By Dr. Mercola
Astaxanthin, which is part of the carotenoid family, is thought to be the most potent antioxidant nature has to offer, and mounting research suggests it has broad-spectrum, system-wide health benefits.
It's derived from Haematococcus microalgae, which produces astaxanthin as a protective mechanism to shield the fragile algae from harsh ultraviolet (UV) light and other environmental stressors.
Other health benefits noted in a scientific review published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in 2011 included the prevention and treatment of:2 "cancers … metabolic syndrome, diabetes, diabetic nephropathy … gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases … male infertility and HgCl₂-induced acute renal failure."
Importantly, astaxanthin is a very potent anti-inflammatory, making it useful for virtually any inflammatory condition, including joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
Astaxanthin is related to beta-carotene, lutein and canthaxanthin. However, its unique molecular structure makes it both more potent and unique than other carotenoids.
For example, astaxanthin has 550 times stronger antioxidant power than vitamin E, and is 6,000 times more potent than vitamin C. Other key differences that sets astaxanthin apart from other carotenoids include the following five features:
• Like other antioxidants, astaxanthin donates electrons to neutralize free radicals.
However, while this free electron donation depletes most other antioxidants, astaxanthin has a massive surplus that allows it to remain active far longer — at least one order of magnitude longer than most other antioxidants.
The astaxanthin also remains intact, meaning there are no chemical reactions to break it down, which is what occurs in most other antioxidants.
• Another major difference is in the number of free radicals it can handle. Most antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E and various others, can typically handle only one free radical at a time.
Astaxanthin can address multiple free radicals simultaneously, in some cases more than 19 at the same time. It does this by forming an electron cloud around the molecule. This is known as the electron dislocation resonance.
When free radicals try to steal electrons from the astaxanthin molecule, they're simply absorbed into and neutralized by this electron cloud, all at once.
• One of astaxanthin's most unique features is its ability to protect both water- and fat-soluble parts of the cell. Carotenoids are typically divided into water-soluble or fat-soluble, but astaxanthin belongs to an in-between group that can interface between both water and fat.
This means the astaxanthin molecule can affect and expand the biolipid membrane of ALL cells. It's not simply floating around in your bloodstream; it actually integrates into the cellular membrane.
This includes the mitochondrial membranes of your heart cells, which is one of the reasons it's so beneficial for your heart. Since mitochondrial health is a key factor in aging, supporting mitochondrial health is also one of the primary strategies to help slow down the overall aging process.
It also has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is part of its neuroprotective ability.
• Another key feature is that it cannot function as a pro-oxidant. Many antioxidants will act as pro-oxidants (meaning they cause rather than combat oxidation) when present in sufficient concentrations.
This is one of the reasons why you don't want to go overboard taking too many antioxidant supplements. Astaxanthin, on the other hand, does not function as a pro-oxidant, even when present in high amounts, which makes it both safer and more beneficial.
• Astaxanthin acts on at least five different inflammation pathways, making it a very potent anti-inflammatory, and maintains balance within the system.Astaxanthin Helps Protect Your Skin From the Inside Out
Well over 100 studies demonstrate the safety of astaxanthin, even at mega-doses as high as 500 milligrams (mg) per day. About the only side effect ever documented at higher doses is the possibility of developing a slight reddening of the skin, which most people tend to find attractive.
Astaxanthin is also very beneficial for skin health in general, as it helps protect against UV (sun) damage,9,10,11,12 increases skin elasticity, reduces fine wrinkles and improves the moisture level in the skin.
When it comes to UV radiation protection, astaxanthin specifically helps protect against UV-induced cell death.
Unlike topical sun block, astaxanthin does not actually block UV rays, so it doesn't prevent UVB from converting into vitamin D in your skin; it simply protects your skin against damage. This protective effect is so potent studies even show it helps protect against:
• Total body irradiation,13 primarily by scavenging intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reducing cell apoptosis (programmed cell death
• Burn-wound progression, by reducing oxidative stress-induced inflammation and mitochondrial-related apoptosis14How Astaxanthin Benefits Your Heart and Cardiovascular System
Quite a few studies have focused on astaxanthin's impact on heart and cardiovascular health, showing it can be extremely beneficial in this area.
For example, in one double-blind, placebo-controlled study,15 people who took 12 milligrams (mg) of astaxanthin per day for eight weeks had a 20 percent decrease in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker for heart disease.
CRP is essentially an indicator of systemic inflammation in your body, and lower levels tend to be associated with a reduced risk of not only heart disease but many other chronic health problems as well.
Needless to say, a 20 percent decrease in CRP in just two months is a rather dramatic reduction in disease risk, and one that few if any drugs can match.
According to Gerald Cysewski, Ph.D., a former assistant professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara and founder of Cyanotech, the first company to produce natural astaxanthin, studies have also shown astaxanthin protects your heart and cardiovascular system by:
• Improving blood flow
• Decreasing blood pressure
• Improving blood chemistry by increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol), lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and decreasing triglycerides
• Decreasing oxidation of LDLs that contributes to arterial plaque buildupThe Neuroprotective Effects of Astaxanthin
More than a dozen studies also show astaxanthin protects your neurons and can slow the effects of age-related cognitive decline and psychomotor function decline.16
In one study, they found people taking either 6 or 12 mg of astaxanthin per day had significantly decreased accumulation of phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH), which is a marker for dementia. It may therefore also have therapeutic benefit against Alzheimer's.
In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study done in Japan, elderly volunteers with age-related forgetfulness improved both their cognition scores and psychomotor function/coordination after taking 12 mg of astaxanthin for 12 weeks.
A number of animal studies have even shown that astaxanthin can drastically limit the damage caused by a stroke, when consumed PRIOR to the stroke — which brings us to the issue of absorption. It takes approximately 12 to 19 hours for astaxanthin to reach its maximum level in your bloodstream. After that, it decays over a three- to six-hour period.
This means you need to take it at least one day ahead of time to ensure tissue saturation. That said, if you're using it for, say, sun or radiation protection, your best bet is to take it consistently for a few weeks beforehand, to allow it to build up in your system.Astaxanthin Is a Potent Protector of Vision
Many studies have also investigated astaxanthin's effect on eye health. Some of the early work was done in France, where they confirmed that astaxanthin can cross the blood-retinal barrier, thereby providing potent anti-inflammatory protection to your eye and retina. Studies suggest it may help protect against a variety of eye-related problems, including:
✓ Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)
✓ Inflammatory eye diseases (i.e., retinitis, iritis, keratitis, and scleritis)
✓ Retinal arterial occlusion and venous occlusion
✓ Cystoid macular edema
✓ Diabetic retinopathy
Importantly, astaxanthin appears to be a potent way to both prevent and treat ARMD, which is the most common cause of blindness among the elderly. As previously reported by Life Extension Magazine:17
"The human retina naturally contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, molecules closely related to astaxanthin. Supplementation with all three carotenoids (astaxanthin 4 mg/day, lutein 10 mg/day, zeaxanthin 1 mg/day) has been shown to improve visual acuity and contrast detection in people with early age-related macular degeneration.18
In laboratory studies, astaxanthin supplementation protects retinal cells against oxidative stress and significantly reduces the area of destructive new blood vessel growth on retinas, a hallmark of advanced macular degeneration.19,20 Studies of patients with age-related macular degeneration reveal significant improvements in retinal electrical outputs following supplementation with astaxanthin and other carotenoids.21
Glaucoma, an increase in the pressure of fluid inside the eyeball, eventually results in retinal cell death from oxidant damage and loss of blood flow. Astaxanthin restores retinal parameters to normal in eyes with experimentally-induced glaucoma.22"
Specifically, astaxanthin has been shown to ameliorate or prevent light-induced damage, photoreceptor cell damage, ganglion cell damage and damage to the neurons of the inner retinal layers. Astaxanthin also helps maintain appropriate eye pressure levels that are already within the normal range, and supports your eyes' energy levels and visual acuity.Anti-Cancer Effects Exerted by Astaxanthin
More recent studies have also delved into astaxanthin's effects on cancer. Both in vivo and in vitro preclinical anti-tumor effects have been demonstrated in various cancer models. According to a study published in 2015, astaxanthin:27
"… exerts its anti-proliferative, anti-apoptosis and anti-invasion influence via different molecules and pathways including signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ). Hence, [astaxanthin] shows great promise as chemotherapeutic agents in cancer."
In animal studies, astaxanthin has been shown to:28
• Reduce the growth of transplanted mammary tumors
• Suppress liver carcinogenesis
• Inhibit potentially tumor-promoting polyamines in skin following UVA and UVB exposure (thereby reducing risk of skin cancer)
• Reduce incidence and proliferation of chemically-induced cancer of the urinary bladder, oral cavity and colon
Some of the proposed mechanisms of action include antioxidant activity, immune function enhancement and gene expression regulation. Also, as noted by Cyanotech in its "Astaxanthin and Cancer Chemoprevention" paper:29
"Effective cell-[to]-cell communication through gap junctions is deficient in many human tumors, and its restoration tends to decrease tumor cell proliferation. Several retinoids and carotenoids are now known to enhance gap junctional communication between cells ... This stimulation of gap junctional communication occurs as a result of a dose-dependent increase in the connexin 43 protein, via up-regulation of the connexin 43 gene."Astaxanthin Offers a Cornucopia of Health Benefits
Astaxanthin is likely one of the most useful supplements available, capable of tackling and preventing a host of health problems. It's one I regularly take and one I would not want to be without.
If you decide to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 4 mg per day, and working your way up to about 8 mg per day — or more if you're an athlete or suffering from chronic inflammation. Taking your astaxanthin supplement with a small amount of healthy fat, such as butter, coconut oil, TMC oil or eggs, will optimize its absorption.
Krill oil supplements also contain high quality animal-based omega-3 fat in combination with naturally-occurring astaxanthin, albeit at lower levels than what you'll get from an astaxanthin supplement. Different krill products have varying concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label.
By Dr. Mercola
If you've been conditioned from childhood to eat "chicken soup" to tame a cold or soothe a sore throat, you may be surprised to learn that the broth rivals the chicken and the vegetables in providing the nutrients your body needs to fight infection.
Due to its medicinal properties, bone broth is one of the foods I highly recommend, and personally use, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
While restaurants and store fronts dedicated to serving broth have popped up in cities such as New York1,2 and Los Angeles3 in recent years, the influence of bone broth on health and disease is nothing new.
Well before it was elevated to a trendy health drink by elite professional athletes, such as NBA star LeBron James and retired NBA icon Kobe Bryant,4 bone broth has been recognized, across cultures and for millennia, for its curative properties.
In earlier generations, when it was unthinkable to waste any part of an animal carcass, resourceful hunters and cooks mastered the art of simmering otherwise unusable cartilage, bones, hooves and skin to produce a hearty broth.
Over time, broth has become a dietary staple for not only the health conscious, but also for those struggling with digestive disorders and autoimmune diseases. Physicians harkening as far back as Hippocrates have associated bone broth with gut healing.
And while the importance of gut health has only recently begun to fill medical journals, the practical relationship between what we eat and how it affects our bodies has been well established for generations.
In some ways, we are now rediscovering many of the antidotes and home remedies that served our grandparents and great-grandparents well just a few generations ago.What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is exactly what you may have guessed it is: broth made from animal bones. Homemade broth differs substantially from the canned, store-bought variety or the kind produced by adding boiling water to chemical-laden bouillon cubes.
Traditional soups containing meat and vegetables are typically cooked at most for one to two hours when using fresh ingredients. Bone broth, in its simplest form, is made using bones, vinegar and spices. It is simmered in a pot or slow cooker at least overnight, or as long as 24 to 72 hours.
Longer simmering times result in a more complete release of gelatin, minerals and other nutrients from the bones, which is key to realizing the many health-giving benefits and restorative properties this broth has to offer.Why Should You Drink It?
Registered dietitian and founder of My Foodie Noodie, Kayla McDonell, asserts that drinking bone broth may provide the following six health benefits:5
✓ Delivers many important vitamins and minerals
✓ Benefits your digestive system
✓ Fights inflammation
✓ Supports joint health
✓ Promotes weight loss
✓ Improves sleep and brain function
"Bone broth has become very popular recently, especially among health-conscious individuals. This is because it's believed to have many health benefits. Although there is no published research on bone broth itself, there's plenty of evidence that suggests drinking it may be very beneficial."6
Over the years, I have shared my perspectives on many of these benefits and will highlight them again now. Without a doubt, bone broth delivers a variety of important vitamins and minerals in a form your body can easily absorb and use.
Some of the nutrients available in bone broth include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and other trace minerals that play an important role in healthy bone formation. Broth made from fish bones is also a good source of iodine, which supports your thyroid function.Can Bone Broth Bridge the 'GAPS' in Your Diet?
Leaky gut is the root of many health problems, especially allergies, autoimmune disorders and some neurological disorders. The collagen and gelatin found in bone broth attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices.
As a result, consumption of bone broth helps heal and seal your gut, thereby promoting healthy digestion. Bone broth is also a foundational component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, developed by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.
The goal of the GAPS diet is to help you identify and remove foods that are difficult to digest and damaging to your gut and replace them with well-tolerated, nutrient-rich foods.
Following the GAPS protocol gives your intestinal lining a chance to heal and seal, which will likely have a positive effect on your overall health.
Although the GAPS diet is often used to treat children with autism and other disorders rooted in gut dysfunction, nearly anyone with suboptimal gut health can benefit from it.
Particularly if you are struggling with an autoimmune disease such as Crohn's disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus or multiple sclerosis (MS), you should strongly consider the GAPS diet.How Bone Broth May Impact Inflammation, Weight Loss and Sleep
If you eat a diet comprising mainly sugary carbohydrates and processed foods, you increase chronic inflammation in your body. When your body is chronically inflamed, you are unable to achieve optimal health.
Notably, amino acids such as glycine, proline and arginine that are found in bone broth all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis7 (whole-body inflammation).
Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation through the presence of chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine and other compounds that are extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
Consuming bone broth regularly can be an inexpensive way to support your joints. Try this natural remedy before spending money on expensive joint-care supplements.
Similar to vegetable juicing, bone-broth can also help you jumpstart a weight-loss program. It's well known that drinking liquids can make you feel fuller, which often has the effect of diminishing your appetite, but beyond this the gelatin in bone broth has also been scientifically proven to maximize satiety.8
When done in a healthy manner, replacing an occasional meal with bone broth can help you on your way to losing those unwanted pounds, especially if you're consuming it in lieu of processed foods.
In addition to fighting inflammation, the glycine found in bone broth also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
A study9 by the Japanese Society of Sleep Research suggests that taking glycine before bed helped participants fall asleep faster and achieve a higher ratio of sleep time to in-bed time. It also found that glycine reduced daytime sleepiness and improved cognitive function.
If you can tolerate liquids at night and you're having trouble sleeping, you might try drinking a small glass of bone broth before bed.The Keys to a Nourishing Broth
While bone broth is available on your store shelf or through online retailers, if you want a truly high-quality bone broth or soup, your best bet is to make it yourself. Once you identify a source for high-quality bones, the rest of the process is fairly easy and requires only a little planning.
The most efficient way to create your broth is to use a slow-cooker or crockpot. This will allow you to put a few basic ingredients in the pot in the morning, turn it on low heat and walk away.
Come evening, you will be welcomed home by a tantalizing aroma. You can use bone broth as a base for delicious soups and stews or sip it straight as a hot beverage. Broth can also be frozen for future use.
The more gelatinous the broth, the more nourishing it will tend to be. Indeed, the collagen that leaches out of the bones when slow-cooked is one of the key ingredients that make broth so healing.
According to Kaayla Daniel, former vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and coauthor of the book "Nourishing Broth," bone broth is a foundational component of a healing diet regardless of what ails you. She notes that the sign of a well-made broth is the fact that it gets jiggly after being refrigerated.
To make it as gelatinous as possible, Daniels recommends adding chicken feet, pig feet or joint bones, which contain high amounts of collagen and cartilage. Shank or leg bones, on the other hand, will provide lots of bone marrow. Because marrow also provides valuable health benefits, you'll want to use a mixture of bones.
You can use beef, chicken, fish or pork bones to make your broth. You will find that each variety offers unique flavors and nutritional benefits. Regardless of the type of bone used, in addition to filtered water, you'll want to add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones during the cooking process. Some people like to add vegetables and spices, but that is not required and is strictly a matter of personal taste.Not All Bones Are Created Equal
The most important aspect of the broth-making process is to ensure you're getting the best quality bones that you possibly can. Ideally, you'll want to use only bones from organically raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. It's worth noting that chickens raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce broth that doesn't gel. Unless you use organic chicken bones, your broth will lack many of the most nourishing ingredients.
Besides that, CAFO animals are often fed an unnatural genetically engineered diet and frequently are given antibiotics and growth hormones. You don't want any of those potentially harmful additives in your broth, so make sure to start off with an organically raised product.
If you can't find a local source for organic bones, you may need to order them. A great place to start is the leader of your local Weston A. Price chapter,10 who will guide you to potential sources.
You can also connect with possible suppliers at local food co-ops, health food stores and farmers markets. Keep in mind that very often farmers from smaller farms raise their livestock according to organic principles even if their operation has not been certified organic. This is mainly due to the reality that the certification process is quite rigorous and costly, and generally unachievable for many small farms.
Many farmers love to talk about their operations, and most will be more than happy to give you the details about the feed they use and how they care for their animals.Sample Bone Broth Recipes
Many recipes exist for making bone broth, or you can simply experiment to create a recipe of your own. I welcome you to check out a demonstration of how I make a healthy chicken soup below.
The following recipe was provided by Sally Fallon Morell, writing for the Weston A. Price Foundation.11 Her article also contains a recipe for beef and fish broth. (You could substitute duck, lamb or turkey ingredients using the same directions.)
Ingredients for Homemade Chicken Broth
- 1 whole free-range chicken or2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as backs, necks and wings
- Gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
Please note the addition of vinegar. Not only are fats ideally combined with acids like vinegar, but when it comes to making broth, the vinegar helps leech valuable minerals from the bones into the stockpot water, which ultimately becomes the broth you'll be eating.
Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar is a good choice because it's unfiltered and unpasteurized.
While there is no right or wrong way to make bone broth, I'll offer some basic directions.
If you're starting out with a whole chicken, you'll of course have plenty of meat as well, which can be added back into the broth later with additional herbs and spices to make a hearty chicken soup, or set aside for another purpose.
1. Fill up a large stockpot (or large crockpot) with filtered water.
2. Add vinegar and all vegetables, except parsley, to the water.
3. Place the whole chicken or chicken carcass in the pot.
4. Bring to a boil, and remove any scum that rises to the top.
5. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let simmer.
6. If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should start separating from the bone after about 2 hours. Simply remove the chicken from the pot and separate the meat from the bones.
Place the carcass back into the pot and continue simmering the bones for another 12-24 hours, and then skip ahead to complete steps 8 and 9.
7. If cooking bones only, let them simmer for about 24 hours.
8. Add the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before finishing the stock to infuse it with healthy mineral ions.
9. Remove remaining bones from the broth with a slotted spoon and strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.
By Dr. Mercola
Say you're told you have kidney disease. Knowing these vital organs remove waste and toxins from your system, stimulate the production of red blood cells and regulate your blood pressure, you know you need to do something fast.
It's very likely that one of the first things your doctor will do is put you on a regimen of medications.
But a new, five-year study just emerged revealing that one of the best things you can do for your kidneys is to eat three or four servings of vegetables and fruits daily. Not only can they help you regain your health but also may help save you money on medical costs, including medication.
In fact, eating healthy fruits and vegetables could help cut your drug costs by as much as 50 percent.Eating the Right Foods Improves Your Kidney Function
You might be wondering how that works. According to the study at the University of Texas, it starts with a shift in nutrition.
Certain foods help you manage your blood pressure better than others and, at the same time, improve several other aspects of your health, potentially initiating healthier readings in things like systolic blood pressure.
The five-year study showed that a positive change in diet lowered the systolic blood pressure of subjects with kidney disease better than those who opted for medication.
U.S. News reported that the study tracked a small number of participants with kidney concerns so researchers could compare standard medical treatment outcomes with nutritional intervention.
The goal of the scientists was to determine who did better — the people in the drug group or those in the food group. The two gauges were not only which did better at naturally decreasing blood pressure but also whether or not using food to do it could make any difference in costs.
You already know the outcome. Healthy food prevailed, hands down. Study participants showed improvement the first year, and drug costs lowered every year thereafter, saving an average total of $153,000 for the veggie group over the span of the five-year study.1
Dr. Nimrit Goraya, study author and program director for nephrology at Baylor Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, said that for people with kidney disease — or those wanting to prevent it — the importance of eating the right foods rather than settling for medications was "huge." Other studies show that taking blood pressure drugs may increase your risk of death.Vegetables and Exercise — Stunning Findings for Blood Pressure
A 28-study review at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, involving more than 1,000 patients on kidney dialysis, resulted in more very promising statistics. Scientists found that those who regularly employed both aerobic and resistance (strength) training exercises lowered their blood pressure readings significantly.2
Lona Sandon, clinical nutrition program director at the School of Health Professions at UT Southwestern in Dallas, noted that three or four servings of veggies and fruits, depending on the type, make all the difference:
"It is remarkable what fruits and vegetables can do, along with a little exercise. Blood pressure meds come with many side effects that may leave people feeling sluggish, or other problems.
The side effects of fruits and vegetables and exercise is better health. When people have access to healthy foods, they can change their health. And especially when they eat the recommended amounts that were provided to them in the study."3High Blood Pressure: the Second-Highest Cause of Kidney Failure
A few years ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that high blood pressure fatalities were on the rise.
Many people don't realize that the kidneys and circulatory systems work together to prevent high blood pressure (HBP), aka hypertension. As the American Heart Association4 reveals, kidney damage from high blood pressure occurs three ways:
- First, HBP causes artery damage. The dense blood vessels and arteries in kidneys mean that high amounts of blood flow through them, but because this disease weakens them, adequate blood can't be delivered to kidney tissue.
- Blood doesn't filter properly through damaged kidneys. Miniscule, finger-like nephrons filtering your blood get their supply through even smaller, hair-like capillaries, but with kidney damage, they don't get the oxygen or nutrients they require. Hormones, acids, salts and other fluids in your body are left unregulated.
- Blood pressure is also unregulated and doesn't produce an important hormone for it to self-regulate, beginning a downward spiral. More arteries become blocked and stop functioning, causing kidney failure.
This all sounds pretty grim, but the important thing to remember is that this usually happens gradually over several years — and it can be prevented.
In the U.S. every third person aged 65 and older has chronic kidney disease, or CKD. Most don't progress toward advanced stages because they succumb to end-stage renal disease first, even if they have stage 4 CKD, a 2014 study in the journal Clinical Practice reveals.5
An Italian study found that consuming just 7 grams a day of protein led to a reduction in kidney failure. Perhaps more importantly, an argument was made that a low-protein diet is far preferable to one containing excessive protein.6 That said, you may need to restrict your protein intake.
About one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass is all you need. Fructose should only be eaten in small amounts — about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons — per day (in spite of the fact that the American Kidney Fund allows for as much as 40 to 50 grams). DaVita, a kidney education website, notes:
"Researchers are discovering more and more links between chronic diseases inflammation and "super foods" that may prevent or protect against undesirable fatty acid oxidation, a condition that occurs when the oxygen in your body reacts with fats in your blood and your cells.
Oxidation is a normal process for energy production and many chemical reactions in the body, but excessive oxidation of fats and cholesterol creates molecules known as free radicals that can damage your proteins, cell membranes and genes."7
Besides kidney disease, some of the diseases studies have associated with free radical damage include cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and other recurring and degenerative conditions. But foods containing antioxidants can help neutralize and protect your body from free radical damage.
Foods containing phosphorous tend to promote kidney stone formation. Foods with high amounts of potassium, such as vegetables and seeds, are good choices, in moderation. Unfortunately, only 2 percent of people in the U.S. get adequate amounts of potassium, often because the others eat too many processed foods.
✓ Red bell peppers
✓ Cabbage, cauliflower and kale
✓ Asparagus, string beans and celery
✓ Garlic and onions
✓ Apples, pears peaches and cherries
✓ Sweet potatoes
✓ Red and purple grapes
✓ Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon
✓ Olive and coconut oils
Be cautious about consuming the fruits on this list, as they can easily push you over the recommended amount of daily fructose. With the clean, healthy foods that help your body maintain and heal itself are foods that you should avoid, especially if you have kidney issues.
If you drink soda or any beverage containing high fructose corn syrup or aspartame, stop! Those are chemically-contrived substances that can wreck even the best health.
Pure water is the best beverage to put into your body, and if you haven't made this change already, you'll be surprised how much healthier you look and feel. Daily Superfood Love says:
"Following a healthy lifestyle and eating the right foods for kidney health will keep your kidneys in shape for decades. Food has been proven repeatedly to turn the tide in many health scenarios – slowing and even stopping further damage to vital organs.
A diet filled with powerful superfoods mop up free radicals caused by oxidation and lower inflammation. Study after study for every major disease shows that what you eat matters to how you look, how you feel, and how healthy you are on the inside."10
One way to monitor how you're doing is to check the color of your urine, which should be pale yellow. If it's darker than that, increase your water intake.What Causes Kidney Malfunction?
More than 26 million people in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease. According to One Green Planet, kidney disease contributes to other diseases and health concerns:
"Kidney disease is strongly linked to other major health issues such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. Many people who suffer obesity, autoimmune disease or urinary tract infections (UTI's) may also develop kidney disease within their lifetime.
Anytime an overall strain is put on the body, the kidneys also take a major hit. Common signs of kidney problems include frequent urination, problems urinating, pain, burning, or constant thirst."11
There are two types of renal malfunction: one is acute kidney injury; the other is chronic kidney disease.
• Acute kidney injury (AKI) occurs when there's a sudden reduction in blood flow, resulting in renal failure. In fact, the two terms are synonymous. Severe dehydration, an accident, surgery and even cumulative overdose (or purposeful) of such drugs as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen could bring it on.
Chronic inflammation, such as what takes place with diabetics or heart disease patients, infections (such as sepsis), blockages or allergic reactions could also cause renal failure. About half of AKI sufferers can be treated without permanent damage; the rest will likely require either a kidney transplant or dialysis, meaning that a machine filters your blood.
Symptoms might include pain, weakness, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, extreme thirst, and decreased urination. Interestingly, most acute kidney failure cases occur when people who are already being hospitalized for something else.
• Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs over time, usually exacerbated by high blood pressure and diabetes. People who have been on lots of medications for an extended period of time are likely candidates, as are those abusing drugs or alcohol. A blocked renal artery may also irreparably damage your kidneys.
Age, genetic abnormalities and illnesses such as cancer may influence this condition. Chronic cases may involve the symptoms for AKI to the point of nonfunction. High levels of phosphates in the blood and low levels of iron may occur at this stage. Most health practitioners advise that you eat plenty of vegetables, avoid sugar, drink adequate amounts of water and get crucial, regular exercise, which will not only be good for your kidneys, but may make a profound improvement in your health overall.
Recipe by Dr. Mercola
Apple crumble is usually served during festive occasions, but its origin is far from cheerful, as the dish became popular in the U.K. during World War I when people made the most out of the strict rationing of various foods. Flour, butter and sugar were substituted for pastry and mixed with different fruits such as apples, blackberries and/or rhubarb, paving the way for the crumble that people love today.
This Health-Boosting Apple Crumble Recipe adds a healthy twist to this well-known dessert. Healthy spices and the mild sweetness of coconut oil create a flavorful fruity feast. Whether you have a spoonful or two of this apple crumble, you can be sure that there won’t be any drastic consequences to your health.
For the filling
4 organic green apples, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
For the topping
1 1/2 cups almond meal or Dr. Mercola’s coconut flour
1/4 cup grass-fed butter or Dr. Mercola’s organic coconut oil, softened
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Tbsp. of grass-fed butter or coconut oil, to grease the pan
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix the ingredients for the topping until completely incorporated, and set aside.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch baking dish.
- Place the apples in the dish and cover evenly with the topping.
- Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove cover and bake for an additional 25 minutes. The dish is done when the apples are soft and the topping browns.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes
This Health-Boosting Apple Crumble Recipe Is a Delight for Everyone
Unlike apple pie, apple crumble requires less technical skill since there are no pie crusts or lattice details to think about. The dish is quite easy to make, and even your kids can help prepare this dessert, provided that parental guidance is present, of course. Moreover, apple crumble is versatile, since it can be used as a topping for grass-fed yogurt or parfaits, or eaten on its own as a dessert or healthy snack.
Apples Are Packed With Antioxidants That Are Great for Your Health
With the variety of colors, textures and flavors apples have to offer, it’s not a surprise that these fruits are the second most popular fruit in the U.S. Apart from being delicious, crunchy and juicy, the health benefits that you can get from eating apples are timeless.
Apples are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin A, which serves as a powerful antioxidant that assists in fighting infections and scavenging inflammatory free radicals. However, most of the fruit’s antioxidant content is found in the peel, so make sure to leave it on when eating apples or using it in your recipes.
Meanwhile, vitamin C in apples enhances immune system function and slows down aging, and B vitamins thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and pyridoxine (B6) work in tandem to release powerful enzymes that boost metabolism and other important bodily functions.
On the other hand, nutrients like iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and potassium were shown to contribute to apples’ abilities in controlling heart rate and blood pressure levels, while fiber was linked to helping prevent LDL or bad cholesterol absorption. Lastly, studies have shown apples’ potential in decreasing risk for conditions such as:,,,
- Neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
Unfortunately, most commercially sold apples are contaminated with harmful pesticides. In fact, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2016 Dirty Dozen list ranked apples as the second most pesticide-contaminated fruit. In order to reap the health benefits of these fruits, make sure you purchase organic and GMO-free apples.
If you only have access to conventionally grown apples, briefly soak them first in a solution of 10 percent vinegar and 90 percent water to help eliminate some of the pesticides and bacteria.
Furthermore, apples are high in fructose, with a medium-sized apple containing a whopping 9.5 grams. Eating too many apples can lead your body’s fructose levels into overdrive, so always eat apples in moderation.
Why You Should Be a Fan of Coconut Flour
Coconut oil’s benefits have been emphasized time and time again, but it seems coconut flour will soon follow suit. This type of flour is made from fresh coconut meat after it’s pressed to create coconut milk and once most of the oil is extracted. This dried meat is then grated, with the finished product having a fine and powder-like texture.
Coconut flour can be used as a substitute to wheat- and grain-based flours in recipes, and delivers a mild and sweet coconut flavor and rich texture. I recommend using coconut flour for flour-based dishes since there is added nutrition you can get from it.
With 48 percent dietary fiber, coconut flour contains the highest percentage of dietary fiber out of the various flours available today. As such, it is very ideal for those suffering from insulin resistance or diabetes, since it won’t trigger spikes in blood sugar. Plus, coconut flour is also a good source of both protein and healthy fats, and is very low in carbohydrates (even lower than some vegetables).
When adding coconut flour into recipes, remember this general rule: You can replace up to 20 percent of the flour in the recipe with coconut flour, alongside an equal amount of liquid, without sacrificing the flavor or texture of the finished product.
If you’re completely substituting with coconut flour, keep in mind that you’ll need less coconut flour than grain-based flour. For example, if a recipe calls for a cup of grain-based flour, use one-quarter to one-third of coconut flour instead.
Mixing an organic, pastured egg per ounce of coconut flour is advisable too, since this takes the place of gluten and helps bind the mixture well. Raw honey, hemp powder, chia seeds or ground flax seeds (1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds in 3 tablespoons of water can be substituted for an egg) could also be used in case you don’t have eggs at home.
The high-fiber content causes the coconut flour to act like a sponge, and if you substitute the required flour in a recipe with 100 percent coconut flour, this can change the outcome of your dish.
Count on Cinnamon for a Flavor and Health Boost
What makes this apple crumble extra delicious is the blend of spices that enhances the fruit’s flavor, like cinnamon. This warm-hued spice is sold either in stick or powder form, and is popular because of its distinct fragrance and flavor. However, most people are unaware that this well-loved spice also yields positive effects on the body.
Minerals such as calcium, fiber and manganese are present in cinnamon, and this spice offers antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that all potentially play a role in:
Boosting antioxidant defenses
Enhancing cognitive function
Refining brain health
Assisting with weight loss
Helping treat sore throat and/or coughs
Helping diabetes patients by lowering blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity and slowing down the stomach’s emptying time to decrease sharp blood sugar rises after a meal
By Dr. Mercola
Cannabis is a vastly underutilized therapeutic option that has been wrongly vilified by U.S. regulatory agencies. In this interview, Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Stanford-trained pathologist and award-winning researcher, discusses the therapeutic value of this plant.
While initially focused on the conventional medical model, Gedde eventually transitioned over to holistic, drug-free health care in 2004. At present, she runs an alternative medical practice in Colorado, the home of medical marijuana, as it was one of the first states to widely legalize and apply it.
Gedde specializes in the use of cannabis, especially for the use of pain, thereby allowing her patients to get off dangerous drugs like opiates, which have created a public health emergency of massive proportions.Drug Enforcement Administration Just Took a Huge Step Backward
We've come a long way in the U.S. when it comes to re-normalizing the use of medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is still trying to suppress it as best they can.
This despite the fact that CBD has no psychoactive component, meaning it cannot render you "high." This is truly tragic when you consider the many medical uses for CBD. As noted by Gedde:
"It has been a real boon to have CBD available … CBD is not only non-psychoactive, it is remarkably non-toxic. Far less toxic than even over-the-counter medications that are commonly used.
The concept of putting CBD on the Schedule 1 of the drug schedule, saying that it has no medical use and is highly dangerous, just flies in the face of fact, science and knowledge. It's such a regressive move. It's certainly very disappointing …
[W]ith this move, they're not going in the right direction at all. They're definitely going backward. It's like a hostile act."
Indeed, the decision is so beyond irrational, the only justification I can see is that the DEA is influenced or controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. Making CBD — a non-psychoactive, non-toxic component with medicinal value — a schedule 1 drug benefits no one except the drug companies that have to compete against it.
There's absolutely no justification in a rational, science-based system for this decision. Ironically, synthetic tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) drugs, such as Dronabinol and Marinol, are listed as Schedule 3 drugs.Rendering CBD Illegal May Create More Medical Refugees
The DEA's decision on CBD means that patients who live in states where medical marijuana is not permitted may again have to contemplate physically relocating to a state where CBD is legally available, such as Colorado, since it can no longer be shipped across state lines.
While not commonly discussed, there are in fact many such "medical refugees" in the U.S. Prior to the reclassification, CBD was freely available in all U.S. states, and could be easily obtained via mail order.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a list of six priorities when the federal government is looking at states with medical cannabis laws, or just marijuana laws in general, where they wanted to be sure that product wasn't being shipped outside the state …
[T]hey wanted to be sure organized crime wasn't getting involved. They said if the states would stay within these guidelines and not be creating an interstate crime, then they would stay hands off. That's where we've been operating. We had the availability of CBD across state lines.
But now, with the new administration and the new year, the DEA is not going to allow the CBD to be shipped. Then we'll see if the priorities of enforcement change."Cannabis Has Been a Boon to Colorado
Medical cannabis is very heavily taxed, and Colorado has seen enormous amounts of revenue flowing into the state with the legalization of marijuana. A big portion of that money is also given back as rebates to the residents of Colorado. So, from the state's financial perspective, it's been enormously effective and beneficial.
Colorado also allows the adult recreational use of marijuana. Interestingly, Gedde believes the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana has also been quite positive. For starters, if it's legal for adults to use marijuana, then it's easier for a person to seek medical cannabis.
"After it became legal for adults to use marijuana in Colorado, we saw more and more people coming into the clinic who had never used marijuana before," she says.
"As far as culture and society in Colorado, there are some people who don't like the number of shops … However, I think it actually has made a very positive change in the state.
There's data coming out … suggesting that in Colorado, specifically, and I think in general medical states, once there is greater availability of marijuana, the death toll from opiates goes down. We've also seen some data that there's less alcohol being used on the roads.
These are preliminary data. Some people would say 'This is too soon. You can't make those conclusions.' But actually, we really haven't seen problems.
There are rules against using marijuana in public, so people aren't supposed to be walking down the street smoking marijuana in any case. Things are really pretty calm and going smoothly. I think most people are pretty happy with the developments in the state with the marijuana availability in the laws."Why Has Marijuana Been Vilified?
Smoking marijuana was once viewed as an act of political dissidence against the Vietnam War, and looking back at the history of what President Nixon was doing at the time, one can rightfully conclude that one of the reasons marijuana was so heavily targeted was to get rid of the hippies.
Marijuana became the fulcrum in the social battle of the day, and the U.S. government sought a means to take certain types of individuals out of society, and what better way than to arrest them and put them in jail? As noted by Gedde:
"[Marijuana has] been vilified all along. For what reasons? Maybe it does too much. It does have the psychoactivity, so people can change how they think and question things. When we look at cannabis overall, marijuana and hemp combined … all the different cannabinoids in there, we know that it's excellent medicine.
We know that it's popular recreationally, which of course competes with the alcohol industry. Hemp also provides excellent biofuel. It actually competes with the petroleum industry. It provides excellent fiber for clothing. It competes with lumber, which is one of the reasons apparently why hemp was restricted earlier in the 20th century …
Medicine, recreation, food, fuel and fiber. What else can do all those things? It's excellent food. Hemp oil has essential fatty acids. It's high-quality oil and it has high-quality protein. You can actually live on hemp seeds."On Entering the Medical Marijuana System
Gedde was trained in the idea that molecular biology will provide us with all the answers we need. By understanding the details of how cells work, we'll be able to design a cure for every disease. However, once she found herself actually working inside the pharmaceutical industry, seeing how decisions were made, she came to realize the flaws of the system.
The fact of the matter is, drug companies have the legal mandate to turn a handsome profit. This in and of itself can create situations where profits are placed ahead of actual medical benefits. Moreover, when a company selects a product to develop, that product is not necessarily what is most needed. It's the thing that will make the most money.
"I realized there are non-pharmaceutical, non-patentable, more holistic and supportive options, such as … nutritional support, hormone balancing and neurotransmitter support. Instead of taking Prozac, how about some 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)?
Those are things that naturopathic and alternative physicians are so familiar with and work with. That was not at all part of conventional medical practice. Certainly not the way I was trained. It was an epiphany. It was kind of a turning point in my career. It was a big thing to leave the pharmaceutical industry and open my first alternative practice," Gedde says.
She opened her medical practice in 2004, but it wasn't until 2009 that she began realizing the usefulness of cannabis. Initially, she learned from patients who were using it. They would tell her about how it helped heal their various ailments. Eventually she began researching it on her own, discovering the human endocannabinoid system in the process — a biological system not touched upon in medical school.
"When I started hearing the results patients were getting, I realized that the reason why [marijuana] could do so many different things in the body without being toxic is because it is acting through this natural endocannabinoid system in our bodies. That's when I said 'Wow. This is huge. There's nothing like this in medicine. There's nothing that I can prescribe that comes close to what this can do for people.'"
In 2010, she made the decision to focus on medical cannabis full-time — a decision she ascribes to careful deliberation of what actually helps patients the most.The Endocannabinoid System
The human endocannabinoid system — endo meaning "within" — strongly suggests the human organism is actually designed to make good use of the cannabis plant. In other words, the marijuana plant triggers something that's been inside us since the dawn of mankind. The endocannabinoid system exists in other mammals as well, suggesting it is a truly an ancient biological system.
The cannabis plant makes cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids or plant cannabinoids. This encompasses both CBD and THC, the latter of which is the psychoactive ingredient. In all, there are about 60 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and medicinally, several of them are used. You also make cannabinoids inside your own body. So far, two major ones have been identified and studied since the early '90s.
The endocannabinoid system was first described in a science article in "The Journal of Science" in 1992. The primary role of the endocannabinoid system — which releases human cannabinoids that interact with receptors found in virtually all tissues in the body — is to bring balance (homeostasis) to tissues and biological systems.
Essentially, the endocannabinoid system plays a key regulatory role in the human body. For example, there are endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system, where cannabinoids are made locally on demand. What this means is that, in your nervous system, you have sending nerve cells and receiving nerve cells, and the endocannabinoid system works with those cells to maintain balance.
For example, if the receiving nerve cell becomes too excited, you end up with a seizure. Seizures are due to uncontrolled electrical activity in the neurons. It's an overstimulated state. The endocannabinoid receptor detects this overstimulation and, on demand, makes human cannabinoids to dial down the sending impulses, thereby balancing the system.Cannabinoids Benefit Your Entire Body
By bringing tissues back into balance, cannabinoids can reduce pain, nerve stimulation causing seizures, and muscle spasm. They also help you relax and improve sleep.
"[The endocannabinoid system] is a very key system. It totally makes sense why marijuana can do so many different things. It affects the mind. It affects the emotions. It affects the body on multiple levels. That's the THC. CBD does that as well. CBD has multiple targets in the body. The system seems very complex. There are multiple receptors.
It's not known how CBD acts. It acts in a different way from THC. There's much to research. But this is a very rich system, and it's very involved in our other body systems.
Those who write about this and report on it in the scientific literature frequently said that if this were being looked at for the first time, it would be in all the headlines. 'Hail. There's an incredible boon to mankind.' Because it can actually work through this natural system and do so many things without being toxic.
So many pain medications are damaging to the stomach, to the gut. The cannabis doesn't hurt the gut. It helps heal the gut. People are so relieved … There's nothing else that does that. It won't hurt the organs. It won't hurt the liver. It won't hurt the kidneys.
Ibuprofen … people can't stay on that for months and years. They can stay on cannabis. As we know as well, there is no known lethal dose for cannabis, whether it's THC or CBD. A person couldn't die from it even if they were trying really, really hard. There's nothing you can say that about. It offers so much to people on a medical level."Cannabis Has Self-Limiting Effects
There is no fatal toxicity associated with cannabis. As noted by Gedde, the effects of THC and CBD are both dose-dependent. They have a bell-shaped response curve, which means there's a sweet spot where you get the benefit without any adverse effects. For THC, small, appropriate doses are relaxing and settle the stomach.
Too high a dose of THC will trigger anxiety. It can also cause nausea, confusion and/or disorientation. In severe cases, you might not know where or who you are. Temporary psychosis can also occur on high doses of THC. However, these effects are temporary and will resolve once the drug wears off.
Such side effects are actually helpful in that they cause cannabis use to become self-limiting. People don't want to feel terrible, so excessive doses are automatically discouraged by creating adverse reactions. Opiates, on the other hand, has no such feedback mechanism. People who take too high a dose simply die in a very relaxed state.
"With opiates, there's no point at which a person says, 'This is terrible. I don't want to do this.' There always needs to be more. With cannabis, it does have that self-limiting effect," Gedde says.
"We work closely with patients on the dosing. Less works; you want to start with lower. Because it is an oily medication and it does interact with the body in a different way, the cannabis can build up in the fatty tissues over time. We get this build-up effect that's very beneficial …
We explain this to patients to say, 'You could start at a certain dose. As you take that same dose day after day, it's going to build up for three to four weeks, so you could wait and see where the build-up effect gets you before you go to the next level.' That's, again, so that they're not using more than they need, not having extra side effects … The biggest thing we warn about is too-high doses of THC that would cause impairment and a very uncomfortable or unhappy experience."Adverse Effects and Precautions
There is research in the medical literature suggesting that young people who already have a tendency to schizophrenia seem to receive a schizophrenia diagnosis sooner if they've been using marijuana. However, it's still not clear whether THC is actually causing or triggering the schizophrenia. That said, people with a family history of schizophrenia would be wise to use caution, and to work closely with an experienced doctor should they decide to try medical marijuana.
"Probably the biggest concern is simply that, in the developing brain in young people all the way up to the age of 25, the cannabinoids act on the brain. It seems THC can change brain development in such a way that — when a person is their 20s — that person would have a lower level of executive function, being able to plan and organize, and a little bit lower IQ," Gedde says.
"But there are battling studies going back and forth, where one would come out and say clearly 'Young people should not use this. Look at this correlation with bad outcomes.' And someone else will say, 'No. Look. You didn't control for XYZ. If we control this, we see that actually the reduced outcome correlates with socioeconomic status.'
As far as the cautions against adverse events, it really does relate to dose. Helping them to find the right doses that give them the benefits they need without adverse effect of too much, and just recognizing the psychoactive effect of the THC, especially for new users. But when we get the dose right, it could be very smooth and very productive."Benefits of Cannabis and Specific Cannabinoids
As mentioned, CBD has no psychoactive activity, and has a long list of medicinal uses. It's an excellent muscle relaxer, easing spasms and pain. For this use, it can be applied topically, although edible versions tend to provide the deepest and most long-lasting relaxation and pain relief.
THC is famous for settling nausea associated with chemotherapy. According to Gedde, there's really nothing a doctor can prescribe that's as effective as THC for nausea. It also helps improve digestive function. For this reason, THC is particularly valuable for digestive disorders such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Cannabis has been shown to help glaucoma by reducing the intraocular pressure. It also helps normalize blood pressure, although that's not a valid medical indication for medical cannabis use in Colorado. As noted by Gedde:
"When you combine the body relaxation and the mental shifts — people talk about just being able to relax, it brings the stress down — this probably is part of how it helps blood pressure … But it does help normalize blood pressure so people are able to reduce their pills. That's actually one of the real cautions I do tell people about. If they're on blood pressure medication and they add the cannabis, their blood pressure can actually go too low. I alert them to peel back the blood pressure medications …"
Seizures are a classic indication of use, but you need to be very careful with the dosing when treating seizures. Gedde has found that CBD tends to be more difficult to use for seizures than THC, as too much CBD will exacerbate the seizures. HIV and cancer are other indications for use, as cannabis helps with sleep, nausea, pain and immune support, and has anti-tumor activity.
"The ones that aren't on the qualifying conditions list in Colorado would include the more psychological diagnosis. THC can induce anxiety if the dose is wrong or the strain is not compatible with that person. [Still], many use THC to relieve anxiety. Because we have hundreds of different strains of marijuana and cannabis, each of which is slightly different, there is a huge potential to customize [the drug] for each person."Different Marijuana Strains Have Different Effects
In addition to cannabinoids, there's a whole other set of compounds in cannabis called terpenes — the same compounds found in essential oils. Terpenes are what give each marijuana strain its unique color and smell. Some strains smell like lemon. Other strains are purple and smell like lavender. In fact, the same terpene found in lavender, linalool, which gives lavender its calming, relaxing potential, is also found in many marijuana strains.
There's a whole range of marijuana strains known for their calming, sleep-inducing, relaxing properties, collectively known as "indicas." Indicas strains will not induce anxiety. They're relaxing and stress-reducing. The sativas are more stimulating and energizing, and resemble caffeine in this regard.
While helpful for anxiety and depression, sativas could produce paranoia and put you on edge, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When addressing the psychological spectrum, strain selection is very important.
"Post-traumatic stress is so difficult to treat. PTSD patients, the veterans, are a huge population we see. We're in Colorado Springs. There are military bases here. We see a lot of the veterans who had been overseas. Not only do they have all the physical injuries, but they have those psychological injuries. [They can benefit greatly] from choosing the correct strains and be able to actually get the benefit of that well-known property of THC where it causes forgetting.
THC is known to slow the mind down. You can't quite think about the things maybe that you were going to. For a lot of people, in a lot of settings, that would be an unwelcomed side effect. But when you have post-traumatic stress and you have intrusive thoughts, to have the mind slow down and those thoughts just don't break through and the nightmares don't break through, that's a huge boon. In post-traumatic stress, we see a lot of good results."CBD and THC Work Very Well Together, Ameliorating Side Effects
Gedde stresses the point that CBD and THC work very well in combination, and while medical cannabis has been primarily THC-based, the availability of CBD has been a real boon, as CBD helps temper the psychoactivity of the THC.
"With hemp being grown now and CBD returning to patients, you can really use the THC in doses that are effective without the psychoactivity," she says. "We've been telling patients this is a huge boon for everyone. Get your CBD. Combine it with your THC. It's everywhere. It's not restricted like the THC.
Having this DEA action come out really puts that back on its heels for people who are not in a legal state. Here in Colorado, certainly we will continue to have CBD and THC, and continue working with them."
In closing, another point of note is that when the plant is unheated, meaning raw, it actually does not have THC in it. That's another one of its remarkable properties. The plant actually makes THC acid (THCA) and CBDA. So when you eat it raw, you get the THCA, not THC, which relieves pain and spasms. THCA is a synergizing agent, but it doesn't have the psychoactivity associated with THC.
This means you can consume marijuana raw and get health benefits without the psychoactivity. A number of doctors have become proponents of using raw cannabinoid as a dietary supplement. The key is to not heat the plant. If it were legal to use recreationally where I live I would grow it and regularly throw it in my smoothies.
Personally, I believe there are many still undiscovered benefits of taking cannabis therapeutically. There are no real downsides; no major adverse effects. Even the psychoactive side effects are only related to the heating of the plant, and even then they're temporary and largely self-limiting. The same cannot be said for opioids, which have overtaken cigarettes in popularity and kill tens of thousands of users each year, even when taken as prescribed.
By Dr. Mercola
Have you ever been swimming (or even in the bathtub), tilted your head the wrong way and gotten that uncomfortable sensation of water entering your ear canal?
Often the water will drain out on its own, but if it doesn't, it can get trapped and lead to a condition known as swimmer's ear, aka otitis externa. The sensation is uncomfortable at first — a slightly tickling, eye-watering twinge anywhere from your ear to your jawline and throat, and sound might be muffled.
But water isn't the only thing that can exacerbate this problem. Trying to fix the problem in the wrong way using all kinds of instruments to help open up the tubes and perhaps get wax out of the way can make the problem worse or even introduce bacteria that can cause infection.
You should not use cotton swabs, pens, bobby pins, crochet needles or even your fingers for this purpose.
The trouble is, any of these instruments can cause damage to your ear canal's delicate lining. Don't do it! At the very least, it can cause an ear infection, and there are several safe and effective things you can do to get water to drain from your ears without making the problem worse.Safe Methods for Removing Water From Your Ears
Nobody likes having water trapped in their ears. Frankly, it makes you miserable, but to get it out safely and without doing further damage requires an understanding of how water behaves.
Remember, gravity generally causes water, wherever it is, to seek the lowest level to settle. Evaporation, suction and wicking are other measures to try.
✓ Gravity — Letting gravity do what it does may be the most practical way to remove water from your ears. Simply tugging or jiggling your earlobe to change the configuration of the tube leading to your ear canal, while tipping your head toward your shoulder, may do the trick.
✓ Suction — Create a vacuum by tilting your head to the side and alternately cupping your palm tightly over your ear and away again, several times. This may help move the water or at least loosen it up so it can be pulled out.
✓ Evaporation — Experts recommend using a blow dryer for this purpose. Place it on its lowest setting for both force and heat, hold it about a foot from your ear and move it slowly back and forth to distribute the force of the air directed toward your ear. This may help evaporate the trapped water.
Simultaneously, do the earlobe-tugging maneuver. You may run out of hands, though, so you might need someone to help you with this method.
✓ Wicking — Similar to the way cellphones accidentally dropped in water can be miraculously resurrected (under the right conditions) by placing it into a bag of uncooked rice, wicking may work to remove water trapped in your ear.
Try using a dry towel or washcloth to clean your ears immediately after bathing. Using a warm-to-hot washcloth as a compress over your ear to drain, soothe and combine several of the above methods may also be helpful.
✓ Evaporation plus infection prevention — Combining alcohol and vinegar 1-to-1 in a sterile dropper may have the combined effect of helping the water evaporate while preventing bacterial growth.
Place three to four drops into your ear with your head tilted to the side to let the solution work for a few minutes, then drain.
You may feel "fizzing," hear popping noises and even experience a deep itch inside of your ear. Tilt your head to the side, use three or four drops of the solution and let it "percolate" for a few minutes before draining.
If you already have an ear infection, a perforated eardrum or tubes in your ears (or your child's), options involving drops are not recommended.Prevention and Why It's Important
When dogs emerge from water, they shake their heads vigorously from side to side, sending a spray of water in all directions to get excess water off their coats, but as a preventative measure this may have just as much to do with shaking water out of their ears.
It might look odd, but this method, too, would be worth the strange looks you might get. Especially if water in your ears has a tendency to cause problems, wearing a swim cap or ear plugs when showering or swimming would be worth any inconvenience.
In fact, doctors advise people involved in water sports (or in water frequently for any other reason) to wear ear plugs.
Infection is the thing to be most vigilant to prevent. That's most important if the water comes from a lake or river where the water may be polluted. Harmful bacteria in the water can cause swimmer's ear.
Your risk of developing swimmer's ear increases if you have eczema, psoriasis or a similar chronic skin disorder, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology
— Head and Neck Surgery.2 Other conditions also make swimmer's ear more prevalent, according to Medical News Today:3
- Excess moisture in your ear
- Scratches or cuts in your ear canal
- Allergies to skin or hair products or jewelry
Infections can spread, including those caused by a new piercing that gets infected, and may worsen an ear infection. Some people may assume regular pH checks and chlorination will rid swimming pools of any infection-causing bacteria, but not always.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says germs can be spread even by a fine mist of contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans.4 More specifically:
"Ear infections can be caused by leaving contaminated water in the ear after swimming. This infection, known as "swimmer's ear" or otitis externa, is not the same as the common childhood middle ear infection.
The infection occurs in the outer ear canal and can cause pain and discomfort for swimmers of all ages. In the United States, swimmer's ear results in an estimated 2.4 million health care visits every year and nearly half a billion dollars in health care costs."5Ear Infections and Other Complications
Besides pain, redness and swelling inside and outside your ear, symptoms, listed by Medical News Today,6 include:
✓ Partial (and temporary) hearing loss from swelling
✓ Scaly, peeling skin in and around your ear canal
✓ Watery discharge or pus that may smell bad
✓ Itching and irritation in and around your ear canal
✓ Ear tenderness when
you move your mouth
to speak or eat
✓ Swollen lymph glands in your throat
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), swimmer's ear involves inflammation outside of the ear canal and may extend to the tympanic membrane:
"The acute form has an annual incidence of approximately 1 percent and a lifetime prevalence of 10 percent. On rare occasions, the infection invades the surrounding soft tissue and bone; this is known as malignant (necrotizing) otitis externa, and is a medical emergency that occurs primarily in older patients with diabetes mellitus."7
Medical News Today reiterates that a severe infection may lead to fever and pain in your face, neck or side of the head. Additionally: "Complications of swimmer's ear may include temporary hearing difficulties and pain. Rare complications include long-term infection, deep tissue infection, bone and cartilage damage, and infection that spreads to the brain or nerves."8
Swimmer's ear is the most common infection swimmers experience and can last as long as three weeks. If it lasts longer than that, or pain and inflammation is ongoing for several days, it's time to see a medical professional.Antibiotics and Vaccines May Worsen the Problem
The middle ear infection previously referenced, otitis media, or OM, is the most common one experienced by children, but might not need to be. The American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery notes:
"About 62 percent of children in developed countries will have their first episode of OM by the age of one, more than 80 percent by their third birthday, and nearly 100 percent will have at least one episode by age 5. In the U.S. alone, this illness accounts for 25 million office visits annually with direct costs for treatment estimated at $3 billion. Health economists add that when lost wages for parents are included, the total cost of estimated treatments mount to $6 billion."9
Further, the usual treatment for children with these infections is typically either antibiotics or pressure equalizing tubes, inserted surgically. But this can lead to bacterial resistance, meaning the infection becomes even more difficult to treat. Even worse, the tubes don't always do the job properly and may need to be re-inserted.10
While the concept of vaccines is to stimulate peoples' immune systems without actually causing illness, it doesn't always happen that way. The website adds that pneumococcus is one of the most common and potentially serious bacteria to cause ear infections (not to mention sinus infections, pneumonia and meningitis).
If a pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for your child, you'll need to weigh the risks of the vaccine against the potential benefits. In the case of ear infections, which often go away on their own with no treatment needed, there is some research that kids given vaccines actually have more ear infections than those not vaccinated. Further, more children may suffer adverse reactions from vaccines than any other type of drug or procedure.11
By Dr. Mercola
The video above, "The Fat Emperor: Insulin Versus Cholesterol," features Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer with a background in medical device engineering and leading teams in complex problem solving.
In 2013, Cummins ran into health problems. His serum ferritin was very high (which is a potent risk factor for heart disease), as were his liver enzymes. After consulting with three different doctors, he realized none of them really understood the root cause of these problems, or how to address them.
As a result, he delved into the medical literature, found the problem and reversed his abnormal test results. He also dropped 35 pounds in the process.
Eventually, he got more involved in health and began giving lectures such as this one, which was presented at the Low Carb USA Keto Getaway1 in Florida this past January. He also has a website, thefatemperor.com,2 where he notes:
"I refer primarily to the 'diet-heart' hypothesis, which proposed that dietary saturated fat elevated blood cholesterol, and the latter drove heart disease mortality like nothing else.
The evidence at the time was loose correlation, certainly not causation, and seems almost laughably naïve in retrospect.
However, the tenaciousness of this flawed hypothesis has turned out to be no laughing matter, condemning millions to the misery of obesity, type 2 diabetes and an extraordinary range of inflammatory diseases.
The factors that conspired to perpetuate the flawed hypotheses were many: academic and research community hubris, political forces, economic imperatives, profiteering from the food and pharmaceutical industries, and the groupthink psychology that underpins the worsening 'diabesity epidemic.
After 25 years in technical/management positions with a personal specialty in complex problem solving, I have been inspired to … bring an engineering-style approach to the current situation."The Cholesterol Conundrum
The vast majority — about 80 percent — of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver. The remaining 20 percent comes from your diet. If you consume less, your body will compensate by making more, and vice versa.
Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is a crucial molecule necessary for optimal health, and not nearly the damaging culprit it's been made out to be.
Since cholesterol is a fatty substance, it does not travel well through your water-based bloodstream. Hence it is encapsulated in a lipoprotein. Cummins likens the very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) your liver makes to a boat that shuttles not only cholesterol but also triglycerides through your bloodstream to your tissues.
The VLDL will dock onto receptors in your muscle tissue, where it releases triglycerides to be used for energy. Cummins accurately notes that eating fat is not the cause of high triglycerides.
If your triglycerides are high, it means you're eating too many net carbohydrates, because it's actually sugar that causes triglycerides to rise, not dietary fat.
Once the VLDL has dropped off the triglycerides to be burnt for energy (or stored as fat if you're not using the energy due to inactivity), the VLDL becomes a low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which in conventional thinking is a "bad" kind of cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is colloquially known as "good" cholesterol, and the HDL is indeed beneficial in that it acts as a master manager, helping protect the LDL against oxidation and transport triglycerides and cholesterol in and out of the VLDL.
In a healthy person, the LDL will be reabsorbed by the liver after about two days, where it gets broken up and recycled. This is a beautiful system; alas, it is one that can be disrupted if you're eating too many unhealthy foods.
As a general rule, a high-sugar diet will cause damaged LDLs to rise, beneficial HDLs to drop, triglycerides and, often, total cholesterol to rise. All of these are conventional indicators of atherosclerosis or inflammation in your arteries that can precipitate a heart attack.Beyond Cholesterol — What Really Causes Heart Disease?
According to Dr. Thomas Dayspring, a lipidologist (expert on cholesterol), most heart attacks are due to insulin resistance. He has also stated that LDL "is a near-worthless predictor for cardiovascular issues."
In simple layman's terms Cummins goes on to demonstrate the connection between the metabolic functionality of adipose fat — which actually acts as a signaling organ — and insulin sensitivity, and how and why:
- A metabolically healthy normal weight (MHNW) person who has good insulin sensitivity has a low risk level for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- A metabolically obese yet normal weight (MONW) individual who is insulin resistant has a high risk
- A metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) individual who is insulin resistant also has a high risk
- But a metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individual who has good insulin sensitivity is at low risk for CVD
In other words, there's healthy body fat and unhealthy body fat, or put another way, fat that protects your health and fat that promotes disease. The key difference is the presence or absence of insulin sensitivity.
The higher your insulin resistance, the worse markers such as fasting insulin, triglyceride-HDL ratio and HbA1c will be, suggesting you're at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Recent research has shown that two specific metrics: circulating adiponectin and macrophages, can with near 100 percent accuracy predict your obese phenotype, meaning whether you're obese insulin sensitive or obese insulin resistant.How a High-Sugar Diet Causes Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
But what makes one person insulin sensitive and another insulin resistant? This is where your diet comes into play. What you eat tends to be a primary deal-maker or deal-breaker. Other factors that promote systemic insulin resistance include:
✓ Insufficient sleep
✓ Lack of exercise
✓ Omega-6-rich vegetable oils
✓ Low vitamin D/lack of sun exposure
✓ Low omega-3
More often than not, excessive amounts of glucose from net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) are what set the disease process into motion by causing your insulin level to spike. When repeated over time, your adipose fat tissue begins to lose its systemic signaling capabilities, precipitating insulin resistance.
While glucose can be used by most cells in your body, fructose, on the other hand, must be processed by your liver before it can be used. It's actually metabolized in a way similar to alcohol — a similarity evident in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Small amounts of fructose will not cause a problem, but very large amounts will over time trigger systemic insulin resistance.
Eventually, the high sugar load will cause your pancreas to diminish its production of insulin, and the hyperinsulinemia that prevented lipolysis of triglycerides in your fat cells will cease. Subsequently, your liver will begin to output glucose even when you're not eating, and this is when your blood glucose finally begins to skyrocket.
Prior to this, the elevated insulin actually kept the blood glucose in check. But as insulin production drops, there's nothing to prevent the blood glucose from rising anymore. As noted by Cummins, it can take many years for this process to play out before you end up with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. But you could have gotten a heads-up years, if not decades, earlier using a simple blood test.Measuring Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of factors including:
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Large waist circumference
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
Having three or more of these factors over a certain level is considered evidence of metabolic dysfunction that sets the stage for chronic disease, including not only atherosclerosis and CVD but also gout, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, NAFLD, arthritis and more.
As noted by Cummins, metabolic syndrome is actually more aptly named insulin resistance syndrome. Moreover, since insulin secretion is the "master measurement" for insulin resistance, measuring your insulin level — particularly after a meal (post-prandial) — will give you the information you really need without having to evaluate those other five measurements.The Master Measure
Dr. Joseph Kraft, former chairman of the department of clinical pathology and nuclear medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital, wrote the book "Diabetes Epidemic and You: Should Everyone Be Tested?" Based on data from some 14,000 patients, he developed a test that is a powerful predictor of diabetes. He would have the patient drink 75 grams of glucose, and then measure their insulin response over time, at half-hour intervals for up to five hours.
Interestingly, he noticed five distinctive patterns suggesting that a vast majority of people were already diabetic, even though their fasting glucose was normal. In fact, 90 percent of hyperinsulinemic patients passed the fasting glucose test, and 50 percent passed the glucose tolerance test. Only 20 percent of patients had the type 1 pattern signaling healthy post-prandial insulin sensitivity and low diabetes risk.
Cummins believes that using Kraft's test, about 65 percent of Americans or more probably would have hyperinsulinemia or "diabetes in situ." And, according to Kraft, "Those with cardiovascular disease not identified with diabetes … are simply undiagnosed."
One of the take-home messages here is that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are two sides of the same coin, as they drive and promote each other. In other words, if you have hyperinsulinemia, you are essentially insulin resistant and on your way toward developing full-blown diabetes lest you change your dietary course.How Hyperinsulinemia/Insulin Resistance Causes Heart Disease
In summary, insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia promote fatty liver — a combination that in turn drives high blood insulin and associated mechanistic pathways that shuttle lipids (fats) into your vascular walls, which is a hallmark of atherosclerosis. It also leads to high blood glucose, particularly post-prandial blood glucose, and this too has mechanistic pathways that promote atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure is another side effect of insulin resistance that drives atherosclerosis by placing stress on your arteries. As noted by Cummins, most idiopathic hypertension (high blood pressure with no known cause) is now thought to be caused by hyperinsulinemia.
Hyperinsulinemia/insulin resistance promotes inflammation, causing your visceral fat to release inflammatory cytokines and systemic signaling molecules. Over time, your visceral fat becomes increasingly resistant as well, causing the systemic signaling to falter. Taken as a whole, this cascade of events drives atherogenic dyslipidemia, characterized by the now familiar culprits: high LDL, oxidized LDL and triglycerides, and low HDL.
According to Cummins, while high LDL is a very erratic marker for heart disease risk, an elevated LDL "particle count" is actually a very good marker for insulin resistance. Thus the LDL metrics should be more thought of asindicative of inflammatory issues, and not as the LDL itself being the problem!
In its entirety, all of these factors are what flag the development of heart disease. Other factors that can influence your CVD risk include smoking and other environmental pollutants, especially heavy metals, so addressing and eliminating these kinds of toxic exposures would also be prudent.How to Avoid Heart Disease
Evidence suggests high total cholesterol and even high LDL are insignificant when trying to determine your heart disease risk. Your best predictor is your insulin sensitivity. Considering how insulin resistance drives chronic disease in general, not just heart disease, I strongly recommend measuring your fasting insulin on a regular basis, and taking immediate action if you find yourself inching toward insulin resistance.
Your fasting insulin level can be determined by a simple, inexpensive blood test. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. As for preventing or reversing hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance, the following general guidelines will set you on the right track:
- Dramatically reduce your net carbs and eliminate processed fructose, as this is what set this cascade of metabolic dysfunction into motion in the first place. Replace the lost calories with higher amounts of healthy fats, not protein. My optimized nutritional plan can guide you through this process.
- Normalize your omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio. Most get far too little omega-3, found in fatty fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, fish oil and krill oil, and too much omega-6, as it is plentiful in processed vegetable oils and hence processed and fried foods.
- Optimize your vitamin D level by getting regular, sensible sun exposure. Other nutrients of importance include magnesium and vitamins K2 and C.
- Get eight hours of high quality sleep each night to normalize your hormonal system. Research has shown sleep deprivation can have a significant bearing on your insulin sensitivity.
- Get regular exercise, as it is a powerful way to help normalize your insulin sensitivity.
By Dr. Mercola
Worldwide, 47.5 million people are living with dementia. This is expected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030 and more than triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1
Dementia is not a disease in itself but rather is a term used to describe a number of different brain illnesses that may affect your memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of cases.2
Many people associate dementia with memory loss — and this is a red flag — however, not all memory problems are due to Alzheimer's (and some causes of dementia-like symptoms, including memory loss, can be reversed, such as those related to thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies).3
If you've noticed yourself or a loved one becoming increasingly forgetful or experiencing changes in thinking abilities, you should see a health care provider right away.
Oftentimes, however, the first symptoms are so subtle they may be easily missed — and they may manifest as changes in behavior and mood long before memory problems become apparent.Personality Changes May Be an Early Dementia Sign
Before memory and thinking problems become obvious, people with dementia may display changes in mood and behavior, according to a team of neuropsychiatrists and Alzheimer's experts, who say the latter symptoms may be among the earliest signs of dementia.
At the 2016 Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Toronto, the team released a 34-question checklist they believe could eventually be used to diagnosis a new condition called mild behavioral impairment (MBI).
Similar to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is defined by a noticeable decline in cognitive abilities that does not yet interfere with most daily functions, MBI describes changes in behavior and mood that may occur prior to MCI and the cognitive changes associated with dementia.
The checklist is intended to identify patients at risk of dementia earlier, as according to team member Dr. Zahinoor Ismail, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Calgary, among people with MCI, those with mood and behavior changes will progress to full-blown dementia faster.4
Some have expressed concern that the checklist may lead to overdiagnosis or false diagnosis, putting some people through increased medical testing and worry unnecessarily.
In the case of MCI, for instance, not everyone diagnosed will go on to develop Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. In fact, the Times reported, up to 20 percent of those with MCI later turn out to be cognitively normal.5
Still, others say keeping an eye out for unusual behavioral or personality changes can help people get help, at least symptom relief, faster. Sadly, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease and, as it progresses, the disease is devastating not only for those diagnosed but also their friends and family.
In order to raise awareness, an Ohio man has been documenting his mother's battle with Lewy body dementia (LBD), which has symptoms similar to Alzheimer's. In the video below, he recorded the first time she forgot who he was.6What Are Some Behavioral or Mood Changes to Watch Out For?
Dementia can manifest itself differently in everyone, which is why the most important changes to watch out for are those that are unusual for your loved one. A person may, for instance, stop doing something they've always loved to do, be it cooking a certain dish for your birthday or watching the evening news.
Apathy is another common sign, although some people may display more blatant changes like suddenly becoming sexually promiscuous or developing the habit of snatching food off other people's plates.7 The Alzheimer's Association noted:8
"The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone."
In the early stages of the disease, irritability, anxiety or depression may occur. In fact, a study published in the journal Neurology not only found that people who eventually developed dementia were twice as likely to develop depression earlier on in their lives, but they also tended to display mood changes in a consistent pattern.9 Time reported:10
"The symptoms appeared in consistent phases: first, irritability, depression and nighttime behavior changes; followed by anxiety, appetite changes, agitation and apathy. The final phase was elation, motor disturbances, hallucinations, delusions and disinhibition."
In order for early mood and/or behavioral changes to be considered MBI, the change in behavior must persist for at least six months. Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., chief science officer, Alzheimer's Association, explained in a news release:11
"Alzheimer's is a deadly brain disease, and while memory loss is a hallmark of the disease, early symptoms such as anxiety, confusion and disorientation are often more common, troubling and obvious to family members.
This proposed new checklist describes and helps identify a new clinical stage in the disease and has the potential to represent a paradigm shift in formal neurodegeneration testing — away from a sole focus on the memory to also encompass behavior."Signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment
In some people, MCI may follow the earliest changes in mood and behavior. MCI is a slight decline in cognitive abilities that increases your risk of developing more serious dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (although it is by no means a guarantee). It's estimated that up to 20 percent of people aged 65 and older may have MCI.12
Simply misplacing your keys on occasion is not cause for alarm, however forgetting important information that you would have normally recalled, such as appointments, conversations or recent events, may be a sign.
You may also have a harder time making sound decisions, figuring out the sequence of steps needed to complete a task, or judging the time needed to do so.
If you've been diagnosed with MCI, be aware that some cases do not progress and may even improve. Regular exercise, proper diet and engaging in mentally and socially stimulating activities may help to boost your brainpower.Dementia: When to Worry?
It can be difficult to gauge if a loved one is declining mentally. If you have suspicions but aren't sure, try keeping a notebook to jot down instances that concern you. You may be able to identify a pattern of events that makes the picture clearer.
"Agnes B. Juhasz, nurse, dementia care specialist and author of 'The Dementia Whisperer: Scenes From the Frontline of Caring,' suggested making note of anything out of ordinary for that particular person. She wrote in the [U.K.]'s Mirror news:13'Naturally, there are a few typical signs and possible changes that are worth watching out for more closely.
These include the level of forgetfulness; acute or permanent confusion about certain things; disorientation in time and place; significant changes in behavior and personality; decreased judgment; changes in speech or writing; and withdrawal from social interactions and activities.
But all these suggested signs ultimately lead us back to the essential, magical question we always have to ask before we can arrive at any further conclusions: 'Is this abnormal for this individual, or is it part of who they have always been?' When we notice that something is new and odd, that has never occurred in a person`s life before, as far as we have observed, that is the point when further help may be needed.'"Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
While absent-minded mistakes, like putting a mug in the wrong cabinet, is not a cause for alarm, feeling confused about day-to-day tasks is.
Losing interest in hobbies, repetitive behaviors (phrases, gestures or questions), mispronouncing words or stuttering can also be signs. And while typical forgetfulness, like forgetting why you were walking into a room, is not typically reason to worry, more profound confusion, like the room itself feeling unfamiliar, may signal a problem.14
The Alzheimer's Association also compiled differences between symptoms of dementia including Alzheimer's and typical age-related changes:15Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia Typical age-related changes
Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Poor judgment and decision-making
Typical age-related changes: Making a bad decision once in a while
Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Inability to manage a budget
Typical age-related changes: Missing a monthly payment
Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Losing track of the date or the season
Typical age-related changes: Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Difficulty having a conversation
Typical age-related changes: Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
Typical age-related changes: Losing things from time to time
According to the Alzheimer's Association, typically at least two core mental functions on the following list must be impaired to be considered dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
If your memory slips often enough to put even an inkling of concern or doubt in your mind, or if you've noticed some unusual mood or behavioral changes, it's time to take action.
A high-fat, moderate-protein and low-net-carb ketogenic diet is crucial for protecting your brain health and is recommended for virtually everyone, but especially for those who have concerns about their brain health. This type of diet involves restricting all but non-starchy vegetable carbs and replacing them with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat.
It's a diet that will help optimize your weight and reduce your risk of chronic degenerative disease while protecting your brain. Eating this way will help you convert from carb-burning mode to fat-burning mode, which in turn triggers your body to produce ketones (also known as ketone bodies or ketoacids).
Ketones can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. They may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. In addition to eating a ketogenic diet, a primary source of ketones is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil. As noted in the British Journal of Nutrition:16
"Unlike most other dietary fats that are high in long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil comprises medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA are unique in that they are easily absorbed and metabolised [sic] by the liver, and can be converted to ketones. Ketone bodies are an important alternative energy source in the brain, and may be beneficial to people developing or already with memory impairment, as in Alzheimer's disease (AD)."Dietary Strategies to Help Prevent Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease has grown to be one of the most pressing and tragic public health issues facing the U.S. Since there is currently no cure for this disease, prevention remains the best strategy to fight it. The beauty of following my nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually all chronic degenerative diseases, including dementia. The sooner you begin, the better. In addition to following a ketogenic diet, the following dietary strategies are also important:
✓ Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
✓ Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they don't belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.
✓ Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.
✓ Increase consumption of healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3. Sources of healthy fat include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts, raw dairy, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. Also, make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats.
High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
✓ Reduce your overall calorie consumption and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer's.
✓ Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer's symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain.
Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain barrier, but magnesium threonate appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.
✓ Eat a nutritious diet rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.General Lifestyle Guidelines for Alzheimer's Prevention
Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that can contribute to or hinder neurological health. The following strategies are therefore also important for any dementia prevention plan:
✓ Exercise. Exercise leads to hippocampus growth and memory improvement,17 and it's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's.18
Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.19
✓ Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed.
Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amounts of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.
Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer's through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D (50 to 70 ng/ml) is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer's.
✓ Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However, you should be healthy prior to having them removed.
Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
✓ Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware and vaccine adjuvants. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article "First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer's and Aluminum Toxicity."
✓ Avoid flu vaccinations as many contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
✓ Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence and certain narcotic pain relievers.
Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.
✓ Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Juniper (Juniperus communis) is a coniferous evergreen shrub that belongs to the pine family (Cupressaceae) and is commonly found on heaths and mountains in North America, Europe and Southwest Asia.1
In the United States, junipers grow abundantly in the mountainous regions of the Appalachians, as well as in western states such as Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah.2
The juniper tree can be identified by its stiff and needle-like blue-green leaves, short reddish-brown trunks, small yellow flowers and blue or black fruits or berries (produced by the female trees).
Both the branches and the berries of the leaves have been used since ancient times for medicinal and spiritual purposes. The evergreen tree is also popular as a residential ornament plant, often used in wildlife plantings and shelterbelts. The aromatic wood is also used for making furniture, fence posts and pencils.
Juniper essential oil is traditionally steam-distilled from the needles, twigs, wood and berries. However, juniper berry oil, which is extracted solely from the berries, is superior in quality. It's a pale oil with a watery viscosity and a fresh, clear and slightly woody and fruity fragrance.5Uses of Juniper Berry Oil
The fresh and calming aroma of juniper berry oil is widely renowned for relieving stress and anxiety. When diffused, it can also cleanse and purify the air. If you want to use juniper berry oil to get its healing and calming effects, try these methods:
• Vapor therapy. Use a burner or vaporizer to diffuse the oil, which helps relieve emotional issues, such as addiction, nervous tension and hangovers.
• Add to lotions and creams. Try this for skin-related problems, such as oily skin, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and weeping eczema.
• Use in a compress. Ideal for eczema, arthritis and general infections.Composition of Juniper Berry Oil
The main chemical components of juniper berry oil are a-pinene, b-pinene, camphene, sabinene, y-terpinene, a-phellandrene, myrcene, a-terpinene, 1,4-cineole, b-phellandrene, terpinen-4-ol, p-cymene, cayophyllene and bornyl acetate.
It also has trace amounts of camphor, limonene, nerol, linalool, borneol and linalyl acetate.6Benefits of Juniper Berry Oil
Juniper berry oil has anti-rheumatic, astringent, carminative, depurative, antiseptic, vulnerary and other beneficial properties that contribute to its health-promoting effects. This relaxing oil can help relieve mental and emotional issues, such as anxiety and mental fatigue.
You can use juniper berry oil topically to help relieve a wide range of skin and hair problems, such as eczema, weeping eczema, acne, psoriasis, hair loss and dandruff. It also helps with fluid retention and can help prevent cellulite formation. Juniper berry oil is also an antiseptic that may help protect wounds from infection and tetanus.7
Juniper berry oil may also help with improved blood circulation, which is essential in removing toxins like uric acid from the body.
It may also help control ailments that are related to improper circulation and toxin accumulation, such as gout, arthritis and renal calculi. Here are some other health benefits of juniper berry oil:8
• It works as a laxative and may help regulate menstrual cycle in women
• May protect you against digestive problems like stomach upsets, intestinal fermentation and colitis
• It may help you experience relief from hemorrhoids. Simply add a diluted drop to your hot bath for 20 minutes (do not sit in the bath longer than this, as the effectiveness may be lessened).How to Make Juniper Berry Oil
Juniper berry oil is made by steam distilling the berries. However, you can make your own infused berry oil at home. Here's a step-by-step procedure from Lisa Lise:9
1. Put juniper berries in a clean and sterilized jar. Fill at least three-quarters of the container.
2. Fill the jar with your oil of choice. Choose a safe oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
3. Close the lid tightly and place the jar in a cool and dark place. Give it a good shake every day for four to six weeks.
Note: Check the jar regularly for any unpleasant smell, which may indicate bacterial growth. If it smells strange, throw it out and make a fresh batch.How Does Juniper Berry Oil Work?
Terpineol, terpinene and pinene are three of the major constituents of juniper berry essential oil and are the reason why it can be helpful in treating skin infections and other health issues. Juniper berry oil also contains chemicals that can aid in flushing out free radicals, which lurk in your bloodstream and enter the cells in your organs.10Is Juniper Berry Oil Safe?
Juniper berry oil is non-toxic and non-sensitizing, although there are some people who have a reaction to it, so use it in moderation. Make sure you do a skin patch test before using juniper berry oil.
Apply a diluted drop on your arm and see if any reaction occurs. This oil blends well with cypress, cedarwood, lavender, lime, grapefruit, geranium, vetiver, lavandin, bergamot, lemongrass and clary sage.
Because it can stimulate the uterine muscle, juniper berry oil should not be used during pregnancy.11 I do not recommend this essential oil to nursing moms and very young children as well. Those who suffer from any type of kidney or liver disease should refrain from using juniper berry oil.12Side Effects of Juniper Berry Oil
If taken orally, juniper berry oil may cause your urine to smell like violets. If you notice this effect, it means that you've been using the herb for too long and should consider stopping.
Overdosing on juniper berry oil may lead to kidney irritation and blood in the urine.13 Make sure you consult a qualified physician before taking this oil orally.
By Dr. Mercola
Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which helps explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases, and why working the night shift — or shifts lasting 24 hours or longer without sleeping — can be so detrimental.
Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin — a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-cancer activity — which is diminished by lack of sleep. Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.
One of the worst things you can do to help you fall asleep is to reach for a sleeping pill. Research shows these drugs really do not work and come with a laundry list of side effects, many of which can be quite serious, including amnesia, depression and an increased risk for accidents.
One analysis found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata reduced the average time it takes to fall asleep by about 13 minutes compared to placebo, while increasing total sleep time by 11 minutes. Such results are typical. You really gain mere minutes' worth of sleep when taking these pills!
Meanwhile, sleeping pills may subtract years off your lifespan. According to a 2012 study1,2 people who take sleeping pills have a 35 percent higher risk for certain cancers and are nearly four times as likely to die from any cause as non-users.Simple Tricks to Fall Asleep Faster
Fortunately, there are effective and far safer strategies to address sleeplessness, such as simple breathing techniques — one of which I'll describe below — or, as suggested by sleep specialist Michael Breus in the featured video:3
• Keeping a gratitude journal, noting everything you're happy and grateful for each evening, just before bed
• Keeping a worry journal. Worries tend to keep us up at night, and writing them down is a simple way to empty your mind so you can fall asleep. In the evening, but not directly before bed, write down your worries and a possible solution or action you can take for each entry.
It would also be wise to put all your work away at least one, and preferably two, hours before bed. You need a chance to unwind before falling asleep without being anxious about the next day's plans or deadlines.
• Counting backward from 300 by threes. The mental focus required will prevent you from thinking about anything else, and the sheer boredom of counting may be enough to put you to sleep
I really do not agree with Breus' recommendation to watch TV in your bedroom, however. It might offer mental distraction or background noise that helps you fall asleep, but the adverse health effects of the blue light emitted from the TV simply isn't worth it in the long term.
If you missed my interview with photobiology expert Dr. Alexander Wunsch, I urge you to listen to it to gain a more thorough understanding of why electronic screens are so bad for you at night. Also remember that what you eat and drink, and when, can impact your ability to fall and stay asleep.Diet Choices and Meal Timing May Also Impact Your Sleep
Common sense suggestions include avoiding coffee and caffeinated beverages such as soda, caffeinated teas and energy drinks several hours before bedtime. If you're sensitive, your sleep may suffer if you consume caffeine after noon.
While one to two cups of black organic coffee can be healthy, drinking too much, especially in the afternoon or evening, can overstimulate you and, in the long term, alter your body's internal clock.4 Ditto for alcohol.
While it may make you nod off quicker, research shows drinking alcohol makes you more likely to wake during the night, leaving you feeling less rested in the morning.
Spicy foods and unhealthy fatty or sugary foods can also lead to fragmented sleep,5 especially when eaten late in the evening. This is thought to be due to the brain chemical hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you awake and also plays a role in appetite.
Eating too close to bedtime, or very late at night when you'd normally be sleeping, may also throw off your body's internal clock.
Avoiding food for at least three hours before bed will lower your blood sugar during sleep and help minimize mitochondrial damage. It will also jumpstart the glycogen depletion process so you can shift to fat-burning mode.
A 2012 study6 offers powerful confirmation of this recommendation. It found the mere act of temporarily altering your typical eating habits — such as getting up in the middle of the night for a snack — causes a certain protein to desynchronize your internal food clock, which can throw you off-kilter and set a vicious cycle in motion.4-7-8 Breathing Technique May Ease You Into Sleep Faster
As noted by Dr. Andrew Weil in the video above,7,8 a consistent breath practice can help improve your sleep. It's not a one-shot deal though. You need to do it at least twice a day, every day. The benefits become apparent after a month or two of consistent practice.
One of the reasons breathing techniques such as this one are so effective for improving sleep is because it eases internal tensions and anxiety that might prevent you from falling asleep.
In fact, according to Weil, this particular breathing technique, known simply as the 4-7-8 breathing technique, is among the most potent remedies for anxiety, as it acts as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
To perform it correctly, the key is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It's not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct. Here's how it's done:
- Sit up straight and place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth, touching the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process. Begin by exhaling fully through your mouth, making an audible "whoosh" sound.
- Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
- Hold your breath to the count of seven
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible "whoosh" sound
- That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths. It's recommended you don't do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time
According to an analysis of available research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the weight of the evidence suggests adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health, with the Goldilocks' Zone being right around eight hours. As noted by Dr. James Hamblin, who is also a senior editor at The Atlantic:9
"One 2014 study of more than 3,000 people in Finland found that the amount of sleep that correlated with the fewest sick days was 7.63 hours a night for women and 7.76 hours for men. So either that is the amount of sleep that keeps people well, or that's the amount that makes them least likely to lie about being sick when they want to skip work …
Going to sleep and waking up at consistent times each day is valuable too. When we get fewer than seven hours, we're impaired (to degrees that vary from person to person). When sleep persistently falls below six hours per 24, we are at an increased risk of health problems."
Indeed, a lack of quality sleep has been shown to have a significant impact on your brain and overall health and wellness. The following is a sampling of the health effects associated with sleep deprivation:
✓ Increased risk of car accidents
✓ Increased accidents at work
✓ Reduced ability to perform tasks
✓ Reduced ability to learn or remember
✓ Reduced productivity at work
✓ Reduced creativity at work or in other activities
✓ Reduced athletic performance
✓ Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease
✓ Increased risk of depression
✓ Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease
✓ Decreased immune function
✓ Slowed reaction time
✓ Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception
✓ Poor grades in school
✓ Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers
✓ Exacerbates current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cancer
✓ Cutting one hour of sleep a night increases the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress10
✓ Contributes to premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleepHow to Compensate If You Work the Night Shift
I reviewed the ill effects of working the night shift in November last year, and why you need to do everything in your power to avoid working them. But if you have no other choice but to work the night shift, then your best option is to always wear blue-blocking glasses while working, and make sure that when you get up, and it is night, that you get some blue light exposure, as this will help shut down melatonin production, thereby helping to wake you up.
The healthiest option is the sun, as sunlight is perfectly balanced in terms of wavelengths but, obviously, the sun is not up if you're getting up at night. In this case, I would suggest using a conventional clear incandescent bulb in combination with a bright cool white (blue-enriched) LED bulb. You need both, not one or the other, as the LED will give you the blue and the incandescent the balancing red and near infrared spectrum.
You will only need to use the bluish LED light for 15 to 30 minutes, following the recommendation described below. This will help you to establish your new circadian rhythm.
You might need to play with the number of bulbs you use, as up to 10,000 lux have been shown to be effective for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). My guess is that these doses are far too high if you are not treating SAD but trying to help your body to optimize all the systems necessary for performance during night shift.
Ideally, start with incandescent light immediately after getting up, thereby simulating sunrise. After half an hour or so, add the cold white LED light, mimicking the sun´s ascent toward high noon. Remember to continue with the incandescent bulb(s). Once you feel the photonic energy boost, you can stop the LED use, since too much will do more harm than good. (Bluish [LED] light generates excessive amounts of free radicals if not adequately balanced by red and near infrared light.)
After this initial dose of blue light, it would be wise to limit your further exposure to blue light. This means using only incandescent bulbs at home, and if you go out of your home, avoiding any additional exposure to LED or fluorescent bulbs by wearing your blue-blocking glasses. While this process is far from ideal, it should mitigate a lot of the damage that night shift workers encounter.
Remember your BEST choice is to stop night shift working and get full sunlight exposure in the daytime, and that it will be virtually impossible to imitate the full-spectrum and brightness of natural sunlight, even with a high-quality UV lamp, cool white LED bulbs and bright incandescent lights.
It's better than nothing, but by working nights, you are depriving yourself of a crucial component for health, namely natural sunlight. The sun's rays not only are the catalyst that allows your skin to produce vitamin D, but sunlight also plays a role in mitochondrial health, biological energy production and is really important for healthy vision.Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene With These Simple Tips
Increasing the number of hours you sleep to eight each night and improving your quality of sleep may help to significantly reduce your risks associated with sleep deprivation.
In addition to the strategies already covered — such as emptying your mind by keeping a gratitude and/or worry journal, counting backwards, being mindful of your food and beverage choices during the day and the timing of your meals, and implementing a mindful breathing practice — the following suggestions may also set you on the right track.11,12 For a more comprehensive list of strategies, see my previous article, "Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed."
✓ Turn your bedroom into an oasis for sleep
Your bed is a place to sleep and rest comfortably. Only two other activities will not significantly impede a restful sleep: reading and intimate relations with your significant other. Anything else, such as work, computers, cells phones or watching television will reduce the quality of your sleep.
Reduce any noisy interruptions from pets or outdoor activities. You might consider removing your pet from the bedroom or using a white noise machine to reduce interruptions from outdoor noises.
✓ Establish a soothing pre-bedtime routine
Humans are creatures of habit. When you establish a soothing bedtime routine you go through each evening before bed, you're more likely to fall asleep easily. Activities such as a warm bath, reading a good book or relaxation exercises may help you fall asleep easier.
If you have trouble falling to sleep one night, it's better to leave the bedroom and read quietly than to try even harder to fall asleep. I would strongly recommend using blue-blocking glasses if you do this, to prevent your reading light from further depressing your melatonin production.
✓ Keep a consistent schedule
When you go to bed and wake up at the same times, your body becomes accustomed to the routine. This helps regulate your circadian clock so you fall asleep and stay asleep all night. Keep this routine even on the weekends.
✓ Get plenty of bright sunlight exposure in the morning and at noon
Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning stops production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and signals to your body that it's time to wake up. Outdoor sunlight is best, so you might even want to take a quick walk outside.
Not only will this increase in physical activity help you sleep later, but taking your walk outdoors — either first thing in the morning or around noon when the sun is high — gives you more exposure to bright sunlight.
Light intensity is measured in lux units, and on any given day, the outdoor lux units will be around 100,000 at noon. Indoors, the typical average is somewhere between 100 to 2,000 lux units, about two orders of magnitude less.
I take a one-hour walk every day in the bright sunlight on the beach, so along with boosting my vitamin D, I also anchor my circadian rhythm at the same time and I rarely ever have trouble sleeping.
✓ At sundown, dim your lights (and/or use amber-colored glasses)
In the evening (around 8 p.m.) you'll want to dim your lights and turn off electronic devices. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., and these devices emit light that may stifle that process. After sundown, shift to a low-wattage incandescent bulb with yellow, orange or red light if you need illumination.
A salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production. If using a computer or smartphone, install blue light-blocking software like Iris — an improved version of f.lux.
The easiest solution, however, is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light. I found an Uvex model (S1933X) on Amazon that costs less than $9 and works like a charm to eliminate virtually all blue light.
This way you don't have to worry about installing programs on all your devices or buying special light bulbs for evening use. Once you have your glasses on, it doesn't matter what light sources you have on in your house.
✓ Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).
These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
Your body thrives on exercise and movement. It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Exercise will help you get to sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. However, your body also releases cortisol during exercise, which may reduce your melatonin secretion. Exercise at least three hours before bed, and earlier if you can.
✓ Keep your room cool
The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 F. If your room is cooler or warmer, you may have a more restless night's sleep.13 During sleep your body's core temperature drops to the lowest level during a 24-hour period. The cooler your room is, the more conducive it may be to your body's natural drop in temperature.
✓ Sleep naked
Sleeping naked will help keep you cooler, and provides a number of other health benefits besides improving your chances of a good night's sleep.
✓ Evaluate your mattress and pillow
You'll experience more restful sleep when your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. You'll want to consider replacing your mattress after nine or 10 years, the average life expectancy of a good-quality mattress.
By Dr. Mercola
Throughout the U.S., there were over 130 million emergency room (ER) visits in 2013, 12.2 million of which resulted in hospital admission, or just over 9 percent.1 These numbers were a reflection of care prior to the Affordable Care Act that went into effect in 2013.2
By 2015 those numbers were rising, contradicting the prediction that ER visits would decrease with greater access to health care coverage.3 What had not been anticipated were the sheer number of people who would struggle to find a physician.
Consequently, more people were being seen in the ER, as wait times to get into a doctor's office may be up to two months. ER visits at Baptist Health in Lexington, Kentucky, rose by 10 percent in 2014 and almost 20 percent in the first months of 2015.4
As the number of ER visits rose, the number of patients requiring immediate attention declined, taking a toll on ER staff and equipment across the country. Has this changed patient outcomes after a visit to the ER?
Dr. Ziad Obermeyer from Harvard Medical School was the lead author on a retrospective study, uncovering a rise in deaths in otherwise healthy people after discharge from the ER.5People Dying After Not Being Admitted Through the Emergency Room
Using claims data from the U.S. Medicare system, researchers focused on generally healthy people living in the community. People who were over age 90, who may be living in a nursing home, receiving palliative care or had an emergency room visit in the previous year, were excluded from the study.
The researchers counted the number of people who died within the first seven days after an ER visit, excluding those transferred from another hospital before being discharged from the ER. From the results they estimate a little over 10,000 relatively healthy people die each year within seven days of being discharged from the ER.6
The leading causes of death of the cohort sample included myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and narcotic overdose, largely in people whose ER visit was for a musculoskeletal problem.
These causes of death were related to the more common diagnoses in the ER, including dyspnea (shortness of breath), altered mental status and fatigue.7 Curiously, the highest number of deaths were from ERs that admitted the least number of patients.
Despite the fact that the patients who arrived at these hospitals were relatively healthier than those at other hospitals where the admission rate was higher, the patients suffered higher rates of death after discharge. Obermeyer commented on the discrepancy, saying:8
"In general, the high-cost, big academic hospitals tend to admit a lot of people. A lot of other hospitals, which are leaner, private and non-academic, admit fewer patients. I don't think this is a story about irresponsible, cowboy docs who are just sending people home to die.
I think it's just a reflection of how difficult the job is; people who work in ERs work incredibly hard, see a lot of patients and just have to make really an insane number of very, very important decisions with very, very little information."Rural Settings Have Fewer Emergency-Trained Physicians
Another factor unearthed in the study were patients treated in rural hospitals had a higher death rate in the week following their ER visit. Not only are these hospitals less likely to admit patients from the ER, but these rural areas also had fewer doctors working.9 Obermeyer explained these results, saying:10
"Part of it is that there aren't enough doctors and human manpower to go around. Patients are getting far more complex, the technology we have available to us is getting more advanced, but we haven't kept pace in the human side of medicine."
Many of these rural hospitals don't have a dedicated emergency physician to treat patients, increasing the length of time before patients were seen and presenting a significant barrier to admission. According to Obermeyer:
"Once there's an evidence base for how to manage patients with this specific problem, we actually do it well. But it also highlights a lack of evidence for a lot of other kinds of patients.
Even though this is a really critical decision, both for cost and for patient safety, that we in the emergency department are faced with a lot, it's really understudied."Elderly Face Functional Decline After an Emergency Room Visit
Another study evaluating care of the elderly after an ER visit found they were at greater risk of suffering a disability in the six months following the visit.11
To compare two groups of individuals, the researchers gathered data from over 750 elderly people who visited the ER and another 800 people with similar health conditions, who had not been treated.
At the start of the study both groups scored fairly low on a disability scale, indicating they were very physically functional. However, after treatment in an ER, patients scored an average of 14 percent higher on the disability scale six months post discharge.12
Over this 14-year study, home assessments were done every 18 months and phone interviews every month.13 The participants averaged 84 years old at the start of the study and lived in the community, not in a nursing home or assisted care facility.
The researchers also discovered those who had an ER visit were three times more likely to be admitted into a nursing home in the following six months, and twice as likely to die as those who did not have an ER visit.
Researchers also found that people admitted to the hospital during their ER visit had experienced greater negative health effects. Study co-author Dr. William Fleischman, emergency medicine researcher from the University of Maryland, commented:14
"The higher risk of disability following emergency department visits is likely related to the illness or injury that led these patients to seek care in the emergency department.
This does not mean that these patients should have avoided the emergency department or that they should have been hospitalized.
Rather, it suggests that older adults who are medically appropriate for discharge from the emergency department may benefit from the kind of discharge planning that often occurs in the inpatient setting."
The study was limited as it was not a controlled experiment, and included only patients insured under one health plan in a small urban area.
However, researchers felt the results should be a red flag to doctors and patient families that more attention needs to be paid to discharge planning from the ER. More at-home services also need to be provided to prevent ER visits.Clinical Practice Guidelines May Reduce Number of Deaths
In the study evaluating the number of deaths in the first seven days after discharge from an ER, patients whose clinical symptoms were treated with a strict set of protocols had lower death rates than any of the other patients treated.15
Evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines are designed as a framework to help physicians make clinical decisions about patient care. Often they are formed after a systematic review of evidence and a comparison and assessment of the benefits and risks associated with treatment options, including alternative care protocols.16
However, while clinical practice guidelines are designed to help improve patient outcomes, not all physicians follow these guidelines.
Despite wide publication of some guidelines, they have had little effect on changing physician recommendations.17 The researchers discovered barriers to physician compliance were different, in different practice settings.
An analysis of Dutch general practitioners found similar results, and that physicians may respond better when the underlying evidence for the guidelines were more transparent.18
A study of doctors in Estonia discovered those with long-term clinical practice and in outpatient settings perceived more barriers to implementing clinical practice guidelines, including lack of transparent information about why the recommendation is made.19
In this instance, physicians continued to order the same preoperative testing commonly done in 1995 prior to published guidelines. Lead researcher, Dr. Catherine Chen, anesthesiologist at the University of California–San Francisco, concluded, "In about 20 years, nothing has really changed in terms of physician performance."21Inpatients Are Often at Great Risk of Sepsis
Infections that progress to sepsis in the hospital may increase risk of death. Researchers found the death rate of patients with sepsis was 10 percent compared to 1 percent among patients without sepsis.22 In fact, the same study found 50 percent of all in-hospital deaths were related to sepsis.
Recent research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal proposes sepsis should be recognized as a distinct cause of death in hospitals around the world.23 Researchers argue that changing the focus on sepsis would potentially improve nutrition and hygiene and lead to the initiation of timely treatment.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by a systemic infection, caused by bacteria, virus or parasite that ultimately affects the function of vital organs. In the U.S., as many as 50 percent of patients had sepsis at the time of their death.24
Interestingly, most of these patients were admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of sepsis and did not acquire the condition while hospitalized. The cost of treating sepsis is high, topping $24 billion in 2014, with nearly 25 percent of all hospital charges attributed to the treatment of sepsis.
Sepsis is a condition that does not discriminate, as it affects all age groups, socioeconomic groups and men and women alike.25 There are groups who are more vulnerable than others, such as newborns and the elderly. Those who suffer with chronic diseases or have a weakened immune system are also at greater risk.
Successful results rely on early detection and rapid treatment. Through recognition that sepsis is a discrete cause of death, better clinical practice guidelines stressing recognition in the community and the ER may reduce the overall number of deaths.Prevention: Often the Best Medicine
Preparation and better discharge planning may reduce both the number of emergency room visits and subsequent disability experienced by patients. Those admitted to the hospital with sepsis may also enjoy better outcomes with better planning. You can also reduce your personal risks by implementing the following suggestions:
• Have an emergency plan in place before you encounter an emergency. Being forewarned is forearmed. This means you should know the hospital where you want to receive care before you need to visit an emergency room.
• Reduce or eliminate lifestyle choices that negatively affect health. Start by eliminating smoking and reducing your alcohol intake. A reduction or elimination of all processed foods and sodas, and exposure to toxic over-the-counter medications and chemically laden cleaning supplies help to reduce your toxic load.
Reduce your sugar and net carbohydrate intake to optimize your mitochondrial health and reduce your risk for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
• Embrace choices that reduce your risk. You feel better when you are healthy and give your body the nutrients it needs to repair cellular damage and support your immune system. Use this list to develop a plan of action:
✓ Optimize your vitamin D through sensible sun exposure
✓ Eat whole, organic and non-GMO produce
✓ Eat organic, certified grassfed meats
✓ Get at least eight hours of quality sleep each night
✓ Stay hydrated with clean, pure water
✓ Do cardiovascular, strength training and core exercises each week
✓ Get as much movement into your days as possible; consider a standing desk if you have a desk job
✓ Eat a diet high in healthy fats, including macadamia nuts, avocadoes, coconut oil, butter, eggs and olive oil
✓ Use green cleaning supplies or make your own at home
✓ Optimize your gut flora by eating fermented foods every day
✓ Eat plenty of raw foods
✓ Regularly walk barefoot to ground with the earth
• Take a proactive approach to your mental health. When asked about how they live so long, centenarians (people who live beyond age 100) list a positive attitude and staying mentally active among their top reasons for living a long and healthy life. Overwhelmingly they cite stress as the most important thing to avoid.
The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a powerful way to minimize the impact of stress in your life. Exercise, yoga, meditation and connecting with family are other means of achieving the same goal.
• Take defensive steps if you need emergency care. While the primary goal of the medical staff at a hospital is to ensure your health and safety, they are also human. This means you may want to take steps to prevent inadvertent mistakes. Bring someone with you who will double check the medications given to you and advocate for you, ask questions and stay aware of treatments and testing.
Prepare a list of any medications, allergies, vitamins and over-the-counter medications you take, as well as any medical diagnoses you have. Keep this list with you. In this way you won't need to remember these details when you need emergency care.
By Dr. Mercola
One of the most common sources of fluoride exposure for Americans is their tap water, as many municipalities still fluoridate their water. But did you know your FOOD may also expose you to fluoride on a regular basis?
Not only are certain pesticides fluoridated, such as cryolite,1 food processors may also use sulfuryl fluoride as a direct fumigant on certain foods, and for preventing pests in closed storage structures. Fast food wrappers are yet another source of fluoride, scientists warn.Pesticides and Fumigants May Turn Food Into Source of Fluoride
"Unlike virtually every other western country, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] does not require that food processors remove food prior to the fumigation. As a result, any food that is being stored in the facility during a structural fumigation will be contaminated with fluoride."
According to EPA estimates, foods most commonly fumigated include cocoa powder (100 percent), dried beans (100 percent), walnuts (99 percent) and dried fruits (69 percent).
And, while only about 3 percent of rice is fumigated, the levels of fluoride in fumigated brown rice specifically tends to be the highest (12.5 parts per million [ppm] compared to 8.4 ppm for cocoa powder).4
The reason certain items, such as cocoa, have a 100 percent chance of being contaminated with fluoride is because the EPA allows direct application of sulfuryl fluoride on such crops.
Direct application is also permitted on coffee. According to a 2005 editorial by the late Albert Burgstahler, PH.D., who was a professor emeritus of chemistry, "Fluoride residues in food fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride are excessively high and are at levels known to cause serious adverse health effects, including crippling skeletal fluorosis."5
Non-organic grape juice is also best avoided, as the fluoridated pesticide cryolite is commonly used on grapes grown in the U.S.6Fast Food Wrappers Are a Common Source of Fluoride Exposure
According to recent research,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 about one-third of fast food wrappers and containers also contain fluorine, which suggests perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) were used to give the paper that slick surface, making it oil and grease resistant.
PFCs such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, widely used to make non-stick cookware) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS, a key ingredient in stain-resistant fabrics) are associated with a wide array of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, immune and thyroid dysfunction, infertility, low birth weight and developmental problems.
In all, some 400 samples of food packaging from 27 fast food chains in the U.S. were tested between 2014 and 2015. This included packaging from Jimmy John's, Quiznos, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts in the Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Grand Rapids areas.
On average, 33 percent of them contained fluorine. Dessert and bread wrappers were affected the most, with 56 percent containing fluorine, whereas only 20 percent of paperboard samples (such as pizza boxes and French fry containers) were affected.
Of the 27 restaurant chains, Jimmy John's, Taco Time and Quiznos fared the worst, with 100 percent of the samples collected from these chains testing positive for fluorine.
Eighty percent of wrappers from Chick-fil-A also tested positive, followed by Chipotle, at 65 percent.16PFOA and PFOS Were Phased Out in 2011 but Still Appear in Use
The amount depends on the temperature of the food and how long it remains in contact with the wrapper. As a general rule, hot food items tend to release more chemicals than cold ones.
American manufacturers voluntarily agreed to phase out PFOA and PFOS in 2011 due to concerns about their safety, but other countries still use them and, clearly, some companies are still using them in the production of food packaging.
Dr. Philippe Grandjean, an environmental health researcher and professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, commented on the findings, saying:
"Perfluorinated compounds come from a variety of consumer products, and clearly the food wrapping materials likely constitute an important source. Limiting our current exposures should be regarded a public health priority."How to Avoid Fluoride From Fast Food Wrappers
Lead author Laurel Schaider, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute, told CNN:20
"'Unfortunately, for consumers, there's no easy way to tell — just by looking at packaging — whether or not it contains fluorinated chemicals …
For people who wish to reduce their exposure to these chemicals, they may be able to take some steps ... to reduce that migration from packaging into food — for instance, by taking the food out of the packaging sooner rather than later.'
You could also ask that your fries or dessert be served in a paper cup or a noncontact paper bag. This is the outer bag all your items are usually put into when you get your food.
More than anything, Schaider urges consumers to put pressure on their favorite fast food chains to switch to packaging that doesn't contain fluorinated chemicals.
'I think that this study provides yet another reason to support the idea that eating more fresh food and more home-cooked meals is better for our health,' she said …"Environmental Working Group Calls for End of PFC Use in Food Wrappers
In a companion report,21 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) urges fast food companies to stop using fluorinated compounds in food packaging altogether, and calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to further restrict the use of these compounds in products that come into contact with food. According to the EWG:
"The FDA has approved 20 next-generation PFCs specifically for coating paper and paperboard used to serve food.
These chemicals have not been adequately tested for safety, and trade secrecy laws mean that, in some cases, the limited safety data submitted to the EPA does not publicly disclose the identity of the specific chemicals or even the companies submitting them for approval.
But what little information manufacturers have provided to regulators is troubling. In documents filed with the EPA, DuPont reported that a next-generation chemical used to produce food contact paper, called GenX, could pose a 'substantial risk of injury,' including cancerous tumors in the pancreas and testicles, liver damage, kidney disease and reproductive harm …
[R]etired EPA toxicologist and senior risk assessor Deborah Rice[,Ph.D.,] said GenX has 'the same constellation of [health] effects you see with PFOA. There's no way you can call this a safe substitute.' PFC-free paper is readily available, as shown by the fact that the tests detected no fluorine in more than half of the paper samples."
The FDA did take action against three specific kinds of PFCs in food packaging just last year.22,23 Based on safety information, it withdrew its approval for diethanolamine salts of mono- and bis, pentanoic acid and perfluoroalkyl-substituted phosphate ester acids.
None of these PFCs may be used in the manufacturing of oil and water repellants for paper and paperboard that will come in contact with food. It seems it would be wise to ban all PFCs from such items, considering the fact that many of them have similar health effects.
Some of the restaurant chains have responded favorably, promising to look into the matter and make changes as needed. Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told Bloomberg24 the study "seems to suggest that there is room for improvement," adding the company is "in the process of obtaining documentation from our suppliers that the packaging materials they supply to Chipotle are PFC-free."
Susan Lintonsmith, CEO of Quiznos also told Bloomberg the company "takes food safety very seriously," and that they are "working with our suppliers to fully understand the situation."Other Common Household Sources of PFCs
Aside from fast food wrappers, many other water-repellent, stain-resistant and non-stick household items can contain PFCs. Some of the most common examples include:25
- Microwave popcorn bags and candy wrappers
- Non-stick cookware
- Stain-resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery and fabrics, and water-resistant clothing
- Cleaning, personal care products (such as dental floss) and cosmetics
- Paints, varnishes and sealants
While 1 in 4 deaths is thought to be related to living and working in a toxic environment,26,27,28,29 your diet, personal care and common household products likely pose the most immediate risk to your and your family's health. When it comes to PFCs and other fluoride compounds, avoiding fast food and fluoridated water are two ways to cut your risk.
Unfortunately, fluoride is not the only hazardous chemical to watch out for, and it's not the only chemical you may be exposed to via food and beverages. Others include endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as plasticizers, which can also migrate from packaging into food and drinks.30
To limit your exposure to PFCs and EDCs, as well as many other toxins, keep the following guidelines in mind when shopping for food, personal care and household products.
✓ Avoid fast food and processed goods. Eating a diet focused on locally grown, ideally organic, whole foods cooked from scratch will significantly limit your exposure to a wide array of chemicals, including phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), synthetic food additives and pesticides.
✓ Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Besides phthalates, avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.
✓ Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans; be aware that even "BPA-free" plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA.
✓ Switch to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics.
EWG's Skin Deep database31 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
Be aware that many dental flosses contain PFCs. Look for natural waxed floss instead. Some use beeswax rather than PFC-coating. Real silk floss will also provide glide without chemical additives.32
✓ Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap as it too contains phthalates that can migrate into your food (especially if you microwave food wrapped in plastic).
✓ Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or glass doors.
✓ Use glass baby bottles and drinking bottles.
✓ Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.
✓ Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing to avoid fluoride and disinfection byproducts, many of which are among the most toxic compounds known.
If you can afford to do only one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants.
✓ Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain dozens of potentially toxic chemicals, including phthalates.
Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.
✓ If you have PVC pipes, you may have DEHP (a type of endocrine-disrupting phthalate) leaching into your water supply. If you have PVC pipe from before 1977, you will definitely want to upgrade to a newer material.
This "early-era" PVC pipe can leach a carcinogenic compound called vinyl chloride monomer into your water. Alternatives to PVC for water piping include ductile iron, high-density polyethylene, concrete, copper and PEX.34
✓ Consider replacing vinyl flooring with a "greener" material. Also avoid soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens), as there's a good chance it is made from phthalate-containing PVC.
✓ Read the labels and avoid anything containing phthalates. Besides DEHP, also look for DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BzBP (benzyl butyl phthalate) and DMP (dimethyl phthalate).
Also be wary of anything listing a "fragrance," which often includes phthalates.
✓ Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It's advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.
By Dr. Mercola
Heartburn medications in the class of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. Once available only by prescription, Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium are three of the PPIs now available over-the-counter.
Commonly prescribed to relieve symptoms of acid reflux and indigestion, they have a number of unintended consequences that negatively impact your health.
Heartburn occurs when acid refluxes up your esophagus, burning tissue not designed to withstand the lower pH fluid in your stomach. Acid is necessary for digestion, and protects you against bacteria.
There are a variety of reasons acid may pass the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and trigger heartburn, but most are related to a hiatal hernia or an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Simple lifestyle changes will often treat occasional heartburn effectively, but chronic pain over many weeks may require making a few more changes. It's important to realize that PPIs may actually do more harm than good, as they are associated with a greater risk of bone fractures, kidney disease, cognitive dysfunction and more.
An editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2010 espoused the idea that less health care may result in better health.1 In the coming years other editorials advocated the same approach,2,3,4 as it is difficult to deny the results people get when they eat the foods their body requires to stay healthy.Digestion Requires Acid
Digestion of food begins in your mouth as the food is broken into smaller pieces and mixed with saliva before traveling down your esophagus and into your stomach. As food passes into your stomach, it mixes with hydrochloric acid required to break down food into even smaller pieces from which your small intestines can extract nutrients.5
Your body absorbs nutrients through the small intestines before passing waste products into the large intestines and out the rectum. PPI medications are designed to inhibit the proton pump that produces acid.
PPIs do not specifically target the cells in your stomach, and stomach acid is usually not the primary trigger behind chronic heartburn. Stomach acid is necessary for digestion, and most of the time a lack of stomach acid is the trigger for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and chronic indigestion.
In such cases, PPIs can actually exacerbate the problem by decreasing acid further. Unless an endoscopy has confirmed high levels of stomach acid, it's more likely you don't have enough.
There is a simple test you can use to determine if your level is low and this knowledge will help you develop a natural plan to reduce your chronic pain. This simple test is a rough indicator of how much acid your stomach produces.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of cold water and drink it first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. The combination of baking soda and hydrochloric acid in your stomach creates carbon dioxide gas, causing you to belch.6
Time yourself for up to five minutes for how long it takes you to form enough gas in your stomach to belch. Belching in two to three minutes is normal; earlier and repeated belching indicates an excess of acid. If you don't belch after five minutes, you likely don't produce enough acid.Lack of Acid Changes Nutrient Absorption and Increases Risk of Infection
Together with pepsin, hydrochloric acid is necessary to break down protein in your intestinal tract, so a reduction in acid from a lack of production or from use of PPIs changes nutrient absorption.
As these protein molecules ferment in your intestines they become food for pathogens such as H. pylori, C. difficile and candida. An overgrowth of these bacteria may also lead to leaky gut.
There are a number of secondary effects from leaking molecules from your intestinal tract, including a rising number of children suffering from autism, difficulty losing weight and an increasing number of neurological disorders and allergies.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology once again confirms the risk of infection when taking PPIs.8
Compared to those not taking PPIs, participants who did had a 1.7 to 3.7 times increased risk of developing C. difficile or campylobacter infection. Among hospitalized patients, those numbers increased to between 1.4 and 4.5 times the risk.
Although both of these bacteria trigger abdominal pain and diarrhea, C. difficile may become more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 500,000 were infected in 2011 and 29,000 died within the first month.9
This study was not the first to raise concerns about the increased risk of contracting these infections.
C. difficile triggers significant diarrhea and is associated with morbidity and rising healthcare costs in hospitalized patients.10 A meta-analysis performed using research between 1990 and 2010 found a significant increase in the number of people using PPIs and the risk of contracting C. difficile.11Heartburn Medications Affect Your Brain Function
Studies consistently demonstrate PPIs are being over prescribed,12 and now used in excess as they are available over-the-counter. Researchers estimate up to 70 percent of people using the medications have no medically appropriate indication.
That number is likely much higher as many may not receive or follow recommendations to make lifestyle changes that may reduce their symptoms.
One devastating effect of the medication are the cognitive changes individuals can experience after even short-term use. One study evaluated the effect of five different PPIs over the course of only one week of use in 60 healthy participants.13
Using neurophysiological testing, the study found statistically and clinically significant impairments in the participants' executive functions, visual memory and planning function, each of which is associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The study published in JAMA also found a strong statistical link between regular use of PPIs and developing Alzheimer's in their pool of nearly 74,000 participants, who did not have dementia at the start of the study.16
One characteristic of dementia is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that provoke inflammation and ultimately kill brain cells. There is now strong scientific evidence that use of PPIs not only increases production of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain but slows the ability of the body to eliminate them as well.17,18,19Prolonged Use of PPIs Carries Further Risks
A large data-mining study performed by researchers from Stanford University discovered long-term use of PPIs were also associated with a 16 percent increased risk of heart attack, while other heartburn medications were not.20
This short news video gives you an overview of the findings. Another study published by Stanford Medicine evaluated data from nearly 3 million people. It too found that those using PPIs were at higher risk of heart attacks.21
Further evidence exists that PPIs are associated with the development of chronic kidney disease.22 One study evaluated over 10,000 users and found an association between chronic kidney disease and all users. There was a higher incidence in those who took the medications twice a day.
Researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital may have discovered the reason why PPIs can affect the brain, kidneys and other systems. When different cells were grown in culture and exposed to PPIs, cells that line blood vessels demonstrated significant change.23 PPIs are taken orally and affect the proton pump in more than just your stomach walls.
Blood vessels also produce small amounts of acid in order to break down and eliminate damaged protein molecules. When acid levels drop, microscopic debris begins to build up on the arterial walls, and may result in particularly severe problems where many blood vessels are found, such as the brain, heart and kidneys.24 Lead author Dr. John Cooke, chair of cardiovascular disease research at Houston Methodist Research Institute, commented:25
"I'm perplexed that the pharmaceutical industry didn't run across this first. This is something that should have been apparent a long time ago and should have been investigated."
An increased risk of fracture is attributed to an increase of gastrin in your stomach, inhibiting the absorption of calcium and thus altering the function of osteoclasts in your bone.26 Data from nearly 80,000 women only added to the body of evidence that PPIs increase the risk of fracture, even after adjusting for body mass index, calcium intake and physical activity.27 Researchers did discover the risk returned to normal after being off the drug for two years.
Reduction of gastric acid secretion is also associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency. This may lead to anemia, nerve damage, psychiatric problems and even dementia. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in elderly people whose stomach naturally has reduced gastric acid secretion, but also in people who take medications, like PPIs, that reduce stomach acid.How to Properly Wean Yourself Off PPIs
In the above NPR interview, a patient describes the rebound effect she experienced as she tried to stop taking a PPI. Although the medication does relieve symptoms, the side effects from the drug and the difficulty you may have discontinuing the medication make them a poor choice to treat GERD, indigestion or chronic heartburn.
If you have been using PPIs to manage heartburn, it's important to spend time detoxifying and eliminating the drug from your system. You should NEVER stop taking a PPI cold turkey. You have to wean yourself off them gradually or you'll experience a severe rebound called rebound acid hypersecretion, and the problem may end up being worse than before you started taking the medication.
To minimize your risk of rebound acid effects, gradually reduce the dose of PPI you're taking. Once you're down to the lowest dose, start substituting with an over-the-counter H2 blocker, like Cimetidine, Zantac, Raniditine or Tagamet. Once you've been taking the H2 blocker for a couple of weeks, you may start weaning yourself off these drugs as well, while introducing the alternative options to reduce your heartburn outlined below.Effective Alternatives to Treat Heartburn, GERD and Indigestion
Fortunately, there are alternatives that are both safe and effective. Since most people who suffer from reflux do not have an issue with too much acid, but rather with too little, or with a hiatal hernia, it is important to reduce any treatment that inhibits the production of acid. Remember, suppressing acid increases your risk for infection with H. pylori, a common cause of peptic ulcers with symptoms that closely mimic GERD. Before risking your health with medications, try these natural options
✓ Address Your Diet
The answer to heartburn and acid indigestion is to restore your natural gastric balance and function. To do that, eat lots of vegetables and other high-quality, ideally organica and unprocessed foods, and make sure you're getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet by regularly consuming fermented foods.
This will help balance your gut microbiome, which can help eliminate H. pylori bacteria — which is a common cause of heartburn — naturally. Research28 also suggests sauerkraut or cabbage juice stimulates production of stomach acid. Another benefit is it can provide you with valuable bacteria to help balance and nourish your gut.
Having a few teaspoons of cabbage juice before eating, or fermented cabbage juice from sauerkraut, will do wonders to improve your digestion. Fresh raw cabbage juice can also be very useful to heal resistant ulcers.
✓ Add Acid
It might seem counterintuitive to add acid to an acidic environment, but as you've already discovered, many cases of heartburn are triggered by low acid production.
One strategy is to take 3 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in 6 to 8 ounces of fresh water before each meal.29 For a list of other alternatives that can help promote acid production, please see my previous article, "15 Natural Remedies for the Treatment of Acid Reflux."
✓ Work With Gravity
Heartburn tends to be worse at night, and/or after you lie down. Rather than lying down right after a meal, stay seated or standing for at least three hours, as food pressing on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) will increase your risk of heartburn. Elevate the head of your bed using blocks sold for that purpose so your bed doesn't slip and cause injury.30
Avoid stacking pillows to elevate your head, as this can increase pressure on your LES. High pillows also cause poor alignment of your neck and spine, increasing your risk for neck pain.
✓ Ginger Root Tea
Ginger root has been traditionally used against gastric disturbances since ancient times. Its gastroprotective effect comes from blocking acid and suppressing H. pylori. To make your own tea, simmer three slices of raw ginger root in 2 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Drinking it 20 minutes before your meal can help prevent heartburn from developing.
✓ Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothing
Tight clothing increases the pressure on your LES and increases the risk of an acid leak into your esophagus.
✓ Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight around your middle places excess pressure on your LES. Even losing 15 pounds can make a positive difference in your symptoms.
✓ Avoid Triggers
Food allergies or triggers may also be a problem, so you'll want to completely eliminate items such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine products. Track the foods that increase your personal risk of heartburn. It might take some time, but it is well worth the effort.
✓ Organic Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, helping to reduce any overgrowth of bacteria in your stomach. It also helps to soothe your esophagus on the way down, and is a very healthy fat that is good for your overall health.
Start with 1 teaspoon to see how your body responds. Common side effects are headache and slight nausea. Gradually work up to 3 tablespoons a day. You could also try adding 1 tablespoon to a cup of tea or coffee.
By Dr. Mercola
The federal government's legal authority to detain and quarantine persons infected with certain highly communicable and deadly infectious diseases historically primarily has involved detaining people entering the U.S. by boats and airplanes or traveling across state lines.
Federal government officials have long had the authority to apprehend, isolate and quarantine people for a limited number of infectious diseases on the U.S. quarantine list.
However, the legal authority for surveillance, detention and quarantining of citizens residing in the U.S. suspected of being infected with certain non-quarantinable communicable diseases historically has resided with state government health officials.1
On January 17, 2017, the last day of the Obama administration, a new final rule on the Control of Communicable Diseases was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that is schedule to take effect in March.
The new rule gives the CDC expanded authority to apprehend, isolate and quarantine for at least 72 hours a person entering the U.S. or traveling between states, who is suspected of being infected, or at risk of being infected, with one of the nine diseases on the U.S. quarantine list (cholera, plague, diphtheria, smallpox, yellow fever, infectious tuberculosis, viral hemorrhagic fevers [like Ebola], severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS] and influenza) that can cause a pandemic.2
The rule also strengthens federal surveillance of travelers for symptoms of non-quarantinable diseases like measles, pertussis and meningococcal disease.3
While proponents are touting the changes as necessary to protect the public health, critics have been arguing since the CDC first published the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in August 2016, that it is an example of government overreach, which poses a risk to health and civil liberties.4
Because the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and other organizations advocating for protection of civil liberties urged Americans to contact the CDC and oppose the NPRM last summer, the CDC received more than 15,000 comments from the public, many of them expressing concern that the rule violated the U.S. Constitution, and human and civil rights.
Although the CDC rejected this characterization, the agency did make changes to the final rule, including eliminating a provision that would have allowed the CDC to require individuals to agree to submit to public health measures such as hospitalization, vaccination and medical treatment.
In addition, the final rule states that medical examinations can only be conducted with prior informed consent.5Who Could Be Quarantined Under the New Rule?
The new rule gives the CDC the power to detain for further health assessment a person who is crossing the U.S. or state borders if he or she is exhibiting certain infection symptoms associated with quarantinable diseases, such as fever, headache and acute gastroenteritis (abdominal cramps, loose stools or vomiting).
The new rule also makes it clear that rash and cough symptoms of non-quarantinable infectious diseases, such as measles and pertussis, among travelers are going to be more closely monitored by federal government officials as well.
For non-quarantinable diseases, CDC will be working with state health departments, who have the legal authority to detain and quarantine citizens suspected of being infected with, or at risk for, being infected with a communicable disease.
James Hodge Jr., a professor of public health law and ethics at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, told NPR, "Because of the breadth and scope of the definition of ill persons, CDC can target a much wider swath of persons to assess and screen."6Airline Pilots and Ship Operators to Become Surveillance Crews?
The new rule also includes new reporting requirements for airplanes and ships. If the rules take effect, airline pilots and ship operators would be required to report not only deaths on board but also "certain overt and common signs and symptoms of sick travelers" to the CDC prior to arriving into the U.S. Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC co-founder and president noted:7
"It is not a good idea to make the public's airport experience even more difficult by enlisting flight crews to report passengers with symptoms that could be nothing more than eczema, acne, norovirus or the common cold.
…. What started out as a vacation could be turned into a nightmare spent in an airport quarantine center."
The required signs and symptoms include the following, and must be reported not only during international travel, but also on airline flights flying domestically, between states:8
(1) Fever (defined as measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater, feels warm to the touch or gives a history of feeling feverish)
AND one of the following:
- Skin rash
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent cough
- Decreased consciousness or recent onset of confusion
- New unexplained bleeding or bruising
- Persistent diarrhea
- Persistent vomiting (other than airsickness)
- Headache with stiff neck
- Appearing obviously unwell; OR
(2) Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours; OR
(3) Other signs or symptoms of communicable disease CDC is concerned about and has announced in the Federal Register.
(1) Fever (defined as measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater, feels warm to the touch or gives a history of feeling feverish)
AND one of the following:
- Skin rash
- Difficulty breathing or suspected or confirmed pneumonia
- Persistent cough or cough with bloody sputum
- Decreased consciousness or recent onset of confusion
- New unexplained bruising or bleeding
- Persistent vomiting (other than seasickness)
- Headache with stiff neck
- Appearing obviously unwell; OR
(2) Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours; OR
(3) Acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of stomach or intestines or both), defined as:
- Diarrhea, defined as within a 24-hour period, three or more episodes of loose stools or an occurrence of loose stools that is above normal for the person, or
- Vomiting and one or more of the following additional symptoms: one or more episodes of loose stools in a 24-hour period, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches or fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F [38 degrees C] or greater); OR
(4) Other signs or symptoms of communicable disease CDC is concerned about and has announced in the Federal Register.Is This Part of Global Efforts to Eradicate Measles?
In August 2016, NPRM, the CDC pointed to "the ongoing persistence of measles in the United States" as an example of why the updated rules are necessary. They even said, "Every case of measles in the United States is considered a public health emergency because of its extremely high transmissibility."9
The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. health officials have targeted mass MMR vaccination campaigns as the solution to eradicating measles, even though serious questions remain about the vaccine's efficacy and safety.
In the final rule, measles outbreaks in the U.S. were again highlighted. It illustrates why travelers with a rash or cough could become the subject of scrutiny and reporting to the CDC by airline and other public transportation personnel as the federal government more closely monitors almost all signs of illness in all travelers.Will the New Rules Backfire?
Once it becomes widespread knowledge that an airline pilot or ship's captain must report symptoms of common illness directly to the federal government, and that information could be used to immediately detain or quarantine you, there's a good chance people may try to evade the system. Jennifer Nuzzo, a research epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told NPR:10
"The worst-case scenario is that people may try to evade these procedures by, say, taking medicines to reduce their fever, or be afraid to report it if they are feeling ill on a plane … We don't want to drive cases underground by putting measures in place that seem as though they carry some penalties associated with them."Emergency Health Measures Should Be Grounded in Science, Not Fear
While one concern is that increased surveillance of travelers by health officials could drive diseases underground, another is that overreaching power could allow people to be wrongly detained. An op-ed piece in The New York Times described the case of Kaci Hickox, who had volunteered as a nurse treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
She had no known exposure to the disease, as she had worn heavy protective gear, but upon her return to the U.S., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered her quarantined to an area hospital. This was against the current CDC guidelines, which stated she should monitor herself for symptoms at home.
"It's imperative that whenever the next outbreak hits, emergency health measures are grounded in scientific evidence and guided by clear, fair rules to protect people from wrongful deprivation of their liberties," the Times piece states, continuing:11
"That incident wasn't an anomaly. During a bubonic plague outbreak in 1900, for example, government officials quarantined the entire Chinatown neighborhood of San Francisco.
The quarantine applied only to Chinese residents, and lacked any scientific basis. It was fueled by little more than naked fear and racism. Given this history, we want to ensure that federal officials applying the new regulations will act on the basis of science and evidence and not on politics and public fear."What Diseases Are Covered in the Quarantine Rules?
According to the new rules, "CDC may apprehend, detain, examine or conditionally release an individual if it reasonably believes that he/she may be infected with or exposed to a quarantinable communicable disease."12 Those diseases currently include the following:
✓ Infectious tuberculosis
✓ Yellow fever
✓ Viral hemorrhagic fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American and others not yet isolated or named)
✓ Severe acute respiratory syndromes (e.g., SARS, MERS)
✓ Influenza caused by novel or reemergent influenza viruses that are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic
However, as mentioned, the new rule also allows the CDC to step up federal surveillance of travelers displaying a number of common illness symptoms associated with non-quarantinable diseases like measles and pertussis.
Although travelers found to be infected with or at risk for being infected with a non-quarantinable disease like measles cannot be quarantined by federal health officials, state health officials do have the legal authority to detain and quarantine residents infected with certain communicable diseases, depending upon the state's public health laws.
The final rule was originally scheduled to go into effect February 21, 2017. However, with the change in administration, the new regulations are being reviewed and will not take effect until the end of March 2017, at the earliest.13
By Dr. Mercola
Many people are not aware that, in the U.S., dental offices are the single largest source of mercury at sewage treatment plants.1
When dentists discharge mercury from amalgam fillings (also known, misleadingly, as “silver” fillings) down the drains in their offices, it accumulates in the environment, including in seafood intended for human consumption.
As a neurotoxin, mercury in the environment is dangerous for everyone, but poses a particularly grave risk for pregnant women, babies and children, in whom it can seriously disrupt brain function and harm the nervous system.
There was a ray of hope, however, when, in December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that would restrict dentists' mercury discharges.
After more than a decade of debating the issue and an additional five years of delays, the EPA finally finalized requirements for dentists placing or removing amalgam to install amalgam separators to reduce their mercury discharge.
Now, with the changes in administration, that rule has been rolled back, and the EPA is facing a lawsuit because of it. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which filed the suit, this can’t legally be done without public notice or a comment period. NRDC’s litigation director, Aaron Colangelo, said in a statement:2
“The Trump White House ordered the EPA and other agencies to violate the law … That puts Americans at greater risk of exposure to this dangerous neurotoxin, which can do harm even in tiny amounts.
… EPA’s withdrawal of the mercury rule is not just illegal, but senseless. The rule imposes minimal burden, drew widespread praise from dental providers and benefits public health and the environment.”Rule Would Reduce Mercury Discharges by 5.1 Tons a Year
There are 130,000 dental offices in the U.S., about 103,000 of which still use or remove amalgam fillings.3
Together, these dentists discharge about 5.1 tons of mercury each year to publically owned water treatment plants and, according to the EPA, “most of this mercury is subsequently released to the environment.” They explained:4
“Mercury-containing amalgam wastes may find their way into the environment when new fillings are placed or old mercury-containing fillings are drilled out and waste amalgam materials that are flushed into chair-side drains enter the wastewater stream.
Mercury entering POTWs [publically owned treatment works] frequently partitions into the sludge, the solid material that remains after wastewater is treated.
Mercury from waste amalgam therefore can make its way into the environment from the POTW through the incineration, landfilling or land application of sludge or through surface water discharge.”
While most dental offices use at least a basic filtration system to help cut down on mercury waste entering the sewer system, the rule, known as the Mercury Effluent Rule, would require dental offices to install amalgam separators that capture the mercury (and other metals) before they’re discharged into the sewer. The mercury can then be recycled.
Under the rule, existing dental offices would have to install amalgam separators within three years, which was expected to reduce mercury discharge by 5.1 tons and discharge of other metals found in waste dental amalgams by 5.3 tons, annually.5
The EPA’s mercury rule was part of a number of public health and environmental protection rules that the White House ordered to be withdrawn early this year. The NRDC’s lawsuit against the EPA states that the agency acted illegally by withdrawing the rule without public notice or a public comment period.
According to NRDC, “EPA cannot withdraw the mercury protection rule based on the Trump administration’s fiat because the rule is final.”8 The best solution would be to eliminate mercury from dentistry altogether, but until this happens, separators would at least lessen the environmental burden.
About 40 percent of U.S. dental offices have already installed the devices, because 12 states have mandatory rules in place to stop mercury from being discharged into wastewater treatment plants.9
The current nominee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, may not help matters, however, considering he’s sued the agency in the past to block a rule to limit how much mercury could be emitted into the air by coal plants.10It Will Take More Than Amalgam Separators to Stop Mercury Pollution
The installation of amalgam separators at every dental office using amalgam should be a given, but even that will not go far enough to stop the environmental destruction that results from the continued use of this toxic metal in dentistry.
Dental mercury pollution enters the water via human waste disposal and dental clinic releases. It enters the land via landfills, human burials and fertilizer. And it enters the air from dental clinic emissions and waste incineration.
Seven to 9 metric tons of mercury per year escape into the atmosphere during cremations alone, and it is estimated that, left unchecked, crematoria will be the largest single cause of mercury pollution by 2020.European Union Bans Amalgam Fillings for Children and Pregnant or Nursing Women
While the U.S. EPA has halted even a minimal step to curb mercury pollution from amalgam fillings, the European Union has declared that, starting July 1, 2018, amalgam use will be banned for children under 15 and pregnant or nursing women.
"The next generation of Europe's children are safe from toxic dental mercury," Charlie Brown, president of Consumers for Dental Choice and the umbrella organization World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, said. He continued:
"This landmark achievement still has to be officially ratified, but all three European Union institutions, the [European] commission, the Council [of the European Union] and the European Parliament have reached consensus.
The ban on amalgam for children in Europe, we promise you, will reverberate in favor of the children across the world — in America North and South, in Africa and in Asia and the Pacific.
The game changer that will do in amalgam is the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which requires every participating nation to act to reduce amalgam use. The Convention is expected to become legally binding in the middle of 2017."
Seeing the EU decision as a springboard, Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry have launched a campaign to ban mercury amalgam for every child everywhere.
"We target 2020 as victory year for the world's children," said Brown. "This victory for Europe's children will lead us to for the children of Asia, Africa and America North and South. Amalgam belongs only in museums that feature failed medical strategies."Amalgam Is Inferior to Today’s Modern Filling Alternatives
In a press release, British dentist Graeme Munro-Hall, chair of the Transition and Training task force for the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, described amalgam as “a primitive polluting device” that’s “technically inferior to today’s modern alternatives.”11
One of the most popular alternatives to amalgam is resin composite, which is made of a type of plastic reinforced with powdered glass. It is already common throughout the United States and the rest of the developed world, offering notable improvements over amalgam as it, according to Consumers for Dental Choice:12
• Is environmentally safe: Composite, which contains no mercury, does not pollute the environment. This saves taxpayers from paying the costs of cleaning up dental mercury pollution in our water, air and land — and the costs of health problems associated with mercury pollution.
• Preserves healthy tooth structure because, unlike amalgam, it does not require the removal of significant amounts of healthy tooth matter. Over the long term, composite preserves healthy tooth structure and actually strengthens teeth, leading to better oral health and less extensive dental work over the long term.
• Is long-lasting: While some claim that amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings, the science reveals this claim to be baseless. The latest studies show that composite not only lasts as long as amalgam, but actually has a higher overall survival rate.
A lesser-known alternative is increasingly making mercury-free dentistry possible even in the rural areas of developing countries. Atraumatic restorative treatment (also called alternative restorative treatment or ART) is a mercury-free restorative technique that has been demonstrated a success in a diverse array of countries around the world, including Tanzania, India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Peru and more.
ART relies on adhesive materials for the filling (instead of mercury) and uses only hand instruments to place the filling, making it particularly well-suited for rural areas of developing countries.Important Information About Amalgam Removal
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend having them very carefully removed by a competent biological dentist who follows professional protocols for amalgam removal. It's very important to have it done correctly. When amalgams are removed, a large amount of mercury is released, and if the proper precautions aren't taken, your body can absorb a massive dose of mercury that can lead to acute kidney problems.
I experienced this myself more than 20 years ago when I had my amalgams removed by a non-biological dentist. Biological dentists, on the other hand, are well aware of these dangers. Some of the steps that need to be taken to keep you and your dentist safe during amalgam removal include:
✓ Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth
✓ Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
✓ Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors
✓ Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal)
✓ Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed
✓ Using room air purifiers
If your dentist claims you need to get a new filling, talk to him about the available alternatives to amalgam, and be aware that many dental insurance companies still refuse to completely pay for composite fillings. Some, for instance, will only cover composite fillings on your front teeth while others refuse to pay at all. As a result, people who have dental insurance are actually more likely to get amalgam than those paying out-of-pocket.13Demand Your Choice
Today, about 50 percent of American dentists offer mercury-free dentistry, up from 3 percent 20 years ago. To accelerate change in the U.S., Consumers for Dental Choice is urging all American consumers to demand mercury-free dentistry — both from your dentist and from your insurance company. If they refuse, switch dentists; switch insurance.
At present, many insurance companies, including Delta Dental, Aetna, Equitable and Humana typically will pay only for amalgam in your molars, even though composite, not amalgam, has become the standard and mainstream filling material in North America.
And, since mercury-free dentists — again, about half of all dentists in the U.S. — will not give you an amalgam filling anywhere in your mouth, the insurance company profits handsomely since you then have to pay the bill out-of-pocket even though you're insured. As previously noted by Brown:
"They sell an artificially low-price policy to get you in. That's a bait-and-switch. It's time to hold all of them accountable … Challenge your insurance company, demand your claim be paid and work with your mercury-free dentist to do that. We have the paperwork if you push the 'Demand Your Choice' button … We can change this from the grassroots up. We're not going to wait on the FDA … We're going to simply change the market."
By Dr. Mercola
The decision was based on "limited evidence" showing the weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with "convincing evidence" linking it to cancer in animals.
The IARC is considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, so its determination was of considerable importance. It's also one of the five research agencies from which the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) — the California agency of environmental hazards — gets its reports to declare carcinogens under Prop 65.
Monsanto has vigorously pursued a retraction of the IARC's damning report,3 to prevent California from pursuing a cancer warning on Roundup and other, newer weed killers in the pipeline, designed for use on the company's latest genetically engineered (GE) crops.Monsanto Forced to Put Cancer Warning on Roundup
Their efforts have so far failed, and Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan recently struck another nail in the company's coffin, striking down Monsanto's attempt to overturn California's 2015 ruling to require Prop 65 warnings on glyphosate.4,5,6
While Kapetan has yet to issue a formal decision on the matter, Monsanto says it will challenge the ruling, if upheld. As reported by LA Progressive:7
"California would be the first state to order this level of labeling if this decision by the California Carcinogen Identification Committee is sustained by further court action.
Monsanto previously sued the nation's foremost agricultural producing state by filing court motions to the effect that California's carcinogen committee … had illegally based their decision for mandatorily requiring the warnings on 'erroneous' findings by an international health organization …
Trenton Norris, Monsanto's lawyer, argued in court Friday that the labels would result in irreparable and immediate negative fiscal effect for Monsanto, because millions of consumers [would] stop buying Roundup because of the labels."
Roundup isn't the only weed killer that would have to bear the Prop 65 warning label. Glyphosate is also found in Ortho Groundclear, KleenUp, Aquamaster, Sharpshooter, StartUp,Touchdown, Total Traxion, Vector and Vantage Plus Max II and others.Cancer Warning Likely Boon to Cancer Patients Suing Monsanto
A Prop 65 cancer warning on Roundup would likely benefit those suing Monsanto claiming the weed killer caused or contributed to their or a loved one's cancer. There are currently at least three dozen such cases pending. As noted by LA Progressive:8
"Jack McCall was an avocado and apple farmer with only 20 acres and he carried around a backpack with Roundup for 30 years, and then died of cancer in 2015.
His widow, Terri, strongly believes that any kind of warning about carcinogenicity would have prevented his entirely avoidable death. 'I just don't think my husband would have taken that risk if he had known,' she stated."
Following the court hearing, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer, gave a press conference, saying:9
"This [Prop 65] listing is not going to put [Monsanto] out of business. It's just going to warn people before they use their product that this product might cause cancer, and you better limit your use to protect yourself and to protect your families.
It's called a precautionary principle. Who wouldn't want to know that? Why does this company not want these farm workers to know that this chemical may endanger them and may endanger their families?
Why did [Monsanto] hire these great lawyers to come here to shut California up and to stop California from protecting these people?"Advisory Panel Questions EPA's Decision on Glyphosate
Part of Monsanto's defense of glyphosate hinges on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision that the chemical is "not likely to be carcinogenic" to humans, issued on September 12, 2016.10
However, following strong criticism, the agency convened a scientific advisory panel to re-analyze the scientific evidence and evaluate the strength of the EPA's decision.
Subsequently, a four-day-long panel meeting was held in December 2016. As reported by Carey Gillam, a journalist and research director for the non-profit consumer rights group, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK):11
"[W]hile the EPA may have hoped for resounding support from the scientific advisory panel (SAP) it assembled, from the outset of the meetings … concerns were raised by some of the experts about the quality of the EPA's analysis.
Some scientists were concerned that the EPA was violating its own guidelines in discounting data from various studies that show positive associations between glyphosate and cancer.
Several of the SAP members questioned why the EPA excluded some data that showed statistical significance, and wrote off some of the positive findings to mere chance …
The EPA looked at both published studies as well as unpublished studies conducted by industry players like Monsanto … The IARC review focused on published, peer-reviewed research."Industry Group Meddled With Scientific Panel Picks
In addition to the scientific review, pointed questions were also raised about the chemical industry's influence over regulators. As a general rule, peer-reviewed, published research, especially by independent scientists, tend to carry more merit than unpublished industry research.
In this case, CropLife America, which represents Monsanto and other agribusinesses, actually demanded the EPA remove nationally recognized epidemiologist Peter Infante, Ph.D., from the scientific advisory panel, claiming he was incapable of impartiality because he would give more weight to independent research than industry studies.
The EPA complied, booting Infante off the panel. He still made an appearance at the meeting though, and in his testimony, Infante urged the advisory panel not to ignore "impressive evidence" linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.Beware of the Latest Front Group Promoting Chemical Industry's Agenda
CropLife America certainly isn't the only industry group fighting for Monsanto's right to poison the unaware.
In January, a group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research12 (CAPHR) was formed, but contrary to its stated mission, this industry front group is pushing an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with promoting "credible, unbiased and transparent science as the basis of public policy decisions."
The group was formed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), whose members include Monsanto, and as noted by Gillam with USRTK, CAPHR's "express purpose is to discredit the IARC,"13 which notably consists of independent scientists from around the world.
More to the point, CAPHR clearly states it "will seek reform" of the IARC Monographs Program, which evaluates and determines the carcinogenicity of chemicals.
"Monsanto and friends have been harassing IARC … through a series of demands, threats and legal maneuvers, including lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to cut funding for IARC," Gillam writes. "The new campaign takes the assault further.
On the group's new twitter account … CAPHR has posted a string of insults against IARC scientists, accusing the experts from prestigious institutions around the world of 'making sensational claims,' drawing conclusions 'that can't be trusted' and using 'questionable methodologies.'
If CAPHR is to be believed, the public, lawmakers and regulators should not trust the epidemiology experts, toxicologists and other scientists who made up the IARC working group, which was led by an award-winning cancer expert from the National Cancer Institute [NCI].
No, they should look for unbiased information about the safety of the industry's billion-dollar baby from the industry itself. The chemical industry campaigners insist that the people making money off chemical sales are more trustworthy than scientists who have made a career studying causes of cancer. The rationale for the campaign is clear: It's not about protecting public health, it's about protecting corporate profits."Why Monsanto Fights to Avoid Skull and Crossbones Label
Needless to say, Monsanto and other chemical technology companies stand to lose a whole lot more than commercial weed killer sales should Kapetan uphold her ruling to allow California to proceed with a cancer warning on glyphosate products, and that's why the corporate spin machine is in overdrive. A range of new genetically engineered (GE) plants have been made to withstand a combination of glyphosate and other chemicals such as 2,4-D or dicamba.
If glyphosate products must carry a cancer warning, all that food becomes suspect as well, since the chemical cannot be washed off. Hypothetically, California could even require food made with GE ingredients to carry a Prop 65 warning.
It's unlikely it would go that far, but even if it didn't, people might put two-and-two together in their own minds. The problem is they would have to establish a safe level for an endocrine disruptor, which cannot be done, since there is no safe level. So, if and how this situation ends up being addressed will be interesting to see.
It might also scare off farmers, making them reconsider the benefits of growing GE crops if they have to use a carcinogenic weed killer. Worse, it would provide added ammunition for nations already considering more stringent measures against glyphosate-based products. European Commission leaders met in March 2016, to vote on whether to renew a 15-year license for glyphosate, which was set to expire in June that year.
The decision was tabled amid mounting opposition, as more than 180,000 Europeans signed a petition calling for glyphosate to be banned outright. Ultimately, more than 2 million signatures were collected against relicensing the chemical. In June, however, the European Commission granted an 18-month extension to glyphosate while they continue the review. A ruling is expected by the end of 2017.
In the meantime, new restrictions were announced, including a ban on a co-formulant (tallowamine), increased scrutiny of pre-harvest uses of glyphosate and efforts to minimize its use in public parks and playgrounds. Unlike in the U.S., where glyphosate use is largely unrestricted, "seven EU states have extensive glyphosate prohibitions in place, two have restrictions and four countries have impending or potential bans," The Guardian reported.14Monsanto Front Group Takes Flight on Twitter With Alternative Facts
CAPHR wasted no time when it came to launching its "alternative facts" campaign. The day it was launched, the organization took to Twitter with a #glyphosateisvital campaign, proclaiming the weed killer is essential to "maintain the production of safe, affordable food." Anyone even remotely familiar with regenerative farming knows that simply isn't true. Ample amounts of food can be grown without glyphosate or any other chemicals for that matter, and that's no idle talk or theory.
Regenerative farmers around the world have repeatedly proven they can meet and in many cases outperform conventional methods. Still, that doesn't sway proponents of chemical agriculture. On the contrary, the chemical ag industry seems hell-bent on destroying the field of science altogether by insisting the only science worth paying attention to is that which companies produce for their own products.
"Embedded in the industry's truth-twisting tactics is the characterization of anyone who gives credence to scientific research showing problems with glyphosate, or the GMOs that go with it, as 'anti-science.' It's an effort to reverse reality and detract from the fact that it is industry backers, not industry critics, who deplore the findings of independent, peer-reviewed scientific research," Gillam writes.15
'The pesticide industry recognizes it's on the defensive,' said environmental lawyer Charlie Tebbutt. 'It's doing everything it can to transform reality.' As the post-truth Trump team looks set to dismantle environmental regulations and the protections they bring to the public, it's likely the chemical industry will only continue to elevate alternative facts. We all will need to work harder than ever to see through the spin."
By Dr. Mercola
Slowly but surely, scientists are increasingly starting to focus on the influence of nutrition on cancer. Mounting evidence supports the notion that a diet high in healthy fats and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber, i.e. non-fiber carbs) may significantly lower your risk by improving mitochondrial and metabolic function.
Fermented foods are also gaining recognition as an important anti-cancer adjunct. The beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods have been shown particularly effective for suppressing colon cancer, but may also inhibit cancers of the breast, liver, small intestine and other organs.
For example, butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid created when microbes ferment dietary fiber in your gut, has been shown to induce programmed cell death of colon cancer cells,1 and cultured milk products may reduce your risk of bladder cancer by about 29 percent.2Cultured Raw Milk Does Your Body Good
In the case of cultured dairy, lactobcillus and bifidobacterium are primary sources of probiotics in cultured milk products, and these beneficial bacteria have been shown to induce changes reflecting an increase in carbohydrate metabolism.
Both of these bacteria also facilitate excretion of toxins such as Bisphenol A (BPA), and lactobacillus strains in particular may help prevent heavy metal toxicity by binding and excreting these metals.
They've even been shown to reduce the toxicity of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA) — cancer causing compounds found in charred meats.3
Kimchi (a Korean fermented cabbage dish) contains probiotics shown to help with the detoxification of organophosphorus pesticides. It also breaks down sodium nitrate, a food preservative associated with increased cancer risk.4Microbial Metabolism Can Influence Your Cancer Risk
✓ DNA repair
✓ Carcinogen metabolism / detoxification
✓ Hormone regulation
✓ Immune function
✓ Apoptosis (programmed cell death)
✓ Microbial proliferation
✓ Microbial differentiation
Moreover, your gut microbiome — which contains 100 times as many genes as your body's total genome — is involved in important chemical reactions that your gut enzymes cannot perform, including fermentation and sulfate reduction.
Importantly, your gut microbiome helps generate new compounds (bacterial metabolites) that can have either a beneficial or detrimental impact on your health.
On the upside, some of these compounds act as sources of energy and/or help regulate your metabolism and reduce inflammation. Others can cause oxidative stress.7
Food components known to produce beneficial bacterial metabolites include dietary fiber, plant lignans, anthocyanins and linoleic acid, just to name a few.
As noted by Lampe, "availability of nutrients or bioactive substances important for health can be influenced by gut microbiota," and "understanding the impact of the bacterial metabolites on regulatory pathways may help guide future diet and cancer prevention strategies."8Chronic Inflammation Raises Your Risk for Cancer
Reducing inflammation is one important anti-cancer feature of fermented foods. As explained by Stephanie Maxson, senior clinical dietitian at MD Anderson's Integrative Medicine Center, "Prolonged inflammation can damage your body's healthy cells and tissue, and weaken your immune system."
And, since your immune system is the first line of defense, a weakened immune system is what allows for diseases such as cancer to get a foothold in the first place; hence, reducing inflammation is a foundational aspect of cancer prevention.
One group of microbes that appear important for maintaining healthy immune function is the clostridial group of microbes. Ironically enough, this group is related to clostridium difficile, which can cause severe and life-threatening intestinal infections.
But whereas C. difficile prompts chronic inflammation, the clostridial clusters actually help maintain a healthy and well-functioning gut barrier, preventing inflammatory agents from entering your bloodstream.9 Factors that promote chronic inflammation in your body include but are not limited to:
- Lack of exercise
- Poor dietary choices
The connection between your microbiome and inflammation has also become evident in type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) which, contrary to type 2 diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder.
The root cause of type 1 diabetes has been a medical mystery, but more recent research suggests the disease may be rooted in gut dysfunction. As reported by Medical News Today:10
"[I]ndividuals with type 1 diabetes show increased intestinal permeability and changes in the microvilli, which are microscopic, finger-like projections from the gut lining. Although the reasons behind these modifications are unclear, errant gut bacteria are currently the prime suspects."
To investigate the impact gut bacteria may have on the development of type 1 diabetes, Italian researchers examined the gut flora and inflammation levels in 54 type 1 diabetics.
All had endoscopies and biopsies taken from their duodenum, the early section of the intestinal tract, and all were on a similar diet at the time of the procedures. The results revealed they had significantly more inflammation than healthy controls and even patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
Their gut flora was also significantly different, with fewer proteobacteria (a group of organisms that includes escherichia, which help produce vitamin K, and salmonella, which is associated with food poisoning) and higher levels of firmicutes (a group of bacteria that include bacilli and streptococcus). According to the featured article:11
"The next step will be to understand whether the changes in the gut are caused by type 1 diabetes or vice versa. Either way, the study marks a step forward in our understanding of this condition.
As Piemonti notes: 'We don't know if type 1 diabetes' signature effect on the gut is caused by or the result of the body's own attacks on the pancreas.
By exploring this, we may be able to find new ways to treat the disease by targeting the unique gastrointestinal characteristics of individuals with type 1 diabetes.'"Key Features of an Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Cancer Diet
Many cancer experts, including MD Anderson's Integrative Medicine Center and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) now promote anti-inflammatory diets, placing focus on:12
- Organic plant foods and traditionally fermented and cultured foods. AICR recommends making sure at least two-thirds of your plate are plant foods, and to eat at least one small serving of fermented food each day.
- Limiting processed foods and eating a diet of whole, fresh foods cooked from scratch instead.
- Avoiding sodas, sport drinks and other sugary beverages, including fruit juices.
- Balancing your omega-3 and omega-6 ratios. For most, this means increasing your intake of animal-based omega-3 from fatty fish low in mercury and other contaminants, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines, and reducing consumption of omega-6 fats, abundant in refined vegetable oils (fried foods and processed foods).
- Limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats (such as deli meats, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and pepperoni). To lower your protein consumption — which can be an important factor in everything from premature aging to cancer — consider replacing some of the red meat you eat with fish instead, which is lower in protein.
Eating a plant-based, fiber-rich diet is key for preventing colon cancer in particular, and the reason for this is directly related to the way fiber affects your gut microbiome. As recently reported by Medical News Today:13
"Studies have shown that a diet high in red and processed meats may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, while a high-fiber diet — rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains — has been associated with a lower risk of the disease. Previous research has suggested that one way by which diet influences the risk of colorectal cancer is through the changes it makes to the gut microbiome (the population of microorganisms that live in the intestine).
The new study from Dr. Ogino and team supports this association, after finding that individuals who followed a high-fiber diet were at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer tumors containing the bacterium F. nucleatum."
F. nucleatum has been shown to be prevalent in the stool of people who eat a Western-style, low-fiber diet, and these people also have a higher risk of colon cancer. "We theorized that the link between a prudent diet and reduced colorectal cancer risk would be more evident for tumors enriched with F. nucleatum than for those without it," Ogino says.
To test this theory, the team analyzed health and nutritional data from more than 137,200 participants in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They then analyzed tumor samples obtained from participants who developed colorectal cancer during the study, to ascertain whether F. nucleatum was present.
Food frequency questionnaires, which participants filled out at two- to four-year intervals, were used to calculate nutrient and fiber intake. Participants who ate a "prudent" diet, defined as being high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, had a significantly reduced risk of colorectal cancer containing F. nucleatum, compared to those who ate a Western-style, low-fiber diet.
That said, the prudent diet did not affect the risk of developing colorectal cancer that was free of F. nucleatum. According to Ogino, these findings "point to a much broader phenomenon — that intestinal bacteria can act in concert with diet to reduce or increase the risk of certain types of colorectal cancer."14Which Fermented Foods Have the Greatest Impact on Your Microbiome?
In a recent episode of the BBC "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" program, 30 volunteers agreed to eat a certain type of fermented food for one month, to see how it would affect their gut microbiome. The volunteers were split into three groups, receiving either a commercial probiotic drink, traditionally fermented kefir, or inulin-rich foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, onions, garlic and leek. (Inulin is a prebiotic fiber.) As reported by the BBC:15
"What we found at the end of our study was fascinating. The group consuming the probiotic drink saw a small change in one bacteria type known to be good for weight management, bacteria called lachnospiraceae. However, this change wasn't statistically significant. But our other two groups did see significant changes. The group eating foods rich in prebiotic fiber saw a rise in a type of bacteria known to be good for general gut health — something that is in line with other studies.
Our biggest change, however, was in the kefir group. These volunteers saw a rise in a family of bacteria called lactobacillales. We know that some of these bacteria are good for our overall gut health and that they can help conditions such as traveler's diarrhea and lactose intolerance."Store-Bought Versus Homemade
Next, the BBC team sent out a variety of homemade and store-bought fermented foods and beverages for laboratory testing, which revealed "striking differences" in microbial composition. Not surprisingly, the store-bought versions contained very minute levels of beneficial bacteria, while the homemade versions were rich in a wide array of probiotics.
One of the primary reasons for this difference has to do with the fact that commercial products are pasteurized to prolong shelf-life and ensure safety, and pasteurization kills the very bacteria the products are supposed to supply.
This is precisely why I strongly recommend making sure you're buying traditionally fermented, unpasteurized products or, better yet, make them yourself. It's far easier than you might think, and can save you a lot of money to boot. For basic instructions, see my previous article, "How to Make Your Own Fermented Vegetables," or watch the video demonstration below.Nourish Your Microbiome to Optimize Your Health
Mounting research suggests that your microbiome — colonies of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes living in your gut — may be one of the preeminent factors determining your health and longevity.
Hence, feeding beneficial gut bacteria with a healthy, fiber-rich diet and fermented foods, and boycotting processed foods and animal foods raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — both of which tend to have an adverse effect on your microbiome — may be keystone strategies for optimal health and disease prevention, including cancer.
By Dr. Mercola
If you’ve ever found it curious how devoted the English, Chinese and East Indians seem to be about keeping their tea times (not tee times), you might be interested to know that it often goes far beyond simple enjoyment and R & R. It’s often just as much about the health benefits, which can relate to better health and longer life.
One of the most interesting paradoxes regarding tea, especially matcha green tea, is that it can soothe, calm and relax you while simultaneously intensifying your alertness.
One reason green tea is so good for you is because of its incredibly potent antioxidants.
Like many fruits and berries, green tea contains high amounts of polyphenols, particularly a catechin known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This most predominant antioxidant offers 25 to 100 times more antioxidant activity than even vitamins C and E.1
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA),2 Alzheimer’s disease3 and cancer, particularly prostate cancer,4 for instance, are all diseases that researchers have noted are suppressed or killed (aka apoptosis-induced) by introducing EGCG nanoparticles.5 One study notes:
“Green tea's active ingredient, epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG), has gained significant attention among scientists and has been one of the leading plant-derived molecules studied for its potential health benefits.
… [A]nother study found that catechins from green tea inhibited the degradation of human cartilage.”6
There are just as many studies that show dramatic effects of green tea consumption on improved brain function, as well as staving off cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.How to Get the Most Flavonoids From Your Green Tea
While there are many antioxidants in green tea, remember that polyphenols are antioxidants, and catechins, as discussed, are one of the most powerful. Many clinical studies use therapeutic dosages to test them out, but when you ingest the actual food or drink — in this case, green tea — you also get benefits.
Regarding EGCG content in different teas per cup, Acne Einstein noted that many studies used therapeutic dosages of 300 milligrams (mg) to 1,000 mg per day.
In comparison, analyzing the list of teas on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website7 in relation to the highest flavonoid content, brewed green tea outstrips any other type easily with 180 mg of EGCG content per cup. The decaffeinated version offers just 60 mg, while bottled green tea has just 10 mg.8
One study showed that one-half cup of green tea presents the same antioxidant potential as 1 kilogram — nearly 2.5 pounds — of fresh fruit.9 Another review stated:
“Epidemiological data suggest that green tea (GT) consumption may protect against cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and different types of cancer. This effect is attributed primarily to the antioxidant properties of flavanols from (green tea) …
This may contribute to the protection against CVDs and different types of cancer. Beneficial effects seem to be more likely in participants exposed to oxidative challenge.”10Studies on Green Tea and Remarkable Benefits
Epidemiological studies indicate that people who drink six or more cups of green tea a day have lower levels of damage from inflammation, even DNA damage. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) lists numerous health benefits from green tea consumption:
“Green tea can help prevent dental cavities [and] may also be useful in inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, by reducing inflammation and slowing the breakdown of cartilage. Chemicals in green tea may help treat genital warts, treat dermatologic conditions and prevent symptoms of colds and flu …
Green tea may play a role in preventing Parkinson disease, cognitive decline, and osteoporosis. Studies also show that drinking green tea is associated with reduced risk of dying from any cause.”11
In China and India, people drink green tea to get rid of excess bodily fluid, control bleeding, heal wounds and improve their heart health. Green tea is also used to regulate blood sugar levels, improve mental clarity and promote digestion. Studies reported a number of other benefits, including cancer inhibition:
✓ Atherosclerosis, as studies show green tea consumption reduces heart disease risk by lowering triglyceride levels12
✓ Weight loss, by boosting metabolism and burning fat13
✓ Skin cancer, as EGCG polyphenols have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent the development of skin tumors14
✓ Ovarian cancer, as patients experienced decreased occurrence rates17
✓ Breast cancer, as researchers found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22 percent lower risk18
✓ Esophageal cancer, as animal studies have found that green tea polyphenols inhibit esophageal cancer cell growth19
✓ Colorectal cancer: Studies show regular green tea consumption may reduce colorectal cancer risk in women by 57 percent20
✓ Pancreatic cancer, as a large clinical study found that those drinking the most green tea were less likely to develop pancreatic cancer21
✓ Prostate cancer, as men who drink green tea have a 48 percent lower risk22
✓ Lung cancer, as green tea polyphenols have been shown to inhibit the growth of human lung cancer cells in test tubes
✓ Inflammatory bowel disease, as green tea may reduce inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis23
✓ Diabetes, helping to prevent type 1 from developing and slowing progression25Did You Know: Green Tea Fights Acne?
People who struggle with acne have more systematic inflammation than is common,26 but once again, drinking green tea has been found to be very beneficial. Anecdotal evidence — in short, people who noticed improvement and reported it — has been very encouraging.
Studies have shown that people with severe acne had more problems with inflammation and fewer antioxidants than those with mild acne. One study comments that “the notion that lipid peroxidation is a 'starter gun' in acne is not a new one.’”27
Inflammation of this order can come from a number of sources, but several to pay close attention to include gut health (or lack thereof), getting inadequate sleep and high levels of stress.
There must be something to be said about the fact that in many indigenous societies, acne is virtually unheard of, while in so-called “enlightened” populations, it’s a big problem. The above study noted:
“How could we ever rule out the possibility that diet has no effect on acne? Especially when diet influences the absorption of a nutrient or a drug that affects the mitigation of that disease? Maybe we cannot treat acne with nutrition but we can certainly influence it.”29Time, Type and Temperature Makes a Difference in Tea Brewing
Between the three main varieties of tea — green, black and oolong — how the tea leaves are processed makes all the difference. Then there’s white tea, which researchers believe may have similar health characteristics compared to green tea.
Matcha tea, which means “powdered tea,” is authentically green, but possesses several other differences that set it apart. While regular green tea involves soaking the leaves, either loose or in a bag and pitching them, matcha green tea is the actual leaves, ground micron fine. Acne Einstein cites the findings in a UK study30 and explains:
“ … [W]hen you make tea using tea bags you’ll get significantly less EGCG than from loose leaf and powdered teas. The authors speculated that this could be because the tea bag itself prevents some EGCG from being absorbed. Or, more likely, that tea bag contains lower quality leaves.”31
Say you decided to prepare a cup of green tea and heated the water to less than boiling, then steeped your grocery store teabag for less than a minute. Studies reveal that in comparison, using high-quality, loose leaf tea and brewing it in boiling water from three to four minutes increases the antioxidant potential three to five times over.
According to one study, the hotter the water you brew your loose-leaf tea in, the more antioxidants you can expect to benefit your body. Further, the EGCG extraction is particularly sensitive to water temperature; brewing water in 80 degrees C, or 176 degrees F, imparts only about 60 percent of the ECGC from the tea leaf.32
The best amounts to use when measuring loose-leaf tea is a ratio of 4 teaspoons of tea for every 4 cups of water. Drink it while it’s hot; freshly brewed tea is also superior to tea that’s been sitting for a few hours. Further, as an FYI, adding milk can diminish the potency of some of the antioxidants, while adding a spritz of lemon can boost the green tea benefits and increases the catechins for better absorption by five times, one study shows.33
By Dr. Mercola
If you live in much of the U.S., a warm bowl of soup is wonderfully warming and heartening in the chilly months of fall and winter, but when spring and summer arrive, something lighter and cooler seems much more appealing.
Soups contain numerous vitamins, minerals and valuable micronutrients contained in the veggies, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices that nourish your body. The perfect way to resolve the lack-of-soup dilemma is easy: cold soup. Fresh ingredient blends can liven up traditional gazpachos and ho-hum vichyssoises to pique your imagination.
Cold soups (usually) incorporate raw vegetables that can be diced or otherwise put together using a blender or food processor without heating your stovetop, oven or kitchen. It's one of the most nutritious and convenient aspects of cold soup; these modern contraptions render produce the ultimate "fast food."
Soups of any temperature are a nutritious way of preparing vegetables because the entire essence is consumed rather than being boiled away or drained as is often done with other methods of food preparation.
Avocado, ground almonds and yogurt work well as a stand-in for stocks or broth — meat isn't always a prerequisite — adding body, flavor and nutrition. Other popular ingredients include watermelon, mint, cashews and cucumber.
Blending up your favorite combo may even change the way you set your table during the dog days of summer.All About That Spice: Can Spices Help You Lose Weight?
Plant-based foods are very healthy for you, and when they're raw, they're (usually) most nutritious. The same goes for fruits, spices, herbs and nuts, most of which fall into the "plant-based" category. Other than the natural juices in these soups, there's also a vital ingredient: water, the original appetite suppressant.
Each one has a unique set of attributes, both flavor-wise and nutritionally. Combinations can bring unique flavors you may never have thought of combining, such as onions sautéed with Granny Smith apples, but spices work even harder; a little can go a long way for more than just your taste buds.
Certified nutrition specialist and Nutrition Diva1 Monica Reinagel wrote about a friend of hers who claimed to have lost amazing amounts of weight after starting a new diet based on spices, namely cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne, to flush toxins and speed up metabolism.
While it's true that cinnamon is known for stabilizing blood sugar levels, and turmeric, ginger and garlic can lower inflammation, the claim that these spices melt pounds in this way is not quite accurate, Reinagel says.
In reality, as tasty as they may be, adding spices to your meals alone will probably not trigger dramatic weight loss.2 That being said, it certainly can't hurt, either.
For instance, capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne pepper its heat, may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue, and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in your body.3
Black pepper, meanwhile, contains a substance called piperine, which not only gives it its pungent flavor, but also blocks the formation of new fat cells.4
Ginger is another good choice, as it has thermogenic properties that help boost your metabolism, as well as has an appetite-suppressant effect when consumed, suggesting a "potential role of ginger in weight management."5
So, there's good reason to add plenty of spices to your cold soups. Use your imagination and let your taste buds be your guide.Antioxidants: Necessary for Health
Raw, plant-based foods are high in antioxidants, but while it may seem surprising, "more" antioxidants aren't actually beneficial after a point. It's even possible to get too many antioxidants, Reinagel asserts, although she believes that's usually in regard to supplements rather than spices.
The root word in "antioxidants" is oxygen, but there's also the "anti" part; you can't survive without oxygen, but too much damages your cells and causes early aging throughout your system very similar to the way an apple slice turns brown from exposure to air.
Exposure to environmental toxins such as household cleaners, cigarette smoke and radiation leads to the production of harmful oxidative molecules called free radicals in your body. Free radicals are also formed with energy production caused by exercise, metabolism and even inflammation.
A free radical is a highly reactive metabolite, produced during metabolism, but missing one or more electrons. That missing election is what kick-starts biological oxidation, which can attack other molecules to forage for missing electrons.
Once stolen, that electron morphs into a new free radical, which continues to attack other molecules.
That's why free radicals are so insidious: They damage your cells and DNA, and worse, tend to gather in cell membranes, compromising the lipids in cell membranes. Oxidized cell membranes become perforated, brittle and useless.
Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent another molecule from oxidizing by giving up their own electrons to feed free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves.
Antioxidant nutrients in your body also produce enzymes that further protect from free radicals, but this ability declines as you age. Daily exposure to damaging substances in the air you breathe and foods you eat contributes to oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals outnumber your natural antioxidants.
Whether you like soups that are smooth and silky or thick and chunky, you'll be inspired by the following five cool recipes, incorporating sensational and mouthwatering ingredient combinations, plus a hearty dose of antioxidants in every refreshing bowl. Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.5 Tasty and Nutritious Cold Soup Recipes
1. Tangy Green Zebra Gazpacho
This soup introduces a unique tomato variety for a tangier flavor. It can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for overnight refrigeration.
- 2 lbs. Green Zebra tomatoes, coarsely chopped, plus another 1/2 cup for garnish (may substitute tomatillos or unripe red tomatoes)
- 1 cucumber, seedless, unpeeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
- 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 avocado, halved and peeled
- 1 small jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. each fresh lime juice, mint leaves and cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt to taste
- In a blender, blend half of the coarsely chopped green tomatoes, cucumber and onion with all of the avocado, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice, plus 1 cup of cold water. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the coarsely chopped veggies to the blender with the mint, cilantro and olive oil and pulse to a chunky puree. Add the mixture to the bowl and stir well.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour. Season before serving, ladle into bowls, garnish with the veggies and herbs and drizzle with olive oil.
Source: Food and Wine6
2. Chilled Cucumber, Apple and Mint Soup
Also delicious served hot, this tasty, surprisingly complex soup gets its creamy texture from a bit of cream and yogurt.
• 2 seedless (English) cucumbers
• 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into chunks
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped (peeled) gingerroot
• 20 fresh mint leaves
• 2 cups plain raw grass-fed yogurt
• Heavy whipping cream, preferably grass-fed and raw
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1. In a blender, combine the cucumber, apple, ginger and mint leaves and purée. Stop and scrape the sides of the blender if necessary.
2. Add the yogurt, cream, lemon juice and salt and continue processing until thoroughly blended. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
For super cold soup, refrigerate the bowls, too, before filling them. After ladling the soup into the bowls, garnish with the green onions.
Source: Dairy Goodness7
3. Cool and Creamy Beet Borscht
Deliciously fresh and lemony, creamy cold beet borscht may seem time intensive because of the beet-cooking process, but here's an easy method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and trim the beets, leaving the root and 2 inches of stem intact to prevent them from bleeding.
Lightly oil and wrap the beets in foil and place them on a baking sheet to oven roast. Cook until easily pierced with a sharp knife (or boil them in water for about 30 minutes). Remove the beets from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, then peel.
- 5 medium-sized, cooked beets, cooled and coarsely chopped
- 12 oz. organic chicken or vegetable stock
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill weed
- 1/2 tsp. each Dr. Mercola's sea salt and black pepper
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups organic raw sour cream or plain raw grass-fed yogurt, or one cup of each
- Additional sour cream and chopped chives for garnish
- Place the beets and the stock in a food processor and whir until slightly chunky.
- Add the lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper and scallions. Blend until smooth. Pour into the large bowl.
- Thoroughly blend in the combination of sour cream or yogurt you'd like and chill until very cold.
- Serve in chilled bowls with dollops of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of dill.
Source: Kate Battistelli8
4. Chilled Sorrel Soup
While sorrel is a green with both culinary and medicinal history, it's not often available in stores other than farmers markets. You can grow it in abundance, though. Its tart, faintly lemony flavor profile is due in part to oxalic acid, which some consider unsafe, but only in profuse amounts (as anything can be if you ingest too much). Besides being beautifully cool and creamy, this soup is also exceptionally healthy for you.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 1/2 cups of filtered water
- 1 bunch sorrel (about 1 1/2 cups, chopped)
- 1 avocado, roughly chopped
- Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. each of white pepper and Dr. Mercola's sea salt
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with the water (which you'll save). Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
- Pour the cashews and the water into a food processor and blend until very smooth (be patient). Leave it as it is, or for a silkier consistency, strain the cashew mixture in a mesh strainer.
- Add the sorrel, avocado, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to the cashew mixture and blend until smooth. Chill thoroughly before serving, and serve with a tiny bunch of chiffonade-sliced sorrel as a garnish.
Source: Seasonal and Savory9
5. Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho
The word is not the thing, so if you'd prefer, you can call this cold soup "dessert." Either way, it's flavorful, delectable and filling. Nothing in this soup is ever cooked, which adds to the cooling sensation when you taste the first delicious spoonful. It's even tastier on the second day.
With more lycopene than raw tomatoes, you wouldn't think of watermelon soup as hearty or filling, but this is! It's also an example of a soup that can be efficiently mixed using a hand-held immersion blender. Remember, too, that watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose.
- 6 cups of watermelon, coarsely chopped
- 2 green apples, diced
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey, or stevia to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, preferably heavy-duty glass. Use an immersion blender (or process or blend in batches) until no large pieces are left.
- Blend to a smooth consistency. Chill for several hours or overnight and serve cold with a sprig of mint or cucumber curls as a garnish.
Source: Spiced10Tips, Tricks and More Cold Soup Recipes
One more awesome thing about making summer soups is that you can easily find a recipe incorporating bumper crops, from peaches to squash to snap peas. You can also toss in ingredients from your fridge or cupboard that you want to use up, such as sour cream, yogurt and almond or coconut milk. Top with a mound of sprouts for an attractive and nutritious garnish. Want more healthy and delicious cold soup recipes?
- Try one that's both raw and vegan: Cold Coconut Curry Soup.11
- Blending your greens in Blended Green Soup12 (rather than processing the living daylights out of them) breaks down the tough cell membranes so your system can make immediate use of them.
- Zucchini, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers and other veggies from your garden, with a twist of savory sweetness from one or two dates and a bit of miso, make Raw Summer Vegetable Soup13 complex and delectable.
- Epic Raw Chili14 contains no legumes or nuts, and introduces fresh mushrooms, chipotles, smoked sea salt with more traditional ingredients such as green peppers, tomatoes and onion.
- Cashew butter, carrots, onions and fresh ginger are all it takes to make Raw Loulou's Carrot Orange and Ginger Soup,15 either cold or room temperature.
Try this cool trick for a day trip to the beach: When your puréed pot of soup is super cold, fill several short Mason jars for individual servings to hand out when lunch time rolls around. Also, pour some soup into ice cube trays, freeze and take those along. When someone asks for seconds, just spoon a few cubes into their jar. Super cool!
By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is a disease that most people either have personal experience with, or know someone who does.
In this interview, Annie Brandt — herself a 16-year cancer survivor and author of "The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!"— shares some of the support detailed in her book, which can give anyone challenged with cancer access to valuable resources.
We first met last year at Dr. Lee Cowden's ACIM Conquering Cancer conference in Orlando. Brandt is also the coordinator of the Answers for Cancer Summit, an international cancer conference that will include many great speakers.
It's scheduled for April 27 through April 29, 2017, in San Diego, California. You can purchase tickets on bestanswerforcancer.org.
From my perspective, a foundational strategy for anyone concerned about cancer is to address your diet. That's my passion, and it got reignited once I understood that cancer is not a genetic, but a metabolic disease, primarily rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.
In fact, this is the topic of my latest book, "Fat for Fuel," which will be published in May. More information on this will be coming soon.
I think that's the first step. However, for most people, diet alone will not solve the cancer riddle. It will likely prevent it, but may not solve it if you already have cancer. That's where Brandt's resources and The Healing Platform come in. They really are a great collaborative addition to a healthy diet, which I outline in "Fat for Fuel."Best Answer for Cancer Foundation
Brandt is more than a little familiar with cancer. She was diagnosed with end-stage metastatic cancer in 2001, and was given three months to live. She decided that if that's all she had left, she would die as healthy as possible, "and as close to how God made me as I could," she says.
She refused surgery, high-dose chemo and radiation. Instead, she tried to make her body as strong and healthy as possible, focusing first on detoxification.
"The way the [Best Answer for Cancer] foundation started was I kind of made a promise to myself that if, in fact, I lived doing all these natural healthy things, I would find a way to help people realize there were all of these options. That's why I started the foundation," Brandt says.
"[The foundation is also] trying to protect the rights of patients and doctors to use natural substances."
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation was inaugurated in 2004, and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2006. It's a hybrid non-profit that services two different groups of people: an integrative physicians group, and a group for patients with cancer and other chronic disease.
They also hold two conferences per year, one for each group, featuring international experts. The conferences are open to anyone interested in learning more about alternatives to the conventional paradigm of cancer care.
The Answers for Cancer Summit (for patients/lay audiences) not only features great speakers and topics, but also offers hands-on learning events and exhibit booths with valid tools and therapies. This year, a ketogenic lunch is planned as an educational experience.
The Integrative Oncology Conference (for physicians) is a Continuing Medical Education (CME) Conference and includes pre- and post-conference training modules. It is a leader in medical education conferences.
Amazingly, oncology is the only specialty in medicine that is allowed and, may I say, encouraged to sell drugs at massive profits — typically in excess of 50 percent — and cancer drugs are, as a general category, the most expensive medications in all of medicine to begin with.
Oncologists actually get a commission for the chemotherapy drugs they sell, and with that type of incentive, it's nearly impossible to imagine them actively seeking other alternatives.
As a result, patients are typically forced to go it alone if they don't want to go the conventional route.
Oncologists are further constrained by the "standard of care" prescribed by oncology medical boards and the drug industry. If they go against the established standard of care, they're susceptible to having their license reprimanded or even taken away.Support Systems to Maximize Chances of Recovery
One of Brandt's core principles is that treating the tumor is not enough. She also has a wide variety of options to support your body's immune function and other systems, to maximize your chances of recovery.
"I came to the conclusion that the tumor was just a messenger," Brandt says. "When you look at the tumor itself and think it's a substance that forms around diseased cells, where do the diseased cells come from?
When you look at all the science behind cancer, they bring in mind, body, spirit, lifestyle, the immune system, diet and detoxification.
They're very subtle. But over the years, I found these different modalities that actually address disease. When you think about the tumor, imagine it like the check engine light in your car, that's how I think of it. When it comes on, you don't take a hammer and beat the dash until the check engine light goes out.
You take your car to the garage and find out what's wrong. We don't do that. We want to get rid of the tumor as soon as possible. We want to beat the dash until the light goes out. Then we don't look at what fed it, what created it.
That's why I think there are a lot of reasons why cancer keeps recurring in certain people; they haven't addressed the issues that are feeding it. When you look at what could be feeding it, you have to consider your whole life.
You have to consider the people around you, your job, stress, your environment, what you eat and, believe it or not, how you think. Are you getting enough rest, exercise and sunshine?"The Importance of Detoxification
One of the strategies Brandt recommends in her book is a detox. I'm a big fan of full-spectrum low-EMF infrared sauna therapy, which is also a wonderful way to eliminate a great number of toxins from your body via sweating.
There are three types of saunas: traditional Finnish-style, far-infrared and near-infrared. Lawrence Wilson's book, "Sauna Therapy," discusses the importance of near-infrared heat lamp saunas, and actually details how to build one.
That may be the best types of sauna therapy because near-infrared is one of the most important biological frequencies we need for biological health. To learn more about this, see my most recent article on sauna therapy. However, it's not just about cleansing your physical body. It's equally important to address all the other toxins in your life, be it toxic thoughts, people or environments.
"If cancer patients don't think they're worth it, that is a toxic thought. You have to detox the mind. You have to detox the spirit, the emotions. Most cancer patients feel trapped. You have to detox every part of your life," she says. "Don't forget the environment. You need an air purifier to clean the air. You need water purifiers to clean the water. Get rid of your toxic chemicals under the sink. You've really got to do a lifestyle detox."Detoxing Your Mind and Eliminating Toxic Relationships
While psychotherapy can be valuable for some, many thoughts and beliefs are "embedded" in our very cells. Many are rooted in childhood traumas we cannot even consciously recall. So how do you get rid of those? Like me, Brandt favors energy psychology methods such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and eye movement desensitization reprogramming (EMDR).
The former releases these stored emotions by tapping into the acupuncture meridians in your body, whereas the latter balances the left and right brain and gets rid of the dysfunction. Meditation, visualization and positive affirmations can also be very helpful.
"I have positive affirmations everywhere, in my car, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, everywhere," Brandt says. "It works. The body will listen. The mind will listen if you tell it enough times …
Another big thing about lifestyle changes — and this is one of the most difficult things to do for everybody, every patient — you have to minimize toxic relationships, negative relationships. Your life should be as positive as possible. Otherwise, you're just not going to be happy here. What kind of life would you live if you're not happy living?
I advocate looking at everything in your life, making sure it's as positive as possible … All the negatives actually stimulate the part of the brain that creates the stress hormones, so they feed the cancer … I literally remade my life. How many chances do you have in your lifetime to remake yourself? This is not only permission; this is encouragement to remake your life. It's really empowering, very joyful."Basic Strategies That Boost Your Immune Function
Another important component is boosting your immune function, as your immune system is the first line of defense against all disease, including cancer. A well-functioning immune system can typically fight off any malignant cells, preventing them from multiplying in the first place. Brandt had in fact been diagnosed with a dysfunctional immune syndrome in 1992, a decade before her "terminal" cancer diagnosis.
"These days, we have oncoimmunologists who can actually look at your immune system and tell you if it's out of balance, which way it's out of balance, and what to do. But there are some general things that you can start out with to boost and regulate it. Acupuncture helps, laughter, endorphins.
Endorphins can even be [produced by] knitting. I didn't know that. You can knit and make endorphins … Laughter is really hard when you've got cancer and when it's a death diagnosis … But you have to keep going. You have to find laughter because this is one way you can fix the imbalances …"
Other strategies that can help boost immune function include but are not limited to:
1. Sun exposure. Sunlight is a natural immune booster. Not only does your body produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure on bare skin, but sunlight also produces a number of other health benefits that are unrelated to vitamin D production. If you don't have access to sun exposure in the winter, you can swallow oral vitamin D3. Although it's not nearly as good, it will still support your immune function.
2. Improve your gut microbiome, which goes back to paying attention to your diet. My book, "Fat for Fuel," goes into this in great detail. I've also written numerous articles on this topic. Your microbiome has enormous influence over the quality of your immune function.
3. Medical cannabis can also be used to stimulate and improve your immune function. Brandt recently found a group called United Patients Group, the mission of which is to investigate and verify the value and potential uses of medical marijuana, and to educate people about its medicinal uses.
"What my understanding is, so far, is that the medical cannabis in the right proportion [of THC and CBD] can regulate — not just boost, but regulate — the immune system. And each type of cancer has a specific proportion of THC and CBD that is effective for that cancer. Again, going back to diet, I almost consider medical cannabis part of a diet because it does nourish and detox," Brandt says.
5. Proper amount of quality sleep, getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night if you're an adult.Addressing Metastasized Cancer Cells
Typically, if you have metastasized cancer, targeted cancer cells are floating around in your bloodstream, necessitating multiple strategies to get rid of the cancer. This is one of the reasons why most conventional cancer therapies are not that useful in this scenario, as they do not address these circulating cancer stem cells. You can get rid of the primary tumor, but cancer cells are still present in the body. As noted by Brandt:
"People don't get that conventional medicine doesn't have any way to stop metastasis or to treat metastatic stem cells. It's these metastatic stem cells that kill … The stem cells are what conventional medicine cannot address, that I know of. But alternative medicine can."
Products that are helpful against metastatic stem cells include:
✓ Berberine / metformin
✓ Intravenous vitamin C
✓ Sulforaphane (cruciferous vegetables)
✓ Curcumin (turmeric)
✓ Essiac tea
✓ Burdock root
✓ Slippery elm
✓ Sheep sorrel
✓ Fermented soy
✓ Fish oil
✓ Modified citrus pectin (PectaSol-C)
Berberine and metformin have a similar mechanism of action. I prefer berberine because it's a natural product. That said, metformin, as a drug, is probably one of the safer ones. Millions of people have been on it with relatively few side effects. It's actually used for type 2 diabetes as an oral hypoglycemic.
I take berberine every day as a dietary supplement, as it has so many health benefits. Since its mode of action is very similar to metformin, I would encourage anyone taking metformin for type 2 diabetes or for longevity benefits (a lot of people take it for that) to switch to berberine. I also like pau d'arco.
It has a substrate called beta-lapachone, which is a powerful way to increase NAD+ intercellularly. This is an important component of improving mitochondrial ATP production, which is needed for health in general, but especially if you're fighting disease.Insulin Potentiation Therapy and Other Targeted Therapies
Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) acts like a Trojan Horse in that it can achieve targeted delivery of low doses of chemo or other medicines to the diseased cell only.
"It's an elegant delivery mechanism. That's probably my favorite because it worked so well on me," Brandt says. "I just watched the tumors shrink and disappear. There's also high-dose vitamin C. The latest study we just got approval for is high-dose C with artesunate. Artesunate is an intravenous (IV) derivative of artemisinin (wormwood) … a Chinese herb that has been shown to kill cancer with very little side effects."
Brandt's book also includes a comprehensive description of systemic enzyme therapy, where enzymes are taken on an empty stomach — not to help with food digestion but to provide systemic benefits through your bloodstream. I personally rotate four different systemic enzymes on an empty stomach. She also addresses the importance of rotating or cycling through the supplements you take.
"The doctor that I first went to taught me about switching things around. He said, 'Cancer builds immunities.' I thought, 'That's right. Cancer builds immunities to things like chemo and radiation.
I need to keep it on its toes and switch things around.' I had a chart for all my therapies … I could look at the calendar any day and see what I was doing … If you did Essiac tea for four weeks and you do red clover stillingia for two, then you do Essiac for five, red clover and stillingia for six. Just keep switching it around. No patterns."
Indeed, variety is a really important biological principle. I've even integrated it into my nutritional ketosis protocol. In fact, I now believe people should not be in nutritional ketosis long-term. You do have to integrate variety, so a day or two per week you might have a fair amount of carbohydrates, say 100 to even 150 grams of net carbs instead of the recommended 20 to 60 grams. A sampling of other targeted therapies covered in her book include:
- Poly-MVA, a colloidal mineral complex that crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps re-nourish your body and brain at the cellular level. It also helps replace nutrients lost during chemotherapeutic and radiological treatments.
- AvéULTRA (Metatrol), a fermented wheat germ product.
- Selenium, vitamin D and iodine, as most cancer patients are low in these three nutrients. Since I do regular sauna therapy, I take 200 micrograms of SelenoExcell each day. (You tend to excrete selenium when sweating.) Selenium increases glutathione, an important metabolic antioxidant necessary for detoxification. It also catalyzes the conversion of thyroid hormone T3 to T4, so it can be beneficial if you have thyroid problems.
- Modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been shown to reverse cancer and stop metastatic cancer. Brandt recommends the brand ecoNugenics, as this is the one that has been scientifically studied and verified to work.
- Colloidal silver is a non-toxic, broad spectrum antimicrobial therapy with no known toxicity and no known mechanism for acquired resistance.
- Salicinium, a plant-based extract that inhibits production of nagalase — an enzyme produced by cancer cells — while simultaneously stimulating innate immune cells.
Whether you're a cancer patient or a doctor, you're welcome to join the Best Answer for Cancer Summit in San Diego, California. There are actually two separate conferences: The Integrative Oncology Conference, which is a three-day-long physician-only event (April 27-29) and the Answers for Cancer Summit, which is a two-day event open to the public (April 28-29).
"If you're a physician watching this and you want to learn more about this area, this is a very important conference to go to. It's also a conference for patients, if you're a cancer survivor or you're new to the diagnosis of cancer or chronic disease, or you just want to know more," Brandt says.
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation is also in the process of creating a free online support group for cancer patients called The Chrysalis Group to identify with Rebirth: The Blossoming of the Butterfly. To join, write Brandt at: Annie@BestAnswerforCancer.org, as the site is currently under construction.
"We will have a virtual bulletin board and a chatroom. We'll have a library with all the medical references, different therapies, different books they can read from different authors. I'm very serious about supporting patients because there were very few survivors in 2001 when I got diagnosed that I could find to talk to."Build Your Own Cure
Last but not least, pick up a copy of "The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!" Taking a route other than the conventional one can be a frightening proposition, but these days there's more help, support and resources available than ever before. That said, the fear of bucking the system, even when you're convinced the system is fatally flawed and isn't your best option, can be significant.
"I tell patients what I experienced. I say my family and friends were frantic, wanting me to do what everybody else does, the surgery, chemo, radiation. I said, 'You know what? If I do what you want me to do and I die, I'll be pissed. I might come back and haunt you. But if I do what I want to do and I die, well then that was my choice. I'm asking you to support my choice,'" Brandt says.
Her book can go a long way toward directing you to a wide variety of strategies you can use to create your own healing platform. As Brandt says:
"There is the opportunity for each of us to cure ourselves, I believe. I think we're all individuals and therefore our answer for cancer should be tailored to us. I should have a unique answer. I'm a snowflake, totally different from the next person. Why should I do what everybody else is doing?
The book actually talks about how I got sick. You should see parallels in your life if you are sick. It helps you examine your entire life. Then it goes into the platform. Every chapter is a different healing modality, like spirituality, mind-body medicine, immunologic nutrition, detox, lifestyle changes and then targeted cancer therapies. Each one of those chapters is color coded so you can easily go to that chapter to look up a reference.
In addition, for each modality, for example, when you go into a detox, there's a workbook on that modality. So it's a workbook all the way through. It's an interactive guide. You are actually challenged at the end of each chapter to write down your thoughts, your experiences, to help you determine what your "dis-eases" are.
The book is really easy to follow. I get calls all the time from patients just saying 'Thank you. You gave me hope.' 'Thank you. There's such good information here. I was frustrated at first because I wanted you to tell me what to do, but telling me that I'm an individual said that I needed to go and do my homework.'
I encourage you to get it, whether you have cancer or not. Buy it, read it, pass it on. Chronic disease, I think, is a precursor to cancer and cancer is a chronic disease. You don't have to have cancer to be in danger of getting cancer."
You can get more information at www.bestanswerforcancer.org.