By Dr. Mercola
Marijuana has been legalized in a number of US states; 20 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes; two states—Colorado and Washington state—also permit recreational use. Certain forms of cannabis are actually very potent medicine, with few or no psychoactive effects.
In California, medical marijuana has been legal for 18 years. Dr. Allan Frankel, a board-certified internist in California, has treated patients with medical cannabis for the past seven years.
By and large, cannabis is highly favored by people across the US. According to Dr. Frankel, 85-95 percent of Americans are in favor of medical cannabis, and 58-59 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana.
The federal government, meanwhile, wants to get rid of all medical use of marijuana, which of course begs the question: Why? According to Dr. Frankel, the answer is simple. "They want it. This is a huge market," he says.
And yes, medical cannabis is clearly competition to the pharmaceutical industry, as the cannabis plant can take the place of a wide variety of synthetic drugs, especially for mood and anxiety disorders. The last thing they want is a therapy that's going to take away from their bottom line.
Dr. Frankel initially learned about medical cannabis through glaucoma trials and cancer work performed at UCLA in the 70s and early 80s.
"I've always seen it as a medicine," he says. "Eventually, I got interested in it. I thought my tool box was getting too small for typical issues with patients related to anxiety, pain, or the common issues where we just had inadequate medications.
I saw the cannabinoid future was something that was bright. Seven years ago, I kind of picked up my formal white coat and sprayed a little green on it..."
Green Bridge Medical is his professional corporation where he sees patients, performs research, and provides physician and patient education and outreach. For all its benefits, using cannabis in lieu of other medicines has many challenges.
"It's a complicated process, as a physician in particular, working inside the medical system, to work outside the medical system to make these dose-consistent extracts available."
Many may find the idea of medical cannabis abhorrent or somehow "wrong," as we've been indoctrinated to view marijuana as a dangerous gateway drug that will lead you down a path of illicit drug use.
Many fail to realize that prescription drugs actually have FAR greater potential to turn you into "a junkie." Legal drug addiction is also taking lives in record numbers. In the UK, one million people are addicted to over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription painkillers and tranquilizers.
That's significantly more than the number addicted to illegal drugs.1 In the US, there were four times more deaths among women from prescription painkiller overdose than for cocaine and heroin deaths combined in 2010.2
Pharmaceuticals in general are among the leading causes of death in the US, and some medicines have killed tens of thousands of individuals. The painkiller Vioxx is one classic example, which killed over 60,000 before being pulled off the market.
The diabetes drug Avandia is another, and most recently, a study estimated that in a five-year span, some 800,000 people in Europe were killed from inappropriate use of beta-blockers in non-cardiac surgery patients. Deaths attributed to cannabis barely registers in comparison.
"I think that any intervention, regardless of how benign (I would say in my 35 years of medical experience, cannabis should be considered a benign substance overall), there are potential uses and abuses," Dr. Frankel says.
"For me, we're just talking about the real solid indications. The issue of abuse and neglect is there, but I think it's relatively small. I think the claim that it is a gateway drug has been pretty soundly proven not to be correct.
Even if cannabis to some extent is a gateway drug (which I do not believe it is), even if it is, it should be legalized to protect the gateway [drug] issue, because legalization opens up communication."
According to Dr. Frankel, cannabis has been cultivated in Northern Europe since before the last Ice Age. Even back then, there were two very distinct groups of strains. One is cannabis; the other is hemp. There's plenty of confusion about the similarities and differences between these two plants. While they are subspecies of the same plant species, they look very different, and are extremely different in ways that really matter when it comes to medicinal use.
The thing they have in common is that they both contain cannabidiol (CBD), which has medicinal properties. The amount of CBD however, differs greatly between the two. Dosing, therefore, is dramatically different where you to try to use hemp in lieu of cannabis, as the latter, cannabis, is up to 100-fold more potent. Another difference that appears to matter in terms of its usefulness as medicine relates to differing terpene profiles. Hemp contains very little of these valuable medicinal compounds.
Lastly, there's the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana; it's the molecule that makes you feel "stoned." (While cannabidiol (CBD) also has certain psychoactive properties, it does NOT produce a high.) By legal definition, hemp cannot have more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in it. So to summarize:
- Hemp has less value for medicinal uses, as it only contains about four percent CBD and lacks many of the medicinal terpenes and flavonoids. It also contains less than 0.3 percent THC, which means it cannot produce a high or get you stoned. However, for many disease processes, THC is very much indicated and required. So, for many disease processes, CBD alone has much less value.
- Cannabis is potent medicine courtesy of high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of CBD, critical levels of medicinal terpenes, and flavanoids, as well as THC in varying ratios for various diseases. The higher the THC, the more pronounced its psychoactive effects
"What happened in the '60s and '70s was that due to desires for psychedelia, the changes in the war in Vietnam, and the war on drugs with Nixon, the types of strains that were available and the demand for psychedelia changed. Before we knew it, CBD—due to a lack of 'stoniness'—was bred out of the plant," Dr. Frankel explains.
As a result of growers breeding out the all-important CBD, marijuana became known primarily as a plant that gets you high. Its original medicinal properties and uses largely fell by the wayside. Things are changing however.
"Five years ago, California Physicians, and other groups around the world, didn't really know if we would find CBD-rich strains anymore, but we have. Now there's many different varieties of it. We keep bringing back new CBD rich strains every month or two. These plants genes' haven't seen the light of day for God knows how long."
CBD is currently a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means:
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the US
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision
There's no doubt that CBD needs to be rescheduled, as each of these three points are blatantly wrong. Dr. Frankel actually thinks cannabis should be de-scheduled altogether, as a plant really does not belong on any schedule of a controlled substance.
"How could we have a plant on a schedule? What if it's an all-THC plant? What if it's an all-CBD? What if we find some other psychoactivity? If you take the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) and look at every product, none of them looks like a plant to me. This is the only plant, and it's not just one medicine. One entry with one data ID or MDI cannot be applied for cannabis. For example, we're actually right now making different medicines with cannabis plants based upon harvest time.
As the plants mature, the flowers get darker and darker. There's a traditional time when you're just supposed to pick them. Of course, what we've done is we picked them at different times in large amounts, ground them all together so we can get very representative samples, and see what happens in the last few weeks of flowering. The medicine changes a lot in the last three weeks. You can make more sedating medicine by letting it just stay on the vine three weeks longer. Even how long you let it grow makes it a very different medicine, a noticeably different medicine," he says.
In his medical practice, Dr. Frankel treats a wide variety of patients with medical cannabis, which has become his specialty. Despite the many claims of cannabis performing miracles, he's reluctant to think of it as a cure for anything. Occasionally, however, patients will experience very dramatic results. For example, he has seen tumors virtually disappear in some patients using no other therapy except taking 40 to 60 milligrams of cannabinoids a day. The most common thing he sees in cancer patients, however, are tumors shrinking, or a metastasis disappearing. Sometimes tumors will shrink or vanish, only to reemerge in other areas, months later, and then shrink or vanish again... Other common ailments being treated with cannabis include:
- Mood disorders
- Pain disorders
- Degenerative neurological disorders such as dystonia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Seizure Disorders
He recounts how two dystonia patients with severe myofascial spasms were able to return to normal life after taking two milligrams of whole-plant CBD three times a day for a little more than one week. This is quite astounding, considering each of them had spent more than a decade undergoing neurosurgeries and taking multiple medications.
Dr. Frankel is very focused on trying to develop accurate dose-consistent medicine. The Patient Access Centers he consults with create a diverse collection of dose-consistent oral-buccal sprays. He also believes it's very important to open up and start talking about dosing—what works, what doesn't. It is his belief that some patients, in large part due to lack of education about the medicine, may be taking 10, or even 100 times higher dosage than is really needed to treat their ailment. Unfortunately, many doctors in this still highly controversial field are afraid to recommend dosages, for fear of the repercussions.
"There's this false notion (I think I can very safely say it's false) that doctors cannot recommend dosage because of this federal [law against] aiding and abetting with cannabis. It's not true. It's just not true," he says. "There are no [cannabis] medications that we dose by body weight. We now have about 120 kids with seizure disorder, and if you look at the surveys, across the board, the average dose is 37 milligrams [of whole-plant CBD] per day, and there's no relationship with body size."
In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, such as California, you can join a collective, which is a legal entity consisting of a group of patients that can grow and share cannabis medicines with each other. By signing up as a member, you gain the right to grow and share your medicine. Dr. Frankel explains:
"A patient or a human being 18 and over or with a parent's consent in California can get a medical cannabis card recommendation letter if they or any physician or doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) agree. It doesn't have to be for any specific condition. In other states, it's very, specified. In California, there are 12 conditions listed, but then it says 'or any condition agreed upon by the doctor and patient,' which kind of opens it up quite a bit."
[With your medical cannabis card], you have the authority to go to whatever collective you want and pretty much select what medicine you want. Now, that is exactly what the good, the bad, and the ugly is. I love free choice, but we need free choice with education. There's virtually zero education going on in the collectives. I mean, there are random places here and there that make an effort but it's really minimal."
When cannabis is inhaled, smoked, or vaporized, its effects are rapid and short-lasting. Orally, it's the most unpredictable and delayed. When ingesting it, it can take up to two hours to take effect, but if dosed appropriately, you can achieve once-a-day dosing with an edible medicine.
When smoked, as little as 10 mg of CBD acts as a major appetite suppressor. CBD is also an excellent painkiller, particularly for tooth pain when the cannabis oil is applied sublingually or directly onto the tooth. Cannabis oil can also help heal sunburn overnight. CBD is also very effective for anxiety disorders. Just a couple of milligrams of whole-plant CBD can effectively subdue anxiety without causing any kind of mental deficiency or high.
In fact, to determine how much THC in an oral dose would be required to get high, they made liquid edibles with 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg of THC. The lowest dose, 5mg, did not produce a high. The upper two—10 and 20 mg—did. Taking 50-100 mg of oral THC could get you into serious trouble. Paranoia is the most common side effect. Overdosing can also produce nausea and vomiting.
The video below features some of the top researchers on the healing effects of Cannabis in its raw form. The leaves can be eaten in a salad or juiced.
A British pharmaceutical company called GW Pharmaceuticals has a cannabis product that is distributed in Canada and five other countries. It's a 1:1 CBD-THC whole plant extract. "It's a very good medicine," Dr. Frankel says. "But it's expensive. That's the problem with pharmaceutical [companies]." Dr. Frankel also consults with various states that are interested in growing medicinal CBD, i.e. cannabis with a high CBD content and hemp-level (extremely low) THC. He even gives the CBD seeds away. "I make the offer: if any governor in the 50 states wants, absolutely free – as long as I can do it legally – any of these high-ratio CBD strains, I can make it happen. No cost," he says.
"This is one of the important points I'd to emphasize: I think we're going to find ultimately that CBD is a nutritional supplement for everybody. I think we were all using [cannabis] 100 years ago... I think then, if they had hemp for food, there was CBD in it. Again, I wasn't there, but my guess is that everybody had CBD in their diet up until 100 years ago or so. CBD appears in some of the newest data to help protect your DNA epigenetic layer. That's important stuff for all of the toxins that we have in our environment. I think we have more toxins now, and we're missing one of the major protectants that we used to use for this. That's a double whammy."
By Dr. Mercola
Millions of people experience problems with urination, ranging from incontinence and urgency to nighttime urination. The severity of these symptoms can be mild or debilitating, causing embarrassment or anxiety that keeps people from socializing and enjoying their lives.
Yet, no study has ever determined which lower urinary tract symptom (LUTS) is the most bothersome. Many researchers have simply cited their own area of interest as the most troublesome, shedding little light on which urinary symptoms are in need of the most attention.
Researchers from Finland have changed that, however, with a study that gets to the bottom of bladder symptoms among men and women of all ages.
A survey of 6,000 people in Finland revealed urinary symptoms were common across the board.1 This included:
- The feeling of having to go now, or urinary urgency, in nearly 8%
- Stress incontinence (leaking urine with coughing or exercise) in nearly 7%
- Nighttime voiding (nocturia) in 6%
- Dribbling after urination (post-micturition dribble) in nearly 6%
- Leaking urine before reaching a toilet (urgency incontinence) in 5%
Urination problems tended to differ among men and women, with women experiencing more issues with incontinence and men struggling more often with slow urination or dribbling. Overall, they found urinary urgency was the most common troubling symptom but, individually, urgency incontinence was rated as the most embarrassing problem.
The study's lead researcher, Kari Tikkinen, MD, PhD, explained that some of the most overlooked urinary symptoms are actually those that deserve the most attention:2
"In women, stress incontinence is the condition whose investigation and treatment we should particularly focus on. The symptom occurs in approximately one in eight of all women at a level of severity that causes substantial bother…
In both genders, rushing to the toilet and waking at night-time to urinate were listed as fairly common and troublesome problems – approximately one in twelve people stated they had substantial trouble with rushing to the toilet, and one in seventeen said they had trouble with getting up at night-time to urinate…
According to this study, however, the most common cause of bother among men is post-micturition dribble, which has been usually ignored."
You've probably heard of the term "overactive bladder," which refers to symptoms such as urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and having urge incontinence, or accidents. It has become a buzzword in recent years as pharmaceutical companies began promoting medications to treat this recently coined condition, urging (primarily) women to seek "help."
Not only are many cases of "overactive bladder" mild – i.e. not requiring treatment – but the term itself may be problematic, according to Tikkinen, who noted:3
"It implies that the cause of the symptoms lies in the bladder, even though this is often not the case."
Certain drugs for overactive bladder (anticholinergics) work by relaxing your bladder muscle to reduce urinary urgency, frequency, and accidents. These drugs may cause side effects like blurred vision, constipation, faster heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, and memory loss while doing nothing to treat the underlying cause of your urinary troubles. Common causes of urinary symptoms include:4
- Stress Incontinence (leaking urine while laughing, coughing, sneezing, etc.): This is often caused by physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
- Urge Incontinence (leaking urine after feeling a sudden urge to urinate): This may be caused by abnormal nerve signals that cause bladder spasms and may be associated with certain medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Other health conditions may also impact your bladder nerves and muscles, leading to urge incontinence. This includes multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and injury.
- Overactive Bladder: This may be caused by abnormal nerves sending signals to your bladder at the wrong time, causing it to contract and leading to frequent urination, urgency, incontinence, and nighttime urination.
- Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Men: These may include urinary hesitancy, weak stream, dribbling or leaking, along with more frequent urination (especially at night). These symptoms may be caused by an enlarged prostate that affects the flow of urine.
You may be wondering just what constitutes an actual urination "problem." For starters, if the frequency of your urination is bothersome (i.e. it wakes you up at night or interferes with your ability to carry out your regular activities), you should seek help. The same holds true for feelings of urgency or incontinence that is interfering with your daily life.
Please do not feel embarrassed, as these problems are incredibly common and can often be treated (using non-drug methods), leading to significant improvements in your quality of life.
That said, urinating six to eight times per day is "average." You might go more or less often than that, depending on how much water you drink and how active you are. Increased frequency can be caused by an overactive bladder (involuntary contractions), caffeine, a urinary tract infection (UTI), interstitial cystitis, benign prostate enlargement, diabetes, or certain neurological diseases.
It is important that you urinate when you feel the urge (except if you're undergoing bladder training, as discussed below). Ordinarily, delaying urination can cause bladder overdistension — like overstretching a Slinky such that it can't bounce back. You may habitually postpone urination if you find bathroom breaks inconvenient at work, or if you have Paruresis (also known as Shy Bladder Syndrome, Bashful Bladder, Tinkle Terror, or Pee Anxiety), the fear of urinating in the presence of others. Seven percent of the public suffers from this condition.5
If you're struggling with urinary symptoms that are interfering with your life, the following methods can be very effective:
- Do Kegels: More women than men might be familiar with this term. A Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight. For men who aren't familiar with that term, it's similar to trying to stop urinating in the middle of the flow. This can help to strengthen the muscles that help you hold in and control the flow of urine. Kegels can also help you suppress the need to urinate if you have trouble with frequency.
- Keep a Bladder Diary: This will help you become familiar with your bathroom habits so you can identify a pattern. It may help you develop a plan to visit the bathroom at timed intervals to avoid accidents, as well as help you strategically increase time between bathroom trips as you gain control.
- Bladder Training: The bladder diary is often one step of bladder training, which involves visiting the restroom according to a fixed schedule. When you feel the need to urinate before a scheduled visit, practice Kegels or relaxation exercises like deep breathing to suppress the urge.
- Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment or Chiropractic Adjustments: Research has shown that osteopathic manipulative treatment provided virtually the same therapeutic effect as pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels) in women with lower urinary tract disorders.6
- Limiting Fluids at Certain Times of the Day: If you're getting up during the night to urinate, stop drinking three to four hours before bedtime. Coffee, tea, and alcohol should also be restricted.
- Enlarged Prostate: Men, if you believe an enlarged prostate is causing your urinary symptoms, read these tips for maintaining a healthy prostate.
If you only experience occasional incontinence, wearing a thin absorbent pad may help give you confidence and allow you to go about with your daily schedule without fears of embarrassment. But, ideally, try the safe options above so that you can fully recover. Remember, this is a very common problem that can often be effectively treated, naturally. As the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) put it: 7
"…many women are afraid to mention their problem. They may have urinary incontinence that can improve with treatment but remain silent sufferers and resort to wearing absorbent undergarments, or diapers. This practice is unfortunate, because diapering can lead to diminished self-esteem, as well as skin irritation and sores. If you are relying on diapers to manage your incontinence, you and your family should discuss with your doctor the possible effectiveness of treatments such as timed voiding and pelvic muscle exercises."
By Dr. Mercola
Last month, the restaurant chain Chipotle launched an online show on Hulu called Farmed and Dangerous, a four-part satire aimed at revealing the "outrageously twisted and utterly unsustainable world of industrial agriculture" by poking fun at it.
Each of the four episodes is being published by the Huffington Post.1 The first episode, featured above, ran on Monday, February 17.
"We're most interested in using the series to launch conversations around pressing issues in our food system," Huffington Post writes. "Is industrial agriculture the only answer to the planet's food problem? Do you support the use of genetically-modified ingredients in our food? What do you think of Chipotle's anti-industrial farming message and 'values branding' strategy?"2
All important questions to consider these days... One of the main characters in Farmed and Dangerous is Chip Randolph, a young farmer-activist who goes up against a fictional industrial food corporation that has created petroleum-based cow feed, called "petro-pellets"—with devastating results.
While adding petroleum to the feed makes for cheaper food, it also makes the cows spontaneously combust into flames. Through the calamitous twists and turns that ensue, the series indirectly highlights a number of important issues currently facing the food industry.
This includes reliance on fossil fuels, the misuse of drugs in animal farming, and food libel laws that enable the food industry to silence critics. Perhaps one of the catchiest phrases uttered in this mini-series is "Those people died from eating; not starving. That's progress."
While modern agriculture has yet to develop feed that makes cows literally explode, the phrase is still hauntingly relevant when we're talking about factory farming. People are indeed being harmed by the food they eat these days.
According to the New York Times:3
"...'Farmed and Dangerous,' billed as a 'Chipotle original series,' hopes to promote the company's concerns about sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of animals used for meat. This stealth marketing strategy, Chipotle executives say, is not about 'product integration,' but 'values integration.'"
It's interesting to note that Chipotle hasn't always been 100 percent dedicated to the values of sustainable and organic agriculture, but in their defense, the chain has been fairly quick to respond to consumer pressure to remove genetically engineered ingredients, or at the very least be transparent about their use.
Last summer, I wrote about how food activist blogger Vani Hari, better known as "Food Babe," inspired Chipotle to take a closer look at its ingredients. When she began her investigation into Chipotle's food, the restaurant didn't have a list of ingredients on their menus or website, and the corporate headquarters even refused to supply her with one when she contacted them directly.4
"I said, 'But your label says "Food with Integrity."' How am I going to know that it's food with integrity if I can't know the ingredients and I can't read them for myself?" Vani said.
Shortly after publishing an article on her blog, questioning the chain's resistance to releasing a list of its ingredients for closer scrutiny, Chipotle called her. Shortly thereafter, the chain released the lists of ingredients in its meals, and even started labeling genetically engineered (GE) ingredients for full transparency.
They also swapped out some of the GE ingredients, such as soybean oil, replacing it with rice bran oil. And now, they've released Farmed and Dangerous, which may be just what's needed to give these issues some well-needed exposure among the general public.
Virtually all of the meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) found in your local grocery store comes from animals raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). If it wasn't raised in a factory farm, it will typically bear a clear label stating it's "grass-fed" or "USDA 100% organic."
Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, thereby allowing for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and the ethical treatment of animals.
Far from being what most people would consider "a farm," these massive operations are more like industrial warehouses, stocked to the hilt with animals that are quite literally crammed together. Due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions in these livestock factories, most of the animals end up getting sick. And whether they're ill or not, they're still routinely given antibiotics and artificial hormones to promote growth.
The natural diet of a cow is plain grass, but CAFO-raised cows are fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts instead. Not only does this upset their digestive systems and alter the nutritional makeup of their meat, all of the feed additives also get transferred to you when you eat that meat. The routine use of antibiotics in particular has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now threaten human life.
The factory farm model also directly contributes to Americans' increasing reliance on processed junk foods, which in turn drives the rise in obesity and chronic disease. For the past several decades, the focus has been on creating ever-cheaper foods. Well, you cannot achieve top quality and rock-bottom prices at the same time. Something has to give, and quality nutrition definitely fell by the wayside as technology overtook the food and agricultural industry...
Research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy meat from your local grocery store. But it may be even worse than that. Last year, using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken parts purchased in stores in 2011. EWG nutritionist and the report's lead researcher, Dawn Undurraga, issued the following warning to the public:5
"Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets... These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective."
This is no minor concern! According to a landmark "Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report" published by the CDC,6 two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications.
I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat. By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat." The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
By Dr. Mercola
Depriving your body of sleep can lead to some very serious—and surprising—health effects, including widespread pain, which is a primary feature of fibromyalgia.
According to recent research from Great Britain, poor or insufficient sleep was actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50. Other predictors for widespread pain included anxiety, poor physical health, cognitive problems, and osteoarthritis. Senior author Ross Wilkie told Reuters Health:1
"In older adults, widespread pain, that is pain that affects multiple sites in the body, is common and is associated with morbidity and disability including poor mental health and reduced physical functioning...Non-restorative sleep was the strongest predictor of new onset widespread pain..."
Poor sleep can actually impact virtually every aspect of your health, and the reason for this is because your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) actually "drives" the rhythms of biological activity at the cellular level.
Hence disruptions tend to cascade outward throughout your entire body. For example, besides making you more susceptible to physical aches and pains, interrupted or impaired sleep can also:
- Increase your risk of heart disease and cancer
- Harm your brain by halting new neuron production. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), resulting in fewer new brain cells being created in your hippocampus
- Contribute to a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can lead to weight gain
- Contribute to premature aging by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training)
- Increase your risk of dying from any cause
There are many reasons for why you might not sleep well through the night or get enough sleep. Among the most common culprits are not getting enough natural sunlight during the day, combined with too much artificial light well into the evening.
Something as simple as keeping your bedroom too warm is another frequent mistake that can lead to tossing and turning. Then there's the issue of being overweight, which increases your risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which I'll discuss more in a moment.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Dan Pardi on the topic of how to get restorative, health-promoting sleep. Pardi is a researcher who works with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. According to Pardi, the following three factors are key to determining how restorative your sleep is:
- Duration— i.e. the number of hours you sleep. Sleep requirements are highly individual, and can change from one day to the next, depending on factors like stress, physical exertion, illness, and pregnancy, just to name a few. But, on average, most people need about eight hours of sleep per night.
- Timing—i.e. the habit of going to bed at approximately the same time each night. Even if the duration of sleep is the same, when the timing of your sleep is shifted, it's not going to be as restorative.
- Intensity—This has to do with the different stages that your brain and body goes through over the course of the night, the sequence of them, and how those stages are linked.
Some medications will suppress certain phases of sleep, and certain conditions like sleep apnea will lead to fragmented sleep. With these scenarios, even if you're sleeping for an adequate duration and have consistent timing, your sleep will not be as restorative.
One of the easiest ways to gauge whether you've slept enough is to assess your level of sleepiness the next day. For example, if you had the opportunity, would you be able to take a nap? Do you need caffeine to keep you going? Answering yes to these two questions would indicate you need more and/or better sleep.
I believe that a MAJOR part of why so many people are sleeping so poorly is linked to modern day living, which keeps you indoors for the greater part of the day, and allows you to spend long evenings in brightly lit rooms. The natural cycle of light and darkness plays a critical role in your waking/sleep cycle, and deviating from this natural rhythm can have serious health ramifications.
Studies have shown that poor lighting in the workplace triggers headaches, stress, fatigue, and strained watery eyes, not to mention inferior work production. Conversely, companies that have switched to full-spectrum lights report improved employee morale, greater productivity, reduced errors, and decreased absenteeism. Some experts even believe that "malillumination" is to light what malnutrition is to food, and spending the larger portion of each day indoors essentially puts you in a state of "light deficiency."
When full-spectrum light enters your eyes, it not only goes to your visual centers enabling you to see, it also goes to your brain's hypothalamus where it affects your entire body. Your hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger and thirst, water balance, and blood pressure. It also controls your body's master gland, the pituitary, which secretes many essential hormones, including those that influence your mood.
Light also serves as the major synchronizer of your "master clock." This master clock is a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). As a group, these nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eyes. You also have other biological clocks throughout your body, and those clocks subsequently synchronize to your master clock. In essence, there are two levels of synchronizations taking place within your body in response to sunlight:
- Your master clock synchronizes with the environment
- Your other body clocks synchronize with the master clock
To maintain healthy "master clock" timing, you want to make sure you're getting bright light exposure during the day. Many indoor environments simply aren't intense enough to maintain the needed synchronization. So-called "anchor light" anchors your rhythm, causing it to be less fragile, so that light at night has less of an ability to shift your rhythm. As for how much light exposure you need, Pardi says the first 30-60 minutes of outdoor light exposure creates about 80 percent of the needed anchoring effect.
Just as your body requires bright-light exposure during the day, it requires pitch-blackness at night to function optimally. When you turn on a light at night, you immediately send your brain misinformation about the light-dark cycle. The only thing your brain interprets light to be is "day." Believing daytime has arrived, your biological clock instructs your pineal gland to immediately cease its production of the hormone melatonin – a significant blow to your health, especially if you're ill, as melatonin produces a number of health benefits in terms of your immune system.
In addition, melatonin helps you fall asleep and bestows a feeling of overall comfort and well-being, and it has proven to have an impressive array of anti-cancer benefits.2 Needless to say, suppressing this essential hormone by excessive light exposure before bedtime is the last thing you want to do if you have trouble sleeping, or struggle with any kind of health problem or illness.
Certain health ailments can certainly affect your quality of sleep. Sleep apnea, for example, is a very common problem that can hinder any attempts at getting more restorative sleep. Apnea is a Greek word that means "breathe." Sleep apnea is the inability to breathe properly, or the limitation of breath or breathing, during sleep. There are three general types of apnea described in the literature:
- Central sleep apnea (CSA), which typically relates to your diaphragm and chest wall and an inability to properly pull air in
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which relates to an obstruction of your airway that begins in your nose and ends in your lungs
- Mixed apnea is a combination of both
Obstructive sleep apnea consists of the frequent collapse of the airway during sleep, making it difficult to breathe for periods lasting as long as 10 seconds. Those with a severe form of the disorder have at least 30 disruptions per hour. Not only do these breathing disruptions interfere with sleep, leaving you unusually tired the next day, it also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can impair the function of internal organs and/or exacerbate other health conditions you may have.
The condition is closely linked to metabolic health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and according to recent research,3 even a modest weight reduction can halt the progression of obstructive sleep apnea. Shedding excess pounds might even cure it, according to this five-year long study. As reported by Medical News Today:4
"The study focused on the effects of weight loss on OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] and demonstrated, for the first time, that a sustained weight loss of just five percent was enough to prevent the disease from worsening and even cure it in a long-term follow-up."
While sleep apnea is thought to be primarily associated with obesity, many patients diagnosed with sleep apnea today do not have a weight problem. As it turns out, the shape and size of your mouth, and the positioning of your tongue, can also play a significant role.
According to Dr. Arthur Strauss, a dental physician and a diplomat of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, our mouths have progressively gotten smaller through the generations due to lack of breastfeeding and poor nutrition. Breastfeeding actually helps expand the size of your child's palate and helps move the jaw further forward – two factors that help prevent sleep apnea by creating more room for breathing. Diet is also important. Dr. Weston Price's pioneering work showed how diet can affect your entire mouth, not just your teeth.
If your sleep apnea is related to your tongue or jaw position, specialty trained dentists can design a custom oral appliance to address the issue. These include mandibular repositioning devices, designed to shift your jaw forward, while others help hold your tongue forward without moving your jaw. However, sleep apnea relief may also be found in the form of speech therapy treatment called oral myofunctional therapy, which helps to re-pattern your oral and facial muscles. For more information about this, please see my previous interview with Joy Moeller, who is a leading expert in this form of therapy in the US.
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for all of the details, but to start, consider implementing the following changes:
- Get some sun in the morning. Your circadian system needs bright light to reset itself. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight will send a strong message to your internal clock that day has arrived, making it less likely to be confused by weaker light signals during the night.
- Get at least 30 minutes of BRIGHT sun exposure mid-day. Remember, your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night. If you work indoors, make a point to get outdoors for at least a total of 30-60 minutes during the brightest portion of the day.
- Avoid watching TV or using your computer in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed. These devices emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime. Normally your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 and 10 pm, and these devices emit light that may stifle that process.
- Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your biological clock and your pineal gland's melatonin production. This means that even the tiny glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep, so cover your alarm clock up at night or get rid of it altogether. The ideal light tone for any clock you keep on all night is a reddish amber, certainly not blue or green. The red and amber will interfere least with your melatonin production. I also recommend covering your windows with thick drapes or blackout shades if you can afford them. Alternatively, wear an eye mask while you sleep.
- Install a low-wattage yellow, orange or red light bulb if you need a source of light for navigation at night. Light in these bandwidths does not shut down melatonin production in the way that white and blue bandwidth light does. Salt lamps are handy for this purpose.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius). Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F (15.5 to 20 C). Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can also disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
- Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your head. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least three feet.
By Dr. Mercola
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to support physical health and well-being. Essential oils carry biologically active volatile compounds of flowers and plants in a highly concentrated form. They are, in many ways, the essence of the plant and can provide therapeutic benefits in very small amounts.
The particles in essential oils, which come from flowers, twigs, leaves, or bark, can be inhaled, prompting various beneficial effects. As noted by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA):1
“It [Aromatherapy] seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.”
There are about as many uses for aromatherapy as there are essential oils, but one of the most exciting areas of research is for anxiety, with research showing essential oils may help relieve symptoms without the side effects of anxiety drugs.
For an estimated 40 million US adults, feelings of anxiety may occur even when there’s no real threat, causing unnecessary stress and emotional pain.
Unfortunately, most people who suffer with anxiety either do nothing or resort to pharmaceutical drugs – many of which are ineffective and capable of destroying your health and sanity further. Commonly prescribed drugs include benzodiazepine drugs like Ativan, Xanax, and Valium.
Many of these anti-anxiety drugs exert a calming effect by boosting the action of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the same way as opioids (heroin) and cannabinoids (cannabis) do.
This in turn activates the gratification hormone, dopamine, in your brain. Since the identical brain "reward pathways" are used by both types of drugs, they can be equally addictive and also may cause side effects like memory loss, hip fractures, impaired thinking, and dizziness.
Ironically, the symptoms of withdrawal from many of these anxiety medications include extreme states of anxiety – some of which are far worse than the original symptoms that justified treatment in the first place. Clearly a safe, natural alternative for treating anxiety is needed, and aromatherapy may be one such option worth trying. Research shows:
- A systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials examining the anxiolytic (anxiety-inhibiting) effects of aromatherapy among people with anxiety symptoms showed that most of the studies indicated positive effects to quell anxiety (and no adverse events were reported).2
- People exposed to bergamot essential oil aromatherapy prior to surgery had a greater reduction in pre-operative anxiety than those in control groups.3
- Sweet orange oil has been found to have anxiety-inhibiting effects in humans, supporting its common use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.4
- Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.5
- Compared to the controls, women who were exposed to orange odor in a dental office had a lower level of anxiety, a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness. Researchers concluded, “exposure to ambient odor of orange has a relaxant effect.”6
If you’re interested in trying out this natural form of anxiety relief, any of the following essential oils would be a good starting point. These are all popular anxiety-inhibiting oils:7
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)8 Rose (Rosa damascena) Orange (Citrus sinensis) Bergamot (Citrus aurantium) Lemon (Citrus limon)9 Sandalwood (Santalum album) Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
There are a number of ways to use aromatherapy. If you have a serious condition, you may want to contact an experienced aromatherapist who can help guide you. Certain essential oils can cause photosensitization (making your skin more sensitive to the sun) or allergic reaction and others should not be used on pregnant women, so it’s important to be familiar with an essential oil before using it. That said, you can try to use essential oils at home via the following methods:10
- Indirect inhalation of essential oils using a room diffuser or placing drops nearby
- Direct inhalation of essential oils using an individual inhaler with drops floated on top of hot water (this is popular for treating sinus headaches)
- Aromatherapy massage, in which essential oils are diluted in a carrier oil and massaged into your skin
- Applying essential oils to your skin by combining them with lotion, bath salts, or dressings
Anxiety, of course, is only one use for aromatherapy. Other potential uses include:
- Green apple scent for migraines: One study found that the scent significantly relieved migraine pain. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy, so consulting with an aromatherapist might be beneficial.
- Peppermint for memory: The aroma of peppermint has been shown to enhance memory and increase alertness.
- Nausea and vomiting: A blend of peppermint, ginger, spearmint, and lavender essential oils has been found to help relieve post-operative nausea.11
- Lavender for pain relief: Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to lessen pain following needle insertion.12
Energy psychology techniques, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (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 akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations. Although not necessary, you can even use EFT along with aromatherapy if you like.
This can be done by yourself or under the supervision of a qualified therapist, either in person or via online video services, like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. In the following video, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman discusses EFT for stress and anxiety relief. Please keep in mind that while anyone can learn to do EFT at home, self-treatment for serious issues like persistent anxiety is dangerous and NOT recommended.
It is dangerous because it will allow you to falsely conclude that EFT does not work when nothing could be further from the truth. For serious or complex issues, you need someone to guide you through the process, as it typically takes years of training to develop the skill to tap on and relieve deep-seated, significant issues.
If you suffer from anxiety, it would be wise to look into nourishing your gut flora, and the best way to do this is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods, which are naturally rich in beneficial bacteria. Pasteurized versions will NOT have the same benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys many, if not all, of the naturally occurring probiotics. So you will need to seek out traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods like fermented vegetables, or make them yourself. Additionally, 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.13
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.
If you struggle with anxiety, you really can’t go wrong with starting a comprehensive exercise program – virtually any physical activity is likely to have positive effects, especially if it’s challenging enough. That said, Duke University researchers recently published a review of more than 100 studies that found yoga appears to be particularly beneficial for mental health,14 although I also recommend high-intensity interval training like Peak Fitness and resistance training, in addition to flexibility and core-building exercises like yoga or Foundation Training.
By Dr. Mercola
Good oral hygiene is even more important than previously thought. Pathogenic microorganisms and their toxins can harm more than just your mouth when they circulate through your bloodstream—they can potentially cause secondary infections and chronic inflammation throughout your body.
The fact that oral pathogens can make their way to distant parts of your anatomy and cause serious problems has been known for many years.
Even dentists would agree that bacteria can pass from your gums into your bloodstream and on to your heart, which is why some still prescribe oral antibiotics to a few select patients with a particularly high risk for endocarditis, particularly if they have gingivitis.1
But it appears that the rare case of endocarditis is only the tip of the iceberg. Several studies now show that these oral pathogens—viruses as well as bacteria—may be linked to certain cancers, making it even more important to do take every step possible to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy.
The human papillomavirus (HPV),2 some strains of which are associated with cervical cancer if left untreated for long periods of time, has similarly been linked to vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the throat, tonsils, and base of tongue).
Hence the ridiculous recommendation to vaccinate boys with the notorious HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which is riddled with dangerous side effects and other problems. A new study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research reports:3
"Poor oral health, which includes dental problems and gum disease, is an independent risk factor for oral HPV infection, and by extension, could also contribute to oral cancers."
In this study, participants with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy mouths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV,4 but according to the latest study, it could be as high as 80 percent.
The researchers speculate that good oral hygiene could help prevent HPV infection, thereby lowing your risk for oropharyngeal and other cancers. Human papillomavirus is actually a group of more than 100 viruses. Of those 100, about 40 are sexually transmitted, and 15 of those are the types most often associated with cervical cancers and genital warts.5
It is important to note that more than 90 percent of women infected with HPV clear the infection naturally within two years, at which point their cervical cells return to normal. It is only when the HPV virus lingers for many years (that is, becomes chronic) that abnormal cervical cells could turn into cancer.
This is why regularly scheduled PAP smears prevent cervical cancer deaths far more effectively than the HPV vaccine ever will, because they allow a sufficient amount of time to find and treat any cervical abnormalities.
It is interesting to note that HPV isn't the only virus linked to cancer—in fact, it is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all cancers are caused by viruses!6 Many viruses trigger cancer by suppressing your immune system and/or altering your genes. The following viruses are known to play a major role in certain types of cancer:7
- EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) increases your risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, certain lymphomas and stomach cancer
- Hepatitis B and C are linked to liver cancer
- HIV is associated with invasive cervical cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer, liver cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, skin cancer and Kaposi's sarcoma; Herpes virus 8 is also thought to be involved with almost all cases of Kaposi's sarcoma
There is one bacterium that has been causing a great deal of trouble with people's health: Fusobacterium nucleatum, a spindle-shaped anaerobic bacterium commonly found in dental plaque. F. nucleatum is abundant in your mouth and able to coaggregate with other species.8 Three recent studies have linked F. nucleatum with serious health problems:
- Case Western Reserve University researchers found that some malignant colorectal tumors are caused by F. nucleatum9
- Harvard researchers also established a link between F. nucleatum and the initiation of colorectal tumors10
- A study in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that oral F. nucleatum can lead to intrauterine infection and even stillbirth11
The first two studies establish an actual causal link between this bacteria and colorectal cancer. The bacteria trigger inflammation and also activate the cancer growth genes and the signals required for angiogenesis to occur (a tumor's blood supply). Normally, F. nucleatum is not prevalent in your gut, but if your microbial balance is off—which can happen in your mouth, as well as in your gut—then it's able to invade and colonize. F. nucleatum has been found in gut mucosal biopsies that show inflammation and in biopsies of colorectal tumors.12
The third study discusses an unusual case of a mother losing her baby to stillbirth due to an intrauterine infection, directly resulting from gingivitis. The bacteria moved from her mouth to her uterus because her immune system was weakened by a respiratory infection. Other studies have shown these bacteria to cause stillbirths in mice, but this was the first documented human case.13
All of these studies unequivocally show that bacterial imbalances and dysbiosis can contribute to inflammation in your body and activate cancer genes. Therefore, the bacteria in your mouth deserve as much care and attention as the ones in your gut. Not surprisingly, they're interrelated, and as you improve your gut flora, the flora in your mouth improves accordingly. I experienced this myself. When I started consuming fermented vegetables, it only took a few months before I was able to reduce the frequency of my visits to my dental hygienist for a persistent plaque problem.
Besides oral hygiene, which I'll be discussing shortly, there are two other dental-related concerns you may need to address: mercury amalgams and fluoride. The average American has eight mercury amalgams (fillings), falsely described as "silver" fillings. This misleading label has been purposely used to keep you in the dark about the exact composition of the fillings, which are actually about 50 percent mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can poison your brain, central nervous system and kidneys. Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk—but anyone can be adversely impacted.
Mercury is such a potent toxin that just one drop in a lake would poison the lake to the extent that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would ban fishing in it. Yet, they claim that carrying around a mouthful of mercury fillings has no harmful effects. If you have mercury amalgams, it would be advisable to consult a holistic, mercury-free dentist.
If you are using fluoridated toothpaste, you may want to consider tossing it out and replacing it it with a safe one. In the mornings, you could use toothpaste containing calcium and phosphate salts, or even hydroxyapatite, which can help remineralize your teeth. Baking soda will help promote beneficial bacteria in your mouth by neutralizing the acid that pathogenic bacteria thrive in. I use an oral irrigator with baking soda twice a day and follow with coconut oil pulling for 20 minutes.
Fluoride is of little or no benefit to your teeth and poses serious health risks, including immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, increased risk of fractures, arthritis, infertility, and many more.
Toothpaste isn't the only source of fluoride—it is present in growing numbers of non-organic foods from pesticide residue (including iceberg lettuce). And fluoride continues to be added to many municipal water supplies in the United States. Water fluoridation has come under increasing scrutiny as health concerns, lack of efficacy in preventing tooth decay and ethical issues of administering chemicals via the water supply have surfaced. For more information on fluoride, please watch the presentation by Michael Connett, an attorney with the Fluoride Action Network in this previous article.
The latest research uncovering the connection between the microorganisms in your mouth and cancer make it extraordinarily clear that oral hygiene is a necessary prerequisite if you want to be healthy. Major problems can result from the overgrowth of opportunistic oral pathogens, including oropharyngeal cancers, colorectal cancer, and if you're an expectant mother, even the tragedy of stillbirth. In addition to avoiding fluoride and mercury fillings, my top four recommendations for optimizing your oral health are as follows:
- Consume a traditional diet: fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-pastured meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy; nuts and seeds; minimal consumption of sugar and processed food
- Add in some naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, yogurt, kefir
- Proper brushing and flossing
- Oil pulling
A traditional diet will help balance both your oral and gastrointestinal flora, but it may not be enough to guarantee perfect oral health. I've struggled with plaque for years, and it wasn't until I added fermented foods and oil pulling that I began to make progress with the problem. The addition of fermented foods decreased my plaque by 50 percent and made it much softer, and the oil pulling has improved it further.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice dating back thousands of years. When it harnesses the antimicrobial power of coconut oil, you have one very powerful tool! The high lauric content of coconut oil makes it a strong inhibitor of a wide range of pathogenic organisms, from viruses to bacteria to protozoa. Researchers in Ireland found that coconut oil treated with enzymes, in a process similar to digestion, strongly inhibits Streptococcus bacteria, which are common oral residents that can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease.
Oil pulling can lessen your toxic load by pulling out pathogens and preventing their spread to other areas of your body. When done correctly, oil pulling has a significant cleansing, detoxifying and healing effect. Oil pullers have reported rapid relief from systemic health problems such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. Sesame oil is traditionally recommended, but it has a relatively high concentration of omega-6 oils. Therefore, I believe coconut oil is far superior, and to me it tastes better. But from a mechanical and biophysical perspective, both oils likely work.
Oil pulling is simple. Basically, it involves rinsing your mouth with about a tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. The oil is "worked" around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for a period of about 15 minutes. If you are obsessive like me, you can go for 30-45 minutes. This process allows the oil to neutralize and "pull out" bacteria, viruses, fungi and other debris. After working the oil around for 15 minutes, spit it out and rinse your mouth with water. Do NOT swallow the oil as it's loaded with bacteria and toxins. Naturopathic physician and coconut oil expert Bruce Fife compares the benefits of oil pulling to changing the oil in your car:14
"It acts much like the oil you put in your car engine. The oil picks up dirt and grime. When you drain the oil, it pulls out the dirt and grime with it, leaving the engine relatively clean. Consequently, the engine runs smoother and lasts longer. Likewise, when we expel harmful substances from our bodies our health is improved and we run smoother and last longer."
The running thread linking a wide variety of common health problems, including cancer, is chronic inflammation in your body – regardless of whether it originates in your mouth or not. Clearly, addressing your oral health is an important step, but it really all starts with your diet.
Your diet can make or break your teeth, as it were, and has a profound effect on your overall level of inflammation. Therefore, to optimize your health and prevent many of the diseases listed above, you'll want to evaluate your lifestyle to ensure you're doing everything you can to prevent chronic inflammation from occurring. To reduce or prevent inflammation in your body, you'll want to avoid the following dietary culprits:
- Sugar/fructose and grains
- Oxidized cholesterol (cholesterol that has gone rancid, such as that from overcooked, scrambled eggs)
- Foods cooked at high temperatures
- Trans fats
Beyond that, brushing with baking soda and using oil pulling can help address the bacterial balance in your mouth. The most important factor, however, is to regularly reseed your gut with beneficial bacteria, i.e. probiotics. Fermented vegetables and other traditionally fermented foods are an ideal source, but if you don't eat fermented foods, then a high-quality probiotic is certainly recommended.
By Dr. Mercola
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was established in 1970 as the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which was originally chartered by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
As a non-profit, non-governmental organization, the IOM has a theoretically noble goal – to conduct research and provide supposedly unbiased, independent information about health to both the government and the private sector.
As IOM puts it: "The IOM asks and answers the nation's most pressing questions about health and health care."
To date we have seen some useful reports come out of the IOM, such as one review of more than 1,000 vaccine studies that found convincing evidence of 14 health outcomes -- including seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting -- that can be caused by certain vaccines.1
In 2011, the IOM admitted, "Vaccines are not free from side effects, or 'adverse effects'" and noted that "for the vast majority [of these effects] the evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship."
This is the type of information that the US desperately needs to prompt further investigations into issues not only involving vaccines but also countless other areas of health and medicine. We need studies that are truly unbiased, that will allow for open, informed discussions about health care and true disease prevention.
Unfortunately, the IOM is getting a new president, cardiologist Victor Dzau, and he comes with a lot of "baggage" – from ties to multiple pharmaceutical companies to serving on the board at PepsiCo. This physician-businessman is likely to flood the IOM with conflicts of interest that may make unbiased IOM reports a thing of the past.
Victor Dzau is currently the chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and the CEO of the Duke University Health System. Before that, he served as the chair of the department of medicine and director of research at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic (Medicine) at Harvard Medical School. He was also the chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University.
It's an impressive resume that will only be bolstered by the six-year appointment as president of the IOM, which is set to begin on July 1, 2014… However, don't let his strong academic ties bedazzle you…
In a 2010 Lancet paper, Dzau says his vision for global "health science" is driven by a "public-private financial partnership" between academic institutions and governments.2 Unfortunately, large U.S. universities – who have long maintained close ties with Big Pharma – are now increasingly creating very lucrative "public-private partnerships" with government, which creates a major conflict of interest.
Already, Dzau's work at Duke University has a long history of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which accepts a great deal of money from Big Pharma and is deeply enmeshed with the industry, as well as vaccine development research. For instance:
- In July 2005, the Duke Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology was opened with a $300-million, 7-year-funding commitment from NIH3
- In 2006, a top-level secure biocontainment lab was opened at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, which is developing HIV, TB, influenza, and Dengue vaccines4 (the Duke Human Vaccine Institute was also started with NIH money5)
- In 2012, Duke got another $139 million from NIH to develop an HIV vaccine6
- In 2012, Dzau also delivered an "order" to Duke University students to get the flu shot7
In 2010, a group of Duke students protested the hefty compensation being given to some Duke officials, Dzau included. He received more than $2.2 million in total compensation from Duke in 2009, an amount some felt was excessive especially when financial difficulties were being reported at the University. However, that figure is nothing compared to the compensation Dzau is receiving from his corporate connections outside of Duke. As reported by Forbes,8 Dzau served on several corporate boards in 2009, including:
- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals: Dzau received more than $234,000 in compensation in 2009, along with owning more than $424,000 worth of company shares
- Genzyme (a biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi): Dzau received nearly $413,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth more than $5.3 million
- Medtronic (a medical devices company): Dzau received nearly $174,000 in compensation plus owned shares worth nearly $494,000
- PepsiCo: Dzau received $260,000 in compensation and owned shares worth more than $1.6 million
In case you lost count, this amounts to more than $1 million in compensation from serving as a director for these companies, in addition to stock valued at more than $7.8 million… and that's in addition to the $2.2 million from Duke. And, remember, these are 2009 figures. Today, it's estimated that Dzau owns:9
- 90,000 shares of stock in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, worth more than $8 million
- More than 25,000 shares of Medtronic stock, worth more than $1.4 million
- More than 36,000 shares of PepsiCo stock, worth more than $2.8 million
The issue here, of course, isn't how much money Dzau has… it's how a person with such extensive corporate board memberships can realistically uphold the IOM promise of providing unbiased health information. As reported by Health Care Renewal:
"Even though Dr. Dzau will apparently exit his board memberships before he becomes IOM President, the IOM has been providing such analysis and recommendations under the supervision of a Council member who had fiduciary duties to the stockholders of two pharmaceutical companies, a medical device company, and a company that makes sugar-laden soft drinks and snack foods. It will continue to provide such analysis and recommendations under the supervision of a President who became a multimillionaire by virtue of the stock holdings he acquired through his board positions."
And Dzau isn't the only IOM official with a questionable background… Dr. Offit, who became an IOM member in 2011, has similarly concerning conflicts of interest to Dzau. Dr. Offit received a reported $350,000 grant from Merck to develop a rotavirus vaccine, and has served on the scientific advisory board for Merck. He received another estimated $6 million when Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) sold the patent for the RotaTeq vaccine he developed. He was also on the CDC advisory board that approved the addition of a rotavirus vaccine to the US National Immunization Program (NIP) in 1998—a decision that paid off handsomely.
The original rotavirus vaccine added to the NIP, which was made by a competitor, was pulled from the market due to adverse effects. The RotaTeq vaccine replaced it, and he continues to receive royalty payments from the sale of RotaTeq to this day. (According to Wired Magazine,10 Merck's revenue from RotaTeq was $665 million in 2008 alone, of which Offit and his RotaTeq co-creators are said to receive a percentage.)
In 2005, Merck, CHOP, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine announced the creation of the Maurice R. Hilleman Chair in Vaccinology. The chair, paid for by Merck, went to Dr. Offit, who still holds it to this day. In addition to his faculty salary at CHOP, he gets another $90,000 a year from this Merck-endowed chair. Offit has been severely criticized for his blatant conflicts of interest in the past and is also notorious for his claim that infants can tolerate 10,000 vaccines at once.
Last year, he was also a primary figurehead behind a flurry of media reports that told readers to beware, if not outright be afraid, of taking supplements.
Unfortunately, the revolving doors between academia, government, and industry have effectively led to a situation where it's now extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trust conventional health advice from the federal government — including that supported by non-profits like IOM, which is supposed to be independent -- due to this massive collusion.
Unfortunately today, even organizations that appear to be an independent "trusted" source for health information are typically very much intertwined with and beholden to industry, including Big Pharma and junk-food giants, and their health recommendations reflect this.
For instance, NIH's Web site, NIH.gov, is the most visited health content site online, but NIH is deeply enmeshed with the pharmaceutical industry. The second most-visited site, WebMD, is also not the independent informational site many believe it to be. They rely heavily on advertising dollars from the drug industry in order to keep afloat, and at one point were featuring a screening test for depression, sponsored by drug maker Eli Lilly, that would tell you that you were at risk for the condition even if you checked "no" to every symptom in the test.
This is precisely the reason why I've instead committed to selling a limited number of well-researched and independently tested products that I personally believe in, in order to remain independent and unbiased -- free from the spoken or unspoken demands of advertisers. And now, as the fourth most-visited health content site, and the number one most-visited natural health site, Mercola.com remains one of the only truly independent informational sources on the Web.
When it comes to your health, you simply cannot accept claims at their face value... You've got to dig below the surface and use all the resources available to you, including your own common sense and reason, true independent experts' advice, and other's experiences, to determine what medical treatment or advice will be best for you in any given situation.
By Dr. Mercola
You may be aware that bees are dying in large numbers across the globe, courtesy of the ever-increasing presence of toxins in our environment. But did you know that the monarch butterfly is also becoming endangered, and for the same reason?
As reported by the New York Times:1
"Hoping to focus attention on the plight of the monarch butterfly at a North American summit meeting... a group of prominent scientists and writers urged the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada to commit to restoring the habitat that supports the insect's extraordinary migration across the continent.
Calling the situation facing the butterfly 'grim,' the group issued a letter that outlined a proposal to plant milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's only food source, along its migratory route in Canada and the United States."
One of the major reasons for the dramatically diminishing numbers of monarch butterflies is that so many of the milkweed plants typically present in fields have been eliminated as farmers have switched over to planting genetically engineered corn and soy. (Land areas used to grow corn in the US have expanded by about 25 percent since 2007.)
The proposal calls for planting milkweed all along the migratory path through the US; between fields, in ditches, along roadsides, and in public areas, to ensure sufficient food for the monarchs, and a place to lay their eggs. The group also recommends subsidizing farmers who do not use herbicides on their land.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is also petitioning the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement tougher rules for the weed killer glyphosate, and to do so sooner rather than later.
The agency is scheduled to complete a review of glyphosate rules next year, but the NRDC is asking the EPA to take immediate action, given the rapid decline of the monarchs. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:2
"The petition asks the EPA to consider preventing the use of glyphosate and other weed killers along highways and utility rights of way where milkweed could grow freely without interfering with maintenance or emergency crews.
It also asks that farmers be required to establish herbicide-free safety zones in or around their fields, and urges the EPA to ensure that any new safeguards on glyphosate don't lead simply to more use of other weed killers that would be equally bad for monarchs and may pose health risks."
A recent article in the World Post,3 written by Mexican environmental activist Homero Aridjis, sheds further light on just how dire the situation is. Having spent every childhood winter in Contepec, Michoacan admiring the arriving flocks of monarchs, he has personally noticed the dramatic decline in the gorgeous orange and black butterflies.
In 1986, Aridjis petitioned the Mexican President to protect monarch habitats, which resulted in the creation of the Monarch Butterfly Special Biosphere Reserve. In 2000, the reserve was enlarged, and additional protection was added for other butterfly colonies as well. Mexico has also set limitations on logging in and around the butterfly reserve, to help preserve the butterfly population. Alas, such measures are not enough.
As Aridjis notes, excessive use of toxic agricultural chemicals across America's Corn Belt plays an absolutely critical role in the declining numbers of these beautiful creatures, as each year the butterflies migrate through this area of the US.
Milkweed,4 a perennial plant that used to be common across American prairies, is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs. Once the larvae hatches, the caterpillar will eat the plant. Without milkweed along its migratory path, the monarch cannot reproduce. Aridjis writes:5
"I was born in 1940 and grew up with (and wrote about) the monarchs, but it was only in 1975 that their overwintering forests in central Mexico's Transvolcanic Belt were 'discovered' by Canadian scientists.
On Jan. 29, news was released of a dramatic plunge in the monarch butterfly population that overwinters in Mexico after flying thousands of miles south from the northern and eastern United States and southern Canada.
This season's population, calculated by measuring the area of occupied trees, covers a tiny 0.67 hectares -- the smallest ever since these measurements began 20 years ago -- and a huge drop from the 1996 high of 21 hectares. The population has plummeted from an estimated 1 billion in 1996 to 33 million this year, scattered over seven sites. There have been no monarchs in Contepec for years."
Monarch Decline and Changes in U.S. Agriculture Figures from EH Williams Feb 7. 2014. Decline in monarch overwintering area compared to rise in US acreage planted in corn and rise is usage of glyphosate herbicide. To compare these on a similar scale, the monarch hectares have been multiplied by 5, and the glyphosate usage has been divided by 2 data sources: www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/, www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/agricultural-baseline-database/
The environmental destruction caused by glyphosate certainly does not end with the eradication of milkweed, which are critical for monarch breeding and feeding. This chemical, the toxicity of which has been vastly underestimated since its introduction into agriculture, absolutely devastates the soil microbiome. Killing microorganisms is in fact one of glyphosate's primary mechanisms of action, as it is patented as an antibiotic. Glyphosate is also a potent chelator that sequesters valuable minerals, rendering them inaccessible and unusable for the plant. It ties up minerals like manganese, zinc, and iron, which are essential for the plant's immune system and growth.
These minerals are also important for human health. Another problem, which applies to both genetically engineered (GE) and conventional hybridized plants, is that when a plant is altered it may lose its ability to emit the correct signals to warn its neighbors about impending attacks. Hence, they become more vulnerable to infestations.
Then there's the issue of rapid resistance developing among weeds... In some areas, highly invasive and crop-destroying superweeds are taking over valuable farm land. This was yet another possibility that was initially pooh-pooh'd by Monsanto. Industry assurances aside, glyphosate resistance has now become an undisputable fact.
But rather than acknowledging its role in creating the problem, Monsanto and other chemical producers have simply started working on herbicide formulations that are even MORE toxic, and developing new crops that are resistant to a different set of chemicals, including 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), which is one of the primary ingredients in Agent Orange!
Just as glyphosate decimates soil bacteria that are critical for plant health and nutrient uptake, the chemical also destroys the microbiome found in the gut of animals and humans. This effect appears to be the missing link that explains the detrimental health effects associated with genetically engineered foods. Recent research even suggests that glyphosate may be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies. This includes but is not limited to:
Autism Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis, and Crohn's disease Obesity Allergies Cardiovascular disease Depression Cancer Infertility Alzheimer's disease Parkinson's disease Multiple sclerosis ALS and more
The impact of gut bacteria on your health is becoming widely known. And here, we see how your gut bacteria once again play a crucial role in explaining why and how glyphosate causes health problems in both animals and humans. According to this revealing study, published in the journal Entropy6 last year:
"Glyphosate's claimed mechanism of action in plants is the disruption of the shikimate pathway, which is involved with the synthesis of the essential aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. The currently accepted dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans or to any mammals because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals.
However, this pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participitate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract permeability. Furthermore, dietary factors modulate the microbial composition of the gut."
The Center for Food Safety has created a petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and President Obama to protect the monarchs' breeding habitat by halting the approval of Monsanto Roundup Ready™ and other glyphosate-resistant and pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.
You can also make a difference by planting milkweed in your own garden to make up for the loss of milkweed caused by the sprawl of urban development.
Besides protecting the monarch butterfly, there are many other reasons to insist on the removal of glyphosate from agricultural use. The documented harmful effects of glyphosate extend not just to critical pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, but also to soil, plant, animal, and human health. It's becoming increasingly clear that Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup is doing FAR more harm than anyone ever expected, and it's time to put on the brakes before it's too late.
On numerous occasions, I've stated that the differences between industrial farming and organic farming, using time-tested all-natural methods, are so vast that the foods produced by the former cannot be equated to the foods produced by the latter. Use of genetically engineered plants only deepens the many problems associated with conventional, chemical-heavy farming. The environmental effects are also 180 degrees opposed, as industrial farming contributes to every form of environmental devastation, while organic farming methods restore the environment and invigorate and support the ecosystem—of which humans are an integral part, I might add.
Many equate modern techniques with "progress," when in fact most of our technological advancements are now threatening to destroy us right along with the planet as a whole... Think about this: nearly one BILLION pounds of Roundup is used each year for conventional crop production. Knowing what we now know about the toxicity of glyphosate (as well as glyphosate-based formulations that can be even more toxic than glyphosate alone), it's quite clear we're well on our way toward disaster.
Genetically engineered (GE) crops are typically the most heavily sprayed, as so-called Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of this chemical. The contamination issue is yet another valid reason for avoiding conventionally-grown foods in general, and genetically engineered (GE) foods in particular. And since genetically engineered foods tend to contain far higher levels of contamination, it's also another reason for labeling foods that contain GE ingredients.
By Dr. Mercola
Ingesting fluoride – a toxic fertilizer-industry byproduct – in drinking water for the sake of preventing tooth decay is an outdated, dangerous practice that is damaging human health and the environment.
The research on this is very clear, and although the US government has been slow to acknowledge it, other nations are ending this tragic "public health" measure.
Quite simply, the truth is out about fluoride, and the more people become informed, the less tolerance they have for this toxic drug-like substance to remain in their drinking water.
This is precisely the case in Europe, where 98 percent of countries have rejected water fluoridation either by removing it from their water supplies or never adding it to begin with.
Except for Ireland. Ireland is the only country in Europe that has mandatory fluoridation – a practice that hopefully won't be long for this world, thanks to the efforts of nutritionist Aisling FitzGibbon, better known as "The Girl Against Fluoride."
FitzGibbon is in the process of taking a High Court legal action against the Irish government in an effort to end the country's mandatory water fluoridation. The campaign was started after her own recovery from depression, which she attributes to drinking fluoride-free water.
Court case proceedings began in January 2014, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing a Supreme Court ruling in 1963 that mandated water fluoridation in Ireland. As FitzGibbon said, they are "fighting for our democratic right to clean water."1
Last year, three town councils in Ireland said they backed an end to water fluoridation but so far the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health has rejected anti-fluoridation arguments. In Bantry, Ireland, for instance, town councilors voted unanimously for an immediate end to fluoridation throughout Ireland.
Now, in an open letter to Irish Water, FitzGibbon has stated the agency and its board members will be held accountable for personal injury caused by the consumption of excess fluoride in drinking water.
She also pointed out that they have a "legal duty" to warn consumers about fluoride's toxic effects and said customers will refuse to make contracts with Irish Water, while current customers will withhold payment for artificially fluoridated water. According to the letter:2
"Irish Water has now been informed of the imminent actions of an ever-increasing and already large number of people who are gravely concerned about the dangers to human health caused by the over-consumption of fluoride [adding that they] are no longer prepared to tolerate being forced to consume it by a nanny state."
Ireland's hold-out for fluoridation is meeting increasing opposition not only within Ireland but around the globe. Over the past five years, a literal avalanche of Queensland, Australia communities has stopped fluoridating their water supplies. There are now 15 regional councils in Queensland that are either stopping fluoridation or refusing to start. That affects about 50 different townships.
That, of course, has encouraged people not only in Queensland but also those throughout Australia. In New Zealand, several communities have also stopped fluoridation over the last few years. The most recent was Hamilton, which is the second largest city in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in Israel also announced it will lift the mandatory requirement for fluoridation in 2014.
This leaves only Ireland and Singapore as the last two remaining countries with this mandatory practice. But with the rest of the world quickly ending mandatory water fluoridation and Fluoride Girl's increasingly popular, and vocal, campaign, it will be interesting to see how much longer they hold out.
As Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) reported, it very much seems like the Irish government is going to have a difficult time holding on to mandatory fluoridation for much longer:3
"Knowing that Ireland is the only country in Europe which has mandatory fluoridation, those promoting this outdated practice must have been disturbed to hear the news from Queensland that the new government there has dropped mandatory statewide fluoridation and there has been a stampede by many communities to end fluoridation or not start it, even though in one case the equipment was already installed.
…Even better from our perspective was when the Minister of Health in Israel announced that fluoridation would no longer be mandatory there in 2014. This sets a wonderful precedent for Ireland to follow… It was particularly satisfying… when John Gormley, former mayor of Dublin and former Minister of the Environment, finally released his report (while serving on the Parliamentary committee for Health and Children) in which he recommended that fluoridation be halted in Ireland.
…Finally, there is the good news from nearby unfluoridated Scotland where the government has reported very positive results in their low-cost educational program to fight tooth decay. So fluoridation promoters in Ireland cannot argue that if fluoridation is halted it will result in chaos. Scotland has shown there is a better, safer, and more rational way of fighting tooth decay without forcing it on people who don't want this treatment via the public water supply."
Once touted as the magical solution to dental caries, fluoride's benefit for your teeth – IF there is any, which is still debatable – comes with overshadowing downsides. No matter which scientific studies you examine, or which population trends you view, the only rational conclusion is that fluoride's health dangers far outweigh the marginal dental benefits it might offer (and those minimal benefits come from topical exposure, not systemic). The science is very clear about the following:
- Fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product that is poisonous to your body and in no way a "nutrient," offering no benefits at all to the human body. The fluoride added to water supplies can be contaminated with lead, arsenic, radionucleotides, aluminum, and other industrial contaminants. Additionally, the fluoride added to municipal water supplies is not pharmaceutical grade.
- Fluoride exposure comes from tap water, most toothpaste and pesticide and fertilizer residues on food. There is a large variation in exposure levels, making it impossible to accurately predict these variables for any person, family or community.
- Fluoride exposure for many can easily reach toxic levels. For example, poison control should be called if you swallow a quarter milligram of fluoride from toothpaste. Meanwhile, just ONE glass of water can contain this amount of fluoride.
- Fluoride is a cumulative poison that has been proven to cause wide-ranging, serious health problems, such as damage to your bones, brain, and endocrine system and conditions such as lowered IQ, thyroid dysfunction, and more.
- Dental caries can be prevented with means other than fluoridation, thereby avoiding the adverse effects of fluoride.
As FitzGibbon puts it:4
"Fluoride easily displaces iodine in the body, a lack of which shuts down production of thyroxine and can lead to hypothyroidism causing dry and premature aged skin, a lowered body temperature and a slower metabolism. Fluoride is known to be a risk factor in the development of many serious health problems that are prevalent in Ireland [and elsewhere] today.
These include cardiovascular and neurological disease, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, skeletal fluorosis, chronic fatigue and depression. The HSE [Ireland's Health Services] claim that the fluoride is added to water for dental health; however we have the worst teeth in Europe despite us being the only county to be fully fluoridated."
There's even more to the story than this, however. Water fluoridation came about as the result of a massively successful PR campaign, and was reportedly first suggested as a way to protect aluminum and steel producers from lawsuits against the fluorine pollution coming from their plants. If you want to know more, watch Dr. David Kennedy's documentary film Fluoridegate — An American Tragedy, which exposes the sordid truth about water fluoridation (and as you'll see, it has nothing to do with promoting dental health).
If you live in an area with fluoridated water, you can purchase a water filter that removes fluoride. The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, "activated carbon" filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.
You can get more information from FAN on fluoride and water filters here. However, you really shouldn't have to filter your water to remove this contaminant that shouldn't be there in the first place. That's why we are working closely with FAN to get fluoride out of drinking water on a larger scale.
There's no doubt about it: fluoride should not be ingested. Even scientists from the EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory have classified fluoride as a "chemical having substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity." Furthermore, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 percent of American adolescents now have dental fluorosis—unattractive discoloration and mottling of the teeth that indicate overexposure to fluoride. Clearly, children are being overexposed, and their health and development put in jeopardy. Why?
At least when it comes to topical application, you have a choice. You can easily buy fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash. But you're stuck with whatever your community puts in the water, and it's very difficult to filter out of your water once it's added. Many do not have the resources or the knowledge to do so.
The only real solution is to stop the archaic practice of water fluoridation in the first place. Fortunately, the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs, and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today.
You can also get involved with "The Girl Against Fluoride's" campaign to end water fluoridation in Ireland. In order to bring a successful legal challenge against the Irish government, funding is required to pay to fly in expert witnesses from around the world to give testimony. You can donate toward this cause here. She is also seeking signatures for a petition to end fluoridation of Irish drinking water. You can sign the petition now to take part in this historic movement.
By Dr. Mercola
Magnesium is a crucially important mineral for optimal health, performing a wide array of biological functions, including playing an important role in bone health. In fact, of the 25 grams of magnesium found in an average adult, up to 60 percent of it is found in your bones.1
Multiple studies have shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a higher bone mineral density in both men and women,2 and recent research from Norway has even found an association between magnesium in drinking water and risk of hip fractures.
Norway, like the US, has a high rate of hip fractures, but the researchers noted that its incidence varies by region, with those living in urban areas more likely to have hip fractures than those in rural locales. They suggested this could be due to naturally varying levels of minerals like magnesium in the drinking water, although this didn't turn out to be the case.
What they did find, however, was that while concentrations of magnesium (and calcium) in drinking water were generally low, there was an inverse association between concentration of magnesium and risk of hip fracture in both men and women.3 The researchers concluded:
"Magnesium in drinking water may have a protective role against hip fractures."
The finding is significant considering how debilitating a hip fracture can be, especially among the elderly. A broken hip carries a great risk of complications and usually requires prolonged specialized care for recovery. It's estimated that 25 percent of elderly people suffering a hip fracture die as a direct result.4
It's estimated that 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which could have a dramatic influence on bone health. Magnesium influences activities of both osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation) and osteoclasts (the cells that break down your bone).
Magnesium is thought to play a role in preventing and fighting osteoporosis. According to the National Office of Dietary Supplements:5
"Magnesium also affects the concentrations of both parathyroid hormone and the active form of vitamin D, which are major regulators of bone homeostasis…
Research has found that women with osteoporosis have lower serum magnesium levels than women with osteopenia and those who do not have osteoporosis or osteopenia. These and other findings indicate that magnesium deficiency might be a risk factor for osteoporosis."
In fact, one study found that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis were able to suppress bone turnover (which suggests bone loss decreased) just by taking 290 mg/day of magnesium for 30 days.6
Over the past 30 years, women have been told to take supplemental calcium to avoid osteoporosis. Many foods have also been fortified with extra calcium to prevent calcium deficiency among the general population.
Despite such measures, osteoporosis has continued to climb, and this could be, in part, because of an imbalanced calcium-magnesium ratio. According to Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor:
"I've heard statistics like a 700 percent rise in osteoporosis in a 10-year period, even while taking all this calcium. The myth that's been created about calcium is that we need twice as much calcium as we do magnesium. Most of the supplements reflect this. We've got a situation where people are taking 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and maybe a few hundred milligrams of magnesium.
The 2:1 ratio—that was a mistake; a mistaken translation from French researcher Jean Durlach, who said never ever go beyond two parts calcium to one part magnesium in your food, water, or supplement intake combined."
This was misinterpreted as meaning a 2:1 ratio was an appropriate ratio, which it's not. A more appropriate ratio of calcium to magnesium is 1:1. This may not only pose a risk to your bones but also to your heart. If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm.
So excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attack and sudden death. Quite simply, with insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly.
When balancing calcium and magnesium also keep in mind that these must be balanced with vitamins K2 and D. These four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity.
Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you're K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places, like soft tissue.
Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2 and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 and magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include inappropriate calcification that may damage your heart.
Magnesium and vitamin K2 complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease. So, all in all, anytime you're taking any of the following: magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3, or vitamin K2, you need to take all the others into consideration as well, since these all work synergistically with one another.
It would be misleading to simply classify magnesium as a mineral for your bones or your heart. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.7 Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body and plays a role in your body's detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. Even glutathione, your body's most powerful antioxidant that has even been called "the master antioxidant," requires magnesium for its synthesis. Recent research also showed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors.8 To date more than 100 health benefits of magnesium have been identified so far, including therapeutic benefits for:9
Fibromyalgia Atrial fibrillation Type 2 diabetes Premenstrual syndrome Cardiovascular disease Migraine Aging Mortality
There's no lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of the magnesium status in your tissues. Only one percent of the magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a blood test highly inaccurate. Some specialty labs do provide an RBC magnesium test, which is reasonably accurate, and other tests that your doctor can use to evaluate your magnesium status include a 24-hour urine test or a sublingual epithelial test. Still, these can only give you an estimation of your levels, and doctors typically need to evaluate them in conjunction with the symptoms you exhibit.
If you suspect you're not getting enough magnesium, you should keep a watchful eye out for symptoms of deficiency. If you eat a poor diet, including one that's mostly processed foods, this could apply to you. Further, if any of these conditions below apply to you, you may want to take extra precautions to make sure you're getting a sufficient amount of magnesium in your diet, or, if needed, from a magnesium supplement, in order to avoid magnesium deficiency.>
An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.) Alcoholism -- up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium10 Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine Age -- older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption Diabetes, especially if it's poorly controlled, may lead to increased magnesium loss in urine Certain medications -- diuretics, antibiotics, and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency
In her book, The Magnesium Miracle, Dr. Dean lists 100 factors that will help you decide whether or not you might be deficient. Early signs of magnesium deficiency to watch out for include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:
Numbness and tingling Muscle contractions and cramps Seizures Personality changes Abnormal heart rhythms Coronary spasms
Many people are low in magnesium. In order to ensure you're getting enough, you first need to be sure you're eating a varied, whole-food diet like the one described in my nutrition plan. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source. Juicing your vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you're getting enough of them in your diet.
One important point to mention, though, is that the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they're grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium instead of magnesium. Another one of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole-food diet is that you're far less likely to end up with too much of one nutrient at the expense of others. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper amounts for optimal health, which takes out the guesswork. When you're using supplements, you need to become a bit savvier about how nutrients influence and synergistically affect each other.
In case you're interested, another way to improve your magnesium status is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed into your body directly through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.
If you opt for a magnesium supplement, be aware that there are several different forms of magnesium. The reason for the wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market is because the magnesium must be bound to another substance. There's no such thing as a 100% magnesium compound supplement (except pico-ionic magnesium). The substance used in any given supplement compound can affect the absorption and bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits. Following is a general guide to help you sort through the eight different formulas you're likely to come across:
Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane Magnesium chloride / magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium Magnesium sulfate / magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it's easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which has laxative properties Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to negatively charged oxygen (oxide). It contains 60 percent magnesium and has stool-softening properties
By Dr. Mercola
Stroke, which is akin to a heart attack in your brain, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.1 Obstructed blood flow to your brain is known as an ischemic stroke, which represent about 75 percent of all strokes. When an artery that feeds your brain with blood actually ruptures, it's called a hemorrhagic stroke, and this is a far more lethal situation.
Fortunately, up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable through lifestyle factors2 such as diet, exercise,3, 4 maintaining a healthy weight, normalizing your blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and quitting smoking.
For example, research published last year5 found that if you're inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.
Recent studies also highlight the importance of getting sufficient amounts of vitamin C and iron in your diet. Interestingly, certain weather conditions have also been linked to increased rates of stroke, and getting appropriate amounts of sun exposure can help protect against it, in more ways than one.
The first featured article6 reports the preliminary findings of a French study, which found that those with vitamin C deficiency are at an increased risk for a lethal hemorrhagic stroke. According to the article:
"'Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study,'" study researcher Dr. Stéphane Vannier, M.D., of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France, said in a statement.
'More research is needed to explore specifically how vitamin C may help to reduce stroke risk. For example, the vitamin may regulate blood pressure.' ...[P]ast studies have also linked vitamin C with reduced stroke risk.
A 2008 University of Cambridge study found people with high blood levels of vitamin C reduced their stroke risk by 42 percent, and a similar 1995 study in the British Medical Journal indicated elderly people with low levels of the vitamin had a greater risk of stroke."
The ideal way to optimize your vitamin C stores is by eating a wide variety of fresh whole foods. A number of people, primarily with the naturopathic perspective, believe that in order to be truly effective, ascorbic acid alone is not enough.
They believe the combination of the ascorbic acid with its associated micronutrients, such as bioflavonoids and other components. Eating a colorful diet (i.e. plenty of vegetables) helps ensure you're naturally getting the phytonutrient synergism needed.
One of the easiest ways to ensure you're getting enough vegetables in your diet is by juicing them. For more information, please see my juicing page. You can also squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice into some water for a vitamin C rich beverage.
When taking an oral vitamin C, you also want to be mindful of your dosing frequency. Dr. Steve Hickey, who wrote the book Ascorbate, has shown that if you take vitamin C frequently throughout the day, you can achieve much higher plasma levels.
So even though your kidneys will tend to rapidly excrete the vitamin C, by taking it every hour or two, you can maintain a much higher plasma level than if you just dose it once a day (unless you're taking an extended release form of vitamin C).
Recent research also suggests that iron deficiency can increase your risk of ischemic stroke if you have hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, a hereditary disease that causes enlarged blood vessels in your lungs. Iron deficiency increases the stickiness of your blood, which increases your risk of blood clots, and in those with this genetic abnormality, such clots can travel through your lungs and into your brain.
According to the study in question, published in the journal PLOS One,7 even having moderately low iron levels can double your stroke risk if you have this condition. According to the researchers, other health conditions may also permit blood clots to bypass the filtration system of your lungs. Study author Dr. Claire Shovlin stated that:
"The next step is to test whether we can reduce high-risk patients' chances of having a stroke by treating their iron deficiency. We will be able to look at whether their platelets become less sticky. There are many additional steps from a clot blocking a blood vessel to the final stroke developing, so it is still unclear just how important sticky platelets are to the overall process. We would certainly encourage more studies to investigate this link."
Another nutrient that is very important for stroke prevention is vitamin D. According to research presented at the American Heart Association's (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in 2010,8 low levels of vitamin D—the essential nutrient obtained from sun exposure—doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians.
While many opt for vitamin D3 supplements to raise their vitamin D level, I strongly recommend optimizing your levels through appropriate sun exposure or by using a safe tanning bed (i.e. one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Ideally, you'll want to maintain your vitamin D level within the range of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
Vitamin D3 supplements are best used as a last resort, as they will not provide you with any of the other health benefits associated with sun exposure... If you do opt for a supplement, the most recent research suggests the average adult needs to take about 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absolute minimum for disease prevention.
If you opt for a supplement, you also need to make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2, as it works synergistically with vitamin D and activates matrix GLA protein, which inhibits arterial calcification. That said, exposing your skin to sunlight will also suppress your risk of stroke by altering the level of nitric oxide in your skin, which dilates your blood vessels and normalizes your blood pressure.9
Previous research10, 11 has shown that reducing your systolic blood pressure by 20 millimeters (regardless of how high your blood pressure currently is) decreases your risk of stroke by 50 percent. Reduce it by another 20 mm, and you cut your individual risk in half yet again. One way to naturally reduce your blood pressure is through exercise. Another is by making sure you're getting enough sun exposure. According to Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine at the University of Southampton in southern England:12
"Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."
Interestingly, previous research13 also suggests that inducing nitric oxide (NO) actually helps protect your skin against UV damage... Another crucial element in the normalization of blood pressure is to address insulin and leptin resistance, which is present in about 80 percent of the population from eating far too many carbohydrates and not getting enough exercise. If you have high blood pressure and are overweight, your first step would be to eliminate all grains, sugars, and processed foods, and increase healthy fats, like avocado, coconut oil, butter, and nuts.
In related news, yet another recent study claims there's a link between weather conditions and stroke hospitalization rates. The researchers speculate that meteorological factors such as fluctuations in temperature and humidity may act as stressors. As reported by Medical News Today:14
"Lichtman and her team analyzed the medical records of 134,510 patients hospitalized in 2009-10 with ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot blocking the blood flow to the brain. They then cross-referenced this data with meteorological records of temperature and dew point data from this period.
The team found that large daily temperature changes and higher-than-average air moisture were linked to higher hospitalization rates from stroke. Lower-than-average annual temperatures were also associated with death and hospitalization from stroke. [Lichtman says] 'People at risk for stroke may want to avoid being exposed to significant temperature changes and high dew point and, as always, be prepared to act quickly if they or someone they know experiences stroke signs and symptoms.'"
High cholesterol is an oft-cited risk factor for stroke, but total cholesterol alone will tell you virtually nothing about your disease risk, unless it's exceptionally elevated (above 330 or so, which would be suggestive of familial hypercholesterolemia, and is, in my view, about the only time a cholesterol-lowering drug would be appropriate). It's also well worth noting that cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have been found to increase your stroke risk, and previous research also suggests that having too little cholesterol in your blood may increase your risk of stroke.
According to research published in 1999,15, 16 individuals with cholesterol levels above 230 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) had an elevated risk of ischemic stroke. For example, a person with a cholesterol level of 280 mg/dL had twice the risk of ischemic stroke as a person with 230 mg/dL. But they also found that as cholesterol dropped, the risk of more lethal hemorrhagic stroke increased significantly instead. A person with a cholesterol level below 180 mg/dL had twice the risk of that type of stroke compared with someone at 230 mg/dL.
So, with regards to cholesterol, what you want is proper balance between your HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol. This is best achieved through a healthy diet, as outlined in my Nutrition Plan, and exercise. Two ratios that are far better indicators of heart disease risk are:
- Your HDL/total cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent indicator of your heart disease risk. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. This percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it's a significant indicator of risk for heart disease
- Your triglyceride/HDL ratios: This ratio should ideally be below 2
A stroke doesn't advertise its pending arrival, which makes prevention all the more important. That said, getting medical help quickly can mean the difference between life and death or permanent disability, should you or someone you love suffer a stroke. This is an area where conventional medicine excels, so please do NOT delay in getting medical attention.
In the case of ischemic stroke, there are emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your brain. If done quickly enough, emergency medicine can prevent or reverse permanent neurological damage—but you typically need treatment within one hour, which means the faster you recognize the signs, the better the prognosis. The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST acronym to help remember the warning signs of stroke:17
F = FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
It's important to realize that the vast majority—up to 80 percent, according to the National Stroke Association—of strokes are preventable, so your lifestyle plays a major role in whether or not you're going to become a statistic here. Besides the specific nutritional factors discussed above, other lifestyle factors that can have a direct impact on your stroke risk include:
- Exercise will go a long way toward improving your insulin and leptin receptor signaling, thereby normalizing your blood pressure and reducing your stroke risk. I recommend a comprehensive program that includes Peak Fitness exercises along with super slow strength training, Active Isolated Stretching and core work. If you've had a stroke, exercise is also very important, as research shows it can significantly improve both your mental and physical recovery.18
- Processed meats: Certain preservatives, such as sodium nitrate and nitrite found in smoked and processed meats have been shown to damage your blood vessels, which could increase your risk of stroke. I recommend avoiding all forms of processed meats, opting instead for organic, grass-fed or pastured meats.
- Diet soda. Research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in 2011 showed that drinking just one diet soda a day may increase your risk of stroke by 48 percent. Ideally, strive to eliminate all soda from your diet, as just one can of regular soda contains nearly twice my recommended daily allowance for fructose in order to maintain good health and prevent disease.
- Stress. According to a 2008 study,19 the more stressed you are, the greater your risk of suffering a stroke. The researchers actually found that for every notch lower a person scored on their well-being scale, their risk of stroke increased by 11 percent. Not surprisingly, the relationship between psychological distress and stroke was most pronounced when the stroke was fatal.
My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. For more tips, see my article "10 Simple Steps to Help De-Stress."
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills. If you're on one of the hormonal birth control methods (whether it's the pill, patch, vaginal ring, or implant), it is important to understand that you are taking synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen -- something that is clearly not advantageous if you want to maintain optimal health. These contraceptives contain the same synthetic hormones as those used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has well-documented risks, including an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer.
- Statins. Statin drugs are frequently prescribed to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, research shows that these cholesterol-lowering drugs actually increase your risk of a second stroke if you've already had one. There are two reasons why this might happen: the drugs may either lower cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.
Chances are greater than 100 to 1 that you do not need a statin drug. Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol. For a refresher on how to do this, please see my recent article, "Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up."
- Grounding. Walking barefoot, aka "grounding," has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. The human body appears to be finely tuned to "work" with the Earth in the sense that there's a constant flow of energy between our bodies and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
High-sugar diets, smoking, radiofrequencies, and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, high cholesterol, and high uric acid levels are examples of factors that make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick and slow-moving, which increases your risk of having a blood clot or stroke.
Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential. This gives each blood cell more negative charge which helps them repel each other to keep your blood thin and less likely to clot. This can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, so make it a point to regularly walk barefoot on grass or on wet sand for about 1.5-2 hours, if possible.
By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death. What if there was a safe, natural herb that could work for nearly every type of cancer?
According to Dr. William LaValley, who focuses most of his clinical work on the treatment of cancer, curcumin—a derivative of turmeric, and the pigment that gives the curry spice turmeric its yellow-orange color—may fit the bill. It's a natural compound that has been extensively researched, and has been found to have numerous health applications.
Like me, Dr. LaValley was trained in general medicine, but he's devoted a considerable amount of time to understanding the biochemical pathways that can support health nutritionally.
In 1982, he participated in an exchange program to the People's Republic of China, where he got first-hand experience with the ancient practices of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
"One of the important messages that I learned there was that natural products, natural molecules, from plants and animals that are already available in nature, have been used by the Chinese for at least hundreds, probably thousands of years. That deeply changed my perspective in the world of medicine," he says.
"I came back to medical school, and thereafter, looked at how I could integrate the perspective of conventional pharmaceutical administration as well as natural extract, natural product administration."
In 2005, he took a 75 percent sabbatical from clinical practice to immerse himself in the science of molecular biology, specifically the molecular biology of cancer. He also devoted approximately 9,000-9,500 hours building a relational database from the PubMed literature about the molecular biology of cancer.
One important lesson he learned through that venture is that the understanding of molecular biology can be applied across a range of diseases and symptoms described in the scientific literature. That knowledge can be applied by searching PubMed and other related databases, looking at the relevant molecular pathways involved.
"In learning the molecular biology of cancer pathways, and in learning that what the evidence actually shows for the effect of natural product extracts on various relevant molecular targets in various cancers, we see that there's actually quite a large amount of evidence that supports using various molecules, natural products, and pharmaceuticals that are already approved and that have been around for a long time to affect anti-cancer activity along that pathway at that target. That's called molecularly targeted anti-cancer treatment, and it's widely practiced in oncology today.
What's not widely practiced is the use of the natural products for the molecularly targeted anti-cancer activity. I provide that for my patients because the evidence base suggests and supports the use of these treatment recommendations."
Interestingly, curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer, which is really odd since cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. You wouldn't necessarily suspect that there would be one herb that would work for most of them. Dr. LaValley explains how he came to this conclusion:
"I went back to the literature and looked at how I can support the decision-making process and the recommendations that I'm making for treatment from the scientific literature, including literature that goes from the treatment of humans with oral products like pharmaceuticals or natural products.
This is where I learned about this molecule called curcumin, all the way down to its use in animals and then its use in test tubes or petri dish... One of the amazing things about curcumin is that this molecule has some profound anti-inflammatory activity and has activity in many molecular targets.
There are molecules that are in the cells, and those molecules interact with each other along certain pathways or tracks. The traffic of that interaction, the signals that are transferred in that trafficking of information in the molecules, presents many different targets or molecular-specific complexes."
As explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in traffic or activity of a particular molecular target, or a decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity. Furthermore, curcumin does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells. Research has also shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.
Curcumin has the most evidence-based literature1 supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D, which also has a robust base. Interestingly, this also includes the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which are also anti-cancerous.
Curcumin has the ability to modulate genetic activity and expression—both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, meaning it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth. As for its effect on molecular pathways, curcumin can affect more than 100 of them, once it gets into the cell. More specifically, curcumin has been found to:
Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells Decrease inflammation Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body Help prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)
Unfortunately, while there's some curcumin in whole turmeric, there's not enough in the regular spice to achieve clinically relevant results. The turmeric root itself contains only about three percent curcumin concentration. Another major limitation of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is that it is poorly absorbed. When taken in its raw form, you're only absorbing about one percent of the available curcumin.
"The natural product industry has developed a standard of a 95-percent concentration of curcumin," Dr. LaValley explains. "Initially, years ago, that was what we had available for patients. Even at that, taking a 95-percent concentration orally in a capsule, only one percent of that could be absorbed. In order to get amounts of curcumin in the bloodstream that are reasonable to have therapeutic effect, people had to take large amounts of curcumin...
In searching the literature, I found that a way to change that, to dramatically increase the bioavailability, is actually a very simple process of bringing water to a boil, putting those capsules or some dry powder (I use it by the teaspoon), and boiling it for 10 to 12 minutes. That increases the amount of curcumin dissolved in water from that one-percent amount up to 12 percent or so. That amount is a vast number of curcumin molecules that are now in a bioavailable or absorbable form."
However, while this is certainly doable, it's really inconvenient, and great care must be taken to prevent staining your clothes and kitchen surfaces. It's a significant enough problem to have been dubbed "yellow kitchen syndrome," as it's virtually impossible to get the stains out. Turmeric is in fact an excellent dyeing agent for fabrics, rendering them a yellow-orange color.
Convenience and efficiency has driven many of the changes in the forms of curcumin in later years. Because it's a fat-loving or lipophilic molecule, many newer preparations now include some sort of oil or fat, which improves its absorbability and bioavailability. Such preparations typically have seven to eight times higher absorption than the raw, unprocessed 95-percent-concentration of dry powder. There are also newer sustained release preparations, which Dr. LaValley prefers and recommends.
If you are overweight, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes, then in all likelihood insulin and leptin resistance is a factor. Insulin and leptin resistance is also a very common factor among cancer patients. From my perspective, a ketogenic diet (with or without intermittent fasting) would be a prudent treatment strategy to resolve that underlying problem. Once you've normalized your insulin and leptin, you don't necessarily need to maintain a ketogenic diet, if you find it too restrictive.
"I agree with you that a ketogenic diet is really appropriate in many cases, probably the significant majority of cases," Dr. LaValley says. "It's been known for probably 80 years or longer that solid tumors, and some of the blood cancers, are sugar-loving. Another term is that they are addicted to sugar.
I use [a] PET scan to demonstrate to patients that here is objective proof that the tumors you have in your body are sugar-avid. They're taking up sugar at a rate much higher than the other regular healthy cells. I want to drive home that message, so that they are motivated to alter their diet to have a low, low carb intake, causing their body to generate additional nutrient supply molecules called ketones...
What that means is that we're trying to provide an anti-cancer antagonistic pressure on the cancer cells by reducing the amount of sugar that's readily available for uptake by reducing the easily available sugar in the diet and compensating for the nutrient reduction and sugar [reduction] by increasing healthy fats."
It would also be prudent to assess your protein intake. Many Americans eat far more protein than required for optimal health. The reason for this is because your body can actually use excess protein (you do need some) to stimulate carbohydrate production. Excess protein also stimulates the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways, which are useful for building muscles but can be detrimental when treating cancer, as mTOR is a pathway that increases cellular proliferation. (Interestingly, the pharmaceutical drug Metformin, which has anti-cancer activity, also inhibits mTOR, and it turns out that curcumin has a very similar effect.)
The formula I recommend for assessing how much protein you might need in your diet is from Dr. Rosedale, which calls for one gram of high-quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or about half a gram per pound of lean body mass.
As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight. So, if your total weight is 200 pounds; you would then divide 160 by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms and come up with 72.7 grams of protein. If you are doing vigorous exercises or are pregnant, you can add up to another 25 percent or another 18 grams in this illustration to increase your total to 90 grams per day.
Dr. LaValley is available for consultation on a wide variety of health challenges, including cancer, and he's licensed to practice medicine in the US and Canada. His medical clinic is located in Chester, Nova Scotia, where he sees patients. Americans can fly there either through Chicago or Newark. His office number is 902-275-4555. He also spends time in Austin, Texas, where he conducts research. When there, he's available to consult for other physicians and their patients.
"For instance, if a patient has pancreatic cancer and the physician wants to implement one of the protocols that I provide, I will do a consultation with that physician's patient and then make recommendations to that physician for implementation," he explains. "In that way, patients are able to get it locally without having to travel to Nova Scotia...
It's a challenge right now because there's so much information that's not readily known by so many physicians that they become afraid. I think one of the biggest issues, certainly in US and Canada, is that when a physician wants to administer one of these natural products, or several of them, as well as some of the off-label pharmaceuticals for their anti-cancer usage, they are afraid of recriminations or disciplinary actions.
That is, I think, very unfortunate, because the evidence base does exist for it, and it's consistent with the way that other types of conventional medicine or practice using off-label pharmaceuticals as well. I think that the most important movement that needs to occur is for the patients to recognize their own value in the decision-making process and demand that they have access to these therapeutic choices because they're available, they're supported in the evidence base, and they have the right to ask for them rather than to just accept whatever the physician is otherwise offering in the conventional realm."
By Dr. Mercola
The featured video, Overconsumption, is a segment of a longer, completely non-verbal documentary called SAMSARA, which was filmed over a period of five years, across 25 countries.
"By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern."
Indeed, the effect is striking. This clip, which focuses on overconsumption, highlights just how unsustainable our eating habits have become. Modern food production also involves animal cruelty on a scale never seen before in the history of mankind.
Most all conventional meat and poultry (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) is raised in so-called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Large-scale factory farming is the cheapest way to raise meat, for the largest profits. But the ultimate price is high, as there's a complete disregard for human health, the environment, and ethical treatment of animals.
These huge industrial "warehouses" raise sick animals (due to the overcrowded, unhygienic conditions) that are routinely injected with antibiotics and artificial hormones.
They are also fed pesticide-laden grains and other byproducts for their feed. All of the additives to the animals (the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides) get transferred to you when you eat that meat. The routine use of antibiotics in particular has led to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now threaten human life.
According to a landmark "Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report" published by the CDC,1 two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications.
There are glimmers of hope here and there. For example, Chick-fil-A recently announced it will switch to antibiotic-free chicken within the next five years.2 As reported by KCTV5:
"The Atlanta-based chain said it's working with suppliers to build up an adequate supply for its nearly 1,800 restaurants. It is asking suppliers to work with the US Department of Agriculture to verify that no antibiotics are administered on the chickens at any point...
Chick-fil-A said its conversion will require 'changes along every point of the supply chain - from the hatchery to the processing plant.' The company's suppliers include Tyson, Purdue, and Pilgrim's Pride. "
However, while this addresses the health hazards of antibiotic-laced meat, it does not address the animal welfare issue, which is so clearly illustrated in the featured video.
Conventionally-raised meats, beef in particular, also contain a range of other drugs. Martha Rosenberg recently highlighted a USDA Inspector General Report,3 which revealed that beef sold to the public have been found to be contaminated with4, 5 a staggering 211 different drug residues, including Ivermectin, an antiparasite drug; Flunixin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, and heavy metals. Despite the presence of such contaminations, no recalls were ever issued. She writes:
"The highest of all veterinary drug residues are found in bob veal (calves under three days old that weigh only 70 to 100 pounds) says the USDA Inspector General report, because 'Farmers are prohibited from selling milk for human consumption from cows that have been medicated with antibiotics (as well as other drugs) until the withdrawal period is over; so instead of just disposing of this tainted milk, producers feed it to their calves.
When the calves are slaughtered, the drug residue from the feed or milk remains in their meat, which is then sold to consumers.' Meat from bob calves is put into 'value added' veal products like veal sausages and breaded veal patties. Is there any other food that is so dangerous and cruel at the same time?"
Low-dose antibiotics are routinely fed to animals to promote growth, but they're certainly not the only growth-promoting drugs in use. Beta-agonist drugs such as Zilmax belong to a class of non-hormone drugs used as a growth promoter in American livestock. As a class, beta-agonist drugs have been used in US cattle production since 2003.
Ractopamine, another beta-agonist, is yet another drug used in the US, even though it's been banned in 160 other countries due to its potential health hazards. Beta-agonist drugs like Ractopamine and Zilmax are fed to cattle in the weeks prior to slaughter to increase weight by as much as 30 pounds of lean meat per cow. As much as 20 percent of the drug administered may remain in the meat you buy.
A recent special report by Reuters6 revealed some of the horrific effects Zilmax has on cattle, which includes lost hooves and lameness. According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records, at least 285 cattle have unexpectedly died or been euthanized after receiving Zilmax since the drug's introduction in 2007. Other reported adverse effects in cattle following the administration of Zilmax include:
Stomach ulcers Brain lesions Blindness Lethargy and lameness Bloody nose Respiratory problems Heart failure Sudden death
The trend of large corporate-controlled CAFOs making up the lion's share of US food production has led to an abundance of cheap food, but not without consequence. Externalized costs of large-scale factory farming (which are largely unaccounted for in agricultural productivity measurements or farm budgets) include:
- Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams, and ground water (which contributes to "dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones")
- Agricultural pesticide contamination to streams, ground water, and wells, and safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
- A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content
- Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
- Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application, and excessive fertilization
The factory farm model also directly contributes to Americans' increasing reliance on processed junk foods; the very same foods that are making us obese and riddled with chronic disease. If your meals consist of $1 burgers and super-size drinks, your diet may be cheap, but it is also excessively high in grains, sugars, and factory-farmed meats. This is a recipe for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, just to name a few of the conditions that commonly befall those who consume "the Standard American Diet."
I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is very important, both in terms of human health and animal welfare. Organic, grass-fed and finished meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really about the only type of meat that is healthy to eat.
By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles, you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is another important part of "ethical meat." The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:
- Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
- Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
- FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
Now, at the nation's largest organic farming conference, the company will again have a prominent role. This Saturday, at the MOSES Conference, WhiteWave's corporate representative will seek to teach farmers how to communicate with organic consumers and understand "consumer demographics, behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets."
How will this WhiteWave executive help us better understand today's organic consumer? Will she encourage us to cheapen production costs by sourcing feed and ingredients from China or factory farms? Will she instruct us on how to break contracts with family farmers? Or market new non-organic products with the same name and nearly identical packaging that's already familiar to organic consumers?
For too long Dean Foods/WhiteWave has purchased influence with many nonprofits running farming conferences across the U.S. and in the organic community. It's estimated that over the last 10 years, they have been the largest corporate contributor to organic nonprofits. They buy influence in the organic community and access to farmers the same way their lobbyists buy influence in Washington with large campaign contributions.
Help protect the reputation of the nation's largest organic farming conference. Please ask the MOSES board to cancel this inappropriate workshop or substitute marketing expertise from experts that truly believe in the values that have helped build the organic business industry.
By Dr. Mercola
Your body is capable of generating electricity, and this ability is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electricity allows your nervous system to send signals to your brain. These signals are actually electrical charges that are delivered from cell to cell, allowing for nearly instantaneous communication.
The messages conducted via electrical signals in your body are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body, and much more.
Your biological clock even uses electrical activity in order to help keep your circadian rhythms in order.1 You are, quite simply, an electrical being. If electrical activity stops in your body, you cannot survive. But how, exactly, does this electrical activity take place?
The video above, from The Medicine Journal,2 gives a concise explanation of the complex process your body uses to generate electricity. Inside your body are atoms that are made up of positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and neutrons (which are neutral).
An atom with unbalanced charges will become either positively or negatively charged, and the switch from one charge to the other allows electrons to flow from one atom to another. This is what is referred to as electricity.3
Your cells generate electrical charges via electrolytes like sodium and potassium using a mechanism known as the "sodium-potassium gate." As Discovery Health explained:4
"When your body needs to send a message from one point to another, it opens the gate. When the membrane gate opens, sodium and potassium ions move freely into and out of the cell.
Negatively charged potassium ions leave the cell, attracted to the positivity outside the membrane, and positively charged sodium ions enter it, moving toward the negative charge. The result is a switch in the concentrations of the two types of ions -- and rapid switch in charge.
…this flip between positive and negative generates an electrical impulse. This impulse triggers the gate on the next cell to open, creating another charge, and so on. In this way, an electrical impulse moves from a nerve in your stubbed toe to the part of your brain that senses pain."
It is because of your body's electrical activity that defibrillators, which deliver an electric shock to your heart, may work to restore heart rhythm and why receiving the wrong type of shock, like an electric shock or lightning strike, can essentially "fry" your body's electrical system. The opposite also holds true in that you can actually harness the electrical charge of the Earth to positively influence your health in numerous ways.
The Earth carries an enormous negative charge. It's always electron-rich and can serve as a powerful and abundant supply of antioxidant and free-radical-busting electrons.
Your body is finely tuned to "work" with the Earth in the sense that there's a constant flow of energy between your body and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process is called "grounding" or "earthing," and its effect is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of.
Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance wellbeing, and much, much more. When you wear rubber- or plastic-soled shoes, however, you are effectively shielding yourself from this beneficial influx of electrons from the Earth.
Grounding's potent antioxidant effect helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body, a potentially life-saving benefit since inflammation is at the root of most diseases, including heart disease.
According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a prominent cardiologist, inflammation thrives when your blood is thick and you have a lot of free radical stress, and a lot of positive charges in your body. Grounding effectively alleviates inflammation because it thins your blood and infuses you with negatively charged ions through the soles of your feet.
Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential, which means it improves the energy between your red blood cells. Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the earth to reach your bloodstream and transform your blood.
Hypercoagulable (thick, slow-moving) blood contributes to chronic inflammation, because when your blood does not flow well, oxygen can't get to your tissues. Grounding's effect on blood thinning is so profound that if you are taking blood thinners, you must work with your health care provider to lower your dose otherwise you may overdose on the medication. You can see my interview with Dr. Sinatra below.
Interestingly, grounding research has now discovered that if you place your feet on the ground after an injury (or on a grounded sheet, or place grounding patches on the balls of your feet), electrons will migrate into your body and spread through your tissues. Any free radicals that leak into the healthy tissue will immediately be electrically neutralized. This occurs because the electrons are negative, while the free radicals are positive, so they cancel each other out. As noted by Dr. James Oschman, an expert in the field of energy medicine:
"So really what is happening with grounding or earthing is that you're protecting your body from -- I call it, collateral damage… Damage that was not intended to take place but does take place because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottoms of our shoes."
Free radical stress from exposure to pollution, cigarettes, insecticides, pesticides, trans fats, and radiation, just to name a few, continually deplete your body of electrons. Simply by getting outside, barefoot, touching the Earth, and allowing the excess charge in your body to discharge into the Earth, you can alleviate some of the stress continually put on your system. Walking barefoot can help ameliorate the constant assault of electromagnetic fields and other types of radiation from cell phones, computers, and Wi-Fi. It's also thought that grounding may actually facilitate the formation of structured water in your body.
Furthermore, grounding also calms your sympathetic nervous system, which supports your heart rate variability. And, when you support heart rate variability, this promotes homeostasis, or balance, in your autonomic nervous system. This is important because anytime you improve your heart rate variability, you're improving your entire body and all its functions. If you want to learn more, check out the Grounded documentary (in which I actually appear). You'll hear first-hand accounts from residents of Haines, Alaska who have overcome chronic pain, sleep apnea, and much more simply by getting grounded.
Many Americans spend most of their waking hours wearing shoes with rubber or plastic soles. These materials are very effective insulators, which is precisely why they're used to insulate electrical wires. Yet, they also effectively disconnect you from the Earth's natural electron flow. Wearing leather-soled shoes will allow you to stay grounded with the Earth, as will walking barefoot, but you'll need to do so on the proper surface. Good grounding surfaces include:
- Sand (beach)
- Grass (preferably moist)
- Bare soil
- Concrete and brick (as long as it's not painted or sealed)
- Ceramic tile
The following surfaces will NOT ground you:
- Rubber and plastic
- Tar or tarmac
Like eating right, exercising, and sleeping, grounding can be described as yet another lifestyle habit that supports optimal health by supporting your body's "electrical" connection with the Earth. It's supported and backed by prominent medical doctors, scientists including Dr. David Suzuki, NASA astronauts, and was used by ancient civilizations who placed strong value on their relationship to the Earth.
As mentioned, simply taking off your shoes as much as you can when you're outdoors will help you take advantage of natural grounding opportunities. When indoors, using a grounding pad or sheet is an excellent way to stay grounded while you're working or sleeping. (For frequent travelers, I typically bring a grounding pad with me when I fly, too.)
By Dr. Mercola
A loving, motivational message from a son to his mother – carved out in snow on the top deck of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center parking lot -- went viral earlier this month.
The snow message read "HI MOM" and was intended for Sharon Hart, a 48-year-old woman undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia. After thinking about the rest of the patients in the hospital, the 14-year-old son and his father went back and added "GOD BLESS U" to the message, which was visible to nearly the entire east side of the hospital.
When nurses, doctors, and patients began sharing photos of the heartwarming message on social media, the message soon went viral, touching many around the world, especially the millions who have been personally impacted by a cancer diagnosis (themselves or a loved one).
Nearly two million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year, and one in three will face a cancer diagnosis at some time in their lives.
Yet despite massive technological advances over the past half-century, Western medicine is still at a loss for how to rein in its prevalence. Cancer has grown into a worldwide epidemic of staggering proportions. The statistics speak for themselves:
- In the early 1900s, one in 20 people developed cancer
- In the 1940s, one in 16 people developed cancer
- In the 1970s, it was one in 10
- Today, it's one in three!
The 40-year "war on cancer" has clearly failed, and the cancer industry is spending virtually nothing of its multi-billion dollar resources on effective prevention strategies, such as dietary guidelines, exercise, and obesity education. Instead, it pours its money into treating cancer, not preventing or curing it.
The typical cancer patient spends $50,000 fighting the disease. Chemotherapy drugs are among the most expensive of all treatments, many ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 for a one-month supply.
As a result of astronomical costs like these, more than half, or approximately 60 percent, of all personal bankruptcies in the US are related to medical bills. It might be worth it… if the treatment worked. Sadly, however, many cancer patients die not from cancer but from the toxic effects of chemotherapy treatment.
The cancer industry has spun chemotherapy into the holy grail of cancer treatment. And this is a sad testament to just how far we still have to come to really begin to fight this disease. Chemotherapy drugs are, by their very nature, extremely toxic and typically do not work with your body to modulate and normalize its response to allow the cancer to resolve normally.
Despite its reputation as the gold standard in cancer treatment, chemotherapy improves the five-year survival success rate on average by just over two percent for all cancers, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Oncology.1
One of the biggest drawbacks to chemotherapy is the fact that it destroys healthy cells throughout your body right along with cancer cells, a "side effect" that often leads to accelerated death, not healing. It also increases the highly malignant cancer stem cell population in the tumor.
So although it does shrink the overall size of the tumor, it may actually enhance its malignancy by increases the number of cells capable of spinning off into new tumors. Effectiveness is a shot in the dark, in many cases, and sometimes the drug causes far more harm than good.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) study found that more than four in 10 patients who received chemotherapy toward the end of life experienced potentially fatal effects. And after reviewing data from over 600 cancer patients who died within 30 days of receiving treatment, it was found that chemotherapy hastened or caused death in 27 percent of those cases.
It can not be overemphasized that chemotherapy can invigorate the more chemo-resistant and malignant cell subpopulations within tumors (e.g. cancer stem cells, or multi-drug resistant cancer cells), killing the more benign cells and/or senescent cells within the tumor that keep it slow growing or even harmless. As a result, this may unleash a more aggressive, treatment-resistant type of cancer to wreak havoc on your body.
Yes, there are. Over the last 100 years, a number of natural cancer treatments have been developed and used successfully to treat patients in the US and other countries.
All have been vehemently discounted, silenced, and pushed under the rug by the medical monopoly, with physicians and researchers attacked, smeared, sent to prison, and professionally ruined for daring to defy the medical establishment. Some natural cancer treatments you may not have heard of include:
- Integrating a ketogenic diet with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is deadly to cancer cells by starving them of their fuel source. This would be the strategy I would recommend to my family if they were diagnosed with cancer.
- Gerson Therapy
- Medical marijuana
- Gene-targeted therapies by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski
In order to protect the medical monopoly, however, any viable natural treatment is met with massive opposition by the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Drug companies have no interest in natural agents that they cannot patent, because they threaten their revenue streams. They will go—and have gone—to extreme measures to prevent the truth about effective natural treatments (competitive threats) from reaching the public.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is primarily funded by the drug companies, is complicit in this process. They restrict competition in the guise of protecting the public, when the reality is they are focused on protecting the profits of the drug companies.
Cancer has devastated many families and claimed far too many lives before their time. It is my hope that someone reading this today – and hopefully many of you – will be spurred to action to make lifestyle changes and prevent themselves from becoming one more cancer statistic. There is so much you can do to lower your risk for cancer. But please don't wait until you get the diagnosis—you have to take preventative steps NOW.
The latest World Cancer Report,2 issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), predicts worldwide cancer rates to rise by 57 percent in the next two decades. Rightfully, the report refers to such predictions as "an imminent human disaster," noting countries around the world need to renew their focus on prevention rather than treatment only. The report noted that about half of all cancers could be avoided by promoting preventive lifestyle strategies such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
I believe controlling your blood-glucose and insulin levels—through diet, along with a comprehensive exercise program—are the most crucial components for disease prevention on the whole, but particularly for the prevention of cancer. Diet is often a confusing element for many, but you can find the steps to eating a healthful diet in my nutrition plan. First and foremost, you need to address insulin and leptin resistance, which is the result of eating a diet too high in sugars and grains. To safely and effectively reverse insulin and leptin resistance, or prevent it from occurring, thereby significantly reducing your risk of cancer (and heart disease and other chronic diseases) you need to:
- Avoid sugar/fructose, grains, and processed foods
- Eat a healthful diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs with:
- Large amounts of vegetables
- Low-to-moderate amount of high-quality protein (think organically raised, pastured animals)
- As much high-quality healthful fat as you want (saturated and monounsaturated from animal and tropical oil sources). Most people actually need upwards of 50-85 percent fats in their diet for optimal health—a far cry from the 10 percent currently recommended. Avoid all processed omega-6 vegetable oils though, like corn, soy, and canola oil.
I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by following these relatively simple strategies.
- Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar (especially fructose) and grains and making sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
- Address your food preparation. Eat at least one-third of your food raw. Avoid frying or charbroiling -- boil, poach, or steam your foods instead. Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods, herbs, spices, and supplements to your diet, such as broccoli, curcumin, and resveratrol. To learn more about how these anti-angiogenetic foods fight cancer, please see our previous article "Dramatically Effective New Natural Way to Starve Cancer and Obesity."
- Avoid carbohydrates and sugar. Reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar/fructose and grain-based foods from your diet until your insulin/leptin resistance resolves. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive up your insulin level. The evidence is quite clear that if you want to avoid cancer, or you currently have cancer, you absolutely MUST avoid all forms of sugar, especially fructose, which feeds cancer cells and promotes their growth.
- Reduce protein and increase healthy fats. Consider reducing your protein levels to one gram per kilogram of lean body weight. It would be unusual for most adults to need more than 100 grams of protein and most likely need close to half that amount. Replace excess protein with high-quality fats, such as organic eggs from pastured hens, high-quality meats, avocados, and coconut oil.
- Drink a half to whole quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
- Avoid GMOs. Avoid genetically engineered foods as they are typically treated with herbicides such as Roundup (glyphosate). A French research team that has extensively studied Roundup concluded it's toxic to human cells, and likely carcinogenic to humans. Choose fresh, organic, preferably locally growth foods.
- Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
- Normalize your omega-3 to omega-6 fats ratio. Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils.
- Optimize your gut flora. Optimizing your gut flora will reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune response. Researchers have found a microbe-dependent mechanism through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. They suggest that inhibiting inflammatory cytokines might slow cancer progression and improve the response to chemotherapy. Adding naturally fermented food to your daily diet is an easy way to prevent cancer or speed recovery. You can always add a high-quality probiotic supplement as well, but naturally fermented foods are the best.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise lowers insulin levels, which creates a low-sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. In a three-month study, exercise was found to alter immune cells into a more potent disease-fighting form in cancer survivors who had just completed chemotherapy.3 Researchers and cancer organizations increasingly recommend making regular exercise a priority in order to reduce your risk of cancer and help improve cancer outcomes. Research has also found evidence suggesting exercise can help trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Ideally, your exercise program should include balance, strength, flexibility, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and frequent non-exercise activity as well.
- Optimize your vitamin D level. There is scientific evidence you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with appropriate sun exposure. Your serum level should hold steady at 50-70 ng/ml, but if you are being treated for cancer, it should be closer to 80-90 ng/ml for optimal benefit. If you take oral vitamin D and have cancer, it would be very prudent to monitor your vitamin D blood levels regularly, as well as supplementing your vitamin K2, as K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. To learn more, please see my previous article: "What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium."
- Get plenty of natural vitamin A. There is evidence that vitamin A also plays a role in helping prevent breast cancer.4 It's best to obtain it from vitamin A-rich foods, rather than a supplement. Your best sources are organic egg yolks, raw butter, raw whole milk, and beef or chicken liver.
- Consider curcumin. This is the primarily active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of breast cancer. It shows immense therapeutic potential in preventing cancer metastasis.5 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here.
- Optimize your sleep. Make sure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer's malignancy.
- Limit your exposure to toxins. Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners, and toxic cosmetics. Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
- Limit your exposure to radiation. Limit your exposure and protect yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and Wi-Fi stations, as well as minimizing your exposure from radiation-based medical scans, including dental x-rays, CT scans, and mammograms.
- Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer is linked to excessive estrogen levels or activity, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
- Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with breast cancer. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells. For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein, as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are too high.
- Stress management. Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. My favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).