• YOU can become your own primary health care provider!

    Natural medicine is a vast improvement over contemporary care, but natural health is even better. My intent is to provide the tools and information you need in order to duplicate my successful experiences, and to offer you the comfort and peace of mind that has been such a blessing and security to my family.
  • Whatever form of natural health supplement you choose, be sure to educate yourself on all aspects of your health care. Let your diet and your attitude be the foundation for a life of wellness, not disease. When you don’t feel well, look for the root causes rather than seeking to simply substitute an herb or remedy for your medication. If you are taking medication for a serious condition, consult with someone well trained in herbs and alternatives before making a substitution and stopping your prescription. Your body will need time to reestablish it’s awareness that it is required to function!
  • DISCLAIMER:

    The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe.

D-light-full D-ception??

I had two clients in a row last week that told me their mandatory work-physical bloodwork showed them to have low levels of vitamin D. That would not have been a surprise except that these two individuals spend lots of time out in the sun (one owns a small farm; the other lives in Puerto Rico and sells outdoor stadium equipment), which is normally what triggers the body to produce D, and which is my preferred solution over taking it as a supplement. What I discovered in conversation about their lifestyles made something register that I had heretofore overlooked.

We have known for decades that fluorescent lighting is antagonistic to Vitamin D. That is why, a number of years ago, most milk producers began using opaque plastic jugs rather than the clear ones they had used previously. Studies showed that the added D was virtually non-existent in the milk after it was placed into stores, which have always used high levels of fluorescent lighting even in the food cases themselves. Each of these clients had indoor lighting that was entirely CFL (compact fluorescent) based. Interesting, isn’t it, that a national epidemic of vitamin D deficiency followed a virtual national ban on incandescent light! I am a huge fan of energy conservation, was recycling 30 years ago when I had to save it and travel to different sites to drop it off, and don’t use paper towels, but I did not replace my old style full spectrum bulbs.

Fluorescent light also hyper-stimulates the medulla, the base part of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system. I knew a family several years ago who had been told that their sons were hyperactive and had to be put on Ritalin or could not stay in their school. It was close to the end of the year and the boys behaved well at home so the parents indignantly pulled them out and said they would just home-school. They had a great time until the following fall. Over the summer they converted the garage into a classroom, complete with fluorescent lighting. About three weeks into the school year the mother was ready to pull out her hair, and called to discuss the boys’ behavior problems. I asked where they had done school the previous spring-which was on the back porch. They found they were fine anywhere in the house-except under the fluorescent lighting in ‘the classroom’. A couple of hours in and it was all over.

That discussion was enough to finally convince another friend who has tried for years to get me to convert to CFL to go and purchase some different bulbs for his home. Other than old-style full spectrum incandescent bulbs, what seem to test the best for most people are the “daylight” spectrum (not ‘full spectrum’) LED bulbs, especially the dimmable type. I don’t know why that feature would make a difference but it does. Fortunately LED technology is coming down in price, making it possible to reduce energy consumption without detrimental health impacts. If you do have CFL bulbs, remember that they are considered environmental hazards and CAN NOT be discarded in trash cans. They must be taken to a waste disposal site and are supposed to be put in special bags. If they break, pregnant women and children are not supposed to handle them. Hard for me to believe that the environmental trade-off is truly a positive end result, and clearly the health trade-off is not!

Deep-Pressed and ‘Stroked-out’?

Heard about a study this morning that links depression and stroke risk, finding that people who have been depressed have an increased likelihood of stroke even after they are no longer depressed. Recommendation, of course? Identify and medicate depression earlier-even thought the stroke risk remains elevated indefinitely after depression is ‘gone’. REALLY??? What about the possibility that impaired oxygen flow may be a causal factor in depression, and a precursor to stroke? What about a low level of B vitamins and other nutrients that impact the physical brain and mental health? What about a person lacking the basic skills to cope with stress, which may also impact overall function and increase stroke risk? What about a diet based on refined carbohydrates, which raises triglycerides, which have been positively linked to stroke risk, and leads to depression?

The issue here is the acceptance of the doctrine that giving people more pills sooner will prevent every other possible health problem, rather than looking for root issues that can be personally managed and will prevent a plethora of other concerns. Enough exercise has been shown to drastically reduce both depression levels and stroke risk. Enough Vitamin D (see my blog post for more on that fraud) does the same. In Chinese medicine depression is rooted in unexpressed anger, which is associated with the liver, which regulates blood quality, so could be a factor in strokes. Likewise balanced calcium and magnesium levels, adequate trace minerals, breathing exercises and yoga are proven to lower hypertension, depression, and a host of related and other health conditions.

I may get lots of hostility for this comment, but depression is way over-diagnosed, and ridiculously over-treated. As a culture we have accepted the myth that life is supposed to be painless, easy and fun. (“The Prozac Effect” is an excellent book on the subject!) We don’t allow mourning even after great personal loss; you get two weeks off work and are ‘depressed’ if you aren’t ‘moving on with your life’ after six weeks so we need to “give you something to help you get over this”, isolating us from each other instead of having us reach out to each other for and with support. I know so many people (including many close to me) on anti-depressants-and after years and years they are still depressed. Obviously, it is not working, and most find they need an anxiety medication as well within 2-3 years on the medication. Why? Anti-depressants ‘numb’ emotions (the biggest comment I get from clients who ask for help in feeling better so they can stop taking them). In real life, the only time we feel that way is in a serious crisis situation; when we feel that way for an extended period our mind begins to wonder why, and starts looking around for the crisis that has to be lurking somewhere. I have seen it over and over and over. Connection to stroke? Anxiety increases adrenalin output, and that is something that will elevate stroke risk. Bottom line here is that we need to look at our overall picture, recognize that we can manage much more than we believe we can, and that we have got to stop looking for a magic bullet that will ‘fix’ us. There is much more ‘right’ with us than can ever go ‘wrong’; every symptom is just a message that we need to address something differently in our lives. Let’s get better!

GMO Enzymes and Patented Probiotics!

Any time you see a patented or trademarked notice on a product you are buying something that has been altered in such a way or to such a degree that it does not exist in a natural state. That reality extends even to “natural” products, since “natural” does not have any legal definition. As I explained to a client this morning in response to an inquiry about a new  “natural” anxiety supplement, “I’m always cautious with patented products-to me, any “patented, standardized” product is a drug, not an herb. It no longer has the balance with which it was created. After all, vodka is just a “standardized” extract of potatoes, and I know people who swear by it for stress relief!”

While most people agree that eating cultured foods like kimchi, yogurt and kefir, and taking probiotic supplements are good ideas, very few know where their cultures come from. You may be surprised to learn that most commercial products in those categories are also patented! In 2011 DuPont acquired Danisco, the largest producer of enzymes and cultures for the food industry. The patented ingredients include a huge list of acidophilus and other cultures, including “starter cultures for color, texture and flavor development and to maintain microbiological quality.” From the Danisco website:  “The DuPont™ Danisco® range encompasses the broadest portfolio of ingredients for the dairy industry. Today, every third cheese obtains its well-defined flavor and texture from our leading cultures.” The same is true for many other products-and not just dairy products, to settle the anti-dairy “told-you-so” voices! Dairy and meat substitutes are using the same engineered cultures, and so are supplement manufacturers.

Patented supplement ingredients include more than just probiotics. Vitamins, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, fiber, and phytosterols are also in the Danisco  lines. DuPont-the company responsible for fostering genetically modified foods-made big  business news with their “New Harvest” Omega Three; it’s selling well on the grounds that it’s sustainable and vegan! They even offer to help companies work with regulatory agencies in whatever country they are interested in doing business to get their products approved.

The solution? Get your nutrients as much as possible from real, whole, organic foods. I have a great kombucha-type culture that generated itself when I kept a bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar near my stove. That is a live food! If you need supplements, generally use herbs rather than isolated nutrients-we were designed to digest plants-from a company that does serious quality control of its own. Be wary of wonder supplements with names you can’t pronounce, and question the source of foods and supplements. Buy local where possible, and support smaller companies who are less likely to use the engineered enzymes and cultures.

http://newhope360.com/news/dupont-buys-danisco-what-deal-means-nutritional-ingredients

Sinus Infection, Silver and Neti Pot Quick tips

Text message Q&A: My son has a sinus infection. I have silver shield left. Should he take it straight or mix it with juice or Gatorade?

A: Either way,  except Gatorade has way more crap than benefits. Pineapple juice would be good. Massage the lymph nodes from behind the ear down toward the collarbone. Snuff warm salt water for fastest relief. Lots of garlic for dinner!

Feeling better really can be that simple! Extra info beyond my quick text would be massage with an aromatic oil-I use a cajeput blend, or tea tree, chamomile, and lemon; see my website for more. A neti pot makes “snuffing” easier, and bayberry bark in the water will take down inflammation even faster than salt. My son’s sinus infections were what got me started in Natural Health!

More questions:

Natalie wrote: “I am prone to sinus infections (just got over one….again). But I can’t use the Nettie pot because the water gets trapped in my ears. Do you have any tips for that?”

When you use the neti, make sure you are letting the water in slowly, that your mouth is open, and that you do not block the open nostril or blow hard. There is a good set of instructions at  http://yoga108.org/pages/show/106-how-to-use-a-neti-pot-without-danger
It also helps to work the lymph nodes, stroking firmly from the bottom of the ear, the mastoid area (at the base of the skull) and the lower edge of the jaw down toward the collarbone.  I usually use a massage oil blend that includes cajeput or tea tree, chamomile, and lemon essential oils to increase circulation and reduce inflammation. That should help open the area and facilitate drainage. You can use the same blend on the sinus area, stroking from the nose outward, around the eye socket, and from the eye to the temples and behind the ears in one smooth motion.

Aside from that, you need to find out WHY you keep getting sinus infections. For most people it has to do with poor digestion, which produces acid waste that increases mucous production in the whole body in an attempt to soothe the irritated membranes. The offending foods have to be eliminated; the most common are dairy products and wheat, which for some reason seems to be connected especially to infections in the right ear. Supplements to support the stomach and/or pancreas (I am NOT a fan of digestive enzymes as a rule-I prefer safflowers, Garcinia combination, etc.) may be helpful, and marshmallow or slippery elm rebuild mucous membranes.  Remember that sugar feeds bacteria, so watch your diet for refined starches and sugars. Lymphatic congestion is usually a major factor as well; many of my clients do well with the Nature’s Sunshine Lymph Gland Cleanse Formula, and the regular practice of lymphatic exercise, based on  “Riding Horse” Qi Gung stance. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder width apart and the knees flexed. Begin to “bounce” lightly, gradually increasing the amount of movement. (The body will do this quite naturally.)  Allow the arms to bounce as well; they will tend to fall into loose fists which will lightly beat on the thighs. Gradually move them to beat on the groin, then  move them one at a time up the body, to the armpit, out the arms, and back in.  Continue around the neck and down the sides, ending with going down and back up the legs. Maintain the bouncing throughout the entire time; the whole process should take  8-10 minutes. Follow with plenty of water!

Best Breakfast Ever Food Rules

Looking around for my third raw food for breakfast reminded me that I had never posted my basic food rules. (You can watch them in the introductory video www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQrSGl_aKc4  that I made for clients to watch in my office.) First is at least three raw foods at a meal. This morning I had a pumpkin seed Doctor Kracker with a slice of smoked gouda, sprouts, and honeycrisp apples. Delicious, but I added some slices of pear to round it out. Raw foods have enzymes that help you break down everything else you eat so you access more nutrients than you otherwise would. At least one of the foods should be a vegetable rather than just fruits. Think of fruits as vitamins and vegetables as minerals. We are generally more deficient in the latter!

Adding raw foods to breakfast is easy. If you normally eat eggs, toss in chopped veggies after they are cooked, which will warm but not kill them, or eat them with a side of fresh salsa. Instead of jelly on your (whole grain, I hope!) toast (Food For Life sprouted English muffins are the best!) smash fresh banana and strawberries on top of raw almond or cashew butter. Add raw nuts, apples, and raisins, or coconut, oranges, and bananas to your oatmeal. I eat my oatmeal “raw”, mixing quick oats, nuts and fruit with plain or vanilla yogurt or kefir. There is nothing that is a quicker, better breakfast than a smoothie, though you do need to pay attention to ingredients if you use protein powders. Most are very high in sugars, and isolated proteins can be very stressful to the digestive system. I like Tera’s Whey and Manitoba Harvest hemp protein, but even better are raw flax, hemp, or sesame seeds, or raw nut butters. You can throw anything into smoothies; I literally tossed a bowl of leftover dinner salad into the blender with frozen berries, yogurt, and juice on a morning that we were leaving town for a few days. Everyone loved the smoothie that morning, and the salad had included onions among the many other ingredients!

Darkness and Light: Bulbs, Concentration, Cancer, Depression and Insomnia

My daughter-in-law is an opera singer and mentioned tonight that several of the singers at her current production are complaining about the rehearsals being held in a windowless room with fluorescent bulbs since “everyone knows they wear out your adrenals”. A family I knew pulled their children out of public school shortly before the end of a school year, tired of hearing that they were hyperactive when they behaved well at home. Things went so well that they decided to home-school the following year; they built on a classroom, complete with fluorescent lights since they were “going to do it right” . Two weeks into the year they were ready to send the kids back to school-on Ritalin. I suggested that they let the kids do their work near a window or on the back porch, as they had done initially. End of problem.

Fluorescent lighting, even with CFL bulbs, has a flickering effect that is almost imperceptible to the eye, but which hyper-stimulates the medulla, the part of the brain that controls the autonomic or “animal” part of the brain. That increases anxiety-hence the adrenal exhaustion comment, and sensitivity to external stimuli, hence the hyperactivity. I have counseled my clients literally for decades not to use them, and now the Federal government is forcing us to have them at home and banning the sale of high-wattage incandescent bulbs. ( I read recently that in Europe they are getting away with selling them as heat lamps.)

The blue tones of the light emitted also interrupt the normal serotonin/melatonin production cycle, disrupting the hormones most connected to depression, anxiety, and sleep. Exposure to sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good-be-happy-wake-up hormone. Exposure to darkness, which is increasingly difficult to achieve, triggers the production of melatonin, which winds you down for rest and sleep. Too little contrast between the two leaves the body chronically “on”, albeit at a very low functional level. Think of it as running on a battery that’s almost dead. You can turn your camera or whatever off and back on when it’s almost dead to get a couple more minutes of use, but in relatively short order the battery dies completely and you have to recharge or replace it. We can only recharge with full sunlight, full darkness,and lots of the right foods, and each of us is rather hard to replace!!

I encourage my clients to avoid using any overhead lights after dinner, but the CFL bulbs are especially detrimental. Multiple studies have linked the lack of darkness to immune deficiencies (including increased cancer risks) insomnia, and depression. (The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light by Paul Bogard has some interesting statistics and information. Great radio interview with him on “All Things Considered” at  http://www.npr.org/2013/03/03/173365741/turning-it-down-cities-combat-light-pollution-by-going-dim) Within the studies was clear evidence that the color frequencies with the worst health impact were the blues and greens-the colors in fluorescent lighting and all of our night-lights and power lights on the huge assortment of electronic gadgets we have in every room.

So what to do? Incandescent bulbs, especially the “full spectrum”type, muscle-test the best for most people. You can still find them at some flea markets and discount stores in the higher wattage not available in most places. Yes, they use more electricity, but so does hot water and I’m not ready to subject my body to cold showers all winter. Remember, you shouldn’t be using many lights after dark anyway! Next best thing is the “daylight” (not “full”) spectrum LED bulbs, which are much more expensive. If you or a friend live in Washington State you’re in luck-they heavily subsidize LED bulbs so they are much less expensive there than in most other places.

Another good article on risks I haven’t gotten to here is at http://www.naturalhealth365.com/stop_cancer/cfl_light_bulbs.html

Splenda® DOES skew blood sugar!

A new study has finally been released that showed drinking sucralose (and I believe any other artificial sweetener) significantly affects the way the body functions-or doesn’t. For example, although there are no calories (read: no fuel for energy!) in Splenda®, it had the following effects on people when they drank water sweetened with it:

  • 12% higher peak blood glucose levels.
  • 20% higher total insulin secretion.
  • 22% faster insulin-secretion rate.
  • 7% slower rate of clearing insulin from the blood.

I’m not even going to begin to address the issue of toxicity and chemical stress from artificial sweeteners here; I’ll do that in other posts, and have done several questions and comments about it on my website that will eventually migrate here as well.  The new discussion is that taste buds (and we know now that there are taste receptors in the gut, too) trigger the production of insulin. Your body responds, makes it, and then has to figure out what to do once it gets into the bloodstream since insulin isn’t necessary for processing artificial sweeteners. Refined sugar has a similar effect since it can enter the bloodstream through the cell walls; unlike naturally-occurring sugars in, say, a strawberry, it doesn’t require digestion for extraction.  That’s the essence of “insulin resistance”, which is the newest buzzword in the sugar sagas connected to the American diabetes epidemic. The surplus insulin causes stress leading to exhaustion of the adrenal glands-as if we didn’t have enough other stresses in our lives- since they have to produce the hormone to break down the excess insulin; it also leads to the chronic inflammation researchers are blaming for everything from obesity to cancer.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of most of the so-called “natural” sweeteners, either, and this study would probably apply to them as well. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, a highly refined extract that causes stomach upset in lots of people, including me. Stevia is fine if you use it fresh or as a green powder (just the dried leaves) or liquid; if it is clear it has also been through a long list of refining treatments that make it about as healthy and natural as vodka, which “just comes from potatoes”! High fructose corn syrup is also considered a “natural sweetener”.

The real problem is that Americans simply want things too sweet.  Even agave, honey, molasses, and maple syrup, which really are consumed essentially in their natural state, should be used in really moderate amounts.  I am constantly encouraging my clients to eat more raw, fresh foods. The fiber they contain slows down the release of the sugars, and the full range of flavor slows down the demand for sweetness. Organic fruits usually have more taste; it’s trace elements that give them flavor and organic fertilizers have a wider range of nutrients than commercial ones. Protein also slows the release of sugar; if you have to have a chocolate chip cookie, have one made with whole wheat pastry flour (more fiber and protein than white flour but made from softer Spring wheat) and nuts for extra protein. When I bake I use Sucanat®, which is just dried,  unrefined sugar cane juice, and use less than the recipe calls for. Because none of the molasses has been removed it has a really rich flavor. Friends and I make baked goods for an eighteenth century re-enactment every year-people LOVE our products and we make the above substitutions, which are period-correct! (Check out my “Three Wives Kitchen Cookbook“, which goes into great detail about healthy period ingredients.)

You can read the article citing the study at the link below. Bottom Line Health is one of my favorite newsletters for quick info.

http://www.bottomlinepublications.com/content/article/health-a-healing/splenda-raises-blood-sugar-levels-and-may-increase-diabetes-risk?utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=2013-09-19%20DHN%20NL%20%20CID-0000001681%20remainder&utm_content=utm_source=Newsletter&spMailingID=42643680&spUserID=NTE4NTcxNDc1ODES1&spJobID=203947271&spReportId=MjAzOTQ3MjcxS0