happens is it forms a vacuum sucking all the ear wax out of your ear.
Me: So that’s all there is to it?
Girl 1: Basically, I can give you an instruction sheet as well.
Me: Thank you, I will take a couple of those (talking about the ear candles).
Girl 2: Your supposed to use 2 to 3 per ear.
Me: Really? Why?
Girl 2: Because the first one is what we call a starter, but the second and third one are what really cleans the ear.
Me: Alrighty, I will try 4 for now.
Girl 2: It feels amazing.
Girl 1: I know, it really does, I am going to do mine tonight.
Girl 2: You’re really going to love it (talking to me).
Girl 1: Yea, Q-Tips usually push the ear wax back into your ear, so you really shouldn’t use them.
Me: Really? So basically this is just going to form a vacuum and suck the ear wax out instead?
Girl 2: Exactly, but if you have any other questions just ‘YouTube’ ear candling.
Me: Thank you, I will.
Girl 2: Like I said you are going to love it. I didn’t think it would work until I tried it myself and it feels great. When you are done you can open up the candles and look at all the wax it sucked out of your ear. Its really gross.
Me. Yea, that sounds gross. Well thank you again.
Girl 1: Have a nice day.
Me: You too.
 

I thought it was fascinating and very informational that the clerks told me to ’YouTube’ instead of providing me with helpful information. Nonetheless, I went home to try a simple experiment. What I planned on doing was use 2 candles in one ear and set up a box where I could stand up the candles in a similar way as to how they are place in the ear. I wanted to see if these candles really sucked the ear wax out of your ear, or if this nasty orange residue people are seeing can be produced if the candle is not in your ear.
 
So I lit the top of the first candle and laid on the couch sticking the bottom into my ear canal. Immediately my ear was filled with the noise of crackling and popping, similar to listening to a bowl of Rice Krispies. I could feel the heat inside of my ear, and the only thought I kept thinking was “Q-Tips are dangerous? I have a lit candle in my ear.”


 
One thing I didn’t know was that it takes a fairly long time for each candle to burn. It took about 8 to 10 minutes for the candle to reach the point to where it should be extinguished. Though that may not sound like a long time, I promise you, laying there holding one of these candles and hoping to God you don’t accidentally burn your house down in the process seems like an eternity. After the first candle was finished I started the same process for candle number two.


 
After the relief of finishing my ear candling and not burning down my house, I continued to the second part of my experiment. I took a cereal box which I poked two holes into, and carefully set up the remaining 2 candles and lit both at the same time (might as well get both done at once).

When they were finished I carefully extinguished them and placed each set on 2 different napkins and carefully opened them. I wanted to see if the set I used on my ear pulled out ear wax and the second set was clean or if both sets would produce the same results. I opened up the set I used on my ears first, to my amazement I saw the nasty yellow orange residue everyone was talking about. It looked just like ear wax. I moved onto the set that were place in the holes on the cereal box and just as I thought, the same exact results.

This one was used in the ear

This one was used in the ear

These were done in the box

These were done in the box

So unless the cereal boxed produced ear wax, I think its safe to say that this yellow/orange substance is in fact the wax of the candle itself.

After researching a little bit on ear candles I found out that they are said to cure many ailments. These ailments include cleansing the ear of wax, relieving sinus infections, strengthening the brain to stabilizing emotions, aligning your chakras and healing your auras. I also found out in my research that ear candles are actually very dangerous. The major threat associated with using ear candles is the possibility of burning yourself. There is also the possibility that hot wax from the candle may also drip down into ones ear causing obstructions in the canal. Another dangerous and potential irreversible side effect is the perforation of ones eardrum. There has even a reported death by someone using ear candles. A report of a 59 year old woman accidentally ignited her bedding after dropping the ear candle. Although she didn’t die in the house, she did die later at the hospital. Very sad and unfortunate.
 
Besides the dangers of using ear candles, research shows that it is not even possible for the candles to suck the wax out of your ear. The amount of force the candles would have to use to suck out the wax of ones ear would actually cause the ear drum to rupture. These candles don’t even produce any type of vacuum. Furthermore, researchers found that these candles do not remove wax, but actually deposit wax into the ear instead.
 
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) strongly advises against the use of ear candles because there is no scientific evidence to support any health benefits, even by following the directions. The FDA is also very concerned because some ear candle manufacturers are suggesting the use of this treatment in children and infants. This is extremely dangerous because the ear canals are smaller and children and infants are more likely to move during the procedure.
 
This is very valuable information. I now feel obligated to pass on this knowledge to people who may not know about the dangers associated with ear candles. What started out as just a way to find out if these candles are bunk or not turned into something much more. I hope this finds many readers and opens the eyes of those who use these candles and/or are thinking about using them. They are seriously very dangerous and should not be used under any circumstances.
 
References:
http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html
http://newyorkcity.injuryboard.com/fda-and-prescription-drugs/ear-candles-and-candling-are-a-dangerous-health-scam-says-fda.aspx?googleid=278518

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