Friday, October 16, 2009

Inflammation

Most people have heard of inflammation. Most people probably think of it as something bad, something that causes pain and misery. There are whole aisles of anti-inflammatory medicines at the drug store, and Americans use a lot of them. In 2001, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) accounted for 70 million prescriptions and 30 billion over-the-counter doses. So, clearly inflammation causes a lot of problems in the body, so why is it there at all?

Inflammation is perhaps the chief way the body heals itself. Inflammation is the reaction created anywhere in the body where damage has happened. It attracts an increased blood flow (raising oxygen levels), increased presence of white blood cells, and increased nutrients. All of these are needed to clean up damage and/or attack foreign invaders. The body has a few self-limiting mechanisms to slow down or cancel inflammation (when the work is done), but it's not uncommon for inflammation to get out of control. When inflammation is out of control we get localized fever, pain, swelling, and redness. Some newer theories on how malignant tumors grow suggest that cancer cells high-jack the normal inflammation reaction to create a rich flow of nutrients and oxygen to stimulate cancer growth. So, inflammation is the classic good guy and bad guy.

A way to determine whether you have widespread inflammation affecting your health is to get a blood test. There is an inflammation indicator in blood called C-Reactive Protein (CRP for short). If it is elevated along with a decreased albumin level, then inflammation is present and some attention to bring it under control something to be desired.

One of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories is the spice Turmeric. It is bright yellow in color and is one ingredient used in curry. To be better absorbed it should be taken with just a little bit of black pepper. Using Turmeric is completely safe, unlike all the NSAIDs. NSAIDs can be quite dangerous, as they all affect clotting and can create serious (and even life threatening) bleeding and other side effects. I have been using a teaspoon of Turmeric a day and do note that the aches and pains of my aging process are much reduced.

It is always important to locate the source(s) of inflammation whenever possible, but Turmeric can go a long ways to reducing the negative effects from inflammation. Try it and let me know how you see it working for you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pumping up Immunity

With cold and flu season around the corner, and schools back in session acting as incubators for every little plague to come along it's time to tune up your immune system. Here is a list of things you can do.

1. Not to harp, but eliminate sugar. Most germs love sugar -- especially the special sugar your body turns all those cookies into: glucose. Germs multiply exponentially. So try this little math exercise. Some bacteria can divide every 4 minutes. So start with one. In 4 minutes you have 2. In 8 minutes you have 4. In 12 minutes you have 8. In 16 minutes you have 16. In 20 you have 32. In 24 minutes you have 64. In 28 minutes you have 128, and on it goes. Ok? Get that? THEN, consider your immune system reacts to sugar by shutting down for 6 hours. If your immune system is asleep on sugar for 6 hours, it will wake up to how many bacteria? Answer: I got tired of multiplying at 2 hours and the number was 1,073,741,824. There are still four hours to go and your immune system is still sleeping. Quite a mess for it to catch up to when it comes out of it's sugar-land.

2. Stress knocks down the immune system badly. Oh, if only we could eliminate all the things in life that stress us! Unfortunately, there is usually very little that can be done on that score. So, coping with it better is the only solution. The best stress-reliever there is comes not in a pill but in your tennis shoes. Get up and exercise! Exercise improves all the body's ways of coping, and reduces the risks for just about EVERY chronic disease stalking humankind, including Alzheimer's, depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease -- hey, even the common cold.

3. If you're eating most of your food off the World's Healthiest Foods list (www.whfoods.com) then vitamin supplementation is probably not a necessary addition. The more nutrition one can get from food (and not from synthetic, humanly formulated tablets) the better health everyone will have.

4. Hand-washing is really important, and almost as much so: keeping your hands away from your face. The majority of common infectious diseases travel on water droplets that get sneezed out onto nearby surfaces and left on commonly handled things, like doorknobs. Wash often, and try not to obsess.

5. If worse, comes to worse and you do begin feeling like you're catching something grab a natural immune system stimulant/tonifier, and take a lot and frequently at first. Some of these immune system aids include: echinacea, golden seal, mushrooms, colostrum and combinations.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Swine flu advice

A very large expenditure of dollars is taking place to fund a media campaign to scare the bejeebers out of everyone over the Swine Flu, also affectionately referred to as H1N1... would have liked it to be R2D2 but I wasn't consulted. Of course, since the advent of sewers and clean water supplies the only new thing public health officials have to handle infectious disease is the basic tenet: "Run, don't walk, to get your shots before the beastie viruses kill you." Now, they have spent lots to convince that there is a new murdering virus out there and that your ONLY defense against this menace is to get your vaccine. The public has been pushed to stampede panic and there is an almost daily media watch to announce the precise moment the vaccine is available and to whom it is to flow to first.

My opinion is that it's a whole lot of useless panic and fear about an illness that health officials themselves rate as having mild-moderate symptoms. The major share of deaths from the Swine Flu have been those with immune compromises/limitations or other major chronic illness. This HARDLY warrants a vaccine! But, because this is America, and we HAVE the technology, we can build it, and public health can't think of ANYTHING but more shots -- we get more shots. Worse yet, this vaccine has been super rushed through the process with extremely little testing. There are bound to be side effects from virtually any engineered or chemically altered substance shot into the body. Do we know what these side effects will be, or how severe? No, because there's been no tests done, BUT -- we have a way to find out! Start immunizing the weak, young, and frail first. If the vaccine doesn't kill them, then we should be good to go.

But then, do we know if it really works? Is there any way to know that it was the shot or someone's efficient immune system that kept them from getting the flu? Not really. But i suspect this much: all these foreign antigens (the particles in vaccines that they say is what makes immunity happen) seems with only common sense to suggest there must be some pretty significant impacts on the immune system. Public health would have us believe that only GOOD things happen to the immune system. Massive numbers of people with stories of negative results get no air time since it undermines the myopic public health goal of a shot in every person's arm. So what do you think? It's a health care decision that is yours to make.

My belief is that any optimally operating immune system will handle just about any problem that gets thrown its way, including Swine flu. We may be sick, perhaps awfully sick but with the right bodily "terrain" we will successfully throw off anything that makes us sick; and, our immune systems will NATURALLY be the stronger for it. So, I'm skipping my shots thank you, and working really diligently, as every flu/cold season, to make my body's terrain as inhospitable to germs as I can.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More on Sugar...

As soon as I give my spiel to folks about how bad sugar is for them, the first question out of their mouths is, "What about Splenda (or other sugar alternative)?" The question actually betrays the depth of our addiction to sweetness; like, "I can't live without everything I eat tasting like dessert. So, if I'm taking away sugar, then PLEASE GIVE ME SOMETHING to make my food sweet or I'll die!!!" Attachment to sweetness IS the reason we're in the health crises today that we are. The top three most prolific chronic, life-threatening, epidemics on the planet: diabetes, obesity, and cancer - can all claim sugar as the gas for their engines.

So, the first answer could be a simple, "Kill your sweet tooth already!" Teach your taste buds to like food without any sweeteners at all. Break your addiction and just say, "No!" to sweetness.

Because there is always the whine: "But I can't." or "I don't want to," the second part of the answer, then, is that all widely available sugar replacements are synthetic poisons in one way or another. Most ANY time a scientist with big thick glasses takes something apart and invents something new with a chemistry set, the outcome is NOT going to be compatible with human life; there will be side effects for large numbers of people. Our bodies are really pretty ancient structures, intricately built, balanced, and maintained with the original nature God planted here on Terra Firma. Bodies have not evolved to handle chemicals cooked up in a laboratory since WWII, and they do not know what to do with artificial sweeteners! These sweeteners mix up hormone regulation of glucose, they mess up brain chemistry, they may even contribute to initiating other chronic diseases, e.g. autoimmune diseases. This is how bad artificial sweeteners are: you would be better off with sugar! Remember sugar kills, so where are we? Dead due to sweet-tooth-itis. Pull your sweet tooth and bury it for good health!

What sweeteners ARE safe? Perhaps the best one known at this moment in time is Agave Nectar. It has the lowest glycemic index of any sugar -- meaning it stirs up the least waves with insulin. It also has the fewest calories and it has more sweetness than sugar, so you can get the same sweetness with less. Stevia has been a long-standing natural sweetener. It too is sweeter than sugar. It's drawback is it has an aftertaste at higher amounts that some people find unpleasant. Honey, real maple syrup, and molasses need to be used sparingly as they will definitely up the glucose levels, but they tend to be a tiny bit slower absorbed than sugar without side effects. Their drawback is they definitely alter the taste of foods in which they are used. Those are about it for sweeteners.

So, in summary: it is best to get used to far less sweetness and forego sweeteners of all kinds. Avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. Use sparse amounts of agave nectar where a bit is needed for a special treat.

Catastrophic Sugar Effects

I feel like a lone wolf on a hill howling at the moon. For years -- over a decade now -- I have preached how sugar destroys one's health. I'm still howling at the moon about it, and as I sat the other night watching first my daughter, then my spouse, guzzling down a pop I thought - Lord, the word is really hard to get through people's heads. But then, even yours truly can't seem to keep it in his own head as I succumb to the temptations of chocolate chips on a far-too-often basis. Sugar is truly a nemesis of cataclysmic dimensions that is very tough to tame except for the strongest willed. I hope this brief blog will inspire you to take on, at LEAST a few days, of battling this destructive Goliath that blatantly opposes your good health and well-being.

Sugar consumption has gone from 2 kilograms per person per year in the late 19th century, where it was truly considered a rare and luxurious treat; to over 250 kilograms per person per year in the late 20th century. For the metrically impaired: that's a jump from 4 pounds to over 250 pounds. Think of 250 pounds of sugar piled on your dining table, and that is your PERSONAL share of the sugar intake this year.

While once I had a list of like 50 health impacts caused from sugar, I want to throw out just one for your consideration. The American Cancer Society is now saying that 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer. Look around the room you're sitting in right now and count how many that is! Do YOU feel lucky? Here is a still little believed fact about cancer: sugar feeds cancer cells. Need some proof of that? Consider this: one of the best and most accurate cancer scans that can be done on anyone is called a PET scan. It's a bad test in that it involves taking a massive radiation hit, but there is no disputing the results that come from it. How does it work? They give a radioactive glucose isotope to take and then scan your body for where the glucose concentrates. Every place where glucose concentrates is the location of cancerous masses; because cancer preferentially uses glucose. Glucose is derived directly from the breakdown of sugar in your body.

Cancerous tumors can take five to twenty years to develop. Isn't it likely that with 250 pounds of sugar a year (over a half pound a day) that any cancer cells that do appear are likely to thrive in that glucose-rich environment? Combine it with the other fact that sugar is like putting your immune system on a bottle of scotch - making it virtually worthless for anything for up to 6 hours after the ingestion of sugar -- and cancer has about the easiest job in the world to get started and take over. Hence, we see 1 in 3 people doomed to a very catastrophic life change with a new cancer diagnosis.

Do yourself a favor. Try to carry the information from this one blog in your head for a year. Use it to resist the 10,000 temptations we're thrown everyday. Ask yourself, "Is this candy worth feeding my cancer?" Cut cancer's chances to dominate your health, because trust me -- I've watched the effects of chemotherapy. It's NO fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tired, Cold, and Going Bald

These are three very common symptoms of hypothyroidism - a medical condition caused by the decreased production or decreased utilization of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones affect most body tissues through the chemical control of metabolism. Since metabolism is an another word for how fast the "gas pedal" is being pushed in the body, thyroid deficiencies can cause these major symptoms: tiredness, feeling cold all the time, losing hair, not growing fingernails, and gaining weight. There are a complicated number of factors at play in regulating thyroid function. Let me discuss very briefly a few of these:

1. Perhaps the most significant point to start is: are you getting enough iodine? The inactive thyroid hormone (T4) needs 4 iodine molecules, the active form (T3) needs three molecules of iodine. Only about 3% of the iodine needed in the body is used by the thyroid gland. Dietary access to iodine, however, has dropped dramatically over the past 50 years, while the use of elements in the same chemical family as iodine (notably, fluoride and bromide) have increased; leading to higher competition for iodine receptor sites in the body. This situation will lead to iodine deficiency that will prevent the thyroid gland from working properly. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine is measured in micrograms, while historically, humans have consumed milligrams. A healthy amount of iodine may amount to 10-15 mg per day.

2. The conversion of T4 (inactive hormone) to T3 (active hormone) takes place in the liver. For a very large number of people, due to the stress of environmental toxins, the liver does not handle the conversion adequately. This leads to a normal amount of inactive hormone being present and an insufficient amount of active hormone. Blood tests may come back normal and yet hypothyroid symptoms still manifest due to the lack of active hormone. Liver cleanses to improve liver functions may improve the conversion rate.

3. Other substances are needed in the conversion process -- tyrosine (and amino acid) and selenium are two such substances.

4. Finally, the thyroid gland itself may just not be working. Typically, this is the one item on this list which will definitely show up on a blood test. To get around this thyroid hormone may be prescribed. Because of the conversion difficulty, many people do lots better with a natural dessicated thyroid product, such as Armour Thyroid or WesThyroid. These two prescription drugs contain both T3 and T4 hormone.

Sadly, many medical doctors do not know about all these issues. They will not prescribe anything (but an antidepressant perhaps) if the person's blood work shows a normal thyroid level. Yet, the person has real hypothyroid trouble. So, arm yourself with this much information and keep looking until you find a doctor who can help you work through the maze of possible problems that are affecting your thyroid function!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And in the FDA corner weighing in at......

Ok, I can't resist; and it's hard to type this blog from my weak collapsed laughing state on the floor -- but I will prevail!

This morning I see that the FDA has issued a warning to General Mills that they are advertising Cheerios as a drug and they have to stop. Now I HAVE noticed how on the Cheerios box they have a claim that it's heart healthy and helps reduce cholesterol -- a claim with which I could agree, though I don't think it's particularly ingenious or exclusive to Cheerios. But, for the FDA to pounce on the company for this just reeks of Big Brother/Pharmaceutical politics. I can just hear Pfizer's CEO in the FDA Director's office saying in a pout: "Those Big G Little O's are causing people to think they don't need Lipitor! You gotta stop them now!"

So on the one hand FDA is in a dither over Big G little O's while the number of poisoned livers from statin drugs go on unabated? This is the twisted world of American health care.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Drug Craziness

How many commercials do you see on TV in an evening for drugs? The ones I absolutely love are the ones that are only a name, and without any clue what it's a drug for, you're supposed to go ask your doctor for it. Worse yet, are the variety of drugs for ED -so he "can always be prepared." What IS IT about putting matching bathtubs on the beach that's supposed to be hot? It's enough to make one sick and need some medicine!

Drug companies weren't allowed to advertise on TV until 1997. According to Michael Murray, drug companies are spending over $10 Billion a year on direct to consumer advertising; spending over $20 Billion a year marketing to practicing physicians ($50,000 per doctor); and it has resulted in an additional 30 million prescriptions being written last year. While over the last 20 years only about 150 lives have been lost to ephedra and other natural health products, in the same time period over 2 million people have died from adverse drug reactions. And yet, most of those drugs are still on the market, while ephedra and most of the natural products have been forced off the store shelves.

Sadly, if one is desperate from the symptoms of a medical problem, the television commercials can be seriously alluring. The ads make a cure or a reduction in symptoms look almost blissful while the ear and mind numb over at the dull droning of the lengthy side effects being rattled off while the formerly sick individuals on the screen are now partying and happy. People with desperate health conditions are usually grasping at straws and it is a simple matter to be lured past the warnings of side effects by the rationale that maybe I won't be one of the statistics that are affected adversely.

The amount of money exchanging hands in the pharmaceutical/medical industry is exhorbitant. As such, it's a mine field for patients. Lobbying interests are protecting the money. The FDA is compromised with biases. Who will protect you and your family from the millions of adverse drug reactions possible? Only one person really! That person is you! You have to take your health into your own hands. You have to do your own research; seek out your own options and not be afraid to raise questions and stand up and say no to the prescriptions being passed out like phony $20 bills at a forger's convention. Fortunately, in this day and time there is the internet and lots of information at your fingertips to help make informed decisions possible. I encourage you to use every means at your disposal. Afterall, your life could depend on it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Being Vegetarian -- Is it Healthy?

Taking up a vegetarian lifestyle has become quite trendy. In addition to just desiring to be in fashion, there can be a lot of reasons for being vegetarian. Some of these other reasons include: spiritual/religious beliefs, environmental concerns, animal-consciousness, desire for attention, and a quest for better health. It is the last reason I'm blogging about here tonight: Is vegetarianism healthy?

To answer this question one needs to know and assess what exactly one means by "being vegetarian." Does it mean just not eating certain kinds of meat? (I've had "fish vegetarians" --"I only eat fish.") Does it mean no meat or animal products of any kind (also called Vegan)? And, just what DOES one eat, if you're "vegetarian?" My daughter could more accurately be called a "fruitarian" since she really doesn't care a lot for vegetables and eats no kind of meat.

A general rule of thumb would be that the more limited one's diet is, the greater the risk of missing out on important nutrients. Hence, the more rigid one's vegetarian diet is, the more vigilant one has to be to get the right nutrients. The largest problem for vegetarians is getting enough protein. Protein comprises the building blocks of life. Muscle cells and immune cells need good amounts of protein. Short changing protein leads to muscle atrophy and poor immune system function. In general, vegetarians need to be very conscious about their protein intake and insure that what they are eating is "nutrient dense." It is probably a good thing to supplement with vitamins and quality protein powders -- my favorite is hemp! With this one large caveat you CAN eat vegetarian and stay healthy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hydroxycut

Late last week the FDA issued a warning that users of Hydroxycut stop using the product. (http://www.hydroxycutinformation.com) The makers of Hydroxycut have voluntarily recalled its products on the reports of one death and twenty-some injuries from primarily liver damage.

I'm not a believer or advocate of the take-a-pill-weight-loss program. The pill to lose weight is about like the Fountain of Youth -- it doesn't exist, and isn't likely to -- ever! What does get me irritated however, is how rapidly the FDA will move against an herbal or natural health product, while they leave pharmaceutical drugs that are causing far more damage, far more deaths, alone for, in some cases, years. It seems to be that the FDA will ignore problems if there are moneyed power lobbies protecting profits. Tryptophan, ephedra, and now Hydroxycut are just three of the recent victims in the natural health industry to be almost instantly removed from the market, practically on the first death. The double standard is unfair. Pharmaceutical drugs should be under the same close scrutiny as the natural health industry!

And for all you Hyrdoxycut users, or pill-fiends for weight loss -- cut your portions, vary your caloric make-up, and consume plenty of fiber and water already.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

At the present moment, there are only about 300 cases of Swine Flu in the world. So far it does not appear that Swine Flu has any more potency to make people sick than the more "garden variety" types A or B Influenza that the world copes with every year. In fact, given there have been less than two dozen deaths from Swine Flu (compared to 35,000 deaths per year from the other "common" influenzas) it does not appear to be even as dangerous.

So from my perspective, while any kind of Influenza will demand one's attention Swine Flu does not require any more attention than all the other kinds. The upside to the pandemic news is that the common precautionary actions being recommended are good hygiene habits everyone should be observing all the time.

1. Wash hands frequently.
2. Cough into ones forearm or elbow to prevent putting germs onto hands that then transfer to other surfaces.
3. When blowing one's nose throw the tissues away and don't leave them laying around.
4. Limit the intake of sugar to aid immune system responsiveness.
5. Maintain a high level of nutrition through a good diet and supplementation.
6. Get adequate amounts of sleep.
7. Reduce and/or avoid as much stress as one can. Stress will reduce immunity.

The Swine Flu is not something dramatically different. Do all the usual things to keep your health at its peak and even if the worst happens and you get it, you shouldn't be sick very long.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pondering Estrogens

I've been pondering something I've observed: Why does it seem that extraordinarily heavy periods are the rule these days? When I, in my tiny little world, am seeing a veritable epidemic of women from 13 years old on up to menopause with periods they describe as "over the top" - I have to wonder what's happening.

The medical term for a heavy menstrual period is "menorrhagia." There are a number of known causes you can read about on Mayoclinic.com or webmd and include things such as medications, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, low or high thyroid hormones, and other hormonal imbalances. Let me take that last one - hormonal imbalance.

I would argue that hormonal imbalance - in particular, the estrogen to progesterone balance - is the primary cause of menorrhagia. Yet there is a medical insanity afoot. The almost automatic treatment in conventional medicine is to use birth control pills. So, we have MD's pushing women/girls as young as 13 or 14 onto birth control pills to control their periods. Given what we've learned in the past 2-3 years about the devastating connection with breast cancer of estrogen hormone replacement in older women, why on EARTH is prescribing estrogen to younger women being used with such little scrutiny? My cynical answer would be that pharmaceutical representatives are practicing medicine, not real doctors!

The bigger underlying question about menorrhagia is why? Why is the menorrhagia occurring and what IS it that creates the imbalance? I have two theories, both of which can coexist simultaneously. The first is that the environment is filling up to a perhaps shocking level with "exogenous estrogens." This week there was the news report that many prescription drugs are turning up in samples of fish. Estrogens are being so heavily used for all kinds of things with humans, plants, and animals that it is not a stretch to think they are infiltrating much of what we drink and eat. Increased estrogen intake adds to what is being produced and creates an estrogen dominance effect that would account for the epidemic of menorrhagia.

The second theory is that, due again to the degradation of the environment and our heavy exposure to literally thousands of toxins, the ability of the liver to detoxify estrogens is vastly impaired. This would lead also to increased estrogen dominance as the body could not rid itself of the estrogen it had, causing the imbalance leading to menorrhagia.

Either of these theories would account for the CAUSE of hormone imbalance. This imbalance, incidently, can also be behind several of the other causes for menorrhagia listed, like: endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Both of these theoretical causes can be treated with natural approaches, which I'll cover in a later blog.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Detoxification Approaches

Toxins are foreign substances that can negatively affect our health. They find their ways into our bodies through our water, food, air, and even ironically skin care products applied externally. They are eliminated from the body through one of four pathways: breathing them out through lungs, eliminating through kidneys, through bowel, or through skin. To eliminate toxins from the body (detoxify) the process involves the following basic steps:
  1. Open elimination channels.
  2. Chelate or bind toxins to removed from tissues or circulation.
  3. Facilitate elimination.
Examples of how each of these steps can be accomplished follow.

Open Elimination Channels:
  • Homeopathics, such as Liver Stim Liquescence and Lymph Stim Liquescence help open the elimination organs (liver, kidney, immune system) to dump toxins.
  • Daily exercise of 20-30 minutes a day increases circulation and oxygenation.
  • Adequate nutrition and plentiful supplies of vitamins and minerals insure enough enzymes are present to operate metabolic pathways.

Chelate Toxins
  • A number of herbs and a few pharmaceuticals are valuable agents for chelating including: Liquid chlorophyll, cilantro, and EDTA.
Facilitate Elimination
  • Drinking water, about 50-70 ounces a day will aid elimination through the kidneys
  • A high fiber diet maintains regularity
  • Enemas and/or colonics
  • Saunas and hot baths creates sweating and elimination through the skin.