Category Archives: Member Bulletin

Articles that best tell the truest stories

Whereas your algorithm might feed you a national headline saying:

  • we are close to peaking, but many states are still climbing. Don’t be too cheery.
  • and by the way, Omicron isn’t so mild! 
  • and who knows what the scary future may bring!

I, on the other hand, am not afraid to paint a more hopeful picture.I think optimism leads to better futures. And there’s truly a lot about which we can be optimistic!

For example, by all indications, the U.S. and Europe — where a “west-to-east tidal wave” is unfolding —

lots of hot spots

…are following the South Africa–United Kingdom model. There, Omicron rose and fell fast, obliterating the more fearsome Delta, and leading to far lower rates of hospitalization and death, and high rates of natural immunity.

Studies are suggesting there are a lot of asymptomatic cases with Omicron, increasing the numbers of immune people.

This all adds up to non Pandemic-riddled times ahead on the horizon! After the UK peaked and cases came down, their government announced plans to end all mandates and vaccine passports. The vaccine performance and the future projections don’t warrant those measures, they say.

Anatomy of a Peak

And by the way, our local (east coast) numbers are clear. We peaked. Let me show you show you the anatomy of what a peak looks like in our home state, by the numbers:

7 day average cases counts in Massachusetts:

Jan 3rd36,000 daily (peak)
Jan 10th22,000 daily
Jan 17th12,000 daily
nowbelow 9,000 daily

Hospitalizations in Massachusetts

Omicron hospitalizations peaked at 3300 patients last week, now down to 3100.

For context, the largest peak for COVID hospitalizations was in 4/2020 with 4000.

Deaths, peak number, in each of the three waves we have weathered:

4/2020200 deaths per day at the peak
1/2021100 deaths per day at the peak
mid January 202250 deaths per day on average, now down below 40 daily now

Omicron is leading to less hospitalizations and less intense hospitalizations of shorter duration.

Gamechanger

Omicron is clearly a game-changer. In a large new study by researchers from Berkley and Kaiser Permanente, just 1 in 52,272 Omicron patients died, compared to 14 in 16,982 Delta patients.

In other words, it would take nearly three-quarter million Omicron patients to equal the number who died in that sample of roughly Delta 17,000 patients. These numbers look good!

A Reminder

Here are a few universally good ideas supported by recent medical journal offerings:

  • D is protective; get some sun, consider supplementing if you can’t get to the Mediterranean Sea
  • Exercise hones the immune system, heating up the body is so important
  • Meditation turns down inflammation and optimizes immune system.

International Harmony?

Now to break up the good news party for a second. Some unsettling news aired this week that in emails from February 2020 Health Agency heads were given the scientific intelligence that the Wuhan Lab was likely the source of the developing Pandemic.

Dr Collins, the former director of the US National Institutes of Health, warned that being open about that strong opinion could damage “international harmony.” I would add, “among other things.”

Viscount Ridley, co-author of Viral: the search for the origin of Covid, said: “These emails show a lamentable lack of openness and transparency among Western scientists who appear to have been more interested in shutting down a hypothesis they thought was very plausible, for political reasons.”

I don’t have a whole lot of experience running countries and advising 100s of millions of people on things, but it’s still wildly shocking that science and the Wuhan Lab likely are responsible for… the Pandemic! It makes my head spin. You really have to sit with that for a while. I nearly fall out of my seat when I ponder it. Plus no one wants to be lied to. Not at all. Trust who you say? Not really possible under that circumstance.

In the context of this lab origins thought, comedian Jon Stewart joked in a recent piece that the catastrophic end of the world, if it comes to that, will likely be immediately proceeded by a scientist looking up from his seat at the lab bench, proclaiming, “It worked!”

To say the least, I don’t envy the honchos being in a position where they can’t just seek out the truth and speak it. However, isn’t the truth always best for everyone?

More than being critical of the government for trying to figure out a very difficult job, I want to stimulate the reader’s curiosity and critical eye. So much is of what we see is curated and manipulated, whether it’s social media, advertising, or even official narrative on the evening news. With a thought influencing computer screen in your face for many hours every day, you better believe that people are vying to use it to make you think in certain ways about things. It’s unsolvable other than to know that in the unsolvable there is the need to stay alert and to be striving to strengthen our thinking, with our own efforts, in deepening our connection with our own self.

And finally, in the (?) too little too late department

US Government Makes Free COVID-19 Tests Available (CIDRAP)  Americans can order four free COVID-19 at-home antigen tests at COVIDtests.gov, 1 month after President Joe Biden said he was securing 500 million free tests for Americans. Last week, amid the growing surge in cases caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Biden doubled the number of tests to be made available, to 1 billion. The tests will be sent via the US mail and should arrive within 7 to 12 days, according to the website. Over the weekend, people with private health insurance were also able to begin submitting reimbursements for up to eight COVID-19 tests per month that are bought at pharmacies.”

Link for home tests:

Enter your name, address and email at www.usps.com/covidtest to request a shipment.

Brief Covid numbers round up

  • The Berkshire case load is coming down. 1,830 cases last week after a peak of almost 2100 positive cases last week.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average case incidence is under 10K, as mentioned above.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has dropped from the peak of 800K daily (on Jan 15th) to just over 700K .

If the Pandemic were my patient…

today we take a moment and acknowledge that the Pandemic will end. Yes, at some point soon we are going to be saying goodbye to the Pandemic. We need to start to face that fact. 

I would have to acknowledge the 2019-22 Pandemic of SARS CoV-2 and its band of variants is not well. The clock is running out. It is nearing its end. Natural immunity is skyrocketing which doesn’t bode well for the Pandemic’s ability to stay viable.

In addition, recent markers show the latest variant’s surge is peaking in the Northeast and mid Atlantic. The south will follow and the west will be along shortly thereafter. Experts are predicting plummeting case loads over the next weeks in our region and beyond. In Massachusetts it’s almost 100% Omicron now.  This is a game changer.  Come March we will be in a different era. We will be thinking different thoughts.

The Pandemic is dying. We have to face the facts. It’s becoming quite clear. I’m not sure anyone else will do it, so I thought I would start working on the eulogy for the Pandemic. With your permission I’d like to run it by you.

Thank you.

Now, picture yourself in your favorite, quant, countryside chapel, the service is about to begin…

Pandemic, we are here to say our goodbye’s. Your time has come. We are laying you to rest.

Pandemic, you were hard for us to understand. There was so much misinformation and chaos about you. You relentlessly enveloped the world and held us hostage. You made us face death, and you broke us down. You were accompanied by a hoard of villains. You robbed us of so much. You stole our routines and forced new practices on us. You incited our anger. You exposed our weaknesses. In many ways, you provided a mirror, and it’s been tough.

Pandemic, we realize that above all you were an obstacle. And like all the other obstacles in our lives we are better off because of you. It is in the overcoming of you that we gain experience and grow stronger. So in the end, we are grateful for you and for the lessons you shared with us. We are grateful for the wisdom in the world that allowed you to disrupt us. We thank you for the main lesson you brought us: that we must face our challenges and go through them; no avoiding will do, we must go through.

We know deep down our greatest moments come in the face of adversity. We know only through our blunders do we open the door to the power of redemption. It’s easy for us to forget, but we know the truest riches come with our development.

And just as we are grateful for you we are grateful for each other. Please know we are really trying to remember that each one of us is doing the best we can with the circumstances that we’ve been given. And to that end we pledge now to do our best in life and give each other the benefit of the doubt. So long, Pandemic. Many blessings on your journey. Wish us well in our further conquests of growth. 

I realize it may be wishful thinking to write an eulogy for the Pandemic today. However, we are going to be changed forever by these years. We will have to wean ourselves off our pandemic way of thinking and being.

The best advice is still to avoid crowds and gatherings for the next several weeks. Continue your exposure mitigating practices. We still have much to get through. I’m just acknowledging that this is the final stretch. It’s not just my humble, unapologetically optimistic opinion, but it’s shared by others as well, the ivory tower types. Hang in there. A new time will come, with its unique challenges and growth opportunities.

Brief Covid numbers round up

  • The Berkshire case load tally crested 2000 caseslast week after over 1500 positive cases last week.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average came down from 22,000 daily to under 15,000 daily over the course of this week.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has continued to climb to over 800K daily from 600K last week.

You Matter!

I want to start off the year with a note to say a little something that’s on my mind: You Matter!

We all know you can make a difference in someone’s day with a kind word or a compliment. That’s easy to understand. Do you believe that even thinking something kind about someone also can be helpful? What’s to lose?  Believe it.

The challenge is sometimes we ourselves are suffering  too much to be of service to someone else. The advanced lesson is understanding a loving gesture also works if the recipient is you, your own self. Practice compassion and kindness to yourself first and foremost, especially when you’re struggling. There’s always time to work on positive self orientation, like every minute of every day. It takes a serious practice in mindfulness and a lot of dedication to master it.

But, the first and only piece of information you need to get started is that you matter a lot. You are part of a global community that has as a project underway to find the important steps for humanity’s future. It hangs a bit in the lurch these days. To work for good, you only have to practice every day the belief that you matter, that you can make a difference. Then do a little good every day.

But, how can it be possible that billions of people matter? Don’t only a few matter? Like politicians and celebrities? Aren’t some of us insignificant peons? Aren’t our lives meaningless? Nope. We all matter more than you could ever know. It’s a miracle, but it’s true. We are a large group but we each have our quiet, individual, monumental task. Part of it is to realize our power… and our task.

Note we are not talking about grandiose gestures, like inventing something that cleans up the ocean, although keep working at it. We are talking about the little things. I’d argue every great act that ever took place was preceded with years of practicing the little things.

Hear this! The way you get out of bed, the way you butter your bread, the way you turn your head: it matters. You matter. Your habits, the way you speak to yourself, your thoughts, your attitude, your efforts to understand your life outside the context of our culture moment.  They matter. You matter.

What if instead of fear something else was our main motivator? What if our important task and inherent power to make a positive difference with our attitude and outlook even in mundane activities was our motivator? Compassion and love for yourself and humanity is a major key. 

Don’t believe the lie that you are small. Remember often that you’re a great and powerful child of the cosmos.

Actively block fear. It’s potent at leading people down the wrong paths.

And know to err is human. Be quick to forgive yourself and others and give the benefit of the doubt. Suspect the next guy is doing the best he can. And leave it at that.

Can you tell that I think fear and what comes from it is our true dilemma? Be reassured:

SARS will peak by the end of this month possibly by mid month, all the experts are saying. I think it’ll peak next week! What shoots up must come ripping down. Watch the UK and we will shortly after them. They haven’t convincingly shown their peak yet.

And it’s a fact: Omicron is milder. The data is in, the new variant attacks the upper respiratory tract and has a much lower affinity for the lungs. Three independent labs agree. That translates to less severe disease. This is what we are seeing clinically. We still take it seriously and hospitalizations will continue to increase because the severe syndrome is still out there, usually with co-morbid patients. We try to get it diagnosed and treated early, regardless of vaccination status. We use a combination of agents with antiviral properties, immune support, histamine blockers, and blood thinning. Many patient series show early outpatient treatment makes hospitalization less likely.

We are all doing the work of the pandemic and will get through it. It’s not your cards, it’s how they’re played. We might as well work super hard at it and come out more in love with each other than when we started.

I’ve been saving that one…

Brief Covid numbers round up:

  • The Berkshire case load tallies has never tallied above 700 cases over a seven day period. This week we had over 1500 positive cases. So, so many people have it. (Sound the pending peak alert).
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average is massive. Also also more than doubling the most ever.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has exploded to over 600K daily from 344K last week (after a case load of over 1,000,000 people on Jan 3rd and several days not too far under one million since.) The previous national high for any country was 400,000 in India during the initial delta surge. Whenever we have seen spikes we see dramatic drops, like we did in India with delta, South Africa with Omicron.

Testing info

  • People fare best with early detection of COVID. (Monoclonal antibodies, supplemental support, etc). 
  • Need a test for Flu and/or COVID? Call us, we have them. Or use a BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
    • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ruckshau Meditation

Welcome to the End of the Year edition of Berkshire Whole Health’s Weekly Bulletin! — where a look back is recognized as a vital exercise; yes, reminiscing is healthy!
 

More on that in a minute, but first, let’s have a look at the explosive COVID update.

COVID is everywhere. The midwest and the Northeast are getting hit the hardest. There’s a lot developing! Here is a review of the important headlines:

Record breaking numbers abound. The average daily case load in the US is the highest ever: over 300K. The largest ever tallies in Massachusetts were also seen this week. Hospitalizations will lag and have only mildly ticked up. Officials are concerned but there is still cautious optimism that Omicron will be a flash in the pan and overall milder.

Vaccines wane? Israel has started doling shot #4! The mRNA vaccines’ ability to provide protection from contracting COVID has been seen to wane at 10 weeks, according to new data. HOWEVER, the consensus and early indications are that protection against severe cases will persist.

What we need: we need more tests, tests on every corner, tests in the car, tests in the pantry. Biden has a plan to send out hundreds of millions of tests in the mail to those who go online and request them. Too cumbersome of a process, too late in the game? Local testing through BMC remains a good resource. Berkshire Center for Whole Health supplies remain strong. Let us know if you need anything. I’m still recommending we test most colds, vaccinated or not.

Fingers crossed. The reasonable hope is that Omicron will prove to be mild for us as it was in Africa: 80% less hospitalizations, compared with other variants… and average hospital stay was shorter duration. The other hope is that the crushingly steep curve of new cases peaks soon and comes speeding down just as fast as it shot up. Experts predict this likely will happen in January. The US is a large place with different timelines. We will keep a close eye on the local numbers, the most relevant metric.

Monoclonal antibodies are available but scarce. They are a very beneficial treatment for higher risk people once a case is diagnosed. Only one product appears active (Sotrovimab) and effective against Omicron. Regeneron, the old standby, is now no longer used because it underperformed against the new strain, and estimates last week stated Omicron is overtaking Delta in the US. There is a bit of a queue to get Sotrovimab, and it is subject to availability, but we are doing what we can to connect patients that qualify with that and whatever else might be useful.

Omicron incidence overstated? Was the Regeneron withdrawn too soon? Some say so. Last week’s headlines that DNA sequencing indicated Omicron’s jump from 13% of cases to 73% in the US over the course of one week were astounding! It prompted Regeneron’s removal. This week that data was retracted, and Omicron’s prevalence is being described as less than originally stated, maybe less than 50% of cases. Estimates are that we are now in the 55-60% range in the areas with highest incidence. However, Delta has been part of the recent case surge and Regeneron might have been useful these last 10 days.

One conclusion is that our DNA sequencing program isn’t sophisticated enough; we operate in the dark a fair amount. The true bottom line is that Omicron is coming on fast. If not last week then it’ll be everywhere by next week, it appears. Even the most recent data is outdated because of how fast it’s moving. All these record setting highs are almost certainly driven by Omicron.

Exit Isolation sooner? 10 days of isolation after a positive COVID test used to be the norm. The CDC made waves by floating a reduction to 5 days in certain scenarios. Does it apply to you? Possibly, depending on a few things, like symptoms and vaccination status. We will guide you. The CDC is under fire for making this call, but we all are feeling a little impatient and insane right now. Take me, for instance: I had chocolate for breakfast the other day. We are all making crazy calls right now. Can you blame us? 

Everyone is thinking and hoping 2022 will be different. I think they are right, not in small part because we are doing the hard work of getting through the pandemic.

Nice job, by the way. They will be telling stories for generations to come about how amazingly we weathered this. We are basically mythical heroes to simply be enduring this. 

Hercules, we can view thy 12 labors with renewed interest!

Let me conclude with a tip for the end of the year, a time for reminiscing about all that we experienced.

There is a lot to remember this year.



Looking back helps us process, resolve, and unpack. It is therapeutic as well as instructive. Furthermore, habitually reviewing your experiences also is a good memory exercise. Use it or lose it! Moreover, as we will see, it apparently has other soul and spiritual benefits. For these reasons, I want to (re)introduce you to a daily review exercise which is used to increase objective awareness & visualization ability called:

Ruckshau Meditation

Need a New Year’s resolution? It is a GREAT way to wrap up each day.

As per Rudolf Steiner, paraphrased from The Fourfold Path of Healing by Thomas Cowan MD (Ruckshau means reflection or contemplative review in German):

The meditation is a simple meditative device that takes 5–15 minutes every evening. Ready yourself by sitting quietly in a comfortable position. Then, carefully review the events of the day, starting with the most recent event and moving backwards to the events of the morning. Attempt to fashion a clear image of yourself as you worked, played, and interacted with others. Conjure in your mind the actual nature of each activity or encounter. At the same time, remember what feelings you experienced at the various moments that you recall. Resist all impulses to judge yourself, but rather cultivate a state of detached observation. Watch yourself as you live just as you watch a good friend.

This may seem a simple exercise, but most will find it a challenge to make it all the way back to the morning. Inevitably things will be left out or forgotten, but as time goes on this objective part of yourself will grow stronger and more confident. With its growing strength, the mental body will be more available during normal waking moments, and it will provide you with a sure way to deal with both the stormy and becalming moments of life. Soon you will find that many activities which some would classify as drudgery — cooking, driving, gardening — are actually opportunities for focused meditation or objective thinking. Gradually, this cultivated objectivity will help you understand yourself more thoroughly and deeply than any reliance on the emotions — whether they be the emotions of love or of fear.

True health and true freedom are achieved when we can experience the full breadth and depth of the emotional realm while remaining objective about all that happens to us.”

Brief Covid numbers round up

  • The Berkshire case load tallies around 650 cases these last seven days. This is the second highest on record (only behind the week after Thanksgiving 2021) and up from a total of 515  last week.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average is steady at  6500 cases per day. This is the most ever.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has exploded to 344K this last week (after a case load of almost 600,000 people yesterday).

Testing info

  • People fare best with early detection of COVID. (Monoclonal antibodies, supplemental support, etc).
  • Need a test for Flu and/or COVID? Call us, we have them. Or use a BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
    • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Reasons for Optimism regarding Omicron

In this edition we have:

  1. Reasons for Optimism regarding Omicron
  2. The Right Standpoint with Fear
  3. Brief Covid numbers update

Reason for Optimism: Changing Virulence

Omicron is spreading like a wildfire, but the good news is, as every bingo player knows, that the caller can’t keep picking out letters and numbers without the game eventually coming to an end. 

There’s only so many chips to be played before Bingo night is nothing more than a dirty gymnasium and fond memories. You know what I’m talking about. All things come to an end.

Predicting Normalcy

I’m telling the people who predicted the pandemic would last 3 to 5 years to think again.

Omicron appears to be a game changer.

It is far more contagious than any variant thus far and has the worriers worried. But as data mounts it is definitely causing a milder illness. Rejoice with me now. Researchers are discovering Omicron’s decreased affinity for the lower respiratory tract sites and higher affinity for the upper airways. That’s medical speak for looking like one of the common cold coronaviruses, in other words, a bit of molehill. A Pandemic of the common cold and bronchitis for the shrinking numbers who don’t have natural immunity? It’s reason enough to get the optimistic outfit out of the closet and dusted off!

Milder symtoms

More data rolled in this week: 80,000 cases of Omicron in South Africa. There were definitely less hospitalizations in the Omicron group than we have seen with Delta. Not none, to be sure, but a large percentage less. This was also published: 5000 cases in the UK connected with Omicron and only 10 hospitalizations in that group so far. Everyone would tell you the numbers are early, but I can see a hopeful picture emerging.

First of all, let’s remember there are hundreds of millions of people that were taken ‘off the market’ by Delta. They will be greatly protected from Omicron. With any luck Omicron passes through the remaining susceptible populations, doling out large numbers of mild cases, then runs out of hosts. Fast movers burn out! The pandemic just might get that sudden end we have been dreaming of  … leaving us to pick up the pieces and start to process it all. That’s the optimistic best case scenario. Yes, hospitals could still be overrun and I am not suggesting we know yet how mild the overall picture will be, but 2022 is a new beginning. Believe that!

Smart Precautions

Flu is around this year, a little more than last year, which you remember was almost nonexistent.  This year reports are higher but still generally a low incidence. This year’s flu vaccine missed the mark, and will not be so effective. Shucks, but get your vitamin D levels up, be as careful as you’ve been for a few months more. Masking indoors remains smart. Keep distance as able, and enjoy the great outdoors!

Because there is no evidence that vaccines will be a big help for preventing either the flu or Omicron, my advice is lie low for this coming Omicron moment. After flu season and the Omicron surge, as I discussed above, the world could look completely different. My plan is to supplement wisely with vitamins D,C and zinc and some of the others from the FLCCC protocol and lay low for the winter with great hope that a new era will arise in the spring.

Facing Fear

The world may currently have more anxious reverberations in it than ever before! Nothing is certain except the therapists are overrun. What do we do with the worldwide pandemic of fear that continues on?

Healthy standpoint against fear

First of all, I suggest we drop any Disney-infused fantasies from our world outlook. We are not here to find happily ever after. We are not here to see what it’s like to slowly move towards utopia in our own lifetimes. Save any energy lamenting this not happening and direct it towards learning your role in the fight for humanity’s best future. We spend too much of our time numbing, soothing and shielding ourselves.

Try this: realize we are here to experience challenges because only through them will we grow in the way that we must for our development. Accept that life is difficult (Buddha agreed), and engage every moment to figure out what steps will help. What’s in you that you can make a difference for good? How do you develop it? These are the right questions.

Recognize that only our own actions create our future world. Engagement is key.

Don’t get caught in inaction. Everyday explore the simple, selfless act. Do something selfless for your fellow human.

Lend someone a hand. Say a nice word. Be surprised. Be nice. Be gentle. Smile. Practice reverence towards the world. Be kind to yourself too. Commit to it every day.

Brief Covid numbers update

  • The Berkshire case load tallies around 475 cases these last seven days. This is down from a total of about 550  last week.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average is steady at  3500 cases per day.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has crept up slightly to 124K this last week (from 120K last week).

Testing info recap

  • People fare best with early detection of COVID. (Monoclonal antibodies, supplemental support, etc). Will Monoclonal antibodies hold up with Omicron? Will it be necessary? 
  • If you need a test for Flu and/or COVID call us, we have them. Or use a BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
    • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Reflections on being stuck in the pre-post COVID era

You know that feeling when you have so many other things on your plate that you need to be dealing with, other than that pandemic you can’t seem to shake?

Something tells me you do.

We have some crazy 21st century things that no one in history has ever had to face!!

Imagine trying to explain to a soldier from Ancient Rome the frustrating feeling when your phone has been plugged in all night, but as you pick it up to run out the door you see somehow it only has a 3% charge!

Might not go over so well.

Am I right?

But seriously, we are in unprecedented territory.

This century has brought us some unique challenges, for sure.

Case in point: during an interview at the beginning of the week, Elon Musk warned that using new technologies which will let people live longer — or perhaps, forever — may actually be a really bad idea. Hear him out.

“It is important for us to die because most of the time people don’t change their mind, they just die,” Musk said. “If you live forever, we might become a very ossified society where new ideas cannot succeed.”

The fact that that this is even a topic lets you know the fortitude needed to face what is coming. Not to mention that his comment surely indicates that the projects working on longevity (aka immortality) are further along than you or I could imagine.

Having an opinion on whether or not we should die is such a 21st century idea.

This reminds me of the first time I came face to face with something like this, something that sharply points to the direction we are going and which is becoming more and more apparent.

In the early 2000’s at a medical conference there was a keynote speaker who spoke about IBM Watson and its potential to be a part of healthcare delivery. He had to reassure the crowd of doctors several times that they should not feel threatened. Watson wasn’t trying to take over their jobs, he reassured us, as if knew he had to. It was just going to take over the thinking part.

And, do we even want to wade into the virtual reality Meta-verse being created by Facebook? I don’t really.

These examples make the pandemic look so old fashioned (but still formidable).

We have to get through this Pandemic to get on to these other issues. And there are others; besides wondering if computers can cheat death or take over healing or enhance our sense world, converting to digital currency and ending online anonymity are on the docket.

Whatever you think about technology and the policy surrounding it, these big shifts always drive me to define clearly what we need to defend, what is imperative to preserve.

First of all we should recognize the earth as a living organism, and what’s more, recognize that the human race as a part of the same organism.

We should take care of the earth, and recognize that it can only be understood in context of the planets around it. Let’s expand the frame a bit.

We should recognize that in the same fashion the human being cannot be understood out of the context of its community, which includes

  • the cosmos surrounding it
  • the entire earth
  • other humans on the earth, and also 
  • all the organisms on the earth, great and small 

This will teach us a lot. For example, no intervention can be deemed safe without measuring its early and late effects in these different fields, including its effects on the microbiome, earth’s health, and other non immediately noticeable areas of action.

The explosion of asthma, allergic disorders, autoimmune  diseases as well as neurologic disorders (ADD, autism, speech and language disorders) over the last four decades can be traced to changes that can be measured in the microbiome. Processed food, the chemical industry, medications all need to be studied for how they alter our gut flora.

In the meantime, seek ways to counterbalance the onslaught of changes that come with modern life, and preserve the microbiome. The short list would include:

  • eating really good quality food (organic or, better yet, biodynamic) 
  • minimizing processed food (packaged of any sort)
  • minimizing chemicals in house cleaning products and personal hygiene products 
  • adopt good detox habits- make sure these pathways are open (sweating, eliminating, etc)

Most importantly we have to remember that the human being has a spiritual nature. Our only choice with interfacing with technology is to deepen our understanding of our spiritual nature so we don’t get lost in the machines. We are going to need guidance that can only come from this knowledge.

We need to learn how to be the citizen in this crazy time. Much to learn. But school is always in session!

Glad to be in it with you!

Covid numbers update

  • The Berkshire case load tallies around 550 cases these last seven days. This is down from a total of about 600 the last two weeks, but still high. The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the factors.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average has risen sharply this last week. We are up to 3500-4000 cases per day. 40% of these are breakthrough cases.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has also jumped up to 120K for the last two weeks (from 90K the prior two weeks).

Testing info

  • People fare best with early detection of COVID. (Monoclonal antibodies, supplemental support, etc).
  • Need a test for Flu and/or COVID? Call us, we have them. Or use a BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
  • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Oh my Omicron!

Welcome to the newest and most insane edition of Berkshire Whole Health’s Weekly Bulletin! — where we think Greek letters for SARS CoV-2 variants are as interesting as Greek Temple sites-ie, very interesting.

Temple of Apollo at Delphi

In this week’s edition we have:

  1. Oh my Omicron!
  2. Reflection on Equanimity
  3. The COVID Numbers Update

Omicron

You want to know what I find most interesting about the Omicron variant? It’s greatly advancing my knowledge of the greek alphabet! There apparently is a greek letter named Omicron. Fascinating! I’ve never heard that name before. It means little O (micro O) as opposed to OMEGA (the big O). Aren’t we having so much fun?

The news of the new variant came on like a bat out of hell (pardon the pun) after Thanksgiving with talk about:

  • more transmissibility than Delta
  • possible immune escape 
  • closing doors to South Africa 
  • worldwide spread
  • boosters for everybody 

It’s all speculative. Symptoms with Omicron could be milder (!) , we are stating to hear. A more transmissible, milder form of COVID? A godsend?

By the way, that is the general trend with novel microbes in a scenario like this. Their evolution tends to involve decreasing virulence and increasing transmissibility. So while the alarm bells from the media are sounding we should remember what this really is: an invitation for an exercise in:

Equanimity

Equanimity is one of the universal answers that fits well in any situation.

Whether in the end, Omicron is good news or bad news, equanimity will carry you through intact. It won’t deny you emotion- it anchors you while the universe’s emotional ups and downs vie for your attention.

But you have to practice.

Equanimity means staying tethered to the middle. Not going out to far, not getting too worked up: not losing yourself.  There’s a real virtue in remembering yourself when the winds of chaos whip up.

It’s true, Omicron might be a monstrous challenge or the answer to our prayers. Or a little bit of both. Equanimity acknowledges that no thing is good or bad alone, it’s what we make of it.

I think equanimity also helps stay true to the mission of kindness.

Some argue a lack of vaccine penetrance is what drives the development of the variants. Counter that with those who argue vaccinating the whole population during a pandemic is what provides the evolutionary pressure leading to accelerated viral variant selection.

Whether you align with the idea that vaccines should be mandated or with the idea that mandates are troublesome, you will have more access to kindness if you practice equanimity.

Have an opinion, work for good in the world, and through equanimity don’t lose sight of the good you seek due to blinding passion for the path you chose to establish the good.

By the way, equanimity will help us eliminate fear which drives us to inhumane territory if we don’t transform it.

Covid numbers update

  • The Berkshire case load tallies over 600!cases these last seven days, the highest week ever. Gracious! This is up from a total of about 500 last week and 400 the week before.
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average has been steady these last two weeks at around 2,300 cases per day.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average has also been steady at just under 90K for the last two weeks.
  • Feeling ill? People fare best with early detection of COVID. (Monoclonal antibodies, supplemental support, and support from homeopathic remedies). 
  • Need a test for Flu and/or COVID? Call us, we have them. Or use a BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
    • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Just because you have a vaccine doesn’t mean you can’t catch and spread COVID. Be smart ’til this wave passes. And be sure it will. Look at Florida and the South. They are through their surge, which come and go.

Thanks for tuning in!

Best wishes on your day’s journey!

Be the Farm

In this week’s edition we have:

  1. The COVID Numbers Update
  2. Practice check up
  3. This Edition’s Holistic Health Exploration-“Be the Farm”

Covid numbers update

  • The Berkshire case load tallies 401! cases these last seven days up from an average of 300 per week the last couple weeks.
  • Berkshire County has seen a slow, steady and consistent rise over the last couple of months
  • A lot of the cases are occurring in school-aged families.
  • Need a test? Get one. Call us, we have them. Or use the BHS testing center near you. Appointments are required at all BHS locations. Call 855-262-5465 for a BHS test for you or a guest or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
    • Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Play it smart around holiday travel and gatherings. Consider having everyone test. Open the windows. And maybe have it in the garage!
  • The Massachusetts 7 day average climbed again from 1,500 to over 2,500 cases per day. Southern Vermont is pretty active right now.
  • Michigan is the country’s hotspot and several states in the Rocky Mountain region are flared up. 33 states are on the rise.
  • The Delta wave is heating up in other parts of the country as the South quiets down.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average figure increased to 88K, up from 77K last week and 72K the week prior. 
  • It’s difficult to understand the trends just by  following national numbers because each local region is doing its unique movement.
  • Europe is active right now too.
  • Please send REMOTE LOVE to the medical workers of the US and the world: “About 18% of healthcare workers in the US have quit since the beginning of the pandemic and another 12% have been laid off. The stressors of the current emergency have nearly doubled the risk of burnout among physicians, with up to 75% reporting symptoms of exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” (Johns Hopkins)

How are you doing, Doc?

I’m doing well, thanks. Connecting with my roots to help prepare for the future.

I am excited with the work we are doing and the new offerings we are preparing. I remain optimistic and am confident that this is the Pandemic’s final act. I also know we are destined to face other crises whether it be shortage in raw materials and even food, or climate disasters. I’m not holding my breath for anything. I’m building a home in the chaos.

More Exposure to Our Holistic Philosophy

Show me an obstacle, and I’ll show you a stepping stone. It may just be the optimist in me, but hear me out.The key to changing an obstacle into a stepping stone is to embrace growth as a central part of your philosophy.

Integrating the adversity (remaining whole) as opposed to eliminating or avoiding your problems does not always come naturally. But it’s a powerful tool. To do it we have to seek out the tools or skillsthat weren’t there before that will make the system more sophisticated and resilient.

It’s not about removing obstacles but transforming them for the good. Nothing is inherently negative. Nothing. Everything has at least a silver lining. Many great people make the realization that without their most dire challenges they would never have awoken to their potential.

Often an illness makes us listen to ourselves more. It helps us find where we are out of balance and create good habits with sleep, diet, rest. It invites a cleanse.

There are two Archetypal steps:

  1. Face the adversity, honor it as a teacher. Acknowledge that you’re in a bigger system. You can survive anything. It’ll work for you with the right approach.
  2. Figure out what new tool or skill will transform the situation. Redefine your relationship to your life. With a new thought about yourself or a deepened commitment to harmony this becomes possible.

Remember these helpful pointers:

  • This is often done with assistance. We don’t have to go it alone. Partner in this quest wisely.
  • Realize that comfort is nowhere on this path. You aren’t losing if you are uncomfortable. That’s the sign that you are in the process of growth.

“Be the Farm”

Take an actual example from a biodynamic farm which illustrates this perfectly. 

The cover crop in the orchard was good grazing for the animals on the farm. The manure aided the cover cop in restoring the soil. It became quite rich and the gophers moved in uninvited. They thrived. There were so many gophers that they injured the tree roots in the orchard and many of the trees died.

What’s your move? A standard practice might be to knock back the gopher population with poison. This is an option that strives for maintaining the status quo, but the cost to maintain the old way is toxifying. Nothing good, nothing new is attained. There is no growth. Its the same farm as before just with residual poison.

Now freeze right there because this is a metaphor for your health. My friends, you are the farm.

So taking our steps: Face the problem, acknowledge it as a noble challenge that needs your creative attention.  Figure out how to grow the whole system. We have to realize that the gophers do bring some benefits to the farm and to the soil. All their digging aerates the soil which is important for it.

We could poison the gophers and aerate with machines…

Or we can grow the farm and get it back into balance. The biodynamic farmer sees the whole farm as an organism and does not use poison. The farmer in this example puts up several barn owl houses on the property. Barn owls eat gophers. Pretty soon the barn owl population grows and the  farm is brought into balance with the addition of a new natural element. The aerated soil thrives. Poisons are rejected. Trees are replanted and do well in the new balance.

The gopher problem is not a problem of the gophers. Gopher infestation is a sign of a missing element in the ecosystem. It is a signal something is out of balance. It is an invitation to find what is needed, to learn how to expand the system.

We all have our individual challenges, and if we could see the whole system at work, as if from a mountain top, we would never settle for status quo.

Here’s to your growing, diverse ecosystem!

A Notable Orientation to Our Holistic Philosophy

In this week’s edition we have:

  1. The COVID Numbers Update
  2. Holistic Health Orientation
  3. Best Article this week- Cancer Preventative Medicine

Covid numbers update

  • The Berkshire case load was at 336 cases last week and came down slightly to 282 cases.
  • Hospitalizations remain modest (mid-teens at BHS). 
  • The first week in November saw no new COVID deaths.
  •  What’s driving the numbers in Berkshire county? Is it breakthrough cases in the population that was vaccinated early and is due for boosters? It doesn’t appear so. From my inquiries and observations a lot of the cases are occurring in school-aged families, and a lot of cases are connected to schools and daycares. Some of the daycares have temporarily closed due to their spikes.
  • The Massachusetts 7-day average increased by 50% to around 1,500 cases per day range.
  • The entire Northeastern region as well as the Midwest and West are seeing slight upticks in cases. The South is still dropping.
  • Nationally, the seven-day-average figure increased to 77K from 72K.

The Thinker’s Corner

A Notable Orientation to Our Holistic Philosophy

Another week passed without scientists announcing they had finally arrived at the complete understanding of the human being.

I’m not so sure that any of us are holding our breath. Our knowledge is a work in progress. To live with riddles is a defining part of being a modern human.

At BCWH our philosophy acknowledges the many important discoveries modern natural science has given us. Additionally, we acknowledge that natural science will not lead to a complete understanding of the riddle of the human being.

The soul and spiritual nature of the human being is woven into our bodily existence but can’t be fully illuminated on the lab bench. Anthroposophic Medicine sees the soul and spirit aspect of humanity not as special phenomena of our one physical body, but as  independent entities that accompany the physical body.

Our physical body is an individual component of our existence, and our life organization and our consciousness also have independent existences and therefore individual characteristics that need addressing in health and illness.

The difference between the holistic approach described above and the standard modern idea that life and consciousness are mere phenomena of the human organization may seem subtle, but in that difference lives the major study of our holistic approach.

We strive to extend the modern approach with any insights that might arises from that holistic outlook. And it’s our honor to partner with your on that undertaking.

Best article this week

What’s a good compliment to a really good treatment?

Early detection. 

What’s better than early detection?

Prevention

Good habits turn off bad genes. Epigenetics is the science of looking at outer determinants that turn on or off genes that are known to lead to disease.

In other words, just because you have a genetic tendency towards a particular illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean the gene will express itself. In fact, genetic analysis in longevity studies shows that people who live a long life have the same basic genetic tendencies as everyone else. Their inner and outer environment is what stands out.

Indeed, it’s a public health fact that

  • not smoking,
  • regularly exercising and
  • eating whole food

will prevent a large percentage of illness (90%!).


A recent opinion piece that caught my eye, Cancer is largely preventable and people don’t know it, (by John Whyte, M.D., board-certified internist and chief medical officer of WebMD, author of “Take Control of Your Cancer Risk) talks about how 70% of cancers can be prevented. Here are some highlights:

“A 2019 study by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that more than half of Americans don’t realize that the type of food they eat, as well as the amount of alcohol they drink, play an important role in developing certain cancers.” 

“For example, a diet without enough fruits and vegetables can significantly increase your risk of certain cancers.” 

“It’s also time to cut out — or at least way back on — processed and fatty meats and salty snacks. Instead, try fish twice a week and use different herbs and spices. If you have a choice, select coffee or tea for their anti-inflammatory properties instead of sugary juice.”

“People also need to know about the relationship between physical inactivity and cancer cell growth — because the science on the subject speaks volumes. Getting in your daily 10,000 steps isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not enough for cancer prevention. That requires working up a sweat for 20 minutes to half an hour about five days a week. What activity you do — from jogging to biking to vacuuming the house — is less important than ensuring you get to at least a moderate level of intensity. How do you know you’re there? Though you may still be able to talk while doing it, you shouldn’t have enough extra breath to sing.”

“It’s also time to explain how chronic stress, and the hormones it creates, may decrease immune function — and how to relieve that stress. Meditation is very effective, as are breathing exercises, and plenty of online resources are available for free. If you are experiencing anxiety and stress that won’t quit, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it, and ask for help from a support group, counselor, or mental health professional.”

“And don’t forget the importance of quality sleep as well as the quantity. Sleep is a time for your body to clear out toxins. To maximize sleep, make your bedroom a spa — cool, quiet, and dark. And no, you can’t catch up on sleep on weekends. For more effective cancer prevention, make it a lifestyle priority to get a good night’s sleep every night.”

“If you’re flossing your teeth every day for good dental hygiene, good for you. You’re also decreasing your cancer risk, because gum disease has links to cancer.”

“Overall, we need to empower people with the knowledge they need to take control of their cancer risk.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Recognize your greatness, your power. That’s what interests BCWH the most: you engaging very robustly with you.

Your process, your effort, and all the intangibles to your approach really matter. We are here to help.

Lifestyle medicine enlivened with your enthusiasm will serve you well.

Realizing your power and taking a step to use it for good is the greatest gift and will be the force that creates the changes we seek. 

The World’s Best Medicines

In this week’s edition we have:

  1. The COVID Update
  2. The NON COVID CORNER: the World’s Best Medicines, the short list
    1. Mindfulness
    2. Secret Ingredients
    3. Regenerative Agriculture

Covid numbers update:

EEEK! The Berkshire case load jumped to the highest level since January 2021 registering at 336 cases for the last week. We have averaged 200-220 weekly cases over the four weeks.  Please recognize that we are considered high risk right now.

The Massachusetts 7 day average hovers around 1,000 cases per day range.

Nationally, the seven-day-average figure remains fairly stagnant with the number sitting in the 72K range for third week in a row.

Cases are up in many parts of Europe: the UK, Germany, Ireland all making the news. China is locked down after experiencing a surge. Lock down zones have to know: there’s no avoiding this one!

Immunity gets us through. We are close. Picture the Pandemic in the rearview mirror. It will be there sooner or later. Take a moment and imagine that we have made it. (Sigh of relief, Big smile). Why not? 

World’s Best Medicines

  1. Is “mindfulness” a medicine?

We think so. It’s low risk too. I’ve never seen anyone in the ER suffering a side effect from mindfulness practice. And it’s also inexpensive. Actually it’ll save you.

The miracle of mindfulness

The shift accompanying mindfulness takes the emphasis off the destination and puts it on the present moment, on the journey.

Starting point: we learn as a young person that setting goals is important. If you don’t know where you are going how will you ever arrive? The pain of not arriving drives us to the goal.

However, what if we find we aren’t really fulfilledwhen we pass the little finish lines we set for ourselves? That’s when we must learn that there is more to finding satisfaction and happiness than reaching our goals, which are often arbitrary and not representative of our wholeness.

Furthermore, we learn the hard way that “things” fail to bring us the level of satisfaction that we desire. We are still the same suffering fool who one minute ago didn’t have the cabbage patch doll, or whatever the kids are into these days.

Sooner or later the goal-oriented approach to life needs to be enlivened with the understanding that the winding and weaving path is a big deal in and of itself! The moment we get our first glimpse we sense the potential that lies therein. We sense our enlivened path now can grant us access to the “more” we are looking for.

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Naht Hahn

and Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastophe Living 

are two books that were very helpful to me and ones I find myself recommending often to patients when the need for a new way arises.

Kabat-Zinn was a psychologist at UMASS and put people through an 8 week course (meeting once per week) teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness and presence training help you break the tendency to be controlled by your habitual thoughts. It lets you find a little space between you and your habits. It lets you add a second option.

The present moment is the only place where the flow state exists. This is where our creative capacity really kicks in. Suddenly, it’s not us against the world anymore.

  1. The secret ingredient

Have you ever seen one of these sign in a kitchen ?

The chef’s mood is so relevant. We love the home cooked meal because the home chef knows their audience, loves them, has them in mind during the task, and weaves in their care for them. The intangibles matter. It’s just not possible with processed or mass-produced food.

The mood of the food preparer is just as important as the content of what we eat. Really digest that one. It goes beyond the culinary arts.

  1. Regenerative agriculture: An egg is not an egg

As it goes for the kitchen so it goes on the farm.  It shouldn’t be a stretch that the story of the food matters in a big way. Buying intentionally raised food is the difference between supporting and interiorizing all that come from this: 

And avoiding this:

It is also important to know “organic” food is getting watered down. The rules are changing. Most things labeled organic are not what you picture. The absolute ideal is growing your own food, cleanly.

Imagine this: the soil tailoring the yield to the gardener and the specific nutritional needs of the person raising the food. When the farmer puts their hands in the dirt a connection is made! Could it be possible?

If a nurtured relationship matters in the kitchen how could it not be so on the farm, this time between nature and the human? Remember the idea of the earth as an organism? It’s not just an idea.

Regenerative agriculture is an interest at BCWH. Gardening practices that build up the soil and the natural elements that nourish in intangible ways are the focus. Yes, avoiding pesticides and fertilizer is valued but more than that. Recognizing the farm is a living organism whose parts are all interconnected is the concept behind biodynamic farming. That living organism, just like us, is connected to the great surround, and thrives when it lives in wholeness. It is healing for the land and elevates our own healing potential.

Imagine a medical practice connected to a working farm.

We are.

Back to you for a second

Recognize your greatness, your power. That’s what interests BCWH the most: you engaging very robustly with you.Your process, your effort, and all the intangibles to your approach really matter.

The right medicines and an enlivened approach will serve us all well.

Forget about too big to fail. Those guys are too big to succeed. Small and local and connected is the rule for food, farming and medicine alike.

Enjoy the smell of the roses on your path today, even if they are only figurative this time of year.