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Dr. Mercola

The Addiction Conspiracy: How Government and Big Pharma Created an Epidemic

Thu, 07/28/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

While most drugs come with a long list of potentially devastating side effects, painkillers — courtesy of their addictive nature — tend to be among the most lethal. Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years,1 and Americans use 80 percent of the world's opioids.2

In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.3 A result of this trend is that overdose deaths from painkillers now far surpass those from illicit street drugs.

In 2013, about 23,000 Americans died from overdosing on prescription drugs, and painkillers accounted for about 16,000 of those deaths.4

Drug Industry Is Responsible for Mass Addiction

Many believe the drug companies that create and sell these drugs need to be held accountable for this dangerous trend, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.

As noted by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA),5 the drug industry has "fostered the opioid addiction epidemic" in several ways, by:

• Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot. Many addicts claimed the high from OxyContin was better than heroin.

In fact, from a chemical standpoint, OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin, and has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin

• Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has had a hand in this problem, although it restricted its promotion of narcotic painkillers to cancer patients6

• Promoting long-term use of opioids, even though there's no evidence that using these drugs long term is safe and effective

• Downplaying and misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims, which Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.

The basic promise was that it provided pain relief for a full 12 hours, twice as long as generic drugs, giving patients "smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night."

However, for many the effects don't last anywhere near 12 hours, and once the drug wears off, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, including body aches, nausea and anxiety. These symptoms, in addition to the return of the original pain, quickly begin to feed the cycle of addiction.7

A 2015 article8 in The Week does a great job revealing the promotional strategy developed by Purdue, and backed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that has led to such enormous personal tragedy. As noted in this article,

"The time-release conceit even worked on the FDA, which stated that 'Delayed absorption, as provided by OxyContin tablets is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.'"

New Hampshire Suing Over Deceptive Marketing

Several states are indeed trying to hold drug makers accountable for the epidemic of addiction.9

One of them is New Hampshire, where the state attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of deceptive marketing, saying it misrepresented the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use for chronic pain.

But while the attorney general's legal team consists of three people, Purdue has 19 lawyers on the case. As reported by Concord Monitor:10

"One year after the state attorney general's office filed subpoenas against five large drug companies to discover how addictive painkillers have been marketed in the state, the pharmaceutical giants have handed over nothing more than legal briefs ...

The current legal fight is whether the attorney general's office can hire outside help.

All of the drug companies have refused to turn over any internal documents, as long as the attorney general's office works with hired counsel — Cohen Milstein — a firm that has litigated similar cases against the pharmaceutical industry.

Lawyers representing the drug companies have argued Cohen Milstein has an inherent bias against them because it will only get paid if the state takes future legal action against the drug companies.

A Merrimack County Superior Court judge recently sided with the state, but the drug companies are refusing to budge ... 'They don't want us to know, that's for sure,' Boffetti said. 'We can have no resources; they'll do everything they can to prevent us from seeing the documents.'"

OxyContin — The $30 Billion 'Widow Maker'

Since its approval in 1996, Purdue has raked in more than $31 billion from the sale of OxyContin. Sales remained unaffected even after Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to criminal charges of misleading regulators, doctors and patients about the drug's addiction and abuse risk.

The company paid $600 million in fines and payments. The three executives, which included Purdue's president and one of its lawyers, agreed to pay another $34.5 million in fines after pleading guilty of misbranding.11

As early as 2003, the FDA ordered Purdue to pull its printed advertisements for OxyContin, saying the ads "grossly misrepresent" the drug's safety profile.12

Despite such obvious warning signs that opioids were being misrepresented and misbranded, little was done to rein in their use. More than 194,000 people have died from overdoses involving opioids, including OxyContin, since 1999. During this time, the death rate from overdoses among women has risen by 450 percent.

Addiction among younger adults has also dramatically risen. As noted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), many get caught in a cycle of addiction after being prescribed an opioid drug for a sports injury or wisdom tooth extraction.13

But the elderly are the most vulnerable group. Not only are they prescribed opioids more often than younger people, they also have the highest addiction and death rate.

Beware: Opiates Are Potent Immunosuppressive Drugs

Earlier this month, I interviewed Dr. Thomas Cowan, a family physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), about the use of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for autoimmune diseases. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. It blocks the effects of the narcotic by attaching to opioid receptors in your body.

For heroin overdoses, a dose of about 30 to 50 milligrams (mg) of naltrexone is used to prevent the fatal respiratory depression from a narcotic overdose. However, when used at a very LOW dose, about one-tenth or less of the dose you'd use for opioid addiction, LDN ends up working as an immune booster.

Cowan shared some interesting and largely unknown information about opioids in that interview. As it turns out, opioids are actually very potent immune suppressors. As such they can wreck your health in serious ways, leaving you far worse off than where you started.

A famous study called the European Prostitute Study actually showed the primary risk factor for HIV and AIDS was neither sexual exposure nor IV exposure, but rather opiate exposure. It is believed that overstimulation of the opioid receptors, as from opioid drugs, results in severe immune impairment.

According to Cowan, you will typically see that as soon as a patient starts taking opiates for chronic pain, their health rapidly declines as their immune system becomes increasingly compromised. Besides avoiding addiction, this is another important factor to consider before you start taking a narcotic pain reliever.

Drugmaker Knew OxyContin Ended Up in Hands of Criminals and Addicts

The Los Angeles Times recently published a scathing exposé on Purdue Pharma, describing how the company had extensive knowledge of and evidence showing their drug OxyContin was being sold through pill mills and organized drug rings,14 yet did nothing to stop it. According to the article:15

"[F]or more than a decade, Purdue collected extensive evidence suggesting illegal trafficking of OxyContin and, in many cases, did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills. A former Purdue executive, who monitored pharmacies for criminal activity, acknowledged that even when the company had evidence pharmacies were colluding with drug dealers, it did not stop supplying distributors selling to those stores.

Purdue knew about many suspicious doctors and pharmacies from prescribing records, pharmacy orders, field reports from sales representatives and, in some instances, its own surveillance operations, according to court and law enforcement records ..."

Purdue insists it has "at all times complied with the law."16 Yet according to federal law, drug makers are required to report suspicious drug orders and activity to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and must also reject orders if they suspect the drugs may be sold on the black market. Purdue did neither.

Senate-Approved Opioid Legislation Another Boon for Drugmakers

Frustratingly, government action is simply "feeding the beast" that is Big Pharma. While concerns about rising addiction rates led to the passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was approved by the U.S. Senate in May, the bill does little to address the root of the problem.17,18

Rather than punish drug makers who promote addiction through misleading or false marketing, the bill focuses on the treatment of addicts and availability of anti-addiction drugs. For example, the bill will allow doctors and nurse practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, which has previously been notoriously difficult to obtain.

Buprenorphine19 is a partial opioid agonist, so while it's a type of opioid, it's less likely to cause a "high," and hence less likely to promote addiction. Meanwhile, it also functions as a pain reliever.

While safe and effective treatment is certainly necessary, one could argue that replacing one addictive drug with another is not a real solution. Rather than reining in the misuse and excessive use of narcotic painkillers, the bill simply rewards Big Pharma with more orders for more — albeit different — pills!

So the same industry that created the addiction problem in the first place is now rewarded for its callousness, as the government's plan to address the addiction epidemic simply feeds back into the drug industry's pockets.

Drug companies intentionally got people addicted and now they're providing the treatment drugs, which will be paid for by your tax dollars. The 2017 budget will include over $1 billion in "new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use."20 Why isn't the drug industry being held accountable for at least part of this enormous financial burden?

Instead, drug companies are raking in more money than ever before. For example, with increasing demand, the price for the overdose-reversing drug naloxone (Narcan) has nearly doubled, from $20 to $40 per dose.21 And why isn't more done to prevent the misuse and overuse of narcotic painkillers in the first place, especially since they've been clearly identified as the new gateway drug to heroin?

West Virginia Legislation to Regulate Suboxone Clinics

In West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed a bill that would require addiction clinics using Suboxone to be regulated by the state. Suboxone is a drug consisting of four parts buprenorphine and one part naloxone. Naloxone is considered an "abuse deterrent," as it causes more painful withdrawal symptoms.

The Tomblin bill would require Suboxone clinics to offer counseling and perform drug testing on all patients to ensure the drug is used as intended. Despite its use as an anti-addiction drug, Suboxone, as well as pure buprenorphine (sold under the brand name Subutex) can and has been abused. As reported by Charleston Gazette-Mail:22

"The bill (SB 454) attempts to crack down on Suboxone clinics that deal in cash. It requires clinics to bill a patient's health insurance before they bill the patient, so that clinics can't cater to cash customers who intend to abuse or sell their medication ..."

While this may sound all good and well, there are serious questions to be raised here. Suboxone is the sole buprenorphine drug on West Virginia's "preferred" list for Medicaid coverage, per contract with the maker of the drug, Reckitt Benckiser. Similar drugs, such as Zubsolv and Bunavail, are available in lower doses, which may reduce the risk of abuse, yet they cannot be prescribed to West Virginia Medicaid patients unless Suboxone treatment fails.

Why does West Virginia have such a monopoly contract with Reckitt Benckiser? In December 2013, Reckitt's offices in Richmond, Virginia, were raided by agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG). According to a report23 from that time, the search warrant was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Western Virginia.

The company has also been slapped with antitrust lawsuits24,25 by drug wholesalers and insurance companies who claim "Reckitt 'schemed' to obstruct generic competition." The company is also under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).26,27 Again, while treatment for addiction is important, it seems white-collar pharma criminals are rewarded by this kind of legislation, and the government is basically just providing a monopoly for addiction treatment with another addictive drug.28

Drug Addiction — An Intentionally-Created 'Disease'

More and more politicians are now starting to view and discuss opioid addiction as a disease,29 but none address the crux of the problem or the elephant in the room, which is that this "disease" has been created intentionally by the drug industry and the federal government. This pays, because then they can make even more money on the drugs issued to treat the addicts.

Meanwhile, low-cost medical marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, alongside heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. This really defies all common sense and logic. Schedule I controlled substances have a "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use."

But when it comes to marijuana, mounting evidence suggests it may in fact have many beneficial medical uses. It appears to be especially helpful for chronic pain conditions. One recent study found patients given the herb experienced 30 percent or greater improvement in pain compared with placebo.30

Other research has found marijuana therapy produced "dramatic physical and mental improvements" in nursing home patients, while simultaneously reducing the need for other medications.31

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Use and Abuse

Other recent research also found that medical marijuana lowers prescription drug use. Could that be why it hasn't been rescheduled? There are no other truly compelling reasons why addictive narcotics like OxyContin are legal, while marijuana — which is extremely unlikely to kill you even if you take very high amounts — is not.

The video above features W. David Bradford, Ph.D., whose study was published in the journal Health Affairs earlier this month32 As reported by The Washington Post:33

"[R]esearchers at the University of Georgia scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.

The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year."

According to Bradford, the Medicare program could save $468 million per year if marijuana was legalized in all U.S. states.34,35 Already, $165 million was saved in 2013 in the 18 states where medical marijuana was legal that year. Similarly, a 2015 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) states that:36

"If marijuana is used as a substitute for powerful and addictive pain relievers in medical marijuana states, a potential overlooked positive impact of medical marijuana laws may be a reduction in harms associated with opioid pain relievers, a far more addictive and potentially deadly substance."

Not only did the NBER find that access to state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries resulted in a significant decrease in prescription painkiller overdose deaths, it also led to a 15 to 35 percent drop in substance abuse admissions. So, it would seem medical marijuana — far from being the deadly drug it's been made out to be — could actually SAVE thousands of lives that would otherwise be destroyed by painkiller addiction and its lethal consequences.

It's a real travesty that while the U.S. Senate refuses to release its opioid report,37 they're more than willing to shell out taxpayer money to Big Pharma, both for addictive painkillers AND the drugs to treat addiction.

Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

Some of the marketing material for opioids claims the drug will not cause addiction "except in very rare cases," describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a "benign state" and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn't true. As noted by Kolodny, "It's not true that patients can be easily tapered off these drugs."

Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

It's important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you've been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you're likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

• Your workplace Employee Assistance Program

• The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration38 (SAMHSA) can be contacted 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP

With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous article, "How Federal Policies Have Spawned a Heroin Epidemic."

Enjoy the Zesty Goodness of Lemon Oil

Thu, 07/28/2016 - 02:00

If you’ve been to my site, you’ll notice that I have long reported the health benefits of lemons. Packed with nutrients, lemons are one of the most widely used tropical fruits in the world. Their positive reputation mainly comes from their high concentrations of vitamin C.

But it’s not just the lemon fruit that’s beneficial. When used as an essential oil, lemon oil can be applied topically, used for cleaning, and used for many other applications.

Lemon essential oil, also known as Citrus limon oil, is extracted from lemon peels, which have many volatile oil glands in their pits.1 Approximately 1,000 lemons are needed to produce one pound of lemon oil.2 The citrus scent of lemons comes from a chemical compound called limonene, which comprises the majority of lemon oil.3

Lemons were used by ancient Indians, Egyptians and Romans as a remedy for infectious diseases. Today, they are commonly grown in Europe and the United States, and are used in various products.

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Apart from being used in making lemonade, lemon oil can be used as: 4,5

Food ingredient

A tasty addition to pastries like pies, cakes and marinades

Aromatherapy oil and air freshener

Because of its pleasant citrus fragrance

Medicine

Used to treat health problems like headaches, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and asthma

Gargle

To relieve sore throat, mouth inflammations and tonsillitis

Treatment for calluses and warts

Applying it to affected areas regularly can help reduce the appearance of these on your skin

Skin and hair product

Can help treat blemished skin, exfoliate dead skin and reduce acne. It can also improve appearance of hair and used to remove dandruff. Lemon oil is also added to personal care products

Disinfectant

An ideal disinfectant for chopping boards, countertops, public bathrooms and even hospitals

Spot remover

Can help remove gum, oil and grease stains from clothes and surfaces

Insect repellent and insect bite treatment

Works as natural repellent and antibacterial

Composition of Lemon Oil

Limonene makes up majority of lemon oil (about 50 to 70 percent). Lemon oil contains organic compounds, such as pinene, terpinene and terpineol, and non-volatile compounds.

Lemons are packed with a potent nutritional profile and are a low-glycemic fruit. The fruit contains citric acid, which is a natural preservative and makes up 8 percent of the lemon.

Lemons are also excellent sources of vitamin C or ascorbic acid, a potent water-soluble antioxidant. In spite of their acidic nature, they have an alkalizing effect when metabolized in your body.6

Lemons also have phenomenal antioxidant properties due to unique flavonoid compounds. In a study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, lemons, as well as other citrus fruits, contain a dominant flavonoid class called flavanones, such as hesperidin and eriocitrin.

These nutrients are found to have anti-inflammatory and free-radical quenching properties. Lemons also contain other antioxidants, such as alpha- and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. Other nutrients that can be found in these citrus fruits are:

✓ Vitamin A

✓ Folate and B-vitamins

✓ Iron

✓ Copper

✓ Potassium

✓ Calcium

✓ Pectin (a type of fiber)


Benefits of Lemon Oil

Because of lemon’s outstanding nutrient profile, it helps treat numerous health conditions. Lemon oil helps:

✓ Fight respiratory infections like bronchitis, coughs and sore throat. It can also bring relieve to discomfort from colds, fevers, flu and asthma

✓ Lower blood pressure and promote healthy blood circulation

✓ Support immune function by stimulating the production of white blood cells

✓ Detoxify your skin and body of toxins

✓ Inhibit inflammation

✓ Control overactive sebaceous glands that contribute to acne and poor hair conditions

✓ Soothe acidity and heartburn, as it is helps balance your stomach pH level

✓ Reduce broken capillaries and varicose veins

✓ Address constipation and promote elimination of waste

✓ Sanitize wounds, household objects and hospital rooms due to its antibacterial properties

✓ Relive arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties

✓ Calm anxiety, improve mood and prevent emotional outbursts and violent behavior

How to Make Lemon Oil

Lemon oil is made by cold-pressing the peels. Heat processing, as opposed to cold pressing, negatively affects the quality of the oil by stripping its nutrients, flavor and color. Because of this, cold-pressed oils have higher quality and price. Lemon oil can also be produced through distillation. Distilled lemon oil is used in soluble essences in lemon drinks. However, this type of lemon oil has an inferior scent compared with its cold-pressed counterpart.

How Does Lemon Oil Work?

Lemon oil can be added to foods and beverages, or applied topically on your skin or on surfaces. Below are some ways on how lemon oil works its magic:7,8

✓ Adding two to three drops of lemon oil to tea or warm water can help relieve sore throat

✓ Soaking dishcloths overnight in water with a drop of lemon oil can disinfect them

✓ Applying a few drops of lemon oil to your nails can strengthen them. It may also help kill nail fungus

✓ Rubbing lemon oil on your hands can help sanitize them

✓ Applying a drop or two of lemon oil behind your ears can calm you down

✓ Apply a few drops of lemon oil on cotton balls and use on your skin for cleansing

✓ Applying two to three drop of lemon oil to cold sores, calluses or blisters daily can help remove them

✓ Use lemon oil in a diffuser to spread its fruity scent

✓ Using one to two drops of lemon oil can help remove stains due to oil, grease and crayon marks

✓ When inhaled, lemon oil can help improve mood

✓ One to two drops of lemon oil can help sterilize countertops and surfaces


Is Lemon Oil Safe?

It is advisable not to use lemon oil without diluting it first, as it can irritate skin. It must be used with a carrier oil for direct application to skin.9 Effective carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil and jojoba oil.

There are findings showing that lemon oil may promote photosensitivity, which increases your sensitivity to the sun and may lead to sunburn and uneven darkening of the skin. I also recommend you to avoid applying lemon oil and other citrus oils to your skin when outdoors, as blistering may occur.

People with sensitivities should use essential oils with caution. Reactions can vary from person to person. Some may experience skin reactions, while some may have respiratory problems.10 Consult your physician first before use. Pregnant women and children should also see a doctor before applying lemon oil.

Memory Loss or Dementia?

Thu, 07/28/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Virtually everyone has forgetful moments, but how do you know if your memory lapses are the normal day-to-day variety or a sign of something more serious like dementia? It's a common concern, especially with increasing age.

Among Americans, the notion of losing mental capacity evokes twice as much fear as losing physical ability, and 60 percent of U.S. adults say they are very or somewhat worried about memory loss.1

On a bright note, most memory blips are nothing to panic over. As you get older, your brain's information-processing speed may decline, which means it may take you longer to recall who wrote the book you're reading or the name of your childhood playmate.

The word is on the tip of your tongue, but even if you can't recall it you're able to restructure your thoughts to get your message across. This is quite normal, as are so-called "senior moments," or as neuroscientists call them "maladaptive brain activity changes."

Examples include sending an email to the wrong person or forgetting about an appointment.

These occur because your brain perceives many of your daily tasks as patterns and may revert to its default mode network (DMN), the part of your brain responsible for your inward-focused thinking, such as daydreaming, during this time.

In short, your brain takes a mini time out when you actually need its focused attention, causing a minor, but completely normal, lapse in memory.

Memory Loss: When to Worry

If changes in your memory or thinking skills are severe enough to be noticed by your friends and family you could be facing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a slight decline in cognitive abilities that increases your risk of developing more serious dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

If your mental changes are so significant that they're interfering with your ability to function or live independently, it could be dementia. For instance, it's normal to have trouble finding the right word on occasion, but if you forget words frequently and repeat phrases and stories during a conversation, there could be a problem.

Another red flag is getting lost or disoriented in familiar places (as opposed to needing to ask for directions on occasion).

If you're able to later describe a time when you were forgetful, such as misplacing your keys, that's a good sign; a more serious signal is not being able to recall situations when memory loss caused a problem even though your loved ones describe it to you. Other warning signs of MCI or dementia include:

✓ Difficulty performing daily tasks like paying bills or taking care of personal hygiene

✓ Asking the same question over and over

✓ Difficulty making choices

✓ Exhibiting poor judgment or inappropriate social behaviors

✓ Changes in personality or loss of interest in favorite activities

✓ Memory lapses that put people in danger, like leaving the stove on

✓ Inability to recognize faces or familiar objects

✓ Denying a memory problem exists and getting angry when others bring it up


Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and the number is steadily increasing. Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds, and, by 2050, the prevalence of Alzheimer's is expected to nearly triple, reaching 13.8 million people.2

In 2016, it's already the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and it's one that has no known cure or proven way to slow its progression. In the video above, you can view some of the earliest warning signs of this disease.

The Alzheimer's Association also compiled these differences between symptoms of dementia including Alzheimer's and typical age-related changes:3

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia Typical age-related changes

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Poor judgment and decision-making

Typical age-related changes: Making a bad decision once in a while

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Inability to manage a budget

Typical age-related changes: Missing a monthly payment

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Losing track of the date or the season

Typical age-related changes: Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Difficulty having a conversation

Typical age-related changes: Sometimes forgetting which word to use

Signs of Alzheimer's/dementia: Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them

Typical age-related changes: Losing things from time to time

New Mobile Game May Help Diagnose Dementia

Alzheimer's research suggests preclinical signs of Alzheimer's disease may be evident as early as 20 years before the disease actually sets in, allowing for much earlier intervention if these changes are identified.4

However, normally by the time your memory begins to noticeably deteriorate, about 40 percent to 50 percent of your brain cells have already been damaged or destroyed. A new mobile game called Sea Hero Quest may help in the search for a reliable method of early diagnosis.

The game tracks players' spatial navigation abilities, which are among the first skill sets lost in dementia cases. Neuroscientists are hoping to use data collected from hundreds of thousands of players to identify a normal range of navigation skills and ultimately develop guidelines to identify dementia early on.5

Blood tests measuring brain proteins (lysosomal proteins) may also help predict Alzheimer's up to 10 years before the disease develops. Another biomarker panel may predict the disease within a two- to three-year timeframe with over 90 percent accuracy; PET scans and retinal tests also offer hope of early detection.

If you want to test your own cognitive function right now, try the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) test. It's a 15-minute at-home test developed by Dr. Douglas Scharre, of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

You can download the SAGE test from the university's website. According to Scharre, this simple test correlates very well to more comprehensive cognitive tests and is an excellent way to get an early assessment of your cognitive function.

If taken at regular intervals over time, it can also serve as an early warning, if your scores begin to decline.

If Your Memory Is Slipping, Switch to a Ketogenic Diet NOW

If your memory slips often enough to put even an inkling of concern or doubt in your mind, it's time to take action. The reality is that you can enjoy sharp brain function well into old age and memory loss can be an early warning sign of more serious brain changes to come.

A high-fat, moderate-protein and low-net-carb ketogenic diet is crucial for protecting your brain health and is recommended for virtually everyone, but especially for those who have concerns about their brain health. This type of diet involves restricting all but non-starchy vegetable carbs and replacing them with low to moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat.

It's a diet that will help optimize your weight and reduce your risk of chronic degenerative disease while protecting your brain. Eating this way will help you convert from carb-burning mode to fat-burning mode, which in turn triggers your body to produce ketones (also known as ketone bodies or ketoacids).

Ketones can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. They may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. In addition to eating a ketogenic diet, a primary source of ketones is the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil. As noted in the British Journal of Nutrition:6

"Unlike most other dietary fats that are high in long-chain fatty acids, coconut oil comprises medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA are unique in that they are easily absorbed and metabolised [sic] by the liver, and can be converted to ketones. Ketone bodies are an important alternative energy source in the brain, and may be beneficial to people developing or already with memory impairment, as in Alzheimer's disease (AD)."

MCTs in Coconut Oil Are a Phenomenal Brain Food

Many people have heard that fish is brain food, due to its concentration of omega-3 fats. These are certainly important, but so, too, are MCTs. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats that are not processed by your body in the same manner as long-chain triglycerides.

Normally, a fat taken into your body must be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in your digestive system. But medium-chain triglycerides go directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones, bypassing the bile entirely. Your liver then immediately releases the ketones into your bloodstream where they are transported to your brain to be used as fuel.

In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in people affected by Alzheimer's. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 milliliters [ml] or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCTs, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases or as a treatment for an already established case.

Intriguing research has also shown promise for coconut oil in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. One study found 40 ml/day of extra virgin coconut oil led to improvements in cognitive status in women with Alzheimer's disease.7 Another review noted:8

" … [E]vidence is mounting to support the concept that coconut may be beneficial in the treatment of obesity, dyslipidaemia … insulin resistance and hypertension — these are the risk factors for CVD and type 2 diabetes, and also for AD. In addition, phenolic compounds and hormones (cytokinins) found in coconut may assist in preventing the aggregation of amyloid-β peptide, potentially inhibiting a key step in the pathogenesis of AD."

Additional Dietary Strategies to Help Prevent Alzheimer's

In order to reverse the Alzheimer's trend, we simply must relearn how to eat for optimal health. Processed convenience foods are quite literally killing us, contributing to not only dementia but also diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually ALL chronic degenerative diseases, including dementia. The sooner you begin, the better. In addition to following a ketogenic diet, the following dietary strategies are also important:

Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you'll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.

Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they don't belong.

That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.

Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.

Increase consumption of all healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3. Sources of healthy fat include avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts, raw dairy, grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. Also make sure you're getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats.

High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.

Reduce your overall calorie consumption and/or intermittently fast. Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer's.

Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer's symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood-brain barrier, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.

Eat a nutritious diet rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.

General Lifestyle Guidelines for Alzheimer's Prevention

Besides diet, there are a number of other lifestyle factors that can contribute to or hinder neurological health. The following strategies are therefore also important for any Alzheimer's prevention plan:

Exercise. Exercise leads to hippocampus growth and memory improvement,9 and it's been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer's.10

Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has shown that people with Alzheimer's have less PGC-1alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.11

Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.

Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer's through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D (50 to 70 ng/ml) is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer's.

Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity. However, you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body. Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, "First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer's and Aluminum Toxicity."

Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.

Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Elevated Blood Sugar Sets the Stage for Cancer Growth

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The fact that sugar and obesity are linked to an increased risk of cancer is now becoming well-recognized. Obesity has also been linked to an increased risk of death from all causes.

According to research published in 2013, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. deaths is associated with obesity.1 More recently, researchers published findings from a meta analysis of 239 studies covering four continents, saying excess body weight is responsible for 1 in 5 of all premature deaths in the U.S. and 1 in 7 in Europe.2,3,4

On average, carrying excess weight may reduce your life expectancy by about one year, while being moderately obese may result in a three-year reduction in lifespan. Those of normal weight had the longest life expectancy and the lowest risk of dying before the age of 70.

Considering facts such as these, it's no surprise that the financial burden of excessive sugar consumption is also great.

According to the Credit Suisse Research Institute's 2013 study5 "Sugar: Consumption at a Crossroads," as much as 40 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures are for diseases directly related to the overconsumption of sugar, and this includes obesity, diabetes and cancer.

So, sugary processed foods may be cheap on the front end, but they exact a hefty price tag down the line.

Diet Can Influence Your Cancer Risk in More Ways Than One

Your diet plays a crucial role when it comes to obesity and related health problems such as elevated blood sugar, insulin resistance and cancer. Research suggests obesity can promote cancer via a number of different mechanisms.

One of the key mechanisms by which sugar promotes cancer and other chronic disease is by causing mitochondrial dysfunction. Sugar is not an ideal fuel for your body as it burns "dirty," creating far more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than fat does when it's metabolized.

As a result, excessive amounts of free radicals are generated when you eat excessive sugar, which in turn causes mitochondrial and nuclear DNA damage, along with cell membrane and protein impairment.

So, contrary to conventional teaching, nuclear genetic defects do not cause cancer. Rather, mitochondrial damage happens first, and this then triggers nuclear genetic mutations.

Research6 has shown that chronic overeating in general has a similar effect, as it places stress on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the membranous network found inside the mitochondria of your cells.

When the ER receives more nutrients than it can process, it signals the cell to dampen the sensitivity of the insulin receptors on the surface of the cell.

Thus continuously eating more than your body really needs promotes insulin resistance by the mere fact that your cells are stressed by the additional work placed on them by the excess nutrients. Insulin resistance in turn is at the heart of most chronic disease, including cancer.

Sugar Is a Key Contributor to Cancer

Most people who overeat also tend to eat many sugar-laden foods, which promotes elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. So overeating sugary foods equates to a double-whammy in terms of cancer risk, compared to overeating whole, unprocessed fare.

In fact, recent research has identified sugar as the top contributor to the worldwide cancer surge. According to a report7 on the global cancer burden, published in 2014, obesity is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.

The reason for this is because cancer cells are primarily fueled by the burning of sugar anaerobically. Without sugar, most cancer cells simply lack the metabolic flexibility to survive.

Normal, healthy cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies from dietary fats. Most cancer cells lack this ability so when you reduce net carbs (total carbs minus fiber), you effectively starve the cancer. This is why nutritional ketosis appears to be so effective against cancer.

According to recent research from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, refined sugar not only significantly increases your risk of breast cancer; it also raises your risk of tumors spreading to other organs.8

It was primarily the refined fructose in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in most processed foods and beverages that was responsible for the breast tumors and the metastasis.

The Role of Genetics, Proteins and Hormones

While genetic defects are not a primary cause of cancer, genes can still play a role. Scientists have discovered that a number of genes known to promote cancer by influencing cell division — including a gene called AKT — also regulate cells' consumption of nutrients.

So certain genes actually appear to play a role in cancer cells' overconsumption of sugar. Whereas healthy cells have a feedback mechanism that makes it conserve resources when there's a lack of food, cancer cells do not have this mechanism and feed continuously.

Recent research has also found that overweight women who lost weight reduced their risk of cancer by lowering their levels of certain proteins linked to cancer development.9

These proteins (VEGF, PAI-1 and PEDF) promote angiogenesis, a process your body uses to build blood vessels that tumors need to thrive. The greater the women's weight loss, the greater their reduction in these proteins.

Previous research suggests losing weight can reduce your risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer by as much as 20 percent, and this effect is thought to be due to reductions in these proteins and other inflammatory compounds stored in fat cells.10

Obesity also triggers overproduction of certain hormones, such as estrogen, which is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.

Links Between Diabetes and Cancer Are Getting Stronger

Overall, insulin resistance is one of the key contributors to a heightened cancer risk, and many studies have confirmed that type 2 diabetics are at greater risk.

One recent study, which included more than 1 million adult cancer patients, found that those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were 23 percent more likely to have received a cancer diagnosis during the decade preceding their diabetes diagnosis compared to non-diabetics.11,12

Recent research has also noted that a growing number of obese Americans have poor blood sugar control, which in turn promotes rising rates of type 2 diabetes and associated health conditions. To combat this trend, the researchers urge overweight people to consider "serious weight loss efforts." As reported by WebMD:13

"Between 1988 and 2014, rates of diabetes rose from 11 percent to 19 percent, which was due to increases in blood sugar, the researchers said.

The investigators found that the rate of obese adults without the three key risk factors for heart disease — diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure — held steady at just 15 percent.

But the rate of obese adults with all three risk factors rose 37 percent — to nearly [1] in [4] ... Risk for all three factors increased progressively from age 40 on ...

'We have two choices: letting this population get sick and provide monies for treatment of complications and disability; or intervene early and prevent diabetes by encouraging weight loss, leading to a healthier and more productive life,' [Dr. Joel] Zonszein, [director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center] said."

Prediabetes Also Raises Your Cancer Risk

Both of these findings tend to strengthen previous research showing that even prediabetes is a risk factor for cancer. More than 1 in 3 Americans aged 20 and older has prediabetes,14 a condition in which your glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes.

Of those with prediabetes, 15 percent to 30 percent will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

A meta-analysis15 published in 2014, which included data from nearly 900,000 people, found that those with prediabetes have a 15 percent higher risk of cancer, especially cancers of the liver, stomach, pancreas, breast and endometrium. Other research has shown that people with the highest insulin levels at the time of a cancer diagnosis have significantly increased risks of cancer recurrence, as well as a greater risk of being diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of cancer.16

From my perspective these findings aren't the least surprising and precisely what you would predict if you understand the mechanism of most cancers, which are essentially being fueled by a metabolism that is driven by sugar (glucose), generating loads of unnecessary and damaging free radicals, as opposed to clean burning, high-quality fats that generate far less ROS.

Ketogenic Diet May Be Key to Cancer Recovery

Nutritional ketosis is part of the answer here. In this type of diet, you replace net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) with moderate amounts of high-quality protein and high amounts of beneficial fat. Since cancer cells need glucose to thrive, and carbohydrates devoid of fiber turn into glucose in your body, cutting out net carbs quite literally starves the cancer cells. Additionally, low protein intake tends to minimize the mTOR pathway, which also helps restrict cell proliferation.

The video above features Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., who discusses how, as a metabolic disorder involving the dysregulation of respiration, malignant cancer (in this case brain cancer) can be managed by altering your metabolic environment.

That said, this kind of diet (low in net carbs, moderate in high-quality protein and high in healthy fats) will also help normalize your weight and boost your general health for the simple reason that it helps you convert from carb burning mode to fat burning, which helps optimize your mitochondrial function.

How Fasting May Benefit Cancer Patients

Fasting is another strategy that helps reverse obesity and optimize mitochondrial function, and it too can offer hope in the fight against cancer. In fact, one research group is reportedly looking into the possibility of getting intermittent fasting approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunct therapy for cancer patients.17,18,19

Valter Longo, Ph.D., has published a number of studies on fasting and its impact on cancer. His most recent research, published in the journal Cancer Cell,20 found that fasting during chemotherapy boosts cancer-killing T cell activity, thereby improving the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. As reported by Science Daily:21

"[R]odents that received caloric restriction mimetics alone or chemotherapy combined with a fasting-mimicking diet had smaller tumor masses over time than those that received only chemotherapy ...

Mice with breast or skin cancers were given a low-sugar, low-protein, high-fat, low-calorie diet and were observed for [six] weeks while receiving doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide or no chemotherapeutic drugs. All of the mice receiving the diet-drug combination saw their tumors shrink to half the volume of the tumors in mice that received chemotherapy alone."

According to Longo:22 "The biggest factor exposing cancer cells to the T cells is the effect on the enzyme heme oxygenase-1, which is normally at high levels in cancer cells. Fasting reduces oxygenase levels and gives rise to a number of changes that included the increase of tumor-killing cytotoxic T cells."

What to Eat for Optimal Health and Cancer Prevention Click Here

From my perspective, ignoring diet as a cancer prevention tool is foolhardy at best. I'm convinced most cancers are preventable through proper nutrition. Avoiding toxic exposures (such as pesticides) is another important factor, and this is one reason why I recommend eating organic foods, especially grass-fed or pastured meats and animal products, whenever possible.

Make no mistake about it, the FIRST thing you want to do if you want to avoid or treat cancer if you have insulin or leptin resistance is to cut out all forms of sugar/fructose and grain carbs from your diet. This step will optimize the signaling pathways that otherwise might contribute to malignant transformation.

Remember, the foundational aspect that must be addressed is the metabolic mitochondrial defect discussed earlier, and this involves radically reducing the net (non-fiber) carbohydrates in your diet and replacing them with high-quality fats. Moderating your consumption of protein, and being mindful of the quality of the protein, is also important, as excessive protein can also trigger cancer growth. To learn more about this, please see my previous article, "The Very Real Risks of Consuming Too Much Protein".

So, in summary, for optimal health you need sufficient amounts of carbohydrates, fats and protein. However, there are healthy carbs and unhealthy ones. Ditto for fat and protein. From my review of the molecular biology required to optimize mitochondrial function, it may be wise to aim for a diet with the following nutrient ratios:

Healthy fats, 75 to 85 percent of your total calories. Beneficial monosaturated and saturated fats include olives and olive oil, coconuts and coconut oil, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw nuts such as macadamia and pecans, seeds like black sesame, black cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds, avocados, grass-fed meats, lard and tallow, ghee (clarified butter), raw cacao butter, organic pastured egg yolks, animal-based omega-3 fats and small fatty fish like sardines and anchovies.

Harmful fats that contribute to disease are primarily trans fats and highly refined polyunsaturated omega-6 vegetable oils (PUFAs). Remember, glucose is an inherently "dirty" fuel as it generates far more ROS than fat burning does. But to burn fat, your cells must be healthy and normal. Cancer cells lack the metabolic flexibility to burn fat and this why a diet high in healthy fats appears to be such an effective anti-cancer strategy.

When you switch from burning glucose as your primary fuel to burning fat for fuel, cancer cells must struggle to stay alive, as most of their mitochondria are dysfunctional and can't use oxygen to burn fuel. At the same time, healthy cells are given an ideal and preferred fuel, which lowers oxidative damage and optimizes mitochondrial function. The sum effect is that healthy cells begin to thrive while cancer cells are "starved" to death.

Carbohydrates, 8 to 15 percent of your daily calories. Aim for twice as many fiber carbs as non-fiber (net) carbs. This means if your total carbs is 10 percent of your daily calories, at least half of that should be fiber. Fiber has a number of other health benefits, including weight management and a lower risk for certain cancers.23

I personally believe that most would benefit from reducing net carbs (not just fructose) to less than 100 grams (g) per day, and keeping your total fructose intake to a maximum of 25 g per day from all sources. If you are insulin resistant, you'd do well to make your upper fructose limit 15 g per day.

Cancer patients would likely be best served by even stricter limits. By reducing the amount of net carbs you eat, you will accomplish four things that will result in lowered inflammation and reduced stimulation of cancer growth. You will:

• Lower your serum glucose level

• Reduce your mTOR level

• Reduce your insulin level

• Lower insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1, a potent hormone that acts on your pituitary gland to induce metabolic and endocrine effects, including cell growth and replication. Elevated IGF-1 levels are associated with breast and other cancers).

I typically keep my net carbs around 50 to 60 g per day While this may sound awfully complicated, the easiest way to dramatically cut down on your sugar and fructose consumption is to switch to real foods, as the vast majority of added sugar and fructose you end up with comes from processed fare.

Excellent sources of high-fiber carbs that you can eat plenty of include chia seeds, berries, raw nuts, cauliflower, root vegetables and tubers such as onions and sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and psyllium seed husk.

Protein, 7 to 10 percent of your total calories. Quality is important, so look for high-quality grass-fed or pastured meats and animal products. As a general rule, I recommend limiting your protein to 0.5 g of protein per pound of lean body mass, which for most people amounts to 40 to 70 g of protein a day.

(To estimate your protein requirements, first determine your lean body mass. Subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 20 percent body fat, then you have 80 percent lean body mass. Just multiply that percentage by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos.)

Again, the reason for limiting protein is because excessive amounts have a stimulating effect on the mTOR pathway, which plays an important role in many diseases, including cancer. When you reduce protein to what your body needs for cell repair and maintenance, mTOR remains inhibited, which helps minimize your chances of cancer growth.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Gout?

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Gout is one of the more than 100 different types of arthritis.1 Once called the “Disease of Kings” or “rich man’s disease,” the number of people suffering from gout is on the rise.

In England and New Zealand, the number of people evaluated at the hospital for symptoms of gout rose by 80 percent in the past decade.2 In the past 50 years the incidence of gout has nearly doubled in the U.S.3

Like a window into your metabolic health, gout is an outward sign of what’s happening on the inside of your body. Symptoms of the condition, and long-term treatment, are related to your lifestyle choices and nutritional habits. In other words, you have some degree of control over your condition.

In 2011, gout affected 8.3 million, or 4 percent of Americans.4  Although the numbers of people diagnosed are rising, it may not be an accurate representation of the number of people who experience the condition each year.

Many people suffer from an episodic gout condition, experiencing several occurrences over their lifetime.5  However, according to Dr. Allen Anandarajah, an associate professor of medicine and a rheumatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, many don’t see their doctor for these periodic occurrences.6

This means the number of people who have gout each year could actually be as high as 10 percent of the population. Symptoms include:7

✓ Pain, often in the big toe, starting at night

✓ Warmth, swelling and redness in the affected area

✓ Both fingers and toes or feet may be affected

✓ Extreme tenderness in the affected joint

✓ Red or purple coloring on the skin over the joint

✓ Joint may appear to be infected

✓ Limited movement in the joint

✓ Skin may itch or peel as the gout resolves

Symptoms Are Related to an End Product of Metabolism

These symptoms are the result of uric acid crystal deposits in the joint space. There is evidence that these deposits are related to metabolic syndrome,8 a constellation of health conditions characterized by insulin and leptin resistance, central or abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, and a fasting glucose greater than 100 milligram per deciliter (mg/dL).9

Purine, a compound found in certain foods, contributes to energy metabolism and is a component in some co-enzymes. All cells require purine for growth and survival. The final compound in the breakdown of purine is uric acid.

Only humans don’t have the enzyme uricase that converts uric acid to a compound easily excreted in the urine. It’s the buildup of serum uric acid that is associated with the severity of your gout.10

When your metabolic processes controlling serum uric acid don’t function effectively, it can result in an overproduction of uric acid and crystalline deposits in a joint space.11

Drugs Are Not an Ideal Long-Term Solution

Conventional treatment for gout includes the use of medications such as:

  • Allopurinol, which reduces uric acid production
  • Colchicine, which blocks inflammation caused by uric acid crystals and may be used for long-term prevention of recurring episodes
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used for pain control

In the short-term, these medications may effectively treat your symptoms. But gout may be a lifelong condition and the side effects from these drugs make them dangerous for long-term use.

Allopurinol is used during an episode of gout. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea or drowsiness. Other side effects may include increased bleeding, signs of infection, kidney problems, yellowing skin or eyes, eye pain or vision changes and unexplained weight loss.12

Colchicine is used as a prophylaxis to prevent a recurrence. You may experience diarrhea, nausea, cramping and vomiting when you begin the medication.

Serious side effects include muscle weakness, numbness or tingling of your hands or feet, pale color to your lips, tongue or palms of your hands, unusual weakness, fast heart rate and shortness of breath.13

Side effects from long-term or consistent use of NSAIDs are well documented. Severe intestinal damage,14 increased risk of heart attack and stroke, increased risk of ulcers and reduced blood flow to the kidneys are some of the risks of NSAID use.15

Lifestyle Choices That May Limit or Prevent Gout

Gout is more common among men than women, and more often between the ages of 40 and 50.16  Although you may not have symptoms of gout today, it’s never too early to use a proactive approach to preventing illness. The preventive lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of gout will also help reduce your risk for other diseases.

Exercise Daily

Regular exercise and consistent movement may help to normalize your insulin and leptin levels and reduce buildup of uric acid. If you suffer symptoms of gout you may want to limit your exercise to reduce the potential for permanent joint damage. For instance:

  • Don’t exercise a joint with active symptoms of gout
  • Choose another exercise if you feel pain in a joint an hour after finishing your workout
  • Enlist the help of a professional therapist to identify a safe range of workouts

If you don’t have symptoms of gout, consider high-intensity interval training combined with strength training.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels

Research has demonstrated the importance of vitamin D to your overall health and the prevention of many diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Evidence also suggests it plays a preventive role in the development of metabolic syndrome.17

Sensible sun exposure is the best way to raise your vitamin D levels. This way your body naturally creates vitamin D3. You’ll know that you have accomplished this when your skin turns to the lightest shade of pink. Staying in the sun beyond this point will only promote burning and skin damage.

If you live in an area where sunlight isn’t abundant, you can take a vitamin D3 (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) supplement along with a vitamin K2 MK-7 supplement. Your ideal dosage is one that will help you reach and maintain a healthy vitamin D level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

Enough Sleep

Quality sleep each night benefits your overall health and reduces your risk of abdominal fat deposits. Sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system, increases your appetite and leads to premature aging.

How much sleep you need depends on several medical and physical factors unique to you. According to the National Sleep Foundation, young adults between 18 and 64 years need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.18

Practice Grounding

Grounding or earthing is the process of walking or standing barefoot on bare earth, permitting free electrons from the earth to enter your body. These powerful antioxidants combat free radicals in your system.

Grounding may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and may thin your blood, both good things when you want to reduce your risk for gout. If you want to try grounding, start by walking in a dewy, grassy area barefoot.

If you live near a large body of water, that’s a great location for walking barefoot, as seawater is a good conductor.

Reduce Your Stress

Stress is almost inevitable in a fast-paced life. It may increase your release of cortisol, reducing your body’s sensitivity to the hormone and increasing the amount of inflammation in your system.

Inflammation reduces your ability to fight infections and is one factor in the development of several different diseases.

If you aren’t sure where to start reducing your stress, try the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). This process works much the same as acupuncture, but using pressure and tapping to stimulate the energy meridian points in your head and chest.

Limiting Fructose Is Critical if You Have Gout

Uric acid is a byproduct of fructose metabolism. In fact, fructose is the ONLY type of sugar that will raise your uric acid levels and will typically generate uric acid within minutes of ingestion. The ideal range for uric acid is between 3 to 5.5 mg/dL. The connection between fructose consumption and increased uric acid is so reliable that a uric acid level taken from your blood can actually be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.

I became fully aware of the dramatic and devastating impact fructose has on your uric acid levels when I interviewed Dr. Richard Johnson on this topic. You can watch that interview above.

Sensible food choices are important to your overall health and wellness. Your cells produce energy and replicate based on the nutrition you feed them. The choices you make can increase or reduce your risk of experiencing a bout of gout. Fructose is at the very top of the list of foods to avoid if you have gout.

As a general rule, I recommend limiting your total fructose to 25 grams (g) per day. If you’re insulin resistant or have gout, you would be wise to limit fructose to 15 g per day or even less, until your symptoms have resolved.

Dietary Considerations

Other dietary considerations that may be helpful include the following:

Limit Fructose

According to Johnson's research, a quarter of the U.S. population consumes a whopping 134 g of fructose a day. This is a staggering amount of fructose when you consider the fact that you need to restrict your fructose intake to below 25 g a day in order to maintain good health.

If you have gout, this is extremely important, and you must take into account the fructose you consume from fruit and other foods. For instance, if you eat cherries for their therapeutic value, 10 sweet cherries or 1 cup of sour cherries contain about 4 g of fructose.

Cherries

One of the oldest folk remedies for gout was eating cherries. Research has also demonstrated that eating approximately 10 cherries can reduce your risk for gout by almost 35 percent.19

However, cherries are also high in fructose, one of the primary means of increasing your uric acid production and therefore your risk of gout. The key is to eat them in moderation and include the grams of fructose from your cherries in your daily allotment of fructose.

Celery Seed Extract

Unique to celery is compound 3-n-butylphthalide, which gives celery a distinctive flavor. While still in early stages, research has found a positive association between 3-n-butylphthalide and a reduction in pain and inflammation.20  The results were statistically significant, with some participants achieving 100 percent pain relief.

Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

Potassium citrate helps alkalize your urine and improves the excretion of uric acid. Potassium is widely available in fruits and vegetables. The most beneficial sources include broccoli, celery, avocado, spinach and romaine lettuce. If you want to supplement, consider using potassium bicarbonate, which is probably the best potassium source to use as a supplement.

Avoid Soy

There has been research associating the use of soy milk with a 10 percent increase in serum urate concentrations, increasing your risk of developing gout.21

Limit Alcohol

Regular alcohol use has a demonstrable association with the development of gout.22 Beer appears to have a slightly higher risk than hard liquor, while wine has very little effect on the development of gout.23

Drink Enough Fluid

Liberal intake of water helps to reduce the concentration and promote the excretion of waste products in your urine. Diluting your urine also reduces the risk of kidney stones. Drink enough each day to keep your urine a light straw color, which indicates you’re well hydrated. When the color is darker you aren’t drinking enough and if your urine doesn’t have any color you may be drinking too much.

Avoid Foods High in Purines

Organ meats, brewer’s yeast, sardines and tuna packed in oil, chicken livers and beef fillet all have over 100 mg of purine per 100 g of product.24 Foods high in purine will breakdown to uric acid.

How Statins Degenerate Your Brain Health

Wed, 07/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Tens of millions of people are taking drugs to lower their cholesterol levels. Most of those medications are in a drug class known as statins. Some doctors are even starting to recommend children use statin drugs to control their cholesterol levels.1 I couldn't disagree more.

The challenge with statin drugs is that they address surface issues with cholesterol in a simplistic manner. But your body is a complex organism that uses cholesterol every day to build new cell walls, in the formation of vitamin D and in the production of hormones.

Statin drugs are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. They function by blocking the enzyme in your liver that naturally produces cholesterol for your bodily functions.

The drug essentially reduces your total cholesterol number, without addressing your high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) or triglyceride levels.

While your total cholesterol number gives you a general overview, it isn't the information needed to evaluate your risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, you'll need to compare your HDL, LDL, VLDL and triglyceride numbers against your total cholesterol.

Statins May Trigger Neuromuscular Disease

Statin drugs are notorious for causing side effects like muscle damage and weakness. What has been less publicized is a potential link between statins and a progression of muscle wasting that may lead to a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring receives safety reports associated with statin medications and has noted a disproportionately high number of patients with upper motor neuron lesions among those taking statin medications.2

The lead researcher, Ivor Ralph Edwards, is an expert in toxicology, acute and chronic poisoning and adverse drug reactions.3 He also is the senior adviser at the WHO Uppsala Monitoring Centre in Sweden, and he says:4

"We do advocate that trial discontinuation of a statin should be considered in patients with serious neuromuscular disease such as the ALS-like syndrome, given the poor prognosis and a possibility that progression of the disease may be halted or even reversed."

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medical School cautioned patients that although they discovered a link between taking statins and the development of a rare neuromuscular autoimmune disease, this condition could be treated with steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs.5

The researchers stated there was no need to fear this popular "fantastic medication."6

Dr. Andrew L. Mammen, a neurologist who treats patients with statin-associated myopathies at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is quoted in a Johns Hopkins press release saying, "Statins save a huge number of lives. They dramatically reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks."

The implication is you need statins in order to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes, and you should take them despite the risk for developing a degenerative neurological disease for which you will require medication to suppress your immune system.

This despite the knowledge that total cholesterol numbers are not indicative of your overall risk for cardiovascular disease. I would advise you to seriously evaluate the risks and benefits and consider your alternatives before you start taking a statin drug.

More Adverse Effects of Statins Download the Interview Transcript

In the video above, Dr. Beatrice Golomb7 talks with me about the manipulation of "scientific evidence" and other well-publicized misinformation about medications.

In 2012 Golomb was recognized for a study she led on muscle and tendon adverse events linked to statins, which showed that muscle problems were related to the strength of the statin being taken.8

Other studies concur that side effects from statin drugs may be different for different patients depending upon your past medical history, the particular statin and the dose used.9

Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests that research results have been "cherry-picked" so the results presented the best possible light for the drug company.10 According to Pacific Standard:11

"Sometimes the negative side effects of statins are downplayed, and conclusions can be skewed by the limited parameters of the trials. As a 2007 Scripps Mercy Hospital study noted:

'The incidence of statin-induced rhabdomyolysis (acute breakdown of skeletal muscles) is higher in practice than in controlled trials because of the exclusion of potentially susceptible subjects.'"

Another study found 17 percent of patients suffered side effects that included muscle pain, nervous system problems and nausea.12 Two-thirds who reported side effects stopped taking the drugs and approximately half stopped at least temporarily.

A review of the literature, published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, evaluated 900 previous studies looking at the adverse effects of statin drugs.13

Adverse effects are dose-dependent, and your health risks can be amplified by a number of factors, such as taking other drugs (which may increase statin potency), metabolic syndrome or thyroid disease. Some of the consequences of taking statin drugs in strong doses or for a lengthy amount of time include:14,15,16

✓ Headache

✓ Difficulty sleeping

✓ Drowsiness

✓ Bloating

✓ Gas

✓ Constipation

✓ Rash

✓ High blood sugar (type 2 diabetes)

✓ Vision changes

✓ Bladder pain

✓ Difficulty breathing

✓ Dry mouth

✓ Lower back or side pain

✓ Loss of consciousness

✓ Swollen joints

✓ Blistering or peeling skin

✓ Weight changes

✓ Cognitive loss

✓ Neuropathy

✓ Anemia

✓ Acidosis

✓ Frequent fevers

✓ Cataracts

✓ Sexual dysfunction

✓ Pancreatic dysfunction

✓ Immune system suppression

✓ Polyneuropathy (nerve damage in hands and feet)

✓ Liver dysfunction

✓ Increased risk of cancer

✓ Degenerative muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)

If You Feel You Must Take Statins You Need to Take Ubiquinol or CoQ10

Statins work by inhibiting the enzyme your liver uses to produce cholesterol. However, the same pathway may promote the suppression of the precursor to coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant your mitochondria uses to produce energy. In theory, when your body is deficient in CoQ10, mitochondrial energy production is depressed, which may trigger or accelerate neuropathies like ALS.17

If you take statin drugs without taking CoQ10 or the reduced form, ubiquinol, your health may be at serious risk. Unfortunately, this describes the majority of people who take statins in the United States. The loss of energy at the cellular level can damage your mitochondrial DNA and set into motion a vicious cycle of rising free radicals and mitochondrial damage.

CoQ10 is an effective adjunct treatment for heart failure, an important piece of information as statins may decrease the function of your heart muscle.18 In this study researchers found the control group, those who were not taking statin drugs to protect their cardiovascular health, fared better.19 They concluded, "Statin therapy is associated with decreased myocardial function as evaluated with SI (strain imaging)."

The importance of your mitochondrial energy function can't be overstated. Statin Study Group, led by Golomb, concluded the malfunction of mitochondrial energy production due to the interference of statin medications was the underlying causative factor in all of the adverse effects associated with the medication.

After reviewing the evidence, if you choose to take a CoQ10 supplement it's important to take the form your body can easily assimilate.20 CoQ10 can typically be used by people 30 and younger. However, if you are over 30 you'll want to consider ubiquinol, the reduced version of CoQ10, as it is far more effective.

LDL Particle Number More Important Than Total Cholesterol

It is likely the focus on lowering cholesterol has missed the boat completely, as high total cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, unless it's over 300. Other risk factors are much more powerful. One of the more important tests you may consider to determine your real risk of heart disease is the NMR LipoProfile, which measures your LDL particle number.

This particular test also includes markers to determine if you are insulin resistant, a primary cause of an elevated LDL particle number. When your insulin secretion rises, so does your cholesterol production. Elevated insulin levels, or a decrease in insulin sensitivity, is related to the foods you eat and your exercise. Two other blood test ratios that will tell you more about your cardiovascular disease risk are:

  • HDL to total cholesterol ratio. This is a fasting test and should be higher than 25 percent. It measures the amount of HDL you have against your total cholesterol number.
  • Triglyceride to HDL ratio, which should be below 2.

Health officials in the United States urge everyone over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested once every five years. Part of this test is your total cholesterol, or the sum of your blood's cholesterol content, including HDL, LDLs and VLDLs.

Keep in mind these are still simply guidelines, and there's a lot more that goes into your risk of heart disease than any one number can tell you. It was only after researchers found total cholesterol was a poor predictor of heart disease that HDL and LDL cholesterol were measured. They give you a closer idea of what's going on, but they still do not show you everything.

Naturally Improve Your Cholesterol Levels

The only time there is a real reason to take medications to control your cholesterol level may be if you suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia. This is a genetic condition, passed down through your family. It begins at birth and affects your LDL levels, sometimes causing heart attacks at an early age.21

In other instances, your cholesterol can be controlled by making different lifestyle and nutritional choices. The fact is that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels.22,23 This means if you optimize your insulin levels you will also be optimizing your cholesterol levels. In order to safely regulate your blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels it is important to modify your diet and lifestyle choices.

Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels

Sensible sun exposure will help normalize your cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.24 For a full explanation of the process see my previous article titled, "Could THIS Be the Hidden Factor Behind Obesity, Heart Disease and Chronic Fatigue?"

Normalize Your Weight and Reduce Carbohydrates, Especially Fructose

Normalize your weight using a plan of eliminating grains and sugars in your diet. Take special care to get no more than 25 grams of fructose each day. These products spike your insulin level and trigger the development of cholesterol. Ideally, you'll also want to consume a good portion of your food raw.

Include Heart Healthy Foods

Make sure you are getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.

Increase Your Daily Movement and Exercise Regularly

While I strongly recommend incorporating Peak Fitness exercises, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production, non-exercise movement may be even more important. Ideally, stay active as much as you can each day. I recommend standing up at work, and try to get as much walking in as possible. Then, in addition to that, aim for a comprehensive fitness program that includes strength training and high intensity exercises.

Reduce Your Stress Levels

Each of us experience stress in a fast-paced life. You may consider addressing your emotional challenges using my favorite technique for stress management, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). You can easily learn to use these techniques at home and incorporate them even when you're out and about.

Improve Your Sleep Quality

High quality sleep helps reduce your stress levels, normalize your insulin levels and function optimally through the day. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep you may want to try some of the strategies in my previous article titled, "Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed."

Avoid Excessive Alcohol or Tobacco

Alcohol is high in net carbohydrates, which affect your insulin levels. Tobacco has an effect on your arterial system, temporarily raising your blood pressure.

Replace Vegetable Oils

Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, butter and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only; use coconut oil for cooking and baking).

Include Fermented Foods

Include fermented foods in your daily diet. These will not only optimize your intestinal microflora, which will boost your overall immunity, but will also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth. Poor oral health is another powerful indicator of increased heart disease risk.

Even Organic Factory Farms Hate Transparency

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

There's a widespread belief in the U.S. that animals raised on organic farms are treated more humanely than animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This may be true in some cases, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic standards do not address animal welfare.

Despite this, a survey conducted for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found 68 percent of those surveyed expected animals raised on organic farms "have access to outdoor pasture and fresh air throughout the day."

Another 67 percent believed "[organically raised] animals have significantly more space to move than on non-organic farms."1

These beliefs, however, are often not the reality on organic farms, especially large organic farms that are owned by major food corporations and operate similarly to conventional CAFOs (making them essentially organic CAFOs).

USDA Proposed Rule on Organic Animal Welfare Falls Flat

In April 2016, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a proposed rule to amend organic livestock and poultry practices to provide for the animals' welfare. As reported by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the changes proposed by the USDA include:2

✓ Distinct welfare provisions are provided for mammalian and avian livestock

✓ Outdoor access for poultry cannot have a solid roof overhead

✓ Outdoor space requirements for poultry must be less than 2.25 pounds of hen per square foot of outdoor space

✓ Outdoor space must have 50 percent soil cover

✓ Indoor space requirements for poultry must be less than 2.25 pounds of hen per square foot of indoor space (allowances up to 4.5 pounds per square foot are made for pasture based and aviary style production systems)

✓ Further clarity on justifications for confinement indoors for livestock and poultry

✓ Further clarity on physical alterations that are allowed and prohibited

✓ Proposed implementation timeline following the issuance of a final rule: one year for all new organic operations; three years for new livestock housing construction; five years for all certified operations to be in full compliance

While some of the changes are a step in the right direction, others favor industrial livestock production (CAFOs) and will essentially legalize organic CAFOs for producing eggs and poultry.

The Cornucopia Institute, which engages in educational activities supporting sustainable and organic agriculture, noted, for instance, that:3

  • Porches should not be considered outdoor access in poultry operations
  • Birds need a minimum of 5 square feet each outdoors
  • Vegetation should be required in all outdoor areas for poultry
  • One of the dairy proposals allows cows to defecate and urinate on bedding, which jeopardizes animal health and conflicts with the requirement to keep animals clean
Glaring Issues With USDA's Organic Animal Welfare Proposal

The public comment period on the USDA's draft rule ended on July 13, 2016, with organic supporters like The Cornucopia Institute calling it a "giveaway to factory farm interests masquerading as organic." They continued:4

"Cornucopia policy experts and scientists claim that the options presented in the USDA's draft rule could confine birds to as little as [1] square foot indoors and only require farms to provide [2] square feet of 'pasture' outdoors, half of which could be covered with concrete."

"At best, the USDA proposal delays enforcement for five to seven years allowing continued factory farm confinement production," said Mark A. Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at the Cornucopia Institute.5 Kastel continued to Mercola.com:

"If corporate agribusiness, and a friendly USDA, succeed in blurring the lines, consumers won't be able to tell if their organic food is coming from a factory farm or a family farm that truly subscribes to organic practices.

Besides for many people who want to make sure livestock are treated respectfully, unless we have good enforcement, it becomes near impossible to differentiate between the phony-baloney organic brands and [the] ones that offer enhanced nutrition, like elevated omega-3 levels, that people expect when animals are provided access to pasture."

Industry Groups Balk at Looking Out for Animal Welfare

The organic industry is a mixed bag made up of small farms raising food the right way and large CAFOs that have gotten into the organic market and sell an organic line.

One of the scenarios that prompted to USDA's draft proposal in the first place was the fact that millions of chickens could be raised in squalid conditions on a CAFO, yet still labeled as organic.6

The reality is that corporate interests want to raise food in industrial CAFO settings yet still get a piece of the organic pie by labeling the questionably raised foods organic.

So far, they've been getting away with it, and they don't want that to change. In comments filed under the USDA's draft organic rule, for instance:

• The National Cattlemen's Beef Association argued the USDA doesn't have authority to put animal welfare standards in place under the organic program, and said the rule implies organically raised food is superior to conventionally and "vilifies conventionally raised livestock."7

• Cal-Maine Foods, the largest U.S. egg producer, Rose Acre Farms and Herbruck Poultry argued that the proposed requirements would be nearly impossible for big organic egg producers to comply.

They even went so far as to say the proposals could potentially jeopardize bird and human health.8

• The National Chicken Council (NCC), which represents Tyson, Perdue and other large poultry producers, also took issue with the proposed organic rule, specifically the suggestion that porches do not qualify as organic access.

The poultry giant claimed allowing birds outdoors could risk bird health and food safety while increasing costs for organic producers.9

So, basically, they want Americans to believe that keeping birds cooped up in close quarters is a better way to prevent disease than giving them access to fresh air and sunlight — an argument that defies commonsense and reason.

In short, organic CAFOs want to continue to raise animals in confinement and oppose measures that would require provisions that let farm animals be farm animals (like scratching around freely in the dirt, feeling the sun on their backs and foraging for their native diets).

North Carolina CAFO Waste Pits Are Environmental Disasters

If there were any question that raising animals in CAFOs is a disaster for all parties involved (except, maybe, for those raking in the profits), you need only look to North Carolina, where residents are reeling from the effects of living near hog CAFOs.

Every year, 15,000 Olympic pools' worth of waste come from North Carolina's CAFOs — the hog CAFOs alone, according to an analysis of maps and data of the state's CAFOs by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to EWG:10

"A new analysis by EWG and Waterkeeper Alliance shows that wet waste, primarily from pigs, in North Carolina's industrial agricultural operations produce almost 10 billion gallons of fecal waste yearly, enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools … Nestled near the Atlantic coast, these counties are beset with numerous air and water quality problems."

In addition, poultry operations in the state produce more than 2 million tons of dry animal waste annually. The wet animal waste is often applied to croplands as "fertilizer" or dumped into waste lagoons. The open pits allow pathogenic microbes and chemicals to enter the air and waterways. Of the state's more than 4,100 waste pits, EWG found that:

  • 37 were located within one-half mile of a school
  • 288 within one-half mile of a church
  • 136 within one-half mile of a public water well
  • 170 within the state's 100-year floodplain

This isn't a problem unique to North Carolina; unfortunately, it's a familiar scene in many U.S. CAFO states. Alex Formuzis, senior vice president, communications and strategic campaigns for the EWG, wrote of the reality of living near a CAFO:11

"The smell from the manure and ammonia plume dangling above your property is so strong it often triggers vomiting, nause[a] and lung and eye irritation. The tap water could very well contain traces of the offending and dangerous swine waste, too, forcing you to buy and drink bottled water.

The waste saturates your property and builds up along the exterior of the house, attracting droves of flies, mosquitos, rats and snakes. Depression sets in as you and your family face the fact you've become prisoners in your own home.

A home you own, pay taxes on, and had hoped would be a safe and comfortable place to live, raise a family and grow old in. This is a slice of the American dream turned into a nightmare, courtesy of the industrial swine operation that borders your property.

Welcome to life alongside a factory farm. This is the reality of [residents of North Carolina] and tens of thousands of other Americans in this state, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, Missouri and beyond."

TTIP May Also Stand in the Way of Increased Access to Healthier, Humanely Raised Food

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe that's supported by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), which represents major U.S. meat and poultry producers. According to a report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), which promotes sustainable food, farming and trade systems, TTIP would result in a corporate meat takeover and policy that favors industry over the public interest.

Provisions in TTIP would allow the global meat industry's global power to grow. They use the example of transnational meat corporations such as JBS and Smithfield, which they say "could be newly empowered to challenge regulations that hurt their bottom line …"12 According to IATP:13

"The U.S. simply lacks essential rules that should curb the meat industry's wors[t] practices that cost taxpayers millions in environmental and public health costs … With TTIP, the EU industry will also ensure that pending decisions on critical issues such as cloning and glyphosate are made with trade 'competitiveness' in mind and not the public interest.

A TTIP deal would basically hand over Europe's animal farming sector on a silver platter to transnational meat corporations — through tariffs and quota expansions, but definitively through the sweeping de-regulatory changes the industry hopes to win through the accord."

How to Find Truly Humanely Raised Food

At this point, it's very difficult to tell from food labels alone whether the food you buy has been raised humanely or not. Even an organic label does not give you the whole picture. Unfortunately, unless you do a lot of research, it may be nearly impossible to sort the good from the bad.

That's where The Cornucopia Institute's organic egg report and scorecard, which took six years to produce, is invaluable. The scorecard is designed to help consumers and wholesale buyers identify truly exemplary organic brands in the supermarket coolers. It ranks 136 egg producers according to 28 organic criteria to help you find truly healthy, humanely-raised eggs.14 According to the Cornucopia Institute:

"'Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture' will empower consumers and wholesale buyers who want to invest their food dollars to protect hard-working family farmers that are in danger of being forced off the land by a landslide of eggs from factory farms ...

[As] consumers have become concerned about the humane treatment of animals, and are also seeking out eggs that are superior in flavor and nutrition, a number of national marketers have found success in distributing 'pasture'-produced eggs.

'There is a fair bit of overreach and the exploitation of this term is well covered in our report,' Kastel explained. 'The organic egg scorecard enables concerned consumers to select authentic brands delivering the very best quality eggs regardless of the hyperbole on the label' ..."

When shopping for food, it's important to be informed regarding where that food was produced. This becomes possible when you shop at farmers markets, natural food co-ops and directly from the farm, if possible. If you take advantage of the farm-fresh sustainability that's becoming more prevalent as people take control of what they're consuming, you'll realize many benefits.

You'll know where the foods you and your family eat come from, ensure optimal nutrition and protect the health of future generations. Also remember that some local foods are grown using organic standards and humanely, even though they might not be certified organic. One of the benefits of getting your food straight from the farm via the resources below is that you can often meet the farmer and ask about animal welfare before you buy:

  1. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  2. Farmers Markets — A national listing of farmers markets.
  3. Local Harvest —This website 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  6. 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.

Monsanto Benefits Hand Over Fist From Tax Dollar Subsidies

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In the video above, Funny or Die pokes fun at Monsanto's "feeding the world" message by highlighting some of the most obvious features of genetically engineered (GE) foods, such as the unnatural crossing of genetic material between plant and animal kingdoms, the use of toxic chemicals and Monsanto's ever-expanding monopoly.

"I own everything!" Mama Monsanto exclaims, and that's pretty close to the truth. Monsanto has gobbled up seed companies, chemical competitors and even research institutions investigating the impact of pesticides on bee die-offs.

Not to mention the influence the company wields over the U.S. government. It sure seems to "own" that too.

Why the US Government Refuses to Turn on Monsanto

Many have pondered how Monsanto managed to rise to such a powerful position with respect to its influence over the U.S. government, and I think journalist Abby Martin may have pin-pointed the source of this obnoxious loyalty in her recent video report, "America's Monster" (below).

In it, she details Monsanto's history as an American "war horse," which began with its involvement in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb. Monsanto's contributions to the U.S. war machine continued during the Vietnam War, when the company became a leading producer of Agent Orange.

These war contributions appear to have cemented a long-lasting and loyal relationship between the U.S. government and Monsanto that continues to this day, to the detriment of the American people.

Sixty-four other nations have been labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for years. Here in the U.S., Monsanto's influence runs so deep, we just became the first country in the world to UNLABEL GMOs, as President Obama will soon sign a bill that nullifies Vermont's GMO labeling law, which just went into effect July 1.

Throughout its entire history, which began with the foundation of Monsanto Chemical Works in 1901, Monsanto has specialized in the production of toxic chemicals. Despite attempts to shed its destructive image, Monsanto has utterly failed to do so, for the simple fact that it never actually changed its basic modus operandi.

Nor did it actually change its direction from purveyor of toxins to a life-giving agricultural company. Its focus remains producing and selling toxins. It simply discovered it could sell more chemicals, and ensure ever-increasing profits, by producing GE seeds with herbicide-resistant properties.

Voluntary 'Smart Label' Preempts State and Consumer Rights

Earlier this month, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow announced they'd reached a deal1 to create a national labeling standard for GMOs using voluntary "Smart Labels" (so-called QR codes2) rather than clear labeling.

This despite the fact that polls show 88 percent of Americans have said they do NOT want to be forced into using a smartphone app to find this important information.

The bill, S. 2609, which amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 with a national bioengineered food disclosure standard,3,4 is now more or less a done deal. On July 14, the U.S. House passed the bill, 306 to 117, and President Obama has already indicated he will sign it.5

The legislation will supersede and nullify Vermont's GMO labeling requirement, which took effect mere weeks ago.

It will also bar any other state from enacting GMO labeling requirements that differ from the national standard, and delays the disclosure requirement another two years; three years for smaller food companies.

What's worse, the new legislation changes and significantly narrows the definition of bioengineering, as applied under this law only, such that the newest biotech methods are exempt from the disclosure standards.

As a result, most GE food products currently on the market will end up being excluded anyway.

With the passing of this bill, the U.S. "war horse" Monsanto won again. Your elected representatives sold you out to the highest bidder. Senator Jeff Merkley has even stated that the bill was "written by and for Monsanto." As reported by Sputnik International:6

"Markley explained that because of loopholes in the legislation, Monsanto-made products 'would not be covered by it, because the definition excludes them.'"

Monsanto Benefits From Farm and Biofuel Subsidies

I recently discussed how government-subsidized commodities such as corn, soy and wheat contribute to the obesity and disease epidemics in the U.S.7,8,9 The Western processed food diet is chockfull of refined added sugars and unhealthy vegetable oils, which are cheap as a result of farm subsidies.

However, as much as 65 percent of the 94.1 million acres of corn grown in the U.S. actually doesn't enter the food system at all.10 It's used to produce ethanol fuel.

In a 2009 speech, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said that "energy reform is a strategic imperative,"11 calling for the deployment of "the Great Green Fleet ... composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running biofuel and aircraft flying only [on] biofuels."

Mabus had put down 2016 as the deadline for this naval energy reform, but it didn't come to pass. As noted by Vice News:12

"[C]ongressional Republicans ... have blocked the Navy from spending more on a gallon of biofuel than it does on a gallon of regular diesel.

Since it costs more to turn seeds, weeds or beef trimmings into usable fuel than it does to extract fossil fuels from the ground and refine them, it's all but impossible for the fleet to use substantial amounts of biofuels with crude oil prices are as low as they currently are."

Part of the problem is the low production of biofuel, which drives up the price. According to a 2015 report13 by the World Resources Institute (WRI), in order to meet just 20 percent of the global energy demand by 2050, using plant-based biofuels, we would have to DOUBLE the global annual harvest of plant material "in all its forms."

This makes the "quest for bioenergy at a meaningful scale ... both unrealistic and unsustainable," according to the report. Despite such bleak prognoses, the Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act of 201614 would provide a $1.00 subsidy for each gallon of biodiesel produced during the taxable year.

In short, not only are your tax dollars continuing the expansion of corn for the production of biofuel, which is "unrealistic and unsustainable" to begin with, government subsidies are also used to grow crops that are primary contributors to obesity and ill health — and both of these schemes end up benefiting Monsanto, since the vast majority of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified.

'The Dumbest Guys in the Room'

In an article titled, "GMO Industry: The Dumbest Guys in the Room,"15 columnist Kurt Cobb16 makes a number of strikingly accurate observations.

"I am now convinced the GMO industry has managed to hire the worst public relations strategists in human history. By supporting a deeply flawed GMO labeling bill in the U.S. Congress ... the industry is about to open a Pandora's Box of PR nightmares for years to come," he writes.

"The anti-GMO groups will likely put out lists of the worst labeling violators and lists of their products containing GMOs. And, of course, there will be lists based on those enigmatic QR codes. Perhaps those codes will become the equivalent of the skull and crossbones feared by one GMO executive.17"

Cobb likely predicts the future here, as I believe the QR code will become exactly that — the mark of products and brands that are trying to make a mint from deception by making it as difficult as possible for you to find out the truth about their ingredients. The QR code will become known as the Mark of Monsanto, and shoppers will be able to simply assume admission of guilt when they see it, without ever taking the time to rummage through entire websites filled with extraneous information and advertising.

Forbes contributor Nancy Fink Huehnergarth has made similar observations,18 noting that "Big Food may be shooting itself in the foot again," as the QR code will make it appear they have something to hide.

"Food/drink packaging already has an ingredient label and nutrition facts panel. How simple would it be to mandate that all food packaging add a few words or a universal symbol to communicate the inclusion of GMO ingredients?" she says.

Why Eat GMOs When They Have No Health Advantages?

Cobb makes another great point when he says:

"[T]he industry's business and public relations strategists are the same ones who made a colossal marketing error — while believing they had achieved a regulatory coup — when they steamrolled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into ruling that GMOs are 'substantially equivalent' to their non-GMO counterparts and therefore require no testing ...

The reason this strategy has turned out to be a colossal marketing error is that as the attacks on GMOs have mounted ... the industry finds itself unable to pivot and point to any advantages that GMO foods have for consumers over non-GMO foods ...

After all, GMO foods are said to be 'substantially equivalent.' That means that the industry cannot give consumers any reasons to prefer GMO foods over their non-GMO counterparts ... So far genetic engineering has focused on creating plants [that] produce insecticides internally — not a pleasant thought for those eating them — and which are immune to herbicides made by, you guessed it, the companies producing the GMO seeds."

Chemical Residues — A Major Reason to Avoid GMOs

Indeed, if GMOs are substantially equivalent to conventional crops in terms of nutritional value yet contain higher amounts of pesticides, why eat them? After all, the idea that pesticides are a boon to health is a tough sell.

As you may have noticed, with the exception of DDT, which was marketed as "good for you," pesticides do not have health claims. And arguments defending the presence of pesticides on food always focus on the notion that the amount present is low enough that it will not produce adverse effects.

However, health statistics tell a different story, and the reason why the "trace defense" doesn't hold water is because it's not just about minor traces of chemicals on certain foods items.

Unless you eat organic foods and use "organic everything," you're exposed to pesticides from most foods, plus the chemicals used in the processing, plus chemicals to add flavor, texture and preservation power, plus chemicals found in the packaging and in the cashier's receipt, plus the chemicals found in just about every product you put on your body every day, including the clothes you wear, and the furniture you sit on. There are even chemicals in the air you breathe and the water you drink. 

We are barraged with toxins at every turn, and they all ADD UP. That is the problem. And, unfortunately, food appears to be a major source, so avoiding chemicals in your diet can go a long way toward preserving your health. With that in mind, herbicide-resistant and pesticide-producing food crops are an incredibly foolish idea that contributes absolutely nothing to the health and wellbeing of the global community.

US Right to Know Blows Lid Off Another Monsanto Scheme to Tarnish Organics

Since transparent GMO labeling is not going to happen in the U.S. anytime soon, your options become quite straight forward: Buy organic and/or locally-grown food you can verify being non-GMO. This has always been the best option; just not the least expensive or most convenient. Not surprisingly, in addition to defending the quality and safety of its GE products, Monsanto has also tried to cast doubt on organic ethics and value, in order to curb consumer preference for organics.

Emails obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) reveal Monsanto colluded with an organization of "independent" academics to mislead the public into thinking they were being duped by the organic industry. The Huffington Post recently ran an article19 revealing this story. It's well worth reading in its entirety.

USRTK is a nonprofit organization that pursues truth and transparency in the U.S. food system. In 2014, Academics Review, a nonprofit organization composed of "independent academic experts in agriculture and food sciences" issued a 30-page report claiming organic shoppers were over-paying for organics due to deceptive industry marketing practices.

The report, which was "endorsed by an international panel of independent agricultural science, food science, economic and legal experts from respected international institutions" gained traction in the trade press with headlines such as "Organics Exposed!" and "Organic Industry Booming by Deceiving Customers."

The press release announcing the report even hammers home the point of independence by stating that "Academics Review has no conflicts-of-interest associated with this publication, and all associated costs ... were paid for using our general funds without any specific donor influence or direction." Alas, emails obtained by USRTK tell a different story.

Academics Review — Just Another False Front Group for Monsanto

Monsanto not only helped raise funds for Academics Review, Monsanto executives also "collaborated on strategy and even discussed plans to hide industry funding," The Huffington Post writes, adding:

"Monsanto's motives in attacking the organic industry are obvious: Monsanto's seeds and chemicals are banned from use in organic farming, and a large part of Monsanto's messaging is that its products are superior to organics as tools to boost global food production."

One of the co-founders of Academics Review was Bruce Chassy, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Illinois. In March of this year, an investigation by Chicago WBEZ news20 discovered Monsanto paid the now retired Chassy more than $57,000 over two years for travel, writing and speaking expenses, yet Chassy never disclosed his financial ties to the company on state and university conflict-of-interest disclosure forms.

Between 2005 and 2015, Monsanto gave at least $5.1 million to University of Illinois employees and programs — all of it undisclosed, as it was funneled via the University of Illinois Foundation, which is exempt from public scrutiny and disclosure.21

Chassy also lobbied federal officials on Monsanto's behalf to prevent further regulations on GMOs. Chassy claims he did this of his own volition, but emails22 show Monsanto's Eric Sachs urged Chassy to get involved. The correspondence also reveals this was in fact part of an industry lobbying effort, "with academics out in front," basically pretending to be acting independently — just like the Academics Review.

FOIA-recovered emails show Chassy was very eager to attack the organic industry but needed money. Jay Byrne, former head of communications at Monsanto, agreed to help, indicating he would discuss "options for taking the Academic Review project ... forward" by meeting with Val Giddings, former vice president of the biotech industry trade association BIO.

Eric Sachs, who handles Monsanto's public relations, also emailed Chassy discussing funding possibilities for Academics Review while "keeping Monsanto in the background." Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets are often tightly reined in by corporate bias, which prevents the truth to become as widely known as it should. As noted in The Huffington Post:

"Despite the revelations in emails and the disclosure of Chassy's financial ties to Monsanto, the Academics Review website and its report attacking the organic industry are still posted online with all the descriptions claiming independence. And Chassy still enjoys press coverage as an 'independent' expert on GMOs. In May 2016, two separate Associated Press stories quoted Chassy on that topic. Neither story mentioned Chassy's now-public financial ties to Monsanto."

Should Food Sharing Be Illegal?

Tue, 07/26/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In 2014, 90-year-old World War II veteran Arnold Abbott was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for feeding the homeless. The city had recently passed a controversial ordinance that restricts where charitable groups can feed the homeless on public property.

The ordinance was described as a way to control the area's growing homeless population. Abbott, however, had no plans of stopping his altruistic acts. After being arrested on November 2, 2014 — along with two pastors — police cited him again on November 6, 2014.

Mayor Jack Seiler defended the arrest and told Abbott to secure an indoor location instead. In response, Abbott said no indoor venues to feed the homeless were available, and he intended to continue with his mission outside until the mayor found him a suitable location indoors.1

Meanwhile, by last year at least five lawsuits had been filed against Fort Lauderdale, alleging that the law is unconstitutional.2 The case of Abbott versus Fort Lauderdale may seem like an extreme example, but it is, unfortunately, not unique.

More Than 70 US Cities Have Attempted to Ban Food Sharing

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, citywide restrictions on food sharing are growing in the U.S. More than 70 cities have passed or attempted to pass laws that make feeding the homeless a criminal offense.3

The legislation works in a number of ways. For instance, some cities require permits be obtained (for a fee) before food may be distributed on public property.

Other legislation restricts food sharing on the grounds of food safety, requiring organizations sharing food to comply with overly strict food-safety regulations, such as only preparing food in approved locations or serving only pre-packaged meals. Mother Jones reported in 2014:

"When the issue of food safety was raised during a court hearing on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's food-sharing law, the legal director of the state's ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] chapter pointed out that similar restrictions weren't being levied against family reunions in parks, for instance, and that it had never received a single report of homeless people getting sick from the food.

A Utah state representative said the same thing about Salt Lake City's food-sharing law."

Food-Sharing Bans Attempt to Move the Problem of Homelessness Elsewhere

In some cases, community members may force the food-sharing organization to relocate or stop operating in order to make the location "less attractive" for homeless people. According to a National Coalition for the Homeless report:4

"The final, and most difficult to measure, method to restrict food-sharing with people experiencing homelessness is through community actions driven by the principle of 'Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY).'

In most cases, business- and home-owners [sic] who do not want people experiencing homelessness to be attracted to their communities, place tremendous pressure, and sometimes even harass, the organization responsible for the food-sharing program to cease or relocate their programs."

The National Coalition for the Homeless believes, however, that simply stopping food sharing will not make homeless people disappear — nor will sharing food encourage people to be homeless.

Instead, they cite lack of affordable housing and job opportunities, mental health problems, addiction and physical disabilities as top reasons that perpetuate homelessness.

Is it Illegal to Buy a Meal From Your Neighbor?

The issue of food sharing stretches far beyond feeding the homeless. What if, for instance, you were ill, too busy or simply did not want to cook meals for yourself and your family?

And what if a neighbor loved cooking and wanted to cook meals for you regularly, which you would purchase for an agreed-upon fee and pick up at their doorstep at an agreed-upon time?

Such is the premise behind California food-startup company Josephine, which "connects you to friends and neighbors making home cooked meals."

Thousands of people have joined and raved about not only the meals they've picked up but also the sense of community — some even called it family — that the simple act of picking up home-cooked meals has brought them. There are others, too. Fast Company reported:5

"Feastly and EatWith facilitate pop-up dinners in people's homes. Mytable, MealSurfers and Umi Kitchen deliver meals from home chefs' kitchens.

Homemade, a similar concept, acts like a Shopify for food, providing software to enable anyone to sell their empanadas or jerk chicken dish from their apartment. Even Etsy has a fairly extensive homemade food inventory."

You may be wondering if sharing food in this way is legal. In many areas, technically it's not.

In order to sell food, many states require that it be prepared in a "commercial kitchen," which must contain nonabsorbent (i.e., stainless steel) countertops, two sinks (one for washing and preparing food and one, with three compartments, for washing dishes), and other requirements that would be impractical and undesirable in a typical home kitchen.

Many start-up companies begin their operations and forge ahead anyway. In Josephine's case, the company was eventually presented with a wave of cease-and-desist letters from various government officials — but not before it sponsored a bill that would have removed the commercial kitchen requirement from the California Retail Code, essentially making it legal to sell food cooked at home.

The bill was immediately opposed and pulled, however, and it remains to be seen whether Josephine will ultimately survive. Still, the company, and other start-ups like it, is clearly fulfilling a void for home-cooked meals in many people's lives.

Why Cottage Food Laws Don't Cut It

You may be wondering how people can "get away" with selling homemade goods at farmer's markets and craft fairs. This is because most states have "cottage food" laws that allow certain home-cooked foods to be sold publically on a limited basis.

The foods permitted to be sold are typically limited to "non-potentially hazardous" items, such as baked goods, dried fruits, jams, jellies and popcorn. There is some variance by state, such as in Wyoming, where most home-cooked food can be sold, and Wisconsin, where not even baked goods can be sold.6

In addition, the operations are typically limited by how much they can earn each year. In Illinois, for instance, the Cottage Food Law limits sales from homemade products to $36,000 per year or less.7

The person selling the product must also be registered with the state and must obtain an Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate — so there are still plenty of regulatory hurdles to cross, even when selling your homemade goods is "legal."

Police Raids to Confiscate Raw Milk Continue

The war against raw milk in the U.S. is an assault to food freedom and should strike a nerve with anyone who believes it is his or her own right (and not the government's) to choose what to eat and drink.

In recent months in Texas, for instance, at least two police raids have occurred to break up raw milk sales. In one case, about 50 people picking up raw milk from a farmer in a church parking lot in Katy, Texas, were stopped by police.8

In another instance, inspectors from the Austin Health Department and the Texas Department of State Health Services stopped people in the private driveway of an Austin, Texas home. The people were picking up raw milk they had already purchased, and the health officials said they could not have it.

These raids occurred despite the operations being LEGAL; in Texas, people can purchase raw milk from farms or have someone pick it up for them. The police and health department raids occurred, seemingly, because the customers hired a courier to deliver the legally purchased milk to them.9

Even Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van), Chairman House Pensions, sent a letter to the Attorney General's Office defending the raw-milk consumers and calling the health officials' actions "harassment of the farmer, the couriers and the customers."

"Not one illness has been reported, no pathogens have been found in this farmers [sic] milk, and there is absolutely no health basis for this action," he wrote.10

Meanwhile, Big Dairy, including the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), Dairy Farmers of America, and Land O'Lakes, has been accused of combining to form Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) and engaging in a price-fixing plot to inflate milk prices. CWT reportedly was involved in slaughtering half a million young cows in order to reduce milk supply and inflate prices, which resulted in more than $9.5 billion in profits.11

In contrast, many small raw milk farmers are struggling to survive. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board sets price points and, as a result, small farmers may have to sell their milk at a loss. Ray Kuzma, a Pennsylvania farmer who sells raw milk produced by his 200 Holstein cattle, receives $15 for 100 pounds of raw milk — an $8 loss compared to the cost of milk production. At that price, he's losing at least $10,000 a month.12

The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2011, sponsored by Progressive Agriculture Cooperative, is an old senate bill that could help struggling farmers like Kuzma if it's reintroduced, as it would set a national average to price milk based on the farmer's cost.13

The Right to Food

The right to food is included in the 1948 U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food."14 Yet, in the developed world this right to food increasingly means the right to food that comes from industrial food conglomerates as opposed to food from the origin of your choosing.

Government officials have crossed the line in telling people what types of food they can and can't eat — from attempting to shut down home cooks interested in selling their meals to making the sale of raw milk illegal across state lines and arresting those attempting to share food with the homeless.

The system is set up to protect industrialized, centralized food production and distribution, while efforts to decentralize food are kept strictly under wraps. Even small farmers attempting to offer grass-fed beef are met with hurdles unbeknownst to many Americans.

PRIME Act Would Help Support Food Freedom

All U.S. farmers must use USDA-approved slaughterhouses, and laws place special restrictions on grass-fed slaughtering. If a grass-fed rancher doesn't have access to a slaughterhouse, he cannot stay in business.

This shrewd strategy effectively maintains the status quo of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), because grass-fed ranchers are often forced to ship their cattle hundreds of miles for "processing" — a move that's both costly and stressful. Large slaughterhouses can also refuse smaller jobs, as they — just like CAFOs — operate on economy of scale.

Basically, there may be plenty of demand for grass-fed beef, and plenty of supply, but USDA rules and regulations prevent the American-bred supply from ever reaching the customer. Across the U.S., smaller slaughterhouses catering to grass-fed ranchers have been closing up shop, pushed out by larger processors, adding to the shortage of processing facilities to choose from.

So while every human has the right to food, in the U.S. rules and regulations may make it difficult, impossible or even illegal to purchase and consume the food of your choosing. Fortunately, there is some small farm-friendly legislation in the works, including the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act (S. 2651), introduced by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) earlier this year.

Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced an identical bill, H.R. 3187, in the House of Representatives last summer. If passed, the PRIME Act would allow states to permit sale of meat processed locally, thereby making it easier for small farms and ranches to serve their consumers. I encourage you to call your senators and urge them to support the PRIME Act.

Measures such as this support a decentralized, locally based food system, which is key for securing your right to food freedom, including fresh, naturally raised food. At an individual level, you can support your local food producers by frequenting farmer's markets, local farms and even testing out food-sharing opportunities.

Regarding the PRIME Act, you can find your senators' contact information by clicking the button below or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Click here

Powerful Properties of Pomegranates

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Swiss scientists recently found an element in pomegranates with promising potential to slow the effects of aging. The breakthrough catapulted pomegranates into superfood status and earned the focus of at least one biotech company eager to take advantage of the data.

The journal Nature Medicine reported the findings submitted by researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). They discovered that a compound called urolithin A bumped up the running endurance of aged mice by an average of 42 percent.

Urolithin A is a metabolite naturally produced by your body when compounds called ellagitannins, found in pomegranates, break down bacteria in your gut.

Not surprisingly, the team at EPFL is working with biotech company Amazentis to produce a nutritional supplement, which they hope will increase people's stamina and muscle strength, even in the aging process. Amazentis co-founder, neuroscience professor and EPFL president, Dr. Patrick Aebischer, said:

"We believe our research, uncovering the health benefits of urolithin A, holds promise in reversing muscle ageing [sic]. It's a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable."1

How Do Pomegranates Break Bacteria Down in Your Gut to Slow Aging?

When you eat a pomegranate, urolithin A is produced naturally when it's digested by gut bacteria. Tests aren't yet conclusive, but studies on rodents and nematodes (non-parasitic roundworms called Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans), which both exhibited the metabolite, are said to be promising for humans.

Studies over many years have extolled the age-fighting properties of pomegranates, but there was no evidence to prove it. In spite of the hype that made the claim a little dubious, scientists decided to try further evaluation. Medical News Today explained:

"As we age, an important process that our cells rely on for energy slows down and begins to malfunction. This process called 'mitophagy' recycles worn-out mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that make the chemical units of energy that fuel their work.

If worn-out mitochondria are not recycled, they and their decomposing components build up inside cells, eventually causing problems in many tissues, including muscle, which gradually becomes weaker."2

Clinical evidence reveals that when this "old" mitochondria builds up, it can become toxic and even trigger age-related diseases such as Parkinson's. Further, genetic mutations in the Parkinson's gene, called Fbxo7, prevent the mitophagy or elimination of worn-out mitochondria.3

Only the Urolithin A Molecule Can Kick-Start a Lagging Mitophagy Process

When the process of mitophagy begins getting sluggish, urolithin A is the only substance that can relaunch the clean-up process, Aebischer revealed.

Nematodes were the first subjects in urolithin A testing because they're multicellular, have several things in common with human cells, and develop from a fertilized egg. Further, when C. elegans roundworms are just 8 to 10 days old, they're considered old, so the researchers found them to be the perfect test specimen.

Significantly, when C. elegans worms were exposed to urolithin A, they not only lived an average of 45 percent longer, they also kept faulty mitochondria from accumulating.4

The scientists' next step was to test with mice, which netted the same if not better results, with an extra bit of information: Mice as old as 2 years of age ran 42 percent better than mice the same age that hadn't been subject to the compound.

More tests showed that young rats exposed to urolithin A exhibited enhanced capacity for exercise.

Scientists: Eating Pomegranates May Not Help You

While some people might hear about the EPFL studies for themselves and figure eating pomegranates might net at least some of the anti-aging and strength-bolstering benefits the animals found, scientists say because of the number of steps in its natural production process and the fact that the amount of urolithin A people produce varies widely, it's not quite that simple.

The ellagitannin precursor molecule in pomegranates mixes with water in your gut and breaks down into ellagic acid via bacteria to manufacture the urolithin A compound. You need certain gut bacteria to accomplish this, they say, not just the pomegranate.

The amount of bacteria varies from person to person and is sometimes nonexistent. If your gut bacteria don't produce urolithin A, it's probable that you won't reflect the mitochondria-recycling benefits exhibited in the study.

Urolithin A is currently under observation in human trials to deliver "finely calibrated doses" of the compound. EPFL's Laboratory of Integrative Systems Physiology
Professor Dr. Johan Auwerk explained:

"The fact that it works in two evolutionary distant species, it makes us very hopeful that it will also work in humans. That's the ultimate goal of our research.

Our work showed for the first time the importance of 'mitophagy' in the aging process, and in addition we provided a compound contained in the natural product pomegranate that could activate mitophagy and hence curb age-related disease as frailty, sarcopenia (muscle loss due to aging) or metabolic diseases linked with aging."5

If the human test results duplicate the other studies, it will indicate that urolithin A has the capacity to slow muscle aging in humans. The initial clinical trial on humans is anticipated by 2017.

Pomegranates Are Packed With Powerful Health Potential

Pomegranates are technically a berry, mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, and are one of the most popular fruits in many areas of the world.

Cut into a pomegranate and you'll find a bitter "pith" — not unlike that found in an orange — and about 600 small, juice-filled seed sacs called arils containing a crunchy, edible seed. To get the most of these bite-sized "jewels," cut off the crown of the fruit, cut it into sections, and roll the arils out in a bowl of water with your fingers.

Pomegranates are highly prized for their free radical-zapping antioxidants. While both red wine and green tea contain high amounts, one study found commercial pomegranate juice to have three times more antioxidant activity.

However, eating whole fruits is better since fiber moderates the amount of potentially damaging fructose.

Additionally, the presence of the tannin punicalagin indicates that more than just the arils are used in commercial juice, and that the pith can be used for juicing, as well.6 According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry:

"This shows that pomegranate industrial processing extracts some of the hydrolyzable tannins present in the fruit rind. This could account for the higher antioxidant activity of commercial juices compared to the experimental ones.

In addition, anthocyanins, ellagic acid derivatives and hydrolyzable tannins were detected and quantified in the pomegranate juices."7

Tests in the same study showed that extracts from the entire fruit exerted more antioxidant activity than just the arils. The aforementioned ellagitannin contains even more compounds such as punicalagins and punicalins, which account for about half of this fruit's antioxidant ability.

So if you're planning to juice pomegranates at home, be sure to include the beneficial rind.

Another study took a comprehensive view of pomegranates in relation to their antioxidants, free-radical-scavenging capacity, total oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and other factors in comparison with seven other fruit juices, including blueberry, orange and açaí, plus red wines and several teas, including green tea.

The study found that pomegranate juice "had the greatest antioxidant potency composite index among the beverages tested and was at least 20 percent greater than any of the other beverages tested."8

Antioxidants can decrease your risk of oxidative stress that exposes you to several serious diseases and chronic inflammation. One study said antioxidants may help delay the progression of Alzheimer's9 and the rapid deterioration of your tissues and organs.

In addition, tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid are important polyphenols in pomegranates that help with arthritis pain. They also contain vitamins C and K, folate, and the minerals potassium, copper and manganese.10 Together, these micronutrients help protect your cells against reactive oxygen species (ROS), cell damage and, yes, aging.

Disease-Fighting Power of Pomegranates

Pomegranate compounds can improve erectile dysfunction,11 and also squelch cancer cell proliferation and even bring about apoptosis, or cell death. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC)12 noted that "in laboratory tests, pomegranate shows antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties." In regard to osteoarthritis, UMMC noted:

"Flavonols (a kind of antioxidant) similar to the ones found in pomegranate fruit have been suggested as treatments for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in joints wears down and causes pain and stiffness. Researchers believe flavonols can help block inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage.

… In test tubes, pomegranate extract blocked the production of an enzyme that destroys cartilage in the body. In one review of the scientific literature, researchers concluded that all of the studies reported positive effects of pomegranate juice or extract on osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis."

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,13 pomegranates have been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure and also in:

✓ Cancer prevention14

✓ Hyperlipidemia15
(high blood fat)

✓ HIV 16

✓ Atherosclerosis17 (hardening of the arteries)

✓ Coronary heart disease18

✓ Hypertension

In 2007, Harvard Medical School published a review19 on the way pomegranate juice affects both prostate cancer and the heart:

"Two … studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help fight prostate cancer. In one study, scientists grew cells from highly aggressive cases of human prostate cancer in tissue cultures. Pomegranate fruit extracts slowed the growth of the cultured cancer cells and promoted cell death.

The researchers then implanted the cancer cells in mice. A group of mice that received water laced with pomegranate juice developed significantly smaller tumors than the untreated animals. In a preliminary study of men with prostate cancer, pomegranate juice lengthened patients' PSA doubling time (the longer the doubling time, the slower the tumor is growing) from 15 months before treatment to 54 months on the juice."

The same review discussed the benefits pomegranates may have on heart disease via its ability to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage. Pomegranate juice also decreased carotid artery thickness20 and improved cardiac blood flow, but it may also interfere with some medications.

What Is Cassava Good For?

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

You might be wondering what cassava is before you think to ask what it might be good for, but in light of its amazing properties, this rather sweet, starchy and nut-flavored tuber may become a staple in your pantry.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also known as manioc or yuca (not yucca), belongs to the spurge family of plants called Euphorbiaceae. It most likely originated in South American forest regions, but it's also grown very inexpensively in parts of Asia, Africa and the Southern U.S. For centuries, it's been a food mainstay for millions.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety says cassava contains more than one form of cyanogenic glycosides — sweet and bitter:

"Different varieties of cassava are generally classified into two main types: sweet cassava and bitter cassava. Sweet cassava roots contain less than 50 mg per kilogram hydrogen cyanide on fresh weight basis, whereas that of the bitter variety may contain up to 400 mg per kilogram."1

Cassava is a perennial, usually grown in tropical climates, very simply propagated by using a cut portion of the stem. The roots, often compared to large yams, can weigh several pounds. They have tough, scaly and brown skin and starchy, white "meat" inside, but care must be taken in harvest because the shelf life is only a few days.

Purchase cassava roots (or flour) at large groceries, and store them at room temperature for a week. They can then be peeled and boiled, baked or fried, cooked and dried for later use, or fermented.

The leaves are also used for food and contain 100 times more protein than the root, but both must be cooked and the water discarded.2

The Odd and Advantageous Benefits of Cassava

While cassava roots are close to what we know as white potatoes, cassava contains almost twice the calories, and may be the highest-calorie tuber known. One cup of boiled cassava contains 330 calories, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein and 4 grams each of fiber and sugar.3

Being naturally gluten-free, cassava is extremely useful for celiac patients and others trying to avoid gluten. One aspect of cassava is that it's one of several root foods defined by the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology as having a low glycemic index (GI) and therefore good for diabetics.

"GI is a classification of food based on the blood glucose response to a food relative to a standard glucose solution. Low glycemic foods control the release of glucose into the bloodstream at a steady and sustained rate, keeping the body's metabolic processes and energy levels balanced.

People with low glycemic diets or [who] eat low glycemic foods are said to have lower risk of getting coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

These food items that have low GI would benefit those who are already suffering from diabetes, since these would help in the proper control and management of blood sugar."4

As a low-GI food, eating cassava can also help improve physical endurance because blood glucose levels are moderated instead of dropping when insulin is produced.

Low-GI foods also may help control triglyceride and other lipid levels in your blood. Cassava has even been called a "weight loss wonder food" due to its ability to decrease appetite and decrease fat storage in fat cells.5

B-complex vitamins contained in cassava include folate, thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). The root also includes a number of minerals that perform important functions throughout your body:

✓ Iron helps form the two proteins responsible for transporting oxygen to your tissues

Zinc helps your immune system fight bacteria and aids cell growth and division

✓ Calcium helps form strong bones and teeth

✓ Magnesium optimizes mitochondrial function and helps regulate blood sugar

✓ Potassium synthesizes proteins and helps break down carbohydrates

✓ Manganese is vital for connective tissue and sex hormones, and repairing joints

Cassava also contains saponins that can ease inflammation, break down organic body wastes like uric acid, cleanse mineral deposits from your joints and help balance your gut flora.

Tapioca: Starch From the Cassava Root

If you've ever had tapioca, you've had a form of cassava, as tapioca is the starchy liquid extracted from the root; cassava is the ground root itself. The content is essentially pure carbohydrates, with negligible fiber, protein or nutrients. In fact, one study called tapioca "nutritionally inferior."6

One cup of dry pearl tapioca contains 544 calories, 135 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of sugar. There are virtually no vitamins to speak of, other than a small amount of folate and pantothenic acid, but the same amount yields 13 percent of the recommended daily value in iron and 8 percent of the manganese.7

Moisture is removed from the root either by evaporation or squeezing it out after being ground, leaving a fine, white powder. Dried, it's often sold as flour or pressed into flakes or "pearls," which should be boiled before you eat them; 1 part dry pearls to 8 parts water is a good ratio.

The product usually resembles small, translucent and gel-like balls with a leathery consistency that expand when moisture is added. Especially as a need for gluten-free options have emerged into the mainstream diet, tapioca is one of the best alternatives to wheat and other grains.

While tapioca starch provides energy with very little nutritional value, it's gluten-free, which is worth its weight in gold to a growing number of people who are allergic or sensitive to gluten.8 It also has several uses in place of flour for both cooking and baking:

  • Tapioca makes a popular type of pudding made up of chewy, mildly sweet "pearls," as well as bubble tea, an Asian concoction usually served cold.
  • Gluten- and grain-free bread made from tapioca is sometimes combined with other flours such as coconut flour or almond meal to improve the nutrition.
  • As a thickener, tapioca is excellent for bulking up the consistency of soups or stews, and it's essentially flavorless.
  • Flatbread made from tapioca is most often found in developing countries because it's inexpensive and very versatile.
  • Added to burgers and dough, tapioca is a binder that can improve the texture and moisture content in foods without becoming soggy.
Cassava: A Digestive-Resistant Starch

The Healthy Home Economist calls resistant starch "the healthiest starch for your gut:"

"Resistant starch is a type of starch that does not break down (it literally "resists" digestion), instead of being absorbed as glucose like most starches.

Instead, resistant starch travels through the small intestine to the colon where it is turned into beneficial, energy-boosting, inflammation-squashing and short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria.

The main reason why resistant starch is so beneficial is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in your colon, turns them into important short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate (known to help reduce inflammation) and is extremely helpful in cases of autoimmunity, IBS, colitis and allergies."9

According to Authority Nutrition:

"Most of the carbohydrates in the diet are starches. Starches are long chains of glucose that are found in grains, potatoes and various foods. But not all of the starch we eat gets digested. Sometimes a small part of it passes through the digestive tract unchanged. In other words, it is resistant to digestion."10

Resistant starch can be very beneficial. As it feeds beneficial gut bacteria, it can reduce inflammation as well as harmful bacteria.11

It may also lower your blood glucose level after meals,12 improve insulin sensitivity,13 help manage metabolic syndrome14 and possibly help you eat less.15 The four different types of resistant starches include:16

  • Type 1, found in grains, seeds and legumes, resists digestion because it's bound by fibrous cell walls.
  • Type 2 is indigestible starchy foods such as green bananas and raw potatoes which, when heated, makes them digestible.
  • Type 3 is created when a starchy food is cooked, then cooled, turning some digestible starches, such as rice and white beans, into resistant starch through retrogradation.17
  • Type 4 is a man-made substance using a chemical process and is not healthy for you.
Other Uses for Cassava

Cassava is also known for many additional benefits, according to StyleCraze:18

✓ Cassava made into a simple paste with water and used as a peel or scrub smoothes, brightens and hydrates your skin.

✓ As a mask, wash your face first with warm water, smooth on a paste using water and honey, dry completely and rinse well with cold water.

✓ Cassava roots and leaves can be made into a paste to nourish and soften your hair and remedy hair loss. Twice a week, apply coconut or olive oil, then cassava paste, wait one hour and rinse.

✓ Traditionally, the roots and leaves were used to boost immunity, energy and brain function, heal wounds, de-worm, soothe headaches and fevers, aid digestion and rheumatoid conditions, lower blood pressure and balance stress levels.

Precautions Regarding Cassava

Cassava roots contain the toxic compound linamarin, which converts to hydrogen cyanide. Improper cooking of cassava root is associated with cyanide poisoning, which can cause symptoms of vomiting, nausea, dizziness, stomach pains, headache, irreversible paralysis from a disease called konzo19 and even death. Nutrition and You noted:

"Cassava should never be eaten raw as the root composes [sic] small quantities of cyanogenic glycosides, especially hydroxycyanic acid. Cyanide compounds interfere with cellular metabolism by inhibiting the cytochrome-oxidase enzyme inside the human body."20

However, if the cassava are peeled and cooked, toxic substances are removed. It should be noted that the tapioca you buy at the store or prepare from a package does not contain harmful cyanide levels, so it's perfectly safe to eat.

*Mercola.com follows journalistic industry standards by using the Associated Press (AP) writing style. For consistency's sake, we sometimes change quoted text from other printed sources to reflect AP style, or to indicate that the usage is the exact language of the quoted text. Those changes and indications will appear in brackets within the text.

Magnesium — An Essential Mineral for Heart Health

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. Researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins1 giving an indication of its wide-ranging health effects. More than 300 different enzymes also rely on magnesium for proper function.

A common estimate is that 50 to 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, and the health consequences are significant. Magnesium plays an important role in your body's biochemical processes, many of which are crucial for proper metabolic function. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of your body2,3
  • Relaxation of blood vessels
  • Muscle and nerve function, including the action of your heart muscle
  • Proper formation of bones and teeth
  • Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.4,5,6,7,8 For example, magnesium is essential for insulin release by pancreatic β-cells, and acts as a messenger for insulin action9
Magnesium and Heart Health

If you're lacking in cellular magnesium, it can lead to the deterioration of your cellular metabolic function and mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more serious health problems. The scientific evidence suggests magnesium is particularly important for your heart health.

Moreover, it's very important to have a proper balance between magnesium and calcium, but few people get enough magnesium in their diet these days, while calcium tends to be overused and taken in high quantities.

Insufficient magnesium tends to trigger muscle spasms, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. This is especially true if you also have excessive calcium, as calcium causes muscle contractions.

Magnesium also functions as an electrolyte, which is crucial for all electrical activity in your body.10 Without electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, electrical signals cannot be sent or received, and without these signals, your heart cannot pump blood and your brain cannot function properly.

As explained by Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the seminal paper "Death by Medicine" in 2003 (identifying modern medicine as a leading cause of death in the U.S.) and the book, "The Magnesium Miracle," your heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle.

With insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly. Hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac arrhythmia,11 cardiovascular disease (CVD) and sudden cardiac death are all potential effects of magnesium deficiency and/or a lopsided magnesium to calcium ratio.

Magnesium Associated With Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis12 published in 2013, "circulating and dietary magnesium are inversely associated with CVD risk." This means the lower your magnesium intake (and the lower the circulating magnesium in your body), the higher your risk for CVD.

• Each 0.2 millimole per liter (mmol/L) of circulating magnesium was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of CVD

• A 200 milligram per day (mg/d) increase in dietary magnesium was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease (IHD), but had no significant impact on CVD risk.

The inverse association between dietary magnesium intake and IHD also leveled out above 250 mg/d

The authors noted their finding "supports the need for clinical trials to evaluate the potential role of magnesium in the prevention of CVD and IHD." The Weston A. Price Foundation has also noted that:13

"[M]agnesium shines brightest in cardiovascular health. It alone can fulfill the role of many common cardiac medications: magnesium inhibits blood clots (like aspirin), thins the blood (like Coumadin), blocks calcium uptake (like calcium channel-blocking drugs such as Procardia) and relaxes blood vessels (like ACE inhibitors such as Vasotec)"

Magnesium May Be Key for Blood Pressure Control

Recent research14,15 also suggests magnesium may be a key component of blood pressure management. Addressing your high blood pressure is important, as it is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. As mentioned, magnesium helps relax and dilate your blood vessels, thereby reducing your blood pressure.

In this review, data from 34 clinical trials involving more than 2,000 participants was evaluated. The studies used dosages of magnesium supplements ranging from 240 mg/d to 960 mg/d.

Although the association was mild, they did find that higher magnesium intake was associated with "healthy reductions" in blood pressure. Key findings include:

• A daily dose of 368 mg of magnesium, taken for three months, lowered systolic blood pressure (the upper number in the blood pressure reading) by 2 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by 1.78 mm/Hg

• Those who took 300 mg of magnesium per day were able to elevate their circulating magnesium levels and lower their blood pressure in as little as four weeks

• Higher magnesium intake was associated with improved blood flow

• Benefits of magnesium appeared to be restricted to those who had insufficiency or deficiency in magnesium to begin with, meaning those whose blood pressure might have been caused by lack of magnesium.

According to lead author Dr. Yiqing Song, "Such suggestive evidence indicates that maintenance of optimal magnesium status in the human body may help prevent or treat hypertension."16

To Optimize Your Magnesium, Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

According to the authors, 368 mg of magnesium can be obtained from a healthy diet, so you do not necessarily need to take a supplement. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a New York City cardiologist, told Medicinenet.com:17

"As clinicians, we need to stress the importance of a well-balanced meal, not only for all the cholesterol lowering and sugar-modulating benefits, but for ensuring an adequate amount of magnesium in the blood," adding that "checking magnesium levels as part of a screening for heart health may become an essential part of prevention and for treatment of blood pressure."

Indeed, a useful way to maintain healthy magnesium levels is to make sure you eat plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. Juicing your greens is an excellent way to increase your magnesium, along with many other important plant-based nutrients.

That said, if the mineral is lacking in the soil, it's also going to be low in the food, and mineral depleted soils are commonplace these days unless the farmer is using regenerative methods. If you eat organic whole foods and show no signs of deficiency, you're probably getting sufficient amounts from your food.

If you eat well but still exhibit deficiency signs (discussed below), you may want to consider taking a supplement as well. When it comes to leafy greens, those highest in magnesium include:

✓ Spinach

✓ Swiss chard

✓ Turnip greens

✓ Beet greens

✓ Collard greens

✓ Broccoli

✓ Brussels sprouts

✓ Kale

Bok Choy

✓ Romaine lettuce

Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include:18,19,20,21

Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

One ounce or 28 grams (g) or raw cacao nibs contain about 64 mg of magnesium, plus many other valuable antioxidants, iron and prebiotic fiber that help feed healthy bacteria in your gut.

Avocados

One medium avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, plus healthy fats and fiber and other vitamins. They're also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

Seeds and nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 48 percent, 32 percent and 28 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium respectively. Cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources; 1 ounce (28 g) of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, which equates to about 20 percent of the RDA.

Fatty fish

Interestingly, fatty fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are also high in magnesium. A half fillet or 178 g (about 6.3 ounces) of salmon can provide about 53 mg of magnesium, equal to about 13 percent of the RDA.

Squash

One cup of winter squash provides close to 27 g of magnesium; about 7 percent of your RDA.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages, and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.

Fruits and berries

Ranking high for magnesium are papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. For example, one medium sized papaya can provide nearly 58 g of magnesium.

Magnesium Level Inversely Associated With Arterial Calcification

In related news, your blood level of magnesium has also been shown to be inversely associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC).22 Previous studies have noted this association among patients with chronic kidney disease, but this study found the same correlation exists among general, otherwise healthy populations.

Among people who did not have any signs of symptomatic cardiovascular disease, and compared to those with the lowest serum levels, those who had the highest serum level of magnesium had a:

  • 48 percent lower risk of high blood pressure
  • 69 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • 42 percent lower risk of an elevated CAC score

A 0.17 milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) increase in serum magnesium was associated with a 16 percent reduction in CAC score. The authors concluded that:

"[L]ow serum magnesium was independently associated to higher prevalence not only of hypertension and DM2 [diabetes mellitus 2], but also to coronary artery calcification, which is a marker of atherosclerosis and a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality."

Magnesium Intake Is Also Inversely Associated With Inflammation Marker

Research published in 2014 also found that higher magnesium intake is inversely associated with serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.23 CRP is a marker for inflammation and rises when you have inflammation brewing in your body. Here, data collected from seven cross-sectional studies of more than 32,900 people showed that people who had higher magnesium intake had lower CRP levels. According to the authors:

"This meta-analysis and systematic review indicates that dietary Mg [magnesium] intake is significantly and inversely associated with serum CRP levels. The potential beneficial effect of Mg intake on chronic diseases may be, at least in part, explained by inhibiting inflammation."

Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

A primary risk factor for magnesium deficiency is eating a processed food diet, and the reason for this is because magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule. If you rarely eat leafy greens and other magnesium-rich whole foods (listed above), you may not get enough magnesium from your diet alone.

Magnesium is also lost through stress, sweating from heavy exertion, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption and use of certain prescription drugs (especially diuretics, statins, fluoride and fluoride-containing drugs such as fluoroquinolone antibiotics), and tend to decline in the presence of elevated insulin levels.24 These are all factors that affect a large majority of people in the Western world.

Unfortunately, unlike sodium or potassium, there is no easily available commercial lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of your magnesium status. The reason for this is because the vast majority of the magnesium in your body is found in bones and soft tissues.

Only 1 percent of it shows up in your blood. That said, some specialty labs do provide an RBC magnesium test that can give you a reasonable estimate. Perhaps the best way to ascertain your status is to carefully evaluate and track your symptoms.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include "Charlie horses" (the muscle spasm that occurs when you stretch your legs), headaches/migraines, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue or weakness. These are all warning signs indicating you probably need to boost your magnesium intake.

More chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to far more serious symptoms such as abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, seizures, numbness and tingling, as well as changes in personality and behavior.

Dean's book, "The Magnesium Miracle," contains an extensive list of signs and symptoms, which can be helpful for evaluating your magnesium status. You can also follow the instructions in her blog post, "Gauging Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms,"25 which will give you a check list to go through every few weeks. This will also help you gauge how much magnesium you need to resolve your deficiency symptoms.

Tips and Suggestions on Dosage

The RDA for magnesium26 ranges from 310 to 420 mg per day, depending on your age and sex. However, as noted by Dean, some researchers believe as much as 600 to 900 mg/d may be required for optimal health. Fortunately, there's room for error. Magnesium is quite safe, so you don't have to worry about taking too much. That said, if you have renal failure, you'll want to avoid taking too much, as it could have adverse effects.

Dean suggests using your intestinal reaction as a marker for your ideal dose. Start out at 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate per day, and gradually increase your dose until you develop slightly loose stools. This is your personal cutoff point. When your body has too much magnesium it simply flushes it out the other end. Magnesium citrate is known for having a laxative effect, which is why it's recommended in this case.

When Supplementing, Balance Magnesium with Calcium, Vitamin K2 and D

One of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole food diet is that you're less likely to end up with lopsided nutrient ratios. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper ratios for optimal health. Essentially, the wisdom of Mother Nature eliminates the guesswork. When you rely on supplements, you need to become savvier about how nutrients influence and interact with each other in order to avoid getting yourself into trouble.

For example, it's important to maintain the proper balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D. Unfortunately, we don't yet know the precise ideal ratios between all of these nutrients, but some general guidelines and considerations include the following:

• Magnesium will help keep calcium in your cells so they can do their job better. The ideal ratio between magnesium and calcium is currently thought to be 1:1. Keep in mind that since you're likely getting far more calcium from your diet than you are magnesium, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

Vitamin K2 has two crucial functions, one is in cardiovascular health and the other is in bone restoration. By removing calcium from the lining of the blood vessels and shuttling it into your bone matrix, vitamin K2 helps prevent occlusions from atherosclerosis. Meanwhile, vitamin D helps optimize calcium absorption.

Vitamins D and K2 also work together to produce and activate Matrix GLA Protein (MGP), which congregates around the elastic fibers of your arterial lining, thereby guarding your arteries against calcium crystal formation. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

• While the ideal or optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be determined, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue (whom I've interviewed on this topic) suggests taking 100 to 200 micrograms (mcg) of K2 for every 1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D you take.

• As for how much vitamin D you need, I strongly recommend getting your vitamin D level tested twice a year (summer and winter) to help determine your personal dosage. Sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your levels, but if you opt for a supplement, your "ideal dosage" is one that will put you into the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

Balsamic Drizzled Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Sun, 07/24/2016 - 02:00

Recipe From Naturally Savvy

Brussels sprouts have always tested the patience of parents and bravery of picky eaters, young and old. However, various types of sprouts are becoming well-known nowadays as a potent “superfood” that can do wonders for your body because they’re rich in nutrients and deliver vital health benefits.

If you’re looking for an appetizing way to prepare Brussels sprouts, look no further than this Balsamic Drizzled Brussels Sprouts recipe from Naturally Savvy. The balsamic vinegar adds that much needed flavor to the Brussels sprouts, and in no time, your family and friends might be back for seconds.

Ingredients

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Large pinch of Himalayan salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (add more or less to taste)

Procedure

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large rimmed baking sheet or in a large casserole dish, toss the Brussels sprouts with oil, garlic, salt and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper.

2. Roast until tender and slightly golden, approximately 25 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and drizzle with 1 to 2 Tbsp. (or more) of balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

This recipe makes six to eight servings.

This Balsamic Drizzled Brussels Sprouts Recipe Bursts With Flavor

Sprouts, which are edible germinated seeds of flowers, beans, legumes, vegetables or grains, are becoming well-known for their nutritional content and health benefits that you cannot get from their mature versions.

Brussels sprouts are low in calories, and contain various vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, C and K), minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and calcium, to name a few) and antioxidants (ferulic and caffeic acids, kaempferol and isorhamnetin). Brussels sprouts also contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that break down into isothiocyanates and activate cancer-fighting enzymes.

Cooked Brussels sprouts will have a bright green color, slightly crisp texture and nutty/sweet flavor. Don’t overcook your Brussels sprouts as the taste changes and the nutrients become damaged. They will become overly smelly, mushy and turn a pale green color.

For this recipe, skip unhealthy vegetable oils and use coconut oil instead. It contains healthy medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that don’t require special enzymes to be metabolized. Plus, MCFAs are easier to digest and break down in your body, and are sent to the liver directly where they’re converted into energy instead of being stored as fat.

Garlic not only provides your food additional flavor and spice, but it’s good for your health too. Its antioxidant properties can help suppress bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, fight free radicals and cancer cells, and improve your immune system. Garlic also helps reduce inflammation in your body and boost cardiovascular health and circulation.

While balsamic vinegar traces its roots to Italy, this ingredient has become popular in different cuisines worldwide because of its sweet and tart taste, which sets it apart from other types of vinegar. An article in The Times of India highlights Balsamic vinegar’s health benefits, including:

• Weight loss: balsamic vinegar helps in regulating your appetite, preventing overeating and increasing the amount of time it takes for your stomach to empty. This vinegar is also low in calories and contains calcium, iron, manganese and potassium.

• Helps blood circulation: antioxidants called polyphenols are present in balsamic vinegar, and they fix free radical-caused damage in your body. These polyphenols are also able to shield the body from heart disease and cancer.

• Helps in digestion: balsamic vinegar boosts the activity of an enzyme called pepsin. This enzyme enhances your body’s metabolism and breaks down protein into smaller amino acids that could be absorbed more easily by your body.

• Improves immunity: balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, which contain antioxidants that are able to fight cell damage and enhance your body’s immune system and flexibility of your blood platelets.

• Regulates blood sugar: if you’re diabetic, balsamic vinegar is able to improve insulin sensitivity, and in turn normalizes blood sugar more easily and lessens unwanted diabetes side effects.

Exceptional Teaching Tool for Health Practitioners and Laypeople Looking to Learn About Integrative Medicine

Sun, 07/24/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Most of us will, at some point, go through personal health challenges, and it would be wise to have a personal physician you can trust who is grounded in natural medicine. Dr. Lee Cowden, who is my personal physician, has developed an excellent teaching program for licensed health professionals and laypeople alike.

Cowden is a board-certified interventional cardiologist who, after experiencing the limitations of the conventional model firsthand as a patient, came to realize there's another approach.

"I was accepted to medical school in Houston ... With all the grass, weeds, molds, fungus, pollens and everything in the air, I developed allergic rhinitis, then I developed allergic sinusitis, then infective sinusitis, [followed by] bronchitis and finally pneumonia.

I went to the chairman of different medical school departments to get help and I followed their instructions explicitly, and I got progressively worse. Thank goodness, my wife's grandmother came to visit us in Houston. She saw me suffering and took pity on me.

She was a school teacher and a self-taught nutritionist. She took me to the health food store and got me some vitamins, minerals and herbs, and I got well.

I thought, 'I need to learn what this woman knows and I need to take with a grain of salt everything I learned in the conventional allopathic training system after this.'"

From Crisis Intervention to Preventive Medicine

That was 1975. It took another decade before he decided to "come out of the closet," as he puts it, and begin to incorporate the alternative methods he'd learned into his own medical practice.

By that time, he'd finished his cardiology and critical care medicine fellowships, and had practiced interventional cardiology and invasive medicine for a year.

"At the end of that year, I concluded three things: if I continued on that grueling path, I would kill myself and probably end up in divorce and wouldn't know my children," he says.

"The other thing I realized was that patients got well and got out of the hospital when they weren't expected to because of the nutritional things I used while they were in the hospital.

But they were all coming back to the hospital two to three months later with the same condition, because they didn't change their lifestyle.

They didn't change their diet. They hadn't done anything else. I realized at that point I was intervening way too far down the stream. I needed to get out of that crisis intervention mode.

I [started] thinking of getting into a more preventative medicine mode and start reversing diseases by identifying the causes and helping the patients to reverse those causes."

Cowden now travels and teaches doctors about various preventive and integrative care strategies, including diet, detoxification, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and much more.

I believe the model Cowden has developed, integrating many different modalities into a very comprehensive and integrative approach, is one of the best available for physicians who seek to learn and integrate this into their practice.

The Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine

Cowden's intention and goal is to create a large number of physicians and healthcare clinicians who understand integrative or alternative medicine principles and are able to apply them.

He's developed a course to train clinicians that seems to be, from everything I've reviewed, the most cost-effective strategy available.

"The academy I work with, the Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM), is a Panamanian-based academy (because they still have freedom of speech) that has been at this since late 2008.

We've been filming valuable information, editing it and uploading it to the academy website. So there's a lot of information on the academy website, ACIMConnect.com."

ACIM connects practitioners to other practitioners through a mentoring process. It also connects practitioners with patients that want to seek their help, and connects patients with patients who need support and encouragement during their healing process.

The cost for this program is about one-quarter of the typical cost for similar programs, and by providing online training, you also save a lot of money by eliminating the need for travel and hotel stays.

Periodically, you may be required to go to a fixed location for hands-on instruction, but 80 to 90 percent of what you need to learn is done online at your own convenience.

Moreover, you do not have to be a licensed medical professional to participate. Even laypeople and patients can enroll in the program. If you complete the entire program, you will be certified as a comprehensive wellness coach who can work closely with a licensed practitioner. The two available paths in the academy are:

  1. The informal path: as a member (free membership is also available), you can look through the catalog and select the education courses that interest you. All courses are available as online videos.
  2. The formal path: practitioners who want to go to the next step can enter into the ACIM's integrative medicine fellowship program, which includes 300 hours' worth of integrative medicine educational training, much of which can be done online. There are also different levels within the fellowship program, from low to high.
Mark Your Calendar for ACIM's Annual Conference

ACIM holds an annual conference in Florida. This year, I will be speaking at this event, which will be held in Orlando from September 22 through September 24.

There's also a post-conference on September 25, which will include the major laboratories that test blood or use other non-scanning techniques to find out whether a person has cancer and to what extent.

For example, by measuring Nagalase and ENOX2, Cowden says you can receive a "fairly certain" diagnosis of whether you have cancer, all in a matter of 48 hours.

It promises to be one of the best events of the year and I am very excited to be sharing my latest insights on the metabolic treatment of cancer. Many of the leading experts in the field will also be there, including Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D. author of the book “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease.”

If you have an interest in cancer, this is the go-to event of the year to get the latest insights on how to conquer cancer through diet and other means. You can get the details at this link.

"This topic of diet and cancer is absolutely crucial. Without [addressing your diet], most patients have very little hope of recovery, whether they go the allopathic route or the integrative medicine route," Cowden says.

"We have Dr. Tsuneo Kobayashi coming from Japan. Twenty years ago, he started doing research for finding a blood chemistry panel that could determine whether a person was starting to develop cancer. If he found they were starting to develop cancer, he would intervene with natural means and turn that around, so that the cancer markers became normal again.

During that time, there should have been 300 full-blown cases of cancer in his group of patients, but there's not been one. He's going to tell us how he did all that. That's going to be a fascinating presentation.

Dr. [Ioannis] Papasotiriou is coming to us from Greece. He's developed a lab that's just mind-boggling ... He can actually make a remedy that can be used to treat a patient from the patient's own blood. We have Dr. William LaValley ... who has researched the literature, finding all the articles in the peer-reviewed literature showing how nutraceuticals effectively reverse cancer ... "

Novel Tool to Improve Your Sleep Quality

While conventional medicine has only a limited number of tools at its disposal, there's really no shortage of them in the integrative model. I've had some experience with a few that are really incredible. One tool I'm currently using is a fitness ring that assesses sleep quality, which is an important part of the health equation.

The ring essentially works like a mini sleep lab. It will tell you how long you were in light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep, your heart rate variability, what time you wake up and your total sleep time.

"We have thousands of tools," Cowden says. "We could be here for days talking about all of them. The allopathic system unfortunately only has about three or four tools in their toolbox. When you get to the end of those few tools, the allopathic doctor says, 'There is no more hope for your condition. Go home and suffer and die.' 

That's when you need to start looking in the integrative medicine realm. Years ago, somebody asked me, 'What business are you in?' I said, 'I'm in the failure business. I treat the failures of the allopathic medical community.' The human body has been created to regenerate as long as the allopathic doctors don't get too much in the way. The pharmaceuticals block the healing process. The surgery removes body parts that you might have needed ...

Anyway, the EEG Biofeedback is an extremely valuable tool in the integrative medicine toolbox ... We measure the brain waves coming off the different parts of the brain, [which] tells us with great predictive accuracy what that person's sleep is like, what their mood is like, what their memory is like, what their ability to do a mathematical calculation is like, whether they have anxiety ... It's amazing what we can learn."

Herbal Medicine

Cowden uses products from a Florida-based herbal company called NutraMedix. Many of its products are potent mitochondrial regulators. Cowden estimates most all people have disease-causing microbes in their bodies. As long as your immune system is strong, they're kept in check. But if your immune function falters, they can easily take over, and many pathogenic microorganisms produce biotoxins that are more toxic than man-made ones.

"Those add on to the pile that's already in your body from the pesticides, the herbicides, the heavy metals and the radioactive elements we're all getting exposed to every day just by living and breathing," Cowden says. "You can become very ill [from] the combination of the bugs and the toxins. When we use these herbals, we're shifting that balance. They're very diverse in their effect."

What's unique about the NutraMedix products is that most of them are quantum physically imprinted. They're high-quality herbal extracts from naturally raised plants in the jungle. They also act like homeopathics, because they can deal with a lot of things that the herbs themselves cannot address.

I've tried about a dozen different preparations from NutraMedix and have experienced profound benefits from them. Ideally, they'd be prescribed by someone who has the training and knowledge to select the most appropriate remedy, but they're quite safe either way, so there's no major downside to taking them.

"No. They've studied these at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador in animals and given hundreds of times the human recommended dose, scaled down to animal bodyweight, for weeks on end without seeing any change in the behavior of the animals or any change in the histology of the organs ... We know that these are extremely safe. In some cases, safer than water," Cowden says.

Herbal Remedies for Lyme Disease

People with Lyme disease, for example, may benefit from these kinds of herbal formulas. Cowden has created a specific treatment program for Lyme patients who have failed to improve on antibiotic therapy. In initial tests, the improvement rate was around 80 percent.

Bionatus, located in Ecuador, has an educational website, NutraMedix.ec, where you can learn more about this all-natural treatment program. The 11 herbs used in this program include Cumanda, Banderol and Samento.

Takuna is also an excellent product to help with seasonal health challenges. I recommend keeping Takuna in your home emergency medical kit.

"It's a comprehensive program. You don't really have to know what kind of creature you have in your body. It will address the vast majority of the creatures that are there," Cowden says.

Integrative Medicine Can Help Just About Any Condition

According to doctors who have used the Cowden Support Program in their chronically-ill patients, this program has often produced "amazing results." Other procedures developed by innovative integrative practitioners can also have amazing results in certain chronically-ill patients.

"We know you can reverse chronic diarrhea caused by Clostridium dificil and even ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease oftentimes with one procedure called human fecal transplant. We're talking about permanent resolution. This treatment came out of Australia but it's actually been studied at the Mayo Clinic and proven to be effective. Why are we still giving all the drugs for these conditions when we can effectively treat them and often cure them with one integrative treatment?" he says.

The Importance of Addressing Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities underlie many chronic health problems, and there are electronic tools that can comprehensively screen for hundreds, if not thousands, of different foods, giving you a list of foods you're sensitive to within a matter of 15 minutes. Cowden recommends using electrodermal screening or galvanic skin response testing. By eliminating sensitizing foods, you may experience a significant improvement in your condition.

"When you're dealing with an immune-related problem like cancer, for example, if you're consuming a lot of food allergens every day, a lot of the immune energy is going to deal with that food allergy reaction rather than the immunity that's taking care of the cancer. You're cheating yourself out of combating the cancer when you have those unnecessary food allergy reactions," Cowden says.

"In this type of medicine, we also teach practitioners how to do the Coca Pulse test, so that they can teach their patients how to do that at home. It's a very simple process. Just take your pulse before the meal. Relax for a few minutes. Eat your meal without distress. No arguments at the table. No watching the news.

About 10 minutes after the meal, take your pulse again. If your pulse rate goes up, you know you've had an allergy reaction to that meal. We don't have to know what type of allergy reaction; we just know there's a problem in that meal. If they make an entire meal out of each one of those component foods over the next three days, they could figure out which ones [are problematic]."

Most heart rate variability tools come from Russia, where they've studied and perfected this technique over the last 45 years. Cowden likes a heart rate variability system called Heart Quest, which tells you not only what your autonomic nervous system is doing, but also what's going on with your hormonal, psycho-emotional and cardiovascular systems.

From this, you can assess your brain's toxic load and potential mineral or hormone deficiencies, for example. You can also assess the balance of your meridian system, used in Chinese medicine, acupuncture and the Ayurvedic system.

Remarkable Success Stories

Some of the more remarkable success stories using integrative medicine involve prospective transplant patients. Many have actually been on the roster list for an organ transplant, and implementing Cowden's protocols made them well enough to not need that transplant. To me, that's quite profound.

"I had a young fellow come to me from Israel years ago with kidney failure. He was on the verge of dialysis. He already had one kidney transplant and he was rejecting that kidney. In just a month's time — with dietary changes, nutritional supplementation, some emotional work [and] some electromagnetic therapies — he went to perfectly normal kidney function ...

The liver is one of the most regenerative organs in the body. For somebody to get a liver transplant is absolutely crazy, because all you have to do is get rid of the toxins in the liver ... You can get the toxins out and stop putting more toxins in. Give the body just a few nutrients to help rebuild the liver back up, and it regenerates in every case," Cowden says.

That may sound like a bold statement, but this is coming from a clinician who's treated patients for 30 years and has seen these kinds of cases day in and day out.

The Importance of Addressing Your Emotions

Quite often, emotional wounding is part of the disease spectrum. Cowden suggests it may be a contributing factor in nearly all disease, to some degree. In some patients, it may be 90 percent causative. In others, it may only contribute 10 or 20 percent. However, avoiding addressing any potential emotional issues will oftentimes stifle the healing process and/or prevent complete healing.

Michelle LaMasa-Schrader, Ph.D., who teaches one of ACIM's fellowship training courses on emotional healing, will also be speaking at this year's conference. She teaches Recall Healing, which involves asking the patient the right questions, the right way, so the patient has an "aha moment." When they have the "aha moment," the condition the question addresses often resolves spontaneously without any other therapy.

"Dr. [Ryke] Geerd Hamer in Germany was the one who started this back in 1978," Cowden says. "Many others have added on to the methodology system. It's quite an extraordinary process. I learned the process originally from Gilbert Renaud [Ph.D.,] in Vancouver B.C., Canada. He now travels in Europe and Russia, and teaches at the University of Moscow. Recall Healing is now a required course for the psychology students at the university."

Other tools include EVOX therapy, which involves speaking into a microphone that records the frequencies embedded in your voice. Each frequency in your voice corresponds to a specific emotion attached to the person or event you're speaking about. In 15 seconds, all the specific emotions surrounding the issue talked about are displayed on a computer screen. The device then takes these voice frequencies and makes them into a homeopathic energy that it delivers back into you.

"It shakes those memories loose, so the patient becomes free from them," Cowden explains. I realize this may sound like hocus pocus, science fiction or both, but I've experienced a few EVOX therapy sessions and can attest to its effectiveness. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another tool that can be quite useful, and there are many others. New techniques are also cropping up at a fairly rapid clip.

"They say allopathic medical knowledge is doubling every three to four years; integrative medicine knowledge is doubling every two years. Unless you're continually learning, you're going to fall behind and something that's valuable will not be used," Cowden says.

More Information

The take-home message here is that, no matter what health issue you're trying to address, there is likely a wide array of tools and treatment strategies that can help. My goal is to catalyze the transformation of the healing system in the world. I can provide information on this website, but ultimately we need clinicians trained in these alternative and integrative methods, so that patients can get expert guidance.

The ACIM program is, in my view, the best training tool out there for health practitioners and laypeople alike. Especially if you're a practicing clinician, I couldn't encourage you more strongly to participate. You can get more information and enroll on ACIMConnect.com.

"I think each listener, no matter what their background, can go to the academy website and learn things that will be valuable for their own health, the health of their family members and close friends. If they choose to, they can even apply that to others. They can do that, if they're not a practitioner, as a wellness coach.

We want to try to hook up wellness coaches with well-trained integrative practitioners, so they can work together. Integrative practitioners need the help of the wellness coach to handle the patients ... Creating that team is the best scenario for the practitioner, the wellness coach and the patient," Cowden says.

The program also teaches you how to legally practice as a wellness coach, so you don't run the risk of going to jail for practicing medicine without a license. That's a big part of the equation. It's important to have the appropriate legal structure in place. Cowden is also working on a tertiary care system, where severely ill patients can have access to guidance and care for days or weeks at a time.

"Some people might have far advanced cancer. They might have to spend a few weeks in a tertiary care location to get the integrative care they need. Then once they are improved significantly, they go back into the setting around their home where there's a wellness coach or an integrative practitioner that can do the follow through and keep them moving in the right direction.

You need to have that balance of 'the best of the best' on call all the time, if you need him, but also the person that's going to be close to you, the primary care practitioner [and] the wellness coach that's going to do the follow-through."

Attend the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference

If you have an interest in or passion for learning more about cancer, be sure to attend the ACIM Conquering Cancer Conference in Orlando, September 22 through September 24. Cowden and I will both be there, along with a long list of other excellent speakers, including my mentor in nutrition, Dr. Ron Rosedale. You'll learn how to implement a ketogenic diet, for example, and much more.

Perhaps more importantly, get your clinician to participate in the ACIM Connect training program, so they can get certified and become aware of all these great tools. A practitioner can begin the fellowship program with just 30 hours of training, which is one level.

The Chilling History of Monsanto’s Rise to Power

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

In the featured video, journalist Abby Martin discusses Monsanto's rise to power and how the company has managed to saturate the global environment with its toxic chemicals, largely through immoral means.

In May, the University of San Francisco revealed the results from a testing project that began in 2015. The tests, commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), found that 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of the chemical glyphosate in their urine.1

Glyphosate is the most widely used agricultural chemical in the world, and it's an active ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup. As noted by the Detox Project:2

"Glyphosate, labeled a 'probable human carcinogen' by the World Health Organization's cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous in the first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America...

Glyphosate was found ... at an average level of 3.096 parts per billion (ppb). Children had the highest levels with an average of 3.586 ppb. The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 ppb and 3.050 ppb respectively."

Glyphosate Contamination Is 'Everywhere'

Glyphosate has been found in a wide array of samples, including blood, urine, breast milk, drinking water and more. Results from a German study3 published in 2012 showed that even people who have no direct contact with agriculture have significant concentrations of glyphosate in their urine.

In fact, every single urine sample collected from city dwellers around Berlin tested positive for glyphosate, with values ranging from 0.5 to 2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), which is between five and 20 times the permissible upper limit for glyphosate in German drinking water, set at 0.1 ng/ml.

Why do most people have traces of this probable carcinogen in their bodies, regardless of where they live?

The answer is because glyphosate is sprayed on virtually all food crops around the world. In fact, glyphosate is the most heavily used weed killer in history. Roundup is the most commonly used formulation but glyphosate can also be found in other pesticide formulas.4

Since 1974, 1.8 million tons of glyphosate have been applied to US fields; two-thirds of that volume has been sprayed in the last 10 years.5

In 2014 alone, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the US Between 1974 and 2014, 9.4 million tons of glyphosate was used worldwide.

Glyphosate Threatens Ecological, Animal and Human Health

As noted by The Center for Biological Diversity, the heavy use of glyphosate — particularly on genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready crops, which are also developed by Monsanto — has been implicated in the dramatic decline in Monarch butterflies.

Evidence6,7 has also linked glyphosate to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and honeybee starvation,8 along with toxicity to soil, woodland plants, amphibians, fish, aquatic environments and mammals,9 causing reproductive problems and endocrine disruption.

According to other recent research, glyphosate may also promote antibiotic resistance by disrupting gut bacteria and dysregulating manganese utilization (manganese accumulation in bile acids allows Salmonella to gain a stronghold there).

Monsanto, a 'Sinister Threat to the Planet's Ecosystem'

Considering the many concerns raised by scientists about the toxic nature of glyphosate and formulations containing glyphosate (which typically turn out to be even more toxic than glyphosate in isolation), you'd think the US government, if not Monsanto itself, would take action to protect human health.

Instead, they've done the converse. In fact, it could easily be said that without the support by government officials and regulators, Monsanto would never have been able to achieve its current power status.

As noted by Martin:

"Monsanto has already proven it cannot be trusted to care about anything but money, especially when lives are at stake.

A quick look at the corporation's scandalous history reveals it is a sinister threat to the planet's ecosystem, economies around the world, as well as the livelihoods and very lives of millions of people."

The company's history goes all the way back to 1901, when John Francis Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Luis, Missouri. His father-in-law, a sugar merchant named Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto provided funding.

"During the sugar shortage in World War I, the Monsanto Company convinced America the solution was buying its fake sweetener, saccharin," Martin says. The company was also enlisted to help with American bomb making.

"From its inception, the corporation employed the shadiest of tactics to avert laws that infringed on profits," Martin says. To circumvent the regulations and high taxes in St. Luis, Monsanto moved its business four miles south, establishing its own town, Monsanto, Illinois.

Not surprisingly, regulations were lax in the town of Monsanto, and corporate taxes were low. As a result, the town attracted a number of other factories. According to Martin, "the town's head even admitted to The Wall Street Journal that it was created to be a sewer. Today, it's a toxic wasteland."

A History of Concealment

Monsanto became a leading producer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), producing nearly all PCBs sold in the US, an estimated 1.25 billion pounds. As noted by Martin, the toxicity of PCBs were known, and concealed, by Monsanto executives.

Today, lingering PCB pollution has led to at least 700 lawsuits on behalf of people who claim their exposure to PCBs caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.10

In 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of decades of "outrageous acts of pollution" in the town of Anniston, Alabama, where it dumped PCBs into the local river and secretly buried the toxic chemical in a landfill.11

The charge of "outrageous" in Alabama law requires the act to be "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society."

Indeed, internal documents revealed Monsanto had full knowledge of the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades, and decided to cover it up. As reported by The Washington Post at the time:12

"In 1966 ... Monsanto managers discovered that fish dunked in a local creek turned belly-up within 10 seconds, spurting blood and shedding skin as if dropped into boiling water. In 1969, they found a fish in another creek with 7,500 times the legal PCB level. But they never told their neighbors, and concluded that 'there is little object in going to expensive extremes in limiting discharges' ...

[D]ocuments – many featuring warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" – suggested a company-wide preoccupation with maintaining its $22-million-a-year PCB monopoly regardless of health or environmental risks. 'We can't afford to lose one dollar of business,' one internal memo declared.

A committee the company formed to address controversies about PCBs had only two formal objectives: 'Permit continued sales and profits' and 'protect image of ... the corporation.'"

US Government Shields Monsanto From PCB Fallout

Seattle recently filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for PCB pollution. They want Monsanto to pay to help clean up pollution it caused in the Duwamish River and also wants to hold the company responsible for making the river's fish too contaminated to eat.13

San Diego has also sued Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs,14 while San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, California and Spokane, Washington have filed lawsuits against Monsanto for continuing to produce and promote PCBs despite knowing their hazards.15

However, it remains to be seen whether these lawsuits will ever move forward. Congress is in the process of updating the Toxic Substances Control Act and the House of Representatives has conveniently slipped in a clause that many are calling a "gift" to Monsanto, as the paragraph shields the company from legal liability related to PCBs.

Monsanto's War Contributions: Atomic Bomb, DDT and Agent Orange

Most people are unaware that in 1943, Monsanto joined the US war machine. Monsanto head Charles Allen Thomas received an invitation from the Pentagon, asking him to join the Manhattan Project. Monsanto's laboratories subsequently produced polonium for the atomic bomb, which ended up being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

According to Martin, Monsanto was also responsible for irradiating American citizens on US soil, supplying radioactive iron for human experiments. Between 1945 and 1947, Vanderbilt University researchers fed radioactive iron to nearly 900 pregnant women to test the effects of radiation on the human body and fetus.

Monsanto also produced one of the world's first pesticides, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. Advertised not only as harmless but actually good for human health, DDT was widely used without any safety precautions whatsoever to kill off disease-carrying mosquitoes.

For three decades, marketing campaigns assured DDT's safety and benefits, despite the growing number of scientific investigations suggestion otherwise. Today the toxicity of DDT is well-recognized, but it was public pressure that forced the US government to finally ban the chemical in 1972.

Monsanto's contributions to the US war machine continued during the Vietnam War, when the company became a leading producer of Agent Orange, a defoliant that had severe health consequences for those exposed to it, thanks to the presence of dioxin. According to Martin, Monsanto and the US government were aware of the toxic nature of dioxin, but hid it from the public.

Still to this day, Vietnamese people, American veterans and chemical plant workers suffer the consequences of exposure. In the town of Nitro, where Monsanto dumped dioxin for years without informing the residents, people also suffer elevated rates of cancer and other health problems. Byproducts from the manufacture of Agent Orange were also dumped into New Jersey's Passaic River for decades, turning it into one of the most contaminated waterways in the US.

Monsanto Tries to Rebrand Itself

In 1977, Monsanto hired the PR firm Bain & Company to help them reshape public opinion about the company, which had grown increasingly negative. Bain employee Mitt Romney was selected for the task, and Romney suggested Monsanto rebrand itself as a life affirming company by shifting its focus toward food and agriculture. Under Romney's guidance, Monsanto slogans such as "Feeding the World" were born. 

But this corporate facelift was as shallow as they come, because Monsanto didn't stop making toxic chemicals. Nor did it change the way it does business. For example, Monsanto acquired Searle, the maker of aspartame, a toxic sweetener now found in more than 6,000 food products and beverages. Martin describes the history behind this controversial sweetener, and the political connections that ultimately allowed aspartame to flood the market, despite studies suggesting it may be harmful to human health.

Monsanto also contributed recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to the US food system. This synthetic hormone increases milk production in cows. However, research suggests that drinking milk from rBGH-treated cows may also increase your risk of cancer.

Monsanto's entry into agriculture may have been the most destructive of all. By producing genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant seeds and the pesticides that go with them, Monsanto has been able to spread its toxic influence even further than ever before. Remarkably, the company tries to pass itself off as a "sustainable agricultural company," despite the fact that its chemical-based methods are anything but.

Monsanto Has Long History of Lobbying Against Warning Labels

Since its inception, Monsanto has repeatedly fought attempts to warn people about the potential health risks associated with their products. Repeatedly, the company has insisted their products are completely safe, even when they knew it wasn't true. Monsanto has vehemently fought:

  • rBGH-free labeling
  • Food labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Glyphosate toxicity warning labels

Monsanto's history really speaks for itself, and its current behavior tells us nothing has changed since the days of DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. The only thing that has changed is that now the company is able to ensure that virtually every person on the planet is affected by its toxic chemicals, via food.

How Perfect Is Your Poop?

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The size, shape and color of your bowel movements can tell you a lot about your health. This is why you should take a minute to observe what's in the toilet bowl before flushing it away.

The "perfect" stool should be shaped like a torpedo. It should be smooth, soft and easy to pass, as opposed to small and hard (pellet-like) or overly loose.

The appearance and frequency of your stool gives you clues about how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and can even signal serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.

Further, making dietary changes will often lead to significant changes in your stool, which you can use as a visual tool to monitor your underlying health.

Analyze Your Stool Online Using StoolAnalyzer

Because you're living in the 21st century, it's no longer necessary to make guestimates about what type of changes you should make to improve your health and, thereby, the condition of your stool. You can instead use an online tool called StoolAnalyzer to make these suggestions for you.1

As it says on StoolAnalyzer.com, "This program is designed to help you analyze your feces and change your diet so that you can achieve the 'perfect stool.'"2 The program takes just a few minutes to complete and includes visual images to help you analyze your poop, asking questions regarding your poop's:

  • Shape
  • Color
  • Size
  • Frequency
  • Behavior (floating versus sinking)

You'll receive a score based on a 100-point scale (with 100 being a perfect score) along with dietary recommendations to improve the health of your stool.

This is not a substitute for an ongoing relationship with a holistic health care provider, but it can give you an idea of what's healthy and what's not when it comes to your stool.

The Bristol Stool Chart

Another handy tool for gauging the health of your digestive tract and stool is the Bristol Stool Chart. Like StoolAnalyzer, this chart takes into account shape and texture of your stool, as well as how difficult or easy it is to pass.

Normal stool is shown in types 3, 4 and 5, "like a sausage or a snake, smooth and soft" to "soft blobs that pass easily." Type 4, however, is ideal.3

Signs of Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Stool

The next time you have a bowel movement, compare what you see in the toilet with the information in the chart below. You should be able to accurately gauge whether your stool is healthy or unhealthy.

If yours is the latter, it's time to make some dietary changes and consult with a holistic health professional to figure out what's gone awry in your digestive tract.

Healthy Stool Unhealthy Stool

Healthy Stool: Medium to light brown

Unhealthy Stool: Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining

Healthy Stool: Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces

Unhealthy Stool: Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off

Healthy Stool: About 1 to 2 inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long

Unhealthy Stool: Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely make a call to your physician

Healthy Stool: S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine

Unhealthy Stool: Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice.

If you have black, tarry stools, it's best to be evaluated by your health care provider

Healthy Stool: Quiet and gentle dive into the water; it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little "whoosh" sound — not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower

Unhealthy Stool: White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician. Antacids may also produce white stool.

Healthy Stool: Natural smell, not repulsive (I'm not saying it will smell good)

Unhealthy Stool: Yellow stools may indicate giardia infection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert's syndrome. If you see this, call your doctor.

Healthy Stool: Uniform texture

Unhealthy Stool: Presence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)

Healthy Stool: Sinks slowly

Unhealthy Stool: Floaters or splashers

Unhealthy Stool: Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain

Unhealthy Stool: Very bad odor: If your stool has an extraordinarily bad odor, it should not be ignored. I am referring to an odor above and beyond the normally objectionable stool odor.

Stinky stool can be associated with a number of health problems, such as a malabsorptive disorder, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease and chronic pancreatitis.

How Often Should You Poop?

There is a wide variation in what's considered normal bowel-movement frequency. Specifically, three bowel movements per day to three per week may be normal for you, and the frequency may change from day to day or week to week. This is because many factors influence your bowel habits, including:

✓ Diet

✓ Travel

✓ Medications

✓ Hormonal fluctuations

✓ Sleep patterns

✓ Exercise

What's most important is to monitor how you feel and how easily your bowel movements occur. If you're not moving your bowels often enough, you may need to push or strain, and you may feel uncomfortably bloated or gassy. When you do go, the stool may be dry and hard or pellet-like, which are signs of constipation.

Straining is not normal during a bowel movement, nor is experiencing feelings of incomplete elimination, bloating, crampiness or sluggishness after going number two. If you're over the age of 65, your risk of becoming constipated increases significantly.

Chronic, untreated constipation can lead to fecal impaction, which can be a serious medical condition. Laxatives should be avoided at all cost and used only as a last resort, not only due to the potential side effects but also because your body may become dependent on them.

Laxatives may decrease your colon's ability to contract and can even eventually damage your large intestine's nerves, muscles, and other tissues. Fortunately, although constipation is very common, it is also usually temporary and relatively easy to resolve — without resorting to laxatives — by using the natural strategies at the end of this article.

You're Probably Missing Out on These Two Pooping Principles

If you're an adult, you may think you know all there is to know about moving your bowels. However, if you live in the developed world you may be missing out on a key strategy that could make pooping much easier: squatting.

Your body is designed to eliminate while squatting, while modern-day toilets put your body in an unnatural position. Sitting on a modern toilet is designed to place your knees at a 90-degree angle to your abdomen while squatting places your knees much closer to your torso.

This changes the spatial relationships of your intestinal organs and musculature, optimizing the forces involved in defecation. Squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and allows for complete emptying of your cecum and appendix without straining, which prevents fecal stagnation and the accumulation of toxins in your intestinal tract.

Non-westernized societies, in which people squat, do not have the high prevalence of bowel disease seen in developed nations; in some cultures with traditional lifestyles, these diseases are uncommon or almost unknown. Special toilets and stools that get your body into a more "squatty" position can help you get closer to the ideal even if you've been sitting for decades. What's the other pooping principle you may be missing out on?

A bidet! Bidets provide superior hygiene, are gentler on your skin and are better for the environment than toilet paper; with a bidet seat, you can even install one right on your existing toilet. Bidets are common in certain parts of Europe, South America, the Middle East and Japan; they haven't caught on widely in the U.S., but their use does appear to be increasing.4

Tips to Optimize Your Bowel Movements

The strategies that follow will help to optimize your digestive health, reverse and prevent constipation and support healthy bowel movements. They're safe for children and adults alike.

✓ Remove all sources of gluten from your diet (the most common sources are wheat, barley, rye, spelt and other grains)

✓ Eat a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains

✓ Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function

✓ Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kefir (if you tolerate dairy); add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you're not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone

✓ Increase your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed daily)

✓ Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water

✓ Get plenty of exercise daily

✓ Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as painkillers like codeine or hydrocodone, which will slow your bowel function.

Antidepressants, and antibiotics can also cause a variety of GI disruptions

✓ Address emotional challenges with tools like the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

✓ As mentioned, consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels, which has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids

Most Common Anxiety and Depression Drugs for Adolescents Are Ineffective

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can be devastating to adolescents, who are already going through one of the most emotionally turbulent life stages.

It's understandable why well-meaning parents would turn to prescription medications in an attempt to give their child some relief, especially since such drugs are heavily promoted and often used as a first-line treatment by psychiatrists and other doctors.

However, many are not aware, nor do their doctors tell them, that such drugs often do not work, particularly in children and teens. Worse yet, youth who take antidepressant medications may be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

13 of 14 Antidepressants Tested Did Not Relieve Depressive Symptoms

Oxford University researchers analyzed results of 34 clinical trials that involved more than 5,000 children with depression (aged from 9 to 18 years).1 The children took 1 of 14 antidepressants for an average period of eight weeks.

The majority of them (13) did not work to relieve the symptoms of depression, and the one that did — fluoxetine (Prozac) — has previously been linked to severe homicidal akathisia.

And for the record, previous research has found the benefit of antidepressants including Prozac "may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms."2

Akathisia is a condition of motor restlessness, marked by anxiety, agitation, jitteriness (or the sensation of "jumping out of one's skin") and the inability to sit quietly or sleep.

The akathisia issue first came into public view shortly after Prozac entered the marketplace in the mid-1980s, when reports of murder and suicide among patients taking Prozac were publicized by the media.

Since then, there have been thousands of reports of violent behavior by individuals taking antidepressant drugs.

In addition, the featured study found the antidepressant venlafaxine (brand name Effexor) increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts in the youth compared to placebo and five other antidepressants. The researchers concluded:3

"When considering the risk-benefit profile of antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder, these drugs do not seem to offer a clear advantage for children and adolescents."

'Disturbing Implications for Clinical Practice'

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Jon Jureidini, an Australian child psychiatrist at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, noted that the study has "disturbing implications for clinical practice."4

Such medications should be prescribed only "if the discounted benefit outweighs the boosted harm," he stated, continuing, "For antidepressants in adolescents, this equation will rarely favor prescribing; in younger children, almost never."5

Antidepressants' link to suicidal tendencies is not new. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black-box warning on antidepressants indicating they were associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in young people.

In 2007, the FDA directed manufacturers to update the warning to include increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior, known as suicidality, in young adults ages 18 to 24 during initial treatment (generally the first one to two months).6

Research published in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine even revealed that a genetic mutation in the CYP450 gene family may cause a metabolic disturbance resulting in uncontrollable violent impulses and behaviors, including suicide, in some individuals taking these drugs.7

For about two years following the FDA's initial 2004 warning, substantial reductions in antidepressant use were observed among youth, but it was unknown whether those reductions had continued.

Antidepressant Prescriptions Among Youth Surged in Recent Years

Unfortunately, research published in European Neuropsychopharmacology showed that not only did antidepressant use continue after the FDA warnings, but it also markedly increased.8

The study revealed significant increases in antidepressant prescriptions to youth in five Western countries included in the study. In Denmark, for instance, there was a 60 percent increase in youth antidepressant prescriptions from 2005 to 2012.

The rate increased 54 percent in the U.K., 49 percent in Germany, 26 percent in the U.S. and 17 percent in the Netherlands during the same period.9

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines state antidepressants should not be offered as a first-line treatment for symptoms of mild depression in children.

And even when they're prescribed for more serious cases, it's supposed to be along with psychological therapy. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be what's happening in clinical practice.

Disturbing Stories of Anxiety Drug Side Effects

Use of benzodiazepines, or "benzos," which are often prescribed for anxiety and insomnia, is also on the rise.10 Prescriptions for such drugs, which include brand names Valium, Ativan and Xanax, tripled from 1996 to 2013.

Benzodiazepines exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way that opioids (heroin) and cannabinoids (cannabis) do. This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain.

This makes anxiety drugs highly addictive, and symptoms that may occur with benzodiazepine withdrawal include:11

✓ Perceptual distortions, sense of movement

✓ Depersonalization, derealization

✓ Hallucinations (visual, auditory)

✓ Distortion of body image

✓ Tingling, numbness and altered sensation

✓ Formication (skin crawling)

✓ Sensory hypersensitivity (light, sound, taste and smell)

✓ Muscle twitches, jerks

✓ Tinnitus

✓ Psychotic symptoms

✓ Confusion, delirium

✓ Convulsions

In the video above, people across the globe shared their stories about how benzodiazepine drugs, taken as prescribed, led to serious side effects and harm.

If you're wondering about people's experiences with antidepressants, at SSRIStories.org you can browse through a collection of more than 6,000 stories in which prescription drugs, primarily SSRIs, were potentially linked to serious side effects including violent behavior.

Categories include murder-suicide, postpartum reactions, road rage, school and other mass shootings, workplace violence and more, echoing the reasons why use of such drugs must not be taken lightly.

Diagnosis of Mental Illness in Youth Is Not an Exact Science

If your child is struggling emotionally or mentally, it can be difficult to determine whether it is due to a true illness, environmental factors or a combination. Even diagnosis by psychiatrists is far from an exact science. Behavioral problems in children (and also many mental challenges in adults) — including what might appear to be serious mental disorders — are frequently related to improper diet, emotional upset and exposure to toxins.

If possible, these underlying issues should be resolved before resorting to suppressing symptoms with potentially dangerous medications. Remember, research suggests drugs such as antidepressants do little, if anything, to help and may increase your child's risk of suicide.

Further, psychotropic agents can influence a child's brain development, and chronic drug exposure during sensitive periods can produce alterations to a child's nervous system that have unpredictable and potentially harmful effects.

What happens to children when they are medicated at a very young age during key formative years? Do they grow up never knowing who they really are? What passions might they have developed were it not for the drug's influence? These are questions that remain unanswered.

Try This Before Mind-Altering Drugs for Depression or Anxiety

If you or your child are experiencing severe depression or anxiety please seek help from a professional. For milder cases, and in addition to professional treatment for severe cases, the place to start is to return balance — to your body and your life. If you're currently taking antidepressants or anxiety medications and wish to stop, you should wean off them gradually under the care of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Abrupt withdrawal from these drugs can lead to severe psychiatric or physical problems. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by applying lifestyle modifications before trying medication, especially in children with mild symptoms. You may be surprised by how much such changes lessen symptoms naturally.

Exercise

In addition to the creation of new neurons, including those that release the calming neurotransmitter GABA, exercise boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress.

Many avid exercisers also feel a sense of euphoria after a workout, sometimes known as the "runner's high." It can be quite addictive, in a good way, once you experience just how good it feels to get your heart rate up and your body moving.

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

EFT can be very effective by helping you to actually reprogram your body's reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life. This includes both real and imagined stressors, which can be significant sources of anxiety.

EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.12 EFT has also been shown to lower cortisol levels, which are elevated when you're stressed or anxious.13

In the following video, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman discusses EFT for depression relief. Please keep in mind that while anyone can learn to do EFT at home, self-treatment for serious issues like persistent anxiety or depression is dangerous and NOT recommended, and you should consult with an EFT professional to get the relief you need.

Optimize Your Gut Flora

Your gut and brain work in tandem, each influencing the other. This is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health and vice versa. It's also the reason why your diet is so closely linked to your mental health.

Prior research has shown that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.14 The probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 has also been shown to normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.15

So optimizing your gut flora with beneficial bacteria is a highly useful strategy. This is done by eliminating sugars and processed foods and eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables, avoiding processed vegetable oils and eating healthy fats. Additionally, eating plenty of fermented vegetables or taking a high-potency probiotic would be useful to reestablish a healthy gut flora.

Omega-3 Fats

Your diet should include a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA play an important role in your emotional well-being, and research has shown a dramatic 20 percent reduction in anxiety among med students taking omega-3s.16

Dr. Andrew L. Stoll, a psychiatrist and director of the Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at Harvard University, 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."

Vitamin D

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 depression than those who had normal levels.17

The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure and, to a lesser degree, foods such as salmon and tuna, fish liver oils and eggs. A vitamin D3 supplement can also be used, but you'll need to monitor your levels regularly. To reap maximum benefit, you need a vitamin D level of at least 40 to 60 ng/ml.

Lower Your Intake of Sugar 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, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners. There's a great book on this subject, "Sugar Blues," written by the late American activist, writer and musician, William Dufty, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.

Sleep

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.

Anxiety drugs are also often prescribed for sleep troubles. I suggest first reading my Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for 33 simple tips on improving your sleep. Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep (which may further help with anxiety symptoms, as well).

Love Lavender? Try Lavender Oil

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

A whiff of lavender oil can trigger various sensations, and its sweet fragrance brings to mind rows and rows of beautiful blue-violet flowers under the summer sky. But if you look beyond lavender oil's aroma, you'll find that there's more to it than meets the eye — or your sense of smell.

What Is Lavender?

Lavender oil comes from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub that produces clumps of beautiful, scented flowers above green or silvery-gray foliage.1

The plant is native to northern Africa and the mountainous Mediterranean regions, and thrives best in sunny, stony habitats. Today, it grows throughout southern Europe, the United States, and Australia.2

Lavender has been used for over 2,500 years. Ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans added the flowers to their bathwater to help wash and purify their skin.3 In fact, the word "lavender" comes from the Latin word "lavare," which means "to wash."4

Phoenicians, Arabians, and Egyptians used lavender as a perfume, as well as for mummification — mummies were wrapped in lavender-dipped garments.

In Greece and Rome, it was used as an all-around cure,5 while in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, it was scattered all over stone castle floors as a natural disinfectant and deodorant.

Lavender was even used during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. People fastened lavender flowers around their waists, believing it will protect them from the Black Death.

High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless.6

Uses of Lavender Oil

Both lavender and lavender oil are valued for their fragrance and versatility. The flowers are used in potpourris, crafting, and home décor, while the essential oil is added to bath and body care products, such as soaps, perfumes, household cleaners and laundry detergent.

Lavender oil is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also has antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifying, hypotensive and sedative effects.7 Lavender oil is one of the most well-known essential oils in aromatherapy, and can be:8

Added to your bath or shower to relieve aching muscles and stress.

Massaged on your skin as a relief for muscle or joint pain, as well as for skin conditions like burns, acne and wounds. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil.

Inhaled or vaporized. You can use an oil burner or add a few drops to a bowl of hot water, and then breathe in the steam.

Added to your hand or foot soak. Add a drop to a bowl of warm water before soaking your hands or feet.

Used as a compress by soaking a towel in a bowl of water infused with a few drops of lavender oil. Apply this to sprains or muscle injuries.

I also recommend adding lavender oil to your list of natural cleaning products. You can mix it with baking soda to make an all-natural antibacterial scrub for your bathroom and kitchen.

Composition of Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents.9 This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming and stimulating properties.

The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor.10

Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, lavandulyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene and geraniol.11

Benefits of Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties, and has been used for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, dental anxiety12 and stress.13 It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.14

I am particularly fascinated by lavender oil's potential in fighting antifungal-resistant skin and nail infections. Scientists from the University of Coimbra found that lavender oil is lethal to skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various Candida species.15

The study, published in Journal of Medical Microbiology,found that lavender oil kills fungi by damaging their cell walls (a mechanism that I believe could apply to bacteria and viruses as well). The best part is that this oil does not cause resistance, unlike antibiotics.

For more about this topic, read my article "Lavender Oil Has Potent Antifungal Effect." Lavender oil can also be used to:16

Relieve pain. It can ease sore or tense muscles, joint pain and rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. Simply massage lavender oil onto the affected area. Lavender oil may also help lessen pain following needle insertion.17

Treat various skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema and wrinkles. It also helps form scar tissues, which may be essential in healing wounds,18 cuts and burns. Lavender can also help soothe insect bites and itchy skin.19

According to Texas-based dermatologist Dr. Naila Malik, it's a natural anti-inflammatory, so it helps reduce itching, swelling and redness.

Keep your hair healthy. It helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) says that lavender is possibly effective for treating alopecia areata (hair loss), boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment.20

Improve your digestion. This oil helps stimulate the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices, which may help treat stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting and diarrhea.

Relieve respiratory disorders. Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis and laryngitis. It can be applied on your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.

Stimulates urine production, which helps restore hormonal balance, prevent cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), and relieve cramps and other urinary disorders.

Improve your blood circulation. It helps lower elevated blood pressure levels, and can be used for hypertension.

Lavender oil can help ward off mosquitoes and moths. It is actually used as an ingredient in some mosquito repellents.

How to Make Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is produced via steam distillation. The flowers are picked when they are in full bloom, where they contain the maximum amount of esters. It takes 150 pounds of lavender to produce just one pound of pure lavender essential oil. You can also make a cold infusion by soaking lavender flowers in another oil. Try this recipe from BlackThumbGardener.com:21

Ingredients and Materials:

• Dried lavender flowers

• Mineral oil or olive oil

• Jar

• Cheesecloth or muslin

• Sterilized bottle

Procedure:

• Clean and dry your jar completely, and then place the dried lavender flowers in it. You should have enough flowers to fill your jar.

• Pour the oil all over the flowers until they're completely covered.

• Put the jar in a place where it can get a good amount of sun, and let it sit for three to six weeks. The sunlight will help extract the oil from the flowers and infuse it with the base oil.

• After three or six weeks, pour the oil through your cheesecloth and into a sterilized bottle.

How Does Lavender Oil Work? Lavender oil's effectiveness is said to be brought on by the psychological effects of its soothing and relaxing fragrance, combined with the physiological effects of its volatile oils on your limbic system.

Lavender oil's effectiveness is said to be brought on by the psychological effects of its soothing and relaxing fragrance, combined with the physiological effects of its volatile oils on your limbic system.22

Lavender oil can be applied topically or inhaled as steam vapor. Although dried lavender flowers are can be made into lavender tea, I advise against ingesting the oil, as it may lead to side effects, such as difficult breathing, burning eyes and blurred vision, vomiting and diarrhea.23

Is Lavender Oil Safe?

I believe that using natural oils like lavender oil is one of the best holistic tactics that you can incorporate in your life. However, there are a few important guidelines to remember when using lavender oil.

Using diluted lavender oil topically or in aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults, but may not be recommended for children.24 Applying pure lavender oil to your skin (especially open wounds) may also cause irritation, so I recommend infusing it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Dissolving it in water also works.

Be careful not to rub lavender oil in your eyes and mucous membranes. If this happens, wash it out immediately. Lavender oil may also cause allergic reactions in people with unusually sensitive skin, so do a spot test before using it. Simply apply a drop of lavender oil to your arm and see if any reaction occurs.

Side Effects of Lavender Oil

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender oil. There are also instances when people experience side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and chills after inhaling or applying the oil topically.25

I advise pregnant women and nursing moms to avoid using this oil, as the safety of lavender oil for these conditions hasn't been identified. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also warns against using lavender oil when taking medications like barbiturates, benzodiazepines and chloral hydrate, as it may increase their sedative effects and cause extreme drowsiness and sleepiness.26

5 Ingredients That Make Your Deodorant Dangerous

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Using antiperspirant and deodorant has become second nature to most people. Advertisers have been making arguments against your natural balanced scent to convince you to purchase their fragrant antiperspirants and deodorants, promising everything from matchmaking to self-confidence to result from their use.

No personal care product can follow through on these promises. We are only beginning to tap into the power of your relationship with bacteria living on and in your body. While not all of those relationships are healthy, science is still determining all the ways your body uses the bacteria living on your skin.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and advertisers want you to believe your deodorants and antiperspirants are completely safe, you only have to look at the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the ingredients listed in each product to understand this likely is not the case.

Why Do You Smell?

Your body has two different types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are located over most of your body area. They secrete fluid onto the surface of your skin as your body temperature rises. As this fluid evaporates, it helps to lower your core temperature and cool your body.

It is the fluid from your second set of sweat glands that causes body odor. These are the apocrine glands, located mostly where there are dense areas of hair, such as your armpits and groin. These glands empty fluid into your hair follicles just under your skin.

While the eccrine glands produce clear, salty fluid, the apocrine glands produce a milky substance in response to stressors. The fluid itself is odorless but quickly develops an odor when combined with the bacteria living under your armpits.

Your armpits offer a dark, warm and moist environment for bacteria to live and flourish. As bacteria break down the fluid from the apocrine glands, they produce a product called thioalcohols. These pungent thioalcohols evaporate from under your armpits and produce the odor.

In an effort to understand which of the bacteria normally living under your arms produces the most thioalcohols, scientists from the University of York measured the concentrations produced by different bacteria.1

They found Staphylococcus hominis was one of the bacteria producing the most thioalcohols and one of the worst offenders.

Factors That Play Into Development of Body Odor

There are several causes for your body odor:2,3,4,5

Stress

Anxiety releases cortisol in your body, the fight-or-flight hormone. This triggers the release of sweat from your apocrine glands. When combined with bacteria under your arms, your sweat starts to smell.

Medications

Some medications may increase the amount of sweat you produce, increasing the potential for body odor.6

Medications with this side effect include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, Lupron (cancer treatments), Topamax (seizures and epilepsy), and several of the antidepressant medications, such as Paxil and Wellbutrin.

Foods

Foods like onion, garlic and curry may change your body odor, especially the ones containing sulfur.7 Meat may change the scent from your armpits and metabolites from alcohol will be released from your respiratory system (your breath) and your sweat glands.

Refined Sugar

Foods high in refined sugar or net carbohydrates may affect your body odor. This is because the sugars are a food source for the bacteria, while whole food alternatives act more like natural body deodorizers.

Deodorant

Your deodorant may be the cause of your stinky underarm odor. You may think that daily use will cut bacterial growth and reduce odor, when in fact you may be encouraging a rebound growth effect of smell-producing bacteria.

A small study from Ghent University in Belgium found antiperspirants actually increase the number of bacteria living under your arm.8,9

Hair Growth

You may have noticed that when you don’t shave your underarms, the smell increases. 

The increase in scent is imperceptibly different between seven days of growth and six to 10 weeks of growth.10 However, study participants were able to distinguish scent differences between a freshly shaved underarm and a one-week growth.

Medical Conditions

There are several health conditions that may cause you to sweat more than usual, including: diabetes, pregnancy, thyroid problems, hypoglycemia, endocarditis, heart attack, leukemia, menopause, obesity and alcoholism.

Deodorant, Armpit Bacteria and Your Skin

Antiperspirants and deodorants are not the same. The primary function of deodorants is to kill the bacteria living on your skin, thereby reducing your body odor. Antiperspirants often have a dual purpose. They both kill the bacteria to reduce odor and plug your pores with aluminum to reduce sweating.

In a recent study, researchers found participants who used antiperspirants had strikingly altered bacterial communities compared to those who use deodorants.11 There were also significant differences between those who used either of these products and those who used none. 

Individuals who routinely use deodorant or antiperspirants support colonies of Staphylococcaceae bacteria, and those who don’t routinely use these products have higher numbers of Corynebacterium which, like Staphylococcus hominis, contribute to the production of armpit odor.

Participants who used antiperspirants had underarms more highly colonized with specific species of bacteria. The researchers presumed that because antiperspirants have only been used in the last century, the bacteria do not represent those which were historically common in human underarms.

Antiperspirants May Worsen Underarm Odor

Interestingly, research12,13 published in 2014 found that using deodorant and/or antiperspirants can actually worsen your armpit odor. Here, they found that those who used antiperspirants had higher levels of Actinobacteria, yet another bacterium responsible for foul-smelling armpit odor.

Essentially, the researchers found that the aluminum in antiperspirants killed off less odor-causing bacteria, allowing bacteria that produce more pungent odors to thrive instead.

In some participants, abstaining from antiperspirant caused the population of Actinobacteria to dwindle into virtual nonexistence. The take-home message: using an antiperspirant can make the stink from your armpits more pronounced, while quitting antiperspirants may eventually mellow the smell.

Why Ingredients in Deodorants and Antiperspirants Pose Risks to Health

Unfortunately, altering the microbiome in your armpit isn't the worst thing that can happen when you regularly use antiperspirants or deodorants. The ingredients in these products are the real cause for alarm. While deodorants are designed to work outside the body, they contain chemicals that can pass through the skin barrier. Your skin may appear to be impermeable, but it is not.

Drug companies commonly use transdermal patches to deliver medications through your skin.14 For just this reason, smearing chemicals on your skin may be more dangerous than swallowing them. Associate professor of biology at North Carolina State University, Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., is quoted in Time Magazine, saying:15

“When you eat something, it’s broken down by your liver and digestive system. But when you put something on your skin, there are times when it can enter your bloodstream without being metabolized.”

5 Hazardous Deodorant and Antiperspirant Ingredients

Rubbing chemicals on your skin doesn’t mean they will make it to your bloodstream. However, blood testing shows many of the chemicals used in deodorants are able to permeate your skin and are found in your blood.16 Here are five common antiperspirant/deodorant ingredients that may pose a health risk.

Aluminum

This product is used in antiperspirants to block your sweat glands and reduce the amount of sweat you secrete. It doesn’t reduce the amount your body produces, only the amount that is secreted through your follicles. As mentioned, aluminum will also kill off some bacteria under your arms that don’t produce strong body odor, allowing those bacteria that do produce a pungent odor to proliferate.17

Aluminum is a metal that may increase gene instability in breast tissue.18 This instability may be related to changes promoting the growth of tumors. Although this is not proof that aluminum is a causative factor, those who use products containing aluminum tend to have higher rates of breast cancer.19

Parabens

Parabens are preservatives used in many different types of personal care products, including moisturizers, deodorants, sunscreens, shaving creams and gels, hair products and make up. Parabens are associated with changes to the production and regulation of estrogen and other hormones in your body as they penetrate your skin and act like a weak estrogen.20

Although the American Cancer Society (ACS) and National Cancer Institute (NCI)21,22 deny conclusive evidence of an increased risk to your health, laboratory data from the University of Reading demonstrates mixing different types of parabens, as you would by using different personal care products, may increase the estrogenic effect in your body.23

Phthalates

These compounds help your personal care products stick to your skin or hair. This means anything you use with fragrance that lingers has phthalates to improve the stability of the scent. Hair shampoo, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body sprays, antiperspirants, body wash and soap all contain phthalates that continue to build up in your body over time.

The compound appears to disrupt the androgen functions in your body. You may think of androgen and testosterone as strictly male hormones, but the female body uses this hormone as well to build and maintain muscle, and it plays a role in energy maintenance.

Phthalates are toxic to reproductive glands in both men and women.24 Fetal development in pregnant women may be affected, and research has linked the compound to reduced IQs25 and asthma.26

Triclosan

This chemical is so commonly used in products that 75 percent of Americans have detectable triclosan levels in their bloodstream.27 Although a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, cosmetic manufacturers use it to kill bacteria on the skin in products such as anti-acne creams, deodorants and antiperspirants.28

Animal studies have linked triclosan with unusual hormonal activity,29 and through transdermal absorption it can disrupt the bacterial growth in your gut.30 According to Patisaul:31 “There’s evidence from amphibians and fish … that triclosan impairs thyroid function, which is crucial for brain development. To my knowledge, there aren’t any clear benefits associated with it when used in underarm products.”

Fragrances

The chemical ingredients in scents are concealed and protected by trade law. You may experience allergic reactions or skin irritation from fragrances contained in deodorants and antiperspirants.

Giving Up Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Giving up your chemical wash every morning is not as difficult as you might think. There are several natural options you may experiment with to find the combination that works for your unique bacterial colonization.32

Nothing

When you don’t add an antiperspirant or deodorant to your morning routine, your odor may increase for a week or two until the bacterial growth under your arms stabilizes. Just like reducing or eliminating daily showers may help balance the natural oils on your skin, eliminating all deodorants may help your body to balance your natural odor.

Lemon or Lime

The citric acid in lemons and limes kill odor-producing bacteria. Simply cut a lemon or lime in half and rub it under your arms. You can seal the fruit in a glass container, refrigerate it and reuse it. Just be sure you label it so it’s not used in your next meal!

White or Apple Cider Vinegar

Both white and apple cider vinegar will also kill bacteria. Neither product requires refrigeration. Fill a spray bottle with white or apple cider vinegar and keep it in the bathroom.

Baking Soda and Water

Just like in your refrigerator, baking soda neutralizes odors on your body. Keep the container in the kitchen so it isn’t affected by the higher humidity in the bathroom. Sprinkle a little in the palm of your hand and dip a couple of wet fingers in the powder. Spread it under your arm.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide works by breaking the membranes of bacteria and reacting with catalase inside the cell. This causes the foaming you see. Mix a teaspoon of 3 percent solution with 8 ounces of water. You can increase the amount of hydrogen peroxide if needed. Dab on with a cloth or use a spray bottle.

Tea Tree and Coconut Oils

Both oils are naturally antibacterial. Tea tree oil can be diluted — two to three drops in an ounce of water. Coconut oil may be used as a moisturizer under your arms, especially directly after shaving. You could also add a drop of tea tree oil to a small amount of coconut oil, and spread that under your arms.

How Your Tax Dollars Are Used Against You by Promoting Obesity and Disease

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Poor health is typically the result of a metabolically inappropriate diet. Many studies have confirmed that processed foods and sugary beverages are significant contributors to obesity and chronic disease, including cancer.

Unfortunately, while the U.S. government appears to be concerned about rising obesity and disease statistics, it has done virtually nothing to address its own role.

For example, agricultural policies in the U.S. contribute to the poor health of Americans and play an important role in the ever-worsening obesity epidemic by promoting consumption of cheap junk food that wreak metabolic havoc.

A number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals have pointed out these facts, so policy makers should be well aware of them. 

More Than Half of All Calories Consumed Are From Subsidized Commodities

According to an investigation published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine on July 5,1,2,3 56 percent of all calories consumed in the U.S. between 2001 and 2006 came from government-subsidized commodities such as corn, soy, wheat, rice, dairy and meat.

And, according to the authors, “higher consumption of calories from subsidized food commodities was associated with a greater probability of some cardiometabolic risks.” As noted by Time Magazine:4

“While those may sound healthy, they’re typically not eaten in their whole-food form; rather, they’re turned into cattle feed or refined and converted into sweeteners ... and processed fatty foods ...

 ‘[A]n excess of subsidies in these areas ends up leading to a conversion into foods like refined grains and high calorie juices, soft drinks with corn sweeteners and high-fat meats,’ says Ed Gregg, Ph.D., chief of the CDC’s epidemiology and statistics branch in the diabetes division. ‘It’s basically the way that they’re used that ends up being detrimental.’”

Another study5 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) in 2013 came to the exact same conclusion, stating that:

Government-issued payments have skewed agricultural markets toward the overproduction of commodities that are the basic ingredients of processed, energy-dense foods,” and that this is “worsening obesity trends in America.”

The authors of this 2013 study also noted that “federal farm subsidies promote unsustainable agriculture while also failing to reward good stewardship.”

Subsidized Diets Raise Risk of Health Problems

Indeed, the Western processed food diet is chockfull of refined added sugars and unhealthy vegetable oils, which are cheap as a result of farm subsidies. The study also found that the young, the poor and less educated people eat the highest quantities of subsidized foods.

Compared to those who consumed the least amount of subsidized foods, these high intake groups had a:

  • 37 percent higher risk of obesity
  • 41 percent higher risk of dangerous visceral fat (belly fat associated with an increased risk for heart disease)
  • 34 percent higher risk for symptoms associated with chronic inflammation
Corn, Soy and Wheat — 3 Major Junk Food Ingredients

You’d be hard-pressed to find a processed food product that doesn’t contain corn syrup, soybean oil and/or wheat, and there’s compelling evidence showing that all of these ingredients cause significant harm to health when consumed in excess:

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS): has been shown to cause more metabolic harm than other sugars.6

Research also shows that while HFCS accounts for about 8 percent of added sugar consumption worldwide, 42 percent of added sugar in the U.S. diet comes from corn syrup.7

So Americans are consuming far more HFCS than many other nationalities, and our disease statistics tend to mirror that as well.

For an excellent scientific analysis on fructose, I suggest reading the report titled “Fructose, Weight Gain, and the Insulin Resistance Syndrome,”8 published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN). It will open your eyes to some of the major problems associated with this sweetener.

Soybean oil: is the most common oil used in the U.S., but this is a relatively new phenomenon. The consumption of soy oil has increased 1,000-fold over the last century,9 and now consists of 10 to 20 percent of all calories consumed in the American diet.

Diets high in soybean oil have been shown to upregulate genes involved in obesity, diabetes, inflammation, mitochondrial function and cancer.10 In fact, soybean oil was found to be more obesogenic and diabetogenic than fructose in mice.11

The excessive consumption of soybean oil is also troubling for a couple of other reasons. First, over 95 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered (GE), and therefore more prone to heavy contamination with Roundup or other toxic pesticides.

Second, this extreme increase has also contributed to widespread omega-3 to omega-6 imbalance. Soybean oil is primarily omega-6 fat, and a significant source of dangerous trans fat.12

According to researchers,13 “the apparent increased consumption of linoleic acid (LA), which was primarily from soybean oil, has likely decreased tissue concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during the 20th century.”

Wheat: has been identified as a potential trigger of poor health via a number of mechanisms. While no GE wheat is grown in the U.S., desiccating conventional wheat with Roundup is a common practice.

By applying the pesticide right before harvest, farmers can increase their yield. As a result, most non-organic wheat tends to be contaminated with this toxic pesticide, which in addition to the heightened level of gluten in modern wheat helps explain the rapid rise in gut disorders, such as leaky gut and celiac disease, and associated health problems.

By Subsidizing Processed Food Diet, U.S. Government Promotes Ill Health

None of these findings are secret. The research has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and publicized in the mainstream media and various books.

A paper14 published in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) in 2004 argued that U.S. agricultural subsidies foster poor health, as did a paper15 published in the Annual Review of Nutrition that same year, so this is certainly not a new observation.

This means the U.S. government is more or less intentionally promoting obesity and ill health, since no steps have ever been taken to address the inappropriate distribution of farm subsidies toward obesity and disease-promoting food commodities.

A 2012 report by the non-profit organization United States Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) titled “Apples to Twinkies, Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food”16,17 revealed that if you were to receive an annual federal agricultural subsidy directly, you would receive $7.36 to spend on junk food and just 11 cents to buy apples.

In other words, every year, your tax dollars pay for enough corn syrup and other junk food additives to buy 19 Twinkies, but only enough fresh fruit to buy less than one-quarter of one apple.

As noted in a recent Mother Jones report,18 94.1 million acres of corn was grown in the U.S. this year, along with 83 million acres of soybean. Yet prices for both of these commodities are currently at five-year lows, “perilously close to the cost of production.”

The sole reason why so much corn and soy is grown even though prices are so low is because these crops are subsidized, so farmers are still guaranteed a small profit.

Of all this corn, 30 to 40 percent is used for livestock feed and 5 percent is used to make HFCS. The remainder, as much as 65 percent, goes toward the making of ethanol fuel, not food. About half of the soybean crop also goes toward livestock feed.

Subsidizing Factory Farms Over Regenerative Farms Also Promotes Poor Health

The same can be said for meat and dairy production. The U.S. government subsidizes concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which not only have a destructive effect on the environment but also promote animal and human disease, including the scourge of antibiotic resistance.

According to the authors of the featured study,19 “better alignment of agricultural and nutritional policies may potentially improve population health,” and this, I believe, includes a shift toward subsidizing grass-fed and pastured meats rather than CAFO livestock.

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that the CAFO and monocrop factory farm models are backed by incredibly wealthy and powerful interests that have tremendous influence on government policies. For example, you’d think the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) exists to protect you against the vagaries of industry, but many of its actions and decisions speak to the contrary.  

The chemical and agricultural industries spend millions of dollars to lobby for regulations that are favorable to them, and there's a constantly revolving door between the agency and private corporations. Revolving doors also exist between private companies and just about every other government agency. And then there’s the political lobby, which through its wealth manages to influence career politicians to do their bidding at every turn.

Most Americans Raised on a Fattening Corn-Based Diet

The United States is the No. 1 per capita consumer of corn in the world. As expounded in books like “The Omnivore's Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, HFCS and other corn-derivatives work their way into nearly every kind of processed food on the market.

Unfortunately, since corn is a grain, it rapidly breaks down to sugar in your body and raises your risk for insulin resistance if regularly consumed. Elevated insulin levels in turn are linked to most chronic degenerative diseases, including everything from obesity and diabetes to premature aging.

Making matters worse, the vast majority of American-grown corn is also genetically engineered to produce Bt toxin (a pesticide that kills bugs by making their stomachs explode), which is then consumed by you.

Studies suggest that, contrary to industry assurances, this built-in Bt toxin survives the journey through your digestive system and can make you allergic to a wide range of substances. (This is in stark contrast to naturally produced Bt toxin which is rapidly broken down in the environment and never makes it to your stomach.)

A CNN article20 from 2007 puts Americans’ consumption of subsidized corn into even greater perspective. Todd Dawson, a plant biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, performed carbon tests on human hair to evaluate the dietary sources of the building blocks making up the human body.

When testing a strand of hair from CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he found that 69 percent of the carbon in Gupta’s hair originated from corn. And according to Dawson, that’s typical for Americans.

"We are what we eat with respect to carbon, for sure,” Dawson told CNN. “So if we eat a particular kind of food, and it has a particular kind of carbon in it, that's recorded in us, in our tissues, in our hair, in our fingernails, in the muscles ... We're like corn chips walking because we really have a very, very large fraction of corn in our diets, and we actually can't help it because it's an additive in so many of the foods we find on the market shelves ...

 I think where the danger comes in with corn is that much of the corn grown now in North America is going into making high-fructose corn syrup. So it's not that corn per se is bad, but it's the sweetener made from corn that gets into many of the foods that Americans are probably consuming too much of, and we now see that showing up as obesity and heart disease and potential for type 2 diabetes."

Europeans, on the other hand, eat far less processed foods, and as already noted, they consume far less corn-based sweeteners too. After spending three months in Italy, Dawson tested his own hair, and found it contained only 5 percent corn-based carbon.

Agricultural Policies Need an Overhaul   

Far from providing us with critical nutrition, U.S. agricultural policies contribute to the declining health of Americans and worsen the out-of-control obesity epidemic. Current farm subsidies bring you HFCS, processed oils high in trans fats and damaged omega-6 fats, fast food, junk food, corn-fed CAFO beef, environmentally-unfriendly monoculture and a host of other contributors to our unhealthy contemporary diet.

The subsidy program is severely broken, subsidizing junk food in one federal office while funding anti-obesity objectives in another. Besides being hypocritical, it’s an incredibly wasteful system. Worst of all, the farm bill creates a negative feedback loop that perpetuates the highly profitable standard American diet (SAD). In this way, the U.S. government is knowingly promoting and subsidizing obesity and chronic disease.

The time is ripe for change, and redesigning the system could help move us toward economic and nutritional recovery. If we're going to subsidize farmers, let's subsidize in a way that helps restore the health of American citizens and our land — programs that might just pay for themselves by the reduction in healthcare costs they bring about.

In 2011, Mark Bittman of The New York Times21 argued that subsidy money could easily be redirected toward helping smaller farmers to compete in the marketplace in a number of ways. For example, funds could be redirected toward:

  • Funding research and innovation in sustainable agriculture
  • Providing incentives to attract new farmers
  • Saving farmland from development
  • Assisting farmers who grow currently unsubsidized fruits and vegetables, while providing incentives for monoculture commodity farmers (corn, soy, wheat and rice) to convert some of their operations to more desirable foods
  • Leveling the playing field so that medium-sized farms can more favorably compete with agribusiness as suppliers for local supermarkets
How You Can Affect Positive Change

Remember though that one of the most effective ways you, as an individual, can promote positive change is by redirecting your food dollars toward locally grown foods, and foods grown in a sustainable and organic manner. By supporting your local family farms, you’re promoting a healthier, more sustainable and safer food system for everyone in your community. 

“Just Say No” to junk food producers by not buying their wares and return to a diet of real, whole foods — fresh organic produce, meats from animals raised sustainably on pasture and raw organic milk and eggs. Eating this way will increase your chances of living a long, healthy life, whereas the typical American diet may set you on the path toward obesity and chronic disease.

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