What if the healthiest foods were least expensive?

HealthiestFoodsWhat if the healthiest foods were the cheapest? What if unhealthy foods cost more? Would it make a difference to your health? To your family? To your communities? To your city, your country?

Unfortunately, we have a perfect example for comparison. What is the healthiest drink? We’re not certain, but the best candidate is water. In most cities, water is almost free. But what drinks sell best? Not water. Why does this happen?

Let’s suppose you are a drink manufacturer, and you want to produce and sell the healthiest drink. And of course you want to make a profit. You might think that selling the healthiest drink would be a recipe for sales, profits, money. Imagine you are the company CEO, you head over to the Marketing department and say “Water is the healthiest drink. We need a marketing plan for water.” What will be the response?

Marketing “But what would make ‘our water’ different from tap water? We can’t compete with tap water.  And besides, people only drink water when they’re thirsty. How can we maximize sales if we can’t get people to drink when they’re not thirsty. If we add sugar and salt, it will make people thirsty, and our sales will rise. We can market it as ‘better than water, because it gives you energy.

You: “I don’t want to pretend our product is ‘better than water’. We need to sell the healthiest drink.”

Marketing: “But, water is not ‘new’, and unless we add something, we can’t market it as a ‘new’ product. Maybe if we add some secret ingredients, we could market it as ‘new’?

You: “We don’t want secret ingredients, we want full honesty on the label. Water, the healthiest drink.”

Marketing: “We could add some carbonation, to give it some zip.

“We don’t want to sell ‘bubbles’, we want to sell a healthy drink.”

Marketing: “What if we add some color?  We could find a new color, something that glows in the dark.  That would be great for advertising!

“We don’t want any strange chemicals in our drink, and we don’t know how they might react with the bottle, or with people’s health.”

Marketing: “If we want to market it as ‘healthy’, we could add some vitamins and minerals?

You: “It’s nonsense to add synthetic vitamins. It’s expensive to add real vitamins – and besides, people can get real vitamins from eating healthy food.”

Marketing: “How can you expect to compete with soda pop and beer, if you are ‘just selling water’?

“We don’t want to compete with Coke or Bud.  You want to make an honest business selling a healthy drink.”

Marketing: “Selling water is very political.  People think water should be free – they don’t want to pay for it.

You: “We need to sell it for less than soda pop.  After all it has fewer ingredients, it should be less expensive to produce. Better than soda, and less expensive. Surely that should sell?”

Marketing resigns and applies to work for a junk food company.

Is it just water?  Nope.  If you are manufacturing a food, you are manufacturing that food to maximize sales, not for health.  Your financial goals are in direct conflict with ‘health’.

Food manufacturers want to maximize sales.  They want to sell foods that you will buy, eat and drink, even when you are full.  Even when you don’t need food. How can they do that? Easy. What can you eat, even when you are full?  Desert.

Food manufacturers can sell sweet things, even if you are full.  Even if you don’t eat them, you can feel good by giving them to children. Children are never full.

Foods that you can eat when you are full are foods that pass right through your stomach. Did you ever get the munchies? An hour after dinner?  How does that happen?  Are you a failure because you get the munchies right after dinner?

Nope.  Marketing is a success. Marketing spends a lot of time designing foods so you will buy, and consume, more than you need.

Why? Because marketing can’t sell ‘health’.  It’s easier to sell fear, uncertainty, and doubt, than health. Do you feel a pain in your stomach?  Eat some ice cream.  You’ll feel better.  Worried about gaining weight? Munch on some chips. Just a few.  Acid reflux from overeating?  Eat some antacids. Tired?  Drink an energy drink.

Healthiest foods that are the least expensive? No one would believe it. If the healthiest foods were the least expensive? No-one would buy them.

Now, an interesting question: Are the healthiest foods the least expensive? Are less expensive foods actually healthier? Does a potato cost less than a bag of potato chips? Yes it does. Which is healthier? Which is more ‘filling’?  Which do most people choose to buy?

Medicine, and marketing are both blind to health.  There is no medical nor scientific technique to measure your healthiness  – unless you are sick, or the healthiness of your foods- unless they make you sick. There is no scientific technique that can tell us which foods are healthier.

to your health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine:



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Is it a Medicine, a Symptomicine, or a Crutch? 

CRUTCHESIs your prescription a medicine, a symptomicine, or a crutch?  What is a medicine?  What is a symptomicine? What is a crutch?

Webster’s: a medicine is “a substance that is used in treating disease or relieving pain and that is usually in the form of a pill or a liquid“. This definition is quite broad.  A medicine might cure a disease.  But it might be just used to ‘treat’ a disease, or relieve pain. Or it might just prop you up, so you can ‘live with your disease’.

A medicine that cures your illness is a pure medicine.  Many medicines only treat symptoms – these are symptomicines.

Symptomicine: a medicine that only treats signs or symptoms of an illness.

Some medicines are like a crutch.  They prop you up until you can get better. Or if you lose a leg, or some other important aspect of your health, they might be needed to prop you up indefinitely.

Are most medicines cures, symptomicines, or crutches?  What do you think? If it cures the disease, it is a true medicine, a cure, otherwise, it is probably a symptomicine or a crutch.

Of the top 100 best selling medicines in 2013, most cannot cure. Less than 5 of the best selling medicines sold in 2013 have potential to cure any illness. Ninety-five percent cannot cure, any disease. Are those all symptomicines?

Let’s take a close look at the top ten best selling drugs of 2013: Abilify, Nexium, Humira, Crestor, Cymbalta, Advair Diskus, Enbrel, Remicade, Copaxone, Neulasta.  Here’s what Drugs.Com says about each of them:

Abilify: is used to treat the symptoms of psychotic conditions
: is used to treat symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease
reduces the effects [symptoms and possibly damage] of a substance in the body that can cause inflammation

Crestor: reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL)
Cymbalta: affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression
Advair Diskus: prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation

Enebrel: is used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, and to prevent joint damage caused by these conditions
 is used to treat [symptoms of] rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and ankylosing spondylitis
Copaxone: will not cure MS, but it can make relapses [symptoms] occur less often.
Neulasta: stimulates the growth of white blood cells in your body. It is used to prevent neutropenia, a lack of certain white blood cells [a symptom] caused by receiving chemotherapy.

The first three: Abilify, Nexium, Humira, are clearly symptomicines.  They do not cure any disease. They are used to manage symptoms.  Your disease will not get better when you take these drugs. You might feel better – even as your illness grows worse and worse.

The next three: Crestor, Cymbalta, Advair Diskus, do not directly affect symptoms of your disease.  But they do not cure.  What do they do?

They change some of the health balances in your body. Your natural cholesterol balances, brain chemical balances, and inflammation balances are part of your healthiness and part of your illness.

Are these the best treatment for your disease? Frankly, we only know the are not the best treatment, because they do not cure.  We might classify these medicines as ‘imbalancers’. But a more accurate term would be ‘crutches’. They are used when your doctor thinks you are out of balance, to shift you back into balance, in the hope that this will make you ‘less sick’.

If you have ever used a crutch, you know one thing – the best thing about a crutch is when you throw it away. When you regain your health.  Unfortunately these are crutches designed to be used for life. They make no attempt to heal your body nor to restore your ‘natural balance’, your health.

Of the last four, some clearly only address symptoms: Enbrel and Remicade.

The action of the other two is a bit more complex. Copaxone ‘makes relapses [of MS] occur less often’.  But what are ‘relapses’ of MS?  According to MS Active Source “A multiple sclerosis relapse is the rapid onset of new, or worsening of previous, symptoms that last at least 24 hours.” Copoxone does not address the disease of MS, only the symptoms.

Neulasta stimulates the growth of white blood cells. It changes the natural balance of your body, stimulating production of more white blood cells. Neulasta is an imbalancer, like Crestor, Cymbalta, and Advair Diskus. It’s a crutch, but it’s a very specific crutch, used to help you deal with the damage that chemotherapy has caused. We might also classify it as a symptomicine, because it fights against the symptoms of chemotherapy white blood cell death.

In summary, of the top ten best selling medicines of 2013, we have no medicines that cure. Six medicines clearly only treat symptoms, and are symptomicines: Abilify, Nexium, Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, Copaxone.  Four medicines that are simply crutches, bracing your disease, or your symptoms, so that you can ‘live with your illness': Crestor, Cymbalta, Advair Diskus, and Neulasta.

Let’s look deeper.  What is a crutch?  A crutch is a medicine that treats ‘signs’ of illness, as opposed to ‘symptoms’ of illness.  The difference between a symptom and a sign? A symptom is something the patient notices – a sign is something that the doctor notices, and can measure objectively.  Fundamentally, signs are just ‘symptoms’ that can be validated by a doctor or a medical test.  Your blood pressure is too high, your cholesterol is out of balance, your body has too much inflammation.

A symptomicine is a crutch, for symptoms that the patient notices.  A crutch is just a symptomicine, for signs that the doctor notices.

The top ten best selling medicines of 2013 do not cure anything, they are all symptomicines. They treat symptoms of illness, but cannot cure. If you take the time to look deeper, you will find that none of the top 70 best selling medicines of 2013 can actually cure a disease.

Why does this happen? It’s actually very simple.  Medicines that cure a disease don’t have big sales, because they work themselves out of a job.  Medicines that don’t cure, but ‘make you feel better’, can sell you a subscription to ‘feeling better’, even as your disease gets worse. These are the ‘best sellers’, the medicines that make the most money.  If you were a drug company, which drug would you prefer to design, test, and sell? Symptomicines.

What about green medicines? What about alternative medicines?  Are most alternative medicines also only symptomicines? I have not done an in depth analysis, but the same logic probably holds.  The medicines that sell most, do not cure.

Green medicines do have an advantage over patent medicines.  They are not built on a “big business model”, they are not afraid to ‘cure’, not afraid to put themselves out of business.

Whether you are considering patent medicines, prescription medicines, or green medicines, ask one simple question: can this medicine cure my disease – or is it only a symptomicine?

If you have an illness, and you are looking for a cure – a symptomicine might give temporary relief, but if you want a cure, you need to look beyond symptomicines.  You may need to look beyond ‘medicines’, to health.  Many illnesses cannot be cured be medicine, and can only be cured by health, as we learned in the post “Diseases cured – but not by Medicines“.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine:

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Which Rat is Healthier? 


Here we have two rats enrolled in a medical study.

Neither one of them has any illness.

Which rat is healthier?  We don’t know. We give them both an ‘illness’, maybe  a cancer.  We administer a medicine to one, and a placebo to the other. Then we measure the effects on their cancer, their illness.

But we don’t measure any effects on their healthiness.

If we give them each some supplemental nutrients.  Which one gets healthiest as a result? We put them on different diets for a few months.  Which one gets healthier? Does one get less healthy? We give them different exercise plans.  Which one gets healthier?  We isolate one, and put the other into a very crowded cage.  Which one loses the most healthiness?

We have many ways to measure illness, but we can’t measure ‘healthiness’, in rats, nor in people.  What is health? Healthiness exists when we don’t have any illness. How can we measure it?

In the series Alice and Zizi, we looked at many different aspects of healthiness, and the difficulties of measuring healthiness of people.  If there is no illness, current medical science has nothing to say.  Alice and Zizi have no illness – so we don’t have any tools to determine who is healthier.  But it’s not just Alice and Zizi.

Because we don’t measure healthiness, when we do medical studies – we can only measure illness and symptoms of illness.  All measurements of medicines, whether the test is on a rat, or on a person, are only measures of the illness being tested. Medicine is blind to health. Medical studies are blind to health.

If the patient, or the rat, gets healthier – in an area not measured as part of the illness being tested – it is not noticed.  It is not documented. If it is noticed, and documented, it is not documented as a health effect, it is documented as a ‘side effect’.  What is a ‘side effect’?  A side effect is an effect on your health. All medical effects are effects on your health. But medicine is blind to healthiness – and names the effects it does not claim to understand ‘side effects’.

Which is more important, your healthiness or your illness?

Many illnesses will pass.  When your illness passes, when you have no illness, which is more important, your healthiness, or your illness?

If your illness does not pass – is it possible that you don’t have an illness. Is it possible that  you have an ‘unhealthiness’?

What is the difference between an unhealthiness and an illness?

An unhealthiness is room for improvement in your health. An unhealthiness can only be treated with health. 

An illness is treated with medicines.

An unhealthiness can only be treated with healthiness. If you are deficient in vitamins, minerals, calories, or even water – even if you are diagnosed with an illness – no medicine will help.  Only healthiness, consuming the missing nutrients, will produce positive results. If you are consuming too much of certain nutrients, or toxic foods, no medicine will help – the only effective treatment is ‘healthy actions’, to stop consuming unhealthy foods.

When you treat an unhealthiness with medicines – you will find that the unhealthiness is incurable. Medicines cannot cure unhealthiness.

What common diseases might be ‘unhealthinesses’ instead of being ‘illnesses’?  We don’t know.  We know some uncommon diseases that are really unhealthiness – scurvy, beriberi, and dilutional hyponatremia are examples of unhealthiness that cannot be cured with medicines, only with health.

Is Type 2 Diabetes an illness, or an unhealthiness?  Is Type 2 Diabetes incurable? The American Diabetes Association suggests that you ‘learn to live with’ your diabetes, under the assumption that Type 2 Diabetes is incurable.

Is diabetes incurable?  It cannot be cured with medicines. Can we treat diabetes with ‘health’? If we have two rats with diabetes enrolled in a medical study, which is healthier? We don’t know.  If we attempt to make one of them ‘healthier’, can we tell if we made them healthier?  We have no tools to measure healthiness. If the diabetic rat can only be successfully treated with ‘health’ – how can we learn the most effective treatments?

What other illnesses might actually be unhealthinesses?  We don’t know. Until we can measure healthiness – we simply cannot learn.  Perhaps someday….

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

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Why are there no Wo-Men in Tolkien’s Stories?

I recently saw a video stating there are no women in the Lord of the Rings.  I took a quick search on the internet and found more than a few posts about the lack of women in Tolkien’s series, from the Hobbit to the Lord of the Ring series.

There are no (real) women in Tolkien.  But that’s not all.

There are no real children, who need to be nurtured and cared for.  There are no real babies and no mothers nurturing them, trying to find time to sleep.  No angst ridden teenagers. There are no real aging seniors, who need help to look after themselves.  There are no caregivers. There are no care receivers.  There are no homeless people, no depressed people, no sick people who need help. No one who devotes their time, or their lives, to helping others. There are no families, no communities of people working together, cooperating to enhance their communities. Cooperation is only important if it moves the story forward. Families exist only to provide a chronology, not as a source of community, not as a source of healthiness.

There are women in Tolkien, of course. But they are just ‘named’ women. They are not doing anything as women. Or if so, they might not be important enough to have names “Mother: “Èothan, Èothan! You take your sister. You’ll go faster with just two.””.   There are some children just ‘named children’, There are ‘Elf Children’, who are 20 years or older, who need no governing. They are like adults, in a child’s body.  The Children of Hurin are adults as well.

When we look again, we slowly realize that there are no men in Lord of the Rings either. There are no fathers who are fathering.  There are no brothers who are “brothering”. There are no sons who are looking after children, nor sons looking after aged parents.  The male figures only become real men, settling down with families – after the stories end.

The men in Lord of the Rings are adolescent adventurers.  Gandalf is an old man, but he acts like a child playing wargames. “Gandalf was not a mortal Man but an angelic being who had taken human form.”

Jump ahead 10,000 years, more or less, to arrive at Star Trek and the Enterprise, also an adventure of adolescent men. The women on the Enterprise, and the men, have gender in name only.  They are required to act like male soldiers. They don’t think like women, don’t talk like women, don’t act like women. Real women live in communities, create and enhance communities. Apparently, the women on the Enterprise are not allowed to reproduce, like those in Tolkien stories, until after their journey is over. There are no children on the Enterprise, no aged. There are no families. There are also no sick people on the Enterprise. Chronic, incurable, degenerative illnesses, like arthritis, do not exist. The only disease that occurs, apparently, is death. And only if you wear a red shirt.

Not just in Tolkien and on The Enterprise.  Unless a movie, TV program, or book is specifically targeted at women, it probably doesn’t contain any roles for women. It is a story of strong, healthy, adult males. Or is it a story of ‘unhealthy’ adult males – fighting with each other, ignoring the real people. Check out the your local news channel. Try to find stories of real people. Not exciting enough, I guess. I’m watching CNN today, covering war and terrorism. But there are no children on camera.  No one who can’t get food, because of the over-armed adolescent males, running around shooting each other. We see armed soldiers running through empty buildings, as if they sprang full size from the grass. Real life is not like that.  In real life, young healthy fighting men are a small part of society. Why are they such a large part of our news, of our stories?

Stories of adult males, living black and white stories of right and wrong. Those are the stories we want, the stories we see, the stories that sell. Reality doesn’t sell products, so reality doesn’t sell.

We want stories that are exciting. Stories with clear villains and heroes.  But in real life, there are no villains and no heroes, just people.  Real people.  Sometimes  they act like villains. Sometimes they do bad things.  Sometimes we see them as villains, or as heroes. But most of the time, they are people, people with families, with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, living in communities, trying to get along with each other. These are the real stories. They are out there – just hard to find in the media.

Healthy people become invisible.  Healthy women don’t fight wars.  They do healthy things. Like talk, listen, communicate. When those actions are most effective, we don’t even notice them. Healthy men teach their children, love their wives, participate in their communities. Healthy communities learn to work out their differences with other communities, not to go to war.

Our health does not come from fighting each other. It does not come from ‘strong individuals’.  After all, every strong individual dies quickly, in a 10,000 year view.  Our health comes from our communities.  Our families, our relationships with others.  When we work together to resolve challenging problems and challenging differences, without resorting to killing each other, the stories become more complex, richer, and our healthiness grows. But those stories don’t make good television nor compelling plot-lines.

Women create families.  Without men if necessary. Women nurture our children, and our communities.  Women have much more community sense, stronger community healthiness than males, especially adolescent males. And as a result, they can disappear as individuals, and only become visible when they act like men.

The truth about Tolkein and Star Trek: there are no families, no real families in either story.  There are no teachers, no mentors, no-one is seeking the truth, because ‘truth’ is defined by the story.  In real communities, truth is not defined by the communities, but by their interactions.  The man who climbs alone to the top of the mountain to find another man – alone against the elements – to ask the ‘meaning of life’, lost the meaning of life when he left his communities to strike out alone.  He will regain the meaning of life when he returns to his family. Life, without family, without community, without women, and children, and aging great grandparents, has little meaning.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

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Is Healthicine ‘alternative medicine’?

Healthicine is not an ‘alternative medical practice’ – it is the practice of health, not of medicine.  A healthicine is not an alternative medicine, it is something that improves healthiness. Health is larger than illness.

MedicinesAlternativeMedicinesOur current medical systems – both conventional medicine (which is known by many names) and ‘alternative medicines’ (of which there are many different types) share a common goal.  The primary goals of medicine are to fight illness and symptoms of illness. Sometimes, medicines are used to ‘prevent illness’, but there is little emphasis on health.


The goal of healthicine is to improve healthiness.


There is confusion, in the field of medicine, with regards to health. Medicines fight illness, but generally ignore healthiness.

Some medicines work by attacking sources of illness (antibiotics). These are medicines in the most pure sense. They do nothing to improve healthiness, and can even harm your healthiness.

Some medicines work by attacking symptoms of illness – painkillers, cough medicines, and antihistamines are clear examples. These are ‘symptomicines’. Symptomicines do not address the cause of the illness, only the symptoms. The hope is that the body will deal with the illness that the physician cannot cure. Symptomicines, taken for chronic illness, can facilitate growth of the illness as symptoms are hidden.

Some medicines work by attacking specific signs of illness – statins and high blood pressure medicines are in this group. They do not address the underlying illness, nor any cause of the illness, but are specifically designed to address signs of illness.  They are also symptomicines.  These medicines often create physical imbalances in the body, that can lead to other symptoms, and often result in:

  • a downward spiral of medicines to treat symptoms caused by medicines
  • addictions to medicines that can not cure
  • rebound effects that are stronger than the initial illness, if you quit the medicine

Healthicines can be used to fight illness. However, their main function is to create or improve healthiness.  Vitamin C is a simple example. Vitamin C is essential to our health.  Insufficient Vitamin C will lead, first to unhealthiness, and then later to illness.  If your Vitamin C consumption level is ‘unhealthy’, you can consume Vitamin C, or foods containing Vitamin C, to improve your healthiness.  If you suffer from an illness of Vitamin C deficiency, the correct treatment is consumption of Vitamin C.

If you are dehydrated, you need to drink water.  If you drink water, your symptoms of dehydration will fade and disappear.  Water and Vitamin C are not ‘medicines’.  They are nutrients. They are healthicines, creating, supporting and improving healthiness. When you don’t consume sufficient amounts of specific nutrients – your healthiness drops. You become ‘unhealthy’.  When you meet the ‘healthy need’, your healthiness rises.

When an unhealthiness is severe enough to warrant medical attention, it is often given a ‘disease name’. The symptoms resulting from a lack of Vitamin C are named ‘scurvy’. The symptoms resulting from a deficiency of water are named ‘dehydration’.

There are no names for lack of healthiness, and as a result: Medicine is blind to health. Until your Vitamin C deficiency is severe enough to result in a diagnosis, it is not acknowledged by medicine. Both conventional and alternative medicines are blind to health. Dehydration and scurvy are examples of ‘unhealthiness’ a deficiency of water, or a deficiency of Vitamin C. They are not treated with medicines, but with healthicines. A healthicine does not become a ‘medicine’ simply due to a ‘diagnosis’. Unhealthiness is not illness, and cannot be effectively treated with medicines.

At the simplest level, this does not lead to severe problems. It makes little difference if you call Vitamin C a nutrient when designing a healthy diet, and a medicine when treating scurvy.  As long as it works, in both cases, there is little difference. In simple cases, where the unhealthiness is simple and well understood, medical techniques often find the right treatment, the right healthicine.

But in more complex cases of unhealthiness, medicine, including alternative medical practitioners fall back on symptomicines.  Treating the symptoms is easier than searching for a complex cause.  Treating symptoms is effective, the doctor and the patient can see results. Treating symptoms, without addressing cause, is commonplace in medicine.

The practice of healthicine is about health, the analysis and measurement of healthinesses, unhealthinesses, and causes of unhealthiness including causes of illness. Medicines can be healthicines, but only when they actually improve healthiness.

When we undertake the challenge of studying healthiness, we soon recognize that health is wider and deeper than medicine.  Medicine is concerned with illness.  Most of the time, we are not ill.  We are always have aspects of healthiness, and of unhealthiness, that can be studied and improved. The Hierarchy of Healthicine shows us that healthicine covers the entire spectrum of health, from genetics, nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, bodily systems, body, minds, spirits, and communities. Our medical system does not recognize illness unless it resides in the body – illnesses of the minds, spirits and communities are outside of the scope of medicine.  Healthicine is not limited to the studies of illness.

Healthicine is not medicine, nor alternative medicine.  It is more, wider, and deeper than the simple science of fighting illness.

to your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two books about healthicine:

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Defining The Arts of Healthing

HealthinessUnhealthinessIllness-sWhat is healthing? Healthing is the practice of improving healthiness. Improvements in healthiness are the best preventatives of illness, and can often cure disease without medicine,by lifting your healthiness out of the illness state.

Sometimes, health drops so low that an illness can be diagnosed. In the diagram, we can see that as healthiness drops, it moves into the range of many illnesses. Note that many diseases are ‘off the line’ of healthiness – that’s because we measure illness by symptoms, not by healthiness. Continue reading “Defining The Arts of Healthing” »

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I am a Placebo

chanteThis morning, my cat, Chante, woke up before me.  Chante’s getting a bit old, and has some problems sleeping through the night. She climbed up on my side of the bed, looked into my sleepy eyes, and filed her complaint.  “Meoooooow”.  I reached over and rubbed her chin.  She purrred, happy now.  I am  a placebo. Continue reading “I am a Placebo” »

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