04 October, 2003
The following extract form Joseph G. Hattersley's partly published
Avoiding Visual Degeneration" paper is required reading as
it provides some solid information on how to retain one's vision
among other things. Once again the importance of proper nutrition
is again a the recurrent theme. While this may seem to some as a
non issue - it is the de facto route to health and simply cannot
be overlooked. The full paper, with proper formatting, side bars
and two and half pages of citations, can be accessed by clicking
on the above title.
Part I. Do physicians really and truly want to help their patients,
even if it might cost them a lot of business? Ophthalmologists
withheld from two of my friends, information that might have saved
An article in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
November 2, 1994, sings the praises of spinach. People who ate Popeye's
favorite daily suffered only one-tenth as much age-related macular
degeneration (AMD) as those who seldom ate spinach. And for patients
with the condition, eating spinach prevented worsening.
Research has now confirmed that three to four portions of spinach
weekly can reverse at least early AMD. "Dr. Richer, chief of
the optometry section at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in North
Chicago, recently tested 14 patients who were showing the first
signs of AMD. After just 12 weeks of eating three to four portions
of spinach a week, those in the study showed 60% to 80% improvement
in their AMD tests. Among the eight who had either a hole or a distortion
in their vision, for seven the problem either improved or disappeared
The macula is a light-sensitive part of the central retinal area
near the optic nerve; it provides sharp central visual acuity. AMD
is the leading cause of blindness among American, Canadian and English
elderly, and it afflicts nearly 40 percent of the more than 10 million
Americans with diabetes. AMD is a cousin of coronary heart disease,
and shares with it a common ancestor: atherosclerosis. Free radicals
promote and speed macular degeneration as well as aging, heart disease,
arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease, among others.
The benefits result largely from spinach's thousands of carotenoids,
which are phytonutrients (plant nutrients) related to and including
carotenes. "High concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin, both
of them carotenoids, are found in [and so, presumably, required
by] the retina of the eye, explaining why consuming them in diet
protects against macular degeneration." New research finds
that eggs may be an especially good source of lutein and zeaxanthin
because substances in the yolk make it easier for the body to absorb
these compounds. It is already known that eating eggs does not elevate
risk of heart attack; in fact, published research found that those
who ate more eggs had fewer heart attacks. So such findings strengthen
our recommendation to eat whole, natural foods including all the
eggs we want.
Besides AMD, many of these fight cancers and other afflictions;
and they do it better than beta-carotene, the only carotenoid found
in most vitamin supplements. Other dark-green leafy vegetables such
as kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts offer much the same multiple
Two anecdotes reveal the extent of the eye-specialist problem.
A few years ago a bridge-playing friend of ours went to his eye
doctor with early macular degeneration. The doctor never mentioned
kale, chard, spinach or green tea. And now our friend can no longer
hunt deer, play bridge, repair things, read or engage in other much
A neighbor's mother had very advanced AMD; her eye doctor was using
lasers on her and more, yet the condition was worsening. My friend
noticed a huge bottle of aspirin in her
mother's house and suggested she stop taking it. After that, her
eye condition stabilized. Why?
(a) A letter in New England Journal of Medicine in 1988 reported
that aspirin can cause AMD. JD Kingham, MD, wrote, "Since 1983
at our clinic, many elderly patients who present with decreased
central vision and macular hemorrhage [the most severe form of AMD]
have a history of recent ingestion of aspirin and other drugs known
to affect platelet function or the coagulation process."
(b) And patients with blocked arteries to the brain (a dangerous
stroke situation) have three times as many strokes from ruptured
arteries if they are taking an aspirin a day.
Dr. Kingham's discovery and that reported in Medical Tribune have
not been confirmed. But a massive computer literature search by
Kirk Hamilton, PA, publisher of Clinical Pearls News, Sacramento,
CA, found no refutation. So there is at least a caution flag on
Fortunately, aspirin's anti-clotting benefits in lowering risk
of heart attack and stroke can be obtained without side effects
in at least two ways. (a) White willow bark, which the Greek physician
Dioscorides used in the first century AD. People with a headache
long chewed white willow bark. Bayer Co. derived aspirin itself
from the bark, modifying the molecule to make it patentable. This
modification is the source of excess bleeding, digestive upsets,
worsened gut permeability and 3,000 U.S. deaths a year from aspirin
poisoning, as well as the risk of ultimate blindness.
Jonathan V. Wright, MD, a leading alternative/integrative practitioner
in Kent, WA has found that two 400-milligram capsules of the powdered
bark provide about the same amount of salicin, the active ingredient,
as a baby aspirin. Four such capsules thin the blood as effectively
as an adult aspirin. (See Part 2.)
(b) Another alternative: three glasses daily of purple grape juice
can reduce platelet aggregation as much as a daily aspirin. "Blood
platelets floating in a juice solution clotted about 30% less than
platelets not in the juice, and released three times more chemicals
that widen blood vessels and inhibit clots." And unlike aspirin,
the flavonoids in purple grape juice remain effective when adrenaline
levels rise. In another test, purple grape juice lowered susceptibility
of LDL-cholesterol to oxidation.
Also, a published clinical test showed melatonin lowers eyeball
pressure in glaucoma patients. The insomnia age group - for whom
its use is safe and appropriate at 1 to 5 milligrams before bedtime
-- is the same as the glaucoma age group.
Macular degeneration and diet. (1) In rats, excitotoxins rapidly
damage the macula, offering a new slant on burgeoning AMD. They
wreak many other ill effects on people consuming processed foods.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame (Nutra-Sweet®) and nearly
all processed foods contain dangerous quantities of glutamate, aspartate,
cysteine and related compounds. These excitotoxic drugs, added to
foods, discharge nerve cells in the mouth to augment the sensation
of flavor. Addictive Aspartame breaks down into carcinogenic, eye-destroying
formaldehyde and deadly methyl alcohol.
The public long ago began to be aware of some of the risks of MSG;
and so, to hide the deadly character of their products, food processing
companies adopted a laundry list of innocent-sounding labels. Avoid
all diet foods, diet drinks, and such products as Accent, autolyzed
yeast, HVP, hydrolyzed or texturized vegetable protein -- especially
bad because they contain three excitotoxins -- hydrolyzed plant
protein, Kombu extract, Chinese seasoning, gourmet powder, RL50,
broth, bouillon, caseinate, flavoring and natural flavoring. (It
doesn't have to be labeled when it's in ice cream.) Any of these
are even more dangerous when heated.
"Natural"? MSG is found in, e.g., tomatoes and mushrooms
-- but at about 1,000th of the concentration used in food processing.
Incredibly, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules permit processed
foods to contain large amounts of MSG but be labeled "no MSG
(2) Eating one ounce of Olestra (Olean®)-containing chips
daily for two weeks lowered vision-protective carotene levels by
The eye specialists could perhaps be excused for not knowing
about how full spectrum light helps the eyes, and for not knowing
that MSG- and aspartame-polluted foods and Olean promote macular
degeneration. But both of them probably subscribe to JAMA and New
England Journal of Medicine, and so they had no excuse for keeping
quiet about kale, spinach and aspirin except their own financial
self-interest. They were wrong to deprive their patients of that
healing news and should be held responsible. Class-action lawyers
might look into this.
Ophthalmologists may complain that telling patients these truths
could put them out of business. But after cars replaced buggies,
buggy-whip makers couldn't force people to buy buggy whips. They
learned new trades, and so can those eye specialists.
Part II. A. Dr. Jonathan V. Wright's treatment. Dr. Wright said
to take selenium, taurine, vitamin E and zinc. And put DMSO (dimethyl
sulfoxide, a solvent obtainable at health food stores and paint
stores) on any part of the skin. The DMSO, which itself offers powerful
healing features, is a necessary part of the procedure: it strongly
increases absorption of these nutrients. Some patients of his recovered
from macular degeneration using this therapy and have stayed clear
of it for as long as four years. The method works better in some
cases than others.
The quantities, written on a prescription form:
Zinc, preferably picolinate, 30 mg x 2 = 60 mg/day;* zinc is best
absorbed when taken half an hour before breakfast; in a few, this
timing may cause nausea. The eye contains more zinc than any other
part of the body.
Vitamin E, 800 mg/day
Selenium, 500 micrograms/day
Taurine: 620 mg x 2 twice a day = 2+ grams/day. The label instructions
say not to use this amino acid when taking aspirin or any product
containing aspirin; take between meals or before a meal.
* Taking zinc supplement of this magnitude, you should have a red-blood-cell
copper blood test ($40, not paid by insurance) every two months;
and 500 mcg of selenium daily cannot continue for a long time.
Full-spectrum light is also effective against seasonal depression
("SAD"). Nonseasonal depression benefits too, but not
as much. It has other major health benefits including reduction
of tooth decay. It has also greatly improved behavior of previously
UV-deprived children. For full-spectrum light fixtures, consult
equipment is inferior.
Vitamin D and calcium. Arthur A. Knapp, MD, used 50,000 units of
vitamin D and one gram of calcium on intermittent days. These helped
against eye conditions including myopia, keratoconus, cataract,
optic nerve atrophy and retinitis pigmentosa.
A related problem affects people with asthma. Inhaled steroids,
intended to block or reduce inflammation, were long claimed not
to circulate throughout the body. Yet for many older patients they
promote glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in the population.
The risk appeared to be elevated by 44 percent compared to matched
patients not using inhaled steroids. Lea Davies of Georgetown University
Medical Center in Washington, DC, adds that inhaled steroids may
cause about one-third of the 3,000 glaucoma cases developing each
year among Americans over 65. Inhaled steroids reduce bone density
in the spines of women with asthma. The greater the cumulative dose
of inhaled steroids, the greater the reduction in bone mineral density
of the spine in women.
"The drugs commonly used in the treatment of allergic conditions,
including asthma, have many potentially harmful and dangerous side
effects. These antihistamines, steroid hormones, or xanthine derivatives
have side effects that may be merely annoying to a child but in
many instances are dangerous. For example, steroid treatment
of asthmatic children has been demonstrated to retard lung maturation
and physical growth and to cause a higher incidence of cataracts
in children receiving long-term steroid therapy."