• 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.

No Pain…..No Gain….NoSAIDs

A report this week warned that regular use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) increases heart attack and other cardio-vascular risks by about 40%-huge for people with any other existing risk factors. So, do you suffer, which also increases stress, or take the chance? Short of opiates, there are not lots of plants that stop pain. But then, neither do medications “stop” pain.

Pain control is not one of nature’s strong suits for a reason. Pain is a message that something is wrong and needs to be addressed, and NSAID’s put a gag on the message rather than requiring that we deal with the issue. They block the production of prostaglandins, some of which trigger the inflammation that leads to pain-but which also form the foundation for the production of other, critical hormones. (Could their use then also be connected to our infertility, diabetes, and other glandular-imbalance epidemics?) It is amazing what happens when you support the body functions instead. One of my clients dealing with a serious condition found that oxycodone was not managing her pain; she added large amounts (20-30 capsules a day) of magnesium complex which took care of it to the extent that she now uses the drug only occasionally at night. Magnesium coats the nerve endings and helps with the assimilation of calcium, which is essential for healing. Willow barks ( white, purple, etc.) are high in salicylates, and the original source of the salicylic acid that became aspirin; they are also astringent herbs, which tone tissues and thereby reduce inflammation and pain. High acidity damages nerve endings, so chlorophyll (always at least 30 minutes from a meal to prevent it from interfering with digestion!) and safflowers can be helpful. Remember that consuming refined sugar acidifies the body so will increase both pain and inflammation; high blood sugar is what destroys nerve endings in diabetics. Ironically, NSAID’s negative effect on cardiovascular health may be, in part, that they tend to make breathing more shallow; deep, focused, breathing alone has been found to reduce pain significantly by getting more oxygen to the cells. Herbs like blessed thistle and chamomile, and lavender and clary sage essential oils probably have been used traditionally for headaches and other pain largely because they increase oxygenation through relaxation! Getting adequate B vitamins, digestible fats, and calcium is likely to strengthen the nervous system overall, making you less susceptible, in a sense, to pain.

Inflammation is also protective. Pain results from inflammation of the nerves in response to something going on internally, which is why it has to be addressed. Think about a joint that hurts, say your elbow. It swells to prevent you from moving and injuring it further, but you’ve got a tennis game tomorrow so you take the pills and move it anyway, and eventually end up needing surgery for a greater injury. A better response is to be sure you support the function of the adrenal glands and others involved in the inflammatory process, which may be why licorice root is sometimes called “nature’s cortisone”(actual corticosteroids stress the adrenals). I love Everflex, which is marketed for joint issues, but which I find is actually primarily beneficial to the adrenal glands and works great for many of my clients. Essential fatty acids like those in black currant,  borage, and “Omega” oils lubricate the joints, so can reduce associated pain. Lymphatic massage, stroking the inside of joints near the inflamed area toward the heart, is a huge help, especially if you also use Tei-Fu (I like to add chamomile as well) or other essential oils to increase circulation through the area. Move!

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Born Again!!

Just heard a news story announcing that Britain has released a new study showing that for women with normal pregnancies home birth is significantly safer than hospital birth. Great ‘news’, but not new at all! The majority of babies in Britain have been born at home-on purpose-for decades. Babies and moms are immune to the germs in their own home, blood pressure and other stress factors are dramatically higher in hospital settings, and there is less pressure on mothers and physicians to prematurely use drugs or other interventions. The same information was available in the 1980’s, when I was having babies at home. This time, however, a Harvard professor of medicine agreed after reviewing the study, and comparing American statistics that show our birth outcomes consistently getting worse for mothers and babies. An opponent blamed things like poor access to pre-natal care and good nutrition in America-REALLY??? By comparison, Haiti and most third world countries deliver a higher percentage of healthy babies with safer outcomes for moms as well. Why? The Harvard professor said that moms in America essentially give birth in an Intensive Care Unit, surrounded by surgeons, all looking to intervene in what is a natural process rather than a disease. In other health-care systems interventionists are simply standing by in case there is an actual need for their services.

It was great to watch one daughter-in-law make her unexpected decision to have her baby at home. When she found out she was pregnant, her first words to my son included “but don’t talk to me about home birth and that kind of crazy stuff. I want to be in a hospital where I know I will feel safe.” A couple of months later my son was hospitalized after a reaction to one of the shots required by his job (a military specialty field), and she spent the night in the hospital with him. Sitting there, watching his care, she started asking herself if she really wanted a brand new baby to be in that ‘sick’ kind of environment, and decided to investigate birthing centers. A few weeks later she had a pre-natal appointment with a physician at the center, who had initially told her that all of the decisions about labor and delivery would be up to the parents (they live in Washington State, one of the most liberal medical and social approaches in the country). At this appointment she started getting pressure to do many of the things she had been told were ‘up to her’-like a fasting blood sugar test even though her numbers were perfectly normal and there were no other symptomatic indications of any imbalance. She decided to talk to a home-birth midwife (which Washington actually supports!) and felt her peace for the first time. She delivered a beautiful, 8 pound baby girl with no complications after a very long, hard labor which would undoubtedly have been a Caesarian delivery in a hospital setting.

Look at “Matthew’s Story” on my website for my experience in a hospital with the birth of my 9 week premature son, who left the hospital in a week and a half. One of the most bizarre medical comments I have ever heard was the doctor saying “well that’s the beauty of having them in here; we get to see how they respond when we try something new” in response to my tiny son’s extreme reaction to ‘routine’ caffeine infusions.

With all of our talk about women’s reproductive rights in this country, it is time for us to take ownership of birth. We have the power to deliver healthy babies-we just have to believe it is so!

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!

What I would do with Ebola….

Like anyone else with anything to do with natural health care, I have been drowning in questions about herbal and other “natural” approaches to Ebola. A couple of thoughts and some info follow. Remember that I am not a doctor, so I am not trying to diagnose or prescribe for anybody’s disease, just sharing my personal thoughts and ideas.

Ebola is not a new disease. It has been around for ages, and over the last 38 years there have been 25 confirmed, significant outbreaks in West Africa. Prior to this year, the cumulative number of people who had died in those outbreaks totaled 1037; in Canada over 1500 people died of the flu in the last two years. About 40 million died in the flu outbreak if 1918, including nearly  700,000 in the US, so hopefully that gives some perspective. This outbreak has obviously been much larger than most, but we wouldn’t even know about it if an American hadn’t gotten sick. Ebola is not more contagious than other viruses, just more deadly if you do contract it.

What to do about it? As with any virus, the best defense is a strong immune response. Of over 40 people who had direct, even intimate contact prior to his hospitalization with the first victim to die in the US, none have developed any symptoms of the disease and all were released from 3 weeks of quarantine today. Granted, two nurses did develop the disease, but 40 people who had no protection did not. As one doctor in West Africa put it, we are fighting two diseases, one is Ebola, and one is fear of Ebola! If you are still particularly concerned simple things like adding colloidal silver (quality is critical here, since most home-made and many commercial solutions have particles large enough to also kill good bacteria, and should be 18-20ppm) to your water, or diffusing Guardian essential oil blend in your home or office have been shown to reduce pathogens, and thus your likelihood of contracting anything. Eating well, getting plenty of rest, and taking adaptogenic herbs like Suma and Astragalus are no-brainers. One study years ago found that white vinegar was more effective than chlorine or peroxide solutions at eliminating HIV virus from hospital surfaces, so don’t stress your body with chemical cleaners and synthetic anti-bacterial products. Maintain a great probiotic level with a good variety of cultured foods, and consider adding a supplement if foods like kefir and kimchee haven’t been dietary staples (I like Probiotic 11). None of these treat any disease-but your body will recognize and eliminate foreign entities more effectively if you take care of it appropriately.

Specific supports I would look at are based on what I know about how the virus works. In all hemorrhagic fevers, the mucous membranes seem to be compromised. They constitute the first responders to any kind of foreign element, from a piece of dirt in your eye, to pollen or viruses in your nose, to toxins in the food you eat, so I would support mine with Marshmallow root, which coats, soothes and provides materials to rebuild compromised tissues. I have read that the virus disables the body’s ability to recognize invaders and replace normal cells, and stimulates reproduction of itself instead (interesting; that is how cancer works, and many researchers believe cancer is actually virus-instigated!). To trigger immune response I would be thumping my thymus gland (in the center of the chest, a la Tarzan). I would take lots of (cider) vinegar baths, which help to maintain hydration, especially when people can’t keep enough in orally, and keeps the acid mantle high enough to fight pathogens. Most of all, I would live in faith, not fear!

Parsley Posts

Saw a news feed today touting parsley’s power to “cure” arthritis pain. It’s true, but I think it’s important to understand WHY it works. Real understanding leads people to action, which could remove the need to TREAT arthritis by simply removing the cause of the collection of symptoms we’ve given the name. Arthritis literally means “inflammation of the(itis) joints(arthro)”, so when your doctor tells you you have it he has really just said back to you in Latin what you told him in the first place.

So WHY did your joints inflame? One word-ACID.  Waste acids collect in the joints, especially when you aren’t moving as much as you need to. The acids come from normal muscle function waste and from your body’s unsuccessful efforts to break down protein. WHY does red meat affect arthritis? The fibers in red meat are really tough, lots of work for your stomach, and impossible if you are taking any kind of antacid. The right acids in your stomach are critical for digesting heavy proteins; without them the undigested matter moves on to the small intestine before the job is finished. That results in those fibers turning to waste acids, irritating the villi that should be absorbing the nutrients in to the bloodstream. Instead, the nutrients aren’t accessible and acid flows through the intestine wall. Sugar does the same thing and also feeds bacteria. WHO has to make up the difference? Your kidneys, which filters waste out of the bloodstream. This is WHERE the parsley comes in. Parsley is classified as a bitter herb, with an affinity for the kidneys because it contains lots of potassium, which is essential for their function. That combination of qualities makes it an adaptogenic herb for kidney support, meaning it helps “stuck” kidneys figure out WHAT they really need to be doing. In this case, that is working harder at flushing out the waste acid instead of letting it accumulate, meaning that joints don’t hurt as much because they are not being burned up inside! Potassium and other trace minerals abundant in the plant also support the creation of healthy cells to replace lesser quality ones as they die, and the chlorophyll is a natural alkalizer.

If you are dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joints caused by the strep bacteria; I was diagnosed with the juvenile form when I was 12 but that will be another post) parsley will still be helpful (though you will likely need lymphatic and blood quality herbs as well), but your kidneys now also have to filter out dead bacteria and other debris, while impaired by the additional stress of decreased bowel function caused by antibiotics.

For all of the reasons listed above parsley is named as a diuretic in many herb books. It’s also often listed as helpful in dealing with kidney infections, which are just an extension of the same problems.  I got a call from a client one day dealing with scanty, burning urine and a fever. Because of past experience she was anxious to avoid taking antibiotics and wanted an appointment, but I was completely booked until late that day and the following morning. I told her to buy fresh parsley and pineapple juice, put them in the blender together, and choke them down as often as possible; I would fit her in the following afternoon. She called mid-morning and left a message that she was feeling fine, all symptoms had disappeared, and she would keep it up over the weekend to make sure things kept going well. No wonder I still have to work for a living!

Super Magic Fix-Everything Formula!!

One of my apprentices walked into my office a few years ago and asked if I had seen a recent article about a new wonder-mix that would pretty much fix anything that ailed you. She was surprised when I responded that I had not, but asked if it included apple cider vinegar and honey or molasses. Astonished, she asked how I had known. Easy. Whenever there is a slow day at the tabloids it’s released again with another startling ‘new’ cure claim-most of which are right!! The newest version is at http://www.householdmagicdailytips.com/index.php/homemade-fat-burning-formula?utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=2014-05-29%20HDM%20NL%20%281%29&utm_content=&utm_source=Newsletter&cid=45957880&spMailingID=45957880&spUserID=NTE4NTcxNDc1ODES1&spJobID=442781247&spReportId=NDQyNzgxMjQ3S0, where the former two ingredients are mixed with grapefruit juice for a “fat-burning” miracle.

So what’s the deal? Real apple cider vinegar (Best is still Bragg’s) is a live, cultured product that contains three principal properties. First is live enzymes to aid in the digestion and assimilation of whatever you eat in any kind of reasonably near time frame; live cultures also are essential for immune function and intestinal health. I keep a bottle of Bragg’s on a rack near my stove, which generated enough warmth for the culture to grow into kombucha-style mushrooms in the bottle. I use it to add a splash of flavor on or in just about everything I prepare, and frequently drink it mixed with water and maple syrup. If I was home and more organized I would separate some of the babies into bottles of diluted fruit juice or coconut water to create Kevita-like beverages (http://kevita.com/).(I don’t drink regular kombucha because I avoid caffeine; great article at http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/03/25/kombucha-myths-vs-truths/). The benefits promoted for kombucha are essentially the same for raw vinegar! Most vinegars are not live, and ONLY live, fruit based vinegars have the benefits we are discussing-white vinegar is usually corn or wood-pulp based-and has no health advantage whatsoever.

Second, the breakdown of the fruit base (usually apples or grapes)retains all of the trace minerals found in the source, in a form that has increased bio-availablity. The  magic mixtures, whether credited to a long-lost family recipe or aliens (yes, they have been given full credit in several articles) often include molasses, which has even more trace minerals, one of the most-lacked nutrient groups in our modern diet. Trace minerals are critical for glandular function, feeding the pituitary and ancillary glands including the thyroid. Alfalfa and Spirulina tend to particularly support the pituitary, while dulse and kelp are higher in the iodine needed for thyroid function. Since the pituitary governs when all other glands kick in or up their function, and the thyroid regulates metabolism and calcium uptake you can see that just about everything would work and feel better with the “magic” combo. Minerals are part of what alleviate spasms, so the “magic” vinegar mix is correctly touted for relieving leg cramps; use vinegar alone topically or in baths.

The malic acid that also helps reduce cramping is part of the third benefit, which is that vinegar supports balanced acid levels in the body. I am NOT a fan of ph balancing programs as a rule; proper ph changes constantly and manipulating it can be dangerous in the long run. A couple of basic rules DO apply. Your stomach needs to be highly acidic to break down protein properly, regardless of whether the protein is plant or animal based. Too little good acid results in excessive bad acid in the blood, joints, etc.. Drinking vinegar or another acidic beverage in small amounts may be helpful when eating by increasing the stomach’s ability to work properly. I don’t encourage drinking much of anything with meals, since it encourages people to flush food down with something more alkaline than stomach fluid, like water, rather than chewing.  Your skin should also be somewhat acidic, which is why vinegar is an effective body splash (the smell dissipates rapidly), especially for people who have  some types of skin irritation. The high acid level breaks down the cell walls of bacteria and other organisms; in the 1990’s vinegar was found more effective against HIV and related  viruses than bleach or any antibacterial product, and it’s the best thing I know for ringworm.  Together, these properties are also the basis for recommendations for a (diluted) vinegar douche for vaginal infections.

“Colorful” Behavior?

An interesting segment on NPR this week (http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/03/28/artificial-dyes-candy) pointed out the hypocrisy of American companies, who make their products with artificial colors in the US and natural colouring agents in Europe. Six years ago the British government released its studies of artificial colourings, proving that they have a clear and significant negative impact on children’s behavior and encouraging manufacturers to switch to plant dyes. Since EU legislation now requires warning labels pointing out the impact they have virtually disappeared even from brightly coloured candy, replaced by plant extracts. Most people are surprised to find out that it’s not just junk food that uses dye; even foods like mayonnaise and pickles often have artificial colour added.

Food dyes were the tipping point that led to my now thirty-plus years in natural health care.  My oldest son was two and a half when he had yet another sinus infection. Since this had been a two-year battle the Doctor prescribed a new medication -Ceclor- which was expected to be the “next penicillin” in effectiveness. Micah began acting really strange, stopping in the middle of walking across a room and just screaming, or turning around and suddenly punching me in the middle of a bedtime story, all of which was really unlike him. I called the pediatrician, who told me I was “still a new mother” , that his behavior was normal, and that he probably just didn’t “feel good”. This was NOT my kid “not feeling good”. This was not my kid! On day three he had been acting normally all evening and I thought that the Doctor had been right, and that Micah was finally “feeling better”. Shortly thereafter I realized that I had forgotten his evening dose and gave it to him; within a half hour he was screaming again.

I called the pharmacist this time rather than the Pediatrician, and explained what I was seeing. He said it sounded “like a classic reaction to red dye” and asked if he was taking any of a list of medications, second or third of which was the Ceclor. He suggested a switch to another antibiotic since Ceclor “has a really high dye load”. The behavior problems did not recur after the change of antibiotics. My approach to health care did, when two full courses of the second antibiotic after the four days of Ceclor still did not resolve the infection and I decided to look into natural alternatives. (Three days of Christopher’s Sinus Support formula, garlic, and alfalfa resolved the infection, though he continued to need smaller amounts of the supplements for about a year before we replaced enough cells to make a permanent difference.)We have known about the effect for years but the FDA says it has not seen a proven “causal link” so does nothing.

Dyes aren’t the only additive for which American manufacturers have double standards. Last year I ordered pineapple coconut water from ONE, which I had been purchasing since its inception; the outer case had two ingredient lists with a box to check for which product it contained based on destination.  The company is now owned by Pepsico and includes sugar and “natural flavor” in the US, while the Canadian export product still contains just coconut water and pineapple juice. Replacement product for me is Evolution Fresh coconut water, which is also raw and has a fabulous flavour! As consumers, we need to speak up. Let manufacturers know that you are OK with strawberry products that aren’t bubble-gum pink, and not OK with artificial dyes in anything. Read your labels, eat real food, and take charge of your behavior!