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Dr. Mercola

Synthetic Fabrics Host More Stench-Producing Bacteria

10 hours 58 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Synthetic polyester workout wear has become popular because it’s lightweight and fast-drying. But there‘s a downside to opting for synthetics over cotton, especially for those working out around you…

Certain fabrics will make you stinkier than others, although it’s not the fabric itself that’s to blame. It turns out that Micrococcus bacteria prefer the open-air lattice of synthetic fibers over cotton, according to new research by Chris Callewaert (aka “Dr. Armpit”) and colleagues.1

Because these odor-causing bacteria prefer to hang out on polyester, you might want to choose your workout gear accordingly…

Bacteria Thrive on Synthetic Fabric, Not Cotton

The study involved 26 volunteers who took a spinning class while wearing shirts made of cotton, polyester, or a cotton-polyester blend. The shirts were sealed in plastic bags then sniffed by trained panelists the next day.

The panel reported that the polyester shirts were “significantly less pleasant and more intense”2 and smelled “more musty, sour and ammonia-like than the cotton.”3

The odor-causing bacteria Micrococcus were isolated in almost all synthetic shirts and were detected almost solely on synthetic shirts as compared to cotton, according to the researchers. As Scientific American reported:4

“…researchers say they [Micrococcus bacteria] thrive on the open-air lattice of synthetic fibers—where they sit chomping on the long-chain fatty acids in our sweat, turning them into shorter, stinkier molecules.”

Of note, Micrococcus aren’t commonly found in large numbers in armpits. Another type of bacteria, Corynebacterium, is regarded as the primary cause of armpit odor, yet no Corynebacterium was detected on the shirts. No one’s sure how the Micrococcus are transferring to the shirts, but the study’s lead researcher suspects it may be during washing.

Nanosilver Used to Target Bacterial Growth in Polyester, But Its Use May Backfire

It’s not a surprise that polyester shirts are bacteria magnets. Manufacturers have long known this and have turned to using antimicrobials as a solution. Among them are silver nanoparticles, or nanosilver, which are composed of tiny particles of silver (so tiny they’re smaller than a virus) that can kill bacteria on contact.

On one level, nanoparticles are an incredible advance of technology. For instance, in the supplement industry, nanotechnology can shrink the size of vitamin molecules down to microscopic nanodroplets that are much easier for your body to absorb.

On the other hand, nanoparticles are so small that that they can easily be inhaled or absorbed through your skin, so great care needs to be taken as to what types of particles are being produced on the nano-scale.

Its use in clothing may be problematic, as research has revealed that nanosilver does not simply stay in clothing, fighting bacteria and odors. Instead, the nanoparticles are leaching out of the clothing when they’re washed.

In one study, scientists added seven different nanoparticle fabrics to a washing machine with steel balls added to simulate mechanical stress that would occur under normal washing conditions. Four of the fabrics lost roughly 20 percent to 35 percent of their silver with the first wash.5

From there, of course, the nanosilver does not simply collect inside your washing machine. It raises the question of whether the nanosilver is also transferred to your skin during normal wear, and, certainly, it washes down your drain and out into the environment. Nanotechnology is quite new, so it’s unclear what effects nanoparticles might have in the environment, but there’s reason for concern.

Research published in the nanotechnology journal Small found that zebrafish embryos exposed to nanosilver were extremely mutated.6 Some fish died while others grew into the shape of the number nine or a comma. Others had mutations to their eyes, swim bladders, tails, and hearts. Said University of Utah researcher Darin Furgeson, who led the study:7

“I think we jumped the gun by creating such large volumes of nanoparticles… We should take more time and really look at these new nano-systems before we start to throw them into personal products and shoot them into these ecosystems.”

Some Synthetic Fabrics are Even Treated with Triclosan

Another antimicrobial sometimes added to fabrics, including clothing, is triclosan, a widely used antibacterial chemical. Research has shown that triclosan can alter hormone regulation and may interfere with fetal development.

Animal studies have also raised concerns about its ability to affect fertility, and bacteria exposed to triclosan may also become resistant to antibiotics. Even an increased cancer risk has been suggested.

And as noted by Professor Caren Helbing Ph.D. at the University of Victoria in Canada, the chemical structure of triclosan is similar to thyroid hormones and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This similarity allows it to attach to hormone receptors.

Helbing's research shows that tadpoles exposed to triclosan suffered stunted development and leg deformations, perhaps because the metamorphic process these frogs undergo is mediated by thyroid hormones.8

Triclosan also impairs muscle function and skeletal muscle contractility. In one study, after mice were exposed to just one dose of triclosan, heart muscle function was reduced by 25 percent, and grip strength was reduced by 18 percent.9 Fish were also exposed to triclosan – about the equivalent dose as would be accumulated in a week in the wild – and this led to poorer swimming performance.

Researchers also exposed individual human muscle cells (from heart and skeletal muscles) to a triclosan dose similar to everyday-life exposure, and this, too, disrupted muscle function and caused both heart and skeletal muscles to fail. Triclosan is one chemical that you certainly don’t want to risk more exposure to, so it’s wise to avoid all antibacterial fabrics (even cotton versions, as sometimes it, too, is treated with triclosan).

Toxic Stain Protection and NPEs Also Commonly Added to Clothing

Stain-proof clothing is a common source of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are toxic to humans and the environment. You’ll most often hear about PFCs in relation to non-stick cookware, but they’re also common in fabrics. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):10

Long-chain PFCs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife, and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, and are persistent in the environment. They are toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife, producing reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in laboratory tests. To date, significant adverse effects have not been found in the general human population. However, given the long half-life of these chemicals in humans (years), it can reasonably be anticipated that continued exposure could increase body burdens to levels that would result in adverse outcomes.”

Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), meanwhile, is a toxic surfactant used to manufacture clothing; when consumers wash their clothes, NPEs are released into local water supplies where wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove it. When NPEs enter the environment, they break down into nonylphenol (NP), a toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemical that accumulates in sediments and builds up in fish and wildlife. One simple strategy you might be able to use to reduce smells on synthetic clothing is to put them in the bright sun. Sunlight has ultraviolet rays and will kill most of the bacteria that are multiplying and causing the odors.

If You Opt for Cotton Clothing, Choose Organic

Natural cotton clothing is important for helping you reduce odors, but you might be surprised to learn that cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to the cotton industry’s heavy use of hazardous herbicides and insecticides. According to the Organic Trade Association:11

“Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous. Aldicarb, cotton's second bestselling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”

As you might suspect, this is hazardous on multiple levels – for the farmers working with these chemicals, the people living nearby, the consumers buying the cotton and virtually everyone else who will eventually be impacted by this widespread environmental pollution, much of which inevitably travels up the food chain where it bioaccumulates within your body. This is one reason why I strongly encourage you to choose organic cotton clothing whenever possible. The other reason is that organic cotton will not be genetically modified, which is equally important.

The introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt cotton in 2002 only added to the toxicity problem, requiring even more pesticides, creating super-pests, and putting Indian farmers into debt who bought into biotech’s false promises – which is why many are now committing suicide. Another alternative is to choose cotton products through the Better Cotton Initiative, which is striving to make global cotton production better for the environment and the economies in cotton-producing areas. Though not necessarily organic, member farmers of the Better Cotton Initiative in Brazil, India, Mali, and Pakistan are using more sustainable ways of growing cotton. Their production principles include cotton produced by farmers who:12

  1. Minimize the harmful impact of crop protection practices
  2. Use water efficiently and care for the availability of water
  3. Care for the health of the soil
  4. Conserve natural habitats
  5. Care for and preserve the quality of the fiber
  6. Promote decent work
Tips for Reducing Your Body Odor Naturally

Even with an organic cotton shirt, body odor can still be offensive and often has little to do with the fabric your shirt is made out of. Foul body odor is typically related to the toxins being expelled – it's not your "natural" scent. If you're living a "clean" lifestyle, meaning a lifestyle in which you're minimally exposed to dietary and environmental toxins and therefore have a low toxic burden, your sweat will be close to odorless. Please don’t attempt to stop your body’s natural sweating by using antiperspirants. Not only do they typically contain toxic chemicals like parabens and metals like aluminum, but profuse sweating can actually help decrease body odor. Your body releases sweat to help regulate its body temperature to prevent you from overheating, but there are actually many other benefits to it as well.

Sweating helps your body to eliminate toxins, which supports proper immune function and helps prevent diseases related to toxic overload. Sweating may also help kill viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in temperatures above 98.6°F, as well as on the surface of your skin. Interestingly, the lead author of the featured study is conducting research involving bacterial transplants to stop excessive body odor. The idea is to fight odor-causing bacteria with their own kind: more bacteria.

He explained:13 "We have done transplants with about 15 people, and most of them have been successful… All have had an effect short term, but the bad odor comes back after a few months for some people." Another option for eliminating body odor, aside from washing regularly with soap and water, of course, is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet light, specifically UVB, is a very potent germicidal. I have noticed that by tanning my armpits, it eliminates armpit odor nearly completely, probably because the UVB kills any odor-causing bacteria. If you have clothing with resistant odors, putting them outside in the sun can also be helpful for freshening them up and removing odors.

Do You Want Clothes That are Toxin-Free?

Pure, non-toxic clothing isn’t too much to ask for, right? To join in the fight for toxin-free clothing, Join the Greenpeace Detox campaign, which is campaigning to stop industry poisoning waterways around the world with hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, and C&A are among the clothing brands that have already committed to the campaign, but many top brands still need some persuading. On a personal level, you can "detox" your wardrobe using these tips from Greenpeace:

  • Buy organic clothing
  • Support "green" brands that use environmentally friendly fabrics and natural dyes, or make clothing from recycled materials
  • Buy secondhand clothes, and when buying new choose "classics" that you can wear again and again
  • Buy quality clothing items that are made to last, instead of cheaply made garments you'll be forced to replace often
  • Before tossing a garment, fix it if possible (with a new zipper/buttons, etc.) or take it to a tailor (or be crafty yourself!) to be re-fashioned (turning a dress into a skirt or jeans into shorts, for instance)

Family Meals Play Important Role In Children’s Health

10 hours 58 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Solitary dining has become more common as busy families are finding it more challenging to carve out time for family meals, particularly when all adult family members work outside of the home.

Traditionally, family meals have represented much more than just communal eating—they're a time for good conversation and genuine family bonding.

Unfortunately, today, many meals are consumed at stoplights or in front of the computer—alone. The US ranks 23rd out of 25 countries in the percentage of children who eat the main meal of the day with their parents several times a week.1

Although solitary meals are occurring on a regular basis now, recent research suggests they are not contributing to you or your children's well-being. Families that make an effort to eat meals together at least three or four times a week enjoy significant benefits for their health, happiness, and relationships.

The shared interest in preparing and cooking food in traditional ways has been overshadowed by a desire for convenience foods over the past several decades, although evidence suggests those trends might be starting to reverse.

If You're Eating Alone, You Have Plenty of Company

The family meal hit a low point in the 1950s, when people began to regard cooking dinner for the family as a major inconvenience. As foods became more readily available and storable in the freezer and pantry, the idea of cooking from scratch became almost passé.

Perhaps people are beginning to miss the security and the socialization that family meals impart. Research into eating trends varies substantially, which may suggest that values and attitudes are changing.

The relative infrequency of shared family meals is not associated with a lack of desire for them, as people consistently report fond memories of eating together during their childhood years.

Several recent studies reveal how American families are struggling to find time to eat together. When thinking about the following statistics, consider that 27 percent of households consist of a single person living alone.2

  • A new report from NPD3 found that Americans eat more than half of their meals solo; people are the least likely to eat dinner alone, and most likely to eat breakfast and lunch alone (refer to chart below).4
  • A 2014 study found that the majority of American households eat meals together less than five days a week.5
  • A 2013 Harris Poll6 found that among Americans who live with at least one family member, only 58 percent report eating with others at least four times a week, but 86 percent report sitting down to a dinner together at least once a week. The poll also found that the frequency of family dinners is declining with each generation.

Source: The NPD Group/Enhanced National Eating Trends®

Kids Who Eat Meals with Their Families Enjoy Healthier Eating Patterns and Less Obesity

The 2013 documentary The Family Meal focused largely on the connection between the epidemic of childhood obesity and the role eating dinner with your family could play in curbing it.

Research shows that children who share family meals three or more times a week are more likely to be in a healthy weight range and make better food choices. They're more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to eat unhealthy ones, and also less likely to develop eating disorders.7

Interestingly, a Cornell University study8 found that families (both adults and children) who eat dinner in their kitchen or dining rooms have significantly lower BMIs than families who eat elsewhere. For boys, remaining at the table until everyone is finished with eating was also associated with a lower BMI.

Researchers at the European Conference on Obesity9 reported that children who don't eat dinner with their parents at least twice weekly are 40 percent more likely to be overweight than those who do. This might say something about the importance of family rituals and routines for children's emotional health. In reference to predictable family routines, ScienceDaily10 reported:

"Researchers believe that being cared for in stimulating and nurturing environments in early life, with regular participation in predictable family routines, reflects greater family organization and can provide a sense of security and belonging. It also may positively impact children's socio-emotional health before school entry and contribute to their future school and life success."

The Psychological Cost of Eating Alone

Kids who eat meals with their families not only have less obesity, but also fewer psychosocial and behavioral problems—the benefits are truly profound. For example, teens who eat with their families at least five times a week are 40 percent more likely to get A's and B's in school than their peers who don't share family meals. They're also 42 percent less likely to drink alcohol, 59 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes, 66 percent less likely to try marijuana, and tend to be less depressed.11 Other research shows that with each additional family dinner, adolescents have:12, 13

  • Higher self-esteem and life satisfaction
  • More trusting and helpful behaviors toward others and better relationships with their parents
  • Better vocabulary and academic performance
  • Lower teen pregnancy rates and truancy14
  • Increased resilience to stress
Family Meals Help Pass Down Healthy Cooking Traditions

The benefit of the family meal comes not only from time spent eating together, but also from the time spent shopping for food, preparing your meals, cleaning up, and even tending a garden. Getting your children involved teaches them about nutrition, as well as how to work together as a family. Children will also learn environmental awareness and the importance of supporting organic and sustainable foods and farms.

Sharing meals gives you an opportunity to pass along special recipes and family traditions that you may have learned from your mother or grandmother. You can teach your children the importance of traditional food preparation methods, such as fermenting, juicing, sprouting seeds, soaking nuts, and preparing raw meals. These lessons are invaluable for building a rich family heritage, as well as giving your children the tools they need to live long, healthy lives.

Family Dinner Is Less About 'Dinner' and More About 'Family'

What is it about family dinners that exerts such a powerful influence on our children? Or is it the family dinner at all? These are the questions professors Ann Meier and Kelly Musick sought to answer by delving deeply into the data. The professors removed variables such as income, time spent with children (meaning, activities such as helping with homework or participating in extracurricular events), how closely the kids were monitored, and overall quality of family relationships. Once all of those factors were stripped away, they examined the impact family dinners have on children's mental and behavioral health.

Meier and Musick published the results in the Journal of Marriage and Family, and their findings might surprise you.15, 16 They concluded that it's the family connections that matter, not the meals. In other words, the family dinner is less about the "dinner" and more about the "family." They identified the following critical requirement:17 "The effects of family dinners on children depend on the extent to which parents use the time to engage with their children and learn about their day-to-day lives."

So, if your family dinner hour consists of nagging about chores and unfinished homework, or everyone texting at the dinner table, or if it's a battle getting everyone TO the dinner table, it's unlikely you will see as much benefit. But if your mealtime is instead filled with sharing and genuine caring and connection, and everyone is on board, then the benefits are plentiful. This data does not diminish the value of eating together for your child's physical health and fostering his appreciation and education about food. But when it comes to the psychosocial factors and relationship dynamics, there is much more to it than simply sharing space at the dinner table.

Clever Mealtime Conversation Starters

If you are looking for ideas on how to corral your family into eating more meals together, The Family Dinner Project (FPD) might be helpful.18 The FDP is a resource aimed at helping families "improve the frequency and quality of their mealtime interactions." Their site has abundant tips for engaging children of all ages in the entire food preparation process through fun dinner games, recipes, age-specific conversation starters, and even instructions for turning your own kitchen into a makeshift Iron Chef arena! In terms of dinner table conversation, columnist and author Bruce Feiler offers three interesting strategies for stimulating fun and meaningful family talk time:19

  • Word a day: Since your child is expected to learn about 3,000 words a year, you can teach him a word a day at the dinner table. Feiler suggests bringing a newspaper or magazine to the table and asking everyone to find a word they don't know. In this instance, Googling is allowed.
  • Autobiography night: Encouraging your child to tell stories about his past successes or how he overcame failure will boost his future performance, so encourage him to tell a "who, what, when, where, why" story at dinner.
  • Pain points: Focus on a current "pain point," which is essentially a difficult situation for someone. For example, your daughter has to do a project with someone she doesn't like, or your teenage son hasn't found a date for prom. In the course of the discussion, family members share their own experiences and team up to dissect the dilemma and devise possible solutions, which teach children good problem-solving skills. If no one has a pain point, you might discuss a current event.
Tips for Connecting with Your Child or Adolescent

In today's complicated world, there are many forces tugging at family relationships, especially when children enter their teenage years. Even the best parents can sometimes be challenged to find a way to connect with a teenager. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute recommends making sure you have at least five positive interactions for every negative one, in any relationship, which I believe is sound advice.20 If you are having challenges connecting with your younger family members—around the dinner table or elsewhere—you might find the following ten principles helpful, which center on compassion, communication, and commitment.21

1. Accept your children's TEMPERAMENTS 2. Invest TIME with your children 3. Deliberately TOUCH your children every day4. TEACH your children important values and life lessons 5. Demonstrate TENACITY to your children6. Foster UNIQUENESS 7. Be careful with RIGIDNESS8. Embrace RITUALS that foster togetherness 9. Help children develop their LEGACY10. Model appropriate use of WORDS in your communications with children and in front of them More Food for Thought

In order for family meals to occur, you must make them a priority. One of my favorite sayings is, "If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail," and this certainly applies here. Making it possible for your family to eat together means not only shopping ahead of time so you have the food to prepare, but also selecting a time that works for everyone—whenever that may be.

Can't gather three teenagers together at one time for a family dinner due to math club, soccer, and cheerleading practice? Plan a weekly family breakfast or meet for a bedtime snack. Even one meal on weekends can have a positive impact. Just be creative and make your mealtimes as regular, stress-free and enjoyable as possible!

11 Surprising Factors That Mess With Your Memory

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Fear of losing your mind is a pervasive, fear. Among Americans, the notion of losing mental capacity evokes twice as much fear as losing physical ability, and 60 percent of US adults say they are very or somewhat worried about memory loss.1

The good news is that your brain is a dynamic organ, constantly adapting and changing, for better or for worse. Many daily activities such as, lack of sleep can seriously interfere  with your memory the next day.

On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle will support your brain health and even encourage your brain to grow new neurons, a process known as neurogenesis or neuroplasticity.

Your brain's hippocampus, i.e. the memory center, is especially able to grow new cells and it's now known that your hippocampus regenerates throughout your entire lifetime (even into your 90s), provided you give it the tools to do so.

Many of the most powerful interventions for memory are also the simplest. So if you'd like to boost your memory, and protect it against negative changes, keep reading. The 11 factors that follow, as reported by TIME,2 all have the potential to mess with your memory (some in a good way and others a bad way).

11 Surprising Factors That Affect Your Memory

1. Thyroid Problems

Although your thyroid doesn't have a specific role in your brain, memory problems are a hallmark characteristic of thyroid disease. High or low thyroid levels (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) may lead to difficulty with memory and concentration. If you suspect you have thyroid trouble, please read these natural protocols for addressing thyroid dysfunction.

2. Menopause

Hot flashes and insomnia are common during menopause, and both can impair your sleep and contribute to memory loss. This is temporary and should improve when your menopause symptoms subside (try these simple solutions for stopping hot flashes).

3. Lack of Sleep

The process of brain growth, or neuroplasticity, is believed to underlie your brain's capacity to control behavior, including learning and memory. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity.

Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.

Among adults, a mid-day nap has even been found to dramatically boost and restore brainpower.3 Most adults need about eight hours of sleep a night; if you wake up feeling fatigued or fall asleep easily during the day, you probably need more sleep. You can find 33 tips to help you get the shut-eye you need here.

4. Anxiety and Depression

Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol brought on by anxiety and depression causes your brain cells to lose synapses (which connect brain cells). This, in turn, makes it more difficult to form and retrieve memories. Allen Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine, told TIME:4

"We don't understand the exact link, but strong evidence indicates depression, anxiety, and bipolar disease disrupts the neural circuitry involved in developing and retrieving memories…

The severity of the memory loss often mirrors the severity of the mood disorder—severe depression brings about equally severe memory loss."

5. Certain Medications

Many prescription drugs interfere with your memory function. This includes anxiety medications (Xanax, Valium, and Ativan), which hinder your brain's ability to transfer short-term memories to long-term "storage."

Others include tricyclic antidepressants, statin drugs, beta-blockers, narcotic painkillers, incontinence drugs, sleep aids, and antihistamines (such as Benadryl).

6. Smoking

Smoking impairs the blood supply to your brain, leading to memory lapses. Studies also show that smokers have a more rapid decline in brain function, including memory, than non-smokers, while smoking leads to the accumulation of abnormal proteins in your brain that interfere with processing and relaying information.5

7. Stress

An animal study revealed that higher levels of stress hormones can speed up short-term memory loss in older adults.6 The findings indicate that how your body responds to stress may be a factor that influences how your brain ages over time. Previous research has also linked chronic stress with working memory impairment.7

My favorite tool for stress management is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It's an energy psychology tool that can help reprogram your body's reactions to everyday stress, thereby reducing your chances of developing adverse health effects.

8. A Higher "Infectious Burden"

People exposed to more germs, such as the cold sore virus (herpes simplex type 1), scored 25 percent lower on cognitive tests than those with a lower "infectious burden."8 Researchers concluded that past infections may contribute to cognitive impairment, perhaps due to damage to your blood vessels.

9. Green Tea

If you want to boost your memory, drink more high-quality green tea. In a study of 12 healthy volunteers, those who received a beverage containing 27.5 grams of green tea extract showed increased connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain compared to those who drank a non-green tea beverage.9

The increased activity was correlated with improved performance on working memory tasks, and the researchers believe the results suggest green tea may be useful for treating cognitive impairments, including dementia.

10. Exercise

Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by stimulating nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage. During exercise nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning.

A 2010 study on primates published in Neuroscience also revealed that regular exercise not only improved blood flow to the brain, but also helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys. This is a benefit the researchers believe would hold true for people as well.10

In a separate one year-long study, individuals who engaged in exercise were actually growing and expanding the brain's memory center 1 percent to 2 percent per year, where typically that center would have continued to decline in size. To get the most out of your workouts, I recommend a comprehensive program that includes high-intensity interval exercise, strength training, stretching, and core work, along with regular intermittent movement.

11. Vitamin B12

B vitamins including vitamin B12 may slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer's disease. In one study, participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 had blood levels of homocysteine that were lowered as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent. The researchers noted:11

"…B vitamins lower homocysteine, which directly leads to a decrease in GM [gray matter] atrophy, thereby slowing cognitive decline. Our results show that B-vitamin supplementation can slow the atrophy of specific brain regions that are a key component of the AD [Alzheimer's disease] process and that are associated with cognitive decline."

This makes a strong case for ensuring your diet includes plenty of healthful B-vitamin sources, such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and wild-caught fish. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also provide some B vitamins, but if you eat an all vegetarian or vegan diet, vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients your body is most likely deficient in. Also, when you get older, the lining of your stomach gradually loses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid, which releases vitamin B12 from your food. If you're over 50, it's safe to assume you are not absorbing vitamin B12 at an optimal level and may be at risk of deficiency.

Because vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin molecule known, it is not easily absorbed from most oral supplements. Injections or a sublingual (under your tongue) spray work far better, as they allow the large B12 molecule to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

Three More Little-Known Tips to Supercharge Your Memory

If you're serious about improving your memory and your cognitive function, you'll also want to know about these three important variables for brain health.

Vitamin D

Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have also located metabolic pathways for vitamin D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories. In older adults, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit. Appropriate sun exposure is all it takes to keep your levels where they need to be for healthy brain function. If this is not an option, a safe tanning bed is the next best alternative, followed by a vitamin D3 supplement.

Intermittent Fasting

Your ancient ancestors never had access to food 24/7 so your genes are optimized for periods of feast and fasting. Problem is most of us are in 24 hour feast mode.  Intermittent fasting can help your body to "reset" itself and start to burn fat instead of sugar. Further, it will help you to reduce your overall calorie consumption, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, however, I prefer an intermittent fasting schedule that simply calls for limiting your eating to a narrower window of time each day. By restricting your eating to a 6-8 hour window, you effectively fast 16-18 hours each day. To learn more, please see this previous intermittent fasting article.

Gut Health

Your gut is your "second brain," and your gut bacteria transmits information to your brain via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem into your enteric nervous system (the nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract). There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development, and just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut -- including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain and is linked to mood.

Quite simply, your gut health can impact your brain function, psyche, and behavior, as they are interconnected and interdependent in a number of different ways. In addition to avoiding sugar, one of the best ways to support gut health is to consume beneficial bacteria. You can use a probiotic supplement for this, but I'm particularly fond of using fermented vegetables, because they can deliver extraordinarily high levels of beneficial bacteria. Most people aren't aware that in a healthy serving of sauerkraut – two to three ounces or so – you're getting the equivalent of nearly 100 capsules of the highest-potency probiotic you can buy. It's clearly one of the most cost-effective alternatives.

And Remember the Most Important Factor of All... Your Diet

The foods you eat – and don't eat – play a crucial role in your memory. Fresh vegetables are essential, as are healthy fats and avoiding sugar and grain carbohydrates. You can find detailed information about nine foods for brainpower here. For instance, curry, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and walnuts contain antioxidants and other compounds that protect your brain health and may even stimulate the production of new brain cells. Increasing your animal-based omega-3 fat intake and reducing consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is also important.

I prefer krill oil to fish oil, as krill oil also contains astaxanthin, which not only protects the omega-3 fats from oxidation but also is particularly to support brain health. Coconut oil is another healthful fat for brain function. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases or as a treatment for an already established case.

Lack of Sleep May Lead to Brain Shrinkage

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Recent studies show poor sleeping habits cause both brain damage and brain shrinkage, and may even accelerate onset of Alzheimer’s disease.1

Previous research published in the journal Science2 revealed that your brain removes toxic waste during sleep through what has been dubbed “the glymphatic system.”3, 4, 5

This system becomes active during sleep, thereby allowing your brain to clear out toxins and harmful proteins.

Sleep is also necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain.6, 7, 8 Without sufficient sleep, your neurons will actually begin to deteriorate—and catching up on sleep during weekends will not prevent this damage.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to obesity in both animals and humans, as well as hormone alterations in animals. In short, sleeping soundly appears to be key for aging well, and maintaining healthy brain function into old age.

Poor Sleep Can Lead to Brain Shrinkage

According to recent research published in the journal Neurology,9, 10, 11 lack of sleep may affect the size of your brain. A total of 147 adult volunteers underwent MRI scans to assess the link between sleep and brain volume.

As it turns out, sleep problems like insomnia can have a distinct impact on your brain over time, causing it to shrink—and shrink more rapidly, compared to those who sleep well. This effect was particularly significant in those over 60. According to the authors:

“Poor sleep quality was associated with reduced volume within the right superior frontal cortex in cross-sectional analyses, and an increased rate of atrophy within widespread frontal, temporal, and parietal regions in longitudinal analyses.

Results were largely driven by correlations within adults over the age of 60, and could not be explained by variation in physical activity, BMI, or blood pressure.”

The Importance of Staying in Sync with Nature

Maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night is one crucial foundational component of sleeping well.

This was addressed in a previous interview with Dan Pardi, a researcher who works with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Download Interview Transcript

Exposure to bright daylight serves as the major synchronizer of your master clock—a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). These nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eye.

You also have other biological clocks throughout your body, and those clocks subsequently synchronize to your master clock. One reason why so many people get so little sleep, and/or such poor sleep, can be traced back to a master clock disruption.

In short, most people spend their days indoors, shielded from bright daylight, and then spend their evenings in too-bright artificial light. As a result, their body clocks get out of sync with the natural rhythm of daylight and nighttime darkness.

This, it turns out, may have more far-reaching ramifications than previously thought, and humans are not the only ones affected by artificial lighting brightening up the night.

For example, researchers investigating incidences of birds singing in the middle of the night believe that bird behavior is being adversely affected by artificial lighting from street lamps and city lights.

Artificial Light Disrupts Sex Hormones in Birds

Mounting evidence suggests that artificial lights are actually “altering the basic physiology of urban birds, suppressing their estrogen and testosterone and changing their singing, mating and feeding behaviors,” Environmental Health News12 reports.

One animal study13 found that chronic exposure to light at night prevented reproductive organ development in male blackbirds. Their sex organs developed naturally during the first year, but in the second year of nighttime light exposure, the development stopped altogether.

Birds aren’t the only species suffering from light pollution. As noted in the featured article:14

“In the wild, light pollution causes hatchling sea turtles to lose their way from beach to the ocean, and disorients Monarch butterflies searching for migration routes.

In field experiments, Atlantic salmon swim at odd times, and frogs stop mating under skies glowing from stadium lights at football games. Millions of birds die from collisions with brightly lit communication towers, and migratory flocks are confused by signals gone awry.

More recently, researchers have documented an earlier dawn chorus, which influences mate selection, feeding and interplay among species. At a deeper, molecular level, the changes in birds’ hormones raise questions about their reproductive fitness and the potential for ecological and evolutionary consequences.”

The researchers call for collaboration between scientists and policy makers to limit the impact of light pollution on animals and ecosystems. It’s easy to make the case that humans need to limit light pollution as well, in order to thrive...

Future Obesity and Diabetes Treatments May Address Body Clock

If you’re overweight and/or exhausted much of the time, chances are high that poor sleep patterns—perhaps resulting from too many light-emitting gadgets—are at play. The exposure to excessive amounts of light at night, courtesy of electric light bulbs and electronic gadgets of all kinds, makes it exceedingly difficult for your body and brain to wind down for sleep. And this lack of sleep can lead to metabolic dysfunction. Poor sleep has actually been implicated in obesity in a number of previous studies.

Most recently, scientists at the University of Manchester15 concluded that your body clock plays an important role in chronic inflammation and the accumulation of body fat. According to the University, the team’s findings “are helping develop new ways of treating obesity and the fatal diseases linked to being overweight.” According to lead researcher Professor David Ray:

“Essentially we discovered that the circadian clock protein REVERB plays an important role in the safe accumulation of body fat. Usually as fat accumulates there is inflammation in the body which leads to diabetes and heart disease. Our research shows that this process is linked to the body clock.”

The protein REVERB, which is linked to your body clock, not only regulates adinopectin—a hormone produced in body fat—but it’s also a master regulator of inflammation. They discovered that mice lacking this REVERB protein were able to accumulate more fat without the associated inflammation. According to Professor Ray:

“Our work demonstrates that it could be possible to switch unhealthy fat to a healthier form by tapping into one of the elements which we discovered. We hope that would mean fewer obese people go on to develop more severe metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease... Our analysis showed that in morbidly obese people who have undergone weight loss surgery the same pathway from the body clock to inflamed fat is activated.”

While they’re naturally looking for a drug solution to target this pathway, it would make sense to tap into it naturally by optimizing your body clock... There’s actually a clinical study underway at the University of Manchester in which they’re testing “body clock logic” to treat diabetes. According to the University:16

“Patients eat, sleep and take medication at times that fit with their body clock in a bid to control the disease. It’s hoped the study will demonstrate that strengthening our internal body clock by changing behavior can be used to treat a condition in a similar way to drugs and surgery.”

Sleeping Pills Can Have Serious Consequences

According to the statistics17 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, and nearly nine million Americans take prescription sleeping pills in pursuit of good night’s rest; one in six adults with a diagnosed sleep disorder and one in eight adults with trouble sleeping report using sleeping pills. In 2011, sales of generic Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) amounted to a whopping $2.8 billion and Lunesta another $912 million.18

While most would not knowingly put their life on the line, you may be doing just that if you take sleeping pills... According to a study19 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), emergency room visits involving the sleep aid zolpidem nearly doubled between 2005 and 2010, reaching 42,274 visits in the year 2009-2010. Zolpidem is the active ingredient in sleep aids sold under brand names like Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, and Zolpimist. Polypharmacy—the use of multiple drugs—is part of the problem. In 57 percent of these overmedication cases, there were additional drugs involved:

  • In 26 percent of cases, zolpidem was combined with benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, etc.)
  • 25 percent involved a combination with narcotic pain relievers
  • Alcohol was also used in 14 percent of these emergency room visits

Side effects associated with zolpidem include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleep-walking, and drowsiness while driving. It’s important to realize that narcotic pain relievers and anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives can cause a dangerous enhancement of a sleeping pill’s sedative effects. As noted by SAMHSA:20

“Overall, nearly half (47 percent) of zolpidem overmedication-related emergency department visits resulted in either a hospital admission or a transfer to another medical facility. About a quarter of these more serious cases involved admission to a critical or intensive care unit. ‘Sleep aid medications can benefit patients, but they must be carefully used and monitored,’ said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. ‘Physicians and patients need to discuss the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication, and work together to prevent problems or quickly resolve any that may arise.’”

Studies submitted to the FDA have also revealed that blood levels of zolpidem above 50 ng/mL may impair your driving to a degree that increases the risk of an accident, especially among women. As a result, FDA recommended manufacturers cut the dosage of zolpidem from 10mg to 5mg for immediate-release products (Ambien, Edluar, and Zolpimist) and from 12.5 mg to 6.25 mg for extended-release products (Ambien CR).21 Sleeping pills have also been linked to a 35 percent increased cancer risk, along with a greatly increased risk of death from any cause.

Grave Risks for Drugs That Do Not Work...

These are serious risks for drugs that have repeatedly been shown to have little real-life value in terms of actually providing more or better sleep. An analysis of studies financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata reduced the average time it takes you to go to sleep by just under 13 minutes compared with placebo, and increasing total sleep time by just over 11 minutes. However, the participants believed they had slept longer—up to an hour longer—when taking the pills.

This is thought to be due to a condition called anterograde amnesia, which prevents the proper formation of memories. When people wake up after taking sleeping pills, they may, in fact, simply forget that they’d been unable to sleep! Not surprisingly, sleeping pills are also associated with cognitive deficits the next day. Many sleeping pills are also potent anti-cholinergics, which suppress REM sleep and dreaming, and are known to increase dementia risk in seniors.

Helpful Tips to Improve Your Sleep

To get good sleep, you need to have properly aligned circadian rhythms, and to achieve that, you need to get daylight exposure, ideally around solar noon, for at least 30-60 minutes or more each day. Then, in the evening, you need to dim artificial light sources. In particular, you want to avoid the blue light wavelength. Research shows that exposure to bright room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin production in 99 percent of individuals. This can effectively rob you of sleep by preventing sleepiness.

Use blue-blocking light bulbs, dim your lights with dimmer switches and turn off unneeded lights, and if using a computer, install blue light-blocking software like f.lux.22 Also keep in mind that digital alarm clocks with blue light displays could have a detrimental effect. The following infographic, created by BigBrandBeds.co.uk, illustrates how your electronic gadgets wreak havoc on your sleep when used before bedtime.23

To optimize sleep, you also need to make sure you’re going to bed early enough, because if you have to get up at 6:30am, you’re just not going to get enough sleep if you go to bed after midnight. Fitness trackers such as the UP2424 can track both daytime body movement and sleep, allowing you to get a better picture of how much sleep you’re actually getting. Chances are, you’re getting at least 30 minutes less sleep than you think, as most people do not fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. Besides maintaining a natural circadian rhythm, there are a number of additional ways to help improve your sleep if you’re still having trouble. Below are half a dozen of my top guidelines for promoting good sleep. For a comprehensive sleep guide, please see my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep.

  1. Avoid watching TV or using your computer at night—or at least about an hour or so before going to bed. TV and computer screens emit blue light, similar to daylight. This tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime, thereby shutting down melatonin secretion.
  2. Sleep in darkness. You don’t need to sleep in total darkness; the intensity of light has to be at a certain level (different levels depending on the spectrum) to suppress melatonin production. That said, complete darkness is probably best. I recommend covering your windows with blackout shades or drapes, or use an eye mask. Also avoid using night-lights, and cover up the display on your clock radio.
  3. Keep the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees F. A reduction in core body temperature is a part of the sleep-initiation and sleep maintenance process. A room temperature that is too warm or too cool can prevent your core temperature from lowering to its ideal place for good sleep. Aim to keep your bedroom temperature between 60 to 68 degrees, and identify the best room temperature for you through trial and error.
  4. Take a hot bath or shower 30 minutes before bedtime. The hot bath increases your core body temperature, opening up the blood vessels in your limbs. When you get out of the bath, heat can leave your body easily (if the room temperature is cool), abruptly dropping your core body temperature, making you drowsy and ready for great sleep.
  5. 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 shut down all power in your house.
  6. Move electrical devices away from your bed. If electrical alarm clocks or other gadgets must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet. Cell phones, cordless phones, and their charging stations should ideally be kept three rooms away from your bedroom to prevent exposure to harmful and sleep-disrupting electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

Secondhand Smoke from E-Cigarettes Contains Toxic Metals, Researchers Say

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Conventional tobacco cigarettes contain thousands of toxic compounds, which are released – into your lungs and the surrounding air – with each puff. By now, most people are aware that standing nearby someone smoking a cigarette is not too much better than smoking one yourself, hence the rash of smoking bans that have taken place across the US in recent years.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), on the other hand, are touted as a safer, cleaner alternative to smoking. Yet, most states prohibit their use in most venues that prohibit traditional smoking. Is this warranted? Are e-cigarettes as bad as tobacco cigarettes, including to bystanders?

While certain levels of toxins are reduced in e-cigarettes, research shows that others still exist, in levels found to be "quite high" and potentially dangerous to your health.

E-Cigarettes Release Toxic Metals Into the Air

In a new study by researchers from USC Biterbi, e-cigarettes were found to have 10-fold fewer carcinogenic particles in their vapor relative to smoke from conventional cigarettes.

However, the e-cigarettes emitted higher levels of certain metals, including nickel, zinc, and silver.1 "Some of these metals are extremely toxic even in very low amounts," the study's lead researcher noted,2 adding in a statement:3

"The metal particles likely come from the cartridge of the e-cigarette devices themselves – which opens up the possibility that better manufacturing standards for the devices could reduce the quantity of metals in the smoke.

Studies of this kind are necessary for implementing effective regulatory measures. E-cigarettes are so new, there just isn't much research available on them yet."

There have been other studies to detect toxic metals, including nanoparticles, in e-cigarette vapor, however. One study found metals including tin, copper, nickel, and silver, silicate beads, and nanoparticles.4 And as in the featured study, in some cases, such as in the case of tin particles, the amounts were greater than you might be exposed to from smoking a conventional cigarette. The researchers concluded:

"Cartomizer aerosol from a leading manufacturer of EC [electronic cigarette] contained metals, silicate beads, and nanoparticles. Poor solder joints appear to have contributed to the presence of tin in the aerosol. In cytotoxicity tests, cartomizer fluid containing tin particles inhibited attachment and survival of hPF [human pulmonary fibroblasts].

Other metals likely came from the wires (copper, nickel, silver) and other metal components used in the cartomizers, while silicate particles appeared to come from the fiberglass wicks.

While the outer fibers filtered out many of the tin particles, significant amounts of tin, other metals, and silicate beads escaped into the aerosol and would result in human exposure, in some cases probably greater than a conventional cigarette user would experience."

The effects of toxic metal exposures can range from subtle symptoms to serious diseases. Since metals build up in your body over time, symptoms may be attributed to other causes and people often don't realize they have been affected by metals until it's too late. Further, once metals build up in your body they can cause irreversible damage.

Cancer-Causing Chemicals Also Found in E-Cigarettes

One in five current smokers have tried electronic cigarettes,5 likely unaware that they, like regular cigarettes, may contain cancer-causing toxins. In case you're wondering how, exactly, they work, when you take a puff of an e-cigarette a battery heats up a liquid.

That liquid contains a flavoring (such as tobacco, menthol, cherry, vanilla, or java), a humectant (typically propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin) and, sometimes, nicotine.

As you inhale, you get a "dose" of flavored nicotine without the chemicals typically produced from burning tobacco. That being said, you're still getting a dose of chemicals.

To date, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected a potentially deadly antifreeze chemical called diethylene glycol in an electronic cigarette cartridge,6 along with tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR), secondhand e-cigarette aerosol contains at least 10 chemicals identified on California's Proposition 65 list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, listed in the table below.7

Acetaldehyde Benzene Cadmium Formaldehyde Isoprene Lead Nickel Nicotine N-Nitrosonornicotine Toluene

Not to mention, many of the chemicals in e-cigarettes are known to cause respiratory distress and disease, and many people who have inhaled e-cig vapors have reported trouble breathing, cough, sore throat, chest pain, and allergic reactions such as itchiness and swelling of the lips.

Chest pain and cardiovascular problems have also been reported.8 The World Health Organization (WHO) recently called for increased restrictions on e-cigarettes, given the emerging risks. The report noted:9

"…existing evidence shows that e-cigarette aerosol is not merely 'water vapor' as is often claimed in the marketing of these products. While they are likely to be less toxic than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarette use poses threats to adolescents and fetuses of pregnant mothers using these devices…

E-cigarettes also increase the exposure of non-smokers and bystanders to nicotine and a number of toxicants..."

E-Cigarettes Might Lead to Use of Regular Cigarettes and Other Drugs

Also at issue are advertisements and promotions designed to target youth and non-smokers. There are nearly 8,000 flavors of e-cigarettes, many of which are based on fruit, candy, or alcoholic-drink flavors. According to WHO:10

"…there is concern they [e-cigarettes] will serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, smoking, particularly for young people. Experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly among adolescents, with e-cigarette use in this group doubling from 2008 to 2012."

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), e-cigarette advertising that reaches youth populations rose 250 percent from 2011 to 2013, to reach a total of 24 million young people.11 AHA has called on the US FDA to ban the marketing and sale of these devices to young people, and the FDA is in the process of finalizing a proposal toward that end. New research found, in fact, that nicotine may serve as a gateway drug by priming your brain to respond to other drugs, like cocaine, and the effect is the same whether it comes from conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers explained:12

"Although e-cigarettes eliminate some of the morbidity associated with combustible tobacco, they and related products are pure nicotine-delivery devices. They have the same effects on the brain… and they pose the same risk of addiction to other drugs and experiences. Although the typical e-cigarette user has been described as a long-term smoker who is unable to stop smoking, the use of e-cigarettes is increasing exponentially among adolescents and young adults. Our society needs to be concerned about the effect of e-cigarettes on the brain, especially in young people, and the potential for creating a new generation of persons addicted to nicotine.

The effects we found in adult mice are likely to be even stronger in adolescent animals. Priming with nicotine has been shown to lead to enhanced cocaine-induced locomotor activity and increased initial self-administration of cocaine among adolescent, but not adult, rats. Whether e-cigarettes will prove to be a gateway to the use of combustible cigarettes and illicit drugs is uncertain, but it is clearly a possibility. Nicotine acts as a gateway drug on the brain, and this effect is likely to occur whether the exposure is from smoking tobacco, passive tobacco smoke, or e-cigarettes."

E-Cigarette Cartridge Liquid Can Be Deadly

The cartridge liquid for e-cigarettes contains highly concentrated liquid nicotine, most at levels between 1.8 percent and 2.4 percent. These concentrations can cause sickness, but rarely death, in children, but higher concentrations, like 10 percent or 7.2 percent, are widely available on the Internet. At those levels, a lethal dose for an adult would be less than one tablespoon.13 Remember, these liquids come in candy flavors that appeal to children, so they must be kept in a secure location to avoid a potentially deadly mistake. Already, however, increased poisonings from e-cigarettes are being reported. According to the New York Times:14

"Reports of accidental poisonings, notably among children, are soaring. Since 2011, there appears to have been one death in the United States, a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine. But less serious cases have led to a surge in calls to poison control centers. Nationwide, the number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals, triple the previous year's number."

If you suspect your child may have consumed e-cigarette liquid, seek medical help immediately (even if it’s only a very small amount). Signs of poisoning include:15

Burning in the mouth and throat High or low blood pressure Too fast or too slow heartbeat Nausea Confusion Dizziness Weakness Excess spittle What's the Secret to Quitting Smoking?

Some readers have asked what my take is on e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking. Electronic cigarettes have proven to be helpful for some individuals who have chosen to quit smoking. I encourage you to do your research on the product you choose to use and continue in your effort to fully quit. My mother smoked for all of her adult life. When she decided to give up smoking, she used a rechargeable, electronic cigarette in the process and found it helpful. 

However, I believe the "secret" to quitting smoking is to get healthy first, which will make quitting much easier. Exercising is part and parcel of this plan, as research shows people who engage in regular strength training double their success rate at quitting smoking compared to those who don't exercise.16 Healthy eating is another crucial aspect that can't be ignored. In short, if you want to quit, here are the three basic tips to get you started:

  1. Read through my comprehensive free nutrition plan to get started eating right.
  2. Develop a well-rounded exercise regimen. It is your ally to fighting disease and to quitting smoking. Strength training is an important part, but also remember to incorporate high-intensity interval exercises like Peak Fitness, core-strengthening exercises, and stretching.
  3. Find a healthy emotional outlet. Many people use exercise, meditation, or relaxation techniques for this, and these are all great. I also recommend incorporating the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), as this can help clear out emotional blockages from your system (some of which you might not even realize are there), thus restoring your mind and body's balance and helping you break the addiction and avoid cravings.

Once you are regularly doing these three things, then you can begin to think about quitting smoking. The best method to do so appears to be cold turkey. Two-thirds to three-quarters of ex-smokers stopped unaided,17 which should give you some encouragement and motivation that you can join them. If you need more encouragement… if you quit smoking before the age of 40, more than 90 percent of the excess mortality caused by continuing smoking may be avoided. And even if you're over 65, quitting smoking may reduce your risk of dying from heart-related problems to that of a non-smoker within just eight years.18

Link Found Between Food Allergies and Farm Antibiotics

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Food allergies affect an estimated 15 million Americans, including one in 13 children. Statistics indicate something strange is afoot, as food allergies in children rose by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011 alone.

Similarly, in Great Britain one in three people are allergic to something, be it pollen, dust mites, or food.1 Previous research has drawn parallels between the rise in allergies and increased antibiotic and antimicrobial use. One study2 showed exposure to antibiotics early in life increased the risk of eczema in children by 40 percent.

Other research has shown how genetically engineered foods and the use of the agricultural herbicide glyphosate destroys gut bacteria, thereby promoting allergies.

According to one recent study3, 4 common gut bacteria called Clostridia specifically help prevent sensitization to food allergens. In short, by destroying gut bacteria and altering your microbiome, agricultural chemicals like glyphosate can play a significant role in creating food allergies.

Antibiotic Pesticides Can Cause Allergic Reactions

But glyphosate is not the only culprit. Part of what makes glyphosate so harmful is the fact that it has antibiotic action, and antibiotics are also part of other pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.

Researchers now claim to have identified the first case in which a serious allergic reaction was traced to an antibiotic pesticide.5, 6 In this case, a 10-year old girl suffered a severe allergic reaction to blueberry pie.

The culprit turned out to be a streptomycin-containing pesticide that had been applied to the blueberries. According to lead author Dr. Anne Des Roches, this is "the first report that links an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides."

As noted by allergist Dr. James Sublett:

"This is a very rare allergic reaction. Nevertheless, it's something allergists need to be aware of and that emergency room personnel may need to know about in order to help determine where anaphylactic reactions may arise."

He goes on to recommend that anyone at risk of allergies should carry epinephrine, and know how to use it. While that's certainly good advice for acute reactions, it's not really an ideal long-term answer.

Truly, anyone suffering from food sensitivities or allergies would be wise to reconsider the kinds of foods they eat, and I don't mean simply avoiding foods known to cause a reaction. Ultimately, your best bet is to switch to an all-organic diet.

This is particularly important for young children and pregnant women, but I really believe this is the answer for everyone, whether you're prone to allergies or not.

Agricultural Antibiotics Also Promote Antibiotic-Resistant Disease

Along with its potential for causing food allergies, agricultural antibiotics are also a primary driver of antibiotic resistant disease. It's important to realize that antibiotics are used:

  • In livestock as a growth promoter, and  to compensate for unsanitary living conditions
  • In pesticides applied to fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables can also be contaminated with antibiotics if the farmer uses manure from treated cows as crop fertilizer

I believe these are compelling reasons to eat organically. In the case of meat and other animal products such as eggs and dairy, your best bet is organic grass-fed or pastured varieties, as organic standards forbid antibiotic use for non-medical reasons.

Organic standards7 also do not permit synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic products cannot be irradiated, are not allowed to contain preservatives or flavor-enhancing chemicals, nor can they contain traces of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the FDA.8

Additionally, the pesticide residue level cannot be higher than five percent of the maximum EPA pesticide tolerance.9 For the complete National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under the USDA organic label, see this reference.10

It's worth noting that this is not the first time agricultural chemicals have been linked to allergies.

The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-200611 concluded that:

"High urine levels of dichlorophenols are associated with the presence of sensitization to foods in a US population. Excessive use of dichlorophenols may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernized societies."

Dichlorophenols are also used to chlorinate water,12 which may also add to the problem.

Factory Farming Is a Primary Source of Antibacterial Resistance

According to a 2013 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on antibiotic-resistant threats,13 drug-resistant organisms in the American food supply pose "a serious threat" to public health. The report linked 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans to contaminated foods, and earlier research14 has suggested you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria. Another 2013 paper by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) titled Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens,15 reports that between 1973 and 2011, there were 55 antibiotic-resistant foodborne outbreaks in the US.

More than half of the outbreaks involved dairy products, ground beef, and poultry. More than half of the outbreaks also involved pathogens resistant to five or more antibiotics! The fact of the matter is, when antibiotics are routinely used to raise food animals, the microbes develop resistance to the drug, which makes antibiotics less effective for treating disease in humans. And without effective antibiotics, it will be very difficult to care for premature babies, cancer patients, organ transplants, surgeries, and emergency room medicine, just to name a few.   

As noted in the video above, without antibiotics, the rate of post-operative infection can reach as high as 50 percent, and about three out of every 10 affected patients will die as a result... We're already seeing the effects of antibiotic overuse. Hospital-acquired infections now affect one in 25 patients, and many of these infections are drug resistant. According to CDC statistics,16 two million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die.

Crazy enough, even though certain organisms have already become immune to every single antibiotic we have, including so-called "last resort" drugs, factory farms are still using some of these last resort drugs in their livestock for non-medical purposes! It is truly difficult to understand how a little extra profit can justify the use of drugs that will, in the end, lead to the death of thousands of people, courtesy of drug-resistance!

Antibiotics in Agriculture Must Be Eliminated to Solve This Problem

Use of antibiotics in healthy livestock (including farmed fish) account for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US,17 so in order to halt the growth of antibiotic resistance we really must address this source. According to a 2009 report18 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this subject, factory farms used 29 million pounds of antibiotics that year alone.

The FDA recently asked drug companies to voluntarily remove growth-promotion claims from certain antibiotics that are valuable in treating human disease. This would reduce usage by limiting the drug to medical purposes only. But there are so many loopholes that it's highly unlikely that this voluntary strategy is going to be sufficient. Especially when you consider the rapid increase in antibiotic-resistance we're now seeing. Just last year, the CDC published a report19 admitting that antibiotics used in livestock plays a significant role in antibiotic resistance and "should be phased out." 

Yet despite all the evidence of grave harm, very little is being done to actually curtail agricultural use of antibiotics. In mid-July, US Congresswoman and microbiologist Louise M. Slaughter20 (NY-D) asked President Obama to issue an executive order requiring all federally purchased meat to be raised without antibiotics. While that would certainly be a start, what about the rest of us?

I believe every American deserves antibiotic-free food, not just the beneficiaries of the federal government. The answer, for the time being, is to take the required steps to seek out organically raised foods on your own and not rely on the government to protect you...

Precautionary Steps to Help Prevent Food Allergies

Since food allergies appear to be closely linked to abnormal gut flora, courtesy of antibiotics (and other chemicals) in food, it would be wise to not only avoid known allergens, but to also avoid foods known to kill beneficial gut bacteria. To promote optimal gut health and beneficial bacteria that may help ward off allergy sensitization, I recommend avoiding the following:

Grains and sugar, as it promotes the growth of pathogenic yeast and other fungi. Grains containing gluten are particularly damaging to your microflora and overall health.21, 22  Genetically engineered foods, as they contain some of the highest amounts of glyphosate. This agricultural herbicide has been found to decimate microbes, and tend to preferentially attack beneficial bacteria. Processed and pasteurized foods, which harm your good bacteria. Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products; CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics and GE livestock feed. Chlorinated tap water, as chlorine kills not only pathogenic bacteria in the water but also beneficial bacteria in your gut. Medical antibiotics (use only if absolutely necessary, and make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a good probiotic supplement) NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) damage cell membranes and disrupt energy production by mitochondria. Proton pump inhibitors (drugs that block the production of acid in your stomach, typically prescribed for GERD, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium) Antibacterial soap and any product containing antimicrobials such as triclosan. Stress Pollution

The GAPS diet is perhaps one of the most effective ways to resolve food allergies as it "heals and seals" your gut. Leaky gut is a condition in which large food particles are allowed to bypass the protective lining of your intestinal wall. When these molecules enter your bloodstream, where they do not belong, your body creates an immune response, i.e. an allergic response. The GAPS protocol is designed to restore the integrity of your gut lining, and in order for that to happen, you need:

  • The proper building blocks in terms of nutrients
  • Beneficial gut microbes

In a nutshell, you need to drive out pathogens and replace them with beneficial bacteria, and you need to provide the appropriate nutrients in order for your gut lining to produce new cells. And that's what the GAPS Nutritional Protocol does.

Making Healthier Choices Can Reduce Your Allergy Risk

If you are eating any factory farmed and mass-processed meats, you are not only getting antibiotics but also many bacteria that are resistant to them. And if the meat is not cooked properly you can become infected with these antibiotic resistant bugs. The only way to avoid antibiotics in your food is to make sure you're eating organic produce and organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured meats and animal products.

Along with cultured or fermented foods, eating plenty of whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods will also optimize your gut microbiome. (You may also want to consider a high-potency probiotic supplement, but realize that there is no substitute for the real food.) To source pure, healthful meats and fresh produce, your best option is to get to know a local farmer who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of community-supported agriculture programs available that offer access to healthy, locally grown foods even if you live in the heart of the city.

Resources to Find Healthy Food on Any Budget

Being able to find high-quality meat is such an important issue for me personally that I've made connections with sources I know provide high-quality organic grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, both of which you can find in my online store. You can eliminate the shipping charges, however, if you find a trusted farmer locally. If you live in the US, the following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods:

Even the underprivileged may be able to obtain fresh, locally-grown produce at their local food pantry, provided the food pantry accepts fresh food donations. Tens of millions of home gardeners throw away food from their gardens while their neighbors go hungry. AmpleHarvest.org addresses the twin problems of hunger and food waste by connecting growers and gardeners with local food pantries. While there's no guarantee that donated produce will be organic, many gardeners do employ organic principles.

AmpleHarvest.org's database will tell you where the nearest food pantry accepting fresh foods is. AmpleHarvest.org24 launched in 2009, and today has a database of nearly 7,000 participating food pantries across the nation—one out of every five food pantries has signed up. It's a fantastic resource that has the potential to change the lives of many who simply cannot afford to buy fresh produce.

 

Weston Price Foundation23 has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms. FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.

 

Mammography False Alarms Linked with Later Tumor Risk

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

One of the reasons why you must carefully consider the decision to have a mammogram is due to their high rate of false positives. A false positive occurs when a mammogram suggests a woman has cancer when none actually exists.

In the US, the risk of having a false-positive test over 10 mammograms is a concerning 58 percent to 77 percent!1, 2 When a woman is told she may have breast cancer, it causes considerable anxiety and psychological distress. Meanwhile, you will be subjected to more testing, such as biopsy or surgery, which carry their own set of risks, unnecessarily.

Now, new research has found, however, that women who have received a false-positive diagnosis via mammography may be more likely to develop breast cancer years later, although no one is quite sure why.

Does Getting a False Positive on a Mammogram Mean You’re More Likely to Develop Breast Cancer Later On?

Out of 58,000 Danish women who had had a mammogram, more than 4,700 were found to have false positives (the false-positive test rate in Denmark is about 16 percent -- much lower than it is in the US). About 1.5 percent of those turned out to be false-negatives, meaning that the doctors missed the cancer the first time around.

However, even after taking these false-negatives into account, women with false-positive mammograms were still 27 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer years later. As for what this means for women, no one really knows, but the researchers suggested their results favor some “biological susceptibility” as an explanation.

They suggested further research to determine the true excess risk of false positives, and future studies should definitely look into all of their related risks… like the increases in stress levels, unnecessary biopsy, and perhaps additional mammograms, which all have the potential to impact breast cancer risk.

Emotional Stress Might Increase Cancer Risk

There’s much yet to be learned about cancer development and progression, but it is known that emotional stress plays a role… and receiving news that you might have cancer, even if it later turns out that you don’t, is high up there on the stress scale.

For instance, a study by Yale University researchers found that stress, even the “normal” everyday variety, can act as a pathway between cancerous mutations, potentially triggering the growth of tumors.3 So it’s not a stretch to suggest that some women’s emotional stress, caused by a false-positive mammogram, could trigger breast cancer later on.

The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, has also said that research with animal models suggests that “your body’s neuroendocrine response (release of hormones into your blood in response to stimulation of your nervous system) can directly alter important processes in cells that help protect against the formation of cancer, such as DNA repair and the regulation of cell growth.”4

Still, other research has shown that norepinephrine, a hormone produced during periods of stress, may increase the growth rate of cancer.5

Norepinephrine can stimulate tumor cells to produce two compounds (matrix metalloproteinases called MMP-2 and MMP-9) that break down the tissue around the tumor cells and allow the cells to more easily move into your bloodstream.

Once there, they can travel to other organs and tissues and form additional tumors, a process called metastasis. Norepinephrine may also stimulate the tumor cells to release a chemical (vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF) that can aid in the growth of the blood vessels that feed cancer cells. This can increase the growth and spread of the cancer.

The stress hormone epinephrine has also been found to cause changes in prostate and breast cancer cells in ways that may make them resistant to cell death.6 This means that emotional stress could both contribute to the development of cancer and reduce the effectiveness of treatments.

Unnecessary Surgery, Biopsy, and Mammograms Might Also Influence Your Cancer Risk

Along with stress, a false-positive mammogram might cause you to have unnecessary treatments that increase your cancer risk. Needle biopsies, for instance, are widely used as part of the traditional allopathic approach to diagnosing breast cancer.

During a biopsy, a piece of tissue from a tumor or organ is removed so that it can be examined under a microscope, often to determine if it is cancerous. However, the procedure may accidentally cause malignant cells to break away from a tumor, resulting in its spreading to other areas of your body.

According to a study from the John Wayne Cancer Institute, it appears that a needle biopsy may increase the spread of cancer by 50 percent compared to patients who receive excisional biopsies, also known as lumpectomies.7

There’s also the probable chance that women receiving false-positives will receive more frequent mammograms in the future, which exposes women to more ionizing radiation, a known carcinogen. Results published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) show that women carrying a specific gene mutation called BRCA1/2 are particularly vulnerable to radiation-induced cancer.8

Women carrying this mutation who were exposed to diagnostic radiation before the age of 30 were twice as likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those who did not have the mutated gene.

They also found that the radiation-induced cancer was dose-responsive, meaning the greater the dose, the higher the risk of cancer developing.  Meanwhile, research has shown that trauma to the breast itself can cause cancer.9 According to the authors:

“Models of epithelial cell generation indicate that a causal link between physical trauma and cancer is plausible. A latent interval between cancer onset and presentation of under 5 years is also plausible. The most likely explanation of the findings is that physical trauma can cause breast cancer.”

And, as reported by Science News in 2011:10

“The slightest scratch can cause cancerous cells to crawl to the wound and form tumors in mice… The work may explain why certain kinds of cancers seem to cluster around burns, surgical scars and other injuries.

'This work says that if you have a predisposition to getting cancer, wounding might enhance the chance that it will develop,' says cell biologist Anthony Oro of Stanford University School of Medicine.”

This raises questions about the possibility of developing cancer in the remaining or surrounding chest tissue following a surgery such as a lumpectomy or even a double mastectomy. Believe it or not, women having double mastectomies unnecessarily happens more often than you might think, even in cases that don’t involve a false-positive.

70 Percent of Double Mastectomies Aren’t Necessary

According to a study published in JAMA Surgery,11 70 percent of women who have breast cancer in one breast and undergo a double mastectomy do so unnecessarily. The study found medical reason for only 10 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer to consider this type of mastectomy, yet rates of the procedure are on the rise.

Compared to the 1990s, when only about 1 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer opted to have a double mastectomy, in recent years that percentage has climbed to 20 percent.12 TIME magazine recently highlighted four reasons why women may choose to have this invasive procedure even though studies don’t show any benefit to survival (or reducing recurrence) by removing an unaffected breast:13

  1. Fear of doing nothing: Fear may overshadow reason, driving women to opt for drastic surgery. Research shows, however, that breast cancer patients are more likely to develop recurrent tumors in their liver, lungs, or brain than they are in their other breast.
  2. Early detection leading to too much information: Early screening may detect lesions that may never turn into cancer and don’t require treatment, but once you know a lesion is there, you may decide to treat it anyway.
  3. The pink ribbon brigade: Plastering pink ribbons on every conceivable product has much more to do with raising awareness of, and money for, the Komen Foundation than it does curing breast cancer. It also contributes to a “hyper awareness” surrounding prophylactic mastectomy, leading some women to choose it without understanding the risks and benefits.
  4. Not enough information about options: Many women may not receive accurate information about alternatives to prophylactic mastectomy from their doctors, which means they’re unable to make an informed decision.
The Facts About Mammography: No Impact on Breast Cancer Mortality

Many US women dutifully get their annual mammogram, believing it to be a proactive way to reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer. You may not have heard, however, about a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) -- one of the largest and longest studies of mammography to date -- involving 90,000 women followed for 25 years. It found that mammograms have absolutely NO impact on breast cancer mortality.14 Over the course of the study, the death rate from breast cancer was virtually identical between those who received an annual mammogram and those who did not, while 22 percent of screen-detected invasive breast cancers were over-diagnosed, leading to unnecessary treatment. The experts noted:

"This means that 106 of the 44,925 healthy women in the screening group were diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer unnecessarily, which resulted in needless surgical interventions, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of these therapies."

A Cochrane Collaboration review also found no evidence that mammography screening has an effect on overall mortality,15 which, taken together, seriously calls into question whether mammography screening really benefits women. On the contrary, in one survey, most women said they believed mammography reduced the risk of breast cancer deaths by at least half and prevented at least 80 deaths per 1,000 women screened.16 In reality, mammography may, at best, offer a relative risk reduction of 20 percent and prevent in absolute terms only one breast-cancer death per 10,000 women. The experts asked a long overdue question:

"How can women make an informed decision if they overestimate the benefit of mammography so grossly?"

The sad reality of course, is that they can't. Many women are still unaware that the science backing the health benefits of mammograms is sorely lacking. Instead of being told the truth, women are guilt-tripped into thinking that skipping their yearly mammogram is the height of irresponsibility. It can be hard to stand your ground against such tactics. After all, you expect health professionals to know what they're talking about, and to give you the best advice possible. When it comes to cancer prevention, however, many doctors are just as confused and manipulated as the average person on the street because of the relentless industry and media propaganda that downplays or ignores research that dramatically contradicts their profit-based agenda.

Lifestyle Tips to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

It's important to remember that getting a mammogram, if you choose to, is not the same as prevention. And cancer screening that does more harm than good can hardly qualify as "your best bet" against becoming a cancer statistic. I believe the vast majority of all cancers, including breast cancer, could be prevented by strictly applying basic, commonsense healthy lifestyle strategies, such as the ones below.

  • Avoid sugar, especially fructose, and processed foods. All forms of sugar are detrimental to your health in general and tend to promote cancer. Refined fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible. This automatically means avoiding processed foods, as most are loaded with fructose.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should probably be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I'm aware of, with no adverse effects. Ideally, your levels should reach this point by exposure to the sun or a safe tanning bed, with oral vitamin D used as a last resort.
  • Limit your protein. Newer research has emphasized the importance of the mTOR pathways. When these are active, cancer growth is accelerated. One way to quiet this pathway is by limiting your protein to one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or roughly a bit less than half a gram of protein per every pound of lean body weight. For most people, this ranges between 40 and 70 grams of protein a day, which is typically about 2/3 to half of what they are currently eating.
  • Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and drives the phenotype associated with cancer.
  • Improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and restricting carbs to mostly fiber vegetables. You can also use intermittent fasting, especially if you are overweight. Also make sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
  • Exercise regularly. One of the primary reasons exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks. It's also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die in the way nature intended. Studies have also found that the number of tumors decrease along with body fat, which may be an additional factor. This is because exercise helps lower your estrogen levels, which explains why exercise appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right and exercising. It's important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen, creating a vicious self-perpetuating cycle.
  • Drink a pint to a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. This is a simple way to get more cancer-fighting nutrients into your diet. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
  • Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
  • Take curcumin. This is the main active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. It actually has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D.17 For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.18 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here. Newer preparations have also started to emerge, offering better absorption. For best results, you'll want to use a sustained-release preparation.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
  • Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets may increase your cancer risk.
  • Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, especially if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Many forms of breast cancer are estrogen-fueled, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.) If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
  • Avoid BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
  • Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells. For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein, as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not at all convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are far too high.
  • Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame-broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide—a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, or fried—has been found to increase cancer risk as well.

Pro-GMO Industries Increase Spending and Launch Attack to Discredit World-Famous Environmentalist in an Effort to Thwart GMO Labeling in the US

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million. 

These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries.

Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics.

According to the most recent analysis, opponents of GMO labeling spent more than $27 million on lobbying in the first six months of this year alone. This is about three times more than they spent during all of 2013, when they shelled out $9.3 million.

"The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and major food makers such as Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc and top biotech seed makers Monsanto Co and DuPont were among heavy spenders on GMO labeling-related lobbying, among other food issues, according to a report issued by the Environmental Working Group," Reuters1 reports.

Chemical Technology Industry Running Scared

Such a dramatic rise in expenditure to keep genetically engineered (GE) foods and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) hidden is probably understandable in light of the fact that one state—Vermont—successfully signed into law a mandatory labeling bill in May.

The law will require food manufacturers to label genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in Vermont, and prohibits them from labeling foods with GE ingredients as "natural" or "all natural."

In response, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) along with the Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, sued Vermont in federal court2 the following month (June).

The GMA also sued the state of Washington last year after getting caught in a money laundering scheme during the state's GMO labeling campaign.3 Caught red handed, the GMA was forced to reveal the donors to their aggressive anti-labeling campaign.4

But rather than admitting its wrongdoing, the GMA sued Washington State, arguing the association should be allowed to hide their donors—which is a direct violation of state campaign disclosure laws—in order to "speak with one voice" for the interests of the food industry.5

As noted by Reuters,6 more than 20 other states are presently considering GMO labeling laws. Both Colorado and Oregon have GMO labeling on their November ballots. Two counties in Oregon have already voted to ban the growing of GE crops.

This escalating trend undoubtedly has the industry running scared that their jig might soon be up...

Clearly, as more states move forward on their labeling bills, keeping up the lawsuit strategy could turn into a major headache for the GMA, which is why it's pushing a Congressional bill called "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 20147," (dubbed "DARK"—Denying Americans the Right to Know Act) that would simply preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws.8

To help Vermont defend its GMO labeling law against these multi-national giants, consider making a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund, which has been set up to raise funds for this purpose. The fund has also pledged $500,000 to help Oregon pass a GMO labeling initiative in November.

Coordinated Attack to Discredit Vandana Shiva

It's also quite clear that the pro-GMO cartel, which includes the GMA, Monsanto and other leading chemical technology companies, along with leading processed food companies, have begun a massive coordinated attack against Vandana Shiva.

She is perhaps one of the most vocal and most well-respected environmentalists and anti-GMO activists in the world. As recently noted by Counter Punch9 in an article titled "Gunning for Vandana Shiva:"

"Perhaps nothing symbolizes the decline of The New Yorker magazine more than the hatchet job on Vandana Shiva that appears in the latest issue.10

Written by Michael Specter, the author of 'Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress,' the article is a meretricious defense of genetically modified organisms (GMO) relying on one dodgy source after another.

This is the same magazine whose reputation was at its apex when Rachel Carson's groundbreaking articles on DDT appeared in 1962. If DDT was once a symbol of the destructive power of chemicals on the environment, GMO amounts to one of the biggest threats to food production today.

It threatens to enrich powerful multinational corporations while turning farmers into indentured servants through the use of patented seeds. Furthermore, it threatens to unleash potentially calamitous results in farmlands through unintended mutations."

Not surprisingly, Michael Specter turns to two well-oiled propaganda mouthpieces: Pamela Ronald and Mark Lynas, to defend GE crops and refute Shiva's warnings. I've discussed both in previous articles. For example, Ronald, a GMO advocate and scientist, recently had two of her scientific papers retracted due to sizeable scientific errors that rendered her findings null and void.

Vandana Responds to Her Critics

Vandana Shiva issued a response11 to Specter's article stating that "Specter's piece starts with inaccurate information, by design." She notes several of the discrepancies in his reporting, including his attempt to discredit her by claiming he could not find any evidence of her education. She writes:

"Specter has reduced my M.Sc. Honors in Physics to a B.Sc. for convenience. Mr. Specter and the Biotech Industry (and The New Yorker, by association) would like to identify the millions of people opposing GMOs as unscientific, romantic, outliers. My education is obviously a thorn in their side.

'When I asked if she had ever worked as a physicist, she suggested that I search for the answer on Google. I found nothing, and she doesn't list any such position in her biography.' Specter has twisted my words, to make it seem like I was avoiding his question. I had directed him to my official website... The Wikipedia page about me has been altered to make it look like I have never studied science. The Biotech Industry would like to erase my academic credentials...

Quantum theory taught me the four principles that have guided my work: everything is interconnected, everything is potential, everything is indeterminate, and there is no excluded middle. Every intellectual breakthrough I have made over the last 40 years has been to move from a mechanistic paradigm to an ecological one..."

Why Do So Many Indian Farmers Commit Suicide?

The introduction of genetically engineered seeds, and the coercion of Indian farmers to use them, has led to the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history. In India, it's been estimated that a farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes, typically by ingesting pesticide. But why? The short answer is crop failures, which leaves them in financial ruin.

What many fail to realize is that it's the genetically engineered (GE) seeds that fail (especially Bt cotton), and GE seeds must be repurchased every year. You're not allowed to save patented GE seeds, as has been done since the beginnings of agriculture. Bt cotton is much more expensive than traditional cotton seed, requires more water and pesticides, and has failed to produce the increased crop yields promised by Monsanto. A single failed crop combined with lack of financing options can therefore bankrupt a farmer. Others keep going, taking out more and more loans, until they simply cannot ever pay them back.

Michael Specter tries to make light of such statistics stating that the Indian suicide trend is similar to that in France. In my view, we should be horrified to realize that the business of growing food has gotten so financially challenging that even in a country like France a farmer commits suicide every two days12—again due to being financially ruined, just like the farmers in India. Interestingly, poisoning by pesticide has actually become the leading method of suicide around the world, according to the World Health Organization.13

GMO Promises Fall Flat Because They're Not Rooted in Truth

David Friedberg is the latest poster boy for Monsanto, as it tries to clean up its image. According to the St. Louis Business Journal:14  "Friedberg, a 34-year-old lifelong vegetarian, is emerging as 'an unlikely champion' of Monsanto and its genetically modified products... Friedberg, who formerly was a Google Inc. executive, oversees Monsanto's precision agriculture services... The Wall Street Journal reports that Friedberg's 'Silicon Valley pedigree' is helping open doors for him to advocate for Monsanto in a region that has been anti-GMO... Friedberg said he believes Monsanto's products help sustain food production for the world's growing population."

The claim that GE crops are "necessary" to feed a growing population is a popular mantra among those who do not have an understanding of the whole picture. It's actually 180 degrees from the truth, as what we really need is to focus on strategies that will promote soil health, and GE crops decimate soil fertility.

Also, besides killing critical soil microbes needed for plant health and nutrition, what many fail to take into account is that GE plants typically require more water, not less, and while many varieties are designed to produce their own internal pesticides, which was meant to reduce pesticide requirements, these plants actually require more pesticides too—just to keep up with the proliferation of resistant pests and weeds!

For example, earlier this summer Bloomberg15 reported that "BASF, the world's biggest chemical maker, plans to produce 50 percent more dicamba weedkiller in Texas to keep pace with anticipated demand from a new generation of genetically modified crops." 

Dicamba is a weed killer linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. And Texas is gearing up to dump 50 percent more of it on its crops in the near future. How is this benefiting anyone's health and well-being? How are GE crops "saving the world" when they are poisoning the environment and the people eating the food? This is NOT a sensible solution to world hunger. The fact is that 30-50 percent of the four billion tons of food produced around the world each year never reaches a human mouth. Cutting food waste is a critical aspect of preventing hunger as the population grows.16

The list of failed GMO promises goes on and on... And countries that recognize these facts and risks are even being more or less blackmailed into accepting GE crops, especially if they're in need of aid. El Salvador is one such example.17 If saving the world was really that high on the list of priorities, the chemical technology industry, led by Monsanto, would hardly engage in the kind of mafia tactics they've become famous for...

GMOs Have Labeling Requirements in More Than 60 Countries, Why Not in the US?

The words, "Contain GMOs," are required on labels in 64 other countries around the world. It is truthful information, and just like added flavors must be labeled "natural or artificial," and juice must state if it is from concentrate, whether or not an ingredient is genetically engineered falls under truth in labeling. To take it a step further, it prevents fraud.  

Free market principles require certain understandings. If you label a product "salmon," a buyer and seller understand what salmon is. If you splice eel genes into salmon, it is no longer plain, regular old salmon. If you continue to mislabel this eel-spliced fish as salmon, the seller is committing fraud. Labeling GMOs—transgenic plants and animals—is a truthful right of the consumer. We consider non-labeled transgenic products to be fraud that the federal government has allowed based on "substantial equivalence"—a term invented to monopolize and patent life between a few gigantic corporate interests.

Simple, Effective Approaches for Safely Preventing and Treating Back Pain

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

An estimated 75 to 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some time in their lives, and it's one of the most common reasons for taking time off from work.

In most cases, the pain is a result of simple mechanical problem, such as poor posture or improper movement.

Not surprisingly, back pain has become a major target for drug company disease mongering.1 The latest example of this is the emergence of ads for ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton that includes the spine, which is actually a very rare condition.

One frequently advertised drug is Humira, sporting a price tag of about $20,000 per year. The drug is loaded with serious side effects that include tuberculosis, life threatening infections, increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers, hepatitis B infection (if you carry the virus), allergic reactions, nervous system problems, heart failure, liver problems—and that's the short list!2

It is beyond reprehensible irresponsibility for drug companies to promote this expensive and dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain, which is likely responsible for less than one tenth of one tenth of one percent of the cases of low back pain.

Since poor posture and less than ideal ways of moving are to blame for most cases of back pain, one of the best things you can do to prevent and manage back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong.

Poor posture has even been linked with depression, and some experts believe it contributes to weight gain, heartburn, migraines, anxiety and respiratory problems. Good posture is defined as having your ears aligned with your shoulders, with your shoulder blades ("angel wings") retracted."3

Interventions such as Foundation Training, Structural Decompression Breathing, yoga, meditation,4 chiropractic adjustments, and osteopathic manipulation are much better options for common back pain, which is the focus of this article.

Common Causes of Back Pain

With the exception of blunt force injuries, low back pain is commonly caused and exacerbated by:

Poor posture Poor physical conditioning facilitated by inactivity Internal disease, such as kidney stones, infections, and blood clots Obesity Psychological/emotional stress Osteoporosis (bone loss) Back Pain Is a Primary Reason Why the US Has so Many Prescription Drug Addicts

Unfortunately, many people simply end up taking painkillers and retiring to bed instead of increasing their activity once back pain starts. Back pain is actually one of the primary reasons that so many American adults get addicted to pain killers. Addiction is a terrible side effect of these drugs, which fail to address the underlying cause of the pain.

Sadly, pharmaceutical drug overdoses now rank second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the US.

In the past, most overdoses were due to illegal narcotics, such as heroin. But prescription painkillers have now surpassed both heroin and cocaine as the leading cause of fatal overdoses. In addition, more than 700,000 people visit US emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse drug reactions to all drugs, not just the opioids.

Adverse drug reactions from drugs that are properly prescribed and properly administered also kill about 106,000 people per year, making prescription drugs the fourth-leading cause of death in the US.

Seeing a Qualified Practitioner Is a Wise Course of Action

I strongly recommend considering strategies that address the cause before resorting to pain medication or surgery. For starters, many people don't realize that back pain frequently originates from tension and imbalance at a completely different place than where the pain is felt. A competent practitioner can help you identify the actual cause of the problem, so you can correct it.

For example, the very act of sitting for long periods of time ends up shortening the iliacus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis. When these muscles are chronically shortened, you can experience severe pain when you stand up, as your lower back (lumbar region) will effectively be pulled forward.

The imbalance between the anterior and posterior chains of muscles leads to many of the daily physical pains you may experience. By bringing these muscles into better alignment, you will remedy many of these pains and discomforts.

Many people end up going through drastic medical procedures to "fix" this type of pain, or end up taking painkillers for extended periods of time. If you suffer from back pain, seeing a qualified osteopathic physician is certainly a wise choice.

Foundation Training Helps Improve Back Pain

Total Video Length: 02:06

Foundation Training is an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain. I am a huge fan of Foundation Training exercises, which work to gradually pull your body out of the movement patterns that are hurting you.

The focus is on strengthening your core, which includes anything that directly connects to your pelvis, whether above or below it. Foundation Training teaches all those muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how your body is structured to move.

Every muscle that directly connects to your pelvis should be considered part of your core, and this includes your glutes, adductors (inner thigh muscles), deep lower back muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles.

Having strong, balanced core muscles is like having a built-in corset that not only holds your gut in, but also stabilizes your spine, vertebrae, discs, and most importantly your pelvis. Teaching your body to naturally support itself at the deepest level is going to be far more effective than strapping on an external back brace, which over time can lead to even weaker musculature.

Foundation Training is like Olympic weight lifting for the deep postural muscles of the human body and can help counteract the negative effects of excessive sitting, which is not only a cause of chronic back pain, but can also increase your mortality risk from all causes.

Structural Decompression Breathing May Improve Posture and Reduce Pain

Total Video Length: 19:07

Breathing is another important tool that is unfortunately ignored by most people. In his TED Talk above, Dr. Goodman demonstrates structural breathing, which will help improve your posture, especially while seated. When done properly, your breath will help lengthen your hip flexors, stabilize your spine, and support your core using your transverse abdominal muscles. This will strengthen your back and keep your chest high and open. Do this exercise for 30 seconds or so, then go back to your normal seated position. With time, those muscles will get stronger, and your seated posture will gradually improve.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Sitting down or standing, place your thumbs at the base of your rib cage, pinkies at pointy bones at the front of your waist. Think of the space between your fingers as a measuring stick.
  2. Pull your chin back so that your chest is lifting upwards and take three slow deep breaths as instructed below.
  3. As you breathe in, the distance between your thumbs and pinkies should increase.
  4. As you breathe out, tighten your abdominal muscles to prevent your torso from collapsing back down. This is the most important step: do not let your torso drop back down towards the pelvis as you exhale. It should be challenging and you should feel your abdomen engage as you exhale.
Even More Tips to Beat Back Pain

It is much easier to prevent back pain than to treat it. With so many alternatives available, there are really no good reasons to turn to pharmaceutical or surgical Band-Aids that do nothing to treat the underlying cause or causes of your pain, and might inflict additional harm in the process.

  1. Exercise and physical activity will help strengthen the muscles of your spine. Make your exercise time count by including high-intensity sessions. You probably need this only once or twice a week, at most. You'll also want to include exercises that really challenge your body intensely along with those that promote muscle strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.
  2. If you spend many hours every day in a chair, like I do, pay careful attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up. At the same time, make sure your head is back with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This will help keep your spine in proper alignment. You can hold these muscles tight for several minutes and do this every hour spent sitting.
  3. Also, to combat the detrimental health ramifications of excessive sitting, make a point to stand up at least once every 10 minutes. In addition to regularly standing up, I also do a few squats while I'm at it.

  4. Use chairs or car seats that offer good lumbar support. Switch positions often while sitting, walk around a bit and do some light stretching to relieve tension.
  5. Keep your weight spread evenly on your feet when standing. Avoid slouching when standing or sitting as it places stress on your back muscles.
  6. Always support your back, and avoid bending over awkwardly. Protect your back while lifting – this activity, along with carrying, puts the most stress on your back.
  7. Pay attention to how—and how long—you sleep, because studies have linked insufficient sleep with increased back and neck problems. Pay attention to your sleep position. Sleep on your side to reduce curving of your spine, and stretch before getting out of bed. A firm bed is recommended.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes. If you're a woman, it's a good idea to not wear heels most of the time.
  9. Optimize your vitamin D and K2 levels to prevent the softening of the bones that can often lead to lower back pain.
  10. Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. Because your body is composed mostly of water, keeping yourself hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.
  11. Quit smoking as it reduces blood flow to your lower spine, which may contribute to spinal degeneration.
  12. Address stress and psychological/emotional factors. Few people want to be told their pain is "all in their heads," but there's quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Unresolved emotional issues and trauma can have a very significant influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. My favorite tool for resolving emotional factors is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
  13. Ground yourself. Grounding yourself to the earth, also known as Earthing, decreases inflammation in your body, which can help quiet down back pain and other types of pain.
  14. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot/bare skin contact with the earth. Research indicates the earth's electrons are the ultimate antioxidants, acting as powerful anti-inflammatories. Whenever possible, take a moment to venture outside and plant your bare feet on the wet grass or sand.

  15. Consider massage therapy. Massage releases endorphins, which help relieve pain and induce relaxation.
Summary

Back pain can best be prevented and treated by a variety of natural measures, from postural and movement corrections to changing how you stand, sit, and sleep. Ideally, make every effort to avoid drugs, steroid injections, and surgery, which all come with a slew of adverse side effects.

Foundation Training, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic care, Earthing, yoga, meditation, EFT, and Structural Decompression Breathing are far better choices for safely and effectively beating back pain.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Bone Health

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Studies from the US Framingham trial show nearly two-fifths of the US population may have suboptimal blood levels of vitamin B12.1 And the criteria they use to make this assessment is 6-700 pg/ml, so it may be the majority of people who are vitamin B12 deficient.

This is important to be aware of, and correct if it applies to you, as vitamin B12 is important for the formation of red blood cells, the maintenance of your central nervous system, and plays a role in the production of DNA and RNA.

Vitamin B12 is also fittingly known as the energy vitamin, and your body requires it for a number of vital functions, including energy production. Much less is known about its role in bone health, although it's emerging as an important player.

Even though vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it doesn't exit your body quickly in your urine like other water-soluble vitamins. Instead, B12 is stored in your liver, kidneys, and other body tissues.

As a result, a deficiency may not show itself until up to seven years later, and by this time damage to your bones may have already set in…

Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Harm Your Bones

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) revealed that mice deficient in vitamin B12 have growth retardation and fewer osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation).2

The researchers suggested that lack of vitamin B12 may interfere with growth signaling in the liver and its "downstream effect" on the osteoblasts.

Recent research also suggests low vitamin B12 status may increase the risk for bone fractures in older men.3 This risk remained even after taking into account other important factors such as smoking, vitamin D status, and calcium intake. As reported by MedicineNet:4

"Men in the group with the lowest B-12 levels were about 70 percent more likely to have suffered a fracture than others in the study. This increased risk was primarily due to fractures in the lumbar spine, where there was an up to 120 percent greater chance of fractures."

Older women with low levels of vitamin B12 (below 208 pg/ml) also experienced significantly more rapid hip bone loss – a sign of osteoporosis – than women with higher levels of B12 in a separate study.5

Elevated homocysteine levels (an amino acid) and low vitamin B12 have also been associated with deteriorated bone health,6 and this may be one avenue by which B12 influences bone health (B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine). As explained by the Linus Pauling Institute:7

"High homocysteine levels may affect bone remodeling by increasing bone resorption (breakdown), decreasing bone formation, and reducing bone blood flow.

Another proposed mechanism involves the binding of homocysteine to the collagenous matrix of bone, which may modify collagen properties and reduce bone strength.

Since vitamin B12 is a determinant of homocysteine metabolism, it was suggested that the risk of osteoporotic fractures in older subjects might be enhanced by vitamin B12 deficiency."

Indeed, a meta-analysis found that raising vitamin B12 levels in older individuals lead to a reduction in fracture risk.8

Move Over Vitamin D and Calcium, Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K2 are crucial for bone health, but also are among the most common supplements taken by older adults for this very reason. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is often overlooked.

If you're a vegan who does not eat animal products, you are at high risk of deficiency, as B12 is readily bioavailable in its natural form only in animal food sources. This doesn't necessarily have to be meat -- eggs and dairy are options also. Top foods to include are:

  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmon
  • Raw milk
  • Pastured free-range eggs

If you do consume animal products, then consider adding these foods that are even higher in vitamin B12:

  • Grass-fed beef and beef liver
  • Pastured organic free-range chicken

However, keep in mind that even if you do eat animal foods, a supplement can be beneficial if your body's ability to absorb the vitamin from food is compromised, which is especially prevalent as you age.

When you get older, the lining of your stomach gradually loses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid (the stomach acid suppressed by proton pump inhibitors), which releases vitamin B12 from your food. If you're over 50, it's safe to assume you are not absorbing vitamin B12 at an optimal level.

However, just because you are over 50, it doesn't mean you are deficient, it only means your risk increases. If you are eating a healthy diet, you can easily maintain healthy levels. The only way to know for sure is to get your blood tested.

Normal ranges of B12 are 200-1,100 pg/ml. Even though the lower level of normal is 200, if you are below 600, you might be suffering from B12 deficiency. There is one problem with supplementation however, and it's related to the poor absorbability of oral vitamin B12 supplements.

Vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin molecule known. Because of its large size, it is not easily absorbed passively like most supplements. This is why many, if not most, oral B12 supplements are grossly ineffective. The only effective form of B12 supplementation is IM injections or sublingual administration.

That said, B12 supplements are exceptionally safe, with virtually no known side effects. Just avoid oral B12 supplements, as they will not be readily absorbed. Injections or a sublingual (under your tongue) spray work far better, as they allow the large B12 molecule to be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

What Else Do You Risk by Not Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

Your risk of fracture might increase, but that's not all. Some of the initial signs of B12 deficiency will often include mood changes, such as lack of motivation or feelings of apathy. Low levels can also lead to mental fogginess, memory troubles, muscle weakness, and -- one of the hallmark signs -- fatigue. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in:

Proper digestion, food absorption, iron use, and carbohydrate and fat metabolism Healthy nervous system function Promotion of normal nerve growth and development Help with regulation of the formation of red blood cells Cell formation and longevity Proper circulation Adrenal hormone production Healthy immune system function Support of female reproductive health and pregnancy Feelings of well-being and mood regulation Mental clarity, concentration, and memory function Physical, emotional, and mental energy

Vitamin B12's role in brain health and mental health is particularly significant. According to a small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's in their later years.9 For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin), the risk of developing Alzheimer's was reduced by 2 percent.

Meanwhile, B group vitamins may slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer's disease.10 Among participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, blood levels of homocysteine were lowered, as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent. As discussed by Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD in the video below, vitamin B12 deficiency can even cause a range of neurological disturbances that mimic serious mental illness.

The Best 'Recipe' for Bone Health

One of the important strategies for healthy bones is to eat the right kind of foods. A diet full of processed foods will produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that will decrease your bone density, so avoiding processed foods is definitely the first step in the right direction. This goes far beyond calcium, which is the first nutrient many people think of concerning their bones. Your bones are actually composed of several different minerals, and if you focus on calcium alone, you will likely weaken your bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis, as Dr. Robert Thompson explains in his book, The Calcium Lie.

Calcium, vitamins D and K2, and magnesium work synergistically together to promote strong, healthy bones, and your sodium to potassium ratio also plays an important role in maintaining your bone mass (larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium is optimal for your bone health and your overall health). Ideally, you'd get all or most of these nutrients, including vitamin B12, from your diet (with the exception of vitamin D). This includes:

  • Plant-derived calcium: Raw milk from pasture-raised cows (who eat the plants), leafy green vegetables, the pith of citrus fruits, carob, and sesame seeds
  • Magnesium: Raw organic cacao and supplemental magnesium threonate if need be
  • Vitamin K2: Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, and dairy), certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria, and certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda
  • Trace minerals: Himalayan Crystal Salt, which contains all 84 elements found in your body, or other natural, unprocessed salt (NOT regular table salt!)
  • Vitamin D: Ideally from appropriate sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed), as it's virtually impossible to get sufficient amounts from food. As a last resort, you could use a supplement, but if you do, you may also need to supplement with vitamin K2 to maintain ideal ratios
Remember to Exercise Regularly and Use Strength Training

Although the focus of this article is on nutrition, the other component you can't ignore if you want strong, healthy bones is weight-bearing exercises like strength training. Bone building is a dynamic process, so you want to make sure you exert enough force on your bones to stimulate the osteoblasts to build new bone. Further, bone is living tissue that requires regular physical activity in order to renew and rebuild itself, it is important to make exercise a lifelong commitment. Peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood and then begins a slow decline, but exercise can help you to maintain healthy bone mass as you get older, and should be viewed as a bone-building partner to your healthy diet.

Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, because as you put more tension on your muscles it puts more pressure on your bones, which then respond by continuously creating fresh, new bone. In addition, as you build more muscle, and make the muscle that you already have stronger, you also put more constant pressure on your bones. A good weight-bearing exercise to incorporate into your routine (depending on your current level of fitness, of course) is a walking lunge, as it helps build bone density in your hips, even without any additional weights.

In addition, Acceleration Training, a.k.a. Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT) using a Power Plate, has also been shown to be a safe, natural way to ward off osteoporosis, and it's gentle enough even for the disabled and elderly. Research shows vibrational training may help to produce a significant increase in bone density in postmenopausal women,11 making it another valuable tool for bone health.

Healthy Shiitake Sautéed Mushroom Recipe

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Mushrooms are certainly one of the most delicious types of fungi, but they're also among the most medicinal. About 100 species of mushrooms are being studied for their health-promoting benefits, and about a half dozen really stand out for their ability to deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system.

You really can't go wrong with any of the edible mushrooms, as they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, and minerals, along with being excellent sources of antioxidants.

Mushrooms contain polyphenols and selenium, which are common in the plant world, as well as antioxidants that are unique to mushrooms (like ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a "master antioxidant").

That being said, if you're looking for the ultimate mushroom in terms of nutrition and flavor, the shitake mushroom may be king. Famous for their rich smoky flavor, shiitake mushrooms are said to have more than 10 times the flavor as white button mushrooms and they're known as a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their many health-promoting properties.1

7-Minute Recipe: Healthy Shiitake Sautéed Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are easy to prepare and their robust flavor complements many dishes, like chicken or wild-caught fish. The recipe below, from The George Mateljan Foundation, takes just minutes to make, and will add valuable nutrients to your meal.2

Healthy Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh sliced shiitake mushrooms (ideally organic)
  • 3 Tbsp. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 Tbsp. each of fresh rosemary, oregano, or feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting properties.
  2. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice.
  3. Heat broth in a stainless steel skillet. When broth begins to steam, add mushrooms and cover for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet cover and let mushrooms cook for 4 more minutes.
  5. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and whatever optional ingredients desired.

 

Serves 2

What Makes Shiitake Mushrooms So Healthy?

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are a popular culinary mushroom used in dishes around the world. They contain a number of health-stimulating agents, including lentinan, the polysaccharide for which it was named.

Lentinan has been isolated and used to treat stomach and other cancers due to its anti-tumor properties, but has also been found to protect your liver,3 relieve other stomach ailments (hyperacidity, gallstones, and ulcers), anemia, ascites, and pleural effusion.

One of the more remarkable scientific studies demonstrating shiitake's antitumor effect was a Japanese animal study,4 in which mice suffering from sarcoma were given shiitake extract.

Six of 10 mice had complete tumor regression, and with slightly higher concentrations all 10 mice showed complete tumor regression. Shiitake mushrooms also demonstrate:

Reduced atherosclerosis5 Antiviral (including HIV, hepatitis, and the "common cold") effects Antibacterial effects Antifungal effects Blood sugar stabilization Reduced platelet aggregation Cholesterol-lowering properties6    

In another study, adding one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms was found to have a beneficial, modulating effect on immune system function.7 The compound lentinan in shiitake mushrooms has been found to increase the survival rate of cancer patients.8

And, in fact, in Japan the top two forms of alternative medicine used by cancer patients are a mushroom called Agaricus subrufescens (aka Agaricus blazei and Agaricus brasiliensis) and shiitake mushroom extract.9

The Mushroom Advantage: 4 Healthy Mushroom Varieties

If there's a certain type of edible mushroom that you enjoy, feel free to indulge, as they all have unique benefits. According to Steve Farrar, who has studied mushrooms professionally for the last three decades, Americans consume about 900 million pounds of mushrooms a year, but 95 percent of that is just one species: the common button mushroom and its relatives, the Crimini and the Portabello mushrooms.

Granted, the button mushroom is an excellent low-calorie food, especially for diabetics. It contains a number of valuable nutrients, including protein, enzymes, B vitamins (especially niacin), and vitamin D2.

However, there are many other types of mushrooms worthy of consideration if you want to improve your diet, including shiitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail, and Himematsutake. You can learn more about these four healthy mushroom varieties in the infographic below.

Embed this infographic on your website:

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/mushrooms.jpg" alt="7 Superfoods" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;" /><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Mushrooms are packed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide outstanding health benefits. Discover more about this <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mushrooms.htm"><strong>emerging superfood</strong></a> through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code><img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/mushrooms.jpg" alt="Mushrooms" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Mushrooms are packed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that provide outstanding health benefits. Discover more about this <a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mushrooms.htm"><strong>"emerging superfood"</strong></a> through this infographic. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p></code></pre>

Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.

Shiitake Mushrooms Have Grown in the Wild Since Prehistoric Times

If you're interested in eating traditional food, you can't get much more "traditional" than shiitake mushrooms, which have been found in the wild since prehistoric times and have been used therapeutically in Asian countries for thousands of years. While Japan was once the largest producer of shiitake mushrooms, China now produces more than 80 percent of commercially sold shiitakes.

The US also has about 200 commercial growers of shiitake mushrooms, about half of which are grown in a natural forest setting using downed hardwood trees as the cultivation medium, according to The George Mateljan Foundation.10 Ideally, you'll want to look for organically grown mushrooms, or those you know were grown in non-polluted forests, because they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good OR bad.

This is what gives mushrooms their potency, for better or worse. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well as air and water pollutants. One way to know what you're getting is to grow your own. You can find a variety of DIY garden kits available online, which will eliminate any questions about what kind of mushroom you're eating.

How to Store and Prepare Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are widely available at grocery stores, Asian markets, and some farmer's markets. Look for mushrooms that are firm, plump, and clean, and avoid those that are wet or slimy. Store fresh mushrooms in a paper bag (loosely closed) in your refrigerator, where they will keep for about one week. Dried mushrooms can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer (in a tightly sealed container) for about six months to one year.11

When you're ready to eat your mushrooms, avoid submersing them in water for cleaning, as they will become soggy. Instead, wipe them off with a damp cloth or use a mushroom brush for cleaning. In addition to the healthy sauté recipe above, you can add mushrooms to virtually any savory dish you're cooking (and dried shiitakes, in particular, are excellent for adding robust flavor to soup stocks12).

Why the Use of Glyphosate in Wheat Has Radically Increased Celiac Disease

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, has dramatically risen over the past 15 years, right in step with the use of GE crops.

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), glyphosate appears to be strongly correlated with the rise in celiac disease.

Dr. Anthony Samsel and Dr. Seneff produced some phenomenal research1 on this connection, which was published in December last year. Previously, she has investigated the relationship between glyphosate and the development of a wide array of modern diseases, including autism.

She believes that glyphosate may in fact act as a transporter for aluminum (a common vaccine adjuvant) into the brain. It also appears to transport arsenic into the kidneys. For more in-depth information on this glyphosate-autism link, please listen to the full version of Dr. Seneff's interview.

Use of Roundup Matches Increased Use of GE Crops, and Rise in Chronic Diseases

Her initial findings were published in the journal Entropy2 last year, which was followed by a second paper,3 again co-authored with Dr. Samsel, which links glyphosate to celiac disease specifically.

"There's an extremely strong correlation between the use of Roundup on corn and soy over time and the increase in all these different diseases, and celiac disease is one of them," she says.

"We certainly have seen an explosive appearance of celiac disease almost overnight in the last five to 10 years... Now you have a growing section of gluten-free choices of various food products...

Lots of people are intolerant to gluten, of course. But people aren't thinking, 'Why is this now true? This didn't use to be true'... I was really puzzled because wheat is not a GE product... GMO wheat is not a product that's on the market."

So what's going on? Dr. Seneff's research reveals that when it comes to gluten intolerance and celiac disease, the problem actually doesn't stem from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Rather it’s related to the use of glyphosate just before the harvesting of many of the non-organic wheat crops, in order to reduce the amount of residue that needs to be cleared and to get a head start on next year’s weeds.

Glyphosate-Treated Wheat Promotes Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a severe reaction to gluten that primarily affects your gastrointestinal system. Glyphosate has been shown to severely damage your gut flora and cause chronic diseases rooted in gut dysfunction.

The use of glyphosate on wheat crops has risen in tandem with the rise in celiac disease. In fact, it correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on corn and soy.

According to Dr. Seneff, desiccating4 non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago. Interestingly enough, when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds. “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies,” Dr. Seneff explains. “At its last gasp, it releases the seed.”

This results in slightly greater yield, and the glyphosate also kills rye grass, a major weed problem for wheat growers that is resistant to many other herbicides. What they're not taking into consideration is the fact that rye grass helps rebalance the soil, and from that perspective is a beneficial plant.

So, most of the non-organic wheat supply is now contaminated with glyphosate. A large percentage of processed foods are made from wheat, and this helps explain the explosion of celiac disease and other gut dysfunction.

What happens is that the villi in your gut get destroyed by the glyphosate, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Also, wheat contains gliadin, which is difficult to break down. Normally, a reaction takes place that builds connections between different proteins in the wheat.

But glyphosate gets right in the middle of that process too, resulting in wheat that is highly indigestible. Dr. Seneff and her co-researcher Dr. Anthony Samsel believe the glyphosate may attach to the gliadin as a consequence of a chemical reaction. The end result is that your body develops an immune reaction. As noted in their study:5

"[G]ut dysbiosis, brought on by exposure to glyphosate, plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease. Many CYP enzymes are impaired in association with celiac disease, and we show that glyphosate's known suppression of CYP enzyme activity in plants and animals plausibly explains this effect in humans."

Glyphosate Disrupts Important Sulfate Pathway Implicated in Celiac Disease

Glyphosate causes gut dysbiosis (a condition of microbial imbalance in your intestines that can lead to gut inflammation and leaky gut) and an overgrowth of pathogens. Sulfur, and the sulfur pathway, plays in important part in optimal health, and when your gut is inflamed, your body’s ability to transport sulfate is impaired.

This is in part why Dr. Seneff recommends soaking in magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) baths rather than taking a sulfur supplement (such as chondroitin sulfate, for example.) This way, it can bypass your gut mucosa. The sulfur pathway is also implicated in celiac disease, and this is the connection between glyphosate exposure and celiac:

"There are two classes of molecules that transport sulfate. One is the sterols: cholesterol, vitamin D, and all sex hormones – estrogen, testosterone, and DHEA. On the other side, you have all the neurotransmitters. This is the dopamine, melatonin, serotonin, and the adrenaline. All of those transport sulfate. They're all derived from this pathway that glyphosate disrupts,"  Dr. Seneff explains.

"Glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, which is a biological pathway in plants and in microbes. That pathway produces the precursors to all those neurotransmitters. When you can't produce those precursors... because of the glyphosate, you become deficient.

This links directly to celiac disease because serotonin is very strongly implicated in celiac disease. In fact, you have an overproduction of serotonin whenever you have dietary tryptophan. In celiac, these cells are hypersensitized. They take in the tryptophan and make serotonin out of it [editor's note: the majority of serotonin is produced in your gut, not your brain].

Tryptophan is one of the products of this pathway that glyphosate disrupts. 
Your body is really eager to grab every bit of tryptophan it can find in the diet and immediately turn it into serotonin... But too much serotonin causes diarrhea. That's how you get a connection to the celiac disease behavior."

To summarize, most of the serotonin that's produced in your body is produced in your gut in response to tryptophan. Wheat is a good source of tryptophan, but when the wheat is contaminated with glyphosate, your gut cells go into overdrive and begin producing too much serotonin, which in turn produces many of the common symptoms of celiac disease, such as diarrhea.

Celiac Disease Comorbidities

According to Dr. Seneff, there are a number of comorbidities of celiac disease: diseases or conditions that are more common in people with celiac disease compared to the normal population. For example, they have a higher risk of producing children with disabilities and various birth defects. One example is anencephaly or microcephaly, which is a missing brain or small brain.

She notes that this exceptionally rare disorder, anencephaly, has become increasingly common in babies born in certain regions of Washington State. While this serious birth defect normally affects only one in the entire US population each year, there have been about 20 cases born in Washington State over the course of just two or three years.

"They looked at everything except at glyphosate," she notes. "They didn't look at glyphosate because they consider it to be harmless. They are using tons of it around the waterway...There have been papers written that have shown that glyphosate causes anencephaly in frogs—a clear connection there. I even know why. It's because of the excess retinoic acid, which is well-known to cause anencephaly... glyphosate also disrupts cytochrome p450 enzymes in the liver; it's a CYP enzyme that breaks down retinoic acid.

When you can't break it down... the retinoic acid builds up and becomes toxic to the embryo. It's very clear to me, that connection. And then, of course, the celiac disease is an indicator of glyphosate exposure. Celiac patients also have a very high risk of cancer. That's probably why they die prematurely. They typically live a shorter life. I think their life is reduced by three to five years."

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are among the most common comorbidities among those with celiac disease. Here Dr. Seneff goes into a number of details relating to glyphosate's influence on cancer and its link to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. For those details, please listen to the full version Dr. Seneff's interview, or read through the transcript. It seems clear that if you have cancer or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you'd be wise to switch to an all-organic diet in order to avoid any further exposure to glyphosate.

Dr. Seneff believes it's important to address sulfate deficiency whenever you're suffering with a chronic disease, including cancer and lymphoma. In her opinion, eating sulfur-rich foods is part and parcel of the solution. Garlic is a very good source of sulfur. Raw garlic is the most potent. According to Dr. Seneff, you don't need to concern yourself with the issue of sulfate transport because the garlic form of sulfur is very easy to transport. Your red blood cells oxidize it to sulfate, and it gets into your blood as sulforaphane.

Glyphosate Chelates Minerals and Promotes Deficiencies

Making sure you're getting enough trace minerals is also important, as glyphosate disrupts a wide variety of them, including manganese, iron, cobalt (cobalamin) and molybdenum, and copper, just to name a few. All of these minerals are affected because the glyphosate causes your body to mismanage them. It chelates the minerals in your gut, so the gut bacteria can't get to them. And your gut bacteria need minerals to work properly. For example, Lactobacillus depends on manganese. According to Dr. Seneff, these bacteria have an unusual mechanism to protect themselves from oxidative damage, which involves manganese. But they can't get at it because the manganese hides inside the glyphosate molecule...

The human body depends on minerals for a wide variety of functions, but it's important to get minerals in a bioavailable form. You can't take a mineral supplement. You need to get them through your diet so that your body can utilize them properly. Hence, an organic diet devoid of glyphosate is again the answer. Natural salt, such as sea salt or Himalayan salt is also a good addition to eating lots of vegetables.

Is There Hope for the Future?

The chemical technology industry controls most of our government agencies from the inside these days, which can easily make one despondent. Is there any hope for the future?

"There is hope," Dr. Seneff says. "I have hope through China and Russia, interestingly enough. Russia has made a pretty strong stand against GMO. Putin has been saying, 'You can go ahead and eat your GMO foods, but we don't want them.' The guy knows, which I love. And I just came back from a conference in Beijing put on by Professor Gu.

She brought in people from around the world... who are sounding the alarm about GMOs and Roundup. Don Huber was there, and Mae-Wan Ho... Jeffrey Smith... and from Australia, there was Judy Carman, who studied the pigs...China will really have an impact if they simply refuse to import GMO soy. They're finding, by the way, that in step with the increased imports of GMO Roundup-Ready soy… they're finding tremendous increases in autism, Parkinson's disease, infertility, and all the same things we're seeing here.

...I just do not understand how the US government refuses to acknowledge that we're basically slowly poisoning and killing our population. We're going to have a huge autism problem in 10 or 15 years. Mothers rising up and saying 'I'm going to feed my child organic food only'—that's the only way we're going to stop it. We have to push the organic movement... In fact, one of the people at this conference was Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, which is an organization of moms. Her son had autism. She fixed his autism by putting him on an organic diet."

Can You Detox Glyphosate?

It's important to understand that you cannot wash glyphosate off genetically engineered foods, as it is then incorporated into each cell of the plant. And when you're consuming processed foods, clearly you cannot rinse off any contamination—it's already been processed into the final product. So truly, the only way to eliminate it from your diet is to avoid conventionally grown foods and processed foods, and to eat as many organic foods as possible. Organic standards do not permit glyphosate. Do not confuse this with labels that say "natural" or "all-natural." These are not regulated, and are often GMO!

This is equally if not more important when it comes to meat and other animal products, as factory-farmed animals are typically raised on a GMO diet, and glyphosate bioaccumulates in the tissues. So what about detoxing? According to Dr. Seneff, they've had some success detoxing animals of glyphosate by feeding them charcoal and humus (the dark organic material in soils). The problem, again, is that glyphosate bioaccumulates throughout your body, and it can be difficult to get out. It's also unclear just how effective taking charcoal might be for humans.

In short, it's much harder to reverse the damage once it's done, so the answer is to avoid glyphosate from the start—especially in your child's diet. The only way to do that right now is to buy certified organic food, or food from a local farmer you know is not using glyphosate or other synthetic chemicals. Perhaps the best alternative is to grow your own. "I think there's going to be a run on organic once everybody wakes up," Dr. Seneff says. "If you're not growing your own, you won't have access. It would be very difficult."

Take Control of Your Health—Choose Your Foods Wisely

According to Dr. Seneff, a number of frightening revelations concerning GE foods themselves came out during the Beijing conference, which we did not have time to go over in this interview. But clearly, besides the potential hazards associated with GE foods—which includes heightened allergenicity—the issue of glyphosate contamination is a very important one. It appears to play an instrumental role not only in celiac disease, but also in autism, Alzheimer's, and cancer. In fact, Dr. Seneff's work suggests it may play a role in most chronic diseases.

"There are many, many reasons to avoid these processed foods that our government is encouraging us to eat," she says. "Taking complete ownership of your food by growing your own is the most special thing you can do, not just for yourself but for humanity and for the earth itself. Everyone who pitches in to contribute their piece of healthy grown food with developing healthy soil is so important to our future salvation because if we don't move fast with this, we're going to end up with a country that's so sick... we're going to spend all of our time and all of our money taking care of the sick and needy. We won't be able to do anything else.

We need to move quickly, and individually make ourselves healthy by eating healthy foods and by putting in the effort to cook and the effort to grow the food ourselves. Buy organic. Support the organic farmers. Don't worry about the fact that it's costing you a little more in food because it's going to save you a huge amount on healthcare down the road. It's going to totally pay for itself. If people can get into that mindset, we can make it happen as individuals. We don't need the government [to act]."

Pathogens on Planes: How to Stay Healthy in Flight

Sat, 09/13/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

One major US airline estimates that its aircraft fly an average of nearly six flights per day. With, let’s say, an average of 137 people on each flight, that’s 822 people per day that may pass through any one plane.

After a week, that exposure rises to more than 5,700 people, each with the potential to share their own possibly pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and other microbes with the aircraft seats, tray tables, toilet, arm rests, and virtually every other surface on the plane.

Considering that some of the nastiest microbes, like MRSA and E. coli O157, can last about a week and four days on surfaces, respectively,1 it’s enough to make anyone want to douse themselves in hand sanitizer upon exiting the plane.

Yet, if it were really that bad, virtually everyone would get sick after flying, which, of course, isn’t the case. I fly at least once a month (this month I have flown seven times, though). But I am not concerned because I strengthen my immune system with a healthy lifestyle.

Most Infectious Disease Is Transmitted by Touching a Contaminated Surface

When in an airplane’s cramped quarters, one of the most common concerns is that someone sneezing has the potential to infect the whole plane, especially since about 50 percent of the cabin air is recycled. This is possible but unlikely for a couple of reasons.

For starters, according to Dr. Mark Gendreau, who specializes in aviation medicine at Lahey Medical Center in Massachusetts, airplanes have high-tech air filters that remove more than 99 percent of microbes from the air, and even then the ventilation is compartmentalized so that it only circulates to part of the cabin.2

Second, the most common way for you to be infected with a disease is by touching a contaminated surface, then transferring the germ to your eyes, nose, or mouth.

This is true whether you’re in an airplane or any other public space, and is the reason why washing your hands, with plain soap and water, is so important to reduce your risk of contracting an infectious disease.

Because the water on airplanes may not be the most pure (one study by the US Environmental Protection Agency found fecal bacteria in 15 percent of the drinking water on planes it tested3), Dr. Gendreau recommends taking the extra step of sanitizing your hands with a waterless hand sanitizer after washing them. If you opt for this step, be sure to use a chemical-free natural brand.

One trick I use in an airport is to only use restrooms that don’t have doors. This is most of the ones in newer airport terminals. Oddly, if you go into the expensive and private airport lounges you have to touch the doors.

So I nearly always use the main airport restrooms and avoid touching bathroom doors. I also tend to refrain from touching the handrails on escalators and will always seek to walk up or down them unless it is not possible.

Immune System to the Rescue: How to Avoid Getting Sick Even if You’re Within the ‘Transmission Zone’

In research looking into how airborne diseases travel on planes, studies have uncovered different size “transmission zones” for different pathogens. For instance, the transmission zone for tuberculosis appears to be sitting within two rows of the infected person on a flight that’s eight hours or longer. For SARS, the transmission zone is larger, about three to seven rows surrounding an infected person.4

If you’re sitting within the transmission zone and a person near you sneezes, there’s a chance you could be infected with an airborne pathogen, but this is where your immune system comes in.

As you may be aware, just because you’re exposed to, or even infected with, a germ doesn’t mean it will make you sick. In one study, when 17 people were infected with a flu virus, only half of them got sick.5

The researchers found changes in blood took place 36 hours before flu symptoms showed up, and everyone had an immune response, regardless of whether or not they felt sick. But the immune responses were quite different …

In symptomatic participants, the immune response included antiviral and inflammatory responses that may be related to virus-induced oxidative stress. But in the non-symptomatic participants, these responses were tightly regulated. The asymptomatic group also had elevated expression of genes that function in antioxidant responses and cell-mediated responses. Researchers noted:

“Exposure to influenza viruses is necessary, but not sufficient, for healthy human hosts to develop symptomatic illness. The host response [emphasis added] is an important determinant of disease progression.”

In other words, a strong immune system will always be your best defense against any pathogenic bacteria you come across anywhere, and will serve you well if you nourish it with the proper tools. You can support your immune system by using the following tips (and see my full list below):

  • Getting a good night's sleep and minimizing stress in your life
  • Exercising regularly and effectively
  • Getting enough sun exposure in order to optimize your vitamin D levels.
  • Avoiding sugar and grains, and instead eating plenty of whole foods as described in my nutrition plan
  • Eating fermented vegetables regularly, or taking a high-quality probiotic (good bacteria) supplement
More Tricks for Minimizing Your Risk of Getting Sick on a Plane

Aside from maintaining a healthy immune system, an effective strategy when traveling on a plane, as mentioned, is to frequently wash your hands. It is also important to not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching common public surfaces in airplanes like door handles, seat-back trays, and water faucets or toilet handles.

Cold and flu viruses can last up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces and the nasty norovirus can survive for two to four weeks – so chances are that you're very likely to touch a surface with some germs on it while you're in a confined space with many other people, like on an airplane (or in public places general).

While some airlines like American Airlines and Southwest tout their thorough deep-cleaning requirements for their fleet of planes, including scrubbing and de-sanitizing nooks and crannies every 30 days, you can still bet that many surfaces like arm rests, seat-back tables, magazines, and lavatory toilets receive at best minimal cleanings after most flights.

As for airborne pathogens, Dr. Gendreau has a quick tip using your overhead vent that can help:6 "'Set your ventilation at low or medium,' he says.

'Then position it so you can draw an imaginary line of current right in front of your head. I put my hands on my lap so I can feel the current — so I know it's properly positioned.' Then if something infectious is floating in your personal space, he says, that air from the vent will create enough current to knock it away."

There are a myriad of other options available, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. The New York Times reported on several such items designed to keep you from getting sick on a plane.7 These may help, but ultimately your best “weapons” are a healthy immune system and frequent hand washing.

  • Organic antiseptic sprays
  • Individual air purifiers that hang around your neck
  • Slip covers that fit over airplane seats
  • Disposable face masks
  • Ultraviolet light “scanners” that kill germs
My Top Tips for Healthy Air Travel

It’s important to get back to the basics so you can avoid infections anywhere, not just while travelling. The following general guidelines will help you optimize your health and immune function, and by doing so, minimize your risk of becoming ill while traveling. I actually recommend you follow these tips year-round, regardless of your travel plans, because you will inevitably be exposed to bacteria and viruses in your daily life.

Consume a diet that's rich in raw whole foods; avoid junk foods, processed foods, sugar, and grains, which all can tax your immune system. Get plenty of high-quality sleep. Strive for 8 hours, which will typically mean 8-9 hours in bed after you factor in time to sleep and times you wake up. Exercise regularly and effectively; when on a long flight, walk around frequently to prevent the risk of pulmonary embolism. Get adequate sunlight exposure to optimize your vitamin D level; if this is not possible, use a safe tanning bed or take an oral vitamin D supplement. Rehydrate with water, not soda, while traveling; most airlines offer bottled or canned sparkling water. Make sure you drink water frequently while you are flying. Take a high-quality probiotic (good bacteria) and eat plenty of fermented foods like kefir and natto, which are natural sources of probiotics. A probiotic supplement can help prevent the constipation that many people get while traveling, as well as, be used to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Do a quick cleanup of your hotel room as soon as you check in. Simple precautions like wiping down faucets, handles, and countertops, washing glasses, and removing the bedspread can reduce your risk of exposure to pathogens. Consider using an Earthing/grounding pad while flying to help correct the bioelectrical disruption you experience when you are not in contact with the earth's surface. One trick that I have been using for a few years after a tip from Dr. Stephen Sinatra is to remove one of my shoes when flying and put my foot on the metal support frame on the seat in front of me. Doing this will ground you to the airplane frame and help mitigate damage from radiation at 35,000 feet. If you suffer from motion sickness, pack some fresh raw gingerroot. Ginger is a wonderful natural remedy for nausea, as well as being a remedy for a number of other health problems. Address your stress; minimize it as much as possible. My favorite stress-busting technique is EFT, which is like acupuncture without the needles.

Mercury-Free Dentists—Pioneers and Catalysts for 21st Century Health Care

Sat, 09/13/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Less than a generation ago, only three percent of dentists were mercury-free. Dentistry's best-kept secret was that amalgam fillings had mercury, a neurotoxin that can permanently injure the developing brains of children and fetuses.

The secret was enforced by tyrannical dental boards, which threatened to pull the license (the right to practice) of dentists who spoke out -- and who did in fact pull mercury-free dentists' licenses in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York.

Other mercury-free dentists faced unrelenting pressure from their peers to conform. An historic irony that dentists doing the right thing were ostracized is that is that the term "quack" derived from the German word for mercury, "Quecksilber." The "quacks" were the health professionals who used mercury!

It is to the great credit of these dentists -- who studied the science and opposed putting pollution in their patients' mouths -- that they stuck with their principles. As mercury-free dentistry grew, dentists began to adapt by offering mercury-free dentistry. Synergistically,, as mercury-free dentistry grew, so did consumer awareness.

Consumers for Dental Choice was created in 1997; its first project was to free up dentists to be able to advise, advocate, and advertise for mercury-free dentistry. To take out this notorious gag rule root and branch, Consumers for Dental Choice used a comprehensive strategy.

This NGO (non-government organization) built alliances with advocate groups, such as the Goldwater Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union. Then, this NGO went to the media, most spectacularly in California, where a page one story in the Los Angeles Times in September 1999 blew the lid off the dental board's denial of free speech rights.

Charlie Brown optimized his role as a former Attorney General, sitting down with his peers in several states to show why the law was in favor of the dissenting dentists. He found allies in state legislatures, such as Senator Karen Johnson of Arizona, Representative Hal Lynde of New Hampshire, and Representative John Rogers of Alabama.

Charlie Brown and his team worked to put supporters of mercury-free dentistry onto the formerly monopolistic dental boards, such as Dr. Jessica Saepoff of Washington state, Kevin Biggers and Dr. Chet Yokoyama of California, and the late Dr. Ron King of Minnesota.

With a growing body of public officials supporting mercury-free dentistry, they launched the State and Local Public Officials Mercury-Free Caucus, now chaired by former Senator Charlotte Pritt of West Virginia. (Later, Senator Pritt and the Caucus were active in the pushing for amalgam language in the Minamata Convention.)

By the middle of the past decade, a sea-change had occurred. Dentists were advertising mercury-free dentistry. They went to public hearings and spoke out. They began to put to shame the dentists who kept using mercury and who used absurd arguments about mercury being inert and vapor-less.

Without Consumers for Dental Choice and the work of its leader Charlie Brown, these changes almost certainly would not have happened -- at least not in this century. Please recognize their leadership, and help them move forward. I will match your gift dollar for dollar.

Yet half of America's dentists have still not changed. This is particularly true in institutional dentistry -- the military, the prisons, the Veterans Administration, the Indian Reservations, and the corporate dentistry settings where dentists focus on "drill, fill, and bill." These dentists find succor under the protective wing of the pro-mercury American Dental Association (ADA), whose instructions invariably are to talk about amalgam without ever uttering the "M" word.

Mercury Undercover

Despite the progress, we have plenty of work do to. We finish up this, our fourth, Mercury-free Dentistry Week with a documentary by Elizabeth Hong and Daniel Montoya. Mercury Undercover exposes the very real dangers of mercury toxicity, and its connection to amalgam fillings.

Amalgam, also called "silver fillings," is in fact a massive consumer fraud. By referring to the color of the compound rather than its content, consumers everywhere have been tricked into placing a known neurotoxin in their mouths.

Think about it, if your dentist said, "Okay, I'm going to put a large mercury filling into this molar," you'd probably sit up and say, "Hey doc, maybe we should talk about this?!"

Most people are aware that mercury is hazardous to health, but if they don't know that amalgam contains mercury, then they cannot object to it in the first place. And that's exactly how the dental industry and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants it.

Most Americans are Deceived by Inaccurate Terms

Consumers for Dental Choice recently issued a new report titled, Measurably Misleading,1 which reveals just how the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the dental industry have deceived you about amalgam.

A recent Zogby poll, commissioned by Consumers for Dental Choice, reveals that Americans are indeed fooled by the terms "silver fillings" and "amalgam." Fifty-seven percent of Americans are unaware that amalgam is a mercury filling, and 23 percent believe amalgam is made of silver. Also, a mere 11 percent of people say their dentist ever told them that amalgam contains mercury.

The FDA is responsible for addressing consumer fraud that occurs in medicine and health. But when it comes to mercury fillings, the agency has refused to take corrective action. Not only that, but it actually condones, not condemns, the marketing of amalgam as "silver fillings." Hence the deception continues.

Dental Mercury Fuels Chronic Inflammation in Your Body

Compelling evidence clearly shows that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor every time you eat, drink, brush your teeth or otherwise stimulate your teeth. For a powerful demonstration of the reality of these vapors, please see the following video.

As noted in a 2010 scientific review2 on mercury exposure and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury. Ideally, exposure should be zero, so any dentist insisting that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is really not acting in an ethical manner. The mercury vapors released from the amalgam in your teeth readily pass through your cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system. Effects can be psychological, neurological, and/or immunological.

At above average doses, brain functions such as reaction time, judgment, and language can be impaired. At very high exposures, mercury can affect your ability to walk, speak, think, and see clearly. One 2012 study3 evaluating the effects of mercury on cognition in otherwise healthy adults found that those with blood mercury levels below 5 µg/L had the best cognitive functions. Mild impairment was evident at blood mercury levels of 5 to 15 µg/L and above 15 µg/L, cognition was significantly impaired. Mercury is also known to cause kidney damage, which is why it's so important to have your mercury fillings removed by a properly trained biological dentist

As explained by Dr. Chris Shade, mercury can also displace other elements such as zinc and copper, by attaching to the receptors that would otherwise hold these essential minerals. Overall, mercury has a very strong ability to dysregulate your entire system, which is part of the reason why mercury toxicity symptoms are so difficult to pin down. For example, I recently wrote about one case in which a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis came to realize she was actually suffering from mercury toxicity. She recovered after undergoing an appropriate detoxification protocol.

Putting an End to FDA and ADA's Concealment of Mercury

For decades, the FDA and American Dental Association (ADA) have successfully concealed the fact that amalgam is made of 50 percent mercury, and that there are health risks associated with mercury fillings. It's time for the truth to be acknowledged. Earlier this summer, a group of dentists, scientists and patients filed a lawsuit against the FDA. According to a recent news report,4 the group claims the FDA "hasn't done enough to address any potential health hazards of amalgam and that it's low income groups... who often end up with these fillings because they don't have a choice..." 

More importantly, Consumers for Dental Choice is now taking the issue to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who signed the Minamata treaty on mercury last year on behalf of the US government. The Minamata Convention includes a pledge to scale down amalgam, effective immediately

The FDA's stance on amalgam is in direct violation of the Minamata Convention, as its amalgam rule advocates more mercury fillings for Americans, not less! Consumers for Dental Choice has created a petition to the Secretary of State, asking that he insist the FDA disclose the presence of mercury in dental amalgam. The petition also requests that the Secretary of State take action to end the use of amalgam in government agencies that provide dental care, such as the Veterans Administration, the Defense Department, and the Bureau of Prisons. I encourage you to sign and share this petition with your Facebook and Twitter networks.

Why Do Half of All American Dentists Still Use Mercury Amalgam?

When Consumers for Dental Choice was founded, only three percent of dentists were mercury-free. The organization has been instrumental in catalyzing change in the industry. Today, more than 50 percent of dentists in America have stopped using mercury filings. Unfortunately, we seem to have stalled out at around 50 percent of dentists who still insist on using amalgam.

"We think the pro-mercury dentists have stabilized because they won't learn anything new and the profits are so easy," Charlie Brown says.

Indeed, dentists make more money per chair per day when using mercury fillings. For factory-style dentistry, where the teeth represent dollar signs instead of part of a human being, dentists drill, fill, and bill. The term "drill, fill, and bill" is a joke aspiring dentists learn in dental school. Only the joke is on us and our children. They count their money, and we have a vaporous neurotoxin implanted an inch from our brains. And of course, since amalgam damages tooth structure and cracks teeth, pro-mercury dentists continue to profit from amalgam long after its initial placement.

For Decades, the ADA Forbade Dentists to Reveal Truth about Amalgam

The ADA's longstanding effort to keep consumers uninformed is another factor that has kept the secret going for so long. The ADA owns two patents on amalgam, patent numbers 4,018,600 and 4,078,921. The patents have now expired, but while they were in effect the ADA went to incredible lengths to wipe out mercury-free dentistry and quash dissent from the emerging critics of mercury-based dentistry. It went so far as to adopt a "rule of conduct" that actually prohibited dentists from discussing mercury with their patients:

"Based on available scientific data, the ADA has determined that the removal of amalgam restorations from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical."

Yes, the ADA said it is unethical for a dentist to tell the truth to his patients. This gag rule, enforced by state dental boards, clearly violated the First Amendment. It was finally undone by Consumers for Dental Choice, starting in 1998, and by dentists who boldly stepped forward over the years. Still, the effects linger.

Mercury has No Place in 21st Century Dentistry

As noted in the Consumers for Dental Choice report Measurably Misleading,5 a majority of consumers are not given even the most basic information about amalgam—the fact that it contains mercury. The central deception revolves around referring to mercury fillings as "silver" or "amalgam." Still to this day, many dentists will not use the "M" word, mercury, in talking to their patients for fear of jeopardizing their license, thanks to the ADA's rule of conduct (above). For a long while now, mercury has been dentistry's greatest controversy and its great little secret.

Fortunately, dentists worldwide are now moving toward mercury-free dentistry. Indeed, it's time for dentists everywhere to "grab the bull by the horn" and tell their patients that amalgam is about 50 percent mercury. The word "silver filling" is a deception, and "amalgam" is an ambiguity. Both terms need to be replaced with the truthful description of "mercury filling." Mercury-free dentistry is the future, but to get there, consumers need to be told the truth, and that means that dentists need to speak out and make their voices heard in their communities.

Important Information Regarding Amalgam Removal

For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed. However, it's very important to get it done right. Removing amalgam fillings can expose you to significant amounts of mercury vapors if the dentist doesn't know what he or she is doing. The following links can help you to find a mercury-free, biological dentist, trained in the safe removal of amalgam:

Bringing Mercury-Free Dentistry to the US

Working with talented environmental, consumer, and health leaders, Consumers for Dental Choice is launching mercury amalgam phase-out campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the United States, efforts are also being redoubled, with a focus on forcing the FDA to uphold the promise made by the nation when it signed the Minamata treaty on mercury pollution.

It's quite simple really. The United States of America has made a promise to the international community to immediately begin reducing the use of amalgam, and the FDA is in direct violation of this promise. Consumers for Dental Choice is betting that the Secretary of State will not allow the FDA to embarrass the White House and the entire country by refusing to take the most basic of steps toward a phase-down of mercury fillings, which is: informing consumers that amalgam is made with mercury, and telling dentists to inform their patients of the same.

This is the week we can get Consumers for Dental Choice the funding it deserves to achieve these aims. I have found few NGOs as effective, and none as efficient, as Consumers for Dental Choice. Its small team has led the charge on six continents -- including ours! So I am stepping up with the challenge. For the fourth year in a row, I will match the funds you give. In 2012, the match was up to $50,000 -- and you did it! In 2013, I upped the ante to $75,000 -- and you did it again! This year, I will match $100,000. So please give, and all donations received up to $100,000 will be matched by Natural Health Research Foundation, which I founded.

A final, important word: avoid dentists who use mercury amalgams, and advise your friends and family to do the same. It's time for each of us to ask this simple question to the dentist before we get a filling done: "Doctor, do you practice mercury-free dentistry on all of your patients?" If your dentist is mercury-free, thank him or her. If not, consider finding a mercury-free dentist. As with genetically engineered foods, voting with your pocket book is one of the most effective strategies we consumers have at our disposal.

Safety Questions Loom Over Quorn Brand Meat Substitute

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you want to stay healthy, the simple rule is to avoid processed foods and this is certainly true for meat substitutes. There are a number of meat substitutes on the market, but some appear to be more unsavory than others, in terms of safety.

The Quorn brand meat substitute falls into this category. Quorn is a fungus-based ferment. Its advertised claims include being 75 percent lower in fat and 50 percent lower in calories compared to regular meat. It’s also high in fiber and protein, and low in cholesterol and salt.

That may sound all well and good, but there are lingering questions about its ability to cause severe reactions in some people. In an August 18 press release,1 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) writes:

“Of the several shortcomings of the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of food additives exposed in today’s Washington Post,2 none is more glaring than the agency’s lack of curiosity in the safety of Quorn-brand meat substitutes...

The fungus at issue, Fusarium venenatum, had never before been used in human food before it became Quorn. (‘Venenatum,’ inauspiciously, is Latin for poisonous.)”

Adverse Effects Reported

Launched in 1985, Quorn is now sold in 16 countries around the world. It’s been on the US market since 2002.

It was originally developed by one of the largest chemical companies in Great Britain called Imperial Chemical Industries, and this in and of itself could serve as a clue as to its health potential...

The fungus, Fusarium venenatum, is first grown in large fermentation vats, where it is fed with oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients. Once the water is removed, what is left is a paste-like biomass, which is then processed into various food products.

Since its inception, several studies have raised concerns about Quorn’s safety—especially in people with food and/or mold allergies. A CSPI survey also found that mycoprotein is more likely to cause adverse reactions than other common allergenic foods such as shellfish, milk, and peanuts.

So far, CSPI has collected more than 2,000 reports of adverse reactions to Quorn.3, 4 Adverse effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Forceful vomiting
  • Anaphylactic reactions

Two deaths5 are even suspected to have resulted from eating the Quorn brand meat substitute. In a previous post,6 CSPI also noted that an early study done by the manufacturer found that 10 percent of 200 human subjects developed nausea or a stomachache after eating Quorn.

This might be expected if the name of the fungus is in any way indicative of its health effects. After all, the Latin word venenatum means “filled with venom.”

Should You Eat Meat?

While I certainly sympathize with those who choose to abstain from meat for ethical reasons, there isn’t a single meat-substitute on the market that I would recommend, and that includes soy protein, which may even be worse than Quorn.

There are health benefits to eating meat and other animal products that simply have no equivalence in the plant kingdom. However, the KEY is to choose your meat wisely. Doing so can eliminate many of the ethical objections as well.

Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are best avoided, both for health and ethical reasons. CAFO cows are fattened for slaughter in gigantic feed lots as quickly as possible (on average between 14 and 18 months) with the help of grains and growth promoting drugs, including antibiotics.

This routine practice, which is done predominantly for financial reasons, has led to the current scourge of antibiotic-resistant disease, which now kills at least 23,000 Americans each year.

Besides raising your risk of antibiotic-resistant disease, regularly consuming small doses of antibiotics is also a surefire way to destroy your gut health, which in turn will have a detrimental effect on your overall health and immune function.

Organically raised, grass-fed or pastured animal products on the other hand can provide valuable nutrients that your body requires for optimal functioning, such as high-quality protein.

Cattle raised on their natural diet of plain grass typically also contain three to five times higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compared to CAFO cattle. CLA is a valuable nutrient known for its health benefits, from fighting cancer to decreasing insulin resistance and improving body composition.

Grass-fed beef also tends to be leaner, and have higher levels of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also has a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats.

But perhaps the most crucial factor that makes grass-fed beef better than CAFO is that it doesn’t contain antibiotics and hazardous growth-promoters, and hasn’t been fed genetically engineered and /or glyphosate-contaminated grains.

California Slaughterhouse Charged with Selling Condemned Meat

I firmly believe we have to stop supporting our current CAFO practices for meat production and focus on more health- and environmentally-friendly options. CAFO products really have little if any redeeming value, besides being slightly cheaper at the checkout line.

This lower cost comes at a high price, however—a price that many people fail to take into account. Case in point: the California slaughterhouse Rancho Feeding Corporation in Petaluma was recently charged with “knowingly processing and distributing meat from cancerous cows,” according to a CNN report.7

Four former workers at the slaughterhouse, including the general manager and co-owner Jesse J. Amaral Jr., have now been indicted on charges of conspiring to sell and distribute "adulterated, misbranded, and uninspected" meat.

Authorities recalled nearly 10 million pounds of meat from the slaughterhouse in February. Nestle also issued a voluntary recall for its Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets, which contained meat from Rancho. According to CNN:

“Prosecutors allege that Amaral directed Corda and Cabrera to circumvent inspection procedures for certain cows with signs of epithelioma of the eye, also known as ‘cancer eye.’ This included directing employees to carve ‘USDA Condemned’ stamps out of certain cow carcasses and to process them for sale and distribution, despite having been rejected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian.

Corda and Cabrera are also alleged to have replaced the heads of sick cows with those of healthy ones, placing the healthy heads next to the bodies of cows whose eyes had signs of cancer. The switch occurred during the inspectors' lunch break, prosecutors said.”

If convicted, the four workers could face up to 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. In February, Rancho Feeding was sold to Marin Sun Farms, which specializes in pasture-raised livestock, so chances are the facility may be properly rehabilitated. As noted by the LA Times,8 it’s now the last remaining beef slaughterhouse in the Bay Area.

CAFO Meats Also Contain Drugs Banned in Other Countries

Besides antibiotics, CAFO livestock are also given a number of other drugs, including drugs that are banned in other countries for suspected adverse health effects. Ractopamine, for example, is a beta-agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal.

Beta-agonist drugs have been used in US cattle production since 2003. The drug is administered in the days leading up to slaughter, and as much as 20 percent of it can remain in the meat you buy. This is disconcerting when you consider that the drug label warns: "Not for use in humans,” and “individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure.”  

Ractopamine is banned from food production in at least 160 countries around the world, including countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China, and Republic of China (Taiwan), due to its suspected health effects. Animal research has linked ractopamine to:

  • Reductions in reproductive function
  • Birth defects (Canadian researchers9 found that, in rats, the drug produced a variety of birth defects, including cleft palate, protruding tongue, short limbs, missing or fused digits, open eyelids, jaw abnormalities, limb abnormalities, and enlarged heart)
  • Increase of mastitis in dairy herds
  • Increased disability and death

In pigs and cattle, FDA reports10 link the drug to: excessive hunger, anorexia, bloat, respiratory and hoof problems, lameness, stiffness, stress and aggression, and death. In fact, of all reported side effects, death tops the list as the most reported problem associated with ractopamine. In humans, ractopamine is known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and is thought to be responsible for hyperactivity. It may also cause chromosomal abnormalities and behavioral changes.

Zilmax is another beta-agonist drug used in the US, and this drug has also been linked to horrific side effects in cattle. In August, 2013, Tyson Food Inc issued a statement saying it would no longer purchase Zilmax-fed cattle for slaughter due to animal welfare concerns.11 The company had noticed that many of the cows that had been fed the drug had trouble walking. The cattle also displayed other behavioral issues. FDA records show at least 285 cattle unexpectedly died or were euthanized after receiving Zilmax between 2007 and 2013—many of them had lost their hooves. Other reported adverse effects in cattle following the administration of Zilmax include:

Stomach ulcers Brain lesions Blindness Lethargy and lameness Bloody nose Respiratory problems Heart failure Sudden death Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family’s Health

When a feed or feed additive makes an animal sick, infirm, or dead, is it really wise for you to eat the meat from it? I would suggest the answer is a firm no. Hence, when it comes to animal products, the closer you can get to the grower, the better. Ideally, you'll want to get all your animal products, including meat, chicken, and eggs, from smaller community farms with free-ranging animals that are organically fed and locally marketed.

This is the way food has been raised and distributed for centuries, before the era of corrupted politics and corporate greed took over. Small-scale butchering facilities are also more humane, which is an important concern from an ethical standpoint. The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner:

  • Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  • Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  • Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  • Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  • FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSA's, and markets near you.

ADHD Linked to Prenatal Antidepressant Use

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

More than one in 10 Americans take an antidepressant, and that number jumps to one in four among women aged 50 to 64.1 They’re the most commonly prescribed class of medication other than antibiotics,2 but despite their overwhelming popularity there’s an important question that needs to be answered: do they work?

Overwhelming evidence shows that antidepressants do not work as advertised. In fact, at best, antidepressants are comparable to placebos, and at worst they can cause devastating side effects, including suicidal and homicidal tendencies, and deterioration into even more serious mental illness.

A Closer Look at Antidepressant Research…

A study in the January 2010 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that there is little evidence that SSRIs (a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and others) have any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression (the group to which they’re most often prescribed), and they work no better than a placebo.3 Those researchers concluded:

“The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo increases with severity of depression symptoms and may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms.”

A meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine also concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small—and that both are ineffective for most depressed patients.4 Only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all, and that response was quite minimal.

Research by Irving Kirsch, a psychologist at the University of Hull in the UK, and colleagues presented another interesting theory -- that the side effects produced by antidepressants are the reason why they are sometimes perceived to work better.

In Kirsch's book, The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, he describes research he conducted using placebo-controlled clinical trials submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A review of 42 trials revealed that placebos were 82 percent as effective as antidepressants, which translates to a 1.8-point difference on the Hamilton Depression Scale (which is used to measure symptoms of depression).

Though "significant" clinically speaking, this difference would not mean much whatsoever on a treatment level. Next, Kirsch also found in the research that virtually any pill that produced side effects was just slightly more effective at relieving depression than placebo. This included thyroid hormones, herbal remedies, stimulants, sedatives, and others.

So, the antidepressants did not appear to be unique in this action, since virtually every pill given produced the same results. What was really going on? Well, the purpose of keeping a study double-blind, meaning neither the patient nor the researcher knows if they're taking an active pill or a placebo, is to prevent bias. It's well known that if a person believes they're taking an active drug, they are more likely to "feel" a benefit.

Kirsch reasoned that when a person experienced a side effect, it tipped them off that they were taking an active antidepressant rather than a placebo, and this is what gave them the slight advantage.

To test this, Kirsch then investigated trials involving an "active" placebo, meaning one that causes a side effect, and low and behold there was absolutely no difference found between the antidepressant and the active placebo. Maria Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, noted:5

"Everyone had side effects of one type or another, and everyone reported the same level of improvement. Kirsch reported a number of other odd findings in clinical trials of antidepressants, including the fact that there is no dose-response curve—that is, high doses worked no better than low ones—which is extremely unlikely for truly effective drugs.

‘Putting all this together,’ writes Kirsch, leads to the conclusion that the relatively small difference between drugs and placebos might not be a real drug effect at all.

Instead, it might be an enhanced placebo effect, produced by the fact that some patients have broken [the] blind and have come to realize whether they were given drug or placebo. If this is the case, then there is no real antidepressant drug effect at all."

The Web That Pharma Weaves

Every year, $11 billion is spent on antidepressants.6 The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them have hundreds of lobbyists, and they underwrite more than 70 percent of FDA trials. As explained by Kelly Brogan, MD:

They [pharmaceutical companies] court physicians, give them samples, tell patients to ‘ask their doctor,’ pay consultants to speak at scientific meetings, advertise in medical journals, fund medical education, and ghostwrite, cherry pick and redundantly submit data for publication.  

Psychiatric studies funded by pharma are 4x more likely to be published if they are positive, and only 18% of psychiatrists are disclosing their conflicts of interests when they publish data. Their studies allow:

  • Placebo washout (getting rid of those who are likely to respond to placebo before the study to strengthen the perceived benefit)
  • Replacement of non-responders
  • Breaking blind by using inert placebos so that subjects know that they have received the treatment
  • Use of sedative medications concurrent to study medications”

Meanwhile, in an interview, Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker also explained that research suggests the use of antidepressant drugs may actually result in more relapses back into depression in the long run. In other words, these drugs may be turning depression into a more chronic condition.

According to Whitaker’s research, this tendency to sensitize the brain to long-term depression appears to be the same both for the earlier tricyclic antidepressants and the newer SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). 

Another famous psycho-pharmacologist named Ross Baldessarini at the Harvard Medical School also began asking whether or not these drugs may in fact be depressogenic (causing depression). Unfortunately, the evidence points that way, and the long-term prognosis when taking antidepressants is quite bleak, as this type of drug treatment has a whopping 85 percent chronic relapse rate.

Antidepressants May Change the Way Your Brain Functions

Most of you have also probably heard that depression is due to a “chemical imbalance in your brain,” which these drugs are designed to correct. Unfortunately for anyone who has ever swallowed this marketing ploy, this is NOT a scientific statement.

“The low serotonin theory arose because they understood how the drugs acted on the brain,” Whitaker explained. “But it was just a hypothesis borne to try to explain why the drug might be fixing something. They investigated whether people had low serotonin… [But] in 1983, NIMH concluded that there is no evidence that there is anything wrong in the serotonergic system of depressed patients.

And this was in 1983 before Prozac was released. So there was never evidence that people with depression characteristically had low levels of serotonin. As one doctor I interviewed about this who did some of this research said, ‘The serotonin theory of depression is comparable to the masturbatory theory of insanity.” It’s just not a scientific statement.’”

Making matters worse, if you do not have low serotonin levels when you’re depressed, but you start taking an SSRI drug that blocks the normal reuptake of serotonin, you end up with the very physiological problem the drug is designed to treat – low serotonin levels. Which, ironically, is the state hypothesized to bring on depression in the first place. In 1996, neuroscientist Steven Hyman, who was head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the time, published the paper Initiation and Adaptation: A Paradigm for Understanding Psychotropic Drugs,7 in which he explains this chain of events. 

According to Dr. Hyman, once your brain has undergone these compensatory adaptations to the drug, your brain operates in a manner that is “both qualitatively and quantitatively different than normal.” As Whitaker explained, antidepressants are not actually “normalizing” agents but could be more aptly described as “abnormalizing” agents.

What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?

You may have heard a lot about the side effects of antidepressant drugs, but do you know what they actually are? For starters, antidepressants raise your risk of bleeding and stroke,8 and a large study of post-menopausal women found that those taking tricyclic antidepressants or SSRIs were 45 percent more likely to suffer a fatal stroke.9 The research also found that overall death rates were 32 percent higher in women on the drugs, while other research linked antidepressant use to thicker arteries, which could contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke.10 Aside from potentially lethal cardiac events, other serious side effects include:

  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings and violent behavior
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Problems with your immune system: SSRIs cause serotonin to remain in your nerve junctions longer, interfering with immune cell signaling and T cell growth11
  • Brittle bones: Research suggests taking an SSRI may double your risk of bone fractures.12 This is because serotonin is also involved in the physiology of bone. If you alter serotonin levels with a drug, it can result in low bone density, boosting fracture risk
Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Linked to ADHD

Antidepressants are said to be safe during pregnancy, even though research shows taking SSRIs when you’re pregnant may increase the risks of low birth weight, preterm birth, fetal death, infant death, neonatal seizures, and the need for mechanical ventilation.13 Recently, it was also found that children born to women who took antidepressants during pregnancy were more likely to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).14

And, research shows that boys with autism are three times more likely to have been exposed to antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in utero than non-autistic boys.15 Those whose mothers used SSRIs during the first trimester were found to be at greatest risk. The recent ADHD/antidepressant study also found a link between taking antidepressants during pregnancy and the risk of autism in the offspring, although it became less significant when material history of severe depression was taken into account.16

Is It a Coincidence That Antibiotics are the #1 Prescribed Drug and Antidepressants #2?

The fact that antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drug class in the US, and antidepressants the second, deserves attention.17 If you take antibiotics, it will wipe out the beneficial bacteria in your gut, leading to an imbalance. In turn, unhealthy gut flora can have a detrimental impact your brain health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression, hence the resulting use of antidepressants. A better solution may be to improve your mental health by way of your gut. The gut-brain connection is well recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn't all that surprising, even though it's often overlooked.

There's also a wealth of evidence showing intestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases. For instance, a study conducted by researchers at UCLA found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) actually altered participants' brain function.18 Compared to the controls, the women who consumed probiotic yogurt had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation:

  • The insular cortex (insula), which plays a role in functions typically linked to emotion (including perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience) and the regulation of your body's homeostasis
  • The somatosensory cortex, which plays a role in your body's ability to interpret a wide variety of sensations

Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats. It's also important to realize that you have neurons both in your brain and your gut -- including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression, and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain. Previous research has also shown that certain probiotics can help alleviate anxiety:

  • The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.19
  • Other research found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.20 It is likely other Lactobacillus species also provide this benefit, but this was the only one that was tested.

This also has implications for children, as your baby gets his or her first "inoculation" of gut flora from the mother's birth canal during childbirth, which is why a mother's use of antibiotics during pregnancy can predispose to a variety of ailments, as the antibiotic severely disrupts the natural microflora — in the mother's bowels and vagina. It's important to understand that if mother's flora is abnormal, her baby's flora will also be abnormal, as whatever organisms live in her vagina end up coating her baby's body and lining his or her intestinal tract.

Restoring Your Mental and Emotional Health Naturally

If you are experiencing severe depression, please seek help from a professional. For milder depression, and in addition to professional treatment for severe depression, the place to start is to return balance—to your body and your life. Fortunately, research confirms that there are safe and effective ways to address depression that do not involve unsafe drugs. This includes addressing your gut health, as mentioned above, and more:

  • Dramatically decrease your consumption of sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and processed foods. (In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.) There's a great book on this subject, The Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty nearly 40 years ago, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.
  • Increase consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables and kefir, to promote healthy gut flora. Mounting evidence tells us that having a healthy gut is profoundly important for both physical and mental health, and the latter can be severely impacted by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. Avoiding sugar will also help toward this end.
  • Get adequate vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through regular sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.21 The best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunshine or a safe tanning bed, not swallowing a pill.
  • Get plenty of animal-based omega- 3 fats. Many people don't realize that their brain is 60 percent fat, but not just any fat. It is DHA, an animal-based omega-3 fat, which, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health.22 Unfortunately, most people don't get enough from diet alone. Make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil, or consume sardines or anchovies regularly. Dr. Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, was one of the early leaders in compiling the evidence supporting the use of animal based omega-3 fats for the treatment of depression. He wrote an excellent book that details his experience in this area called The Omega-3 Connection.
  • Evaluate your salt intake. Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You'll want to use an all-natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
  • Get adequate daily exercise, including high-intensity exercise, which is one of the most effective strategies for preventing and overcoming depression. Studies on exercise as a treatment for depression have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. So there's a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.
  • Get adequate amounts of sleep. You can have the best diet and exercise program possible, but if you aren't sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression. Most people need eight hours a night, which is nearly one hour less than most people get.

Prescription Painkiller Deaths Fall in Medical Marijuana States

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

A new study found that deaths from opioid overdoses have fallen sharply in the 23 US states where medical marijuana is now legal. Coincidence? Not likely.

For those with chronic pain, medical marijuana can be life changing, allowing a safer, natural form of treatment than the conventionally recommended pain-relieving drugs called opioids.

There is a wealth of research linking marijuana with pain relief. In one study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.1

Meanwhile, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses are skyrocketing with little sign of stopping… except in areas where people in pain have access to marijuana instead.

Medical Marijuana States See Significant Drop in Opioid Deaths

In states where medical marijuana is legal, overdose deaths from opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and heroin decreased by an average of 20 percent after one year, 25 percent after two years and up to 33 percent by years five and six.2 As the researchers explained:3

"Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven by increases in prescribing for chronic pain.

Because chronic pain is a major indication for medical cannabis, laws that establish access to medical cannabis may change overdose mortality related to opioid analgesics in states that have enacted them…"

According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month.4 By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US, 5 which equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans. And those narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day...

While critics of medical marijuana (which, by the way, are in the minority, as 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana) point out its risks, they pale in comparison to those of opioids. While some do become addicted, or at least dependent, on marijuana, it is far less addictive than prescription opioids.

Many people find themselves addicted to painkillers before they even realize what's happened, often after taking the drugs to recover from surgery or treat chronic back, or other, pain.

The drugs work by binding to receptors in your brain to decrease the perception of pain. But they also create a temporary feeling of euphoria, followed by dysphoria, which can easily lead to physical dependence and addiction.

This may drive some people to take larger doses in order to regain the euphoric effect, or escape the unhappiness caused by withdrawal. Others find they need to continue taking the drugs not only to reduce withdrawal symptoms but to simply feel normal. Large doses of the painkillers can cause sedation and slowed breathing to the point that breathing stops altogether, resulting in death.

Marijuana is also said to be a "gateway" drug for more dangerous drugs like heroin, which is ironic since opioids – not marijuana – are chemically similar to heroin, and virtually indistinguishable as far as your brain is concerned. And, prescription painkillers – not marijuana – have recently been tagged as gateway drugs to heroin

Why Was Marijuana Declared a Schedule 1 Substance in the First Place?

Marijuana was a popular botanical medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, common in US pharmacies of the time. By the mid-1930s, cannabis was regulated as a drug in every state.

In 1970, the Controlled Substance Act was enacted and changed its classification to a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This act labeled cannabis as a drug with a "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use," which clearly is not an accurate description.

Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote. In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to enforce the newly created drug schedules, and the fight against marijuana use began.

Even in states where medical marijuana use is legal, such as California, the DEA has raided medical marijuana suppliers and even arrested patients, because on a federal level, possessing or distributing marijuana is still considered a criminal offense.

Oxycodone, fentanyl, and meperidine (Demerol), which are among the most commonly abused opioids and leading causes of opioid overdose deaths, are Schedule II drugs, meaning they should technically be less dangerous than marijuana, a notion that is easily dismissed.

While prescription painkillers were responsible for 16,600 deaths in 2010, one study found "little, if any effect of marijuana use on… mortality in men and… women."6 Meanwhile, until recently certain opioid prescription drugs such as Vicodin were classified as Schedule III substances, which are defined as "drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence."

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only recently recommended tighter controls on painkiller prescriptions, and has announced its intention to reclassify hydrocodone-containing painkillers from Schedule III to Schedule II drugs. The reclassification will affect how hydrocodone-containing drugs can be prescribed and refilled.

Doctors will only be allowed to prescribe a 90-day supply of the drug per prescription, and they will no longer be permitted to phone in refills. Rather, the patient has to bring the prescription with them to the pharmacy. The new regulations are expected to take effect sometime this year.

Ironically enough, while talking about the need for stricter controls and less addictive painkillers, the FDA recently approved the first drug containing pure hydrocodone for the US market, called Zohydro ER (Zogenix). All other hydrocodone-containing painkillers on the market are mixed with other non-addictive ingredients.

Marijuana Treatment Is Likely Far Safer Than Heroin/Opioid-Based Drugs

There's no doubt that marijuana needs to be rescheduled, and Dr. Allan Frankel, a board-certified internist in California who has treated patients with medical cannabis for the past seven years, actually thinks marijuana should be de-scheduled altogether, as a plant really does not belong on any schedule of a controlled substance.

The federal government, meanwhile, wants to get rid of all medical use of marijuana, which of course begs the question: Why? According to Dr. Frankel, the answer is simple. "They want it. This is a huge market," he says. And yes, medical cannabis is clearly competition to the pharmaceutical industry, as the cannabis plant can take the place of a wide variety of synthetic drugs, especially for mood and anxiety disorders. The last thing they want is a therapy that's going to take away from their bottom line.

Certain forms of cannabis are very potent medicine, with few or no psychoactive effects, courtesy of high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), critical levels of medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids, as well as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in varying ratios for various diseases (the higher the THC, the more pronounced its psychoactive effects). In his medical practice, Dr. Frankel treats a wide variety of patients with medical cannabis, which has become his specialty.

Despite the many claims of cannabis performing miracles, he's reluctant to think of it as a cure for anything. Occasionally, however, patients will experience very dramatic results. For example, he has seen tumors virtually disappear in some patients using no other therapy except taking 40 to 60 milligrams of cannabinoids a day. The most common thing he sees in cancer patients, however, are tumors shrinking, or a metastasis disappearing. Sometimes tumors will shrink or vanish, only to reemerge in other areas, months later, and then shrink or vanish again... Other common ailments being treated with cannabis include:

Mood disorders Pain disorders Degenerative neurological disorders such as dystonia Multiple sclerosis Parkinson's disease PTSD Seizure Disorders Focus of Marijuana Debate Should Be on Developing Dose-Consistent Medicine

Dr. Frankel is very focused on trying to develop accurate dose-consistent medicine. The Patient Access Centers he consults with create a diverse collection of dose-consistent oral-buccal sprays. He also believes it's very important to open up and start talking about dosing—what works, what doesn't. It is his belief that some patients, in large part due to lack of education about the medicine, may be taking 10, or even 100 times, higher dosage than is really needed to treat their ailment. Unfortunately, many doctors in this still highly controversial field are afraid to recommend dosages, for fear of the repercussions.

"There's this false notion (I think I can very safely say it's false) that doctors cannot recommend dosage because of this federal [law against] aiding and abetting with cannabis. It's not true. It's just not true," he says. "There are no [cannabis] medications that we dose by body weight. We now have about 120 kids with seizure disorder, and if you look at the surveys, across the board, the average dose is 37 milligrams [of whole-plant CBD] per day, and there's no relationship with body size."

As far as what is known, when marijuana is inhaled, smoked, or vaporized, its effects are rapid and short lasting. Orally, it's the most unpredictable and delayed. When ingesting it, it can take up to two hours to take effect, but if dosed appropriately, you can achieve once-a-day dosing with an edible medicine. When smoked, as little as 10 mg of CBD acts as a major appetite suppressor. CBD is also an excellent painkiller, particularly for tooth pain when the cannabis oil is applied sublingually or directly onto the tooth. Cannabis oil can also help heal sunburn overnight. CBD is also very effective for anxiety disorders.

Just a couple of milligrams of whole-plant CBD can effectively subdue anxiety without causing any kind of mental deficiency or high. In fact, to determine how much THC in an oral dose would be required to get high, they made liquid edibles with 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg of THC. The lowest dose, 5mg, did not produce a high. The upper two—10 and 20 mg—did. Taking 50-100 mg of oral THC could get you into serious trouble. Paranoia is the most common side effect. Overdosing can also produce nausea and vomiting.

Beware of Synthetic Marijuana

As recently reported by Forbes, "the demand for a 'legal high' has been so great in recent history that it's set the stage for the synthetic market to take off."7 Unfortunately, the synthetic version of marijuana is nothing like its natural counterpart, and aside from offering no medicinal properties can be deadly. Whereas a person using marijuana tends to be "interactive, mellow, and funny," people using synthetic marijuana tend to be "angry, sweaty, and agitated."

With synthetic marijuana, there is no end to the potentially deadly combinations of laboratory-fabricated chemicals. Various versions are being imported, mostly from Asia, under the guise of potpourri, herbal incense, and even "plant food." The rate at which poisonings are escalating argues in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Unlike natural marijuana, synthetic marijuana can cause a number of severe symptoms, including:

Hallucination TremorSeizure TachycardiaChest painCardiac problems StrokeKidney problemsAcute psychosis Brain damageDeathHypokalemia

According to a Time Magazine feature, synthetic marijuana is now the second most popular drug among teens and young adults, behind pot itself.8 Most people don't realize how dangerous synthetic marijuana can be. The synthetic powder is mixed in a lab and shipped to the US, where retailers spray it onto a leaf—often an herb or a spice—that can be smoked, just like pot. It binds to cannabis receptors in your body up to 1,000 times more strongly than real marijuana, as well as producing gripping effects on serotonin and other receptors in your brain. You can't overdose on real pot, but you CAN overdose on synthetic versions—and it doesn't take very much.

Earlier this year, more than 100 people were treated in Louisiana emergency rooms after smoking synthetic cannabis products, many suffering life-threatening reactions—so many that the state of Louisiana recently banned the sale and use of eight of them.9 Colorado has experienced a similar escalation in ER visits.10 There are several reasons why synthetic marijuana is far more dangerous than the natural plant, which were recently summed up by Forbes:11

  • It's much more efficient at binding and acting in your brain, so it takes much less to produce maximal, sometimes life-threatening, effects
  • It's capable of going to lots of different areas in your brain, which is why it can cause so many different effects, from memory problems to seizures, cardiac, respiratory and gastrointestinal effects, and psychosis
  • Your body doesn't know how to deactivate synthetic marijuana, allowing its effects to persist
  • It lacks cannabidiol, which is present in natural marijuana and helps to blunt some of THC's adverse effects
  • It's produced in underground labs, so there's no way to know what you're actually getting
Are You in Pain? Weighing Your Options for Relief

If you're in pain, especially if it's severe, I realize that you may be desperate for relief. Prescription painkillers do have their place in medicine, especially for short-term relief of severe pain (such as after surgery or serious injury). In certain cases, such drugs can be a great benefit when used cautiously and correctly with appropriate medical supervision. However, it's also quite clear that these drugs are being overprescribed, and can easily lead you into addiction and other, more illicit, drug use.

I strongly suspect that the overreliance on them as a first line of defense for pain is a major part of this problem. So if you are struggling with severe or chronic pain, my first suggestion would be to see a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments and the underlying causes of pain. Ideally, it is best to find a knowledgeable practitioner who can help you attack the pain from multiple angles, giving you both relief and healing. As mentioned, CBD in marijuana is an excellent painkiller and has been used successfully to treat a variety of pain disorders. If your pain is severe enough, it might even be worth moving to one of the many states where medical cannabis is legal, as it can be a real life changer.

In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, Washington, or Colorado, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other. By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. I do, however, still recommend working with a health care practitioner who can guide you on the most effective dosage and form of use.

That being said, even with this natural plant, there are potential downsides that need to be addressed (and particularly if you are thinking of smoking it for recreational purposes). Marijuana use can be addicting, and no doubt families have been broken up and jobs lost over its use, just as they have been with opioid addiction. In the short-term, marijuana use can cause trouble with your ability to think clearly and may impair short-term memory.

Marijuana also leads to motor skill impairment and affects alertness, coordination, and reaction time, which is why it should never be used prior to driving. There is also some evidence that marijuana use can exacerbate psychotic symptoms in those with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Finally, if you are in pain that is bearable, please try these 19 non-drug alternatives for the treatment of pain first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind. These options may even be used in addition to such drugs, and may allow you to at least reduce your dosage.

Certain Gut Bacteria Protect Against Food Allergies

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Your body’s microbiome—colonies of various microbes that reside in your gut and elsewhere in and on your body—is as unique to you as your fingerprint. 

It varies from person to person based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, health history, geographic location, and even ancestry. Your microbiome is in fact one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet.

In terms of ratios, your bacteria outnumber your body’s cells by 10 to 1, and viruses outnumber bacteria 10 to 1! So not only is your body the home of 100 trillion bacteria, you also house about one quadrillion viruses (bacteriophages).

All of these organisms perform a multitude of functions in key biological systems, and need to be properly balanced and cared for in order to maintain good health.

For example, your gut bacteria influence your immune responses, nervous system functioning, and play a role in the development of any number of diseases, including food allergies, as demonstrated by recent research.

Allergies are on the Rise Across the Western World

Food allergies affect some 15 million Americans, including one in 13 children. Disturbing statistics also point out that potentially deadly food allergies are on the rise. For example, between 1997 and 2011 alone, food allergies in children rose by 50 percent!

Inner-city kids are at greatest risk. In one study,1 10 percent of children raised in large cities developed a food allergy before the age of five. Twenty-nine percent developed food sensitivity. The most common food allergy was peanuts (6 percent), followed by eggs (4.3 percent), and pasteurized milk (2.7 percent).

City dwellers also have a heightened risk of asthma and other environmental allergies. Similarly, in Great Britain one in three people is allergic to something, be it pollen, dust mites, or food.2

Previous research has drawn parallels between the rise in allergies and increased antibiotic and antimicrobial use. According to British researchers,3 exposure to antibiotics early in life may increase your child’s risk of developing eczema by 40 percent.

Other scientists have clearly shown how genetically engineered foods and the use of the agricultural herbicide glyphosate destroys gut bacteria and promotes allergies. One recent study adds further credence to the disturbed microbiome hypothesis.  

Certain Gut Bacteria Protect Against Food Allergies

The study,4, 5 which used mice, found that a common gut bacteria called Clostridia helps prevent sensitization to food allergens. In fact, immune responses to food allergens were reversed once Clostridia bacteria were put back into the mice.

Another common type of gut bacteria, Bacteroides, did not have this effect, suggesting Clostridia may have a unique role in this regard.

Using genetic analysis, the researchers determined that Clostridia instructs immune cells to produce a signaling molecule called interleukin-22 (IL-22), which is known to reduce the permeability of the lining in your intestines.

In other words, it helps prevent leaky gut syndrome—a condition that allows allergens to enter your bloodstream, thereby producing an immune response. The researchers suggest this discovery may eventually lead to probiotic therapies to treat food allergies. As reported by HealthCanal.com:6

“By inducing immune responses that prevent food allergens from entering the bloodstream, Clostridia minimize allergen exposure and prevent sensitization -- a key step in the development of food allergies...

Although the causes of food allergy... are unknown, studies have hinted that modern hygienic or dietary practices may play a role by disturbing the body's natural bacterial composition...

‘Environmental stimuli such as antibiotic overuse, high fat diets, caesarean birth, removal of common pathogens and even formula feeding have affected the microbiota with which we've co-evolved,’ said study senior author Cathryn Nagler, PhD, Bunning Food Allergy Professor at the University of Chicago.

‘Our results suggest this could contribute to the increasing susceptibility to food allergies.’"

Early Disruption of Gut Flora May Also Promote Metabolic Problems

In addition to an increased risk for allergies, early disruption of your microbiome can also have long-term effects on your metabolism. One recent study suggests that exposing infants to antibiotics may in fact predispose them to obesity.

The study, published in the journal Cell,7, 8 points to there being a window of time when changes to the microbiome can have a serious and long-term impact on your body’s metabolism.

This window was the first month of life in mice. Translating that to a human time scale—provided the effect fully applies to humans—it would correlate to a time frame of the first six months; potentially up to the first three years. Mice given antibiotics for the first four weeks of life grew up to be 25 percent heavier, and had 60 percent more body fat than the controls.  

The researchers identified four specific species of gut bacteria that appeared to be of particular importance with regards to metabolism: Lactobacillus, Allobaculum, Rikenelleceae, and Candidatus arthromitus (the last one is not found in humans).

Eradicating these four species of bacteria in the mice’s guts triggered metabolic changes that led to obesity. As reported by The Guardian:9

“The findings... build on earlier work that found children who had antibiotics before six months of age were more likely to be overweight as seven-year-olds.

‘This is part of a growing body of evidence that antibiotics have a biological cost,’ said Martin Blaser, a microbiologist who led the study at New York University. ‘Our study shows that there can be permanent consequences.’

‘If a kid is very ill, there is no question that they should get antibiotics, but if it's marginal perhaps the doctor should be saying 'let's wait a day or two' before taking another look.

Doctors give out antibiotics thinking they won't do any harm, but this provides evidence that they might,’ Blaser added... ‘We found that four weeks of antibiotics was enough to perturb the microbiome, and even though it returned to normal after a few weeks, the mice still became fat.’”

Altering Your Microbiome Is Easy with the Appropriate Dietary Changes

The best way to optimize your gut flora is through your diet. First, you’ll want to make sure to avoid:

  • Grains and sugar, as it promotes the growth of pathogenic yeast and other fungi. Grains containing gluten are particularly damaging to your microflora and overall health.10, 11 
  • Genetically engineered foods, as they contain some of the highest amounts of glyphosate. This agricultural herbicide has been found to decimate microbes, and tend to preferentially attack beneficial bacteria
  • Processed and pasteurized foods, which harm your good bacteria
  • Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products; CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics and GE livestock feed
  • Chlorinated tap water, as chlorine kills not only pathogenic bacteria in the water but also beneficial bacteria in your gut

A gut-healthy diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods. Fermented foods are also a key component of the GAPS protocol, a diet designed to heal and seal your gut. Your goal should be to consume one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented veggies with each meal, but you may need to work up to it. Consider starting with just a teaspoon or two a few times a day, and increase as tolerated. If that is too much (perhaps your body is severely compromised), you can even begin by drinking a teaspoon of the brine from the fermented veggies, which is rich in the same beneficial microbes.

Download Interview Transcript

The video above is an extensive interview with Dr. McBride who is the Russian neurologist that developed the GAPS diet. You may also want to consider a high-potency probiotic supplement, but realize that there is no substitute for the real food. A previous article in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology12 makes the case that properly controlled fermentation amplifies the specific nutrient and phytochemical content of foods, thereby improving health.

Other Environmental Factors That Affect Your Microbiome

Besides an inappropriate diet, your microbiome is also affected by a variety of environmental factors and lifestyle choices, for better or worse. Some of the factors posing the gravest dangers to your microbiome include.

Antibiotics (use only if absolutely necessary, and make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a good probiotic supplement) NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) damage cell membranes and disrupt energy production by mitochondria)Proton pump inhibitors (drugs that block the production of acid in your stomach, typically prescribed for GERD, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium) Antibacterial soapStressPollution

As noted in a recent BBC News report,13 lack of exposure to the outdoors can in and of itself cause your microbiome to become “deficient.” After tracking the whereabouts of two families for 24 hours, researchers found the family members spent on average 91 percent of their time indoors. This trend may in fact be one of the driving factors behind rising allergy statistics in the modern world—in short; we’re underexposed to beneficial bacteria that human beings used to get from the earth itself. According to the BBC:

“[A]rguably, the easiest thing for all of us to do to reduce our chances of becoming allergic is to go outside. Whether it is walking the dog or strolling to school, the evidence suggests that being outside and taking a good deep breath of fresh air is good for you. One study has even found that if you have more plants and flowers around your house you are not only more likely to have a diverse array of bacteria on your skin, you are also less likely to be allergic.

Professor Graham Rook, of University College London, calls these bacteria our ‘old friends,’ and has no doubt of their importance to our health. He says: ‘In a way, this realization that humans are in fact ecosystems and that we depend so much on these microorganisms is probably the most important advance in medicine in the last hundred years.’"

Consumers for Dental Choice Unfolds Brilliant Strategy to Undo “Silver Fillings” Deception, Which Is a Major Source of Environmental Pollution

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Mercury pollution is extremely persistent once in the air, water, and soil, and levels steadily increase over time as it accumulates. A number of industries contribute to mercury pollution, but dental offices are one of the primary culprits.

Dental amalgam, a tooth filling material that is 50 percent mercury—not silver—is the leading intentional use of mercury in the US, and dentist offices are the largest source of mercury in wastewater entering publicly owned treatment works.

Mercury from dental amalgam also pollutes the air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, and sludge incineration; and soil via landfills, burials, and sludge fertilizers.

Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury known to be hazardous to brain and nervous system function, particularly in fetuses and young children.

Your Donations are Matched Dollar for Dollar During Mercury-Free Dentistry Week

This week, we celebrate the fourth annual Mercury-Free Dentistry Week. The international mercury treaty known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury addresses mercury pollution from a wide variety of sources, but it's a game-changer for dental amalgam in particular.

Each nation that signs this comprehensive treaty against mercury pollution—now numbering 100, including the United States—commits itself to scaling down dental mercury without delay.

But despite this commitment, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still refusing to inform consumers about the mercury in amalgams, which is an important phase-down step.

Consumers for Dental Choice, founded by Sue Ann Taylor and the late Bob Jones and led by Charlie Brown, former attorney general of West Virginia, recently issued a new report titled, Measurably Misleading,1 which reveals how the FDA and the dental industry deceive you about dental mercury.

Your financial support for Consumers for Dental Choice is now needed. Working with talented environmental, consumer, and health leaders, Consumers for Dental Choice is launching phase out campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And to help you maximize your impact, I will match each and every donation made this week, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $100,000.

The Human Cost of Living with Mercury Pollution

Earlier this summer, journalist Chu Han wrote2 about his visit to Wanshan, China—an area that once held the largest mercury reserve in Asia. The mine was closed in 2001 after 600 years of mercury mining, but the human and environmental effects still reverberate.

There, in the "mercury capital" of China, former miners still suffer from high rates of mercury poisoning, along with other societal ills rooted in poor health and environmental toxicity. As reported by Han:

"In the village of Xiachangxi Wu Congyu, 40, sits watching two children. The rice in the fields is growing well and in a few months it'll be sold to traders who come for the harvest. But Wu and her family haven't eaten the rice they grow for seven years – they started to notice black spots on the grain, or empty hulls.

That was the same year the stream they use for irrigation turned dark. The pollution was coming from Wanshan... The Wanshan Environmental Protection Bureau has previously told the National Business Daily that land on the banks of the stream contains 278.5mg of mercury per kilogram, compared to a standard of 1.5mg per kilogram."

Mercury at Ocean Surface Tripled Since Preindustrial Times

In 2009, a US Geological Survey study found mercury contamination in every fish sampled in nearly 300 streams across the United States. More than a quarter of these fish contained mercury levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to estimates, roughly 75 percent of all human exposure to mercury in general comes from eating contaminated fish. In addition to dental mercury, coal-powered power plants are another major source of environmental mercury pollution, as coal often contains mercury.

According to marine chemists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, seawater samples collected from around the world's oceans show that mercury contamination has tripled in shallow waters since preindustrial times.3

In deeper waters, reaching between 100 and 1,000 meters deep, mercury pollution has risen about two-and-a-half times. As reported by Science News:4

"The researchers estimate that in total, humans have dumped about 42,000 to 74,000 metric tons of mercury into the ocean... It's unclear what the mercury pollution means for human or wildlife health.

Mercury pollution can convert to methylmercury, a toxic substance that can build up in fish and poison people. How that conversion happens is mostly a mystery, [marine chemist Carl] Lamborg says, although scientists know that microbes are involved.

'If you tripled the amount of mercury in the ocean, do you triple the amount of mercury in fish as well?' he asks. 'We don't know.'

Implications of Eating Contaminated Fish

Methylmercury can harm your nervous system to differing degrees, depending on how much mercury you've accumulated in your body. At above average doses, brain functions such as reaction time, judgment, and language can be impaired. At very high exposures, mercury can affect your ability to walk, speak, think, and see clearly.

One 2012 study5 evaluating the effects of mercury on cognition in otherwise healthy adults found that those with blood mercury levels below 5 µg/L had the best cognitive functions. Mild impairment was evident at blood mercury levels of 5 to 15 µg/L and above 15 µg/L, cognition was significantly impaired.

Mercury content can vary 100-fold from one fish species to another, so it certainly makes sense to pay close attention to which fish are on the high side and which are on the low end.

For example, research6 published in 2010, which quantified the contributions to total mercury in the US seafood supply by 51 different varieties of fish and shellfish, found that tuna was responsible for more than one-third of Americans' total exposure to methylmercury.7 For a handy list that you can print out for reference, please see the Mercury Policy Project's guide to mercury levels in different varieties of fish and shellfish.8 Among the safest are shrimp, tilapia, and wild salmon.

The Environmental Risks of Mercury-Contaminated Sludge Fertilizer

The increasing use of sewage sludge as agricultural fertilizer9 is another under-publicized and often hidden source of mercury exposure. Sludge, also referred to as "biosolids," is the toxic mix that is created by our municipal wastewater treatment facilities. In a twist of dark irony, sewage sludge began being "recycled" into food crops in the 1980s when it was realized that dumping it into rivers, lakes and bays was an environmental disaster...

Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that about 50 percent of all biosolids are recycled to land. This sludge is what's left over after sewage is treated and processed.10 Not surprisingly, scientific analysis of the poisons in sewage sludge shows that this is a very dangerous solution. Unfortunately, many American farmers and gardeners are unknowingly using sludge-derived "compost," which is given away free in many cities throughout the United States and other countries.

In addition to synthetic organic compounds like phthalates and chlorobenzene, sludge also contains a wide variety of toxins such as dioxins, pesticides, and several different heavy metals, including mercury. And, as noted in a previous Indy Week article:11

"Sludge infiltrates the food chain through livestock that ingest sludge while grazing on sludge-applied fields or eating food grown in those fields. Sludge comes full circle when people eat the crops grown in the field, consume the meat or drink the milk of animals that directly or indirectly ingested the sludge. It can also enter waterways used for drinking water or irrigation."

Dental Amalgam Generates More Mercury Pollution Than Other Major Industries

Since mercury amalgam is one of the primary sources of wastewater mercury pollution, ending the use of amalgams in dentistry is an important step toward cleaning up our environment—be it air, water, or soil. Several studies show that about 50 percent of the mercury entering municipal wastewater treatment plants can be traced back to dental amalgam waste. This mercury waste amounts to about 3.7 TONS each year!

An estimated 90 percent is captured by the treatment plants via sewage sludge,12 some of which, again, end up as agricultural fertilizer. Other portions are incinerated (thereby polluting the air) or seep into waterways (polluting fish and wildlife). In the infographic below, you can see that the mercury used globally for dental fillings is greater than that used for other major industrial uses, including lighting, electronic devices, and more.

Embed this infographic on your website:

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/dental-fillings-infographic.png" alt="mercury dental filling" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover more about mercury and how you can get this toxic, bioaccumulative substance from your dentist through our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mercury-dental-fillings.htm">Mercury Dental Fillings: By the Numbers</a>." Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p><pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code>&lt;img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/dental-fillings-infographic.png" alt="mercury dental filling" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"&gt;&lt;p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;"&gt;Discover more about mercury and how you can get this toxic, bioaccumulative substance from your dentist through our infographic "&lt;a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/mercury-dental-fillings.htm"&gt;Mercury Dental Fillings: By the Numbers&lt;/a&gt;." Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.&lt;/p&gt;</code></pre>

Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.

The Environment Depends on a Phase-Out of Dental Amalgam

In order to protect human health and the environment, mercury should be phased out as quickly as possible. The Minamata Convention on Mercury requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products, including thermometers, by 2020, and calls for an end to all mercury mining within 15 years. It also includes a mandatory phase down of amalgam use, effective immediately.

But instead of working for the phase-down and ultimate phase-out of amalgam use, the FDA and the American Dental Association (ADA) are stalling, saying that before phasing out amalgam we should go through a litany of diversions like (1) prevention of tooth decay, (2) research and mercury inventories, and (3) mercury waste management – none of which actually phase down amalgam use, as required by the Minamata Convention.

No more research is needed before we take action – the many effective, affordable, and available mercury-free alternatives have already been researched for over half a century, and we certainly don't need any more research telling us that mercury is a problem. And the realistic solution to waste management, of course, is to stop creating more mercury waste – i.e., stop using amalgam. To get there, the FDA must stop the concealment of mercury in amalgam.

Take Action Now: Help Catalyze Change

This is the week we can get Consumers for Dental Choice the funding it deserves.  I have found few NGOs as effective, and none as efficient, as Consumers for Dental Choice. Its small team has led the charge on six continents -- including ours!

So I am stepping up with the challenge.  For the fourth year in a row, I will match the funds you give.  In 2012 the match was up to $50,000 -- and you did it!  In 2013 I upped the ante to $75,000 -- and you did it again!  This year, I believe a $100,000 match is the right thing to do.  Please give, and all dollars received up to $100,000 will be matched by Natural Health Research Foundation, which I founded.

Consumers for Dental Choice is turning up the heat on our government. Opposing both the health needs and the right-to-know of American families, FDA gives the green light to the amalgam industry to conceal the mercury from American consumers -- and they do. FDA condones, not condemns, the marketing of amalgam as "silver fillings" -- hence the deception continues. Outrageously, FDA's amalgam rule advocates -- three times, no less -- more mercury fillings for American families, not less. But FDA now has two vulnerabilities. First, it is defying the Minamata Convention. Second, it is out of compliance with the Obama Administration on mercury.

Consumers for Dental Choice is executing a brilliant end run. It commissioned a poll with the distinguished Zogby Analytics firm, a poll which shows that Americans are indeed "measurably misled" (the title of its report) about terms like "silver fillings" and "amalgam." Armed with the evidence it needs, Consumers for Dental Choice directs its focus to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who signed the Minamata Convention on behalf of our government, and should therefore insist that all government agencies follow it.

The Minamata Convention includes a pledge to scale down amalgam -- starting not in some future date but starting right now. So Consumers for Dental Choice created a petition to the Secretary of State, asking that he insist the FDA disclose the presence of mercury in dental amalgam. The petition also requests that the Secretary of State take action to end the use of amalgam in government agencies that provide dental care, such as the Veterans Administration, the Defense Department, and the Bureau of Prisons.

I encourage you to sign and share this petition with your Facebook and Twitter networks. Besides that, tell your friends and family to avoid dentists who use mercury amalgams, and question your own dentist before you get a filling done. As with genetically engineered foods, voting with your pocket book is one of the most effective strategies you have at your disposal. As noted by Charlie Brown:

"The FDA still sits in the pocket of the dental industry and the FDA will not and does not want people to know about the mercury... The FDA supports the use of the term 'silver fillings,' which is a massive consumer fraud.

We are going back to the State Department to say, 'You must insist that the FDA comply with the Minamata Convention.' This is our opportunity to change the FDA. It can no longer... do what it wants, because the United States has promised the world that it is going to start reducing dental amalgam. This has to start somewhere. It can certainly start with consumers, and it has. It can start with the government agencies, and it hasn't. But it must include the FDA. The FDA must change what it is doing."

Israel Bans Fluoride

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Adding to a growing global movement to acknowledge the serious health risks associated with fluoride exposure, as of August 26, 2014, the Ministry of Health in Israel lifted the mandatory requirement for water fluoridation that was put in place in 1970.

There is now a nationwide ban on water fluoridation in Israel, a decision Israeli Health Minister Yael German said “would allow Israeli parents and doctors to decide on their own whether to provide fluoride to children, in what doses, and in what manner.”1

While the debate over water fluoridation has many layers, the most fundamental is that adding fluoride to water is a medical treatment, and a forced one at that because this substance is difficult to remove from your water. As Professor Arnon Afek, director-general at the Health Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post:2

“Individuals have the right to decide if they want it [fluoride] or not… We cannot force people… The ministry supported it for over 40 years, but this is a new era. The world has changed, and we can educate parents.”

This new era has ushered in many similar decisions from countries and communities around the globe seeking to protect their citizens from this avoidable neurotoxic poison.

Since 2010, over 150 communities have either stopped water fluoridation or rejected new proposals. Canada has dropped from about 60 percent of the population drinking fluoridated water down to about 32-33 percent.

Victories have also been logged in New Zealand, Queensland, Australia, and across the US. Dr. Paul Connett, director of one of our partner organizations the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), said:3

“We congratulate [Health Minister] Yael German for resisting the bullying tactics of fluoridation proponents… She has offered the international public health community the model to follow on the fluoridation issue... We would dearly like to see the same integrity from health officials in countries that continue this outdated, unethical, and reckless practice.”

Did You Know Fluoride Exposure Is Linked to Reduced Intelligence?

The debate over the dangers of fluoride has been ongoing for more than six decades, despite the fact that study after study has confirmed that fluoride is a dangerous, toxic poison that bio-accumulates in your body while being entirely ineffective at preventing dental decay.

In 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added fluoride to a list of “chemicals with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.”4

Recently, it was also added to a list of 11 known industrial chemicals that harm brain development in human fetuses and infants,5 compiled by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. So what exactly does fluoride do to your brain?

There are at least 39 human studies linking moderately high fluoride exposures with reduced intelligence and 12 human studies linking fluoride with neurobehavioral deficits. Shockingly, there are also three human studies linking fluoride exposure with impaired fetal brain development,6 and approximately 100 animal studies linking it to brain damage. This includes such effects as:7

Reduction in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors Damage to the hippocampus Formation of beta-amyloid plaques (the classic brain abnormality in Alzheimer's disease) Reduction in lipid content Damage to the Purkinje cells Exacerbation of lesions induced by iodine deficiency Impaired antioxidant defense systems Increased uptake of aluminum Accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland So Why Is the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommending Fluoride Toothpaste for Children?

While Harvard researchers added fluoride to their list of chemicals that harm brain development in infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), going starkly against the precautionary principle, issued a new recommendation encouraging the use of fluoridated toothpaste for all children, starting at tooth eruption (and regardless of tooth decay risk).8

It would be interesting to hear an explanation from AAP as to why it is, if indeed fluoride was needed by babies, that the level found in mothers’ milk is so extremely low (0.004 ppm). Instead of encouraging parents to give babies more fluoride, they should be warning parents not to bottle-feed their babies with formula made up with fluoridated tap water. Those babies so fed get about 200 times more fluoride than nature intended.

AAP also recommended fluoride varnish in the primary care setting every three to six months starting at tooth eruption. Young children will obviously be swallowing much, if not all, of the toothpaste, so they will be getting a twice-daily exposure to fluoride, in addition to any fluoride in their drinking water. It is surprising that AAP does not appear to have reviewed the extensive animal and human studies on fluoride’s ability to damage the brain.

I don’t recommend fluoridated toothpaste for adults, much less for infants and children. There is not a single process in your body that requires fluoride, but swallowing this toxin has been found to damage your soft tissues (brain, kidneys, and endocrine system), as well as teeth (dental fluorosis) and bones (skeletal fluorosis).

It’s also known that over time fluoride accumulates in many areas of your body, including areas of your brain that control and alter behavior, particularly your pineal gland, hippocampus, and other limbic areas.

Animal studies have shown, for instance, that fluoride ingestion had a profound influence on the animals' brains and altered behavior.9 Pregnant rats given fluoride produced hyperactive offspring. And animals given fluoride after birth became apathetic, lethargic "couch potatoes." Other research has linked fluoride toxicity with the wide-ranging problems listed below.

Increases lead absorption Disrupts collagen synthesis Increases manganese absorption, which is also linked to lower IQ in children Crippling skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures Genetic damage and cell death Increased tumor and cancer growth Disrupts immune system Inhibits antibody production Brain damage and lowered IQ Dementia Arthritis Severe eye problems, including blindness Impaired thyroid function Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) Inactivates 62 enzymes Muscle disorders Parents, Know the Facts About Fluoride’s Supposed Benefits

The health risks of fluoride ingestion are far too great to be justified, even if fluoride helped prevent tooth decay. But to add insult to injury, it doesn’t. It's often said that fluoride helps to re-mineralize your teeth and make them stronger, but a groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir uncovered that the fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick.10

You'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing. They wrote: "…it has to be asked whether such narrow… layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

Fluoride advocates also often claim that the reduction in tooth decay that's occurred since the 1950s is a benefit of fluoridated water, but the facts just don't add up. For example, in 1999, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that dental caries declined precipitously during the second half of the 20th Century. But what they failed to mention is that tooth decay rates "precipitously declined" in ALL Western nations, regardless of whether or not fluoridation was used – and most of those countries did NOT fluoridate!11

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the US, which fluoridates about two-thirds of public water supplies, actually has higher rates of tooth decay than many countries that do not fluoridate their water, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden.12 Furthermore, if fluoride were effective in preventing caries, you would expect to see an increase in tooth decay when fluoridation is stopped. Yet, this is not what we see! The following demographic studies and fluoridation trends make it clear that fluoridation has very little to do with whether or not you develop cavities:

  • In Japan, fluoridation has been virtually nonexistent since the 1970s, yet rates of dental caries have declined since that time.13
  • In the town of Tiel in the Netherlands, water fluoridation was discontinued in 1973, and by 1993, rates of dental caries had declined.14
  • In the town of Kuopio, Finland, water fluoridation was stopped after 1992. In 1995 and 1998, dental caries had either decreased or stayed the same.15
  • In two towns in former East Germany, a significant fall in the prevalence of dental caries was seen in the 20 years following cessation of water fluoridation.16
  • In Canada, "the prevalence of caries decreased over time in the fluoridation-ended community while remaining unchanged in the fluoridated community."17
Maine Drinking Water Found to Contain Dangerously High Levels of Fluoride

One of the risks of adding fluoride, a known poison, to public drinking water supplies is what may happen if the dosing is off. A study published in Scientific American revealed that nearly 38 percent of wells tested in Maine contained fluoride at levels above the state’s maximum exposure guideline.18 In this case, the source wasn’t municipally added fluoride but rather fluoride leaching out of granite and into the groundwater. Maine’s suggested fluoride limit of two milligrams per liter is already half of the EPA’s limit, yet experts are calling for Maine residents to have their well water tested and take steps to filter out fluoride if necessary.

In 1986, the US EPA set the enforceable regulation for fluoride – the maximum contaminant level (MCL) -- at 4 mg/L or 4 ppm. But this standard was based on an end point of crippling skeletal fluorosis and is hopelessly out of date. In 2003, the US EPA asked the National Academies to review this standard, and in 2006, the National Research Council concluded that the enforceable standard of 4 ppm was unprotective of health and recommended the EPA perform a risk assessment to determine a new standard (MCL) and goal (MCLG).

After 8 years, the EPA has still not produced a new standard even though much more research indicates that there are far more sensitive end points than crippling skeletal fluorosis including the IQ studies discussed above. It now appears that the EPA’s reassessment will not be completed until 2016. It’s not only naturally sourced fluoride in well water that’s a risk, of course. Last year, in one Australian town, a suspected electrical fault allowed fluoride levels to reach nearly double the guideline amount in local drinking water.

Routine daily monitoring revealed the elevated fluoride levels, which reached 2.8 milligrams per liter (the Australian Drinking Water Guideline is 1.5 mg/L), may have remained elevated for several days. The fact is that there is a very real possibility of other equipment faults mistakenly dosing populations with dangerous levels of fluoride, and fluoride exposure can easily reach toxic levels. Many more communities are catching on and removing this poison, often in keeping with public demand. In Philadelphia, for instance, Bucks Co. Water Supply Agency (BCWSA), which serves 385,000 people stopped buying Philadelphia’s fluoridated water, noting on its website:19

“BCWSA has heard your request and is happy to announce that our customers have a choice to use fluoride or not through your dentist instead of being mandated through your water supply. The new source does not have fluoride added to it.”

Take Action Against Fluoridated Drinking Water

In addition to the 4 ppm enforceable standard, in 1986 the EPA also set a non-enforceable recommended guideline of 2 ppm (mg/L), which is intended to protect against “cosmetic” issues like dental fluorosis. But that guideline does not seem to be working because, according to the CDC, 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why? At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash.

But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so. Stay tuned, as the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs, and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today and consider joining its new campaign Parents Against Fluoridation by contacting FAN’s campaign manager Stuart Cooper at stuart@fluoridealert.org.

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