Wholly Healthy: Don’t Be Fooled

Since April Fool’s Day is April 1, it’s probably a good time to go over a few things that aren’t true in medicine and health. A few things come to mind, but first I’d like to remind everyone (especially the parents of children) that there is no compelling evidence that vaccines cause autism. Furthermore, real diseases like measles and mumps are making a comeback, and vaccines do cause resistance to those nasty viruses.

So “vaccines are bad” is untrue. Not all vaccines are as good as others. (Influenza vaccine, for example, has good years and bad.) But on the whole, they’ve been a good idea since cowpox was used to immunize against smallpox. That is a pretty long time.

Every pharmacy and store has it, and it’s all over the internet, but there just isn’t any significant research yet on CBD oil. Cannabidiol oil is derived from marijuana and hemp plants, and it’s supposed to help relieve a host of ailments, from anxiety and pain to depression and insomnia.

To give credit where it’s due, there is now a prescription drug for two types of childhood epilepsy that is made from CBD and has some benefit. It also may be shown to have some benefits for inflammation. However, there’s not much solid research on the chemical and even less control of production and product quality. In addition, some CBD actually has THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the intoxicating part of marijuana, in the product. So it looks and sounds helpful, but, honestly, the jury is still way out for most uses of CBD oil.

Finally, to “go from preaching to meddling,” we have to stop believing that social media is harmless fun. Yes, I’m talking about health, but it’s mental (and spiritual) health. Whether you’re a teenager on Instagram all day or a senior struggling to navigate the weirdness of Facebook, there’s mounting evidence that social media makes us sad, anxious and angry. In addition, it’s clear that the things you see on social media are typically there to make you go back, click more (either in anger, vanity, lust or some other deadly sin) so that the company generates more and more ad revenue.

Ditto smart phones. People are increasingly addicted to their devices. And it’s all too easy for adults to hand their small children phones and iPads and other tablets, because “it’s educational” and “they’ll get good hand-eye coordination from the games” and “they calm down when I give them my phone.” These devices are causing kids to be addicted to screen time, and exposing them to drama and images that are toxic (or empty and pointless).

In addition, they’re reducing their ability to focus and learn. Children, teens and adults all need less screen time and more time looking around, learning, talking, reading actual books, learning to think without being told what to think, exercising and sometimes simply sitting quietly (gasp!) and thinking (gasp again!).

It’s April. Don’t be fooled!