All posts by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac., Registered Herbalist (AHG)

Karen Vaughan is a New York State Licensed Acupuncturist and is one of very few NYC Registered Herbalists certified by the American Herbalists Guild, an advanced peer-reviewed certification. She has been in practice for 20 years in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215. She has a four-year postgraduate degree in Oriental Medicine (Acupuncture, Herbal medicine and adjunct techniques) from Pacific College, New York. She is a faculty member of the Swedish Institute, a college of health services and teaches Oriental Medicine for the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies in New Jersey.

Two Types of Flu, Two Types of Treatment

The H1N1 Swine Flu may operate in two ways, one of which acts like seasonal flu except is more widespread, and the other which causes the immune system to produce the most damage.  What is not clear is whether the current flu is a cytokine storm type flu where you are better off with a low immune response, or a more normal flu where you are better off with a strong immune system. According to Wikipedia:

“A cytokine storm, or hypercytokinemia is a potentially fatal immune reaction consisting of a positive feedback loop between cytokines and immune cells, with highly elevated levels of various cytokines.[1]..The primary symptoms of a cytokine storm are high fever, swelling and redness, extreme fatigue, and nausea….When the immune system is fighting pathogens, cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. Normally, this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place. The precise reason for this is not entirely understood but may be caused by an exaggerated response when the immune system encounters a new and highly pathogenic invader. Cytokine storms have potential to do significant damage to body tissues and organs… If a cytokine storm occurs in the lungs, for example, fluids and immune cells such as macrophages may accumulate and eventually block off the airways, potentially resulting in death….

“It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults.[1] In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also indicated this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003.[4] Human deaths from the bird flu H5N1 usually involve cytokine storms as well.[5] Recent reports of high mortality among healthy young adults in the 2009 swine flu outbreak has led to speculation that cytokine storms could be responsible for these deaths.[6] However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that symptoms reported from this strain so far are similar to those of normal seasonal flu,[7] with the CDC stating that there is “insufficient information to date about clinical complications of this variant of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus infection.”[7]”

In the cytokine storm flu, which appeared to occur in Mexico, the healthy young adults are more likely to get sick than children or the elderly. Their strong immune system over-reacts, causing the fever to spike, interferew with opening the pores, heating them up and exhausting their ability to fight. Pain and spasm may block sweating, so relaxing herbs like black cohosh are useful. You do not want immune stimulating herbs like maitake or reishi which increase cytokines. You do want heat-clearing herbs like lomatium, isatis, coptis, scute and forsythia buds. Echinacea may possibly increase cytokines, although it works by several paths and the late great herbalist Michael Moore thought it should be given for epidemic flu when avian flu was considered possible.cytokine_storm

However the CDC notes that the current Swine Flu may not be the cytokine storm variety, at least in the mutation we have currently. In these other types of flu, the elderly and young children are mostly at risk, and you ought to use immune stimulating as well as symptom alleviating herbs. If the fever is tolerable and helps induce sweat, it should not be suppressed as it usually shortens the course of the disease. If it progresses inward and gets hotter, with a rapid pulse, scarlet tongue, big sweat, make sure that the bowels are moving.

Proposed Mechanism of the Cytokine Storm Evoked by Influenza virus.
Osterholm. New England Journal of Medicine, 352 (18): 1839, Figure 3. May 5, 2005
Animation of chart above on

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Reviewed

A brief review of Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the problem with excess degraded corn in our diet.

November 29th 2006 – For anyone who hasn’t run across Michael Pollan’s Book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I highly recommend it. He denounces the Corn Industrial Complex which puts corn into virtually every food (one quarter of the 45,000 foods in a typical supermarket contain corn)and seems to be in a symbiotic relationship with petroleum. Oil goes into the fertilizer which goes into corn which goes into us and makes us sick. One gem is his send up of a McNuggets dinner:

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the 38 ingredients it takes to make a McNugget I counted 13 that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself, the cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono, tri’ and diglycerides (emulsifiers which keep the fat and water from separating) ; dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that leaches out in processing); yellow corn flour and modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler), vegetable shortening; partialy hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative.” He then goes on to list the synthetic and petroleum-derived ingredients.
It isn’t all doom and gloom. He also tracks an organic farm where cattle are rotated to new grass each day with flexible fencing, a connestoga wagon like chicken coop follows them three days later to eat the fly larvae in the droppings (and enhance the eggs with free protein), and pigs which aerate the winter manure in search of fermenting corn.

Of course with this much degraded corn in our diets it won’t be long before we have very widespread corn allergies in addition to the diabetes and gluten allergies from the degraded wheat.

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Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
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The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
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Medical Acupuncture vs. Real Acupuncture

Many people ask why they shouldn’t go to an MD for acupuncture if they can find it. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

Acupuncture needles in hypodermic needle.
Acupuncture needles in hypodermic needle.

Simple answer: most MDs aren’t appropriately trained. They may do some simple neuromodulation with needles (which real acupuncturists are also trained to do,) but they never learn the diagnosis that is the genius of Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine has featured an almost obsessive attention to cataloging the clinical treatment of patients for thousands of years. We can go back to doctors Zhang Zhong Jing or Sun Si Miao and read their prescriptions and exactly what patterns of diagnosis they apply to. Having been cured myself of a nasty case of cellulitis with a 1500 year old formula (after my MD missed the problem) I have great respect for the classical formulas. These things are never studied in a 100-300 hour video course that a medical doctor (and in some states a Chiropractor or Podiatrist) will take to call himself a “Medical Acupuncturist.”
Continue reading Medical Acupuncture vs. Real Acupuncture

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Relief Acupuncture Trip to New Orleans after Katrina

  • On December 13, 2 2006 I went to New Orleans to do acupuncture under the sponsorship of CRREW. CRREW has been in New Orleans since last year doing volunteer acupuncture under the Louisiana temporary acupuncture license (which allows only NADA ear points.)

    Karen Giving Acupuncture for the New Hope Ministries Health Fair in Algiers

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2006

I arrived in New Orleans at twilight, with little view of the destruction from Katrina.  Huynh Quang, a Vietnamese-born acupuncturist picked me up at the airport. Occasionally he pointed out water marks, on the railroad tracks over the highway, by the water pumping plant that I had seen in Spike Lee’s film When the Levees Broke, and in formerly occupied shopping centers that had been completely inundated and were now vacant.
Continue reading Relief Acupuncture Trip to New Orleans after Katrina

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Male Pelvic Floor Exercises for Sexual Health

March 25th 2006 – Copyright by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac., MSTOM,  RH (AHG)

I was at a workshop on mens’ diseases recently, and we were discussing ways to keep morning erections and to prevent erectile dysfunction later on.

Men have a lot of assaults on their fertility, hence sexual health in this day and age. Plastics and pesticides put xeno-estrogens into their systems and into the water table. Meats, traditionally good for testosterone, are often from estrogen-treated animals unless organic. Soy, a common meat substitute has high phyto-estrogens levels. Zinc and magnesium, necessary to male health, are missing from the soils. Phythalates from plastic attack androgens (male hormones). Increases in diabetes, coronary artery disease and CVD, along with smoking hurt the arteries filling the penis. Laptops are often used on laps where they heat the scrotum. As a result of stresses to the male system, sperm counts are way down- 3% anually in Europe and 1.5% anually in the US. A recent study showing a 29% decline since the 80s had to be withdrawn because the men were from New York where sperm counts are _higher_ than in most of the rest of the country. So the problem may be worse.

So in addition to avoiding all of the above stressors, studies have shown that pelvic floor exercises can be very useful. You can locate the pelvic floor muscles around your urethra by trying to stop the urine stream while peeing. (Once you find them it is not a good idea to do regularly while urinating.) You can tighten the muscles around your anus by drawing up for 10 seconds. When done properly, the scrotum and base of the phallus should slightly elevate.

To deal with ED, morning erections, or incontinence, do the exercises for 10 seconds each, with 10 seconds in between, 10 times each of three positions: while sitting, standing and lying down. Do three times a day. (Okay if you skip the lying down one at work, do the other two 15 times.) You can also do shorter ones anytime.

Dr. Grace Dorey of Surrey England, a major proponent of pelvic floor exercises undertook a survey of 55 men with an average age of 59 who had experienced erectile dysfunction for six months or more. With the exercises:

40 per cent regained normal erectile function.
35.5 per cent improved
25.5 per cent showed no difference.

The improvement resulting from pelvic floor exercises compared to the use of Viagra had identical results.

Pelvic floor exercises should be combined with squats because strong glutes help the pelvic floor muscles lengthen.  You need good muscle tone when the muscles are both contracted and when lengthened.

All men should do some form of pelvic floor exercises to maintain health and we should teach our sons to do it too. -We teach them all kinds of other exercises and these will be a major factor in their well-being for life. Feel free to forward this onto your sons if you would rather not talk about it with them.

There is a good article with illustrations at:

And there is a good video illustrating male pelvic floor exercises:

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Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
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Dr. Grace Dorsey, Peter Deadman,
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Iron Crotch Qi Gong for Male Sexual Health

Iron Crotch Qi Gong was developed for male sexual health. It treats lack of morning erections, male infertility, impotence, erectile dysfunction, urinary problems and improves overall health.

October 25th 2005 – Copyright by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac. , MSTOM

“Iron Crotch” Qi Gong was developed in China for increased male sexual health. It treats lack of morning erections, male infertility, impotence, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, urinary problems and, since the generative function is at the basis for all functioning, improves overall health.

All men will benefit from this qigong, adapted from Peter Deadman, but avoid it immediately after acute disease or surgery in the groin area. Sexual health is considered the root of all health, and sexual energy imbues more than sexual activity. You can use the emotional power of sexuality to help you accomplish anything and everything you want out of life.

It is best to do these exercises in the morning before dressing or in the evening before bed. In all of the exercises below, take the recommended position, calm the mind, place the tongue on the upper palate and breathe evenly. As you do the exercises feel how your body responds, sending the mind to the area.

1. Running Energy.

Sit, stand or lie on your back. Relax and place your tongue on the upper palate. Imagine a current of energy running from your perenium up your spine, over the top of your head, down your front midline to the perenium. Run the energy continuously, with your mind following the track of the energy. Notice any areas of blockage or heat or cold and send energy to them. Continue running the energy for several minutes.

2. Pushing the abdomen

Lie on your back. Place your right hand over the left and place where your bottom ribs come together on your chest. Push downwards to the pubic bone, concentrating on the sensation. Repeat 36 times.

3. Pushing the sides of the abdomen

Do the same as number 2, but separate your hands this time, side by side, and push downwards simultaneously. This broadens the area affected and treats other meridians.

4. Kneading the navel.

Lie on your back. Place your right hand over your left and massage around the navel 36 times each, clockwise and counter-clockwise. If you feel the sensation of a mass beneath the naval, press and rub with the three middle fingers. (This is usually qi and blood stagnation and will disappate.)

5. Kneading the spermatic cords.

Sit with your legs spread openly. With the thumb, index and middle finger grasp the spermatic cords on the side of the root of the penis. Gently twist them to the left and right 50 times. You should feel a slight aching and distention. Breathe deeply.

6. Kneading the testicles.

Grasp and slightly elevate the root of the penis with the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Massage the left testicle with the left time 50 times. Repeat on the other side.

7. Rubbing the testicles

Sit with your legs spread. Hold both testicles from below with the idnex and middle fingers of both hands. Rub, twist and massage testicles right and left 50 times.

8. Lifting the testicles

Sit as above with the testicles held the same way. Lift as you inhale slowly and lower them while slowly exhaling. Repeat three times. You should fees some distention.

9. Pounding the testicles

Stand, feet shoulder width apart. Make loose fists and gently pound the testicles 25 times each. You should NOT feel pain, but rather some aching distention.

10. Kidney Massage

Stand erect, with loose fists. Reach back to your lumbar area and pound over the kidneys with the open part of your fist 25 times. Turn the fist over, knuckle side to the back, and massage the kidneys until you feel some heat.

11. Chest and back pounding

Stand erect with your hands curled in a loose fist and your elbows elevated to the side. Twist to the left and right. The arm in front should pound your chest (palm toward the chest) and the rear arm should pound your back below the scapula. Reverse. Do each set 50 times.

12. Knee rotations

Stand with the feet close together, bend the knees, bend and place the palms on the knees. Rotate the knees clockwise and counter-clockwise 25 times each.

13. Rubbing Spleen 6

Widen your stance and bend over with the thumbs on your tibia bone just above the inner ankles. Slide your thumbs up. Approximately 3-4 finger widths up you will feel a depression which may be slightly sore. Let your thumbs sink into the depression and rub 25 times.

14. Rolling the stick or ball

Sit with a ball, stick or tootsie roller under your foot. Roll back and forth 50 times with each foot, activating Kidney 1 at the base of the ball of your foot. If the stick is long enough you can do this with both feet simultaneously.

15. Dantian breathing

Sit or stand in a horse position, knees slightly bent, shoulder width apart. Bring your right hand over your left hand and place on your lower abdomen (dantian). Breathe deeply and calmly several times.

For impotence, ED, or inability to maintain an erection this sequence was traditionally done for 100 days without engaging in ejaculation. The idea is that your jing-essence has been depleted and needs to be replenished before making furthur withdrawals. If you engage in ejaculation and find that it depletes you or makes symptoms return, then hold off for a while.

Chinese medicine traditionally holds sexual intercourse to be more replenishing than masturbation, because during the moment of female orgasm you acquire an infusion of her jing. However there are other ways of replenishing jing- food that benefits the kidneys and liver, acupuncture and herbs, warm tender relationships. Men with prostatitis should in fact ejaculate daily, regardless of having a partner since it flushes out the spongy tissue of the prostate.

Iron crotch qigong can treat:

1. Qian Lie Xie – beginning stage of enlarged prostate

2. Yang Wei – impotence and ED

3. Zhu er bu jian, jian er bu jiu – trouble maintaining an erection once you have it

4. Hua tang pao – premature ejaculation

5. Yao teng – lower back pain associated with the Kidney function

6. Da duzi – big stomach “big stomach, small penis” since the treasure is burried (attached to internal structures that do not expand with fat.)

7. Xinzang bing – heart disease which affects the vascularity of the penis as well

8. Ya yi – depression

9. Pi Bei De Yanjing – lack of sparkle in the eyes

10. Mei you xin xin – lack of self-confidence

11. Hen rongyi lei – easily tired due to lack of yang qi

12. Xi guan jie – weakness in knees, attributed to Kidney deficiency

13. Hen rongyi shengqi – easily angered (Kidney yin not anchoring liver yang)

14. Yi jing – frequent wet dreams seen as a leakage of essence

15. Bu neng fang song – unable to relax

16. Hen zisi – selfishness

17. Bu jing chang xiao – inability to smile

18. Mei you you mo gan – no sense of humor

19. Mei you chang zuo gan – lack of creativity

20. Bu jian kang – lack of overall health

There are other versions of sexual qigong, which preceeds the Indian discipline of Tantra historically and in fact may have influenced it. Matt Furey teaches Chuang Shang de Gong Fu at the Chinese Secrets site linked below and there are versions of Iron Crotch available on the web. (I’d recommend avoiding the versions with sandbag weights though.) The book, The Multi-Orgasmic Man: Sexual Secrets Every Man Should Know by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams give additional techniques more oriented to prolonged intercourse.

Male pelvic floor exercises are also important to sexual health. I have descriptions of it in an accompanying article at:

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Peter Deadman and Matt Furey
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Deadly Immunity

When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data – and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic. Do not vaccinate when your child is ill, nor give more than one vaccine at a time and avoid thimerosol or aluminum based vaccines.

Deadly Immunity by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac., RH (AHG)

Vaccines are controversial and I do not dismiss the need for some of them. However I always recommend looking at the relative risks and benefits and not overdosing your child. Vaccinations should only be administered when the child is well, one at a time, and without thimerosol or aluminum bases. Look at the likely dangers of the disease when you consider vaccines for your child, as well as your child’s immune strength.

In Chinese medicine we see a value in childhood diseases like measles or chicken pox which flushes fetal toxins from the body. If your child is strong, with a decent immune response, and autism is in the family, consider whether the disease would be better than the often poor immunity that vaccines provide, especially those with dangerous carriers.

Here is an article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. which outlines some of the problems with the current generation of vaccines:



When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data -and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
June 16, 2005

In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Ga. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session-only private invitations to 52 attendees.

There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug
Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health
Organization in Geneva, and representatives of every major vaccine
manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur.

All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly
reminded the participants, was strictly “embargoed.” There would be no
making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they

The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to
discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency’s massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines-thimerosal-appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. “I was actually stunned by what I saw,” Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder,
hyperactivity and autism.

Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants-in one case, within hours of birth-the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.

Even for scientists and doctors accustomed to confronting issues of life and death, the findings were frightening. “You can play with this all you want,” Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the group. “The results “are statistically significant.”

Dr. Richard Johnston, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado whose grandson had been born early on the morning of the meeting’s first day, was even more alarmed. “My gut feeling?” he said. “Forgive this personal comment-I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on.”

But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the
vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry’s bottom line.

“We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits,” said Dr. Robert Brent, a pediatrician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. “This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country.” Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that “given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let’s say, less responsible hands.” Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared flatly that the study “should not have been done at all” and warned that the results “will be taken by others and will be used in ways beyond the control of this group. The research results have to be handled.”

In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children’s health. The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to “rule out” the chemical’s link to autism. It withheld Verstraeten’s findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been “lost” and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers. By the time Verstraeten finally published his study in 2003, he had gone to work for GlaxoSmithKline and reworked his data to bury the link between thimerosal and autism.

Vaccine manufacturers had already begun to phase thimerosal out of
injections given to American infants-but they continued to sell off their mercury-based supplies of vaccines until last year. The CDC and FDA gave them a hand, buying up the tainted vaccines for export to developing countries and allowing drug companies to continue using the preservative in some American vaccines-including several pediatric flu shots as well as tetanus boosters routinely given to 11-year-olds.

The drug companies are also getting help from powerful lawmakers in
Washington. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has received $873,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, has been working to immunize vaccine makers from liability in 4,200 lawsuits that have been filed by the parents of injured children. On five separate occasions, Frist has tried to seal all of the government’s vaccine-related documents-including the Simpsonwood transcripts-and shield Eli Lilly, the developer of thimerosal, from subpoenas.

In 2002, the day after Frist quietly slipped a rider known as the “Eli
Lilly Protection Act” into a homeland security bill, the company
contributed $10,000 to his campaign and bought 5,000 copies of his book on bioterrorism. Congress repealed the measure in 2003 — but earlier this year, Frist slipped another provision into an anti-terrorism bill that would deny compensation to children suffering from vaccine-related brain disorders. “The lawsuits are of such magnitude that they could put vaccine producers out of business and limit our capacity to deal with a biological attack by terrorists,” says Andy Olsen, a legislative assistant to Frist.

Even many conservatives are shocked by the government’s effort to cover up the dangers of thimerosal. Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana, oversaw a three-year investigation of thimerosal after his grandson was diagnosed with autism. “Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is directly related to the autism epidemic,” his House Government Reform Committee concluded in its final report. “This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding a lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal, a known neurotoxin.”

The FDA and other public-health agencies failed to act,the committee added, out of “institutional malfeasance for self protection” and “misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.”

The story of how government health agencies colluded with Big Pharma to hide the risks of thimerosal from the public is a chilling case study of institutional arrogance, power and greed. I was drawn into the controversy only reluctantly. As an attorney and environmentalist who has spent years working on issues of mercury toxicity, I frequently met mothers of autistic children who were absolutely convinced that their kids had been injured by vaccines. Privately, I was skeptical.

I doubted that autism could be blamed on a single source, and I certainly understood the government’s need to reassure parents that vaccinations are safe; the eradication of deadly childhood diseases depends on it. I tended to agree with skeptics like Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California,who criticized his colleagues on the House Government Reform Committee for leaping to conclusions about autism and vaccinations. “Why should we scare people about immunization,” Waxman pointed out at one hearing, “until we
know the facts?”

It was only after reading the Simpsonwood transcripts, studying the
leading scientific research and talking with many of the nation’s
preeminent authorities on mercury that I became convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real. Five of my own children are members of the Thimerosal Generation-those born between 1989 and 2003 — who received heavy doses of mercury from vaccines.

“The elementary grades are overwhelmed with children who have symptoms of neurological or immune-system damage,” Patti White, a school nurse, told the House Government Reform Committee in 1999. “Vaccines are supposed to be making us healthier; however, in 25 years of nursing I have never seen so many damaged, sick kids. Something very, very wrong is happening to our children.” More than 500,000 kids currently suffer from autism, and pediatricians diagnose more than 40,000 new cases every year. The disease was unknown until 1943, when it was identified and diagnosed among 11 children born in the months after thimerosal was first added to baby vaccines in 1931.

Some skeptics dispute that the rise in autism is caused by
thimerosal-tainted vaccinations. They argue that the increase is a result of better diagnosis-a theory that seems questionable at best, given that most of the new cases of autism are clustered within a single generation of children. “If the epidemic is truly an artifact of poor diagnosis,” scoffs Dr. Boyd Haley, one of the world’s authorities on mercury toxicity, “then where are all the 20-year-old autistics?” Other researchers point out that Americans are exposed to a greater cumulative “load” of mercury than ever before, from contaminated fish to dental fillings, and suggest that thimerosal in vaccines may be only part of a much larger problem. It’s a concern that certainly deserves far more attention than it has
received-but it overlooks the fact that the mercury concentrations in
vaccines dwarf other sources of exposure to our children.

What is most striking is the lengths to which many of the leading
detectives have gone to ignore-and cover up-the evidence against
thimerosal. From the very beginning, the scientific case against the
mercury additive has been overwhelming. The preservative, which is used to stem fungi and bacterial growth in vaccines, contains ethylmercury, a potent neurotoxin. Truckloads of studies have shown that mercury tends to accumulate in the brains of primates and other animals after they are injected with vaccines-and that the developing brains of infants are particularly susceptible. In 1977, a Russian study found that adults exposed to much lower concentrations of ethylmercury than those given to American children still suffered brain damage years later. Russia banned thimerosal from children’s vaccines 20 years ago, and Denmark, Austria, Japan, Great Britain and all the Scandinavian countries have since followed suit.

“You couldn’t even construct a study that shows thimerosal is safe,” says Haley, who heads the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. “It’s just too darn toxic. If you inject thimerosal into an animal, its brain will sicken.

If you apply it to living tissue, the cells die. If you put it in a petri dish, the culture dies. Knowing these things, it would be shocking if one could inject it into an infant without causing damage.”

Internal documents reveal that Eli Lilly, which first developed
thimerosal, knew from the start that its product could cause damage-and even death-in both animals and humans. In 1930, the company tested
thimerosal by administering it to 22 patients with terminal meningitis, all of whom died within weeks of being injected-a fact Lilly didn’t bother to report in its study declaring thimerosal safe. In 1935, researchers at another vaccine manufacturer, Pittman-Moore, warned Lilly that its claims about thimerosal’s safety “did not check with ours.” Half the dogs Pittman injected with thimerosal-based vaccines became sick, leading researchers there to declare the preservative “unsatisfactory as a serum intended for use on dogs.”

In the decades that followed, the evidence against thimerosal continued to mount. During the Second World War, when the Department of Defense used the preservative in vaccines on soldiers, it required Lilly to label it “poison.” In 1967, a study in Applied Microbiology found that thimerosal killed mice when added to injected vaccines. Four years later, Lilly’s own studies discerned that thimerosal was “toxic to tissue cells” in concentrations as low as one part per million — 100 times weaker than the concentration in a typical vaccine. Even so, the company continued to promote thimerosal as “nontoxic” and also incorporated it into topical disinfectants. In 1977, 10 babies at a Toronto hospital died when an antiseptic preserved with thimerosal was dabbed onto their umbilical cords.

In 1982, the FDA proposed a ban on over-the-counter products that
contained thimerosal, and in 1991 the agency considered banning it from animal vaccines. But tragically, that same year, the CDC recommended that infants be injected with a series of mercury-laced vaccines. Newborns would be vaccinated for hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth, and 2-month-old infants would be immunized for haemophilus influenzae B and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis.

The drug industry knew the additional vaccines posed a danger. The same year that the CDC approved the new vaccines, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, one of the fathers of Merck’s vaccine programs, warned the company that 6-month-olds who were administered the shots would suffer dangerous exposure to mercury. He recommended that thimerosal be discontinued, “especially when used on infants and children,” noting that the industry knew of nontoxic alternatives. “The best way to go,” he added, “is to switch to dispensing the actual vaccines without adding preservatives.”

For Merck and other drug companies, however, the obstacle was money.
Thimerosal enables the pharmaceutical industry to package vaccines in
vials that contain multiple doses, which require additional protection
because they are more easily contaminated by multiple needle entries.

The larger vials cost half as much to produce as smaller, single-dose
vials, making it cheaper for international agencies to distribute them to impoverished regions at risk of epidemics. Faced with this “cost consideration,” Merck ignored Hilleman’s warnings, and government officials continued to push more and more thimerosal-based vaccines for children. Before 1989, American preschoolers received 11 vaccinations-for polio, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and measles-mumps-rubella. A decade later, thanks to federal recommendations, children were receiving a total of 22 immunizations by the time they reached first grade.

As the number of vaccines increased, the rate of autism among children
exploded. During the 1990s, 40 million children were injected with
thimerosal-based vaccines, receiving unprecedented levels of mercury
during a period critical for brain development. Despite the
well-documented dangers of thimerosal, it appears that no one bothered to add up the cumulative dose of mercury that children would receive from the mandated vaccines. “What took the FDA so long to do the calculations?” Peter Patriarca, director of viral products for the agency, asked in an e-mail to the CDC in 1999. “Why didn’t CDC and the advisory bodies do these calculations when they rapidly expanded the childhood immunization schedule?”

But by that time, the damage was done. Infants who received all their
vaccines, plus boosters, by the age of six months were being injected with a total of 187 micrograms of ethylmercury-a level 40 percent greater than the EPA’s limit for daily exposure to methylmercury, a related neurotoxin. Although the vaccine industry insists that ethylmercury poses little danger because it breaks down rapidly and is removed by the body, several studies-including one published in April by the National Institutes of Health-suggest that ethylmercury is actually more toxic to developing brains and stays in the brain longer than methylmercury. Under the expanded schedule of vaccinations, multiple shots were often administered on a single day: At two months, when the infant brain is still at a critical stage of development, children routinely received three innoculations that delivered 99 times the approved limit of mercury.

Officials responsible for childhood immunizations insist that the
additional vaccines were necessary to protect infants from disease and
that thimerosal is still essential in developing nations, which, they
often claim, cannot afford the single-dose vials that don’t require a
preservative. Dr. Paul Offit, one of CDC’s top vaccine advisors, told me, “I think if we really have an influenza pandemic-and certainly we will in the next 20 years, because we always do-there’s no way on God’s earth that we immunize 280 million people with single-dose vials. There has to be multidose vials.”

But while public-health officials may have been well-intentioned, many of those on the CDC advisory committee who backed the additional vaccines had close ties to the industry.

Dr. Sam Katz, the committee’s chair, was a paid consultant for most of the major vaccine makers and shares a patent on a measles vaccine with Merck,which also manufactures the hepatitis B vaccine. Dr. Neal Halsey, another committee member, worked as a researcher for the vaccine companies and received honoraria from Abbott Labs for his research on the hepatitis B vccine.

Indeed, in the tight circle of scientists who work on vaccines, such
conflicts of interest are common. Rep. Burton says that the CDC “routinely allows scientists with blatant conflicts of interest to serve on intellectual advisory committees that make recommendations on new vaccines,” even though they have “interests in the products and companies for which they are supposed to be providing unbiased oversight.” The House Government Reform Committee discovered that four of the eight CDC advisors who approved guidelines for a rotavirus vaccine “had financial ties to the
pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.”

Offit, who shares a patent on one of the vaccines, acknowledged to me that he “would make money” if his vote eventually leads to a marketable product. But he dismissed my suggestion that a scientist’s direct financial stake in CDC approval might bias his judgment. “It provides no conflict for me,” he insists. “I have simply been informed by the process, not corrupted by it. When I sat around that table, my sole intent was trying to make recommendations that best benefited the children in this country. It’s offensive to say that physicians and public-health people are in the pocket of industry and thus are making decisions that they know are unsafe for children. It’s just not the way it works.”

Other vaccine scientists and regulators gave me similar assurances. Like Offit, they view themselves as enlightened guardians of children’s health, proud of their “partnerships” with pharmaceutical companies, immune to the seductions of personal profit, besieged by irrational activists whose anti-vaccine campaigns are endangering children’s health. They are often resentful of questioning. “Science,” says Offit, “is best left to scientists.”

Still, some government officials were alarmed by the apparent conflicts of interest. In his e-mail to CDC administrators in 1999, Paul Patriarca of the FDA blasted federal regulators for failing to adequately scrutinize the danger posed by the added baby vaccines. “I’m not sure there will be an easy way out of the potential perception that the FDA, CDC and immunization-policy bodies may have been asleep at the switch re: thimerosal until now,” Patriarca wrote. The close ties between regulatory officials and the pharmaceutical industry, he added, “will also raise questions about various advisory bodies regarding aggressive recommendations for use” of thimerosal in child vaccines.

If federal regulators and government scientists failed to grasp the
potential risks of thimerosal over the years, no one could claim ignorance after the secret meeting at Simpsonwood.

But rather than conduct more studies to test the link to autism and other forms of brain damage, the CDC placed politics over science. The agency turned its database on childhood vaccines-which had been developed largely at taxpayer expense-over to a private agency, America’s Health Insurance Plans, ensuring that it could not be used for additional research. It also instructed the Institute of Medicine, an advisory organization that is part of the National Academy of Sciences, to produce a study debunking the link between thimerosal and brain disorders.

The CDC “wants us to declare, well, that these things are pretty safe,” Dr. Marie McCormick, who chaired the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee, told her fellow researchers when they first met in January 2001. “We are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side effect” of thimerosal exposure. According to transcripts of the meeting,the committee’s chief staffer, Kathleen Stratton, predicted that the IOM would conclude that the evidence as “inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation” between thimerosal and autism.

That, she added, was the result “Walt wants”-a reference to Dr. Walter
Orenstein, director of the National Immunization Program for the CDC.

For those who had devoted their lives to promoting vaccination, the
revelations about thimerosal threatened to undermine everything they had worked for. “We’ve got a dragon by the tail here,” said Dr. Michael Kaback, another committee member. “The more negative that [our] presentation is, the less likely people are to use vaccination,
immunization-and we know what the results of that will be. We are kind of caught in a trap. How we work our way out of the trap, I think is the charge.”

Even in public, federal officials made it clear that their primary goal in studying thimerosal was to dispel doubts about vaccines. “Four current studies are taking place to rule out the proposed link between autism and thimerosal,” Dr. Gordon Douglas, then-director of strategic planning for vaccine research at the National Institutes of Health, assured a Princeton University gathering in May 2001. “In order to undo the harmful effects of
research claiming to link the [measles] vaccine to an elevated risk of
autism, we need to conduct and publicize additional studies to assure
parents of safety.”

Douglas formerly served as president of vaccinations for Merck, where he ignored warnings about thimerosal’s risks.

In May of last year, the Institute of Medicine issued its final report. Its conclusion: There is no proven link between autism and thimerosal in vaccines. Rather than reviewing the large body of literature describing the toxicity of thimerosal, the report relied on four disastrously flawed epidemiological studies examining European countries, where children received much smaller doses of thimerosal than American kids.

It also cited a new version of the Verstraeten study, published in the
journal Pediatrics, that had been reworked to reduce the link between
thimerosal and autism. The new study included children too young to have been diagnosed with autism and overlooked others who showed signs of the disease. The IOM declared the case closed and-in a startling position for a scientific body-recommended that no further research be conducted.

The report may have satisfied the CDC, but it convinced no one. Rep. David Weldon, a Republican physician from Florida who serves on the House Government Reform Committee, attacked the Institute of Medicine, saying it relied on a handful of studies that were “fatally flawed” by “poor design” and failed to represent “all the available scientific and medical research.” CDC officials are not interested in an honest search for the truth, Weldon told me, because “an association between vaccines and autism would force them to admit that their policies irreparably damaged thousands of children. Who would want to make that conclusion about themselves?”

Under pressure from Congress, parents and a few of its own panel members,the Institute of Medicine reluctantly convened a second panel to review the findings of the first. In February, the new panel, composed of different scientists, criticized the earlier panel for its lack of transparency and urged the CDC to make its vaccine database available to the public.

So far, though, only two scientists have managed to gain access. Dr. Mark Geier, president of the Genetics Center of America, and his son, David,spent a year battling to obtain the medical records from the CDC. Since August 2002, when members of Congress pressured the agency to turn over the data, the Geiers have completed six studies that demonstrate a powerful correlation between thimerosal and neurological damage in children. One study, which compares the cumulative dose of mercury received by children born between 1981 and 1985 with those born between 1990 and 1996, found a “very significant relationship” between autism and vaccines.

Another study of educational performance found that kids who received
higher doses of thimerosal in vaccines were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with autism and more than three times as likely to suffer from speech disorders and mental retardation. Another soon-to-be-published study shows that autism rates are in decline following the recent elimination of thimerosal from most vaccines.

As the federal government worked to prevent scientists from studying
vaccines, others have stepped in to study the link to autism.

In April, reporter Dan Olmsted of UPI undertook one of the more
interesting studies himself. Searching for children who had not been
exposed to mercury in vaccines-the kind of population that scientists
typically use as a “control” in experiments-

-Olmsted scoured the Amish of Lancaster County, Penn., who refuse to
immunize their infants. Given the national rate of autism, Olmsted
calculated that there should be 130 autistics among the Amish. He found only four. One had been exposed to high levels of mercury from a power plant. The other three-including one child adopted from outside the Amish community-had received their vaccines.

At the state level, many officials have also conducted in-depth reviews of thimerosal. While the Institute of Medicine was busy whitewashing the risks, the Iowa Legislature was carefully combing through all of the available scientific and biological data. “After three years of review, I became convinced there was sufficient credible research to show a link between mercury and the increased incidences in autism,” says state Sen.Ken Veenstra, a Republican who oversaw the investigation. “The fact that Iowa’s 700 percent increase in autism began in the 1990s, right after more and more vaccines were added to the children’s vaccine schedules, is solid evidence alone.” Last year, Iowa became the first state to ban mercury in vaccines, followed by California. Similar bans are now under consideration
in 32 other states.

But instead of following suit, the FDA continues to allow manufacturers to include thimerosal in scores of over-the-counter medications as well as steroids and injected collagen. Even more alarming, the government continues to ship vaccines preserved with thimerosal to developing countries-some of which are now experiencing a sudden explosion in autism rates. In China, where the disease was virtually unknown prior to the introduction of thimerosal by U.S. drug manufacturers in 1999, news reports indicate that there are now more than 1.8 million autistics.

Although reliable numbers are hard to come by, autistic disorders also
appear to be soaring in India, Argentina, Nicaragua and other developing countries that are now using thimerosal-laced vaccines. The World Health Organization continues to insist thimerosal is safe, but it promises to keep the possibility that it is linked to neurological disorders “under review.”

I devoted time to study this issue because I believe that this is a moral crisis that must be addressed. If, as the evidence suggests, our
public-health authorities knowingly allowed the pharmaceutical industry to poison an entire generation of American children, their actions arguably constitute one of the biggest scandals in the annals of American medicine.

“The CDC is guilty of incompetence and gross negligence,” says Mark
Blaxill, vice president of Safe Minds, a nonprofit organization concerned about the role of mercury in medicines. “The damage caused by vaccine exposure is massive. It’s bigger than asbestos, bigger than tobacco, bigger than anything you’ve ever seen.” It’s hard to calculate the damage to our country-and to the international efforts to eradicate epidemic diseases-if Third World nations come to believe that America’s most heralded foreign-aid initiative is poisoning their children.

It’s not difficult to predict how this scenario will be interpreted by
America’s enemies abroad. The scientists and researchers-many of them
sincere, even idealistic-who are participating in efforts to hide the
science on thimerosal claim that they are trying to advance the lofty goal of protecting children in developing nations from disease pandemics. They are badly misguided. Their failure to come clean on thimerosal will come back horribly to haunt our country and the world’s poorest populations.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
About the writer
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper and president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is the co-author of “The Riverkeepers.”

Contact Member:

Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.

253 Garfield Place 1R

Brooklyn, NY 11215 US

(718) 622-6755


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Vinegar, lemon juice and lactic acid fermented fruits and vegetables can reduce blood sugar spikes, lower the glycemic index of foods being fermented and can cause weight loss. Information on how to make lactic acid fermented foods.

Vinegar, lemon juice and lactic acid fermented fruits and vegetables can reduce blood sugar spikes, lower the glycemic index of foods being fermented and can cause weight loss. Information on how to make lactic acid fermented foods.

January 29th 2005 – Acidic Foods, Fermentation and Blood Sugar
copyright by Karen S. Vaughan, L.Ac.,MSTOM

Eating acid foods- vinegar, lemon juice or lactic acid fermented foods- can reduce blood sugar spikes after meals, giving glycemic control comparable to Metformin. It has the greatest effect in people who are at risk of diabetes but still test within normal ranges. As such it is a good practice for all meals, and reflects traditional practices of most ethnicities.

Nutritionist Carol S. Johnston of Arizona State University East in Mesa has found that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal can dramatically lower the increased insulin and blood sugar (glucose) levels that typically occur in people who have type 2 diabetes. In her study, she looked at 29 people divided into type 2 diabetics, diagnosed pre-diabetics, and a control with no signs of diabetes. Measuring blood levels after a high-carb breakfast, Johnston found that vinegar improved the readings for all 3 groups, but results were most dramatic among those who were prediabetic. In their case, vinegar cut their blood sugar increase in the first hour after eating by as much as half, a greater reduction than was found with normal participants. Diabetics lowered their blood glucose levels by 25% with the vinegar. The study was a crossover, placebo-controlled study.

In another study, Johnston had half the volunteers take a 2-tablespoon dose of vinegar prior to each of two meals daily for 4 weeks, and the other group members were told to avoid vinegar. Interestingly, the vinegar users had an average 2 pound weight loss over 4 weeks (as much as 4 weeks in some participants), compared to constant average weight in the group not drinking vinegar. There was no improvement in cholesterol, whcih was tested as a likely mechanism for the blood sugar control.

A 2001 paper from Lund University in Sweden evaluated pickles—cucumbers preserved in vinegar—as a dietary supplement to lower the blood-sugar rise in healthy people after a meal. The Swedish team, led by Elin M. Östman, reported that pickles dramatically blunted the blood-sugar spike after a high-carb breakfast. Fresh cucumbers didn’t affect the blood sugar spike.

Traditionally pickled vegetables like sauerkraut, pickles, olives, kimchee, and other lactic and acetic acid fermented foods were served with meals to improve digestion. The probiotic bacteria in these foods as well as the acetic acid can reduce digestive problems. Note that actual vinegar or pickled foods seem to do the trick but vinegar supplements don’t work, because they don’t contain acetic acid, which, based on studies, is the ingredient Johnstons suspects is helping control blood sugar. (1)

Fermented foods also reduce blood glucose levels. The natural fermentation of starch and sugars by a yeast starter culture that produces lactic and propionic acid is what makes sourdough bread. In a third study the glycemic index of sourdough bread was 68 compared 100 for non-sourdough bread. Cornmeal loses 88% of its glycemic index when fermented into the Ghanain dish ga kenkey. Fermented vegetables are a traditional component of Korean, Japanese and traditional European cooking.

Rick Mendoza’s site quotes a woman who tried lactic acid fermentation (fermentation with whey instead of vinegar) of beets and apples and recorded their effect on her mother’s blood sugar after 2 hours. Normally beets and apples will cause her blood sugar to spike, but when fermented they had no effect on the blood sugar. The fermented apples were cooked into apple sauce and did not cause a sugar spike either. (2)

Other acids are believed to be similarly effective. Lemon or lime juice in water can reduce blood glucose, according to Professor Jennie-Brand Miller of the University of Sydney, author of the glycemic index. (3) Kombucha is a vinegar made by fermenting tea and sugar with a gelatinous “mushroom” mother culture drunk for health reasons and its benefits may be due to similar mechanisms.

Note that taking vinegar in salad dressing, over meat or in pickled food may be perferable to the taste of drinking vinegar.  However I routinely drink blueberry or balsamic vinegar diluted in a cup of water and the taste is not objectionable.   Lemon or lime juice in water before breakfast is excellent for the liver and may be more readily accepted in the morning.

Sally Fallon’s excellent cookbook, Nourishing Traditions (4) describes making lactic acid fermented vegetables or fruits which will convert the starches and sugars of fruits and vegetables into lactic acid and creates beneficial enzymes.  The lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on all living things, especially on leaves and roots. However with our long term transportation of food, it is better to add the whey drained from live plain yogurt.

Chop the vegetables and lay in a clean mason jar. Add 2 Tablespoons whey and 2 teaspoons sea salt per cup of water. Fill to within an inch of the top of the jar and tightly cap as lactic acid fermentation is an anerobic process. Leave in a warm room for two days, then move to cold storage. The vegetables can be eaten at once but develop better flavor in 2 months. They are meant to be eaten as condiments rather than as main courses. Don’t worry about white scum or foam which may form on the top. If a batch goes bad it will smell so bad that nothing could persuade you to eat it.

If the vegetables get soft, throw them into a soup stock made with bones from organic meat and boil down to make the mineral-rich gelled stock that helps prevent blood sugar spikes and lowers the glycemic index of the carbohydrates that accompany it. The acid will help pull the gelatin out of the bones and the minerals from the vegetables.

(3)Brand-Miller, Jennie, Kaye Foster-Powell, and David Mendosa. “What is the advantage of vinegar, lemon juice, and sourdough bread?” in What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up…and Down? New York: Marlowe & Company, 2003, p. 141-2.
This is by far the most extensive discussion of the advantage of acidic foods in the popular literature
(4) Fallon, Sally, Enig, Mary and Connolly,Pat. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. San Diego: ProMotion Publishing. pp81-109
Contact Member:
Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
253 Garfield Place 1R
Brooklyn, NY 11215 US
(718) 622-6755

Rick Mendoza, Sally Fallon

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Sophia in the Biblical Tradition

Sophia in the Biblical Tradition

Book Reviewed by Karen Vaughan

Authors:  Susan Cady, Marian Ronan and Hal Taussig

Harper and Row; 1986

Sophia, the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Hochmah” is the feminine personification of Wisdom in the Pentateuch. She is neither a goddess nor a new age creation of feminist theologians. She was a real biblical person with more material on her in the OT (with Apocrypha) than anyone in the scriptures, except God, Job, Moses and David.

Susan Cady, Marian Ronan and Hal Taussig’s book Sophia (Harper and Row; 1986) seeks to uncover the Biblical tradition of Sophia and her ultimate identification with Jesus in the Christian tradition.

One reason we little consider Sophia, even in readings of the Old Testament, is that English translations usually translate the feminine “Sophia” into the abstract “Wisdom”. Although the Greek and Hebrew words were fully feminine, the English is not. The fullest development of her is in the so-called “Wisdom Books” of the apocryphia in the Greek Pentateuch that were canonized into Christian Scripture and are still used by theRC and EO churches. Sophia dominates the first nine chapters of Proverbs and is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

In the Hebrew tradition, Sophia was considered to have been with God from the beginning of Creation. In Proverbs 8:27-31, Sophia says:

    When God set the heavens in place, I was present,
    When God drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
    When God fixed the clouds above,
    When God fixed fast the wells of the deep,
    when God assigned the sea its limits-
    and the waters will not invade the land,
    when God established the foundations of the earth,
    I was by God’s side, a master craftswoman,
    delighting God day after day,
    ever at play by God’s side,
    at play everywhere in God’s domain,
    delighting to be with the children of humanity.

Sophia, in the biblical creation was not a god, but was a divine being. It is not clear that she was uncreated like Jesus: the word used to refer to her creation also means “acquired” by God. Proverbs 8:22 -“God created me [acquired me] (Sophia) when God’s purpose first unfolded.” Ecclesiasticus 1:14 -“before all things, Sophia was created.” She serves at the heart of the creative process, as Wisdom and as Teacher who was sent by God to save humanity. The book of Wisdom speaks to her divinity (7:25-26):

    She is the breath of God’s power and a stream of pure glory of the Almighty.
    This is why nothing polluted enters her.
    For she mirrors God’s energy completely, and she images God’s goodness.

I found the most interesting part of the book to be the identification of Sophia with, and ultimate eclipse by, Jesus. Those familiar with the Jewish tradition of Messiah know that it contrasts with ours by expecting a king, a righteous mortal who fulfills certain requirements (establishing a new reign of justice and peace for Israel), not involving Incarnation, resurrection or divinity. (Certain apocalyptic Jewish groups like the Essenes then and factions of the Lubbavitchers today did allow for the possibility of a divine being.) How then to account for Jesus was not a king, but who by his teaching and Resurrection was surely Messiah, even without accomplishing a reign of peace? Jesus was more than the commonly accepted concept of Messiah.

The identification of Jesus with Sophia, and the adaptation of Sophia characteristics into the Messiah definition, lies at the heart of almost all of the various New Testament Christologies. To quote the authors:

Almost every major New Testament portrait of Jesus depends upon the implicit combination of the Messiah and Sophia figures…. Jesus’s crucifixion fits into the picture of Sophia calling vainly to humanity, and then going back to God without having visibly changed things. If one saw Jesus as Sophia, Jesus’s lack of kingly success was no longer a problem but a confirmation of his divine calling….When a New Testament author such as [John]…concentrates on Jesus as Messiah, the Messiah figure is changed to incorporate some of the crucial Sophia characteristics [such as] pre-existent creative activity and foreknowledge of God. (p41)

Paul explicitly identifies Jesus with Sophia in 1st Corinthians 1:23-25,30 “By God’s action, Jesus Christ has become our Sophia.” Then following, in 2:6-8, “But still we have a Sophia to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true….The hidden Sophia of God which we teach in our mysteries is the Sophia that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began….”

John more directly incorporates Sophia scriptures into his description of Jesus. Sophia’s statement (Ecc. 24:8) “Then the creator of all things instructed me…’Pitch your tent in Jacob, and make Israel your inheritance'”becomes John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh, and pitched his tent among us.” Extensive references in Paul, John and the Synoptic Gospels are given.

So why do we not use the term “Sophia” often today? Thank Gnosticism, which rejected Jesus’s humanity and crucifixion while boldly proclaiming his identification with Sophia. The writers of the Gospels had no wish to identify with the Gnostic heresy and often muted the connection while they explored it. Further, thank the church fathers of the Patristic Age who preferred the male “Logos” when describing Christ in order to avoid gender confusion. Philo, who at first equated Sophia with Logos, “substituted Logos for Sophia, until the masculine person of the Logos has taken over most of Sophia’s divine roles including the firstborn image of God, the principle of order and the intermediary between God and humanity. Sophia’s powers are restricted and she is limited to Heaven…”(p11)

Attempts have been made to push the divine person of Sophia to the sidelines in both Christian and Jewish theology. In Judaism, the medieval writers of the Kaballah concentrated on the masculine aspects of the sefiroth (the 13 aspects of God) and relegated Sophia to an inferior sphere than that she had heretofore occupied. Roman Catholicism explicitly associated Old Testament Sophia texts with Mary or the Mother Church. In the Eastern Church, Sophia survives and is often associated liturgically with the Holy Spirit and sometimes with Christ, himself.

The book concludes with a discussion of Sophia in modern theology and the need for an explicitly female figure in God’s image. The New Testament authors saw little problem with associating a female divinity with the male body of Jesus in the Resurrected Christ. But the mystery has presented problems as Christianity has been translated into a more rationalized western religion. And the female figure was denigrated as Christianity after Christ was shaped by a gentile culture that was, if anything, more partriarchical than the culture of first century Jerusalem.

The authors believe that modern feminist theology has veered into “Sophiaolatry”, seeing Sophia as the exclusive symbol within feminist spirituality. They fear a co-optation of Sophia, as has happened in times past. The discussion is somewhat discordant, possibly due to differences of opinion of the 3 authors, whose work is not separately identified, and at least one of whom seems to believe that divine persons are merely metaphorical. Nonetheless, the book cogently identifies the mythic importance of divine feminine imagery within God in the Judeo- Christian tradition.

Karen Vaughan

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