• 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.

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!

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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!

“Certified” Organic Herbs??

I get lots of questions about whether the herbs I use are certified organic. Following is the quick answer I send to those questions:

Some of my herbs are organic, some are not, for a variety of reasons. Organic certification can be applied only to commercially farmed herbs, which very often do not have the same medicinal properties as those which are wild-crafted. Organic certification standards vary from country to country and even from state to state. Certification is expensive, so many small growers whose standards and practices would qualify do not apply. As far as processed herbs (extracts, salves, etc) go, the quality of water, which cannot be “organic”, affects the quality of the final product. When my children were very small I remember one brand of organic baby food testing very well while another was awful; the ingredients were identical, so the difference had to be the water or the vessels in which they were prepared. It’s not unusual for some organic vegetables at some supermarkets to not test as well as commercial items; they may be older, come from further away, be irradiated for longer life, or be transported or stored in fumigated areas. I use muscle testing to evaluate quality. Labels can lie!

Mindfulness and Meals

I get lots of questions about what I eat; not so many about how, which I think is just as important. A few years ago I returned to Paris, one of the places I lived as a child. Whenever I travel I try to bring home one intangible thing from the trip, something I experienced that I can apply to make my life better. We were in the flea market one day around lunchtime in a tiny shop selling antique compacts, which my daughter wanted to buy for her grandmother. The proprietor told my daughter to pick one out for herself as well as a gift from him, and to bring the money around the corner, where he would be eating with a friend; he left the shop completely in our hands. Our next stop was at a small shop selling vintage linens, with several tables set up on the sidewalk out front. While we were looking at those items the proprietor placed a broom across the doorway, signifying that the shop was closed, and proceeded to set a table in the street with one of the vintage cloths, real silverware and china, and a lovely lunch for herself. The message was clear: “you may look at whatever you like, but don’t expect me to sell it to you until I have finished dining”. Contrast that with America, where we may grab a few bites out of a sandwich in the back room between customers, or throw down a snack bar and coffee in lieu of real food. Europe has the sidewalk cafe and Japan invented the tea house-we created the drive through. At any rate, mindful meals were the change I decided to bring home.

So how does that make a difference? Three major ways. First, we digest our food better when we are relaxed. The vagus nerve that runs behind the stomach affects gastrointestinal function, heart rate, and blood pressure in addition to esophageal and other functions. When we are rushing through our meal we usually are ‘uptight’, pushing the stomach into the diaphragm (often resulting in a hiatal hernia) so we constrict circulation to the nerve and related organs. Taking a short break to relax and focus just on eating releases that tension.

Second, we might actually take time to chew our food rather than mash it slightly with our teeth and force it down with a beverage (usually carbonated, so we distend the stomach and reduce our oxygen levels, and sweetened, so we stress the pancreas and create acidity, whether we use real sugar or artificial sweeteners). Digestion begins with smelling your food, which triggers digestive enzyme activity, tasting it, which lets the body know what specific levels of insulin, bile, etc. will be needed, and chewing it, which provides the initial breakdown of the starches. Skipping any of those steps causes unnecessary stress on the pancreas and makes you more susceptible to everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to Diabetes.

Third, it makes you much more aware of what (and how much!) you are actually eating. This is what prompted this entry: I rushed right into my day this morning, resolving a couple of crises left unfinished last night, so I just had some juice for breakfast, which I rarely do. Was just going to grab something quick for lunch, like hummus with chips (love the lentil chips from Simply Seven!) and carrots. Got a glimpse of the linen towel I bought (eventually) from the shop in Paris which reminded me I could afford two minutes to put my lunch on a plate, instead. The carrots looked lonely, so I added some snow peas; decided I would do even better with some multi-grain/flax crackers mixed with the chips, and remembered my own rule about three raw foods per meal so added some dried cranberries. Took less than two minutes to double the nutritional makeup and mindfulness of my meal, which led to a deep breath of gratitude before I ate, which took the tension out of my shoulders…….which will let me tackle my ongoing challenges with a better attitude and fresh resolve!

Fluoride Fools?

Time magazine for Valentine’s Day features an article about-surprise-the possible links between pollutants and brain function. Small wonder, given that many are neuro-toxins (have you ever seen the bugs lying on their back partially paralyzed but still alive?). Especially “shocking” was the factoid that  exposure to fluoridated water, which does not include the additional exposure from toothpastes and dental rinses, is linked to a seven point drop in IQ. Continental Europe has banned it for years.

The history of fluoride development explains it pretty clearly: “Sodium monofluorophosphate was first described in 1929 by the German chemist Willy Lange, who was then with the University of Berlin. His fruitless attempts to prepare the free monofluorophosphoric acid led him to check the stability of its esters. Together with Gerda von Krueger, one of his students, Lange thus synthesized diethyl fluorophosphate and some analogs, which proved to be quite toxic, being related to nerve agents. In the 1930s, Gerhard Schrader, working for the German company IG Farben, tried to develop synthetic insecticide. His work focused on esters of phosphoric acid and resulted in an accidental discovery of some other nerve agents such as DFP (diisopropyl fluorophosphate), Tabun, Soman, and Sarin. In the meantime, Lange, who was married to a Jewish woman, emigrated from Germany to the United States and started work for Procter and Gamble Company. In 1947, he and Ralph Livingston of Monsanto Company published the preparation of the free fluorophosphoric acids and mentioned the use of some toxic esters of monofluorophosphoric acid (like DFP) in the treatment of glaucoma and myasthenia gravis. The well known toxicity of these esters led to fears that the simple salts might also be toxic, and such fears precluded any large scale commercial use of the salts. In 1950, under sponsorship of the manufacturer of the compounds, Ozark Chemical Company, the toxicity of sodium monofluorophosphate was studied by Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester who included anti-cavity testing. In 1967 Colgate-Palmolive filed several patents on the use of sodium monofluorophosphate in toothpaste.[1]”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_monofluorophosphate, emphasis added). WebMD considers fluoride to be a drug, lists its cautions and potential side effects, and emphasizes that children may be more sensitive to the risks. One of those risks, ironically, is yellow teeth resulting from excessive use, which has happened to friend’s children who had used only fluoridated toothpaste twice a day with no additional treatments.

The premise for fluoride treatments has been that the fluoride “strengthens” tooth enamel, a claim that comes because enamel consists largely of apatite, a form of calcium, which degrades in the presence of acids from oral bacteria feeding on starches and sugars in our foods. HOWEVER, saliva provides the materials necessary for the re-forming of apatite! In other words, we are fixing a problem that we were designed to correct ourselves anyway. I have a mouth full of fillings but grew up religiously brushing with fluoride and was among an experimental group of military dependents who received fluoride treatments at school. (Maybe that’s why I developed osteoporosis so young!) My kids have not only never used a fluoridated toothpaste, but also drank only reverse-osmosis purified water so did not have fluoride in their water. Only one of my first three children ever developed a cavity. The youngest, who decided that tooth-brushing was optional during the teenage braces years, was the only one to have multiple cavities (he has also eaten more sugar than the other three combined, since his father considers it one of the primary food groups). Aside from a generally healthy diet, we don’t use sports drinks, dilute any fruit juice we drink, and rarely consume soda, which not only has the acid-forming sugars (artificial sweeteners are even more acidic, so one more reason not to use them) but phosphoric acid, which disintegrates calcium. If I really felt like I need more fluoride, I’d add black walnut to my diet!

More good info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_controversy

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!