Rethink Health - April 2012
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The Wasting Disease
Tuberculosis makes the news fairly often. It did again in March, when the WHO announced that inadequate treatment across the world was enabling drug-resistant strains of the germ to multiply.
I remember attending Sunday School as a boy, keeping a book of stickers and collecting one for each Sunday attendance. The picture illustrated the lesson for that day.
One of them showed a family bursting with health, in their house and garden in the village of Papworth Everard in Cambridgeshire. The story was that one or more of them had been afflicted with TB, and that the policy of the day was to relocate such families in Settlements designed to restore them. Papworth was one, opened in 1917 and active until about 1970.
Residents there were much blessed, particularly for the times. Their homes were airy, bright and spacious. All had gardens. The schools were generously designed in the same way, with rest periods during the day for those who needed them. There were factories, too, providing similarly congenial work for the breadwinners. And the Settlement had its own hospital.
So why did Papworth close as a Settlement, and become an ordinary village with an extra-ordinary heart hospital? For the best of all reasons - it cured people. So did the other Settlements around the country, aided of course by improved public hygiene, nourishment, and pharmaceutical treatment. So we ran out of candidates to resettle.
Drugs were by no means the primary driver. The Settlements had grown out of a movement for Garden Cities, begun about the same time. Salt, Leverhulme and Cadbury can be credited for their Model Villages, but the Garden Cities Movement recognised the need everyone (not just employees and the sick) has for congenial living conditions, which would prevent TB and other public health scourges in the first place. Letchworth and Welwyn were the only two to be built, but they led to the New Towns movement along similar lines. Many more of these were spawned, the best known being Wythenshawe in Manchester and Speke in Liverpool. Basildon and Milton Keynes are just two large modern settlements originating in these ideas. This impulse eventually led in 1961 to the Parker Morris Standards for the construction of houses, now incorporated into the Building Regulations.
The Settlements proved dramatically that TB is a disease primarily of nutritional and environmental disadvantage. Well-founded bodies dealt decisively with TB on their first encounter, usually marked by a small calcified nodule in the lung called a Ghon focus. For most people this is a source of immunity far more effective than BCG vaccination. Provided it is created against a background of good nourishment and congenial circumstance, nothing more comes of it.
TB never went away. Throughout the 60s men could be found living on the street who proved to have TB, and mens hostels were a fertile recruiting ground for chest hospitals. Feed these men and find them a life, and the disease paled away.
We should be ashamed that these simple hygienic benefits have not by now filtered down to everyone. Drug firms may quake at the thought of their products losing their grip, but we need not. It is just another reason to appreciate, grow, buy and eat the very best that we can.
Several of you have expressed your regret to see the phasing our of this supplement, designed to prevent a relapse back into deficiency once mineral reserves have been replenished - hence the name. It also includes a broad cocktail of antioxidants, the police that prevent cancerous change and clean up pollution, of which we can hardly have too much.
So I put in a bid at Cytoplan to buy an entire batch, and they have relented to the extent of agreeing to buy another batch themselves. I have promised to help them draw it to the attention of a wider audience: up to now it has been manufactured for your private benefit, and there are not quite enough of you!
Mineral replenishment and maintenance have a very high priority for health, and should in my opinion be available to everyone since everyone suffers the systemic mineral deficiencies in modern food.
We are in the process of revising the formula before placing the order, and fresh supplies should appear during the summer.
So - well lobbied!
There is encouraging progress on ThisIsPlanetHealth. Indeed, it has become The Health Universe, and we may decide to call it that. We look forward to having a site we can work on by about the end of the month, on our return from New England. After that, development will be continuous until I get lose my touch. It's a very exciting project to have as a hobby.
It will be made public as soon as it is presentable and has a reasonable amount of content, when you will be the first to know.
After a recent tune-up of my computer all e-mails are funnelled into one account, so you may as well write direct. I have therefore changed the address on the heading. The old address works perfectly well and will not be closed, however.
Anyone contemplating an order should get it in before 14th April as we will be in USA 16th-26th. The mobile will be on for urgent matters, but we encourage you to leave a message on the land line for anything else. We expect to deal with all messages on or by the 27th April.