Monday, December 25, 2017

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bone Broth—A Most Nourishing Food for Virtually Any Ailment

By Dr. Mercola

Bone broth has a long history of medicinal use. It's known to be warm, soothing, and nourishing for body, mind, and soul...

Physicians harkening as far back as Hippocrates have associated bone broth with gut healing. And while the importance of gut health is just now starting to fill our medical journals, this knowledge is far from new.

In fact, you could say modern medicine is just now rediscovering how the gut influences health and disease.

Many of our modern diseases appear to be rooted in an unbalanced mix of microorganisms in your digestive system, courtesy of a diet that is too high in sugars and too low in healthful fats and beneficial bacteria.

Digestive problems and joint problems, in particular, can be successfully addressed using bone broth. But as noted by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and coauthor (with Sally Fallon Morell) of the book, Nourishing Broth, bone broth is a foundational component of a healing diet regardless of what ails you.

How Broth Has Been Used Through the Ages

While our ancestors used to have a pot of soup continuously puttering over the hearth, this changed with the advent of the industrial revolution, at which point many poor people simply couldn't afford the fuel to keep the fire going.

Bouillons and broth powders got their start at that time, as the need for more portable soups arose. A major turning event was when Napoleon put out a call for portable soup to feed his army.

The winner of Napoleon's competition was Nicolas Appert1 (1749-1841), whose canning process paved the way for the modern day canned goods. Later, John T. Dorrance came up with a process to create condensed soup, which led to the empire now known as Campbell's Soups.

In the early 1990s, Campbell Soup was a decent product, boasting the best ingredients, including lots of butter, and recipes from the most famous chefs of the era. As noted by Dr. Daniel, it was a very different product from what we find in grocery stores today.

Today, if you want truly high-quality bone broth or soup, your best bet is to make it yourself. Fortunately, it's easy. The trickiest part is usually going to be finding organic bones.

Bone broth, Dr. Daniel says, is actually a fast food. It just requires a little planning. One efficient way to create your broth is to use a slow-cooker or crockpot.

This will allow you to put a few basic ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on low heat, and by the time you get home in the evening it's done.

Besides being convenient and efficient, it's also safe, as you won't have to worry about leaving a pot puttering on the stove, which could pose a fire hazard if left unattended. "It's an old-fashioned remedy for the modern world," Dr. Daniel says.

Benefits of Bone Broth

Leaky gut is the root of many health problems, especially allergies, autoimmune disorders, and many neurological disorders. The collagen found in bone broth acts like a soothing balm to heal and seal your gut lining, and broth is a foundational component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, developed by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

The GAPS diet is often used to treat children with autism and other disorders rooted in gut dysfunction, but just about anyone with suboptimal gut health can benefit from it.

Bone broth is also a staple remedy for acute illnesses such as cold and flu. While there aren't many studies done on soup, one study did find that chicken soup opened up the airways better than hot water.

Processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth. If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper.

The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to expel. Bone broth contains a variety of valuable nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb and use. This includes but is not limited to:

Calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals  Components of collagen and cartilage
Silicon and other trace minerals Components of bone and bone marrow
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate The "conditionally essential" amino acids proline, glycine, and glutamine

These nutrients account for many of the healing benefits of bone broth, which include the following:

  1. Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage and collagen.
  2. Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses etc.
  3. Indeed, Dr. Daniel reports2 chicken soup — known as "Jewish penicillin"—has been revered for its medicinal qualities at least since Moses Maimonides in the 12th century. Recent studies on cartilage, which is found abundantly in homemade broth, show it supports the immune system in a variety of ways; it's a potent normalizer, true biological response modifier, activator of macrophages, activator of Natural Killer (NK) cells, rouser of B lymphocytes and releaser of Colony Stimulating Factor.

  4. Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis3 (whole-body inflammation). Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
  5. Promotes strong, healthy bones: Dr. Daniel reports bone broth contains surprisingly low amounts of calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals, but she says "it plays an important role in healthy bone formation because of its abundant collagen. Collagen fibrils provide the latticework for mineral deposition and are the keys to the building of strong and flexible bones."
  6. Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the gelatin in the broth. Dr. Daniel reports that by feeding collagen fibrils, broth can even eliminate cellulite too.

How to Make the Most Nourishing Broth

The more gelatinous the broth, the more nourishing it will tend to be. Indeed, the collagen that leaches out of the bones when slow-cooked is one of the key ingredients that make broth so healing. According to Dr. Daniel, if the broth gets jiggly after being refrigerated, it's a sign that it's a well-made broth. To make it as gelatinous as possible, she recommends adding chicken feet, pig's feet, and/or joint bones.

All of these contain high amounts of collagen and cartilage. Shank or leg bones, on the other hand, will provide lots of bone marrow. Marrow also provides valuable health benefits, so ideally, you'll want to use a mixture of bones. You can make bone broth using whole organic chicken, whole fish or fish bones (including the fish head), pork, or beef bones. Vary your menu as the many types offer different flavors and nutritional benefits.

If you're using chicken, you can place the entire chicken, raw, into a pot and cover with water. Add a small amount of vinegar to help leach the minerals out of the bones. Alternatively, you can use the carcass bones from a roasted chicken after the meat has been removed. To ensure the broth is really gelatinous, Dr. Daniel suggests adding some chicken feet when you use the carcass of a roasted chicken, as some of the collagen will have been leached out already during the roasting process. You can also add vegetables of your choice into the pot.

The most important aspect of the broth-making process is to make sure you're getting as high-quality bones as you can. Ideally, you'll want to use organically raised animal bones. It's worth noting that chickens raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) tend to produce chicken stock that doesn't gel, so you'll be missing out on some of the most nourishing ingredients if you use non-organic chicken bones. If you can't find a local source for organic bones, you may need to order them. A great place to start is your local Weston A. Price chapter leader,4 who will be able to guide you to local sources.

You can also connect with farmers at local farmers markets. Keep in mind that many small farmers will raise their livestock according to organic principles even if their farm is not USDA certified organic, as the certification is quite costly. So it pays to talk to them. Most will be more than happy to give you the details of how they run their operation.

Sample Beef Broth Recipe

Below is a classic beef stock recipe excerpted from Nourishing Broth, as well as lamb and venison variations. For more nourishing broth recipes, I highly recommend Hilary Boynton and Mary Brackett's new GAPS cookbook, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet.

CLASSIC BEEF STOCK. Excerpted from the book NOURISHING BROTH by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. © 2014 by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Makes 4-5 quarts

Good beef stock requires several sorts of bones: knuckle bones and feet impart large quantities of gelatin to the broth; marrow bones impart flavor and the particular nutrients of bone marrow; and meaty ribs and shanks add color and flavor. We have found that grass-fed beef bones work best--the cartilage melts more quickly, and the smell and flavor is delicious.

Ingredients

  • About 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1 calf, beef, or pig foot, preferably cut into pieces
  • 3 pounds meaty bones such as short ribs and beef shanks
  • 1 small can or jar tomato paste (optional)
  • 4 or more quarts cold filtered water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 onions, ends removed and coarsely chopped (skin may be left on)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni made with parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf, tied together
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, or green or white peppercorns, crushed

Directions

  1. Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot, toss with vinegar and cover with cold water. Let stand for 1/2 to 1 hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a stainless steel roasting pan. For a particularly aromatic stock, brush the bones with tomato paste. Brown at 350 degrees in the oven, about ½ hour. When well browned, add these bones to the pot. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold filtered water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a simmer and carefully skim any scum that comes to the top. After you have skimmed, add the vegetables, bouquet garni, and peppercorns.
  2. Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 24 hours.
  3. Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl or several 2-quart Pyrex measuring cups. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.

Note: The marrow may be removed from the marrow bones a couple of hours into the cooking, and spread on whole grain sourdough bread. If left in the pan for the entire cooking period, the marrow will melt into the broth, resulting in a broth that is cloudy but highly nutritious.

Variation: Lamb Stock

Use lamb bones, especially lamb neck bones and riblets. Ideally, use all the bones left after butchering the lamb. Be sure to add the feet if you have them. This makes a delicious stock.

Variation: Venison Stock

Use venison meat and bones. Be sure to use the feet of the deer and a section of antler if possible. Add 1 cup dried wild mushrooms if desired.

Bone Broth—A Medicinal 'Soul Food'

Slow-simmering bones for a day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Making bone broth also allows you to make use of a wide variety of leftovers, making it very economical. Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.

"I would like to urge people to make as much broth as possible," Dr. Daniel says in closing. "Keep that crockpot going; eat a variety of soups, and enjoy them thoroughly."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Are Eggplants Good For?

By Dr. Mercola

Eggplant is a popular part of Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese cuisines, but in the US the average American eats less than one pound per year.1 They are, perhaps, the least popular member of the Solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, pepper, and potatoes, as well as some poisonous plants like Deadly Nightshade.

For centuries, in fact, especially in Europe, eggplant was regarded as a bitter plant more suited for decorating the garden than eating, and many believed it was unhealthy or even poisonous. It was even blamed for causing insanity, leprosy, and cancer.2

Early on, most eggplants were yellow or white-skinned, small and resembled the shape of an egg, hence their name. Through the years, however, new varieties of eggplant emerged, including the more familiar dark-purple variety often consumed in the US today.

In the 18th century, its taste became much less bitter and this vegetable rose out of obscurity and into some of the most beloved traditional dishes around the globe – like Middle Eastern baba ghanoush, Greek moussaka, French ratatouille, and Sicilian caponata.

If you’re new to eggplant, you might be surprised to find it can be quite sweet. Some even refer to it as a fruit, which, technically, it is (like the tomato).

Eggplants Are Packed with Antioxidants

Eggplants contain fiber, copper, B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium, but their brightly colored skin is a sign that they’re also rich in antioxidants. Anthocyanins are one type of phytonutrient that are responsible for that dark-purple color.

One variety, nasunin, has been found to have potent antioxidant and free-radical scavenging abilities. It’s also known to protect the fats in your brain cell membranes,3 and it has iron-chelating abilities, which is beneficial if you suffer from iron overload.

The predominant antioxidant in eggplants is chlorogenic acid, which also has anti-cancer, antimicrobial, and anti-viral properties. Chlorogenic acid is also one of the most potent free-radical scavengers found in plants. One variety of eggplant in particular, known as Black Magic, has been shown to have nearly three times the antioxidants as other varieties.4

In addition, nasunin and other phytonutrients in eggplant, including terpenes, are thought to be beneficial for heart health. Animal studies show that eggplant juice has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and also relaxes blood vessels for improved blood flow.5

Eggplant Extract May Kill Cancer Cells

A cream containing eggplant extract, known as BEC and BEC5, appears to cure and eliminate most non-melanoma skin cancers in several weeks' time. There are reports that extracts of plants from the Solanaceae family of vegetables are effective for treating cancer dating back nearly 200 years to 1825, according to natural health pioneer Dr. Jonathan Wright.

However, it wasn't until much later, after the 1950s, that they were formally studied. The leading researcher in this area today is Dr. Bill E. Cham, who reported as early as 1991 in Cancer Letters that:6

"A cream formulation containing high concentrations (10%) of a standard mixture of solasodine glycosides (BEC) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of malignant and benign human skin tumors.”

One of Dr. Cham's more recent studies was published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.7 The paper includes two impressive case reports of 60-something men who were suffering from large basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which had plagued them for years. The results upon treatment with a cream formulation of BEC (eggplant extract) twice a day are astounding:

  • In the first case, treatment with the eggplant-extract cream resulted in rapid break down of the tumor. After two weeks, the lesion was reduced to about half its original size, and after 14 weeks the cancer was clinically eliminated with no scar tissue formation. Even the hairs had regrown where the tumor was originally.
  • In the second case, after six weeks of treatment with eggplant-extract cream, the large skin cancer lesion appeared "cleaner" and some of the cancerous tissue had been replaced with normal tissue.
  • In another three weeks, the lesion was much smaller and more normal tissue was apparent. After a total of 14 weeks, the lesion was completely eliminated with no scar tissue present.

Unfortunately, simply eating eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, or similar veggies, while beneficial for many reasons, will not induce this same effect because the active components are not able to effectively penetrate your cells. This requires the addition of glycosides, molecules with various simple sugars attached to them that can latch on to receptors found on skin cancer cells.

That being said, eggplant compounds have also been found to have anti-proliferative activities against human colon and liver cancer cells.8 The fact that eggplant has anti-cancer effects is one more testament to the benefits of eating a wide variety of natural foods.

How to Choose and Prepare Eggplant

For best flavor, choose eggplants that are glossy in color, firm, and heavy for their size. The stem should be bright green, and if you push on the flesh with your thumb, it should bounce back. A lasting indentation is a sign that the eggplant may be overripe. Overripe eggplants tend to be more bitter in flavor, as do those that are stored too long.

You can store an uncut eggplant in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer (in a plastic bag), but they are quite perishable. Ideally, look for eggplants that are locally grown and use them as soon as possible after harvest.

One of the allures of eggplants is their versatility. They can be baked, roasted, steamed or boiled, mashed, pureed, diced, and sliced. Although it’s not a requirement, many people “sweat” their eggplant prior to using it in recipes to help draw out some moisture, tenderize the flesh and reduce any bitterness. To do so, the George Mateljan Foundation recommends:9

To tenderize the flesh's texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking. Rinsing the eggplant after ‘sweating’ will remove most of the salt.”

Healthy Grilled Eggplant Recipe

Eggplant is a perfect addition to soups, stews, casseroles, and side dishes, and it’s often used as a replacement for meat in those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. But it’s also quite tasty on its own. To savor the unique flavor and texture of eggplant, all you need is a bit of healthy oil, salt and pepper. The grilled eggplant recipe below, from the Rodale Recipe Index, is one well worth keeping:

Grilled Eggplant10

Ingredients

  • 4 eggplants (1 lb each), with peel, cut lengthwise into 1" thick slices
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Layer several paper towels on baking sheet. Place half of eggplant on top in single layer. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cover with paper towels. Arrange second layer of eggplant, sprinkle with remaining salt, and cover with paper towels.
  2. Let eggplant stand 30 minutes, then rinse each piece and blot dry. (This helps extract excess water, reducing bitterness and preventing eggplant from absorbing excess oil during cooking.)
  3. Brush both sides of an eggplant slice with oil to coat and transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant slices. Season with pepper.
  4. Heat grill to medium. Grill eggplant, with cover closed, 16 to 20 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned and tender. Refrigerate leftovers in airtight container for a day or two.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Documentary, “Poison on the Platter”: GE Foods Are Spreading Across India

By Dr. Mercola

The corporate and regulatory forces that are out to get genetically engineered (GE) foods onto your dinner plate by any means possible are not confined to the United States.

In his documentary, Poison on the Platter, Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt examines from a unique non-Western perspective how multinational corporations and government regulators have conspired to spread GE foods across India.

The film provides an insightful perspective about the world impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as discussed by scientists on the other side of the globe.

If you don’t believe contamination of our food supply by GMOs holds the potential for planetary disaster, you might change your mind after seeing this film. Mahesh Bhatt warns:

“In their mad rush to capture the multi-billion dollar Indian agriculture and food industry, the biotech multinational companies are bulldozing warnings by scientists about the adverse impact of GM foods on health and environment...

[T]his is hurtling mankind toward a disaster, which will be far more destructive than anything the world has seen so far, simply because it will affect every single person living on this planet.”

GE proponents claim that GE foods are the solution to world hunger, increased crop yield and variety, lowered input costs, and reduced environmental impact.

They also claim that foods derived from GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to foods created by conventional growing methods. The problem is that none of those claims are supported by science.

The List of Risks Posed by GE Foods Continues to Grow

Epidemiological patterns reflect a rise in more than 30 human diseases alongside the steady increase of GE ingredients in our food supply and the dramatic increase in the use of agrichemicals, such as glyphosate.

Glyphosate is not “just” an herbicide—it was originally patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, making them unavailable for your body. Glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic that can devastate human gut bacteria.

When you mix the genes of one species with those of another, you’re courting disaster. GE food trials involving laboratory animals have uncovered higher mortality, infertility, and multi-organ damage—such as bleeding stomachs.

Even Monsanto’s own mouse studies demonstrated that GE foods have toxic effects on multiple organs, including the liver and kidneys. One of the most ominous concerns about the GE food system is its impact on our soils.

Monoculture and massive agrichemical use are decimating soils at an alarming rate—soils that took thousands of years to develop. Trillions of beneficial microbes that make up healthy soil are destroyed, depleting its nitrogen and leading to soil erosion, pollution, and wasted water from massive runoff.

Nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoff has created dead zones along many coastal waterways. GE crop monocultures destroy in a blink what nature has taken millennia to create.

US Recklessly Speeds Ahead with Next-Generation GE Crops

What’s going on in India is not that different from the US. Despite all of the hellish evidence, there seems to be no risk substantial enough to deter the American government from pushing ahead with new GE seeds.

Herbicide and insecticide use is skyrocketing. USDA recently deregulated Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops, which are not only glyphosate-resistant, but also carry resistance to toxins like the Agent Orange ingredient 2,4-D and Dicamba. EPA has also approved Enlist Duo—a new herbicide to be used on Dow’s 2,4-D and glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans.

EPA has also doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed in your food. For example, soybean oil is allowed to contain a whopping 400 times the limit at which it can impact your health. Widespread use of GMOs has led to an enormous resistance problem.

Superweeds and resistant pests are rapidly spreading across farmland, which has necessitated the deployment of even more noxious chemicals. USDA data reveals that glyphosate use has increased 12-fold since 1996. Meanwhile, weed resistance has been documented on 60 million farm acres across the US.

The US Earns the Gold for Highest GE Food Production

The US is the world’s leading producer of GE foods, many of which are being exported to countries, like India, that will allow it. Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of GE seeds, producing 90 percent of those used across the globe. Yet three quarters of Americans are not even aware that they consume GE ingredients in almost every meal.

Many other countries believe that GE foods must be safe because Americans have been consuming them for two decades—and “not dying from them.” However, the fallacy of this reasoning is evident when you realize that it took the US about 500 years to realize that tobacco wasn’t safe.

The incidence of chronic diseases in the US has escalated since the introduction of GE foods. Therefore, no one can claim that Americans are healthy, and no one can say with any assurance that GE foods are safe. Many scientists argue that we haven't had enough time for the effects of GMOs to fully reveal themselves across populations—and when they do, the damage may be irreparable. In the words of GMO expert and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology Jeffrey Smith:

“I can say with absolute confidence that there is irrefutable and overwhelming evidence that genetically engineered foods are harmful and that they are not being evaluated properly by the governments of India, United States, the European Union, or anywhere in the world. This is one of the most dangerous technologies ever introduced on Earth, and it’s being deployed in our food supply. It is madness! What we need is a political willingness to say no more... We don’t understand the language of DNA.

Cheap Food Brings Expensive Healthcare

Genetically engineered foods have increased to keep pace with an exploding demand for "cheap food." Farmers are constantly pushed for higher yields. The current system is creating a glut of ecological problems, such as ravaging our bee populations. Forty years ago, Americans spent 16 percent of their income on food and eight percent on healthcare; today, those numbers are reversed. This "cheap food" system has bought us the most expensive healthcare in the world. In the same way that medical schools and universities are controlled by the drug industry, the food system is controlled by the agrichemical industry.

The industrialized food system is putting many small farmers out of business. Land grant universities, funded by corporate agribusiness, are under enormous pressure to shush any research that goes against the party line. Educational institutions are afraid to "bite the hand that feeds them." Mark Kastel, Co-Founder of The Cornucopia Institute, explains how other strategies are used to ensure that the public never finds out about the health dangers of GMOs:

"Monsanto and others actually have contracts with farmers, a technology agreement that prohibits the farmers from using any of their crop for research—other than agronomic research and yield research. So they can't partner with a physician or a medical researcher to take a look at the impact on human health. They've really impeded our ability to know whether or not GMOs are safe."

Big Bucks Buys Big Votes

Money changes everything. Monsanto, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and other pro-GMO forces continue pouring millions into every anti-labeling campaign in an effort to prevent you from knowing what you’re eating. Their strategy consists of false claims, lies, and scare tactics, but their money is buying them smaller and smaller margins—labeling laws are coming closer to passage with each election. Every “loss” is actually a “win” when you look at the trends. As people gain awareness of the issues, they will refuse to stand for the status quo.

  • In 2012, industry spent $45 million to defeat California’s Prop 37 labeling bill, and it lost by six points.
  • Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling laws in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million. According to the most recent analysis, opponents of GMO labeling spent more than $27 million on lobbying in the first six months of 2014 alone—this is about three times more than they spent during all of 2013.
  • In the November 2014 election, the GMO industry and supporters spent $37 million to prevent Oregon and Colorado from passing their respective labeling laws. This effort was successful in Colorado, but in Oregon the race couldn’t be any tighter!

It’s Time to Stop the Insanity

Election season may be over, but you can vote with your wallet every day. If enough of us make our voices heard, things CAN change. For example, you can boycott GMA Member Traitor Brands, which helps level the playing field. As always, continue educating yourself and sharing what you've learned. Think of yourself as being pro-evidence, as opposed to anti-GMO. Just because you question something doesn't mean you're opposed to it—you just want more evidence so that you can make a good decision for yourself and your family. This film provides one more learning tool that you can forward to your friends and family, to help them take charge of their health.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Answering Emails After Work Is Bad for Your Health

By Dr. Mercola

The majority of US workers (52 percent) check their e-mail during non-work hours, including on sick days.1 Depending on your employer, it may be an unspoken requirement to respond immediately, but, more likely, you respond right away not because of actual workplace policy but due to a phenomenon known as “telepressure.”

Telepressure, according to Northern Illinois University Larissa Barber, PhD, is “the urge to respond immediately to work-related messages, no matter when they come.”2 Some might find this to be efficient, but what it really does is blur the line between your work life and your personal life, such that you may rarely get a real rest.

Barber’s study was revealing… those who felt greater telepressure, and therefore a stronger urge to check and respond to e-mails at all hours, faced some serious consequences. As noted in the Journal of Occupational Health and Psychology:3

This experience [workplace telepressure] can lead to fast response times and thus faster decisions and other outcomes initially. However, research from the stress and recovery literature suggests that the defining features of workplace telepressure interfere with needed work recovery time and stress-related outcomes.”

What Are the Risks of Being Always Accessible?

Those who experienced greater telepressure, and therefore made a habit of responding to e-mails ASAP no matter what the hour, reported:

  • Worse sleep
  • Higher levels of burnout (physical and cognitive)
  • Increased health-related absences from work

As Barber told TIME:4 

It’s like your to-do list is piling up, so you’re cognitively ruminating over these things in the evening and re-exposing yourself to workplace stressors… When people don’t have this recovery time, it switches them into an exhaustion state, so they go to work the next day not being engaged.”

This is not a uniquely American problem, of course. In the European Union, surveys show that people are finding it increasingly difficult to stop their work life from blending with their private life.5 And in Germany, psychological illness is the reason for 14 percent of missed work days, which is a 50 percent rise over the last 12 years.6

And according to a survey of more than 2,000 people, work topped the list as the most stressful factor in people's lives. Workplace stress resulted in 7 percent of adults having suicidal thoughts.

That figure was even higher among 18-24-year olds — as many as 10 percent in this age group have had suicidal thoughts as a result of work stress. One in five people also reported developing anxiety due to work-related stresses, and even more disturbingly, nearly 60 percent reported using alcohol after work to cope.7

Without the necessary downtime during non-work hours, it’s easy to see how this stress and burnout could quickly spiral out of control. And the cost associated with all this stress goes beyond that of an individual’s health. It’s also costly to employers.

“Stress-related health expenses, productivity losses and the costs associated with high employee turnover rates is currently costing American companies an estimated $360 billion each year.”8

Germany Considers Law to Protect Citizens from Work-Related Stress

In the US, where close to one in four Americans receive no paid vacation or holidays, leading to a country known as the “no-vacation nation,” workplace well-being is not often an issue that ends up on the ballot (and least not favorably).9

This is not the case in certain other countries, like France, where a legally binding labor agreement introduced this year mandates that 250,000 employees “disconnect” from work in every way outside of working hours (and this is in addition to the 35-hour workweek the country adopted in 1999).10

In Germany, meanwhile, the labor minister has commissioned a study to define the cost of work-related stress to the economy, which might “pave the way” for an anti-stress act that was recently proposed by Germany’s metalworkers’ union. That act includes wording that employees should be protected from being “permanently reachable by modern means of communication.”11

Already, certain German employers have taken matters into their own hands. Volkswagen, for instance, stopped its servers from sending emails to certain employees outside of working hours back in 2011. And Daimler has given 100,000 workers the option of having their emails automatically deleted while they’re on vacation.12

Another Reason to Avoid Checking Your E-Mails After Work…

Checking e-mails late at night not only exposes you to work-related stress… it also exposes you to artificial light. The quality of your sleep has a lot to do with light, both outdoor and indoor lighting, because it serves as the major synchronizer of your master clock.

Exposure to even small amounts of light from your computer, tablet, or smartphone can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. The research is quite clear that people who use their computer or smartphones near bedtime are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia.13

Plus, when you're connected to the Internet, your phone or computer are communicating with nearby cell towers, which means they're also emitting low levels of radiation. One 2008 study revealed that people exposed to radiation from their mobile phones for three hours before bedtime had more trouble falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep.14

I recommend turning off electronic gadgets at least an hour prior to bedtime, but sooner is better. If you must check an e-mail at night, you can try a free computer program called f.lux (see JustGetFlux.com), which alters the color temperature of your computer screen as the day goes on, pulling out the blue wavelengths (which suppress melatonin production) as it gets late. You can also wear yellow-tinted glasses, which block the blue wavelengths of light.

It’s Important to Set Boundaries for Your Work Hours

In an interview with the Atlantic,15 writer Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, explained that birth rates are actually declining in the US.

Young people simply don't see how they can juggle both work and family life, with the latter being ultimately sacrificed. Busyness and "living a fast-paced life" are increasingly being viewed as signs of status. The more e-mails you have to check in a day, the more important you are.

The more meetings you attend, phone calls you receive, and lessons your child attends, the better. On the work front, especially, extreme hours are valued and overwork has become the norm. This has a tremendous impact on your quality of life outside of work, of course, as many are unable to fully disconnect from work, unwind, and pursue valuable leisure pursuits. As Schulte explained:

"…overwork has really become pervasive. I'm not talking about hard work. I'm all for hard work that we find meaning in. But overwork leaves us burned out and disengaged butts in chairs at work and fried at home without the energy to do much more than flop down in front of the boob tube."

Not quite the leisure the ancient Greek philosophers had in mind when they said pure leisure was that place where we both refreshed the soul and become most fully human... Against that backdrop comes technology and the ability to be connected 24/7,

This leads to a feeling of constantly being "on call," that you can never quite get away from work, that the boundaries that used to keep work more contained have bled and spilled over into the hours of the day that used to be for family, for self, for leisure, for sleep."

One solution is to set boundaries that help delineate work and personal time. Reserve your morning for exercise and meditation, for example, and don’t check e-mail until you get into the office. After your work has concluded for the day, ‘unplug’ from all technology to give yourself time to recharge.

Are You Ready to Unwind? Make the Most of Your Non-Work Hours

After you've gone to work, finished your errands or household chores, and gotten your kids to bed, many are simply too tired to think about stress relief, so they zone out to mindless entertainment or social media and go to bed feeling frazzled and anxious (maybe after checking more work e-mails, too)… not surprisingly, they then start off the next day feeling much the same. It's a vicious cycle, but one that's easily broken by turning stress management into a habit. You needn't devote hours to stress relief every day. Instead, you'll find that activities you already do can work wonders for calming your nerves, especially if you make a commitment to doing them on most days of the week. Try…

1. Exercise

Exercise affects a neurotransmitter that has an antidepressant-like effect on your brain while helping to decrease muscle tension.16 Exercise also guards against the adverse physical effects of stress. During periods of high stress, those who exercised less frequently had 37 percent more physical symptoms than those who exercised more often.17

2. Spend More Time in Nature

Going outdoors helps to relieve your stress naturally, with research showing levels of the stress hormone cortisol lower in those who live in areas with the most green space, as are their self-reported feelings of stress.18 Even five minutes in nature can help reduce stress and boost your mood.

3. Focus on Your Breathing

Learning to breathe mindfully can modify and accelerate your body's inherent self-regulating physiological and bioenergetic mechanisms. These changes are in large part due to the fact that you're oxygenating your body properly as well as correcting your internal and energetic balance, and it has a direct impact on your nervous system. Ideally, you should be breathing primarily through your nose. Learning a simple technique called Buteyko breathing can help you restore normal and beneficial breathing patterns.

4. Participate in Activities You Enjoy

Engaging in a hobby gives you crucial time to play and simply enjoy yourself. A hobby can take your mind off of stress and adds more much-needed fun to your life.

5. Eat Right

Schedule time to eat without rushing or too close to bedtime, and make sure to maintain optimal gut health by regularly consuming fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. Plenty of scientific evidence now shows that nourishing your gut flora with the friendly bacteria within fermented foods or probiotics is extremely important for proper brain function, including psychological well-being and mood control.

6. Stay Positive

This is a learned technique that can lead to a more joyful life and likely much better health, as those who are optimistic have an easier time dealing with stress, and are more inclined to open themselves up for opportunities to have positive, regenerative experiences. Try keeping a list of all that you're grateful for and make a commitment to stop any negative self-talk.

7. Stay Connected

Loneliness can be a major source of stress, so make a point to connect with those around you – even a quick chat while in line at the grocery store. Work your way up to volunteering, attending community events, meeting acquaintances for coffee, or taking a class to meet others with like interests.

8. Take a Break or Meditate

Taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can trigger your relaxation response.19 Even meditating during your breaks can help you to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Report Will Reveal Which Yogurts Are Healthy, and Which Are Best Avoided

By Dr. Mercola

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Kastel, co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, about their long-awaited and much-needed Yogurt Report. The interview took place at the recent Heirloom Seed Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, where we both had the honor of speaking.

The idea for the Yogurt Report was seeded about two years ago. I was out of town and a friend requested yogurt, so I went out looking for some in a local grocery store.

To my dismay, I couldn't find a single healthy yogurt. They were all junk food disguised as "health food." Previous to this experience, I was unaware of how truly degenerated most commercial yogurts had become.

I believe this is really a strong case of deception, so I turned to The Cornucopia Institute. It required two years of investigation.

If you're eating yogurt to help optimize your gut flora, you need to review this report. Chances are you're currently eating yogurt that has more similarities with candy than anything else...

Have You Been Deceived?

Most commercial yogurts are chockfull of artificial colors, flavors, additives, and sugar, typically as fructose (high fructose corn syrup), which actually nourishes disease-causing bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut. Since your gut has limited real estate, this smothers your beneficial bacteria and gets you sick.

Sugar also promotes insulin resistance, which is a driving factor of most chronic disease. Virtually all commercially available yogurts use pasteurized milk (heated at high temperature) even before it is reheated to make the yogurt itself, and this has its own drawbacks.

The top-rated yogurts are generally VAT pasteurized at relatively low temperatures, and are made from raw milk rather than previously pasteurized milk. While not as advantageous as making yogurt from raw milk in your own home, it's certainly better than most commercial yogurt.

The report also took a look at the food industry's labeling campaign, Live and Active Cultures, which is supposed to help consumers select products with high levels of healthy probiotics.

To assess probiotic content, Cornucopia tested yogurt purchased directly from grocery stores instead of following the industry's practice of testing levels at the factory. As it turns out, many of the brands bearing the Live and Active Cultures label contain LOWER levels of probiotics than the top-rated organic brands in Cornucopia's report and scorecard that are not part of the Live and Active campaign.

The report also includes a comparative cost analysis of commercial yogurt brands. The good news is that many organic yogurts are actually less expensive, on a price-per-ounce basis, than conventional, heavily-processed yogurts.

Cornucopia Files Complaint; Requests FDA Investigation

As noted in their press release announcing the release of the report:

"Based on its industry investigation, The Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal complaint with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency to investigate whether or not certain yogurts on the market, manufactured by such companies as Yoplait, Dannon, and many store brands including Walmart's Great Value, violate the legal standard of identity for products labeled as yogurt.

The Cornucopia Institute requests that the legal definition of 'yogurt' be enforced for product labeling, just as it is for products labeled 'cheese.'

'The reason that Kraft has to call Velveeta® 'processed cheese-food' is that some of the ingredients used, like vegetable oil, cannot legally be in a product marketed as 'cheese',' Kastel added.

Cornucopia alleges that some of the ingredients that manufactures are using in yogurt, like milk protein concentrate (MPC), typically imported from countries like India, do not meet yogurt's current legal standard of identity."

Why You Need Probiotics

Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria, mostly in your gut, which is more than 10 times the number of cells you have in your entire body. It's now quite clear that the type and quantity of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases.

A healthy microbiome is not only important for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, these bacteria also help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals, aid in the elimination of toxins, and are responsible for a good part of your immune system and mental health, including your ability to resist anxiety, stress, and depression.

One recent study1, 2 discovered that yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help protect children and pregnant women against heavy metal poisoning.

As shown in earlier research, certain microorganisms are particularly efficient at binding to certain toxins and/or chemicals, including pesticides. Here, they found that L. rhamnosus had a preference for binding (and eliminating) mercury and arsenic.

According to the authors: "Probiotic food produced locally represents a nutritious and affordable means for people in some developing countries to counter exposures to toxic metals." Probiotics also have dozens of other beneficial pharmacological actions,3 including:

Anti-bacterial Anti-allergenic Anti-viral Immunomodulatory
Anti-infective Antioxidant Antiproliferative Apoptopic (cellular self-destruction)
Antidepressive Antifungal Cardioprotective Gastroprotective
Radio- and chemo protective Upregulates glutathione and certain glycoproteins that help regulate immune responses, including interleukin-4, interleukin-10, and interleukin-12 Downregulates interleukin-6 (a cytokine involved in chronic inflammation and age-related diseases) Inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha inhibitor, NF-kappaB, epidermal growth factor receptor, and more

It's also important to realize that your gut bacteria are very vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors. Some of the top offenders known to decimate your microbiome include the following—all of which are best avoided:

Sugar/fructose Refined grains Processed foods Antibiotics (including antibiotics given to livestock for food production)
Chlorinated and fluoridated water Antibacterial soaps, etc. Agricultural chemicals and pesticides Pollution

Brain Health Is Strongly Tied to Gut Health

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, your gut may actually play a far more significant role. Mounting research indicates that problems in your gut can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression.4 For example:

  • One proof-of-concept study5, 6 conducted by researchers at UCLA found that yogurt containing several strains of probiotics thought to have a beneficial impact on intestinal health also had a beneficial impact on participants' brain function; decreasing activity in brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation such as anxiety.
  • The Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility7 reported the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 normalized anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis by modulating the vagal pathways within the gut-brain.
  • Other research8 found that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had a marked effect on GABA levels—an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes—in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.

Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat can quickly alter the composition of your gut flora. Specifically, eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of microbiota than a more typical Western diet high in carbs and processed fats.

This is part and parcel of the problem with most commercially available yogurts—they're widely promoted as healthy because they contain (added) probiotics, but then they're so loaded with ingredients that will counteract all the good that they're basically useless... The negative effects of the sugar far outweigh any marginal benefits of the minimal beneficial bacteria they have. Remember, the most important step in building healthy gut flora is avoiding sugar as that will cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial flora.

Surprisingly, Mark Kastel notes that some of the organic brands of yogurt actually contained some of the highest amounts of sugar! It's important to realize that some yogurt can contain as much sugar as candy or cookies, which most responsible parents would not feed their children for breakfast. Artificial flavors are also commonly used.

You Can Easily and Inexpensively Make Your Own Yogurt

Your absolute best bet, when it comes to yogurt, is to make your own using a starter culture and raw grass-fed milk. Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows not only contains beneficial bacteria that prime your immune system and can help reduce allergies, it's also an outstanding source of vitamins (especially vitamin A), zinc, enzymes, and healthy fats. Raw organic milk is not associated with any of the health problems of pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps.

To find a local source of raw grass-fed milk, see RealMilk.com.

While delicious as is, you could add a natural sweetener to it. Mark suggests whole food sweeteners such as raw organic honey or maple syrup, for example. You can also add flavor without sweetening it up by adding some vanilla extract, or a squirt of lime or lemon juice. Whole berries or fruits are another obvious alternative. Just be mindful not to overdo it, especially if you're insulin or leptin resistant—and about 80 percent of Americans are.

Nourish Your Microbiome with Organic Yogurt for Optimal Health

Cultured foods like yogurt are good sources of natural, healthy bacteria, provided they're traditionally fermented and unpasteurized. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is to obtain raw milk and convert it to yogurt or kefir. It's really easy to make at home. All you need is some starter granules in a quart of raw milk, which you leave at room temperature overnight.

By the time you wake up in the morning you will likely have kefir. If it hasn't obtained the consistency of yogurt, you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge.

A quart of kefir has far more active bacteria than you'd obtain from a probiotic supplement, and it's very economical as you can reuse the kefir from the original quart of milk about 10 times before you need to start a new culture pack. Just one starter package of kefir granules can convert about 50 gallons of milk to kefir! Cultured foods should be a regular part of your diet, and if you eat enough of them you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria. There may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, but for day-to-day gut health maintenance, yogurt and other traditionally cultured or fermented foods are truly ideal choices.

Increased Screening Has Led to Rise in Thyroid Cancer Misdiagnosis

By Dr. Mercola

Thyroid cancer appears to be on the rise in many areas of the world, although recent research suggests this may be more due to over-diagnosis than an actual increase in incidence.

In the US, the rate of thyroid cancer has doubled since 1994.1 In South Korea, it has become the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, having increased 15-fold in the past 20 years.

However, some cancer experts note that the situation in South Korea is likely due to increased screening and misdiagnosis of harmless tumors. As noted in the featured article:2

“South Koreans embraced screening about 15 years ago when the government started a national program for a variety of cancers — breast, cervix, colon, stomach and liver.

Doctors and hospitals often included ultrasound scans for thyroid cancer for an additional fee of $30 to $50... Although more and more small thyroid cancers are being found, however, the death rate has remained rock steady, and low.

If early detection were saving lives, death rates should have come down. That pattern — more cancers detected and treated but no change in the death rate — tells researchers that many of the cancers they are finding and treating were not dangerous.”

The Risks of Over-Diagnosis

Finding tiny benign tumors that really do not need treatment is known as over-diagnosis—a phenomenon that is also common in other kinds of cancer screening, particularly breast cancer.

It’s emotionally difficult to take a “wait and see” approach once a tumor has been noted on a test or scan, but treating it can do far more harm than good if it’s benign. Far more people die with thyroid cancers than from them.

Left alone, a benign, slow-growing tumor might never cause a problem—indeed as many as one-third of people die with small thyroid tumors that remained undetected throughout their lives,3 and the cancer didn’t actually cause their death.

Removing and treating harmless tumors, however, can lead to a slew of cascading health problems. For example, surgical removal of your thyroid means you need to take thyroid hormones for the remainder of your life.

For many, this will lead to less than optimal hormone function. Chronic hormone deficiency, depression, and other symptoms of low thyroid function can become lifelong companions as a result... Surgical removal of the thyroid can also result in accidental damage to your vocal cords and/or parathyroid glands.

In South Korea, two percent of patients suffer vocal cord paralysis, and 11 percent end up with hypoparathyroidism as a result of damage to the parathyroid glands—the latter of which detrimentally affects calcium regulation in your body.

Experts Call for Restraint in Screening for Thyroid Cancer

The answer, some cancer experts say, is to simply reduce screening that finds these tiny, harmless cancers. One of the South Korean authors of the featured paper4 goes so far as to propose thyroid cancer screening should be banned. As noted by the New York Times:

“[C]ancer experts said the situation in South Korea should be a message to the rest of the world about the serious consequences that large-scale screening of healthy people can have.

‘It’s a warning to us in the US that we need to be very careful in our advocacy of screening,’ said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. ‘We need to be very specific about where we have good data that it saves lives.’

...These tiny cancers, called papillary thyroid cancers, are the most common kind and are the sort typically found with screening. They are known to be the least aggressive.

The epidemic was not caused by an environmental toxin or infectious agent, said Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth, an author of the paper.5

‘An epidemic of real disease would be expected to produce a dramatic rise in the number of deaths from disease,’ he said. ‘Instead we see an epidemic of diagnosis, a dramatic rise in diagnosis and no change in death.’

...[T]he lesson from South Korea should be heeded, said Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute. ‘The message for so long is that early detection is always good for you,’ he said.

But this stark tale of screening gone wrong ‘should acutely raise awareness of the consequences of acting on the intuition that all screening must be of benefit and all diagnoses at an early stage are of benefit.’”

One in Eight Women Have Thyroid Disease

While the actual incidence of thyroid cancer may not be on the rise, thyroid disease has become very prevalent in today’s world, courtesy of a number of different lifestyle factors.

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD, one in eight women aged 35-65 has some form of thyroid disease6—underactive thyroid being the most common. More than one-quarter of women in perimenopause are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, in which insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone is produced.

Thyroid hormones7 are used by every cell of your body, which is why the symptoms can vary so widely. For example, thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and body weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may also include but are not limited to the following:

Fatigue, loss of energy, and general lethargy Cold intolerance
Muscle and/or joint pain Decreased sweating
DepressionPuffiness
Weight gainCoarse or dry skin and hair
Hair lossSleep apnea
Carpal tunnel syndromeForgetfulness, impaired memory, and inability to concentrate
Menstrual disturbancesDecreased appetite
Impaired fertilityConstipation
Fullness in the throat and hoarsenessIncreased risk of heart disease
Increased “bad” cholesterol (LDL)Weakness in extremities
Emotional instabilityBlurred vision
Mental impairmentDecreased hearing
Bradycardia (reduced heart rate) 

The Effect of Thyroid Disease on Mental Health

Depression and other mental health problems are perhaps particularly notable symptoms of thyroid dysfunction—if nothing else because it’s a common side effect that is easily overlooked and therefore misdiagnosed. If your depression is due to an underactive thyroid, clearly the answer to your problem is not an antidepressant but rather addressing your thyroid function... As explained by Dr. Northrup:

“The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the area of your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It’s part of the endocrine system, and it secretes the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyroxine (T3), which regulate the body’s metabolic rate. Thyroid function is very complex and exerts a profound effect on the function of nearly every other organ in the body. Therefore, smooth functioning of the overall body chemistry depends on the health of your thyroid gland.

It is not uncommon for women with thyroid problems to suffer from depression. One explanation for this is that the most biologically active form of thyroid hormone, T3, is actually a bona fide neurotransmitter that regulates the action of serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is important for quelling anxiety.”

It’s important to realize that thyroid dysfunction is a complex issue, with many variables. As noted by Dr. Northrup, midlife hypothyroidism can be related to underlying estrogen dominance, in which case taking thyroid hormone fails to address the root of the problem. Medications can also disrupt your thyroid function, in which case the most appropriate remedy may not be to add thyroid hormone.

Known thyroid-disrupting drugs include steroids, barbiturates, cholesterol–lowering drugs, the antiepileptic drug Dilantin, and beta-blockers. Heavy metal toxicity is yet another factor that can be part of the problem (to learn more about this, please listen to my interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright, below). Last but not least, Dr. Northrup8 also points out that thyroid disease oftentimes has an emotional/spiritual component:

“Thyroid disease is related to expressing your feelings, something that until relatively recently had been societally blocked for women for thousands of years. In order to have your say—and maintain your thyroid energy—you must take a fearless inventory of every relationship in which you feel you don’t have a say...

One more thing, thyroid disorders are also related to our relationship to time. The thyroid is adversely affected by feeling as though there’s never enough time or that you are running out of time. This feeling also results in adrenal burnout (which is related to thyroid disorders.). Our culture’s relationship to time is very unbalanced... A starting point here is to realize that you have all the time there is. Literally. And all the time that anyone else has—24 hours in a day.

You can change your relationship to time by changing the way you pay attention... Take regular moments during the day to simply put your attention on something. Notice a beautiful flower. Or a tree. Or the sky. Slow down and pay attention. Eventually this little practice will improve your relationship to time.”

Treating Overactive Thyroid


The reverse condition, in which too much thyroid hormone is produced, is called hyperthyroidism. While far less common, it can be a very serious condition. Making matters worse, conventional treatment options usually involve using radioactive iodine, which is a disaster, or surgery. According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, there may be a much better and safer option: a combination of iodine and lithium. This treatment originated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), at their department of thyroid. They had enough people with hyperthyroidism there that they were able to divide them into four treatment groups, receiving either:

  • Lithium
  • Lugol’s iodine
  • Lithium first and then, three or four days later, iodine
  • Lugol’s iodine first, and then three or four days later, lithium

The group that started with Lugol’s iodine and finished with lithium did significantly better than all of the other groups in getting the hyperthyroidism under rapid control. More than two decades ago, The Mayo Clinic also published an article on the treatment of hyperthyroidism using lithium. Here, they used lithium alone, and were also able to bring abnormally high T3 and T4 numbers down to normal within a week to 10 days. It didn’t work on everybody though.

According to Dr. Wright, Walter Reed’s system is profoundly effective. Of all the people treated for hyperthyroidism in Dr. Wright’s clinic, amounting to about 40, there have only been two cases where the protocol failed. Normal levels can often be achieved in less than two weeks. In summary, the treatment is as follows:

  • Patient starts out on five drops of Lugol’s iodine, three times per day
  • After four or five days, patient starts receiving 300 mg of lithium carbonate, one to three times per day

The Importance of Iodine for Thyroid Function

Iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid and efficient metabolism. Even the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached -- T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 (the biologically active form of the hormone) has three -- showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry.

As your body cannot produce its own iodine, it must be obtained from your diet.  Iodine is sequestered into your thyroid gland, where it is incorporated into the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) or triiodothyronine (T3). In healthy individuals these hormones are precisely regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and are required by all metabolically active cells in your body. Unfortunately, iodine deficiency is extremely common these days, and while toxic exposure plays a significant role in thyroid disease, this nutritional deficiency is an important factor.

More than 11 percent of all Americans—and more than 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age—have urine iodine levels less than 50 micrograms per liter (mcg/L),9 indicating moderate to severe iodine deficiency. An additional 36 percent of reproductive-aged women in the US are considered mildly iodine deficient (<100 mcg/L urinary iodine). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking an iodine supplement during pregnancy, as most pregnant women are deficient.10

Your iodine levels can also be affected by toxic exposures. Iodine is a member of a class of related elements called "halogens," which includes bromine, fluorine, and chlorine. When they are chemically reduced, they become "halides" (iodide, bromide, fluoride, and chloride). Most people today are exposed to these halogens/halides via food, water, medications, and environment and these elements selectively occupy your iodine receptors, further deepening your iodine deficit. Additional factors contributing to falling iodine levels include:

Water fluoridation Diets low in fish, shellfish, and seaweed Vegan and vegetarian diets
Decreased use of iodized salt Less use of iodide in the food and agricultural industry Use of radioactive iodine in many medical procedures, which competes with natural iodine

How Much Iodine Do You Need?

In Japan, the daily dose of iodine obtained from the diet averages around 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2-3 milligrams (mg), and there’s reason to believe this may be a far more adequate amount than the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg. Some argue for even higher amounts than that, such as Dr. Brownstein, who recommends 12.5 milligrams (mg) on a regular basis. Other proponents of higher iodine amounts include Guy Abraham, an ob-gyn and endocrinologist at the University of Southern California, and Dr. Jonathan Wright, a pioneer in natural medicine. To learn more about iodine supplementation at higher dosages, and other treatment protocols for correcting thyroid dysfunction, I highly recommend listening to my interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright.


Download Interview Transcript

Take Control of Your Thyroid Health

Thyroid hormones are used by cells throughout your body, making it very important to address your thyroid health. Again, iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid, and it’s also important for the prevention of breast cancer. If you’re not getting enough from your diet (in the form of seafood), you’d be well advised to consider taking a supplement, ideally a high-quality seaweed supplement (be sure to check its source to avoid potential radioactive contamination), or other iodine-containing whole food supplement.

As for thyroid hormone replacement, you have two basic options: bioidentical or synthetic hormones.11 Bioidentical thyroid hormones—which are what I recommend using—include Nature-Throid and Westhroid. They’re made from desiccated pig thyroid glands and contain the full spectrum of thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, and T1. Synthroid (generic brand: Levothyroxine) is synthetic, and contains only T4. Keep in mind that in some cases, if you're borderline hypothyroid, you may actually only need an iodine supplement rather than a thyroid hormone replacement.

With regards to screening, there’s ample evidence suggesting that thyroid cancer screening is unnecessary unless you have reason to suspect cancer. Also remember that screening does not equate to prevention. Addressing your thyroid health is far more important and beneficial than relying on screening to alert you to a potential problem. Especially considering that the chances of over diagnosis are great, and treating an otherwise harmless tumor may result in greater harm than leaving it alone and simply focusing on lifestyle factors such as diet and detoxification to improve your thyroid health.

Preventing Kidney Stones May Be As Simple As Changing Your Diet

By Dr. Mercola

In the 1970s, less than 4 percent of Americans had suffered from kidney stones. By the 1990s, this had increased to more than 5 percent. Today, with rates continuing to rise, kidney stones will impact one in 10 US adults at some point during their lives1 -- usually between the ages of 20 and 50.

In most cases, kidney stones pass without causing lasting damage, but the pain during passing can be excruciating. Kidney stones are also sometimes associated with lower back pain, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, fever, and chills.

Generally, the larger the stone, the more pain and symptoms it will cause. Sometimes aggressive treatments are needed to clear the stones, and each year, more than half a million people go to US emergency rooms due to kidney stones.2

Once you’ve had them, your risk of recurrence increases. About 35 percent to 50 percent of people will have another bout with kidney stones within five years unless changes are made.3 What type of changes? According to new guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians (ACP), one of the simplest strategies you can take is to drink more water.

Staying Hydrated Lowers Your Risk of Recurrent Kidney Stones

The number one risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough water. If you aren't drinking enough, your urine will have higher concentrations of substances that can precipitate out and form stones.

Specifically, stone-forming chemicals include calcium, oxalate, urate, cysteine, xanthine, and phosphate. These chemicals should be eliminated in your urine via your kidney, but if too little liquid is present, they can join together to form a stone. According to the National Kidney Foundation:4

“Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine… In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming.”

The new ACP guidelines call for people who have had a kidney stone in the past to increase their fluid intake so they have at least two liters of urine per day, which they say could decrease stone recurrence by at least half.5 To achieve this, they recommend increased fluid intake spread throughout the day, pointing out that both water and mineral water are beneficial.

Research shows, for instance, among patients with kidney stones that those who increase hydration to reach two liters of urine a day had a 12 percent recurrence rate compared to 27 percent among those who didn’t increase their fluid intake.

The National Kidney Foundation recommends drinking more than 12 glasses of water a day, but a simpler way to know if you are drinking enough water is to check the color of your urine; you want your urine to be a very light, pale yellow (darker urine is more concentrated).

Every person's water requirement is different, depending on your particular metabolic requirements and activity level, but simply keeping your urine light yellow will go a long way toward preventing kidney stones.

Remember to increase your water intake whenever you increase your activity and when you're in a warmer climate. If you happen to be taking any multivitamins or B supplements that contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin), the color of your urine will be a very bright, nearly fluorescent yellow and this will not allow you to use the color of your urine as a guide to how well you are hydrated.

Water Reduces Risk, But Soda Increases It

One important point: not just any fluid will do to increase your urine output. While water and mineral water were protective, drinking soda is associated with kidney stones, possibly because the phosphorus acid it contains acidifies your urine, which promotes stone formation.

In addition, one South African study found that drinking soda exacerbates conditions in your urine that lead to formation of calcium oxalate kidney stone problems.6 The sugar, including fructose (and high fructose corn syrup in soda), is also problematic.

A diet high in sugar can set you up for kidney stones, since sugar upsets the mineral relationships in your body by interfering with calcium and magnesium absorption. The consumption of unhealthy sugars and soda by children is a large factor in why children as young as age 5 are now developing kidney stones.

Sugar can also increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in your kidney, such as the formation of kidney stones. According to The National Kidney Foundation, you should pay particular attention to keeping your fructose levels under control:7

"Eating too much fructose correlates with increasing risk of developing a kidney stone. Fructose can be found in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. In some individuals, fructose can be metabolized into oxalate."

So if you’re a soda drinker, cutting back is an important strategy to remember. In one study, those with kidney stones who eliminated soda from their diet lowered their risk of recurrence by about 15 percent.8

Kidney Stones Associated with Increased Risk of Broken Bones

As mentioned, kidney stones usually pass without any lasting complications, however there are some long-term associated risks. Kidney stones increase your risk of developing chronic kidney disease, for instance, and new research also shows they might be associated with more brittle bones.9

Past research has suggested that people with kidney stones have lower bone mineral density. The new study used data from more than 52,000 people and showed that those with kidney stones were at a significantly higher risk of bone fractures. Specifically:10

  • Men with kidney stones were 10 percent more likely to suffer broken bones than men without
  • Male teens with kidney stones had a 55 percent higher fracture risk than those without
  • Women with kidneys stones had a 17 percent to 52 percent increased fracture risk depending on age (from their 20s to 60s); those aged 30-39 had the highest risk

Fluoride Also Linked to Kidney Stones

If you live in area with fluoridated drinking water (such as most of the US), you might be interested to know that high levels of fluoride in water are associated with kidney stones.11 The condition was nearly five times more common in an area with high fluoride (3.5 to 4.9 parts per million, or ppm) than a similar area without high fluoride levels in the water.12

Overall, the prevalence of kidney stones in the high-fluoride area was nearly double in those with fluorosis than those without. Dental fluorosis – a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled – is one of the first signs of over-exposure to fluoride.

Eventually, it can result in badly damaged teeth, and worse... It's important to realize that dental fluorosis is NOT "just cosmetic." It can also be an indication that the rest of your body, such as your bones and internal organs, including your brain, has been overexposed to fluoride as well. In other words, if fluoride is having a visually detrimental effect on the surface of your teeth, you can be virtually guaranteed that it's also damaging other parts of your body, such as your bones. A reverse osmosis water filtration system can remove fluoride from your drinking water.

Exercise, Avoiding Overeating Are Two More Powerful Tools for Preventing Kidney Stones

You're more prone to kidney stones if you're bedridden or very sedentary for a long period of time, partly because limited activity can cause your bones to release more calcium. Exercise will also help you to resolve high blood pressure, a condition that doubles your risk for kidney stones. Even low amounts of exercise may be beneficial to reducing your risk. In a study involving more than 84,000 postmenopausal women, it was found that those who exercised had up to a 31 percent lower risk of kidney stones.13 The link persisted even with only small amounts of physical activity.

Specifically, the research showed a lower risk from three hours a week of walking, four hours of light gardening or just one hour of moderate jogging. You can find my comprehensive exercise recommendations, including how to perform highly recommended high-intensity interval training (HIIT), here. Diet wise, women who ate more than 2,200 calories per day increased their risk of kidney stones by up to 42 percent, while obesity also raised the risk. It should be noted that even though obesity increases kidney stone risk, weight loss surgery that alters your digestive tract actually makes them more common. After weight loss surgery, levels of oxalate are typically much higher (oxalate is the most common type of kidney stone crystal).

3 More Dietary Approaches for Avoiding Kidney Stones

We’ve already covered drinking plenty of water and avoiding soda, excess sugar and fructose. What else can help reduce your risk?

1. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body, and deficiency of this mineral has been linked to kidney stones. An estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient, so this could be a major factor. Magnesium plays an important role in your body's absorption and assimilation of calcium, as if you consume too much calcium without adequate magnesium, the excess calcium can actually become toxic and contribute to health conditions like kidney stones.

Magnesium helps prevent calcium from combining with oxalate, which, as mentioned, is the most common type of kidney stone. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, and one of the simplest ways to make sure you're consuming enough of these is by juicing your vegetables. Vegetable juice is an excellent source of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts like almonds, and seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Avocadoes are also a good source.

2. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods (But Be Careful with Supplements)

In the past, kidney stone sufferers have been warned to avoid foods high in calcium, as calcium is a major component of the majority of kidney stones. However, there is now evidence that avoiding calcium may do more harm than good. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study of more than 45,000 men,14 and the men who had diets rich in calcium had a one-third lower risk of kidney stones than those with lower calcium diets. It turns out that a diet rich in calcium actually blocks a chemical action that causes the formation of the stones.

It binds with oxalates (from foods) in your intestine, which then prevents both from being absorbed into your blood and later transferred to your kidneys. So, urinary oxalates may be more important to formation of calcium-oxalate kidney stone crystals than is urinary calcium. It is important to note that it is the calcium from foods that is beneficial -- not calcium supplements, which have actually been found to increase your risk of kidney stones by 20 percent.15

3. Avoid Non-Fermented Soy

Soybeans and soy-based foods may promote kidney stones in those prone to them, as they may contain high levels of oxalates, which can bind with calcium in your kidney to form kidney stones. This is just one reason why unfermented soy -- the type found in soy milk, soy burgers, soy ice cream, and even tofu -- is not a health food. If you were to carefully review the thousands of studies published on soy, I strongly believe you would reach the same conclusion as I have -- which is, the risks of consuming unfermented soy products FAR outweigh any possible benefits.

If you're interested in enjoying the health benefits of soy, choose fermented soy, as after a long fermentation process, the phytate (which blocks your body's uptake of essential minerals) and anti-nutrient levels of soybeans (including oxalates) are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.

So while kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful, the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk… Check out my nutrition plan for a simple, step-by-step guide for what types of foods to eat to reduce your risk of kidney stones and other chronic and acute health conditions.