Natural Health Blog & News
Type 2 diabetes is curable and the cure is free. According to a January 2019 update by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 114 million American adults live with diabetes or prediabetes.1 Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2015, and continues as seventh in 2019. In a 2017 press release, then-CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald stated:2
"Although these findings reveal some progress in diabetes management and prevention, there are still too many Americans with diabetes and prediabetes. More than a third of U.S. adults have prediabetes, and the majority don't know it. Now, more than ever, we must step up our efforts to reduce the burden of this serious disease."
While a commendable goal, the reality is the disease is rooted in insulin resistance and a faulty leptin signaling system.3,4 In other words, it's triggered by your diet and the cure is readily available to anyone willing to change their eating habits.
Unfortunately, a cure is not usually a consideration after a diagnosis with diabetes, which is why the medical community begins treatment with medication. Conventionally trained physicians continue to pass along flawed nutritional information pulled from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ChooseMyPlate program5 or the equally flawed U.K. Eatwell Guide.6
In a 12-minute presentation before the U.K. Parliament, Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D., succinctly demonstrates how bad science supports rising rates of diabetes and other nutritionally triggered diseases.7
The consequences faced by those who follow published dietary recommendations is tragic, as bad science has twisted information and triggered a global epidemic. As Harcombe discusses in her presentation before the U.K. Parliament, the human body is unable to produce essential proteins and fats on its own. However, there are no essential carbohydrates.
A statement from Chapter 6 of the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids,8 reads:9 "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrates compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed."
Harcombe has spent years investigating and researching dietary guidelines as they relate to nutrition and obesity.10 In her presentation she discusses the results of her Ph.D. thesis examining randomized control trials prompting the introduction of dietary fat recommendations in the U.S. and U.K.
She makes the point that when a natural diet tends to be 15 percent protein and recommendations limit total fat to 30 percent, by definition the remainder are carbohydrates.
When your body requires essential nutrients from proteins and fats but not from carbohydrates, the question becomes, why would Mother Nature put essential fats and proteins, not produced in the body, in the same foods that are trying to kill us?
Harcombe studied the trials prompting our dietary recommendations and asked the question: If those trials were re-evaluated today, would the same recommendations be made? She and her team found no difference for putting people on any dietary fat intervention against the impact of all-cause mortality or coronary heart disease.
Interestingly, the team also found that all of the trials involved fewer than 2,500 men who had already had a heart attack. The trials included no women and no healthy individuals. Yet the results of these trials changed nutritional guidelines for more than 220 million Americans and over 55 million residents of the UK.11
She and her team then asked what the data revealed in research performed after 1977, and found there continues to be no evidence for introducing guidelines that limit dietary fat. Some of the same research was also being done by seven other teams around the world.12,13,14,15,16,17,18
These teams evaluated 40 separate studies. Only three of the 40 studies revealed any negative results from eating fat. Of those three, one determined trans-fat had a negative impact and two were from the same team who essentially reviewed their own findings.
However, after the two studies were subjected to a sensitivity test, the results did not stand up. Essentially, none of the 40 studies evaluated showed that total or saturated fat was associated with cardiovascular disease, mortality or heart events.19
The U.K. Eatwell Guide website states:20 "The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week."
In Harcombe's analysis of the new guidelines,21 she found when calories were assigned to the portions demonstrated in the guide and to the menus published, the diet was nutritionally deficient and the percentages of carbohydrates skewed even further than past recommendations, rising from 55 percent to 65 percent of daily intake.22
Before going further, it's helpful to briefly clarify the differences between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, and the terms metabolic syndrome and prediabetes. Although the dietary changes to reverse all but Type 1 diabetes are similar, it helps to understand the process. The effect of glucose intolerance may be measured through fasting blood glucose, oral glucose tolerance or an A1c.
• Prediabetes — There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes so you may not even know you have it. It's a term used to describe an early state of insulin resistance known as impaired glucose tolerance. Conventionally, prediabetes is diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter.23
• Metabolic syndrome — As insulin resistance progresses, if you suffer from three or more of a group of symptoms triggered by insulin and leptin resistance, it leads to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. These symptoms include high triglycerides, low HDL, higher blood glucose, elevated blood pressure and an increased amount of belly fat.
• Type 1 diabetes — The majority with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.24 Only about 5 percent have Type 1 diabetes, which can occur at any age. Previously called juvenile diabetes, there are actually more adults with Type 1 diabetes than there are children with the condition. In Type 1 diabetes your body does not produce insulin.
Type 1 diabetes may be triggered by an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells producing insulin in your pancreas. Often called insulin-dependent diabetes, new research has achieved a cure several times in animal studies. However, work in humans has not been as successful and several options are under clinical trial.25
• Type 2 diabetes — Also called noninsulin dependent diabetes, your pancreas continues to produce insulin but is unable to use it properly. In fact, this is an advanced stage of insulin resistance typically triggered by a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates.
Although anyone can develop Type 2 diabetes, you are at higher risk of it when you're overweight, sedentary, have family members with Type 2 diabetes, have a history of metabolic syndrome or are a woman who has had gestational diabetes.26
Although millions suffer from the condition, diabetes must not be considered an inevitable risk of life. There are significant short- and long-term risks with diabetes, but the good news is that with the correct treatment you can avoid them completely.
Although conventional medicine focuses on administration of medications, simple lifestyle changes may be all you need to get your diabetes under control. Since diabetes often develops slowly, you may not realize you have high blood glucose and this can cause some serious damage. Short- and long-term complications may include:27,28,29
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS)
Diabetic neuropathy: peripheral, autonomic, proximal and focal
Retinopathy leading to blindness
Alzheimer's disease (Type 3 diabetes)
Bacterial and fungal skin infections
Peripheral vascular disease
In an effort to control high blood sugar, insulin therapy may actually be doing more harm than good. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine30 concluded insulin therapy in Type 2 diabetic patients, particularly in people over age 50, may not always outweigh the negatives. Reported in Medical News Today, study co-author Dr. John S. Yudkin, emeritus professor of medicine at University College London, commented:31
"If people feel that insulin therapy reduces their quality of life by anything more than around 3 to 4 percent, this will outweigh any potential benefits gained by treatment in almost anyone with Type 2 diabetes over around 50 years old."
Medical News Today32 gave this example of what the author meant. If a person with Type 2 diabetes begins insulin at age 45 and lowers their A1c by 1 percent, they could experience an extra 10 months of healthy life. But for someone beginning treatment at age 75, the authors estimate therapy may give the patient an additional three weeks of life.
The researchers believe this prompts the question, is 10 to 15 years of pills or injections with possible side effects worth it? Another recent study prompted researchers to question if insulin therapy may be outdated, saying:33
"Although several old studies provided conflicting results, the majority of large observational studies show strong dose-dependent associations for injected insulin with increased CV [cardiovascular] risk and worsened mortality. Insulin clearly causes weight gain, recurrent hypoglycemia, and, other potential adverse effects, including iatrogenic hyperinsulinemia.
This overinsulinization with use of injected insulin predisposes to inflammation, atherosclerosis, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart failure (HF) and arrhythmias. These associations support the findings of large-scale evaluations strongly suggesting insulin therapy has a poorer short- and long-term safety profile than that found in many other anti-T2D therapies."
In Harcombe's presentation to the U.K. Parliament, she points out Public Health England put together a panel to recommend what would be in the Eatwell Guide, and of the 11 representatives, only one had no conflict of interest. Several organizations represented included the Institute of Grocery Distribution, the British Nutrition Foundation and the Association of Convenience Stores.
Some of the members of the British Nutrition Foundation include Nestle, Kellogg's, PepsiCo, McDonald's and British Sugar. In her plea to Parliament, Harcombe makes two requests for the future of the Eatwell Guide and another for patients, asking:34
Prevention and treatment of insulin/leptin resistance and Type 2 diabetes requires a little care in your food choices and your nutritional planning. However, done slowly, these habits are tasty and satisfying, and lead to increasing energy and easier weight management.
You'll find explanations about fats, proteins, exercise and how sleep and intermittent fasting may be the simple choices you've been searching for in my previous article, "How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes, Why Insulin May Actually Accelerate Death, and Other Ignored Facts."
It may start as a tickle in the back of your throat, or a full throttled bark as you try to clear a growing amount of secretions in your upper respiratory tract. But, however it begins, most would like the coughing to stop.
Usually a cough will accompany a cold, beginning as a runny nose, scratchy throat and sneezing. A cold is caused by a virus, the most common of which is the rhinovirus. It may be responsible for up to 50 percent of all colds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 most get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to experience a cold anytime of the year.
Although you're likely to recover from most symptoms within 10 days, your cough may continue for several weeks. Each year, millions in the U.S. get the common cold. The CDC estimates2 the average adult will have two to three colds per year and children tend to have even more bouts. It is the main reason children miss school and adults miss work.
Coughing is one of the most common reasons for medical consultation, both among children and adults. In a study3 evaluating the impact of coughing in an employee population in Finland, researchers found coughing decreased the quality of life for the adults and had a socioeconomic impact by increasing doctor's office visits and sick days.
Research published in PLOS ONE4 evaluated data based on how coughing varied by age and sex in a pediatric population. In a group of over 7,500 children, 10 percent of the children coughed more than others and 69 percent coughed when they had a cold.
Coughing was more common in boys than girls in the first decade of life, but the differences were not statistically significant in the early teens, eventually reversing by age 14. The researchers suggested5 meta-analyses of multiple studies are only valid when similar questions and age groups are compared.
As most parents can likely attest, coughing disturbs sleep in children and parents alike. In one study,6 researchers found it disturbed sleep in 88 percent of children and 72 percent of parents. Another study7 found a cough is the most common reason children are brought to their physicians and are more common in preschoolers than older children.
Upper respiratory tract infection or acute bronchitis are two diagnoses representing at least 75 percent of all reasons for a cough seen in the doctor's office.8 Symptom relief is often what drives people to see their doctor or health care provider when they have a cold and cough.
However, over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants have been found to be ineffective and may even be dangerous. Despite such evidence, cough medicines are still commonly given to children.9
According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association,10 the number of allergy sufferers using OTC medications has risen from 66 percent to 75 percent, and nearly 70 percent of parents have given their child an OTC medicine at night to ease a sudden medical symptom.
Data also shows colds cost the U.S. economy nearly $40 billion each year, substantially more than other chronic health conditions, such as heart failure and emphysema.11 Researchers have also found the average consumer spends $338 per household each year on OTC medications.12
With all this money spent on OTC medications to provide symptom relief, you might have assumed what was being purchased is effective and safe. However, there is a lack of evidence for value in any of the OTC remedies often used to treat cough.
Dr. Norman Edelman, pulmonologist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and scientific adviser at the American Lung Association, spoke to a New York Times13 reporter suggesting people anxious for relief are convinced cough medicines work. Although he didn't state cough medicines don't work, he commented that, as yet, there is no proof they do.
Unfortunately, there is proof they can have significant side effects and may be hazardous for children and those who suffer from high blood pressure or congestive heart failure. For instance, a common ingredient found in cough syrups, dextromethorphan, has had a history of drug abuse since the 1960s.14
In high doses, the drug can cause abnormal heartbeat and sedation, but it also creates a sense of euphoria and can lead to hallucinations. Misuse of dextromethorphan is responsible for an estimated 6,000 visits to the emergency room by teens every year.15
The drug can also negatively affect those suffering from asthma, diabetes, liver disease, chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Additionally, there is a long list of medications with which dextromethorphan will interact.16
Promethazine, an antihistamine used to block allergic reactions, sometimes found in cough medicines, has a direct central effect and comes with side effects such as sedation, disorientation, hallucinations, muscle spasms and catatonic states.17
The American Academy of Pediatrics18 says cold and cough medicines should not be recommended, prescribed or used for respiratory illnesses in young children, as research demonstrates very little benefit and potentially serious side effects.
Medications commonly recommended for cough and cold in children fall into four categories — decongestants, cough suppressants, antihistamines and expectorants. Collectively, these are known as cold medications and are often combined in products, increasing the risk for overdose when more than one medication is used.
• Decongestants — Decongestants include the active ingredients pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, which work by shrinking the lining of your nose and decreasing secretions. However, they also raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and can trigger hyperactivity, agitation and sleeplessness in children.19
• Cough suppressants — A common active ingredient in cough suppressants is dextromethorphan, but evidence of its effectiveness is weak.20
Studies evaluating the combination of codeine and dextromethorphan in children has not been found effective,21 and in one study comparing codeine, dextromethorphan and a combination of codeine and dextromethorphan against a placebo, researchers found none was significantly more effective than a placebo.22
• Antihistamines — Research has found that while antihistamines may help reduce symptoms, the risks far outweigh the benefits.23
• Expectorants — The fourth type of cough and cold medications are expectorants that are supposed to thin mucus to make it easier to expel. The active ingredient in expectorants, guaifenesin, is marketed under the brand name Robitussin. According to the American Family Physician, despite broad use, studies have been inconsistent in supporting the effectiveness as an expectorant.24
In one study published in Respiratory Care,25 researchers reported the results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial examining the effects on volume and physical properties of sputum. The researchers found guaifenesin did not work as an expectorant, and did not increase the volume of sputum, compared to placebo.
It's important to remember to never give your child a cough suppressant containing codeine, as it is a habit-forming opiate. As noted in Medline:26
"Codeine may cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours of your treatment and any time your dose is increased …
When codeine was used in children, serious and life-threatening breathing problems such as slow or difficulty breathing and deaths were reported. Codeine should never be used to treat pain or a cough in children younger than 18 years of age. If your child is currently prescribed a cough and cold medicine containing codeine, talk to your child's doctor about other treatments."
Coughing is a normal reflex your body uses to clear airways of small particles, mucus or microorganisms. However, as described by researchers,27 the common form of cough caused by an upper respiratory tract infection is actually a natural defense mechanism hijacked by a virus in order to infect others.
Despite the resolution of the majority of your cold symptoms within 10 days to two weeks, your cough may persist for several weeks afterward. In fact, 1 in 10 children will be coughing well past three weeks after their cold began, and while irritating to child and parent, the cough does not need medical treatment.28
Instead, consider the natural cough remedies below to help calm the cough and get some rest. Researchers29 are studying how the virus hijacks your coughing reflex long after the original infection has been cleared in order to help reduce the spread of colds and the socioeconomic impact it has on society.
The virus increases mucus production along your respiratory tree, extending from your nose to deep in your lungs. If the mucus remains, it attracts bacteria that may eventually trigger more inflammation, mucus and a bacterial infection.30
Coughing helps your body get rid of the mucus before bacteria has a chance to replicate. Your coughing reflex brings the mucus out of the lungs and agitates the mucus, preventing bacteria from replicating and developing biofilm. As such, coughing is actually helping prevent more serious illness.
While common after a cold, not all coughing is benign. It's important to recognize the differences and know when you can treat a cough at home using natural remedies and when it's important to seek medical attention.
If your child has not had a recent cold or has additional symptoms, such a fever, listlessness, blood in the sputum, difficulty breathing and mood changes, it is time to seek medical attention. Aside from a cold, coughing may be triggered by:31,32
Bronchitis and pneumonia
Chronic obstructive lung disease
Exposure to very dry, cold air
Post nasal drip
Inhaled foreign object
It's also important to steer clear of antibiotics as they are effective only against bacteria and not against viruses that cause the common cold. Overuse of antibiotics worldwide has led to a global crisis of antibiotic resistance, which the CDC33 calls "one of the most urgent threats to public health."
Every year at least 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and according to the most recent calculations, multidrug-resistant infections are now killing anywhere from 82,276 to 91,207 people per year.34 Antibiotics do save lives, but 30 percent are prescribed unnecessarily in the doctor's office and emergency departments.35
According to the CDC,36 antibiotics are not effective against health conditions caused by viruses, such as the cold, flu, bronchitis and runny noses. Despite what you may have heard, even when mucus is thick, yellow or green you may still have a viral infection.
While antibiotics can save lives, when used unnecessarily, the risks outweigh the benefits. Some of the common side effects can include rash, dizziness, nausea and yeast infections. Another long-term side effect is the damage done to your gut microbiome. Find more information in my previous article, "Antibiotics Send 70,000 Kids to the ER."
Prevention is the best medicine. In my previous article, "How Long Does a Cold Last?" I discuss several strategies you may use to help support your immune system and prevent contracting a viral illness. Calming your cough may be as close as your kitchen cabinet. Consider trying the following natural remedies to soothe your cough:
• Apple cider vinegar — The antibacterial properties in apple cider vinegar may help your sore throat and soothe your cough. Gargle with a mixture of one-third cup apple cider vinegar with warm water as needed.
• Herbal remedies — Herbs such as eucalyptus, peppermint, anise, slippery elm and fennel (and their oils) act as cough suppressants. One study found an echinacea/sage throat spray worked just as well as a chlorhexidine/lidocaine spray in relieving sore throats in children.37
• Raw honey — Raw honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and may also support your immune system. It has also been found to relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in children38 and is as effective as dextromethorphan at relieving a cough without the side effects.39
• Salt water — One of the simplest ways to soothe a sore throat often associated with a cough is to gargle with natural salt, which helps kill bacteria, ease sore throat pain and prevent upper respiratory tract infections.40 Salt water may also reduce the buildup of phlegm at the back of the throat, reducing your cough trigger.41 Try a solution of one-half teaspoon salt in one-half cup of warm water.
A nasal saline rinse can also effective in treating viral infections and recurrences. It may also help thin mucus secretions. These should only be done with sterile normal saline water as tap water may increase the inflammatory response and carries parasites.42,43
Mandatory use of the first vaccine — the smallpox vaccine — became common in the 19th century because that infection had a mortality rate of 30 percent.1 Measles is not and was never as deadly as smallpox. In 1962, a year before the measles vaccine was licensed in the U.S., the measles death rate was reported to be 1 in 1,000 cases.2
However, that 20th century death rate has been challenged by Physicians for Informed Consent arguing that the case fatality figures are based on reported cases and most cases of measles are benign and go unreported.3
Recovery from measles confers lifelong naturally acquired immunity. There is evidence that whatever immunity the measles vaccine provides can wane over time and wear off completely within a decade4 or two.5,6
The answer, we're told, is booster shots, and making sure every single individual is vaccinated in order to ensure "herd immunity" — a concept that historically applies to naturally-acquired immunity following the recovery from the disease.
Measles infection in developed countries like the U.S. very rarely involves complications that lead to injury or death. If you're over 50, you might recall a time when measles was a common childhood illness, and most children experienced it and were immune by age 15.7
Parents were not extremely fearful of measles before the vaccine was widely used because, like chickenpox, it was accepted as a childhood rite of passage and complications were rare.
However, measles does have more serious complications for older children and adults, which is why parents in the past wanted their children get the disease when they were young. Authors of a recent study8 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that when measles infection is delayed, negative outcomes are 4.5 times worse "than would be expected in a prevaccine era in which the average age at infection would have been lower."
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data9 published in 2018, the annual number of reported measles cases since 2000 has ranged from a low of 37 in 2004 to a high of 667 in 2014. As of March 7, 2019, a total of 228 measles cases have been reported across the U.S.10
You can see a graph of the exact number of measles cases for each year going back to 2010 on the CDC's website.11 The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) also has a page detailing the history of measles in the U.S. and other countries with accompanying statistics and references.12
According to the CDC, the last recorded measles-associated death in the U.S. occurred in 2015.13 But even before the measles vaccine was introduced and given to children in the early 1960s, the annual death toll from measles in the U.S. was between 450 and 500,14 and never approached the high death rate of smallpox, which was a far more deadly disease, and which prompted calls for states to pass mandatory smallpox vaccination laws for children.15
While any death, for any reason, is tragic, it is reasonable to ask whether it makes sense to mandate that children receive vaccines for diseases with low mortality rates when there are many other causes of death that are not only easier to prevent but would save far more lives.
According to a special report16,17 on child mortality published 2018 in The New England Journal of Medicine, 20,360 children aged 1 to 19 died in 2016; it goes on to list the top 10 causes of death in this age group.
Twenty percent of deaths (4,074 children) were caused by motor vehicle crashes, which came in at No. 1, followed by firearm-related injuries at 15 percent (3,143 deaths). In terms of disease, cancer was the primary cause of death (1,853 deaths), followed by suffocation (1,430 deaths) and drowning (995 deaths). A total of 982 children died from drug overdoses. Heart disease killed 599 children and chronic lower respiratory disease took the lives of 274.
Where is the evidence that measles is a catastrophic public health concern comparable to smallpox that warrants forcing all children to get vaccinated or be barred from getting a school education?
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing March 5, 2019 titled "Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?" 18 The entire hearing centered around the testimony of five witnesses, all of whom were in favor of vaccines.
Meanwhile, more than 500 people, a majority of them mothers of vaccine-injured children, remained unheard in a crowded hallway or overflow rooms, unable to enter the small hearing room.19 According to The Washington Post, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the only senator or witness who made a statement questioning vaccine mandates and the threat they pose to autonomy and liberty.20
It's worth noting that two of the most impassioned senators advocating for mandatory vaccinations and the elimination of vaccine exemptions, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., have also received the largest payments from the drug industry.21 Cassidy received $156,000 from the pharmaceutical industry in 2018, and Casey received $532,859 that year.
Fourteen other Republicans and 12 Democrats also received tens of thousands of dollars apiece from Big Pharma last year. For a complete listing of each member and the exact amount, see Matt Novak's February 26, 2019, article in Gizmodo.22 Many other members of Congress have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Pharma.23
How can we expect impartiality from lawmakers advocating that everyone should be forced to buy and use vaccines when so many members of Congress have financial conflicts of interest with Big Pharma?
Ironically, while defending the absolute safety of vaccines, Casey and Cassidy are cosponsors of the Vaccine Access Improvement Act (S.3253), introduced in 2018-2018.
This legislation aimed to streamline the taxation for new vaccines eligible for coverage under the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which was created by Congress in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury and expanded under the 21st Century Cures Act enacted in 2016. Cosponsor senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., commented on the bill in July 2018:24
"The Vaccine Access Improvement Act offers a commonsense solution to get vaccines to patients more quickly, helping to protect Americans against life-threatening diseases while ensuring that the small number of patients who experience side effects get the care they need."
The Acts passed by Congress in 1986 and 2016, as well as the Vaccine Access Improvement Act (which died in committee in July 2018),25 acknowledge that damage occurs from FDA licensed and CDC recommended vaccines and that injured children and adults should receive financial aid. So why were no individuals who have been personally affected by vaccine injuries and deaths allowed to speak at the hearing?
One of the five witnesses was 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger, whose mother made an informed decision and did not vaccinate him as a child. After doing his own online research, when he turned 18 he made the choice to get vaccinated. In his testimony, a transcript26 of which can be found on the U.S. Senate website, he talks about his mother's views, saying:
"These beliefs were met with strong criticism, and over the course of my life seeds of doubt were planted and questions arose because of the backlash my mother received when sharing her views on vaccines. These questions and doubts were minor and never led to a serious realization of how misinformed my mother was."
Repeating identical talking points offered by all of the invited witnesses and all but one senator on the committee, Ethan also stated confidently, "In its essence, there is no debate. Vaccinations are proven to be a medical miracle, stopping the spread of numerous diseases and therefore saving countless lives."
"There is no debate?" Typically, only talking heads paid by industry take a denialist position like that. A rationally thinking person who has taken the time to look at all of the evidence quickly realizes that the debate is far from over and vaccine science is nowhere near settled.
The week before the senate's hearing on vaccines, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on the measles outbreak and response efforts.27 This hearing can be viewed in its entirety on C-SPAN's website.28
As expected, the witnesses and members of the committee denied there are serious vaccine risks — or if there are, they are almost nonexistent — and pointed the finger at parents with unvaccinated children attending school as the reason for measles outbreaks.
However, according to the CDC, over 94 percent of kindergarten children nationwide have received two doses of measles-containing MMR vaccine and only about 2 percent of children attend school with vaccine exemptions.29
The herd immunity threshold for vaccine-acquired artificial immunity is thought to be between 80 and 95 percent,30 depending on the disease in question. For measles, it's between 90 and 95 percent. Yet, the high vaccination rate in the U.S. isn't enough to thwart outbreaks, and evidence suggest they would probably continue to occur even if vaccine coverage was at 100 percent.
One of the problems is that measles outbreaks occur even in highly-vaccinated populations.31,32,33,34,35,36 A 1994 study37 looking at measles incidence in Cape Town, Africa, indicated that as vaccination rates increased, measles became a disease in populations where the majority of children had been vaccinated. The immunization coverage was 91 percent and vaccine efficacy was estimated to be 79 percent.
According to the authors, "The epidemiology of measles in Cape Town has thus changed as evinced in this epidemic, with an increase in the number of cases occurring in older, previously vaccinated children. The possible reasons for this include both primary and secondary vaccine failure."
By the early 1980s, about 95 percent of children entering kindergarten in the U.S. had received a dose of measles-containing vaccine but, in 1989-1990, there were outbreaks of measles among school-age children and college students.
Public health officials responded by recommending a second dose of MMR vaccine for all children. In an article published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews in 1995, researchers stated:38
"Measles, which was targeted for elimination from the United States in 1979, persisted at low incidence until 1989, when an epidemic swept the country. Cases occurred among appropriately vaccinated school-age populations and among unimmunized, inner-city preschool children.
In response to the epidemic, measles immunization recommendations have been modified. To prevent spread among school-age populations, a second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended at 5 to 6 or 11 to 12 years of age."
Today, measles outbreaks are occurring even in populations that have received two or more doses of measles vaccine, and/or where vaccination rates are above the "herd immunity" threshold. Examples include:
• A 2017 measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated military population in Israel, ranging in age from 19 to 37. The first two patients identified had both received two doses of measles vaccine. Patient zero, a 21-year-old soldier, had documentation of having received three doses.39
• A 2014 study40 conducted in the Zhejiang province in China found that populations that have achieved a measles vaccination rate of 99 percent through mandatory vaccination programs are still experiencing consistent outbreaks far beyond what the World Health Organization expects.
What's more, 93.6 percent of the 1,015 participants in this study tested seropositive for measles antibodies, which theoretically means they should have been protected against the disease.
Parents who have experienced the pain of watching a perfectly healthy child decline shortly following vaccination, or who die or are left with disabilities and chronic poor health, are legitimately crying foul for being left out of congressional hearings that called for stricter mandatory vaccination laws, and which criticized parents of unvaccinated children while suggesting vaccine conversations about vaccine risks should be censored on social media.
Public concern about the safety of vaccines is indeed growing. There is a growing distrust of federal health agencies responsible for regulating the safety of vaccines and making vaccine policy, and it's because Big Pharma and the government are trying to bury the evidence.
Where are the scientifically sound studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals?
When government officials flat-out deny the obvious, the seeds of public mistrust are planted. Today, many of us know someone who has been injured by a vaccine, and more and more people are sharing their stories in an effort to prevent others from having to live through the same pain. It is a reality that simply cannot be denied any longer. To learn more about vaccine injury reports, visit:
The health editor for the Daily Mail recently published an article touting the merits of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs and, worse, eschewing the "deadly propaganda of the statin deniers."1
Pointing to an analysis published in BMJ, which suggested 200,000 patients may have stopped taking statins due to negative media reports about the drugs,2 the article attacks those who question statins' merits and claims the notion that statins reduce the risk of a major cardiac event as "indisputable scientific fact."3
The real story is far from black and white, however, which is why the great statin debate continues — and experts in the field continue to speak out against statins in an attempt to clear the widespread myths about cholesterol and your health.
The Daily Mail examined what it said amounted to "fake news" on statins, including the idea that having high cholesterol is harmless. The fact is, "high cholesterol" as defined by many health organizations is not one in the same with the levels of high cholesterol that can actually harm your health.
Here the article points to familial hypercholesterolaemia,4 an inherited condition characterized by abnormally high cholesterol, which tends to be resistant to lowering with lifestyle strategies like diet and exercise. I have long stated that the only group of people who may benefit from a cholesterol-lowering medication are those with genetic familial hypercholesterolemia. This is the vast minority of people taking these drugs, probably far less than one in 1000.
However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these drugs are also indicated for anyone who has already had a heart attack or stroke or been diagnosed with peripheral arterial disease, has an LDL cholesterol of 190 mg/dL or higher, or is between the ages of 40 and 75 with an LDL level of 70 mg/dL or higher and diabetes or a high risk of developing heart disease or stroke.5
In short, a staggering number of Americans are "eligible" for cholesterol-lowering drugs. According to the CDC, that number is more than 78 million Americans, who are either eligible for the drugs or already taking them.6 Yet, the Daily Mail article pointed out that "millions of middle-aged people who would benefit from taking statins, don't," which could be "because they've been led to believe that the drugs don't work."7
Statins are effective at lowering cholesterol, but whether this is the panacea for helping you avoid heart disease and extend your life span is a question worthy of closer scrutiny.
Such has been done by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a British physician and author of "Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense," "The Great Cholesterol Con" and "A Statin Nation: Damaging Millions in a Brave New Post-Health World" — and also one of the "statin deniers" targeted by the Daily Mail. Kendrick is among those who believe cholesterol does not cause heart disease — and he fires back at the Daily Mail article in the video above.
Kendrick states the most concerning risk factors for cardiovascular disease are actually insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and the chronic inflammation associated with these conditions, along with factors such as how you eat — whether you're rushing or taking your time — and other stress-related factors, both physical and psychological.
He believes the conventional LDL/cholesterol hypothesis is flawed, in part because damage of the interior layers of your arteries precedes heart disease,8 and this damage can be induced by a number of factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and inflammation.
Once the artery is damaged, cholesterol-rich plaque begins to build up as a protective mechanism. Problems arise when the rate of damage and resultant blood clot formation outpace or outstrip your body's ability to repair. As noted by Kendrick, "For good health, you want to maintain a balance between the blood being too ready to clot, and the blood not clotting when you need it to."9
So, what factors might lead to a situation in which the arterial damage is greater than your body's ability to repair it? Kendrick's "short list" includes over 30 factors alone, which include:
Another "statin denier" outed by the Daily Mail is Zoe Harcombe, Ph.D., nutritional researcher, author and public speaker. She states, "It is virtually impossible to explain how vital cholesterol is to the human body. If you had no cholesterol in your body you would be dead."10
Your liver manufactures most, about 80 percent, of the cholesterol your body requires, which in and of itself suggests your body cannot survive without it. The remaining 20 percent comes from your diet. However, dietary cholesterol is absorbed at a rate of 20 to 60 percent, depending on the individual, and if you consume less, your body will compensate by making more and vice versa.
Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is a crucial molecule necessary for optimal health, and not nearly the damaging culprit it's been made out to be. Since cholesterol is a fatty substance, it does not travel well through your water-based bloodstream. Hence it is encapsulated in a lipoprotein.
As noted by Harcombe, the notion that there is good and bad cholesterol is also wrong. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are not even actually cholesterol; they're carriers and transporters of cholesterol, triglycerides (fat), phospholipids and proteins. "LDL would more accurately be called the carrier of fresh cholesterol and HDL would more accurately be called the carrier of recycled cholesterol," she says.11
Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer with a background in medical device engineering and leading teams in complex problem-solving, similarly likens the very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) your liver makes to a boat that shuttles not only cholesterol but also triglycerides through your bloodstream to your tissues.
The VLDL will dock onto receptors in your muscle tissue, where it releases triglycerides to be used for energy. If your triglycerides are high, it means you're eating too many net carbohydrates, because it's actually sugar that causes triglycerides to rise, not dietary fat.
Once the VLDL has dropped off the triglycerides to be burnt for energy (or stored as fat if you're not using the energy due to inactivity), the VLDL becomes a low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which in conventional thinking is a "bad" kind of cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is colloquially known as "good" cholesterol, and the HDL is indeed beneficial in that it acts as a master manager, helping protect the LDL against oxidation and transporting triglycerides and cholesterol in and out of the VLDL. In a healthy person, the LDL will be reabsorbed by the liver after about two days, where it gets broken up and recycled.
As a general rule, a high-sugar diet will cause damaged LDLs to rise, beneficial HDLs to drop, triglycerides and, often, total cholesterol to rise. Coming full circle, all of these are conventional indicators of atherosclerosis or inflammation in your arteries that can precipitate a heart attack.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiologist consultant in London, U.K., is the third "statin denier" attacked by the Daily Mail. He gained quite a bit of publicity after the publication of his peer-reviewed editorial in BMJ in 2013, which argued that you should ignore advice to reduce your saturated fat intake, because it's actually increasing your risk for obesity and heart disease.12
In addition to defending the merits of healthy saturated fats, Malhotra highlights the risks of statin drugs, noting that more than half of statin users stop using the drugs within a year, most citing side effects as the reason.13
Fatigue, nausea, joint and muscle pain and increases in blood sugar have all been associated with statin drug use, most of which cease when the drugs are stopped. He also points out that unhealthy diet, including excess sugar consumption, is the true culprit in heart disease:
"Over 80 percent of CVD [cardiovascular disease] is attributable to environmental factors, notably unhealthy diet and also smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity. Diet has primacy, accounting for a larger burden of CVD disease and death than tobacco, alcohol and inactivity combined. For those at low risk eating an apple a day has an equivalent risk reduction for myocardial infarction [heart attack] as taking a statin."14,15
Statins have been shown to increase your risk of diabetes via a number of different mechanisms. The most important one is that they increase insulin resistance, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by raising your blood sugar. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol.
As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels. These drugs also rob your body of certain valuable nutrients, which can also impact your blood sugar levels. Two nutrients in particular, vitamin D and CoQ10, are both needed to maintain ideal blood glucose levels.
Importantly, statins deplete your body of CoQ10, vitamin K2, dolichol and selenium, thereby threatening your heart and overall health even further. Statins' ability to lower the risk of minor heart attacks may actually be related to their ability to lower C-reactive protein, far more so than the lowering of cholesterol.
Researchers with the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands recently analyzed data from more than 9,500 patients. Those who had ever used statins had a 38 percent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, with the risk being higher in those with impaired glucose homeostasis and those who were overweight or obese.16
The researchers concluded, "Individuals using statins may be at higher risk for hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and eventually Type 2 diabetes. Rigorous preventive strategies such as glucose control and weight reduction in patients when initiating statin therapy might help minimizing the risk of diabetes."
But a far better strategy may be preventing insulin resistance in the first place, by avoiding statin drugs and eating a healthy diet. According to Malhotra and a colleague:17
"In young adults, preventing insulin resistance could prevent 42 percent of myocardial infarctions, a larger reduction than correcting hypertension (36 percent), low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (31 percent), body mass index (BMI) (21 percent) or LDL-C (16 percent).18
It is plausible that the small benefits of statins in the prevention of CVD come from pleiotropic effects which are independent of LDL-lowering. The focus in primary prevention should therefore be on foods and food groups that have a proven benefit in reducing hard endpoints and mortality."
Rather than focusing on cholesterol, two tests that are far more important for assessing your CVD risk are the serum ferritin and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) tests.
The GGT test can be used as a screening marker for excess free iron and is a great indicator of your sudden cardiac death risk. The recommended, ideal levels, of ferritin and GGT are as follows. For more information about these tests, read "Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease."
• Ferritin — Adult men and nonmenstruating women: 30 to 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or 75 to 100 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
The most commonly used threshold for iron deficiency in clinical studies is 12 to 15 ng/mL (30 to 37 nmol/L). You do not want to be below 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) or above 80 ng/mL (200 nmol/L). High iron during pregnancy is also problematic; having a level of 60 or 70 ng/mL (150 or 175 nmol/L) is associated with greater odds of poor pregnancy outcomes.
• GGT — Below 16 units per liter (U/L) for men and below 9 U/L for women. Above 25 U/L for men and 18 U/L for women, your risk of chronic disease increases significantly.
In order to protect yourself against heart disease, here are a number of suggestions that can help you lower your insulin resistance and restore your insulin sensitivity, among other heart-protective mechanisms:
Avoid environmental pollutants and toxins, including smoking, vaping, heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides, especially glyphosate.
Minimize your exposure to electromagnetic fields and wireless radiation from cellphones, Wi-Fi, routers, smart meters and more, as this kind of radiation has been shown to cause serious free radical damage and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Eat an unprocessed whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats. A ketogenic diet — which is very low in net carbohydrates and high in healthy fats — is key for boosting mitochondrial function.
When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thereby creating fewer reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals. Ketones also decrease inflammation and improve glucose metabolism.19
Eat nitrate-rich foods to help normalize your blood pressure. Good sources include arugula, cilantro, rhubarb, butter leaf lettuce, mesclun mixed greens, beet greens, fresh beet juice, kvass (fermented beet juice) and fermented beet powder.
Get plenty of nonexercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows.
Intermittently fast. After you've become accustomed to intermittently fasting for 16 to 18 hours, you can try a stricter fast once or twice a week, when you eat a 300- to 800-calorie meal loaded with detox supporting nutrients, followed by a 24-hour fast. So, in essence, you're then only eating one 300- to 800-calorie meal in 42 hours.
If you have heart disease, consider enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). To find a provider, see EECP.com.20
If you have heart disease, you may also consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the United States.
Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with magnesium and vitamin K2.
Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude.
Male fertility has been on the decline for at least 40 years, with a 50 percent global reduction in sperm quality noted from 1938 to 2011.1 A similar decline in sperm quality has been observed in dogs living in human households, with sperm motility declining by 30 percent over a 26-year period.2
The corresponding declines suggest that something in the environment, and likely in our homes, could be causing the drop in fertility among both dogs and people. In the canine study, the researchers linked certain environmental chemicals to sperm problems and suggested they could also be responsible for the sperm quality declines in humans — a notion supported by a recent study published in Scientific Reports.3
The findings present one likely factor leading to fertility reductions, but it's not the only one — there are other reasons why fertility continues to decline as well — namely the pervasive influence of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
Researchers from the University of Nottingham used sperm samples from 11 men and nine dogs from the same U.K. region. They exposed the sperm to doses of two types of environmental chemicals, diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB153), currently found in the environment.
The result was reduced sperm motility and increased DNA fragmentation. Study author Rebecca Sumner, a developmental biologist at the University of Nottingham, said in a news release:4
"We know that when human sperm motility is poor, DNA fragmentation is increased and that human male infertility is linked to increased levels of DNA damage in sperm. We now believe this is the same in pet dogs because they live in the same domestic environment and are exposed to the same household contaminants.
This means that dogs may be an effective model for future research into the effects of pollutants on declining fertility, particularly because external influences such as diet are more easily controlled than in humans."
The researchers believe dogs may act as a “sentinel” for declines in male fertility and that man-made chemicals used widely in home and work environments are the likely culprit. A previous study even detected such chemicals in dog sperm and some dog food.5
DEHP is an industrial plasticizing chemical used in vinyl-type plastics to make them soft and pliable. Unplasticized PVC is hard and brittle, so the DEHP polymer is added to soften it. You can be exposed to DEHP through air, water, food, intravenous fluids or skin contact with DEHP-containing plastics.
Phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol-A are estrogen mimickers, and when male fetuses are overexposed in utero, it permanently alters their reproductive system, rendering them less male and more female. In adults, the more phthalates a man has in his system, the lower his testosterone level will be, and the lower his sperm count.
PCBs, once heralded for their ability to prevent electrical fires, have since become known as one of the most toxic and environmentally persistent chemicals ever created. PCBs have also been linked to fertility, reproductive and endocrine damage along with neurological effects, including damage to learning and memory.
The chemicals were used in many manufactured products, from electrical equipment and plastics to flooring and industrial products, and although they were banned in 1979, they persist in the environment today. Other environmental chemicals have also been linked to declines in fertility, including the endocrine-disrupting chemical ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic sex hormone found in birth control pills.
When male mice were exposed to the chemical, it led to developmental problems in the reproductive tract, thereby lowering sperm counts.6 While men do not use birth control pills, they're exposed to them nonetheless through contaminated water and other sources.
Men are also exposed to a number of other endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their day-to-day lives, thanks to the pernicious use of endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics, personal care products and herbicides such as glyphosate.
The researchers have honed in on environmental chemicals as a leading cause of fertility decline, but there could be an even more pernicious cause — EMFs. Like environmental chemicals, exposure to EMFs is widespread, and it could affect both humans and dogs alike, just as the chemicals did.
In fact, I believe this may be the most significant factor for the observed decrease in male sperm count. Martin Pall, Ph.D., discovered a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies via voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) embedded in your cell membranes.7
VGCCs are activated by microwaves, and when that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released. This massive excess of intracellular calcium then stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite.
Not only do peroxynitrites cause oxidative damage, they also create hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man. Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins, resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction.
During a 2013 children's health expert panel on cellphone and Wi-Fi exposures, it was noted, "The testicular barrier, that protects sperm, is the most sensitive of tissues in the body … Besides sperm count and function, the mitochondrial DNA of sperm are damaged three times more if exposed to cellphone radiation."8
Writing in Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine, researchers noted that many in vivo and in vitro studies have revealed the EMF exposure can alter reproductive function, including sperm motility, with effects varying according to the frequency, duration of exposure and strength of EMFs.9
"Humans in modern society cannot avoid various kinds of EMFs during household and occupational activities, but should be aware of the biological hazard of EMFs. The effort to avoid EMF exposure and techniques to protect or relieve EMF radiation are required to preserve our reproductive potential," they said.10
In a separate study, researchers collected sperm samples from 32 men and divided them in half. Both groups were placed in a thermostat for five hours, but one had a cellphone in standby/talk mode placed inside.
Both sperm motility and DNA fragmentation were influenced by the cellphone exposure, with the cellphone group having decreased sperm motility and increased DNA fragmentation.11 The researchers noted:
"That is why we consider that men readying themselves for fatherhood, as well as women wishing to conceive a child, especially when registered fertility problems are present, should be informed about the different risks and probably negative direct impact of long-term mobile phone radiation on semen quality and embryo/fetus development.
Maybe person who could be selected for assisted reproduction techniques or even sperm donors should avoid this influence during some time before semen extraction too.
Besides the semen parameters RF-EMR [radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation] probably could negatively impact on sexual communication, fertility and quality of life by reducing the erectile function. Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) use their cell phones longer those without ED. Men who have ED carry their cell phones switched on much longer than men who do not have ED."
A systematic review and meta-analysis also looked into the impact of low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) — the type emitted by cellphones — on sperm quality, both in the lab and among male patients at fertility clinics. The analysis of 10 such studies showed that exposure to EMR from cellphones lowered sperm motility by 8 percent and sperm viability by 9 percent.12
Protecting your fertility is complex, but involves leading a healthy lifestyle while minimizing your toxic exposures. Everything from antidepressants13 and inactivity to your dietary choices can affect your fertility. Diets high in sugar and other carbs lead to men (and women) becoming increasingly overweight, which also leads to decreased sperm counts. However, it's extremely important to try to reduce your EMF exposure using the following tips:
Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired connection and be sure to put your desktop in airplane mode. Also avoid wireless keyboards, trackballs, mice, game systems, printers and house phones. Opt for the wired versions.
If you must use Wi-Fi, shut it off when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping. Ideally it is best to work toward hardwiring your house so you can turn off the Wi-Fi at all times. If you have a notebook without any Ethernet ports it is easy to purchase a USB Ethernet adapter that will allow you to connect to the internet without a wireless connection.
Shut off the electricity to your bedroom at night. This typically works to reduce electrical fields from the wires in your wall unless there is an adjoining room next to your bedroom. If that is the case you will need to use a meter to determine if you also need to turn off power in the adjacent room.
Use a battery-powered clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock that I merely press a button to determine the time and never see any light at night.
If you still use a microwave oven, consider replacing it with a steam convection oven, which will heat your food as quickly and far more safely. Next to induction stovetop burners, microwave ovens are likely the largest EMF polluters in your home.
Avoid using "smart" appliances and thermostats that depend on wireless signaling. This would include all new "smart" TVs. They are called smart because they emit a Wi-Fi signal, and unlike your computer, you are unable to shut the Wi-Fi signal off. Consider using a large computer monitor as your TV, as they don't emit Wi-Fi.
Refuse smart meters as long as you can or add a shield to an existing smart meter, some of which have been shown to reduce radiation by 98 to 99 percent.14
Considering moving your baby's bed into your room instead of using a baby monitor, or use a hard-wired monitor. In any case avoid any baby monitor that is wireless. There are some wired options available.
Replace CFL bulbs with incandescent bulbs. Ideally remove all fluorescent lights from your house. Not only do they emit unhealthy light, but more importantly they will actually transfer current to your body just being close to the bulbs.
Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body unless it is in airplane mode and never sleep with it in your bedroom unless it is in airplane mode (and especially not under your pillow). Even in airplane mode it can emit signals, which is why I put my phone in a Faraday bag.
When using your cellphone, use the speaker phone and hold the phone at least 3 feet away from you. Seek to radically decrease your time on the cellphone. I probably am down to below 30 minutes a month on my cell, mostly when traveling. Instead use VoIP software phones that you can use while connected to the internet via a wired connection.
As for reducing exposure to toxic phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that may decrease sperm quality, you can do this via the following:
Avoid plastic food containers and plastic wrap. Store food and drinks in glass containers instead.
Avoid plastic children's toys. Use toys made of natural substances, such as wood and organic materials.
Read labels on your cosmetics and avoid those containing phthalates.
Avoid products labeled with "fragrance" as this catch-all term may include hidden phthalates, which are commonly used to stabilize the scent and extend the life of the product. Avoid air fresheners.
Use personal care products stored in glass containers.
Read labels looking for PVC-free products, including children's lunch boxes, backpacks and storage containers.
Do not microwave food in plastic containers or covered in plastic wrap.
Frequently vacuum and dust rooms with vinyl blinds, wallpaper, flooring and furniture that may contain phthalates, as the chemical collects in dust and is easily ingested by children.
Ask your pharmacist if your prescription pills are coated to control when they dissolve, as the coating may contain phthalates.
Eat mostly fresh, raw whole foods. Packaging is often a source of phthalates.
Buy products in glass bottles instead of plastic or cans, and use glass baby bottles instead of plastic. Breastfeed exclusively for the first year if you can to avoid plastic nipples and bottles all together.
Remove your fruit and vegetables from plastic bags immediately after coming home from the grocery store and wash them before storage.
Cash register receipts are heat printed and often contain BPA. Handle the receipt as little as possible and ask the store to switch to BPA-free receipts.
Use natural cleaning products or make your own.
Replace feminine hygiene products with safer alternatives.
Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets; make your own to reduce static cling.
Check your home's tap water for contaminants and filter the water if necessary.
Teach your children not to drink from the garden hose, as many are made from plasticizers such as phthalates.
Commentary by Ronnie Cummins, International Director of Organic Consumers Association
"The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself."
Franklin D. Roosevelt 19431
Welcome to Degeneration Nation 2019. The frightening truth is that genetically engineered foods and crops, toxic chemicals and factory farms — the unholy trinity of industrial food and farming — are undermining our very survival. Public health and the health of the living Earth — our soils, forests, wetlands, watersheds, oceans and climate — are rapidly being destroyed, collateral damage arising from the "profit at any cost" ethos of corporate agribusiness, Big Biotech, Big Pharma and Big Food.
Cancer, chronic disease, obesity, loss of fertility, mass depression, learning disabilities and reproductive disorders have now become the norm, along with environmental degradation. The rhythms and cycles of nature — the atmosphere, the soil carbon cycle, the water cycle, biodiversity, the climate and even the integrity of our DNA — are unraveling.
Unless we can turn things around, shut down the factory farms, rebuild our soils, restore our watersheds and forests, and get rid of the toxins, GMOs and greenhouse gases contaminating our bodies and our environment, mounting evidence suggests that we may soon, perhaps in the space of one generation, pass the point of no return.
Despite all of our efforts in terms of public education and mobilization, corrupt government officials, regulatory agencies and international trade bureaucrats have allowed Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta/ChemChina, Dow/Dupont and a cabal of multinational agribusiness, chemical, seed and GMO corporations, aided and abetted by Madison Avenue, Wall Street and the mass media, to hijack our food and farming system and slowly but surely undermine our health, degrade the soil, pollute the environment and destabilize the climate.
Although Big Food, the Gene Giants and the Factory Farm lobby have managed to derail our efforts so far to ban GMOs, toxic chemicals and factory farms, people in the U.S. and all over the world are starting to wake up.
After several decades of pressure from consumer activists, and a seemingly unending stream of food safety scandals, Big Food Inc. has continued to lose credibility and market share. Backed by corrupt politicians and powerful trade organizations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the majority of large food corporations alienated millions of consumers by fighting against mandatory "country of origin" and GMO labeling of foods.
Watching consumers turn away from their products, large multinational food and beverage corporations such as General Mills, Nestle, Campbell's, Coca-Cola, Cargill, Pepsi, Kellogg's, Danone, Perdue, Unilever and others have been forced to try to shore up their reputations and market share by buying up every sizeable organic brand willing to sell out.2
At the same time, giant supermarket chains in North America and across the world, including Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Amazon/Whole Foods, have been forced by consumer demand to increase the sales and marketing of their store-brand private-label organic and "natural" products as well.
Even fast food chains such as McDonald's, Burger King and Subway, pressured by sagging sales among millennials and competition from natural/non-GMO food upstarts like Chipotle and Panera, have expanded their menus and put more emphasis on nutrition.
Having failed to shore up their sagging profits with organic acquisitions alone, the food giants have hired an army of PR firms and political lobbyists to help them fraudulently "greenwash" and market billions of dollars of their conventional (GMO-tainted, chemical and factory-farmed) products as "natural," "all natural" or "ecofriendly."
In response, groups including the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch have launched numerous lawsuits, suing companies for fraudulently labeling their products as natural, pasture-raised, ecofriendly or U.S.-made, when in fact they are not.
Despite all their money and power, Big Food Inc. still finds itself on the defensive, desperately trying to reach out to evermore conscious and savvy consumers, and to counteract what OCA and allied food activists have been telling consumers for 25 years: Industrial, GMO-tainted, pesticide-laden, factory-farmed foods are bad for your health, bad for farm animals, bad for small farmers and farmworkers, bad for the environment, and as more and more people are starting to understand, bad for the climate.
A growing corps of conscious consumers is starting to understand the dangers of pesticide and drug residues in our food and water, and the threat of toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products, including clothing, body care products, cosmetics, plastics, laundry and cleaning ingredients, mattresses, bedding, cellphones and computer devices.
America's growing health awareness is a major driver of the growth in the organic, grass fed, natural health and green products sectors. But compounding the industrial and agritoxic pollution of our food, water and environment we have now, over the past several decades, we have been dragged into the Brave New World of Genetic Engineering and Frankenfoods as well.
Genetic engineers, chemical companies and Big Pharma have begun to implement a radical and haphazard reprogramming — with little or no foresight, safeguards or precautions — of the very blueprints of life. They are genetically altering bacteria, viruses, seeds, plants, animals, foods, trees, drugs and now humans.
Almost half of America's cropland is devoted to GMO crops, including over 140 million acres of GE corn, soybeans, and cotton. Seventy to 80 percent of supermarket, restaurant and school cafeteria processed foods are contaminated with genetically engineered corn, soy, canola, high fructose corn syrup and cotton seed/vegetable oil.3
Meanwhile, 90 percent of our meat and animal products are coming out of factory farms, where livestock are stuffed with GMO animal feed (corn and soy), and recklessly dosed with Big Pharma animal drugs and growth promoters.
And, of course, it is not just the genetic engineering, foreign DNA, antibiotic marker genes and viral promoters in these everyday (nonorganic) Frankenfoods and crops that we need to worry about.
We also have to contend with the fact that these gene foods and animal feeds have been doused with poisonous pesticides, insecticides and fungicides. After 30 years of force feeding the public a vast array of untested, unlabeled GMOs and low-grade, nutritionally deficient "commodity" foods and crops laced with pesticides like Roundup, dicamba, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, atrazine, malathion, neonicotinoids and Bt, it is no wonder that public health is steadily degenerating.
The impact on the environment of GMOs, chemical-intensive industrial agriculture and factory farms is equally devastating. They are responsible for water pollution, aquatic dead zones, aquifer depletion, degradation of the soil's ability to absorb and hold water, air pollution, destruction of grasslands and wetlands, loss of biodiversity, killing off wildlife, insects and pollinators, and causing soil erosion and massive climate-disrupting emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.
Perhaps most dangerous of all is the impact of industrial agriculture on the loss of soil fertility and soil carbon, which has degraded the natural ability of healthy soil, plants, grasses and trees to effectively carry out photosynthesis and drawdown, thus impairing their ability to sequester excess CO2 from our supersaturated atmosphere, into our soils and biota.
Ninety percent of the meat, dairy, and poultry consumed by the average (malnourished, supersized) American consumer today comes from crowded, filthy, hellish factory farms and feedlots, euphemistically called CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).
The daily diet of the hapless creatures in these animal prisons typically consists of pesticide-drenched GMO grains, antibiotics, growth promoters and a mind-boggling range of other Big Pharma animal drugs. The meat, dairy and poultry coming out of these animal factories is low in nutrition, routinely contaminated with harmful bacteria, pathogens and animal drugs, and loaded with artery-clogging bad fats (low in omega-3 and high in omega-6).
Study after study links the nation's deteriorating health, including the chronic health epidemic of our children, to the increasing amounts of toxic chemicals and GMOs (essentially pesticide delivery systems) dumped into our environment and laced into our food.
Although approximately 12 percent of American consumers today, according to the latest surveys, are trying to protect ourselves and our families by always buying organic foods, and 47 percent occasionally do so, most of us are exposed day after day to a barrage of toxic, carcinogenic, hormone-disruptive chemicals and GMOs.
The average American diet, as Mercola.com and others have pointed out, is now mainly composed of highly processed junk foods (70 percent) and beverages, along with factory-farmed meat and animal products — in other words, the types of foods you can purchase at your local gas station, fast food restaurant or convenience store.
What are some of the health consequences of this toxic assault? A recent Rand Corporation study4 found that 60 percent of Americans suffer from at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis; and 42 percent have two or more of these illnesses.
Chronic diseases now account for more than 40 percent of the $3.5 trillion that people are handing over to Big Pharma and the medical industrial complex. Scientific studies indicate that the overwhelming majority of these chronic diseases are caused by environmental and dietary toxins, rather than hereditary factors.
Half of all Americans are now expected to come down with cancer at least once in their lifetime. According to recent research, U.S. men born in 1960 have a lifetime cancer risk of 53.5 percent. For or women it's 47.5 percent.5 Seventy percent of U.S. drinking water is now contaminated with Monsanto's toxic herbicide, Roundup,6 while 93 percent of consumers now have traces of Monsanto's poison (active ingredient glyphosate) in our urine.7
Today, 1 in 13 U.S. children has serious food allergies; 6 to 24 percent have serious intestinal problems; 20 percent are obese; 60 percent have chronic headaches and 20 percent suffer from mental disorders and depression. One in every 41 boys and 1 in every 68 girls is now diagnosed with autism.8
Deteriorating public health is not just a problem in the U.S. It's also a global crisis. Of the toxic stew of GMOs and chemicals dumped into the environment or laced into food or other consumer products, 99 percent or more have never been individually tested for their toxicity on animals or other living organisms, much less in combination with other synthetic chemicals, which is how most humans and animals ingest or come in contact with them.9
As a result, the overwhelming majority of us are exposed every day to literally hundreds of different toxins, whether we're talking about our food, water, air, home and work environment, medical drugs, or everyday consumer products. As longtime Australian organic farm leader and pesticide expert Andrew Leu points out:10
"Regulatory authorities are ignoring a large body of peer-reviewed science showing the harm caused by pesticides and they are making decisions on data-free assumptions … A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a cocktail of many toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of most Americans."
Genetically engineered (GE) crops, toxic agrichemicals, industrial monocultures and factory farms are steadily degenerating not just our health and our air and water, but our soils as well. Erosion, compaction, loss of nutrients and salinization are now widespread.
Healthy soils, rich in carbon organic matter and microorganisms, and the plants, trees, and animals that depend upon a carbon rich soils, are the key to human health and nutrition. Our soils are the foundation for global biodiversity. They are also the most important factor in maintaining a climate-stabilizing balance between the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere and oceans, and the amount of carbon in our soils and biota.
Soils also regulate the flow of water from rainfall or snowmelt, and filter or reduce toxic pollutants, whether from industrial, agricultural or municipal sources. GMOs and industrial commodity crops cannot grow without the massive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
In fact, GMO seeds are explicitly designed and patented by corporations such as Monsanto in order to maximize sales of their proprietary pesticides such as Roundup. Unfortunately, spraying pesticides and dumping enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers on farmland kills the soil, eliminating soil organic matter and the microorganisms that give rise to soil fertility and nutritious food.
Under the impact of degenerative food, farming and land-use practices, which include deforestation, heavy plowing, monocropping (growing the same crop every year) and the heavy use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, most agricultural soils have lost 30 to 75 percent of their original soil organic carbon.11
Seventy-five billion tons of topsoil, with a market value of $400 billion are lost every year to wind and water erosion, mainly from farms and ranches utilizing chemical-intensive, soil-degenerating farming methods.12
Before carbon-sequestering forests, mixed traditional cropping and grasslands were ravaged by chemical-intensive and now GMO and factory-farmed industrial agriculture (and industrial forestry), global soil organic matter generally comprised 6 to 10 percent of the soil volume — three to six times the 1 to 3 percent levels typical of today's industrial agriculture soils.
In other words, taxpayer-subsidized, chemical-based industrial agriculture, factory farms and unrestricted grazing (along with industrial forestry) have turned the earth's soil (which still contains three times as much carbon as the entire amount of CO2 in the atmosphere) from being a major climate-stabilizing carbon sink into a massive and dangerous source of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Forty percent of the world's agricultural soil is now classified as degraded or seriously degraded. That means that up to 70 percent of the topsoil is gone.13
Unless soils are regenerated and forests and wetlands are restored, billions of small farmers and rural villagers will lose their livelihoods and be driven off the land. In the meantime, billions of urban consumers will suffer the consequences of eating nutrient-deficient, chemical- and GMO-contaminated foods.
Healthy soil is also a key factor in determining whether the world's three billion farmers and rural villagers can make a living off the land, or whether they are forced to migrate to large cities or foreign countries in search of a job and a decent standard of living. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:14
"The Earth is the fundamental pillar of civilization … The erosion of soil, desertification and the shortage of water contribute to the stress and rupture of society. In this sense, the degradation of the soil can be considered as a 'threat amplifier,' especially because it gradually reduces the capacity of people to utilize the land for the production of food, the procurement of water and other vital ecosystem services."
The destruction of soil carbon (and soil fertility), via degenerative farming, grazing and improper land use, is disturbing given that the top 3 feet of the world's soil holds three times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.15 This makes the soil a major repository for carbon (along with forests and oceans) and therefore a major factor in maintaining climate stability.
Deforestation and destructive agricultural practices over the past 10,000 years have released 320 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels has released another 292 billion tons.16 Over time, this steady loss of soil carbon (and soil biodiversity and fertility) released into the atmosphere has not only changed the climate, but has also affected the quality of our foods.
Today's nonorganic foods have lost 25 to 75 percent of the essential nutrients and trace minerals compared with 50 years ago.
As the journal Scientific American points out, "… fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows."17
Massive soil degradation has taken place in every nation, not just the U.S. In a recent news report,18 scientists point out that that the U.K. appears to be 30 to 40 years away from the "eradication of soil fertility."
OK. Enough of the bad news. What do we do about all this? How do we move from degeneration to regeneration? How do we defeat Bayer/Monsanto, Big Food and Big Pharma? How do we take back control of our health and our diets, clean up the environment, and join in the global effort to reestablish a stable climate?
Fortunately, millions of us are already rejecting GMOs, pesticides and factory farms, and embracing organic food and natural health practices and lifestyles. Here are some things all of us can do:
Cannabis has a long history of traditional use as a botanical medicine. The term medical marijuana refers to the use of whole, unprocessed plant and pure extract to treat disease or improve a symptom.1 To qualify, the product must be sourced from a medicinal grade cannabis plant meticulously grown without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
The cannabis plant has over 400 chemicals and at least 60 different cannabinoids2 — chemical compounds the human body is uniquely equipped to respond to. The two primary ones are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the latter of which is the psychoactive component in marijuana.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, notable scientific study results led to the creation of two U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications containing cannabinoid chemicals in pill form, but not the use of the whole plant as opposed to single ingredients.3
Movement of CBD oil on and off the list of Schedule 1 drugs4 (the most dangerous category reserved for drugs like LSD and heroin) may signal an underlying struggle between research results and the desire to harness financial potential in pill form. Recently, an unidentified patient in the U.K. was treated with CBD oil and experienced remarkable, physician-documented results.5
An as yet unidentified 81-year-old patient, believed to be from Stoke-on-Trent in the U.K., was reported in the Daily Mail6 as having experienced remarkable tumor shrinkage after consuming CBD oil each day. Reportedly, the 81-year-old was an ex-smoker who had been treated for prostate cancer 15 years previously.
The man had been diagnosed with lung adenocarcinoma in October 2016, a form of lung cancer accounting for nearly 80 percent of lung cancer diagnoses in the U.K.7 He was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy to prolong his life but declined treatment. By December that year, the mass increased in size, but he once again declined treatment.8
Another chest X-ray in July 2017 demonstrated the disease was still progressing, yet a CT scan in November that year suddenly, and surprisingly, revealed a “near-total resolution of the tumor. The patient had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and also reportedly used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day throughout his 20s and 30s.
After spotting the significant reduction in tumor size and progression, physicians asked the patient about his lifestyle to understand what may they have triggered these changes. According to the patient, he started taking CBD oil two months before his last CT scan.
He reported no other changes in diet, medication or lifestyle, leading his physicians to believe the CBD oil was responsible for the reduction in tumor size. According to the American Cancer Society,9 non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer with five-year survival rates between 6 percent and 60 percent, depending upon the spread of the disease.10
The Daily Mail11 published the patient’s scans, showing how the size of his tumors halved. Although experts have warned this is just one case, other data also support the use of cannabis on the treatment of cancer.
Although CBD and THC are both cannabinoids that interact with receptors found in the human brain, they have dramatically different effects. CBD is nonpsychoactive, which means you don't experience the “high” you do from consuming or smoking marijuana. THC is the chief psychoactive component in the plant primarily responsible for creating the “high” associated with recreational use.
While the unidentified 81-year-old patient in the U.K. experienced a reduction in tumor size using just CBD oil, an in vitro study from the University of London, published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics,12 used both THC and CBD to yield impressive results in alleviating pain, restoring the appetite and shrinking brain tumors.
The study found THC and CBD in combination with radiation were able to shrink tumors to a greater extent than radiation alone. Interestingly, using just one of the compounds or radiation alone had a negligible effect on the treatment of the brain tumors.
The findings suggest patients may not need a lot of THC to bind the cannabinoid receptor in the brain cell, as in small doses it can retain anticancer properties without psychoactive side effects. Senior study author Wai Liu, Ph.D., says the trick is to find the right balance. He told Medical Daily:13
“We think that the cannabinoids are hitting a number of cell signaling pathways, which primes them to the effects of irradiation. Pretreatment with the cannabinoids seems to interfere with the ability of the tumor cell to repair the DNA-damaging effects of irradiation.
We think this is due to the different pathways that these cannabinoids hit. Specifically, THC works via receptors, whilst CBD may not need them; consequently, using them together results in a ‘priming’ effect in tumor cells, making them more sensitive to the ‘cell killing’ effects of irradiation.”
This study also supports the results from others. In 2009,14 researchers in Spain discovered THC kills brain cancer cells through a process known as autophagy. The initial discovery was made in animals. Two human patients suffering highly aggressive brain tumors then received intracranial injections of THC, showing similar signs of autophagy.15
In this short video, Carl Germano, Ph.D., touches on the importance of the endocannabinoid system and its role in human health. Cannabinoid receptors were discovered in the 1990s, leading to the realization the human body makes compounds that influence these receptors.
Deficiencies in endogenous cannabinoids have been identified in those suffering migraines,16 fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, neurological conditions and a variety of treatment-resistant conditions.17
While CBD and THC have received the most attention and research, the cannabis plant contains at least 58 other cannabinoids and 400 other chemicals, and many of these other phytocannabinoids and terpenes are needed to fully support your internal endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Hemp has been outlawed in the U.S. since 1938, but the latest Farm Bill makes it legal,18 which is exciting news to clinical nutritionists. Germano, an expert on phytocannabinoids, is excited about the future for study of what he says may be the most important botanical plant on the planet.19 He goes on to say:20
“Your body produces cannabinoids similar structurally to the cannabinoids found in cannabis; your body feeds off of them and if you don't produce enough to feed every single receptor, various conditions, various illnesses will ensue.
I have not seen any natural compound this clinically-relevant since the inception of this industry, and I can tell you that targeting the endocannabinoid system supporting it will dominate medicine and nutrition over the next couple of decades.”
An intimate relationship exists between your body's ECS and your omega-3 levels, as omega-3 fats increase the activity of your cannabinoid receptors. A systematic review of clinical interventions was published in PLOS ONE, looking at ways cannabinoid receptors can be upregulated. The researchers found clinical data suggesting yoga, exercise and omega-3 fats have an effect on your ECS.21
The history of cannabis use for medicinal purposes dates back at least 6,000 years.22 It was first introduced to the West by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, an Irish surgeon who learned about it while working in India. His research was first presented to scholars at the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta in 1839.23,24 Initially it was primarily used for its analgesic, sedative, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant properties.
According to the National Cancer Institute,25 the U.S. Treasury Department introduced the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, imposing a levy of $1 per ounce for medicinal use. Interestingly, physicians were the principal opponents as it required doctors to pay a special tax, use different order forms and keep special records.
In 1942 cannabis was removed from the U.S. pharmacopoeia (USP), the list of approved medications and drugs in the U.S., as it was believed cannabis might have harmful side effects. In 1951 Congress included cannabis on a list of narcotic drugs. When the Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug.26
In 1996,27 California initiated the movement to legalize access for medicinal use under physician supervision. Today, 13 states have decriminalized recreational use, 10 have made recreational use legal and 33, including Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana.28
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) removed CBD medicines with a THC content below 0.1 percent off their Schedule 1 list of drugs three months after the FDA approved the first nonsynthetic, cannabis-derived medicine as a treatment for certain types of epilepsy.29
In addition to the cancer treatment studies discussed, researchers have found cannabis is pro-apoptotic, triggering cellular suicide of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched, and anti-angiogenic, as it cuts off blood supply to tumors.30 For example, Harvard researchers found THC cuts tumor growth in lung cancer while significantly reducing its ability to spread.31
In my previous article, “The Endocannabinoid System and the Important Role It Plays in Human Health,” I discussed the importance of activating your ECS. There are several natural ways you can activate the system to improve your health without using external cannabinoids:
Avoid pesticides and phthalates — To start, it is important to avoid blocking the receptivity of your endogenous system by reducing your exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides and phthalates.32 Find more information about phthalates in my previous article, “Phthalate Exposure Threatens Human Survival.”
Optimize your omega-3 intake — There’s an intimate relationship between your ECS and your omega-3 status. Omega-3 fats make your cannabinoid receptors more active, and are used as backbone structures to produce cannabinoids in your body.33
Expose yourself to cold temperatures — In past articles I’ve written about some of the surprising benefits of extreme temperatures. One of those benefits is the regulation of endocannabinoid in white and brown adipose tissue.34
Fasting — Intermittent fasting may improve your health using yet another mechanism in your body — by increasing your endocannabinoid levels35,36 and regulating your ECS.37
Caffeine — Regular caffeine consumption regulates and enhances the activation of cannabinoid receptors.38 Remember the added caffeine may also disrupt quality sleep, so it’s important to forgo any caffeinated substances after 2 p.m.
Reduce stress — High levels of emotional stress have been shown to downregulate endocannabinoid levels in your body.39 High levels of cortisol also reduce binding to your endocannabinoid receptors.40 I recommend my previous article, “How Stress Affects Your Body, and Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Develop Greater Resilience,” to help you find methods that work for you.
Exercise — Although exercise is an excellent stress reducer, research also finds the much talked about “runner’s high” may be a function of the release of endocannabinoids in your brain and not just endorphins.41 If you are new to exercise, you’ll find suggestions and links in my previous article, “Exercise to Improve Your Body and Your Brain.”
Although it’s not a well-known substance, lumbrokinase is recognized by health experts as an extraordinarily health-beneficial enzyme. It boosts circulatory health by breaking down fibrinogen, described by one study1 as having the ability to reduce blood viscosity, making it a “critical factor in clot formation.”
Fibrinogen, perhaps another unfamiliar term, is a fibrous protein essential for hemostasis — stopping bleeding. While a “mechanically stable” clot is necessary to prevent blood loss and promote wound healing, and your fibrinolytic system can dissolve fibrin or fibrous clots when it’s in good working order, lumbrokinase is classified as a fibrinolytic enzyme.2
The source of lumbrokinase makes it even more interesting: The complex fibrinolytic enzyme is extracted from earthworms, such as the Lumbricus rubellus found in Indonesia, which contains a bioactive protein fraction known as DLBS1033, according to scientists in one study.3 They described the results of using lumbrokinase in 10 patients with stable angina pectoris and concluded:
“Based on antithrombotic and fibrinolytic activity, lumbrokinase might (be) used as (a) secondary prevention after acute thrombosis, such as myocard[ial] infarct[ion] [heart attack] and stroke …
This study showed that 70 percent of total sample(s) receiving lumbrokinase had a significant decrease in summed stress score of perfusion (the pumping of a fluid through an organ or tissue4) imaging and better perfusion in viable myocardium after 30 days of lumbrokinase treatment.”5
Another study describes how lumbrokinase got its name. A Japanese doctor named H. Mihara and his colleagues successfully extracted a group of fibrinolytic enzymes from the Lumbricus rubellus earthworm species in 1991, and the enzymes were collectively named lumbrokinase after the genus name Lumbricus.6
As a supplement, lumbrokinase may be identified as earthworm fibrinolytic enzymes (e-PPA), or earthworm powder enzymes (EPE). As obscure as Western patients may find lumbrokinase to be both in availability and viability, a PubMed search in February 2018 reportedly7 returned 65 results, with available information dating back to 1991, while a similar search of leading Chinese digital periodicals, specifically CNKI,8 produced 650 results.
The circuitous path lumbrokinase has traveled has also been a long one. Traditional Asian applications began with fried earthworms and herbs, followed by dried earthworm powders, then unrefined earthworm extracts. Today’s lumbrokinase is compared with other therapeutic ingredients, such as omega-3 from krill oil, polyphenols from green tea and curcumin from turmeric root.9 Institute for Progressive Medicine states:
“Generally, we are better off with blood that clots less easily … Individuals at high risk of forming clots, such as those with atrial fibrillation, are often treated with blood thinners like aspirin or stronger agents like Coumadin … All of these agents, however, present a significant risk of bleeding, and may themselves cause brain hemorrhage, urinary or gastrointestinal bleeding.
Lumbrokinase … reduces coagulation by lowering blood viscosity, lowering the activity of clotting factors including fibrinogen, and degrading fibrin, a critical factor in clot formation. It has a stronger effect on reducing blood viscosity than other enzyme preparations.”10
The discovery of lumbrokinase in earthworms came about due to a purposeful analysis of the rationales behind traditional medical practices in Asian cultures. Earthworms have been used medicinally for many centuries in Japan, Korea and China, but it continues today in therapies that are considered both safe and effective.
An ancient Chinese medical publication called Ben Cao Gang Mu, translated as “Compendium of Chinese Botanical and Animal Products,”11 included in the renowned Compendium of Materia Medica (circa 1573 to 159312), describes earthworms as “earth dragons,” with beneficial properties that “invigorate blood, resolve stasis and unblock the body's meridians and channels.”13
Such ancient assertions for many healing compounds from earthworms has resulted in the slimy invertebrates being included in traditional Asian herbal formulas to remedy ischemic conditions and blood clots that break loose and threaten vital organs.
The fact that lumbrokinase remains relatively unknown by most Western health practitioners and consumers is likely due to three main reasons:14
Patients with a wide disparity of dysfunctions and disorders, such as a bruised and swollen ankle, angina, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis, an enlarged prostate, mild strokes and infectious diseases, all have something in common: Such cases have found fibrinolytic enzymes such as lumbrokinase to be advantageous.16,17
In fact, between two other substances with known fibrinolytic or proteolytic effects, namely nattokinase, which comes from fermented soy products; and serrapeptidase, made by silk worms and exerting anti-inflammatory activity (which could even replace nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like Ibuprofen and Indomethacin, lumbrokinase is the most potent fibrinolytic enzyme.18
People who credit lumbrokinase with aspects of health do so because of its ability to treat and possibly prevent blood- and heart-related conditions, including stroke, angina, diabetes, heart disease and others.19,20,21,22,23 Below are examples of studies that VeryWell Health24 has listed as connected to the use of lumbrokinase and its potential benefits:
• Stroke — Researchers in a 2013 study found a decreased risk of stroke, particularly ischemic stroke, which occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked. When study subjects given either standard stroke treatments or lumbrokinase capsules for a year were compared, the lumbrokinase groups had fewer stroke incidents.25
A European study in 2008 found that lumbrokinase may combat another type of stroke known as cerebral ischemia, caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain and resulting stroke.26 An earlier study showed that lumbrokinase may also help treat strokes caused by cerebral infarction, or blood clot in the brain, in part by decreasing levels of fibrinogen.27
• Diabetes — Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice published a 2013 animal study showing that lumbrokinase may help fight diabetic nephropathy, a kidney condition exacerbated by poor control over diabetes and high blood pressure conditions. The mechanism reportedly involved specific enzymes thought to play a role in kidney damage.28
• Heart health — An animal study published in the Chinese journal Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica29 noted that lumbrokinase may shield your heart health against myocardial ischemia.
As for angina, one clinical study involved 10 patients with coronary artery disease and “stable angina.” Each was given a one-month regimen of lumbrokinase with their standard medical therapy. Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) was performed before and after the treatment period, after which six of the 10 angina patients showed improvement, as did an average of 38 percent of those with ischemia, both assessed by validated indicators.30
As previously noted, the possibilities for lumbrokinase are far-reaching, both as an enzyme with direct and indirect fibrinolytic effects, and as an anticoagulant due to its ability to inhibit platelet functions. Further, it may “minimize angina attack frequency (and) the need for nitroglycerine.”31
Potential applications include circulatory conditions, deep venous thrombosis, essential hypertension, vascular dementia and the prevention or treatment of cancer-associated thromboembolism. Evidence also suggests that while animal models and in vitro research have shown the compound inhibited stomach cancer growth and liver cancer metastasis, similar lumbrokinase successes may be found in human studies.32
Other noteworthy areas of lumbrokinase research indicate that it may improve diabetic nephropathy33 and diabetic neuropathy,34 prevent the damage to heart cells from secondhand smoke35 and play a role in promoting bone repair and regeneration.33
While prevention is now recognized as the best way to circumvent the often debilitating problems associated with Lyme disease (a bacterial infection caused by spirochete, which are corkscrew-shaped bacterium spread by ticks), those who have it have found the symptoms to mimic such maladies as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, depression and fibromyalgia.
However, lumbrokinase has been identified as a valuable treatment. Experts believe it can penetrate thick clumps of gut bacteria known as biofilms, one of several challenging factors involved with Lyme, as the bacteria are able to hide, feed and replicate unstopped by antimicrobial medications.34,35
That lumbrokinase is helpful in breaking down fibrinogen is an important aspect of Lyme treatment because the pathogenic bacteria use fibrinogen, convert it to fibrin and thereby strengthen their network.36 Naturopathic doctor Nicola Ducharme asserts:
“Biofilm is an important consideration in Lyme treatment. I believe that every patient should address biofilms, especially when a patient is not improving the way we would expect them to. Having those bacteria trapped in gooey stuff that antimicrobials and immune cells can’t get to could be a major factor hindering progress in treatment.”37
Intrinsic in the treatment is the fact that lumbrokinase can help break down fibrinogen. It’s interesting to note that dry earthworm powder taken as an oral supplement has been clinically tested and shown to support healthy blood circulation. A number of products containing it, mostly sold in Asian countries, are taken as nutritional supplements, pharmaceutical products and some as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Whether you’re thinking about exploring lumbrokinase for your heart or in the treatment of Lyme disease, make sure the brand you choose is high-quality and from a reputable source. Keep in mind that lumbrokinase supplements can be expensive and vary in enzymatic strength, which is one reason a doctor’s involvement is advised.
Taking lumbrokinase with a medication that thins your blood can be risky due to interference with the normal clotting process, and lead to bleeding.38 Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children also shouldn't take it.
While there are concerns that lumbrokinase use may trigger such side effects as nausea, bloating, diarrhea, skin rash and allergic reactions, Chinese studies noted that such symptoms affected only .07 percent to 3 percent of the individuals taking it.39 Further:
“To date, virtually all of the researchers who have ever studied or published on lumbrokinase concluded that it is a well-tolerated and very safe fibrinolytic enzyme preparation.”40
"Your Meat-Heavy Diet Might Be Giving You 'Keto Crotch,'" an article1 on munchies.vice.com announces, claiming "Doctors have confirmed that changing your diet can create new and interesting smells … down there." "'Keto Crotch' Might Be the Strongest Argument for Eating Carbs Yet," Emily Alford reports on Jezebel.com.2
"'Keto Crotch Is the Seriously Smelly Side Effect of the Popular Diet," the New York Post declares,3 and then goes on to confuse diabetic ketoacidosis — which causes bad breath — with nutritional ketosis achieved through a ketogenic diet. (The two have absolutely nothing to do with each other, as explained in my interview with Dorian Greenow and on ketogenic-diet-resource.com.4)
Countless other mainstream and not-so-mainstream news sources suddenly carry similar headlines, warning people that going keto can cause stinky discharges that will render you a social outcast — and that eating high-sugar foods like fruit juices and whole grains is the answer to these offensive odors.
Remarkably, an online search for the term "keto crotch" on the day of this writing produces an astounding 2,060,000 results. The question is, where's the proof to support this nonsense?
From what I can tell, the term "keto crotch" initially appeared on a reddit discussion board back in 2014,5 and again in 2016,6 and many of the articles now discussing this issue appear to be referring back to these brief anecdotes.
Since then, and up until February 24, 2019 — when Delish.com published Korin Miller's article,7 "'Keto Crotch' Might Be a Surprising Side Effect of a Low-Carb Diet," republished that same day on Yahoo Finance with the more eye-catching headline, "'Keto Crotch' Is the Most WTF Side Effect of Going on the Diet"8 — the term "keto crotch" was virtually nonexistent as far as I can tell, after digging through about a dozen search pages.
Miller, who appears to be one of the first journalists to use the catchphrase "keto crotch," is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in a number of health and women's magazines.
She's also an SEO consultant and founder of the SEO company keepUP Marketing9 that helps websites optimize their search results, and is the managing editor of the StyleCaster Media Group,10,11 a "leading digital media and technology platform for fashion, beauty and lifestyle."12 With these qualifications, it would seem reasonable to assume she has the know-how to make a story go viral. The reason why is a question that has yet to be answered.
The story started spreading the very next day, and by February 28, keto crotch articles were "everywhere." Yet not a single scientific study is brought forth in these articles, and a search of the medical literature turns up nothing. In fact, Miller's February 24 article specifies there's no medical evidence linking nutritional ketosis to foul-smelling private parts.
Articles do, however, cite several health care providers, among them registered dietitian and nutritionist Lisa DeFazio13 — whose commentary appeared in multiple news stories within 48 hours14 — gynecologist Dr. Lauren Streicher and dietitian Andrea Hardy.15
DeFazio offered a link to a 2009 study16 in the Journal of Nutrition when questioned by a Twitter follower about the basis for her concerns, which found bacterial vaginosis was most prevalent among women who had the highest dietary fat intakes.
Streicher's comments, on the other hand, have been far more neutral, noting that dietary changes will temporarily alter the pH in the vaginal area in general, and that there's no medical evidence linking the ketogenic diet with infections or other odor-causing vaginal ailments. Huffington Post writes:17
"'When I got the first call asking about this, I asked if they were making this up to write a story,' Lauren Streicher, medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, told HuffPost with a laugh.
Streicher said that while it's certainly possible that diet can have an impact on vaginal health, there is no scientific evidence to prove it, and myriad of potential causes for odor to exist."
The problem with the study18 cited by DeFazio is that the women also had high carb intakes, and carbs are primary drivers of infection and yeast. According to the authors of the study:
"[T]he mean [energy intake] exceeded the recommended daily allowance for adult women. Also, the energy, fat, and carbohydrate intakes of the women were considerably higher than those reported in NHANES (1999–2000) for women of comparable age."
In other words, it appears these women were eating a standard American diet high in both fats and carbs, so the results cannot be attributed to a high-fat, low-carb diet such as the ketogenic diet. Not surprisingly, DeFazio recommends eating carbs to lose weight and keep it off, saying "low carb diets don't work long term."19
DeFazio also welcomes media inquiries, stating she's "available for all magazine, newspaper, radio, television and website interviews," and "will accommodate you ASAP, even on short notice."20 She's also a talent with Taylor Talent Services,21 which specializes in "Helping brands, producers and marketers find the face of their products."22
Ketogenic experts, on the other hand, myself included, have never heard of this complaint before now. In the video above, Dr. Ken Berry,23 a self-proclaimed "keto friendly" medical doctor, shares his views on the topic.
As noted by Berry, carbs are in fact the primary driver of yeast infections, vaginosis, bladder infections and similar ailments, and women who struggle with these conditions who switch to a low-carb diet universally improve. "There's nothing about the ketogenic diet that's going to make you have vaginitis or vaginosis," he says. "It just makes no sense whatsoever."
Kristie Sullivan, Ph.D.,24 who has been on a ketogenic diet since 2013, and has spent years coaching people on the ketogenic diet, shared similar views:25
"In nearly six years of following a strict low-carb diet, and interacting with literally hundreds of thousands via social media and my Facebook groups (over 250,000 people … ), I have interacted in nearly every discussion imaginable regarding personal health and low carb or keto.
Not once has the issue of foul vaginal odor been part of that conversation. Bad breath or changes in body odor are not uncommon concerns, but those tend to be experienced early in the adaptation phase and are not long term or ongoing issues."
Another ketogenic expert, Megan Ramos, CEO of Intensive Dietary Management in Toronto, Canada, said in an interview:26
"We've treated over 10,000 patients at this point. Approximately 65 percent of them are females. Not once did I have a woman bring up this issue with me.
As a matter of fact, we're seeing the opposite: women have less and less yeast infections and bladder infections, in particular our diabetic patients who normalize their blood sugars, and who stop taking their SGLT2 inhibitors (which is a drug that makes people pee out sugar)."
Considering the complete lack of scientific evidence to support claims that nutritional ketosis can cause vaginal infections, one has to wonder where this story originated from. After all, some arbitrary anecdote simply won't spread like wildfire for no reason, being picked up by major media simultaneously. Yet here are dozens of near-identical stories being featured in different magazines and news outlets on the same day.
Two individuals have stepped forward with an answer. In the video above, Berry explains how, when browsing through several women's magazines in a bookstore that carried the keto crotch story, he noted a curious pattern. Each of them had full-page ads for Weight Watchers, whose stock prices, incidentally, have plummeted by 80 percent since July 2018 — a drop attributed by Weight Watchers to the mass adoption of the ketogenic diet.27 In his video commentary, Berry says:
"Rest assured … we see less and less things that could give you changes in odorous discharge when you eat keto. You don't get more of that, you get much, much less …
So, I think keto crotch is just the latest myth [pushed by] the big publishing houses who get a lot of their ad dollars from Weight Watchers and Biggest Loser and Jenny Craig. They would love for you to stop eating keto …
[I]f they can scare you with the latest scare tactic, which is 'keto crotch,' then they're successful and they're going to get more ad dollars from the big, carbohydrate pushing weight loss programs."
John Zahorik, a self-described "nutrition explorer,"28 has taken his investigation a step further. In a series of Twitter posts (this thread reader29 offers the easiest to read view), Zahorik shows the links between Weight Watchers, its PR company Edelman,30 some of the primary health experts interviewed about keto crotch, as well as some of the authors of these nonsense articles, Shireen Khalil31 among them.
September, 2018, PR Week announced "Weight Watchers turns to Edelman to handle global consumer PR."32 According to PR Week, "Weight Watchers wants to strengthen its reputation, better define and grow 'the Weight Watchers impact,' and increase revenue to more than $2 billion by the end of 2020 …" Other clients of Edelman include pasta giant Barilla,33 and The Coca-Cola Company.34
According to screenshots taken by Zahorik, Khalil, Streicher and DeFazio are all Edelman PR followers on Twitter.35 While that certainly doesn't prove they're working together, it suggests collaboration is a possibility. He also reminds people about the reality that is "native advertising" — marketing designed to look like news.36 As reported by Conently.com in 2015:37
"Native advertising — articles paid for and/or written by a brand that live on a publisher's site — has emerged as a powerful and popular new advertising tool over the past few years.
Media companies like BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic have all invested heavily in the creation and distribution of native advertisements on behalf of brands, with many charging over $100,000 for a native advertising campaign."
Indeed, PR companies not only create recognizable ads and native advertising (ads not recognized as such), they also do news placement on behalf of their clients. In many cases, such news stories will feature actual science that happens to benefit the client's position.
In this case, however, the "news" is anything but. It's pure fabrication, and appears to be aimed at implanting a highly memorable mnemonic device38 into the public consciousness. After seeing the term "keto crotch" hundreds of times, you'd be hard-pressed to not instantaneously think of a stinky crotch every time you hear "ketogenic diet."
Already, people have made comments on social media saying the mere possibility of this malodorous condition has dissuaded them from going keto, and there's little doubt this is the exact aim of this fake news campaign.
Zahorik points out the Edelman firm is in fact a master at creating these kinds of viral campaigns, a key part of which is "Leveraging top-tier influencers to integrate a brand's key messaging directly into the content target audiences are consuming" (per tweet from Edelman39).
"The thing that made this campaign different from typical 'branding' efforts is that this was a SECRET effort to DESTROY the brand of the COMPETITION," Zahorik writes.40 "What was the source of this alliterative affliction in these 'articles'? Answer: People on the internet were talking!"
While the evidence implicating Edelman and Weight Watchers in the creation of this "keto crotch" myth is still circumstantial, the timing sure seems suspiciously convenient. The very same day the keto crotch myth exploded on the internet (February 28), CNN Business reported on Weight Watchers' financial demise, stating:41
"CEO Mindy Grossman attributed the problem to the keto diet, a popular eating regimen that makes bread and other carbs taboo. She said during a call with analysts … that keto is 'becoming a cultural meme' and she even called it a 'keto surge.'"
Let's face it, the media is owned by industry, and leveraging of social media influencers can make fake news and unsubstantiated claims like this spread like wildfire. While there's no evidence to support this obnoxious story, there's an incredible amount of published literature showing the health benefits of a ketogenic diet.
For example, ketones have a biological impact similar to that of fasting,42 including accelerated autophagy and mitophagy, improved glucose metabolism, reduced inflammation, clearing out malfunctioning immune cells,43 and reduced IGF-1 (one of the factors that regulate growth pathways and growth genes and is a major player in accelerated aging and cellular/intracellular regeneration and rejuvenation).
I strongly believe adopting a cyclical ketogenic diet — which means after you have achieved metabolic flexibility, you cycle in and out of eating foods high in healthy fats, with moderate protein and low net carbs (think nonfiber carbs) — can benefit most people. It's very effective for weight loss, and as discussed earlier, works with your body in such a way as to improve regeneration and renewal.
Maintaining net carb (total carbs minus fiber) intake at or below 50 grams allows you to enter into nutritional ketosis (the metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver, which is the biological reflection of being able to burn fat). However, we are all different in how we respond to foods, so expect this amount to vary from person to person.
Some people can be in a full fat-burning state with full ketosis at a level of nonfiber carbs that's higher than 50 grams, sometimes even as high as 70 or 80 grams. However, if you're insulin resistant or have Type 2 diabetes, you may need to limit your net carbs to as little as 20 or 30 grams per day.
To find your personal carb target, it's important to measure not just your blood glucose but also your ketones. One of the most accurate and least expensive ketone measuring devices on the market right now is Keto Mojo. This will give you an objective measure of whether or not you're truly in ketosis, rather than just relying on counting the grams of carbohydrates you consume.
Using a nutrient tracker will radically improve your ability to understand your ketogenic diet nutrient targets and assess the nutrient value of your food choices. There are a number of trackers available, but my first choice is Cronometer.com/Mercola. That's my revision of the basic Cronometer tracker, and it's already set to default to macronutrient levels that will support nutritional ketosis.
Once you've confirmed that you're in ketosis, start the cycling procedure described earlier, where you add in higher net carbs and protein once or twice a week, ideally on days you're strength training. Intermittent fasting works very well with a ketogenic diet as well, and can further speed up and optimize your results. You can learn more about the benefits of a ketogenic diet from my books, "Fat for Fuel," and "Ketofast."
1 The following is not a healthy source of dietary fat and should be avoided:
2 Recent research reveals children who receive the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) vaccine are more susceptible to this disease, and this elevated susceptibility persists throughout their life.
3 The following sunscreen ingredients are the only ones having been scientifically verified to be safe for human use:
4 The following substance is not used in mattresses as a fire-retardant additive:
5 The following technique removes pain and dysfunctional physiological conditions by restoring the structural integrity of the body, and can be helpful in instances of low back pain that is unrelated to direct impact injury:
6 The specific absorption rate (SAR) for your cellphone tells you:
7 The following appears to be a foundational core of the dysfunction and challenges associated with multiple chemical sensitivity, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and a number of other conditions:
Annie Hopper is a limbic retraining specialist. While you may never have heard this term, limbic hyperactivity or dysfunction appears to be a foundational core of the dysfunction and challenges associated with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia and a number of other conditions, and by retraining your limbic system to respond appropriately, symptoms may subside or vanish.
Hopper was herself homeless for a time due to her EHS, which made her unable to tolerate modern environments. I recently met Hopper in Peter Sullivan’s electromagnetic field (EMF) tent at an autism conference run by Jenny McCarthy called Generation Rescue. Sullivan is an environmental health funder who focuses on toxins and wireless safety.
Sullivan had also benefited from Hopper’s work. Intrigued, I read Hopper’s book, “Wired for Healing: Remapping the Brain to Recover From Chronic and Mysterious Illnesses,” which is a great resource.
Hopper describes the challenges that led to writing her book:
"It started in 2004. I was working as a core belief counsellor in Kelowna, British Columbia. I was working at an office that [had] mold … [and] my office was located right next door to the janitor’s supply room, where they held all the cleaning chemicals for the office, all those really heavy-duty industrial cleaners.
What I also didn't know was that the actual office that I was renting used to be a part of the janitor's supply room. They just put up a wall to make a little office space. It didn't have proper ventilation either.
I worked in that office for about five months. Over that period, I started to get progressively sick. Before that, [and] this is what we call like the perfect storm for a limbic system impairment … I was in a car accident where I had a minor whiplash injury. That was probably about the fifth car accident prior to this mold and chemical exposure.
Anyway, for the five months that I was in this building, I started to progressively get symptoms, like anxiety, chronic muscle and joint pain, and this growing sensitivity to just everyday things in my environment, like perfumes and colognes. That's how it started … Really, it felt like I was being literally poisoned by any kind of chemical exposure.
I moved out of the building eventually because I recognized that it was the building that was making me sick, but by that time, it was too late. The damage was already done … [Then] I had what I call a tipping point. I was walking through a bookstore and by a scented candle display. Someone else might be OK with that, but … at that point, something happened to my brain.
I went over the edge in terms of this fight-or-flight response that just did not stop. At that point, it felt like I was having a brain hemorrhage or something. Light hurt. Sound hurt. Smell hurt. Everything hurt … When I woke up the next morning … I couldn’t wear the same clothes that I’d worn, because my brain was now picking up on the smallest amount of chemical residue from laundry detergent as potentially life-threatening.
That started a very bizarre kind of science fiction world where I really had to navigate how I did life. If I was walking down the street and someone happened to be doing their laundry and they had dryer exhaust going off, if I walked by that, I might go into convulsions.
It was very serious, hugely debilitating. I had to quit my job. I had to stop socializing. I was very much homebound and getting depressed. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they did. What seemed like overnight, I developed EHS.
By this time, I've already got severe chemical sensitivities. I also have fibromyalgia. I was suffering from anxiety, insomnia and a host of other things, and then I developed this EMF sensitivity. What that meant was that my body could detect EMF."
It's a known fact that many who struggle with chemical sensitivities are at higher risk of EHS, and that was certainly Hopper's experience. In addition to a burning skin sensation, which is a very common symptom of EHS, she also lost her ability to speak, which she says is a severe symptom associated with both chemical sensitivities and EHS.
"When I started to talk, I would say something that really didn't make any sense. It wasn't actually what I was thinking," she says. "There was something very cognitively off as well. I had a lot of brain fog and just not being able to focus, inability to articulate, to think, to put thoughts together, to string a sentence together, all of that."
To survive, she had to get away from all these chemical and EMF triggers. At the time, she was living with her husband, James, in a condo in Kelowna, British Columbia. It was impossible to get away from wireless radiation. In the end, she had to resort to camping.
"Even before this time, I knew that my brain was being affected. It really made sense to me that my brain was not processing sensory information accurately anymore," she says.
"Somehow, the fight-or-flight centers in my brain were being triggered so much so that it was distorting some of the information that was coming into my brain and making this overreactive, overresponsive, hypervigilant reaction that was also affecting my immune system, my endocrine system, my neurology — all of it …
It made sense for me that it was some sort of brain injury, some form of brain trauma — something was wrong. I started to look at what area of the brain was responsible for sense of smell because, to me, that seemed like the right place to start."
As a result, Hopper began researching the limbic system, which is the emotional and reactive part of your brain, responsible for filtering sensory and emotional information, and sorting that information into two distinct categories: safe or unsafe.
"You can imagine that if any of those neurons along that neural network are damaged or not working functionally in any way, then that can start to categorize information that would not normally be considered dangerous as life-threatening," Hopper says.
This is an entirely unconscious response, of course. Essentially, your brain gets stuck in the fight-flight-or-freeze mechanism. She also researched neuroplasticity, which is your brain's ability to change.
She discovered there was a lot of research showing limbic system overactivation is common denominator for many different illnesses, including CFS, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivities, depression and anxiety. While reading Dr. Norman Doidge's book, "The Brain That Changes Itself," she had a sudden revelation.
"He was talking about Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, who is the guru for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Schwartz recognized that with OCD, there is a part of the brain that just wasn't functioning properly. That's what keeps people in this feeling of contamination or obsessive worrying. I thought, 'I don't have OCD, but certainly I feel like my mind or my brain is stuck."
Schwartz would scan his patients’ brains to see how the brain was operating when they were having an OCD attack. He then gave them a series of self-directed neuroplasticity exercises to do at home, and rescanned their brain after a period of time. What he discovered was that their brains were actually being rewired.
The more they practiced these exercises, the more their brain changed, to the point where they actually reversed the changes that were happening during OCD. As a result, they were able to function normally again.
"It seemed to me like that was the right place to look,” Hopper says. “I started to become my own personal guinea pig, looking at how could I change the limbic system, knowing that it was the feeling and reacting brain and knowing that it could be categorizing information or distorting information … This is not unlike post-traumatic stress disorder, I think. Or traumatic brain injury …
You know, I was just as surprised as anyone else, to be honest with you. When I started to notice changes in symptoms, my first thought was, ‘Hallelujah’ … Through influencing this part of my brain and rewiring the brain, it actually dampened and reduced symptoms, and miraculously normalized my sensory perception.
When your sensory perception goes back to being normal, your body is no longer reacting to everything. That made it possible for me to live in the world again and be of the world again, and be an active participant in my life."
So, what actually causes this limbic system impairment in the first place? As noted by Hopper, it could be a number of different things, including viral, bacterial, emotional or psychological stress. It could be chemical injury, mold or excessive EMF exposure. “Usually it’s a combination of all of that that leads to what we call the perfect storm. These kinds of stresses are cumulative,” she says.
Ultimately, her experience and research led her to develop the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) course, which is now offered as a five-day interactive training program around North America and Europe. The program is also available online and as a 14-hour DVD series.
It's not a quick process. It can take many months of diligent work, but the end results are clearly worth the effort. Hopper recommends practicing the program daily for at least six months.
"It takes a while to change those neural networks. Even though people might start feeling changes within a few days or a few weeks or a few months, you really want to repeat those exercises on a regular basis to make those really permanent changes in the brain," she says.
Hopper came up with the acronym called "IMAGINE" to encapsulate the strategy of the program:
I stands for intention — The intention being to strengthen alternative neural circuitry and moving the focus away from symptoms in order to change the fight-flight-or-freeze response and normalize limbic system function.
M for motivation — It's not an overnight fix, so you need to find the motivation to do the exercises daily.
A for awareness and association — You need to become aware of how limbic system impairment affects your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. When you catch those thoughts, emotions and behaviors, you'll want to redirect your brain in that moment into an alternate route so that it doesn't continue down the neural pathways associated with the impairment.
You also need to look at your associations. What kind of associations have you created with stimuli that might be activating the threat centers in your brain on a continuous basis, and how can you change these associations?
G for gain — It's important to recognize the gains you make throughout your retraining process. "This is interesting because we all have an innate negativity bias, meaning we're going to notice what's going wrong before we notice what's going right," Hopper says. "If you have limbic system impairment, that negativity bias can be magnified because of the impairment itself."
I for incremental training — It's a form of neural shaping that helps strengthen alternative neurocircuitry by exposing yourself to small amounts of stimulus to help retrain your brain to respond differently to it.
N for neurological and emotional rehearsals — "There's a part of the program where we use our imagination and visualization," Hopper says. "The great thing about imagination is the brain does not know the difference between what's real and what's imagined. There is no end to how we can use our imagination to help in retraining the brain."
Using guided visualization, you can alter your neural chemistry. When in fight-flight-or-freeze response, you release a lot of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Using this guided visualization technique, you can stop the production of those stress hormones and increase production of feel good hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.
E for environmental awareness — Last but not least, you need to assess your day-to-day environment and create the most pristine and beautiful healing environment for yourself.
In essence, the central principle of DNRS is that neurons that fire together, wire together. The purpose of many of these exercises is to rewire them in the direction of healing, because they've been hyperfacilitated in the direction of injury.
While testimonials attest to the effectiveness of Hopper's program, it's also important to realize that this does not address the cellular injury that EMFs cause. My view is that your limbic system alarms and alerts you in order for you to take steps to stop this cellular damage that is occurring.
So, I believe it's vitally important to address both your limbic dysfunction and the cellular damage that has occurred in your body. Hopper agrees that both angles are equally important, but that limbic system retraining is the missing link for many:
"Let's take chemical injury for example. Is it affecting the tissues? Is it affecting the cellular level? Absolutely. Detoxification might be a good thing for most people, but for the person who has a limbic system injury, they'll still be sick even after they've detoxified … or they might find that detoxification treatments actually heighten symptoms rather than lower symptoms, because the brain is stuck in that trauma state.
The cells of the body have also affected the brain. We could do all these treatments to help with the cellular, clearing the body celullarly from what is happening, yet for a lot of people, that will be enough. If they're still sick, then we really want to look at that brain component too."
So, remember, just because your symptoms dissipate, which the DNRS method will do for many, that doesn't necessarily mean you've mitigated the cellular injury EMF exposure has inflicted. Ideally, you want to do both. It's a combination of the two that's so crucial for complete healing.
Hopper’s book contains a number of accounts of remarkable recovery stories using her program. One not included in the book is Riley, who was bedridden for three years with severe chronic Lyme disease.
"He could not speak, could not eat. He was partially paralyzed. He was sensitive to light, to sound, to movement, to chemicals. He’d also had mold exposure. His mom kept him alive by feeding him little Dixie cups of soup.
He’d been to a lot of really great practitioners and had come a long way. They got him walking again and being able to talk, but he was still left with a lot of different issues, like food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, some OCD, some movement disorder.
Riley came to the program. It took him about a year to recover from the symptoms that were left … that were related to limbic system impairment. He’s fully recovered. He traveled in Europe and went backpacking for a year. It’s a pretty amazing story."
Hopper also recounts two other success stories, including one of a woman with a balance disorder who made a remarkable recovery on the program. Another is of a young woman who had severe POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) who went from being in a wheelchair to rollerblading. At present, Hopper has two research projects in the works.
One is an observational study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, involving 100 participants with a wide variety of medical diagnoses. This study aims to assess how the DNRS program affects quality of life and measure changes in symptom severity over the course of a year.
The second research initiative is taking place at the University of Calgary. In this study, they will review brain scans of people who have chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or chemical sensitivities to get a baseline brain scan and then look at how the brain changes when someone is actually implementing the program for a period of at least six months. According to Hopper, the estimated success rate of improving quality of life is about 90 percent. Hopefully, these studies validate that estimate.
While the program appears to be very effective, you do have to be motivated to do it. Being under a high degree of stress may also dampen results. Homelessness might be an example here. "But by all means, give it your best go. You might not get the results that you want to see as quickly, but that doesn't mean that you won't see results," Hopper says.
That said, she does not recommend the program for certain mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, or if you're currently going through extreme situational stress, such as if you're going through a court case, or grieving a loved one who just passed away.
"That might not be a really good time to start the course," she says. "It doesn't mean that it's impossible, but it might slow the progression down. I think that if someone's just passed away, you're dealing with grief or loss, there's a natural progression to grieving and a natural process where grieving takes place.
I don't think that would be a really great time to start the program, because we really want people to focus specifically on elevating their emotional state as much as they can, not only when they're doing the exercises and also throughout the day. If you're in the grieving process, it's kind of a little bit difficult to do."
Barring severe mental illness or extreme stress, if you've been suffering for a long time with a chronic and mysterious illness, be it CFS, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivities, EHS, Lyme disease, food sensitivities or any number of other difficult-to-pin-down ailments, consider giving limbic system retraining a try.
"Don't give up hope. There's an answer. There's a way out of suffering," Hopper says. "I made a promise to myself when I was sick that if and when I find an answer, I would share that with the world. I'm doing my very best to do that. Our team is expanding more and more.
The DVD has been translated into seven languages. We have people from all over the world and over 65 countries report to us that they're recovering their health through limbic system retraining. All I would like to say is, 'Give it a try. Embrace the program.' I think that people will be pleasantly surprised with the results."
To get your feet wet and learn more about the science behind the DNRS program, pick up a copy of “Wired for Healing: Remapping the Brain to Recover From Chronic and Mysterious Illnesses.” If you decide you want to go through the course, you can pick up the 14-hour DVD course on Hopper’s website, RetrainingTheBrain.com (you can also opt to do the training online).
There you can also register for the five-day interactive training seminar. Since people coming to the program have a wide variety of sensitivities, great care is taken to ensure a safe and healthy environment for most participants.
Swallowing is a complex biological action that comprises more than 31 muscles and five cranial nerves1 all working together to facilitate nutrition. Its two main goals are to push food from the mouth into the stomach and to protect airways from foreign objects.2
The Process Model of Feeding was created to help people understand how swallowing works whenever solid foods and liquids are consumed:3
Your throat and esophagus are prone to many diseases and when either of them is affected, you may experience dysphagia, a condition marked by difficulty swallowing.4 It can be caused by a multitude of factors and disorders, and may lead to complications such as dehydration, malnutrition, pneumonia or an airway obstruction.5 Aside being unable to swallow, other prominent symptoms of dysphagia include:6,7
Aging is the one of the top risk factors connected to dysphagia.8 As people grow older, their ability to swallow becomes harder due to wear and tear on the throat and esophageal muscles. Elderly citizens also have a higher risk of developing diseases that can cause dysphagia, such as esophageal cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.9,10
The onset of neurodegenerative diseases may also increase your risk of dysphagia.11 Stroke, for example, can cause paralysis that can affect any part of your body, including your throat, although it becomes minimal as time passes.12 In addition, those who suffer from cervical spinal cord injury13 and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD),14 a genetic disorder, may experience dysphagia as a side effect.15
While the complications of dysphagia are very alarming, the disease is fortunately treatable via a variety of approaches. Consuming a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and avoiding unhealthy vices can all help mitigate the risk factors associated with the underlying causes of dysphagia. In the following pages, discover which methods work best and the best practices you can implement to safeguard your health.
My love for fermented foods is fervent. Offering impressive nutrition with every bite, these gut-friendly products are superfoods in their own way. Tempeh, a traditional fermented soy product is originally from Indonesia, where it’s eaten as a primary source of protein.
Aside from using soybeans, tempeh can also be produced from coconut press cake (tempeh bongkrek), okara or soy pulp (tempeh gembus), and banana leaves (tempeh gódhóng). Turn ordinary tempeh into a mouthwatering dish with my quick and easy Tempeh Reuben recipe.
2 packages tempeh, crumbled
3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
24 ounces raw sauerkraut
Sea salt, to taste
6 large romaine lettuce leaves, whole
This recipe makes 6 servings.
(Adapted from Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type)
Tempeh Reuben Cooking Tips
As I’ve said many times before already, soy is not the miracle health food that the media and leading food manufacturers have painted it to be. Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, and infertility—even cancer and heart disease.
That being said, I strongly advise against consuming unfermented soy products.
In addition, since virtually every soybean crop grown in the United States is genetically modified, I recommend looking for tempeh products with a label that explicitly states they’re made from organic non-GMO soy.
Prepackaged tempeh from grocery stores usually has a bitter flavor. Even if it says “ready to eat” on the label, steaming or simmering tempeh a bit is highly recommended in order to reduce its bitterness, make it a little softer, and providing time to soak up seasonings and flavorings better. Similarly, fresh tempeh will have to be steamed or simmered for about 25 minutes as it’s not precooked.
On the other hand, instead of buying commercially available sauerkraut in supermarkets, why don’t you try making your own at home? Check out my homemade raw sauerkraut recipe here.
To keep a bunch of green leafy vegetables fresh for as long as 10 days, store them in an airtight container with clean paper towels. The paper towels will help absorb moisture, which is the primary reason why they easily wilt.[i]
Why Is Tempeh Reuben Good for You?
This tasty Tempeh Reuben recipe will not only be an absolute delight for your tastebuds, but for your gut flora, too. With cultured foods like sauerkraut and tempeh as its main ingredient, this dish is surely loaded with beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics play a vital role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract, and aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens. This makes a healthy gut a major factor in maintaining optimal health, as a robust immune system is your top defense system against many forms of disease. Packed with essential nutrients, such as vitamin K2 and B vitamins, fermented foods:
Another wonderful ingredient in this tempeh recipe is coconut oil, which offers an array of impressive health benefits, such as:
To learn more about the basics and the benefits of fermented foods, I suggest you read my article “Fermented Foods: How to ‘Culture’ Your Way to Optimal Health.”
Get the most out of coconut oil by using it in recipes that require heating. Coconut oil is ideal for all sorts of cooking and baking, as it can withstand higher temperatures without being damaged like many other oils.
If you've been a long-time reader of my site, then you probably know just how much I value getting sufficient omega-3 fats in your diet. In a perfect world, you can get all the omega-3s you need from fish, but because a majority of the fish supply is now contaminated with heavy metals like mercury,1 then you'll have to resort to other sources to provide you with this valuable nutrient.
One of my personal favorites for omega-3 supplementation is high-quality krill oil. In this article, you'll discover the wealth of benefits you can get from krill oil and why it's a hundred times better than typical fish oil.
Krill oil is a marine oil that is known for providing animal-based omega-3 fats, antioxidants and beneficial substances known as phospholipids2,3 – this last item is particularly important, as it plays a significant role in the absorption of these nutrients (more about this later). It is harvested from krill (Euphausia superba), a small shrimp-like crustacean.4
The humble krill measures only about 2.4 inches in length — but don't let its size fool you. Krill is a crucial component of the global food chain, as it serves as the fuel that keeps the Earth's marine ecosystems consistently running. While it feeds on microscopic, single-celled plants called phytoplankton, hundreds of different creatures — birds, squid, other fish and even whales — feed on krill in turn.5
There are 85 known krill species, and in Antarctica, their biomass is said to be around 379 million metric tons.6 Krill are also found in oceans off Japan and Canada.7 Interesting trivia from National Geographic: "During certain times of year, krill congregate in swarms so dense that they can be seen from space!"8
Aside from being highly sustainable, krill are also known for their longevity — they can live from five to 10 years,9 which is amazing, considering they're very heavily hunted. This makes Antarctic krill oil a good and eco-friendly choice for an omega-3 supplement.
As opposed to krill oil, fish oil is extracted from oily, cold-water fish, particularly their liver. Common examples of fish oil sources are herring, halibut, mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna and cod, which may be deep-ocean farmed or wild-caught. In some instances, fish oil is extracted from seal or whale blubber.10
While often interchanged, there are notable differences between the two, and if you thoroughly examine them, you'll note that krill is the superior option. Here are some reasons why krill oil is better than fish oil:
• Has a higher potency — Krill oil not only has 48 times the antioxidants as fish oil, but also has a higher potency in its metabolic effects, meaning you need far less to reap the benefits. One study published in the Lipids journal confirms this, wherein subjects taking krill oil only required 63 percent of what those taking fish oil had to consume to achieve the same results.11
• Is free of contaminants — The fish from which fish oil is extracted are often contaminated with heavy metals and mercury.12 Krill does not pose this risk because of their small size and due to the fact that they're at the bottom of the food chain.
• Has phospholipids — As mentioned, the phospholipid factor plays a significant role in how krill oil is absorbed by your body.13 Omega-3 fatty acids are water-soluble but cannot be transported in your blood while in their free form. Thus, they need phospholipids — something that krill oil readily has, but fish oil doesn't.
• Contains phosphatidylcholine — Composed partly of choline, a precursor for acetylcholine that sends nerve signals to your brain,14 and trimethylglycine, which has liver-protective effects,15 phosphatidylcholine is necessary for better absorption of omega-3 nutrients.16
If you opt for fish oil, your liver still needs to find and attach it to phosphatidylcholine, so it can be better utilized. But since krill oil already has phosphatidylcholine, it's then more superior in terms of bioavailability.
• Is less prone to oxidation — Krill oil has astaxanthin, making it more stable and less likely to oxidize in your body. Fish oil, which does not have astaxanthin, is more prone to oxidation, leading to the formation of free radicals, and increasing your need for antioxidants.17
• More environmentally sustainable — Krill harvesting is a stringently monitored process, and while there are claims saying that krill oil supplements are depleting the ocean's supply, the fact is that only a small percent of the overall krill biomass is harvested per year. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) notes that "the actual annual catch is around 0.3 percent of the unexploited biomass of krill."18
Other research also found that krill is superior to fish oil in terms of its influence on genetic expression and metabolism. A 2011 study published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics took a look at the livers of mice given krill oil versus those fed fish oil.19 The researchers found that krill oil enhances glucose metabolism in the liver, promotes lipid metabolism and helps regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain — all of these effects are not seen in the fish oil group.
Furthermore, krill oil decreases cholesterol synthesis, while fish oil increases it. This means that krill oil will help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase energy production, but fish oil does not offer either of these benefits.20,21
Also a cause for concern is fish oil's current processing practices. This is deeply problematic, as the final product rendered is very, very different from the natural oils you acquire from the whole fish. Read more about it in my article, "Are Many Fish Oils Synthetic?"
What primarily gives krill oil its many health advantages is its omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are used by your body for various functions, such as digestion, blood clotting, muscle activity, memory and cognitive function, visual acuity and much more.22 They are also particularly important for proper cell division and bind to cell receptors to help regulate genetic function.23
However, your body cannot produce omega-3s, hence, they need to be acquired from your diet. Most people would contest that omega-3s can be derived from plant sources too, like chia, hemp and flaxseeds, but the omega-3s that you get from krill oil and fish are far more beneficial.
This is because the omega-3s in plant foods are in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALAs are short-chained PUFAs that need a particular enzyme24 for them to be converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — long-chain PUFAs that are more bioavailable and beneficial.
Norwegian scientist Nils Hoem, PhD., who specializes in omega-3 phospholipids, explains it further. According to him, short-chain fatty acids are simply food that provide a source of energy for the body. Meanwhile, long-chain PUFAs like EPA and DHA are structural elements that are the building blocks of your cells. This is the most significant difference between these two types of omega-3s. You can read more about my interview with Hoem in this article.
EPA and DHA are known for their numerous biological effects, particularly their anti-inflammatory benefits.25 Plus, they play a role in communication within the cell and between the cells. DHA in particular is very essential, since it's a component of every cell in your body and is crucial to brain health.26
Please take note that I'm not vilifying plant-based omega-3s. ALA is a very healthy fat with its own useful purpose. Your body needs it — but not in excessive amounts and not as crucially as EPA and DHA, which come from krill and other marine sources.
So what exactly does krill oil do for your health? For starters, it may help with at least two dozen diseases and health issues, such as:
Of course, if you include omega-3 fats in the equation, then this list would greatly expand. In particular, omega-3s may help:
Many of the mentioned benefits above have been well-backed by scientific research. Here are a few notable examples:
One of the most common complaints against fish oil is that it leaves behind a fishy aftertaste or results in reflux or belching of fishy flavors.54 However, this effect is significantly reduced in krill oil, as long as you purchase a high-quality brand. Even so, take note that some krill oil brands (particularly poor quality ones) may also cause side effects like heartburn, upset stomach, bad breath, nausea and loose stools.55
While krill oil is generally safe for most people, it is still important to consult your physician if you are suffering from any illness or taking any medication before taking this supplement (or any dietary supplement). If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult your physician prior to taking krill oil.56
If you are taking anticoagulants like warfarin or any other blood thinners, have a blood coagulation disorder, do not take krill oil, as it may slow down blood clotting. There may be dangers as well for people who have allergies to seafood who take krill oil.57
When looking for a krill oil supplement, I advise that you only purchase one that has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). This nonprofit organization aims to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis and it does this by recognizing and rewarding fisheries that follow sustainable fishing practices.
When the krill oil is MSC-certified, it means that every part of the manufacturing process — from the krill harvesting to how it is manufactured — has gone through a high global standard, ensuring that the product is truly sustainable. The MSC also has a chain of custody traceability program, which seafood providers can renew on a yearly basis.58 Keep an eye out for these other factors as well:
A high-quality krill oil supplement outperforms fish oil in terms of efficiency, sustainability and cost. However, you may also want to get this valuable nutrient from certain types of seafood, particularly those that have not been contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants.
Q: Is krill oil safe?
A: Yes, krill oil is generally safe for most people. However, certain individuals, such as those who have seafood allergies, have a blood clotting disorder or are taking anticoagulants must refrain from using this supplement, as it may lead to unpleasant or even serious effects.59
Q: What is krill oil used to treat?
A: Over two dozen health conditions are said to benefit from krill oil, including cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, cognitive or neurological dysfunction and autoimmune diseases.
Q: Can krill oil cause heartburn?
A: Some krill oil brands may cause heartburn. To avoid this, take krill oil along with a full meal. If this does not work, try reducing the dose or stop taking the product for a while.60
Q: Is there mercury in krill oil?
A: There is no mercury in krill oil. This is because krill, which is at the bottom of the food chain, feeds on phytoplankton. It does not consume mercury-contaminated fish.
Q: Is krill oil the same as omega-3?
A: Krill oil is a marine oil extracted from krill, a shrimp-like crustacean, while omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are used by your body for various functions. Hence, krill oil is not directly synonymous to omega-3s, technically speaking, but it does contain these beneficial fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA.
Comparatively speaking, your toilet seat is actually quite clean. Best Life1 went on a deep dive to discover the dirtiest areas in your home where bacteria may be lurking. These surfaces are likely touched each day without a second thought. Some are just teeming with bacteria.
After years of being warned about the spread of the common cold on door handles, you may have guessed they are included in a list of the top 10 items. However, door handles, computer keyboards and your pet's bowls don't make the top five list of items with the most bacteria in your home.
While few things are grosser than a dirty toilet seat, researchers discovered the common toilet seat contains as little as 50 bacteria per square inch. This may sound like a lot, but consider the following household items, all of which contain far more germs per square inch.
Your kitchen sponge, the very thing you use to clean your dishes, may be among the filthiest objects you have at home. Containing as many as 10 million bacteria per square inch, or nearly 200,000 times more than your toilet seat, your kitchen sponge is a veritable hotel for nearly 362 different species of bacteria.
In one study,2 researchers analyzed 14 used sponges and found 45 billion microbes per square centimeter. Dish sponges harbor the largest number of E. coli and other fecal bacteria in the average home, likely because they aren't replaced as they should.
A number of studies have confirmed kitchen sponges contain the highest number of bacteria on household products.3 Dish cloths are not far behind. Researchers analyzed 82 from five major cities in the U.S. and Canada, finding E. coli in a little over 25 percent of the towels, and salmonella in nearly 14 percent.4
Kitchen sponges are also possible sources of contamination in restaurants. In one study, researchers collected 201 sponges from restaurants and evaluated the total count of aerobic bacteria. They were able to isolate Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Streptococcus and Lactobacillus, revealing poor kitchen sponge sanitization practices.5
Microbiologists often refer to cellphones as petri dishes as they generate heat, live in the darkness of your pockets and often travel into the bathroom with you.6 You may not have given a second thought to taking your phone with you everywhere you go, from the dinner table to the doctor's office.
According to one survey,7 Americans check their phones nearly 47 times each day, affording ample opportunity for microorganisms to move from your hand to the phone. Emily Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, believes cellphones may be so bacteria-ridden since people take them where they would normally wash their hands before doing anything else.8
While research varies on how many germs are actually on the average cellphone, one study9 found over 17,000 bacterial gene copies on the phones of high school students. Another study10 found health care workers’ mobile phones were a reservoir for potential pathogens, were rarely cleaned and often touched during or after examination of patients.
To reduce the number of bacteria you carry around on your phone, keep it out of the bathroom and consider washing your hands more frequently. You may also consider investing in a small ultraviolet light sanitizer to kill bacteria without using excessive heat or moisture.
To sanitize your phone at home you'll want to avoid using excess moisture that can damage the interior. Most glass surfaces have a coating to repel oils so using anything abrasive can scratch the surface permanently. Steer clear of window cleaners, compressed air, bleach, hydrogen peroxide or abrasive powders. Use these weekly steps to thoroughly clean your cellphone and case.11
In a study conducted by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF),12 the researchers found the kitchen sink had the second highest concentration of microorganisms in the home. In another,13 researchers found the bathroom sink had more than 1,000 colony forming units.
Another study14 of hospital sinks found dangerous bacteria growing along the drain pipes. The humidity and relatively protected environment makes for an ideal breeding ground, according to researchers.15 According to the NSF16 it's important to clean and disinfect your sink once or twice a week and sanitize drains and garbage disposal monthly.
Start by removing soap deposits, food stains, rust and water spots by scrubbing with baking soda.17 You can sanitize germs in your sink by plugging the drain and filling with warm water and either vinegar or vodka. White vinegar is made with acetic acid and a powerful cleaner to cut through grease and remove mildew and stains.18
Vodka is 80 to 100 proof alcohol and is highly antibacterial without any odor. Essential oils also have a wide range of medicinal properties, including having powerful antibacterial properties. When essential oils are added to vodka in a spray bottle, some can also enhance the removal of mold, mildew and musty smells.19
Tea tree oil, citronella, lemongrass, orange and Patchouli essential oils have particularly strong bacterial fighting properties.20 Once a week, fill your sink with hot water and vodka or vinegar and then quickly pull the drain to allow it to flush your drain pipes. This also helps remove greased along the drainpipes and keep your sink draining well. Consider using in your bathroom sink as well.21
Cutting boards are another offender when it comes to harboring dangerous bacteria. Experts recommend having at least two cutting boards, one for foods safely eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables, and the second specifically for cutting raw meat, poultry and fish. This helps avoid transferring bacteria.
Surfaces you use to chop your food may have bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella.22 Since plastic cutting boards have been easier to sanitize, they were often thought safer. That was until the 1980s when a UC Davis researcher investigated and found although they are easier to sanitize, cutting often nicks the plastic, giving bacteria a place to hide.23
Wood may be tougher to sanitize, but it does not nick as easily. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)24 hotline recommends washing your cutting board in hot soapy water after each use and allowing it to completely air dry before putting it away.
Bamboo cutting boards are harder and less porous than wood, absorb little moisture and resist scarring from knives. Importantly, replace your worn boards as they develop hard-to-clean grooves.25
Your remote control is also covered in bacteria, mold and potentially infection-causing Staphylococcus aureus. And, if you don't clean your remote control, you can bet your hotel probably hasn't either. According to Katie Kirsch, who presented a study at the 2012 general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Houston:26
"Currently, housekeepers clean 14 to 16 rooms per eight-hour shift, spending approximately 30 minutes on each room. Identifying high-risk items within a hotel room would allow housekeeping managers to strategically design cleaning practices and allocate time to efficiently reduce the potential health risks posed by microbial contamination in hotel rooms."
The researchers from the University of Houston discovered an average of 67.6 colony forming units of bacteria per cubic centimeter on hotel remote controls.27 This is 13 times the maximum acceptable level recommended in hospitals.28
You’ll want to use the same precautions cleaning your remote control as you do with your phone to avoid damaging the electronics. Remove the battery and clean with a cotton dampened with rubbing alcohol, removing any grit or grime around the buttons with a cotton swab or wooden toothpick. Allow it to dry completely before replacing the batteries.29
Using nontoxic cleaners are as effective and safer than over-the-counter chemicals. Commercial sprays, wipes, scrubs and polishes often add toxins to your home environment instead of removing them. If you have ever felt nauseous, dizzy or gotten a headache after cleaning your home or using an air freshener, it is likely because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from the cleaners.
These chemicals irritate your eyes, nose and throat and over the long term can damage your liver, kidneys and central nervous system.30 You can't tell what types of toxic chemicals are in over-the-counter cleaning supplies because labeling is not required for all substances that may be in them. Even products labeled green, natural and organic may emit hazardous air pollutants.31
As previously mentioned, some essential oils have strong antibacterial properties and also add a fresh clean scent to your natural cleaning arsenal. For more information about how to make natural cleaning products at home see my previous article, “Keep a Clean House With Nontoxic Cleaners."
Although many times it is possible to be thrifty and safe at the same time, it can take a bit of effort to keep a disposable sponge clean. Using a microwave oven on high may make the sponge smell a little better, but researchers have discovered potentially pathogenic bacteria on sponges from those who claim to routinely disinfect them.32
While you're not required to pitch a sponge you pulled from the package yesterday, replacing them once weekly is a good idea. Only you know how much you've used it and what it's been used for. Consider if it was used to wipe the baby's mouth, soak up milk on the floor or clean the sink drain as these actions have likely deposited a greater number of bacteria than you imagine.
According to the USDA,33 microwaving sponges properly may kill up to 99.99999 percent of bacteria, while running them through the dishwasher kills 99.9998 percent. Forbes34 offers three ways to sanitize your sponges, which may have varying results:
If you do choose to use your microwave, Michigan State University35 advises the sponge be completely wet when you do it, as it could catch fire or explode in the process if it isn't. The wet sponge should be placed on high for one minute and left to cool for up to 15 minutes so you don't get burned.