Artificial Sweeteners – A Sweet and Deadly Deception

This post sort of follows on from the two-part

Staring Down the Double Barrels of BPAs & HFCS

The second part of the article focused on the health effects of refined sugars, particularly fructose. On reading that post, a reaction of going ‘sugar-free’ would seem like a move in the right direction. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, and would be, in fact, stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

aspartameBut it’s not only people who turn to sugar-free or ‘diet’ products who are being harmed. Artificial sweeteners appear in many more foodstuffs than those classified as sugar-free.

This article focuses on the two most widely used, Aspatame and Sucralose.

As mentioned, artificial sweeteners appear in many more foodstuffs than those classified as sugar-free.

Aspartame can be found in over 6,000 foods including:

– instant breakfasts
– breath mints
– cereals
– sugar-free chewing gum
– cocoa mixes
– coffee beverages
– frozen desserts
– gelatin desserts
– juice beverages
– laxatives
– multivitamins (inc children’s multivitamins)
– milk drinks
– pharmaceuticals and supplements (including junior vitamins)
– shake mixes
– soft drinks
– tabletop sweeteners
– tea beverages
– instant teas and coffees
– topping mixes
– wine coolers
– yogurt

The above list from the Aspartame (Nutrasweet) Toxicity Info Center is by no means complete, but gives an idea of the widespread application of this chemical. For a fuller list see here

Aspartame chemistry

Aspartame is combination of chemicals, namely aspartic acid (an amino acid with excitatory effects on brain cells), methanol and phenylalanine.

When broken down by the body the phenylalanine in aspartame dissociates from the ester bond. While these amino acids are natural, they were never designed to be ingested as isolated amino acids in massive quantities, which in and of itself will cause complications.

Additionally this will also increase dopamine levels in your brain. This can lead to symptoms of depression and addiction because it distorts your serotonin/dopamine balance. Aspartame greatly lowers serotonin levels, and decreased brain serotonin has been associated with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicide attempts, hostility and psychopathic states, as well as hallucinations and insomnia. It can also lead to migraine headaches and brain tumors through a similar mechanism.

The aspartic acid in aspartame is a well-documented excitotoxin. Excitotoxins are usually amino acids, such as glutamate and aspartate. These special amino acids cause particular brain cells to become excessively excited, to the point that they die. Aspartic acid alters the manner of brain formation in newborn infants, permanently resulting in hyperactivity and behavioral changes in children.

Excitotoxins can also cause a loss of brain synapses and connecting fibers leading to general lead to neurodegeneration. Reported physical effects after long exposure to excitatory amino acid include Parkinson’s disease, brain lesions, neuroendocrine disorders and hypoglycemia to mention a few.

According to Professor Emeritus of Food Science and Nutrition at Arizona State University Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, every molecule of aspartame converts into a molecule of methanol when consumed. And in its dry form, aspartame is 11 percent methanol by weight.

“When humans consume low doses of methanol it is metabolized directly into formaldehyde which is a cancer producing agent of the same level of danger as asbestos and plutonium. Once methanol runs the gauntlet of first-pass metabolism, its detoxification is no longer exclusive to the liver. Methanol transports its potential to become formaldehyde past normal biological barriers in the brain and elsewhere that environmental formaldehyde itself cannot usually penetrate … [formaldehyde] can then be produced within the arteries and veins, heart, brain, lungs, breast, bone, and skin.”

This means that people who regularly consume “diet” foods and beverages laced with aspartame are taking in high amounts of a formaldehyde-producing, chemical poison that is drastically increasing their risk of developing chronic illnesses.

And if that wasn’t bad enough,

aspartame_excrement_gmoAspartame is manufactured from the excrement of genetically modified microorganisms.

I’m afraid so, and not just any bacteria either, genetically modified E Coli! I’ll say that again; Aspartame is manufactured from the excrement of genetically modified E Coli.

The following is a 1981 patent for aspartame production,

Process for producing aspartame (Bahl, Rose, White)

1.) ‘Cloned microorganisms’ (genetically modified E. coli) are cultivated in tanks whose environments are tailored to help them thrive.
2.) The well-fed
E. coli cultures defecate the proteins that contain the aspartic acid-phenylalanine amino acid segment needed to make aspartame.
3.) The proteins containing the Asp-Phe segments are ‘harvested’ (i.e. lab assistants collect the bacteria’s faeces).
4.) The faeces are then treated. This includes a process of methylation (adding an excess of the toxic alcohol, methanol, to the protected dipeptide).

It’s hard to believe such a chemical would be allowed into the food supply, but it was, and it has been wreaking silent havoc with people’s health for the past 30 years.The truth is, it should never have been released onto the market, and allowing it to remain in the food chain is seriously hurting people — no matter how many times it’s rebranded with new names. Aspartame is one product that has possibly harmed more people around the world than any other, from babies in the womb to the elderly in nursing homes.

Toxicity Effects of Aspartame Use

Selection of adverse effects from short-term and/or long-term use:

  • seizures and convulsions

  • dizziness

  • tremors

  • migraines and severe headaches (trigger or tause from chronic intake)

  • memory loss (common toxicity effects)

  • slurring of speech

  • confusion

  • numbness or tingling of extremities

  • chronic fatigue

  • depression

  • insomnia

  • irritability

  • panic attacks (common aspartame toxicity reaction)

  • marked personality changes

  • phobias

  • rapid heart beat, tachycardia (another frequent reaction)

  • asthma

  • chest pains

  • hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • nausea or vomitting

  • diarrhea

  • abdominal pain

  • swallowing pain

  • itching

  • hives / urticaria

  • other allergic reactions

  • blood sugar control problems (e.g., hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia)

  • menstrual cramps and other menstraul problems or changes

  • impotency and sexual problems

  • food cravings

  • weight gain

  • hair loss / baldness or thinning of hair

  • burning urination & other urination problems

  • excessive thirst or excessive hunger

  • bloating, edema (fluid retention)

  • infection susceptibility

  • joint pain

  • brain cancer

  • death

Aspartame Disease Mimmicks Symptoms or Worsens the Following Diseases

  • fibromyalgia

  • arthritis

  • multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • parkinson’s disease

  • lupus

  • multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS)

  • diabetes and diabetic Complications

  • epilepsy

  • alzheimer’s disease

  • birth defects

  • chronic fatigue syndrome

  • lymphoma (including primary lymphoma of the brain)

  • lyme disease

  • attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD)

  • panic disorder

  • depression and other psychological disorders

Over 90 different symptoms, which many physicians refer to as “aspartame disease”, have been documented by the US FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS) as a result of Aspartame consumption, over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives, with Inflammatory Bowel Disease being recently added to the list. It is banned by health-conscious countries all over the world, especially where there is a national healthcare system in place.


According to a study done in the United States in 2008 on a sample of 18,000 people consuming one or more artificially sweetened, “diet” drinks per day increased their risk of acquiring metabolic disorders by 30 to 40 percent.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego found that adult women who drink at least two diet sodas a day experience a 30 percent drop in kidney function over the course of a decade. Findings indicate that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are the culprits in the rapid degeneration of glomerular filtration rates in the kidneys of those consuming excessive amounts of artificially-sweetened diet sodas.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Center San Antonio reported in a study that, as a group, 70 percent of those who drank diet soft drinks gained weight as opposed to those who did not. Moreover, those who drank 2 or more diet sodas regularly experienced an increase in their waist circumference by 500 percent more than those who did not drink them.

Yet another experiment indicated aspartame is a multipotential carcinogenic agent, even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg b.w. (milligrams per kilograms per body weight), much less than the current ADI (Average Daily Intake) for humans in Europe (40 mg/kg b.w.) and in the United States (50 mg/kg b.w.).

According to Dr. Betty Martini, aspartame is an “addictive, exitoneurotic, carcinogenic, genetically engineered drug and adjuvant that damages the mitochondria.”

Dr. Janet Hall, another famous advocate against aspartame, states that all artificial sweeteners create an artificial need for more sweetness. She goes on to add that forced sweetness, being a class of altered food, is a trap that cause people to become addicted to sweeter tasting food with no nutritional value.

This article (linked to for brevity) describes in clear detail the effect that deceiving the body with artificial sweeteners has on the body’s self-regulating mechanisms, which can lead to food cravings and overeating.

With all the above, which is at best a brief overview, why, one might ask, do regulatory bodies allow it into the foods supply of their countries?

The European Food Safety Authority concludes that the artificial sweetener is safe for human consumption at current acceptable daily intake levels. The Acceptable Daily Intake, or ADI, is an estimate of the amount of an additive that could be routinely consumed every day over a lifetime with no appreciable health risk. In the case of aspartame, the ADI is set at 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This is equivalent to 2800 milligrams for an average British adult. For an average 3-year-old child the amount is of the order of 600 milligrams.

Following their review of the evidence in animal and human studies, the EFSA’s ANS Panel concluded that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40 mg/kg of body weight per day is “protective for the general population,” with the exception of people suffering from PKU, who have to avoid phenylalanine.

Regarding evidence that aspartame causes cancer by damaging genes – for instance the study published in 2005 that found that aspartame causes cancer in rats at levels approved for humans – the panel ruled out this risk. It also concluded that the food additive does not harm the brain or nervous system, or affect behaviour or mental function in adults and children.

With the mountain of peer reviewed research that proves beyond doubt the harmful nature of aspartame, why the EFSA would approve it is open to speculation. A closer look at another regulatory body, the US Food & Drug Agency, might provide some idea.

The bottom line is that the FDA totally ignores the toxicity, carcinogenicity and neurodegenerative disabilities caused by aspartame, primarily because it has been co-opted by the very corporations it was set up to regulate.

The history of Aspartame.

How Aspartame was approved is a lesson in how chemical and pharmaceutical companies can manipulate government agencies such as the FDA, “bribe” organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, and flood the scientific community with flawed and fraudulent industry-sponsored studies funded by the makers of Aspartame.

Original approval of aspartame by the FDA involved questionable studies that were later investigated by the drug enforcement division of the Bureau of Foods. Prior to the approval of aspartame, the FDA sent two specialised teams to G.D. Searle and found a 95% level of misdirected testing; concealed tests, collusion between corporate and their company-funded research; inappropriate antemortum issues; withholding of material facts; alterations of records: lying to investigators, lost records, no records; falsification of reports, bribery, poor test methodology or design…et al. The FDA ignored both these reports and the slew of adverse event data that surfaced following aspartame’s approval.

In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient in NutraSweet. Monsanto was apparently untroubled by aspartame’s clouded past, including the report of a 1980 FDA Board of Inquiry, comprised of three independent scientists, which confirmed that it “might induce brain tumors.” The FDA had previously banned aspartame based on this finding.

191px-Donald_Rumsfeld_DefenselinkIn January 1981 then-Searle Chairman Donald Rumsfeld told a sales meeting, according to one attendee, that he would call in his chips and get aspartame approved by the end of the year.

Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president January 21, 1981. Rumsfeld, while still CEO at Searle, was part of Reagan’s transition team. This team hand-picked Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. to be the new FDA commissioner. Dr. Hayes, a pharmacologist, had no previous experience with food additives before being appointed director of the FDA.

On January 21, 1981, the day after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, Reagan issued an executive order eliminating the FDA commissioners’ authority to take action and Searle re-applied to the FDA for approval to use aspartame in food sweetener. Hayes, Reagan’s new FDA commissioner, appointed a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the board of inquiry’s decision. It soon became clear that the panel would uphold the ban by a 3-2 decision. So Hayes installed a sixth member on the commission, and the vote became deadlocked. He then personally broke the tie in aspartame’s favour.

One of Hayes’ first official acts as FDA chief was to approve the use of aspartame as an artificial sweetener in dry goods on July 18, 1981. In order to accomplish this feat, Hayes had to overlook the scuttled grand jury investigation of Searle, overcome the Bressler Report, ignore the PBOI’s recommendations and pretend aspartame did not chronically sicken and kill thousands of lab animals. Hayes left his post at the FDA in November, 1983, amid accusations that he was accepting corporate gifts for political favours. Just before leaving office in scandal, Hayes approved the use of aspartame in beverages. After Hayes left the FDA under allegations of impropriety, he served briefly as Provost at New York Medical College, and then took a position as a high-paid senior medical advisor with Burson-Marsteller, the chief public relations firm for both Monsanto and GD Searle. Since that time he has never spoken publicly about aspartame.

When Searle was absorbed by Monsanto in 1985, Donald Rumsfeld reportedly received a $12 million bonus. Also, while at Searle, Rumsfeld was awarded Outstanding CEO in the Pharmaceutical Industry from the Wall Street Transcript (1980) and Financial World (1981).Former White House Chief of Staff Rumsfeld owed a debt of gratitude to former White House confidante and friend Donald Kendal, Pepsi’s chairman. The Pepsi announcement and aggressive marketing (millions of gumballs, a red and white swirl, tough contracts) made NutraSweet known in every home.

It is important to realise that this type of revolving-door activity has been going on for decades. The Townsend Letter for Doctors (11/92) reported on a study revealing that 37 of 49 top FDA officials who left the FDA took positions with companies they had regulated. They also reported that over 150 FDA officials owned stock in drug companies they were assigned to manage.

In addition to the FDA Commissioner and two US Attorneys leaving to take positions with companies connected with G.D. Searle, four other FDA officials connected with the approval of Aspartame took positions connected with the NutraSweet industry between 1979 and 1982 including the Deputy FDA Commissioner, the Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner, the Associate Director of the Bureau of Foods and Toxicology and the Attorney involved with the Public Board of Inquiry.

Many organisations and universities receive large sums of money from companies connected to the NutraSweet Association, a group of companies promoting the use of Aspartame . In January 1993, the American Dietetic Association received a US$75,000 grant from the NutraSweet Company. The American Dietetic Association has stated that the NutraSweet Company writes their “Facts” sheets.

Many other “independent” organisations and researchers receive large sums of money from the manufacturers of Aspartame . The American Diabetes Association has received a large amount of money from Nutrasweet, including money to run a cooking school in Chicago (presumably to teach diabetics how to use Nutrasweet in their cooking).

There’s a mountain of data available, some of it linked to below, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Perhaps Dr Betty Martin’s comment sums it up most succinctly, “Aspartame is a Pandora’s box of chameleon-like toxins and tumor agents that have 92 FDA acknowledged ways to ruin your life, death being one of them.”

Moving on then…


If you were told to ingest a biologically alien synthetic chemical whose presence on this planet did not predate 1976, and whose structure is only a few atoms away from the deadly pesticide DDT, and you knew that not only were there no long term human safety studies performed on it, but that it had been already proven in tests to have following adverse health effects:

  • · Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)

  • · Enlarged liver and kidneys.

  • · Abnormal histopathological changes in spleen and thymus

  • · Increased cecal weight

  • · Reduced growth rate

  • · DNA Damage

  • · Adverse changes to gastrointestinal bacteria

  • · Abnormal Pelvic Mineralisation

  • · Decreased red blood cell count

  • · Hyperplasia of the pelvis

  • · Aborted pregnancy (Maternal & Fetal Toxicity)

  • · Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights

  • · Bowel inflammation/Crohn’s Disease

  • · Migraine

  • · Increase glycosylation of hemoglobin (HbA1c) for diabetics

…would you still consume it? Of course not! And yet, millions of Americans (including children!) are doing exactly that by consuming Splenda. (Links to abstracts for studies that have shown some of the above can be found here)

splendaDespite the intended insinuation, sucralose is not a form of sucrose (cane sugar). Sucralose/Splenda is produced through artificially substituting three hydroxyl groups (hydrogen + oxygen) with three chlorine atoms in the sugar (sucrose) molecule. Natural sugar is a hydrocarbon built around 12 carbon atoms. When transformed into Splenda it becomes a chlorocarbon, in the same family as deadly pesticides like DDT, insecticides, biocides, disinfectants like Chlorox Bleach, and WWI poison gas like dichlorourea.

The makers of sucralose/Splenda argue that this “remarkably stable” chemical passes unchanged into the urine and feces, when in fact, up to 11% to 27% is absorbed into the body. In fact, the varying degrees to which sucralose is absorbed is used as a marker for gut and intestinal permeability to determine certain disease states. Once absorbed, some portion of this chlorocarbon accumulates in the body (between 1.6% to 12.2%). What effects will these accumulated chemicals have? According to James Bowen, M.D:

“Any chlorocarbons not directly excreted from the body intact can cause immense damage to the processes of human metabolism and, eventually, our internal organs. The liver is a detoxification organ which deals with ingested poisons. Chlorocarbons damage the hepatocytes, the liver’s metabolic cells, and destroy them. In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies.”

Two articles citing the most compelling research are The Bitter Truth about Splenda and Splenda (Sucralose) Found to have Diabetes Promoting Effects. The former refers to its xenobiotic nature, i.e. its metabolically foreign chemical properties, and provides evidence that when the sensation of sweetness is disassociated from ‘food,’ i.e. a source of calories or nutrition, it is either unrecognizable by the body, or disrupts the body neuroendocrine system in an adverse manner.

The latter article focuses on the potential sucralose has to promote diabetic and /or pre-diabetic disease processes within the human body. The results delineated in the study point to just a single dose of sucralose resulting in increases in blood sugar concentration, increases in insulin levels and decreases in insulin sensitivity, all of which are possible pre-cursors to diabetes.

There is also the issue of sucrose producing cancer-causing dioxins and dioxin-like compounds when heated as in cooking, which its manufacturer actively encourages it to be used for. A number of reports from independent laboratories show that sucralose undergoes thermal degradation when heated and produces highly toxic chlorinated compounds.

Hopefully I don’t need to spend anymore time explaining how it is that such a toxic chemical with documented adverse effects could be approved for public consumption.

Links have been provided throughout and below to additional and supplementary data. These are provided as stand-alone data and as starting points for individual research.

It’s a oft-used axiom here in the Centre of the Psyclone, but time and again, it’s shown to be true:

Knowledge is Power –

Your Ignorance is Their Bliss

References and additional data

Aspartame – Rumsfeld’s Bioweapon Legacy


Sucralose, A Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener: Overview Of Biological Issues

The Lethal Science of Splenda, a Poisonous Chlorocarbon

Sucralose (Splenda) Toxicity Information Center

Staring Down the Double Barrels of Bisphenols and High Fructose Corn Syrup – Part 2

This is the second in a two-part article written with the aim of providing a much-needed perspective on the increasing worldwide epidemics of diabetes, liver disease and obesity.

A common ingredient in numerous foods that make up the standard American diet (SAD) is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS was invented in the 1970s when scientists discovered a way to convert corn glucose into fructose, causing it to be substantially sweeter. Interestingly around the same time, the US government began imposing tariffs on imported sugar and implementing sugar quotas on the amount of domestic sugar that could be grown. As a result, producers were able to obtain this new corn sweetener much more cheaply than they could sugar and they began to use it to sweeten their products. Currently, HFCS is actually cheaper to make than regular sugar from beets or sugar canes. It’s also very easy to transport, meaning lower costs and higher profits for food producers.

walmart-chemtrails-cell-towers-obesity-david-deesIntake of HFCS increased from 0.6 pounds per person per year in the 1970s to 73.5 pounds per person in 2007, and has continued to increase as food manufacturers have replaced the use of glucose with HFCS and have added it to more and more processed foodstuffs, even non-sweet foods, for reasons that will be explained. The introduction of HFCS coincided with a marked rise in obesity in the US.

Obesity levels are higher now than ever before. One-third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight. Due to the international reach of US food multinationals in both advertising and supply, aspects and versions of the standard American diet (SAD) are replicated around the world. Probably the best example of this is Coca Cola, which is marketed and available virtually everywhere on the planet that there are people. A direct result of this reach and influence is that more and more societies are experiencing obesity epidemics.

HFCSFructose is not naturally present in corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch, a glucose polymer. First, enzymatic starch breakdown yields corn syrup which is essentially free glucose. The glucose is then further enzymatically converted to fructose. After various purification steps, a mixture of 90% fructose and 10% glucose (HFCS-90) is obtained. HFCS-90 is mixed with appropriate amounts of corn syrup to make either HFCS-55 or HFCS-42, mixtures with 55% and 42% fructose, respectively. HFCS-55 is mainly used for soft drinks, whereas HFCS-42 is primarily used to sweeten baked goods. HFCS is found in all kinds of processed foods,even non-sweet ones. Besides being an addictive sweetener, it’s an effective preservative.

Many traditional foods do not normally have sugar (much less a chemical preservative and sweetener) added as part of the recipe in the first place. An example is bread. The basic recipe is very simple: flour, water, salt, and yeast. Compare that to many of the standard breads available in supermarkets, which typically contain a fair amount of HFCS to keep them “fresh” for days or weeks. If you eat this bread, not only are you getting the sugars that result from a breakdown in carbohydrates (which the healthy human body can handle), but you are getting an additional shot of fructose from the HFCS as a preservative delivered directly to the liver to become triglycerides. A potential side benefit (unanticipated of course) for processed food-and-drink manufacturers that use HFCS as a preservative is that humans are genetically hardwired to prefer sweet tastes, a DNA-driven tendency that can lead to sweet cravings and addictions.

Fructose in fruits and vegetables comes as part of a digestible whole food package that contains much less fructose than soft drinks and other processed foods. The fructose found in nature is bound to glucose which undergoes a breaking down process in the stomach before the fructose moves on to the liver. This process allows the liver time to efficiently handle the fructose over time instead of being flushed with fructose within a few minutes. Fructose in HFCS is unbound meaning it is not attached to any other molecule. Unbound fructose is immediately taken up by the liver for metabolising when HFCS is consumed. This initiates a metabolic nightmare. The liver is forced to work hard at metabolising the instantly present fructose. Often times the liver has to ignore or inefficiently handle other metabolic duties such as the breaking down of fatty acids.

The digestive system is not familiar with high amounts of isolated fructose such as HFCS. Our cells use glucose for energy by metabolising carbohydrates. Out of 120 calories from glucose, one calorie gets stored as fat. Cells throughout the body metabolise glucose rapidly. With glucose from cane or beet sugar, 20% is passed onto the liver to be metabolised. But the gut doesn’t know what to do with isolated high fructose. So it passes 100% of the isolated fructose into the liver. The liver’s attempt to metabolise HFCS produces uric acid. Uric acid can ramp up blood pressure, cause gout, and lead to liver damage.

hfcs-consumptionIf sugar is not immediately used up by the muscles via some kind of exercise it is converted into fat and stored in the body. This is another way that HFCS can contribute to obesity, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s and memory loss. This increase in fat and cholesterol slows the micro circulation of blood through the brain accelerating cell death through lack of oxygen and nutrients.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is surging throughout the Western industrial world to become the most common liver disease. In the USA alone, over 30 million are afflicted with NAFLD. It can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even liver failure. Fatty liver occurs when fatty lipids occupy liver cells enough to exceed five percent of the liver’s weight. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is linked to metabolic syndrome or diabetes types 1 and 2, implying NAFLD has more to do with excessive sugar intake than saturated fats. Increased triglyceride levels resulting from a sluggish and inefficient fatty liver have also been linked to increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. Fatty infiltration of the liver was correlated with amount of abdominal fat and visceral fat, which was more strongly associated with fatty liver than subcutaneous fat.

liver_disease_teensAnd then there are the shocking findings of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) recorded on 10,359 teenagers aged 12-18 from 1988-2008. Researchers found that one in ten had NAFLD.

Even more ominously, researchers stated that NAFLD “seems to be increasing faster than the prevalence of obesity.” Previously, the disease has been very closely associated with obesity. Now, though, it’s clear that there’s more than excess weight driving the increase in liver disease.

During a study conducted at Princeton, subjects consuming foods laced with high fructose corn syrup experienced weight gain, high increases in triglyceride levels, and fat deposits in the abdominal area. This study, however, does not stand alone in its implication of high fructose corn syrup and its health damaging effects.

HFCS creates even more metabolic damage because it has no effect on ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and interferes with the brain’s leptin communication, which lets you know you’ve had enough to eat. This leads to overeating. Glucose suppresses ghrelin and doesn’t interfere with leptin. So hunger cravings are satisfied easily with glucose from even regular sugar.

And if all the above isn’t disturbing enough, there’s the issue of genetically modified ingredients. When HFCS and genetic modification (GM) are discussed, the tendency is to think of the corn component. After all, it may seem that corn is the only ingredient of HFCS production but there are two other ingredients to consider. Three enzymes are required to make HFCS, and two of them, alpha-amylase and glucose isomerase, have been genetically modified. Alpha-amylase is used to make shorter chains of sugar called polysaccharides. Isomerase is used to convert glucose into a glucose/fructose mix. These enzymes are genetically manipulated to withstand the high heat needed to make HFCS without them breaking down and becoming unusable.


Staring Down the Double Barrel

HFCS is now the sweetener used in sodas and soft drinks. Another wide-ranging study in California questioned the soda consumption habits of 43,000 adults and 4,000 adolescents and concluded this: drinking one or more sodas a day increases your chances of obesity by 27 percent. A whopping 62% of adults who drink at least one soda each day are overweight or obese.

The study also found that Californians are gulping down sodas at an unprecedented rate: At least one soda is consumed daily by 41 percent of children, 62 percent of adolescents and 24 percent of adults. Through the study, another shocking statistic was revealed: The average California teen consumes 39 pounds of liquid sugar a year solely from soda consumption.

sugary_soda_obesityOne of the most important factors to be considered between children and teenagers is the consumption of sugary sodas. Sodas provide the most popular vehicle for BPA consumption – from soda cans to plastic bottles of cola and other drinks.

The findings of this combination of research is what you might call a double-whammy: A sugary HFCS soda in a container made with BPA that disrupts hormones and stimulates fat cell growth. This double-whammy is what children are being fed on. It is also what many young adults are hooked on, a sugary sweet HFCS caffeine buzz in contaminated containers compounded by overeating and less activity. This combination is quickly creating nations of overweight and diseased people.


Some Solutions

The most immediate thing anyone can do to protect themselves and their families is to reduce the amount of processed foods consumed.

HFCS can be found in soft drinks/sodas, sports drinks, flavored waters, and even so called health beverages, French fries, cottage cheese, bottled sauces , canned soup, cough syrup, breakfast cereal, yogurt, bread, pastries, jelly and jam (by no means a complete list, but gives an idea on the range of products).

Manufacturers have cleverly replaced the name “HFCS” with the names Inulin, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Iso Glucose, Chicory, Fruit Fructose, Corn Sugar and Corn Syrup, so it’s necessary to check labels, but a sensible rule-of-thumb would be to avoid processed and fast food wherever possible.

Considering what you’ve just read, one might be inclined to view going ‘sugar-free’ and eating ‘diet’ products as a good idea. As it is though the opposite is true. Doing so would be, in fact, stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire, as revealed in Artificial Sweeteners – A Sweet and Deadly Deception.

Do your own research, taking care to check financial ties and corporate/ideological allegiances of your sources, especially those who maintain that HFCS is benign or even good for health.

I would suggest that those already affected by HFCS poisoning concentrate on restoring the liver. Below are a few methods, but again, do your own homework. Self-education on health is key to long-term health.


A fermented brew made using a specific culture, called by some a mushroom that is in fact a combination of fungus, yeast and algae. Detoxification agent par excellence. Also supports healthy liver functioning through the provision of gluconic and glucuronic acids and folic acid. Has applications in numerous conditions (see link below)


The agent that gives turmeric its bright yellow color contains a powerful phytochemical component known as curcumin. Curcumin stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder. The liver uses bile to eliminate toxins; bile also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful compounds and metabolise fat.  It is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is now regularly employed in cases related to alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver poisoning or viral hepatitis. The active ingredient, silymarin, helps repair liver cell damage from alcohol, or any other toxins for that matter, by increasing protein synthesis. In at least five of the studies reported by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, tests showed it was possible to greatly improve liver functions in patients suffering from milder forms of alcoholic liver diseases.


A study concluded that a controlled aerobic exercise program, without weight loss, reduced hepatic and visceral fat accumulation, and decreased insulin resistance in obese adolescents.


Recent research suggests that Chlorella extract might be a promising hepatoprotective supplement for patients with NAFLD.


In tests Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus improved liver aminotransferases levels in patients with NAFLD.

Olive Oil

An olive oil-rich diet decreases accumulation of triglyceride in the liver.


Patients infected with hepatitis C virus treated with Spirulina and Silimarin both showed reduced levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver dysfunction). Liver enzymes – particularly AST – were significantly lower in the Spirulina group. The Spirulina group also had other HCV symptom improvement.


Reference sources can be found through accessing volumes of data at and NaturalNews, two of the best public-access databases of research studies on medical conditions and alternative/complimentary, holistic, non-toxic medicines


Staring Down the Double Barrels of Bisphenols and High Fructose Corn Syrup – Part 1

This two-part article was written with the aim of providing a much-needed perspective on the increasing worldwide epidemics of diabetes, liver disease and obesity.

walmart-chemtrails-cell-towers-obesity-david-deesUnless you’ve just arrived on this planet, you’ll be aware of the increasing incidence of obesity in society. Main causative factors put forward in the mainstream media are overeating and lack of exercise. Whilst that may sound like logical thinking, it distracts and diverts blame onto allegedly greedy and sedentary people and away from the real culprits. It also distracts from the extent of the problem, of which obesity is often, but not always, one highly visual symptom.

Who or what then are the real culprits? Two factors that, if listed with other potentials, would rank first and second are Bisphenols and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

Of the all Bisphenols, Bisphenol-A (BPA)is the one being discussed here. BPA is one 640px-Plastic_bottlesof the most widely produced chemicals in the world. BPA is an industrial chemical used to make clear, rigid, shatter-resistant plastic used in food and drink containers like the epoxy coatings lining most food and beverage cans (aluminum and steel). Other BPA sources include PVC piping, plastic dinnerware, compact disks, mobile phone and computer casings, toys, dental sealants, and medical devices. It’s found in all currency throughout the world as well as cash register receipts issued on thermal paper, pizza boxes, conventional napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper. It can also be found in wines fermented in plastic vats. . 2011 study that showed that 90% of the 73 popular canned foods in the US tested contained BPA, (18 out of 20 top-selling canned food products in the UK). A study in the same year conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies as when they ate fresh soup daily.

Canada’s national health regulatory agency, Health Canada turned up detectable levels of the hormone-disrupting compound  in 96 percent of canned soft drinks. The agency tested 72 different undisclosed brands of energy drinks, diet and non-diet soda, fruit-flavored beverages and other soft drinks and found that all but three tested positive for BPA. The 72 brands tested represent 84 percent of all soft drinks sold in Canada.

The European Food Safety Authority states that at least 15 percent of BPA exposure could be coming from things other than canned foods, including thermal paper.

The incidence of BPA in the environment is so widespread that it is virtually impossible to avoid daily contact in some form. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 90% of people in the US are chronically exposed to BPA at over 3000 times the daily level that the FDA reports. According to research by the Environmental Working Group, 9 out of 10 infants tested had BPA in their blood at birth. It having also been detected in amniotic fluid and placentas means fetuses are exposed before birth.

The researchers also found that BPA in concentrations permitted by US and European health authorities is harmful to fetuses, once again showing us that government toxicity levels allow us to be harmed. They found that BPA reduces the number of cells, which develop into ova, and therefore negatively affects a woman’s fertility and doubles the risk of chromosome damage during the cell division process.

“According to our results, BPA does not directly affect the fertility of pregnant women, but that of their daughters and granddaughters. It is a multigenerational effect,” explains Barcelona professor Montserrat Garcia Caldes and the director of research.

ceramic-water-dispenserDrinking water from plastic bottles made with (BPA) increases urinary levels of the chemical by nearly 70 percent, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who also reported that BPA has appeared in the urine of over 90% tested.

To make things worse, if the bottles or cans have been sitting on the shelf for months, the toxic levels of BPA are higher. Also, if the plastic gets heated up, like in a car or in transit in hot countries where more bottled water is often consumed, more toxins are released into the drink. Plus, canned goods are sterilised at up to 265F/130C, so the level of BPA released in those foods is massively increased.

BPA was originally developed in the 1930’s as a synthetic version of the female hormone estrogen. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it is a chemical that interferes with the hormone system. Women are not the only one who suffer from its endocrine-disrupting action, though. A 2011 study of male factory workers suggests a correlation between exposure to BPA and erectile dysfunction, while an experimental study in rats showed a reduction in serum testosterone following BPA exposure.

Exposure to even a low BPA dose over time has been associated with a wide range of negative health effects including, but not limited to, abnormal male reproductive development, early sexual maturation in females, neurobehavioral problems, an increase in type 2 diabetes and obesity, endocrine disruption, autism spectrum disorders and hormonally mediated cancers such as breast cancer.

Wondering why kids are more hyperactive these days and the doctors suggest prescribing ADHD pharmaceuticals? BPA mimics estrogenic activity and enhances mesolimbic dopamine activity, which results in hyperactivity and attention deficits.

imagesThe endocrine-disrupting, estrogen-mimicking substance has been named ‘obesogenic’ by some researchers, meaning it can contribute to obesity. Studies in the lab find that BPA has the ability to accelerate fat-cell differentiation, disrupt pancreatic functioning, and cause insulin resistance, leading to obesity problems. A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found adults with the highest level of BPA were 50 percent more likely to be fatter, with a body mass index in the overweight or obese category. Study participants with high BPA levels were also 28 percent more likely to harbor dangerous abdominal fat. BPA expert Laura N. Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow of regenerative and developmental biology at Tufts University, observed that “This human study, together with the previous studies that show relationships between BPA exposures and obesity or other metabolic endpoints, are concerning because they suggest that there are no ‘safe’ populations—even adults may be affected by low level exposures to this chemical,”

The researchers called BPA a potential new environmental “obesogen,” a chemical compound that can disrupt the normal development and balance of fat metabolism and lead to obesity. They suggested that “worldwide exposure to BPA in the human population may be contributing to the worldwide obesity epidemic.” They further stated that ‘Our findings suggest that developmental exposure to environmentally relevant levels of BPA during gestation and lactation induces mammary gland neoplasms in the absence of any additional carcinogenic treatment,” conclude the researchers. “Thus, BPA may act as a complete mammary gland carcinogen.”

dv1554020Other theories arising from the study were that BPA could both accelerate girls’ pubertal development and weight gain during their pre-puberty years. Also noted that exposure to BPA suppresses the release of adiponectin, a hormone that increases insulin sensitivity, which could lead to insulin resistance and increased susceptibility to obesity and metabolic syndromes.

Despite having been shown in hundreds of published studies over the last decade to cause serious conditions including, but not limited to those mentioned above, most national regulatory bodies (US/UK/EU etc) continue to downplay and/or contradict the research, and minimise the effect of BPA . When one looks at the historic record of these bodies, the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) being a classic example and certain individuals within them, it becomes obvious that they are not working in the public’s best interest. It is now clear to most independent observers that the FDA, for instance, is operating a criminal protection racket that seeks to multiply the profits of drug companies and chemical companies while betraying the health and safety of the people it is supposed to be protecting. FDA decision boards are routinely stacked with “experts” who are on the take from the corporations impacted by their decisions.

A poorly designed study with one obvious goal — to cover up the health effects of exposure to BPA is currently circulating the mainstream media with corresponding claims that BPA is completely safe for humans at current exposure levels, despite copious contradicting science. But a University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA) assistant professor and several others have since come out publicly to decry this flawed study, the construct of which ignores the basic confines of legitimate science.

Also missing from the FDA’s assessment was any consideration of BPA’s affects on human hormones, mainly its ability to activate estrogen receptors in the brain. Previous studies have confirmed that even low-dose exposure to BPA can alter hormone levels, especially over long periods of time — the new FDA study on BPA, it should be noted, only evaluated the effects of BPA on rats for 90 days, which is far too short a duration to make any reasonable or logical conclusions about its safety.

“Other recent animal studies conducted at universities have linked low-dose BPA exposure to an array of health impacts, including some of the effects that the new study did not find,” writes Bienkowski for EHN. “These other experiments found mammary gland abnormalities, altered male and female sexual development, changes in metabolism, insulin and glucose, impaired learning and memory, stress and obesity.”

Late last year, hundreds of independent scientists, who have no financial ties to chemical industries, were cheering the resignation of EU Commission panel member Wolfgang Dekant. Dekant is a blatant sellout for the chemical industry, an all-out advocate for endocrine disruptors like BPA, pesticides and phthalates. Earlier in 2013, Dekant teamed up with seventeen other sellout scientists to sign an editorial that mocked new EU evidence of endocrine disrupters in consumer products. Published in fourteen journals, Dekant’s scathing editorial deemed the new EU endocrine disruptor regulations as “scientifically unfounded, defying common sense and well established science risk assessment principles.”

BPA Free?

The first studies proving the dangers of BPA forced manufacturers to launch a new generation of plastics. The label “BPA-free” has now become a household name and something many consumers seek out, and will pay more for, to ensure safety.

Unfortunately, now, the peace of mind that this BPA-free labeling brought is being questioned. A new study suggests that the “BPA-free” label doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a product is harmless.

In a recent study in which scientists conducted lab tests on multiple top-brand baby and toddler bottles, it was found that many leached chemicals that reacted like the hormone estrogen, even though most were BPA-free. According to this same research, some of those products that were tested actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.

An even bigger issue than BPA is its replacement, BPS, a chemical that was found in a recent study to have a significantly higher uptake in skin compared to BPA. Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the first ever study on BPS’ toxicity verified not only that the chemical is widely used, even in BPA-free products, but that it is also significantly more toxic because of its incredible absorption rate.

“Compared with when BPA was more widely used, people may now be absorbing 19 times more BPS through their skin, and people who handle thermal cash-register paper in their jobs may be absorbing even more BPS,” says a recent U.S. News and World Report piece on BPS, quoting the words of a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health who led a study on BPS.

Some Solutions

The above should make it clear that, as with anything to do with our health, we need to7_jpg develop ways of informing and looking after ourselves. In the case of BPA, reducing our exposure should be the first step. Food and drink packaging is our number one source of BPA exposure. (BPA) is mainly found in polycarbonate plastic, which is labeled with the number 7.

It cannot be stressed enough: Consume a fresh food diet and avoid packaged foods as much as possible.

The Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute conducted a study which showed a dramatic drop in BPA levels when certain guidelines were followed. During the week-long investigation, families were given freshly prepared organic meals which did not come in contact with any form of BPA. After three days, the participants BPA levels dropped an average of 60 percent with some as high as 75 percent.

To reduce exposure, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families offers the following suggestions:

  • Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.

  • Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers.

  • Consider a French press for coffee – home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.

  • Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.

  • Limit canned food consumption.

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible.

  • Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

Also, avoid plastic cookware and utensils.

As far as avoiding contamination through non-food vectors:

  • Say no to receipts when possible

  • Keep receipts in an envelope.

  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.

  • Wash your hands before preparing and eating food after handling receipts.

  • Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues will contaminate recycled paper.

Which goes someway to reducing exposure, but how can we remove BPA from our bodies?


* Bifidobacterium 3
* Bifidobacterium Breve
* Lactobacillus casei
* Bacillus pumilus

These have been discovered or confirmed by at least one in vitro (lab glass) study or in vivo (animal/human) study. A few have been covered by more than one study. Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei were found to extract BPA from the blood of mammals and were excreted out through the bowels.

The most commonly tested items are specific probiotic strains, such as the first four listed, or probiotics in general and fermented foods. So obviously whatever supplies probiotics in high numbers is critical. If you buy probiotic supplements, you can see which bacteria strains are available on the labels.

There are ways to create fermented foods and milk kefir (raw milk is ideal) or water kefir (with purified water). You’ll have to search the internet for those sources. Or if you are in or near a network that cooperates with providing kefir starter grains, look into that. It’s the least expensive route for consuming lots of probiotics.

Other fermented foods like kimchi, natural sauerkraut.

Beneficial bacteria strengthen the gut and break down chemicals like BPA so they can be cleared out. As an added bonus, they also break down pesticides, another major endocrine-disruptor!

Black Tea

Black tea is found to reduce BPA toxicity. Drink loose leaf – black tea has many, many other health benefits besides reducing BPA.

Sweat it out

When researchers started testing different ways that BPA bioaccumulates in the body, they discovered that BPA was detected in sweat and thought that method should be considered in newer research projects as a way to track accumulation, like when urine is tested.

They found that: “Induced sweating appears to be a potential method for elimination of BPA.” Many wellness centers now have steamless saunas to help with sweat detox.


This is a flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves, tea and whole grains. Like black tea, it ameliorates toxicity from BPA. It is also available in supplement form. It should probably come as no surprise that quercetin is also great for allergies!


A fermented brew made using a specific culture, called by some a mushroom that is in fact a combination of fungus, yeast and algae.  Detoxification agent par excellence. Alsosupports healthy liver functioning through the provision of gluconic and glucuronic acids and folic acid. Has applications in numerous conditions (see link below)


The agent that gives turmeric its bright yellow color contains a powerful phytochemical component known as curcumin. Curcumin stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder. The liver uses bile to eliminate toxins; bile also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful compounds and metabolise fat.  It is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.

Foods like beets and cabbage also contain glutathione that breaks down and removes plastics in our bodies, so it’s a good idea to consume them regularly. Better yet, juice them so that you can consume more.

Knowledge Is Power. Your Ignorance Is Their Bliss

References (These link to source articles and to two of the best public access health information databases)


The Science Behind Reiki

reikiReiki is a Japanese word used to refer to Universal Life Energy. It has the same basic meaning as the Chinese ‘Chi’ and the Sanskrit ‘Prana’, (although in my experience those frequencies have a different ‘behaviour’). Modern science now supports knowledge held for thousands of years that everything is energy, and that in fact everything is the same energy, the variety we perceive, and that outside our perception, being differing frequency levels of that energy. The human organism is composed of several ‘layers’ of energy, the physical body being the densest level, or slowest frequency. Reiki therapy, a non-invasive, completely benign healing technique, works on all levels, physical, mental, emotional, etc.

The Science Behind Reiki – What Happens in a Treatment?

Independent research by Dr Robert Becker and Dr John Zimmerman during the 1980s investigated what happens whilst people practice therapies like Reiki. They found that not only do the brainwave pattern of practitioner and receiver become synchronized in the alpha state, characteristic of deep relaxation and meditation, but they pulse in unison with the Earth’s magnetic field, known as the Schumann Resonance. During these periods the biomagnetic field of the practitioner’s hands is at least a thousand ttimes greater than normal, and not as a result of internal body current. Further research in the 90s (T Bunnell 1997) suggested that the linking of the energy fields between practitioner and Earth allows the practitioner to draw on the ‘infinite energy source’ or ‘universal energy field’ via the Schumann Resonance. Prof Paul Davies and Dr John Gribben in The Matter Myth discuss the quantum physics view of a ‘living universe’ in which everything is connected in a ‘living web of interdependence’. This supports the subjective experience of ‘oneness’ and ‘expanded consciousness’ related by those who regularly receive or treat with Reiki.

Zimmerman (1990) in the US and Seto (1992) in Japan further investigated the large pulsating biomegnetic field from the hands of energy practitioners whilst they work. They discovered that the pulses are in the same frequencies as brain waves, and sweep up na d down from 0.3 – 30Hz, focusing mainly in 7 – 8Hz, alpha range. This range of frequencies is known to stimulate healing in the body, with different frequencies being suitable for different issues. For example, 2Hz stimulates nerve regeneration, 7Hz bone growth, 10hz ligament mending, ans 15Hz capillary formation. Physiotherapy equipment based on these principles has been designed to aid soft tissue regeneration, and ultrasound technology is routinely used to clear clogged arteries and disintegrate kidney stones. Also, for many years, weak electric fields generated through coils placed around intractable fractures have been used to stimulate bone growth and repair.

Becker explains that ‘brain waves’ are not confined to the body, but travel throughout the body via the perineural system, the sheaths of connective tissue surrounding nerves. During a treatment, these waves begin as relatively weak pulses in the thalamus of the practitioner’s brain, and gather cumulative strength as they flow to the peripheral nerves of the body. The same effect is mirrored in the person receiving the treatment, and Becker suggests that it is this system, more than any other, that regulates injury repair and system rebalance.

Current Medical Applications

Recent years have seen Reiki in wider use in the medical establishment. Some hospitals including the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, New York; Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York; Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital; Marin General Hospital, California; University of Michigan Hospital; Portsmouth Regional Hospital, New Hampshire; Foote Hospital, Jackson; Tucson Medical Center, Arizona, and over a dozen New IMG_1921England hospitals have incorporated it into their roster of patient services, often with their own Reiki-trained physicians, nurses and support staff. In those contexts, Reiki has been shown to accelerate recovery from surgery, improve mental attitude, reduce the negative effects of medication and other medical procedures. In one setting, none of the patients undergoing open heart surgeries and heart transplants, who were treated with Reiki and other subtle energy techniques experienced the usual postoperative depression, the bypass patients had no postoperative pain or leg weakness; and the transplant patients experienced no organ rejection. Other conditions treated include cancer, pain, chronic conditions, postoperative surgery, and childbirth.

Dr. Mike Cantwell of the California Pacific Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in northern California, states: “I have found Reiki to be useful in the treatment of acute illnesses such as musculoskeletal injury/pain, headache, acute infections, and asthma. Reiki is also useful for patients with chronic illnesses, especially those associated with chronic pain.” Dr. David Guillion, an oncologist at Marin General, stated “I feel we need to do whatever is in our power to help the patient. We provide state of the art medicine in our office, but healing is a multidimensional process. . . . I endorse the idea that there is a potential healing that can take place utilizing energy.”

As well as the direct benefits to patients, Reiki is benefiting hospital management and administration, and enhancing nursing practice in a variety of unforeseen ways.

c5c75de9c787ba2bcc002371aedb2ca1 a877a72e797c42e34e9d3417e6952ce2In over a decade of studying, practicing and teaching Reiki, the above sums up what I have observed, that along with the direct benefits come additional unforeseen benefits and life-enhancements. One of the most personally enjoyable things about my practice has been working with animals, particularly horses and dogs, experiences I like to point out when faced by critics of Reiki, or any other alternative therapy such as homeopathy, who maintain that positive results are merely due to a placebo effect.

What On Earth Is A Meditation Flashmob And Why Is It Called ‘Half An Hour Of Purest Sanity’?

Poorna Bell in the Huffington Post

Flashmobs: you either know them from the viral videos you pretend not to watch at work or you admire the way complete strangers come together to create something of such unity.

One such trend that has harnessed the power of the crowd is the meditation flashmob, which has been conducting a quiet revolution behind the scenes, on the streets of Aberdeen, Brighton and London.

And that’s just in the UK.

meditation flashmob

Although the idea of meditating in such a big group may seem nightmarish to someone who prefers solitude, one Guardian writer, Naseem Khan – at first skeptical – wrote that it ended up being “half an hour of purest sanity”.spesifikasi android

The idea of pockets of quiet and peace in such busy urban spaces is like a balm to frazzled nerves. It turns the very stereotype of what we know about cities on its head: that even in the most hectic environments, it’s possible to carve out an oasis of calm.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle caught up with meditation flashmob organiser Elina Pen.

What is a meditation flashmob?

A meditation flashmob is a gathering of people that sit in meditation in a public location, usually no longer than an hour. The meditation flashmobs we organise are announced a month before via social media, and the Wake Up London weekly newsletter.

Its intention is to raise awareness of meditation in public, unite people from all backgrounds, cultures and faiths together and send positive intentions out to the world. We come together to celebrate our very real capacity to generate peace, already, in the here and now. This is the peace we offer to our cities and to the world.

What has the response been like so far? What was the first one like?

The first one surprisingly had a big turn-out. It was in the middle of Trafalgar Square on a hot Thursday evening in June 2011. I set up a Facebook invitation the month before in May and had no idea how people would respond.

Not long after the event invitation was set up, it seemed like it went viral as I was seeing hundreds of people sign up to attend week after week. It was really astonishing to see. The invitation reached various other spiritual groups in London and it felt wonderful to be united in this initiative with others, even if our tradition and practices were different.

When it was time to start, I sat down in the middle of Trafalgar Square and sounded the bell. For the first 30 minutes, I had my eyes closed, so I wasn’t sure how many people were there. I opened my eyes to start the sound bath, which is when we chant sounds together towards the end, and to my amazement, there were hundreds of people sitting in concentric circles around me. I had never imagined that being in the middle of Trafalgar Square could feel this peaceful.

I finished the flash mob with three sounds of the bell, opened my eyes again and looked around with so much gratitude to the people sitting so beautifully around me.

What is your own experience with meditation, and what has it done for you?

From my practice in the tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, meditation has helped to cultivate a sense of calm and ease in my body and mind. In meditation, I simply rest my attention on the movement of my breathing – the flow of the in and out breath. My breath helps to anchor my attention in the present moment and bring my mind and body together as one.

I practice to come back to the present moment each time my mind wanders off to thoughts about the past or future, about anxieties or imaginings – and it nearly does each time I sit. I try to sit with whatever is there – boredom, pain, anger, self-criticism, joy, love or peace.


Elina PenIt’s not always easy but when I can be present with how I am feeling or what I am thinking about, and not get caught in it, I am able to be more spacious and kind to myself.

Allowing myself to stop, rest and be present through sitting meditation, creates conditions that can help me understand myself better; understand the causes of more difficult feelings, like fear, despair and anger, as well as understand the causes of more wholesome feelings like happiness, joy and love. With this deeper understanding of myself, I can make more skillful choices that can nurture more joy and happiness.

Right now in my life, I can say that I am the happiest and steadiest I’ve ever been before. It’s not because of any particular major successful life event, or being in this job or this relationship. It’s not because I don’t experience any anxieties or sadness anymore, because I still do. I think it’s because I’m learning how to be kinder, more compassionate and accepting of myself day by day, which I have struggled with in the past.

I used to think that the aim of spiritual practice is just to be happy and blissful and be completely free of suffering. But really, I see now that it’s about training ourselves to be able to have the space to be with both happiness and suffering in our daily lives.

Do you think that increasingly, people are looking for quiet and reflection in their lives?

Yes. I think more people are prioritising their wellbeing and happiness over such things like wealth, power and job status. Often it takes a kind of suffering, a physical, emotional or mental suffering, to wake people up to the current state of their lives, and move in a direction that is more nourishing for them.

Having the space for quiet and reflection where we can sit, breathe and look and listen deeply to ourselves, is essential. And doing this as a community too is essential because we need the support from others who also aspire to live life in a way that is nourishing for them.

In my own community, Wake Up London, there has been an increase of young people coming to our mindfulness practice meetings over the past three years. In 2010, we started with around 5 to 10 people at our meetings, and this year, we’ve seen on average around 33 people. It’s wonderful to see this rise and feel that we are reaching out to more and more young people.

meditation flashmob

What does meditation do for people?

One of the main benefits is more clarity and understanding about oneself and one’s experience. Meditation is difficult to quantify, but one can be aware of certain changes in oneself: we can become more centred, connected to our experience and knowledgeable about what is happening to us, to how we react, to see what triggers different responses within ourselves.

Usually we are more reactive than responsive. It also has the capacity to helps us connect and nurture qualities that essentially makes us more happy, like kindness, generosity towards ourselves and others, less fear and anger, the capacity to be more steady with difficult and challenging emotions.

We feel less driven by our desires and needs, and we are in a better position to understand others and better resolve conflicts.

Meditation flashmobs seem like a global movement – have you found this?

As I was organising the first meditation flash mob in London in 2011, I came across the group called MebMob that have been mobilizing synchronised meditation flash mobs around the world earlier that year. Knowing that these meditation flash mobs were already happening in America and in other parts of the world, gave me a boost of inspiration and sense of unity with these groups.

Now there continues to be synchronised meditation flash mobs around the world throughout the year, particularly on significant days like International Day of Peace, World Water Day, World Earth Day, Winter and Summer Solstice.

I think social media can have a positive role in facilitating such global movements such as this one. I’ve used Facebook a lot to advertise upcoming meditation flash mobs, and then later share the videos and photos afterwards. These links would often become shared to people around the world, and would inspire people in other countries to get involved.

What’s amazing too is that when my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, goes on tour with his community of monastics, there is usually a meditation flash mob included in the itinerary! In May this year, for example, there was a meditation flash mob in Barcelona which had what seemed to be 5,000 attendees! It was the subject of TV news coverage and of various newspapers in Spain.

To me, it seems to be difficult to meditate in an urban setting – what are your tips, for while you are in the flashmob, to begin meditation?

I can understand that. Perhaps many people feel hesitant towards coming to meditation flash mobs because it sounds difficult to be calm and centred in such busy places. What I’ve discovered is that it’s really possible to be at peace in these environments, whether sitting or walking. The key is in being mindful.

When we can have more space and be at peace with what is within and around us, instead of letting it disturb us, create tensions or become agitated, we can realise our capacity to generate peace throughout our daily lives.

This is how we can bring meditation in all aspects of our lives – not just formally on a meditation cushion but in everything that we do, such as walking in the underground, preparing for a meeting at work, sitting at our desk in front of the computer or standing up in a hot crowded tube.