I am not about to start a food blog here! (Although, Manuka Honey is absolutely delish!) I want to introduce you to the amazing powers and benefits of having Manuka Honey in your medicine cabinet (or kitchen) at home.
Long before the days of Neosporin, there were natural solutions to most scraps, burns, wounds, sore throats, and infections. Over the decades, we have drifted away from these solutions looking in favor of man-made, chemical-filled, toxic answers. Why? Because doctors tell us we should. But times are changing, and our society is beginning to question more, research deeper, and demand healthier options.
As with most products on shelves, there are several options to choose from, and most of the time, you get what you pay for. This is no exception. The highest quality, most beneficial Manuka Honey will cost more, but it will last you quite a while.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka Honey is one of nature’s most powerful medicines. It comes from New Zealand, made from bees that pollinate the native Manuka bush. Only those specific bees in this specific region of New Zealand can create this powerful honey. It is then tested and verified by independent labs for its properties and exported all over the world.
Manuka Honey consists of:
- Hydrogen peroxide (found in all honey)
- Methylglyoxal (MG) (A powerful antibiotic compound)
It is the Methylglyoxal (MG) compound that sets Manuka honey apart from other types of honey. MG is much more stable than hydrogen peroxide and doesn’t lose its antibacterial properties. It is this element that provides the benefits listed below, but not all Manuka Honey is created equal. There is a UMF number found on each brand and jar of the honey. This is the Unique Manuka Factor, and it is extremely important when purchasing your honey. It tells you the antibacterial power found within that honey; the higher the number, the more powerful the honey. While UMF 1+ to 10+ holds benefits, they are not more beneficial than your average local honeys. Looking at a UMF of 10+ to 15+ is better, and will provide benefits, a Manuka Honey of UMF 16+ or higher is what you want to find.
How can Manuka Honey benefit you?
Research shows Manuka to be effective against over 60 species of bacteria, and can be used topically on wounds and infections. It is quite effective as a wound dressing to promote fast, improved healing.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is more commonly known as the ‘Super Bug.’ Due to the antibiotic overuse and drug ineffectiveness within our society, we have caused certain strains of Staph to become so powerful that the only option is surgery or other ultra-invasive solutions and medications. Research has found the Manuka Honey can combat the strongest, most threatening genes of the MRSA bacteria. When a higher concentration of Manuka honey is used, it is able to effectively treat the major wound-infecting types of bacteria. If antibiotics are used, Manuka honey can help them be more effective and even reverse antibiotic resistance.
Research shows that Manuka Honey can actually cure a sore throat as it can inhibit the bacteria causing a Strep Throat. More recently, it has even been approved by the National Cancer Institute to be used to heal inflammation in the throat from chemotherapy.
Low Stomach Acid and Acid Reflux
Clostidium Difficult is a dangerous bacteria related to intestinal imbalances. Manuka Honey is an effective way to defeat this bacteria. Taking Manuka Honey can reduce reflux and rebalance the digestive system as a whole, healing stomach issues.
Clinical trials have also shown that Manuka honey has a positive effect in the treatment of various cancer tumors. The honey was effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and also proved to increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments.
Acne and Eczema
While no studies have been performed yet, the testimonies speak for themselves. Topical use of Manuka Honey seems to cure acne and eczema; leave the homey on for 10 minutes and then wipe off – repeat daily until healed.
Research shows that Manuka Honey drastically reduces the pain from a burn, speeds healing, and can prevent infection from occurring.
The rich anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties of Manuka Honey can prevent infection in people with venous ulcers.
Tooth Decay and Gingivitis
This powerful honey has been shown to improve oral health and prevent gingivitis. One study showed that chewing on Manuka Honey for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, can reduce tooth plaque and bleeding gums.
Because Manuka honey is an effective antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory topical treatment for skin problems, it is also excellent for treating shingles. One study showed that Manuka Honey was able to treat the virus that causes shingles.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS and IBD plague many in our society without medical reasoning to support why. I believe it to be an unbalanced gut, as the gut health is what controls most bodily issues. No studies have been performed involving IBS and Manuka Honey, but in clinical trials involving IBD, researchers found that Manuka Honey reduced inflammation in the colon. It is safe to believe the testimonies about the positive relationship between Manuka and IBS as well.
Manuka Honey is naturally 4x stronger than any other honey, and is rich in fructose, amino acids, enzymes and B-complex vitamins, particularly thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and B6. Its mineral content includes calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese in various amounts.
Manuka Honey has also been found to fight:
• Athlete’s Foot
• Hair Loss
Even when you lead a healthy lifestyle, sickness happens. Of course, it is best for our bodies to be prepared to fight off any bad bacteria, but sometimes we need help. It is so easy to pull into to the drug store and grab the most promising over-the-counter product, but is it the best option? What about for our children?
I cannot explain how often people ask me about my home ‘medicine cabinet.’ They want to know if I secretly have a stash of some cure-all product. They want to know what to have on hand when sickness invades their home so that they can avoid the dye and chemical-filled medicines down the street. With a world of homeopathies and natural remedies, what works? What items are helpful for what ailments? What is worth keeping on hand? Oils? Pellets? Foods? The list is never-ending, and no one seems to just give you a list of what to use and when.
While these natural items are things that I recommend, or have used, it is not an exhaustive list. I wanted to take the most common ailments that patients ask about and offer natural remedies to at least explore before grabbing the Motrin or Ibuprofen. Yes, I do keep dye-free children’s Motrin on hand as a ‘last resort.’ I use it when a fever is above my comfort zone within my own child, and when she is beyond comfort. Please read about why you should NEVER resort to Tylenol on my blog HERE. (Also note that the AAP does NOT recommend to EVER alternate the use of Tylenol and Motrin. Learn about recommendations https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Issues-Advice-on-Managing-Fevers-in-Children.aspx)
A list of natural remedies to have for basic ‘First Aid’ and Sickness:
*Remember that with homeopathies and natural items, they can be taken in combination with one another, but it is not necessary. You can alternate these throughout the illness or stick to only 1-2 of them. I want to give you options to find locally or order within your budget.
Flu (Preventative and Remedy):
· Celletech’s Winter Balance (remedy) and Winter Tonic (prevention) taken weekly and then continuously at the onset of flu symptoms (These products are wonderful and worth researching to add to your medicine cabinet – read more http://celletech.com/about-us.html ).
· Oscillococcinum – pellets can be dissolved in water for fastest relief.
· Bioron Gelsemium Sempervirens 200C – 3-4 pellets dissolved in water repeated until symptoms subside.
· Elderberry Syrup
· Increased Probiotics
· Vitamin D3
· Aloe Vera Juice
· Triguard: If you feel one coming on take 30 drops in orange or grapefruit juice 3 times a day until symptoms subside. (Learn more http://anaturalhealingcenter.com/Products/tri_guard.html)
Cough, Cold and Nasal Discharge:
Depending on type of cough (dry, croupy cough. Wet, deep cough. Dry, hacking cough) and color/thickness of discharge, there are specific hemopathies that are meant to be used. I keep the following on hand, as recommended by the National Center for Homeopathy. (Learn more http://www.homeopathycenter.org/coughs-and-colds )
· Aconite: watery runny nose, sneezing, headache; early stages of croup.
· Arsenicum: profuse watery nasal discharge, nose feels stopped up, frequent and violent sneezing; nasal discharge may be thick and yellow; dull throbbing frontal headache; cough from deep in chest.
· Bryonia: dry, painful, spasmodic cough, worse with deep breathing, eating, drinking, in warm rooms and during the day; better from the open air.
· Hepar sulphur: rarely used in the beginning stages; cold may have started with watery, runny nose, but now nasal discharge is thick, yellow and may be bad smelling; sneezing at the slightest exposure to cold.
· Kali bichromicum: used during later stages of cold; discharge thick, yellow or greenish, and stringy, difficult to remove from nose; thick post-nasal drip; sinus headache.
· Nux vomica: illness after exposure to cold or cold dry weather; onset not sudden; dry, tickling and scraping sensations in nose; nose stuffy and dry at first, then develops a watery and often irritating discharge with sneezing; nose may alternate between stuffed up and runny.
· Pulsatilla: bland yellow to yellow-green nasal discharge, with stuffiness alternating with fluent discharge; nose may run in the open air and the evening, and stuff up in a warm room; lips are chapped and peeling; dry mouth with a lack of thirst; both dry and loose coughs,
· Spongia: loud, dry, barking cough and hoarse, rasping respirations; breathing sounds like saw being driven through a board.
· Activated Charcoal Powder: This is amazing and has multiple uses, but for upset stomach, diarrhea, food poisoning, vomiting, etc it cannot be beat.
· Increased Probiotics
Items I always have on hand:
· Belladonna: Sudden High Fever
· Coconut Oil: The uses are endless.
· Magnesium: Cramping, growing pains, and so much more. Research shows that magnesium (Epsom salt) in the bath can help the body fight illness.
· Manuka Honey UMF16 or above (and goldenseal mixed as a paste on wounds): Acne, burns, sore throat, allergies… This can even work on an early staph infection! Talk about powerful.
· Colloidal Silver: Any sign of infection can be battled with Colloidal Silver. It can be used on open cuts, ingested, as eye drops for pink eye, etc.
· Raw Garlic: Nature’s antibiotic, consuming this can fight off illnesses.
· Arnica Gel (not to be used on open wounds): ‘Growing Pains,’ bruises, unopened ‘boo-boos’ and sore muscles
· Arnica Pellets: stiffness, sore muscles, light pain from injury
· Milican Oil: Ear ache or swimmer’s ear
· C Salts: My first line of defense for sudden constipation.
· Bone Broth: Keep a batch in the freezer to pull out whenever needed.
As I said, this is not an exhaustive list, but one that covers the most common illnesses that strike our homes. There are many other options out there that may also work, but these are the short list that have made it to my personal ‘Non-Medicine Cabinet.’
Make sure to follow proper dosing and consult your primary doctor with questions.
Medication is not the first resort.
I have several clients who came to my practice with a medicine cabinet full of prescriptions to help them be ‘healthy.’ It’s funny isn’t it; how many drugs a person must take to counteract the problems occurring within the body? The truth is that these drugs typically act as a mask. They may lessen symptoms and appease doctors, but do they actually aid in solving the root of the problems?
Let’s talk about what blood pressure is.
“When your heart beats, it pumps blood round your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.”
There are two readings you need to understand when having your blood pressure taken: Systolic (SBP: the higher number) and Distolic (DBP: the lower number). Your Pulse Pressure is the difference between these two numbers. While a systolic number above 140 (hypertension) places an individual at higher risk of problems, the greater the pulse pressure, the higher the risk factors become.
Hypertension exists in two stages:
Stage 1: SBP 140-159 or DBP 90-99
Stage 2: SBP > 160 or DBP > 100
Instead of reaching for the medication, let’s look at the main underlying causes to hypertension:
- Physical Inactivity
- Sleep Apnea
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Primary Aldosteronism
- Thyroid Issues
There are many other reasons an individual may be experiencing hypertension, but altering the current lifestyle should help immensely.
More than 15% of deaths today are linked to high blood pressure. Remember that hypertension triggers strokes, heart attacks, aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure. According to the American Heart Association 28% of Americans have high blood pressure and don’t even know it.
Even if you are not actively hypertensive, it may be time to evaluate your lifestyle to see how you can prevent it from occurring in the future.
Things to consider when trying to lower your blood pressure:
NIH recommends the DASH diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. Personally, I tend to recommend skipping anything labeled ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ and stick with real food, as opposed to altered, processed foods that contain food substitutes.
Foods to avoid: alcohol, processed foods, sugar, trans-fats, caffeine, excess sodium.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again. Exercise can (also) help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.”
SUPPLEMENTS (Always talk to your doctor about adding supplements into your routine)
The following are all linked to lowering blood pressure:
- Fish Oil
- Coenzyme Q10
- Cat’s Claw
- French Lavender
- Celery Seed
- Deep Breathing
- Quit Smoking
- Lessen Chronic Stress
- Get More Sleep
Several studies lead to the same conclusion: Chiropractic care, in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can aid in lowering blood pressure. More research needs preformed, but from personal experience, I believe that these three categories (along with adding homeopathics, acupuncture, and supplements) will keep the medications far from your body.
Did you know that there are two different types of happiness?
Eudaimonic Well-Being: Giving, passionate, nurturing, intrinsically happy
Hedonic Well-Being: Superficial happiness, ‘consummatory’ self-gratification
These two traits are both defined as happiness, but only one is linked to positive well-being; while the other can have lifelong negative effects.
In the past few years, as the science has unfolded in linking eudaimonic happiness to health, I have often pointed my patients toward the published information. Too often, I see clients who take longer to shake a cold, those who get the flu year after year, and some who just never feel healthy. They all say that they are happy with their lives, but if they open their minds to this research and start seeking true joy, I tend to notice a huge difference in the way their body handles and maintains an adjustment.
In 2013, Scientists from the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and the University of North Carolina found that positive psychology (happiness) impacts human gene expression (our DNA). In a study that took over 10 years to conclude, researchers learned just how life-altering it can be when an individual reaches an overall state of happiness.
Previous research had found that immune cells shift during extended periods of stress, threat or uncertainty. This shift is called the conserved transcriptional response to adversity, or CTRA, and it occurs when there is an “increased expression of genes involved in inflammation and a decreased expression of genes involved in antiviral responses.” But no one had looked at the emotion of happiness, and how it plays a role in the overall well-being of the human body.
Happiness can prevent and protect us from illness and disease, and it help lessen the impact or heal those who are ill. In the last 10-15 years, research has been published that links eudaimonic happiness to lower heart rate and blood pressure, healthier heart rate variability, increased immunity, decreased risk of various diseases (such as coronary heart disease), and increased chances of positive health outcomes during an illness. A 2010 study found that for every additional point of happiness a subject earned during their research, their individual risk of heart disease decreased by 22%.
What does this mean for those who fulfill their happiness by spending money and living a materialistically happy life? Simply put, it means the exact opposite of everything above. Instead of having low levels of inflammatory gene expression with high levels of antibodies and antiviral genes, their blood shows an hostile environment with high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression. This leads to higher risk of illness, chronic problems, and earlier death.
The 2013 study included blood samples from 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounding negative psychological and behavioral factors. The outcome not only taught us that eudaimonic happiness alters us at a cellular level, but researchers learned that both types of people (eudaimonic and hedonic) expressed the same levels of positive emotion. This means that just feeling happy is not what alters our genetic makeup; it is the happiness that occurs when we are doing good in this world that makes us healthier.
Researchers have found that the following 10 habits are scientifically linked to happiness, with acceptance being the number one predictor of reaching true happiness
- Giving: do things for others
- Relating: connect with people
- Exercising: take care of your body
- Appreciating: notice the world around
- Trying out: keep learning new things
- Direction: have goals to look forward to
- Resilience: find ways to bounce back
- Emotion: take a positive approach
- Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
- Meaning: be part of something bigger
Take this as your inspiration to start working towards your own true happiness. You will thank yourself later.
Dr. Gary G Kohls, a retired holistic physician, has just released an article on Global Research entitled: Mitochondrial “Collateral Damage” Thanks to Big Pharma – Iatrogenic Drug and Vaccine-induced Mitochondrial Disorders.
After reading this article, I immediately knew it needed to be read by you, and by everyone. As a chiropractor, I agree whole-heartedly with this research and the conclusions that are made, and I cannot begin to explain just how many patients I have seen who have, or are still experiencing a condition caused by a medication.
Looking at our society as a whole, you can easily see how sick we are. Generations are facing Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases earlier than those before us. Bipolar disorder and other disorders of the brain have also increased overall and within younger age groups. There are so many of these conditions that have become known as “common iatrogenic diseases.” This means that the disease is caused by drug or doctor; however, this research is based only on commonly prescribed drugs and vaccine ingredients that are linked to causing the following (and more) conditions:
- Huntington’s disease
- Cancer including hepatitis-C virus-associated hepatocarcinogenesis
- Alzheimer disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Aging and senescence
- Anxiety disorders
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – late stage of nonalcoholic fatty infiltration of the liver)
- Cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis
- Sarcopenia (muscle-wasting disease, mainly of the elderly)
- Exercise intolerance
- Fatigue, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain
The research cited in the article shows that the ingredients in the following drugs and vaccines are making us sick. We are a walking toxic-filled, chronically ill society, and it is time to pull the blinders off. To statistically rank as having the most persistently-ill people (infants, children, and adults) in the developed world should be triggering alarms, but it is not. And why? The makers of these drugs intend to keep us sick; it benefits them. But it is not okay. It has never been okay.
These medications and ingredients are “documented to induce mitochondrial damage”
- Alcoholism medications Ex: Antabuse
- Alzheimer’s dementia drugs Ex: Tacrine (Cognex), Galantamine
- Analgesics (for pain) and anti-inflammatory drugs, Ex: Aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), indomethacin, Naproxen
- Anesthetics Ex: lidocaine, propofol (also general anesthetics likehalothane. isoflurane, sevoflurane)
- Angina medications Ex: amiodarone
- Antiarrhythmic (regulates heartbeat) Ex: amiodarone (also beta blockers)
- Antibiotics Ex: tetracycline (also chloramphenicol, Cipro)
- Antidepressants Ex: amitriptyline, citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Symbyax, Sarafem)
- Antipsychotics Ex: chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol, risperidone, quetiapine, clozapine, olanzapine
- Anxiety medications Ex: (Every benzodiazepine), including alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (valium)
- Barbiturates Ex: amobarbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, , propofol, secobarbital
- Cholesterol-lowering medications Ex: All statins – atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin, cholestyramine, clofibrate (Atromid-S)
- Cancer (chemotherapy) medications Ex: Mitomycin C, profiromycin, adriamycin
- Diabetes medications Ex: metformin, Glucophage, troglitazone, rosiglitazone, buformin
- HIV/AIDS medications Ex: (AZT, zidovudine)
- Epilepsy/Seizure medications Ex: valproic acid (Depakene, depakote, divalproex sodium)
- Mood stabilizers Ex: lithium
- Parkinson’s disease medications
- Vaccine Ingredients Ex: Mercury, aluminum, ethylene glycol
It seems to be a catch22, needing medication because you are ill, but the medication is linked to an illness. But realizing that a vaccine from childhood, a round of drugs prescribed years ago even could be the cause of the disease. It is possible, though to screen for mitochondrial toxicity as part of the preapproval process before a medication is approved to be distributed. This could aid in preventing so much of what our society suffers from.
Healing diets need to be researched, as they can decrease toxic effects of these ingredients. Nutritional therapies also need to be further researched.
There are pros and cons to every decision a person makes, including choosing to vaccinate a child or themselves. Accepting a medication is also a choice. Again, weighing pros and cons with these choices. Improving the gut and overall health of our infants, children, and ourselves, as well as spreading factual information as to why this is important, can call play a role in future statistics. Understand that knowledge is power.
Please take the time to read the original article, educating yourself and others. Then begin questioning and researching things for yourself; informed decisions are the best decisions anyone can make.
You may be risking your life for a good night’s sleep.
There are two different categories of sleeping medications: Over-The-Counter (OTC) and Prescription. I’m going to talk to you about the risks of both, beginning with OTC. OTC sleep aids may seem to be an easy fix, not addictive like prescription versions, and even safe because they are made so readily available. This is not the case, is it ever these days? If you are not sleeping well, or not falling asleep well, there is a deeper issue at hand. Finding a natural, healthy solution to the rooted issue will not only solve your sleeping troubles, but improve your overall wellbeing.
Most people assume that taking an OTC sleep aid won’t cause harm, but the sad truth is that a few doses can cause long-term problems. The main ingredient in many OTC sleeping pills is an antihistamine which results in the drowsy and sedative effect. Many OTC sleep aids also contain acetaminophen (Tylenol type products), especially if they advertise pain relief as well. For more specific information on Tylenol risks read here: http://peaandthepodchiropractic.com/the-truth-about-tylenol-dangers-for-infants-children-and-pregnant-women/
Most Common OTC Sleep Aids:
- Tylenol PM
- Advil PM
- Other store-name brands
OTC Sleeping Pills May Increase Your Risk of Liver Failure and are linked to brain damage.
The number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States is taking too much acetaminophen, which is incredibly easy to do considering just how many over-the-counter and prescription products contain this drug. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/07/21/FDA-Changes-Tylenol-Warnings-But-Doesnt-Tell-You-How-to-Take-it-Safely.aspx
Overdosing is as easy as taking a dose for a headache, cold or achy back that’s making it difficult for you to sleep, but having already taken one or more acetaminophen-containing products to relieve your pain and other symptoms during the day. Not realizing that compounding doses of acetaminophen can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, is what causes an overdose. This risk is important to be aware of, especially if you take Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM or other acetaminophen-containing sleep aids on a regular basis. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/29/overthecounter-sleep-meds-are-not-effective.aspx
The numbers are alarming, over $100 million or more is being spent on OTC sleep aids, and research shows that children 12 years and older along with adults are downing these medications like candy.
Taking these OTC Sleep Medications, even sporadically, can put you at risk of: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep-aids/art-20047860
- Skin rash
- Appetite increase, weight gain, loss of appetite, or even anorexia.
- Hypo-tension (abnormally low blood pressure).
- Blurred vision.
- Prostate problems.
- Liver toxicity.
- Morning hangover. Waking up groggy and feeling “drugged” is a common side effect.
- Daytime drowsiness and fatigue. OTC medications tend to last longer than 8 hours, leaving you unable to function well throughout the next day.
- Dental Decay
Benadryl and Sominex have previously been found to cause hallucinations in the elderly. All of the listed OTC drugs can negatively affect your brain, causing long-term cognitive impairment. These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine – a nervous system neurotransmitter. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease typically have a marked shortage of acetylcholine. The results of some studies indicate that these drugs with anticholinergic effects may be yet another piece of the puzzle that might explain the sharp rise in dementia and cognitive decline.
Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol, and Elavil are available only by prescription.
“Research involving data from more than 10,500 people who received drugs for poor sleep (hypnotics) showed that “as predicted, patients prescribed any hypnotic had substantially elevated hazards of dying compared to those prescribed no hypnotics” and the association held true even when patients with poor health were taken into account — and even if the patients took fewer than 18 pills in a year.
The study suggested that those who take such medications are not only at higher risk for certain cancers, but are nearly four times more likely to die than people who don’t take them.
Sleeping pills linked to these risks included benzodiazepines (such as temazepam), non-benzodiazepines (such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata), barbiturates, and sedative antihistamines.” http://www.darksideofsleepingpills.com/
Not only are prescription sleep medications linked to increased risk of death, but they place you at a 35% higher risk of cancer.
In addition to the side effects of the OTC versions, prescription sleep aids add the side effects:
- Sleep walking, sleep eating and even sleep driving
- Confusion and disorientation
- Complete amnesia from events, even those that took place during the day
Sleeping Pills Help You Fall Asleep Just 13 Minutes Faster and Sleep Only 11 Minutes Longer
Sleeping pills do nothing to help the underlying reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping in the first place. This is likely why studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can treat insomnia better than drugs
Better Options for a Good Night’s Sleep
Whether you are not able to fall asleep, wake up too often, or don’t feel well rested when you wake up in the morning, these options may provide you with techniques to improve sleep problems.
There are many factors that can influence your sleep, but one that many fail to consider is the use of lights, such as your TV, iPad, and computer, before going to bed. These emit the type of blue light that will suppress melatonin production and hamper your ability to fall asleep. Ideally, you’ll want to turn them off at least an hour prior to bedtime.
Next, making sure your bedroom is ideally suited for sleep can also go a long way to ensure restful and uninterrupted sleep:
- Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes to ensure complete darkness.
- Consider using a Himalayan salt lamp. It will give off a soft red glow, purify the air, and help you rest easier.
- Keep the temperature in your bedroom at or below 70 degrees F (21 degrees Celsius)
- Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well.
Natural sleep aids and insomnia treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy take time to treat this sleeplessness, usually a minimum of several days or weeks. It takes time and hard work to learn how to sleep if you have insomnia.
Chiropractic care and wellness adjustments will help you to relax. It also improves the blood flow in the nervous system and corrects any misalignments, or sublaxations in the spine. These subluxations compress the nerves and cause lack of communication between the spine and the brain. These subluxations lead to a process called stress response which puts the body out of balance and do not let the body rest.
Avoiding gluten, grains, dairy and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
Omega-3 fats (Like Krill Oil or Fermented Cod Liver Oil) are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins.
B vitamins are important for energy production in cells. And vitamin B6 works with the sleep aid 5-htp to help create serotonin.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3:
Adequate calcium and magnesium in your daily diet are also important nutrients for helping you relax and get a good night’s sleep. But according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, millions of Americans are not getting adequate amounts. Magnesium in particular may help with fatigue and stress reduction. Multivitamins almost never contain much calcium or magnesium, so you may need to supplement if your diet is lacking in these two essential nutrients. You should also make certain you are getting at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 every day (1,000 IU supplements are even better, especially during the dark winter months). Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption.
Make sure to use high quality supplements.
A melatonin sleep aid can be very effective for some people, especially for jet lag. Melatonin can be taken by itself as a natural sleep aid. It is also often seen as a blend in supplements, which may be the most effective way to use it.
Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, this substance is produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. In supplements, 5-htp often comes from Griffonia simplicifolia seed extract. 5-htp is a precursor to serotonin and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that has many functions, one of which is to regulate sleep. One of the great things about 5-htp is that it crosses easily from the blood into the brain. That’s why 5-htp taken by itself may be effective for reaching a natural calm mood and also help with depression.
As a natural sleep aid, it’s probably best to use 5-htp as part of a supplement blend.
This brain neurotransmitter is included in some natural sleep aids because it has a calming effect and relieves anxiety that can keep a person awake at night. GABA does promote drowsiness and may help some people fall asleep faster.
This is the most abundant amino acid in your body. It has a wide range of uses, including for insomnia, anxiety, and to improve mood.
This is also an amino acid and is naturally found in green tea. Studies have shown that green tea contains about 1 to 3% theanine. It has a relaxing and anti-anxiety effect on the mind.(Green tea itself is not a natural remedy for insomnia because this tea contains caffeine, but you can find a decaffeinated version.)
Herbal Sleep Remedies:
The best natural sleep aid will have some combination of sleep herbs in them.
- Lemon balm
Not all of these herbs need to be present for an all-natural sleep aid to be effective. Most herbal sleep aids will also often have melatonin mixed in with them, though not always.
Tips for falling asleep fast: http://www.sleeppassport.com/how-to-fall-asleep.html
The Truth about Tampons (and Pads)
*This article is in reference to non-organic products*
Disposable, single-use tampons and pads became available in much of the developed world in the first half of the 20th century. Today tampons are used by over 100 million women worldwide, while pads, which are much more widespread on a global scale due to a cultural aversion to tampons in many regions, comprise a multi-billion dollar industry. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB976238645760374015
The average woman uses an average of more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. It’s estimated that approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are filling (North American) landfills annually. These products require hundreds of years to biodegrade, particularly if wrapped in the plastic bag commonly provided for this purpose as part of their packaging. (In fact, every piece of plastic ever made, still exists to this day.) In addition to the environmental crisis these products produce, the actual process of manufacturing these products – turning wood pulp into soft, cotton-like fibers – is both resource- and chemical-intensive. http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/healthandscience/cumulative-exposure-and-feminine-care-products/ and http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/27/disposable-tampons-arent-sustainable-but-do-women-want-to-talk-about-it
While the environmental issues are cause enough for concern, I am writing to share something far scarier about these products.
The purpose of feminine care products is to clean, moisturize, absorb discharge or otherwise treat the sensitive skin and tissues of the vaginal area. The vagina (vulva and labia, too) is comprised of soft tissue that is incredibly absorbent. Inserting a standard tampon or placing a pad against this area is the equivalent of inviting toxic chemicals into your most delicate and absorbent areas.
Tampons and pads are sold under the cosmetic product label, and are therefore tested and determined to be “safe” if used on ordinary skin. (Which is a joke in itself, as the chemicals found within them have been proven that they should be nowhere near our skin or bodies.) This means chemicals of concern such as carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, and allergens are being used on, or even in, the extremely permeable mucus membranes of the vaginal area. (Yes, these chemicals are all approved for use in our cosmetics too.)
Tampons and pads are made of cotton, right? They are actually made of cotton and rayon:
- Rayon is not a natural substance and is classified as a synthetic fiber due to the chemical process used to create it.
- A few of the toxic chemicals used in the process of manufacturing rayon include carbon hydroxide, sulfuric acid, and carbon disulfide.
- Rayon absorbent fibers added to the tampon can stick to your vaginal wall (causing irritation) and some loose fibers may even be left behind when you remove the tampon potentially raising your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
- About 90% of the cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (GMO) according to the USDA. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx
- Conventional cotton (non-organic) is considered by many to be the world’s “dirtiest” crop. It is one of the highest sprayed (if not the highest) crops in the U.S.
- 5 of the top 9 pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. are classified by the EPA as a Category 1 & 2, which are the most dangerous. These pesticides have also been linked to cancer.
- A recent discovery by a university has discovered that feminine hygiene products contain a chemical (glyphosate) found in Monsanto’s famous “Roundup” herbicide. This chemical has been classified as “probably carcinogenic.”
According to Revolution News:
“Glyphosate was found in 85% of the products containing cotton bought in pharmacies and supermarkets including feminine care products like tampons and sanitary pads, sterile gauze pads, cotton swabs and wipes.”
February (2016),The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will begin testing food for glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used pesticide. This marks the first time that a U.S. agency will routinely test for glyphosate residue in food. It comes after the Government Accountability Office released a report condemning the FDA for failing even to disclose its failure to test for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue report.
Did You Know?
Tampons and pads are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process creates a by-product called dioxin, which has been labeled as a toxic carcinogen by the World Health Organization. (Learn more about the dangers of this toxic chemical here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/)
Bleaching exposes women to low levels of dioxins every time they use these feminine hygiene products. Not to mention, these toxins get stored in fat cells over time making it more difficult to maintain a healthy body throughout life.
* products labeled as ‘chlorine-free bleaching’ may still use methods containing chlorine dioxide.
Aside from pesticides, traces of dioxin, and GMOs, if you’re using scented tampons, be aware that such products may contain any of the nearly 3,000 fragrance chemicals in use. But, like the above mentioned chemicals, they probably won’t be listed on the label. An analysis by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), which acquired public patent documents held by Proctor & Gamble (the maker of Tampax and Always), showed the following chemicals may also be in your tampons. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/04/21/boycott-gmos-roundup.aspx
Chemical Name Function Potential Health Effects Found in Benzethonium Chloride Preservative, spermicide Not for use on mucous membranes, maternal and embryotoxicity Deodorant powders and suppositories, feminine wash Benzocaine Mild anesthetic Allergic rash, dermatitis Anti-itch creams Butylparaben Preservative Endocrine disruption, increased risk of breast cancer, allergic rash Wipes D&C Red 33 Colorant (dye) Not for use on mucous membranes Feminine wash Diazolidinyl urea Preservative Releases formaldehyde, allergic rash, cancer Feminine wash, douche Dioxins and Furans Contaminant from bleaching process Cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity Tampons (not disclosed on label) DMDM Hydantoin Preservative Releases formaldehyde, allergic rash, cancer Wipes, feminine wash Ethylparaben Preservative Endocrine disruption, increased risk of breast cancer, allergic rash Wipes Ext. Violet 2 Colorant (dye) Not for use on mucous membranes Feminine Wash FD&C Yellow No. 5 Colorant (dye) Allergic reactions including bronchial asthma Feminine Wash “Fragrance” Fragrance Contains undisclosed chemicals of unknown toxicity, likely to contain allergens, allergic rash, endocrine disruption, cancer Wipes, feminine wash, tampons, pads, douche, deodorant, anti-itch creams Methylchloroisothiazolinone Preservative Allergic rash Feminine wash Methylisothiazolinone Preservative Allergic rash Wipes, feminine wash, anti-itch cream Methylparaben Preservative Endocrine disruption, increased risk of breast cancer, allergic rash Wipes, deodorant, anti-itch creams Octoxynol 9 Spermicide Genital irritation, increased vaginal discharge, potential reproductive toxicity Douche Pesticide residues Contaminant of traditionally grown cotton Cancer, endocrine disruption, acute toxicity Tampons (not disclosed on label) Polyoxymethylene Urea Preservative Releases formaldehyde, allergic rash, cancer Deodorant powder Propylparaben Preservative Endocrine disruption, increased risk of breast cancer, allergic rash Wipes, anti-itch creams Quaternium-15 Preservative Releases formaldehyde, allergic rash, cancer Wipes, feminine wash 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1, 3-Diol Preservative Releases formaldehyde, allergic rash, cancer Wipes
Tampons and Pads have also been linked to the following:
- Imbalances pH of the vagina- Normal pH is essential for maintaining good vaginal health. When the pH is imbalanced a woman is at risk for vaginal issues such as infections, pain and discomfort.
- Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)- which is not as rare as we are made to believe. TSS can include causing endometriosis, abnormal pap smears, genital warts, etc. TSS is caused by a bacterial toxin that can also result in high fever, confusion, a rash similar to a sunburn, low blood pressure and can be fatal.
- Interfering with the menstrual flow- Tampons disrupt the natural downward flow of energy during menstruation which causes excess cramping and abdominal discomfort.
- Depleting natural fluids causing dryness and irritation- In addition to absorbing blood tampons also absorb the natural vaginal fluids which causes the vaginal walls to become dry and damaged.
- Containing mold – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/06/tampons-feminine-care.aspx
- Organic Tampons
- Organic Pads
- Reusable Fabric Pads
- Menstrual Cup
Pads and tampons are one of the most convenient inventions for feminine hygiene products in modern times; however, now more than ever it’s crucial for us to know what we’re putting into our body. Knowledge is power.
Breast Cancer is growing in staggering numbers – and in younger generations. We can blame hormones in the water, birth control, our food system, toxins in the air, and chemicals in our body products… and of course genetics, but the truth is, we just do not know what causes it. There are many links, and much research to support these thoughts, but the case may be different for each person battling the cancer.
This article is not meant as medical advice, but instead as a way to help those struggling to cross into a more natural-minded lifestyle while battling breast cancer. One person’s “right way” is not the same as another’s, so there is no judgement or shaming, only acceptance and words of guidance as you start to include more organic, back-to-the-earth options into your arsenal.
So, you have breast cancer. You have a team of doctors and surgeons. You have started chemotherapy and radiation. You have never questioned medicine in your life, until now. You have started googling and have become so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to go from here. You are starting to think that you need to change your lifestyle, whether to beat this cancer, or to prevent it from coming back in the future. You may even be worried about some of the things you have already put your body through.
The first thing I can tell you is this: BREATHE. You are being proactive. If you have a slow growing tumor or time in between treatments, then take the time to educate yourself with options and start a list of changes you would like to implement. The hardest battle you will fight is against closed-minded medical professionals. But remember that this is your journey to health, not theirs, and you have the right to include (or not include) what you feel would better your body. If you present your research, hopefully your team will be open to hearing your thoughts.
Everything that I will talk about can be done in conjunction with medical treatments, or whatever path you have chosen thus far. I’ve broken them into basic categories so you are not overwhelmed. You can pick and choose, dig deeper into more research, and go at your own pace. I am in your corner, and am here if you have questions or would like further ideas.
Bridging Gently into the Natural World While Battling Breast Cancer
Detoxing and Flushing Out the Toxins
There is no doubt that your body needs to eliminate toxins. The cancer toxins, and any radiation or chemotherapy that has been used so far. Chemotherapy and radiation does its jobs in killing the bad cancer cells, but they don’t stop there; they kill all of the good cells too. By killing these good cells off, you increase your risk of a second cancer later in life. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199206253262605
Fundamental to detoxification are the main organs of elimination, the liver and kidneys. Special attention is paid to the liver which processes chemotherapy and eliminates it. The safest and most effective natural detox will optimize liver function and restore liver health.
Detoxification during or after chemotherapy should always include the foundational approaches of maintaining high water intake, eating a proper diet rich in fiber and phytonutrients, and appropriate use of exercise. Combining these fundamentals with liver support, antioxidant therapy and the most current research make up the strongest detox protocols.
- Increasing Water Intake: Drinking (in ounces) at least 50% of your body weight allows enough fluid to help flush toxins.
- Detox Baths: Detoxing through a bath is a gentle and soothing way to release toxins. Make sure to shower and rinse off before climbing out of the bathtub.
- o Detox Bath Example:
2 cups Epsom salt 2 cups baking soda (aluminum free) 8 drops of pure Rosemary and Juniper Berry essential oils
Basic Procedure: Add salt and baking soda to a very warm bath and let dissolve for five minutes. Add four drops each of Rosemary and Juniper Berry essential oils, as both are specific for detoxing the body.
Diet and Supplements
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies.
Cancer is a glucose metabolizer. Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. Cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility, so when you eliminate carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, you effectively starve the cancer!
You can create your own diet based on your research, of course, but the top things I would recommend are:
- Ditching Sugar
- Lose the Processed Foods (anything in a box – or with a long shelf life)
- Eliminate Gluten and Dairy as they are inflammatory agents.
- Let go of GMO’s: Nothing chemically altered should enter the body
- Eat the Rainbow: Include all the fruits and vegetables of the rainbow, as many as you can, and on a daily basis.
- Read labels: or better yet, don’t buy things with labels.
Several studies highlight two citrus flavonoids, hesperetin and naringenin, found in oranges and grapefruit, respectively, and four noncitrus flavonoids, baicalein, galangin, genistein, and quercetin. These have been tested singly and in one‐to‐one combinations for their effects on proliferation and growth of a human breast carcinoma cell line. Tumor development was drastically delayed in the groups given unprocessed, organic orange juice or fed the naringin‐supplemented diet. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635589609514473
o Antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by chemotherapy or the lingering free radicals it creates. Antioxidants are also used by the body to clear waste and cellular debris left in the wake of chemotherapy oxidation. Research shows that antioxidants such as Vitamins A, B, C, E, etc. reduce chemotherapy side effects while increasing efficacy against tumors.
o There are specific phytonutrients that are even more promising antioxidants than these standard vitamins. Grape Seed Extract, for example, has been shown to be about 50 times more effective than Vitamin C at scavenging free radicals and through multiple mechanisms can inhibit cancer cell growth.
o Vitamin D: Studies show that by optimizing your vitamin D levels, you can double the chance of surviving breast cancer. Have your doctors check you levels regularly and supplement accordingly. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/13/vitamin-d-breast-cancer-prevention.aspx
Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is known as an elixir for your liver and is the king of detoxifying herbs. It contains the flavonoid silymarin, which is thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/14/milk-thistle-benefits.aspx
Curcumin (found in turmeric): Curcumin changes the regulation of DNA to help kill cancer. In fact, curcumin not only influences epigenetic settings, it also manages the downstream consequences, helping to guide multiple steps in the way gene orders are implemented. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/13/this-powerful-herb-changes-your-genes-to-combat-cancer.aspx
Omega 3: Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer, and studies have found that by simply supplementing the diet with animal-based omega-3 fats, you may reduce breast cancer risk by 32%. Studies also show that omega-3 fats influence two genes involved in keeping breast cancer at bay, all while reducing cancer cell growth. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/27/omega3s-reduce-your-risk-of-breast-cancer.aspx
Melatonin (only supplement if you are having trouble falling asleep): Peer-reviewed and published research has shown melatonin offers particularly strong protection against reproductive cancers. Cells throughout your body — even cancer cells — have melatonin receptors. So when melatonin makes its nightly rounds, cell division slows. When this hormone latches onto a breast cancer cell, it has been found to counteract estrogen’s tendency to stimulate cell growth. Read more on how to naturally increase melatonin levels: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/19/melatonin-benefits.aspx
Several studies show how juicing (organic, whole foods) fruits and vegetables can increase the body’s ability to fight cancer, especially breast cancer. You will come across so many recipes, your head will spin, but don’t over think it. Start with just basic juicing of foods that you know you will enjoy. Juicing allows you to “eat the rainbow” easier on a daily basis.
A few pieces of research to read:
On including wheat grass: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635580701308083
On including pomegranate: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-012-2264-5
Creating a “Green Juice” and incorporating it into your diet a few days a week (4-5 or so) can assist in the rapid removal of metabolic wastes from the body and the rebuilding of damaged tissues. Juicing helps clear the kidneys of toxins and contributes to the proper digestion of food.
A note: All items need to be organic and in whole food form (not powdered).
One example of a “Green Juice” is:
1 apple (to sweeten) 1 orange 2 stalks of celery 1 cucumber 1 carrot 1 bunch of parsley 1 bunch cilantro 8 beet greens 1 red bell pepper 1 green cabbage 1 lemon 1/2 bulb of ginger
- Eliminate Toxic Environments: To the best of your ability, eliminate toxins from entering your body.
o Avoid second hand smoke, or smoking yourself.
o Stop using synthetic products, such as candles and scented items in your home.
o Eliminate skin care products that contain aluminum, other chemicals, dyes, and artificial ingredients.
o Avoid storing food in plastic or styrofoam containers, and limit or eliminate the use of a microwave.
o Turn off electronics whenever possible and do not rest phones, laptops, etc on your body.
o Make your own cleaning products with vinegar, natural soap, and essential oils.
- Exercise: Create more oxygenated blood flow, produce sweat to release toxins, and practice deep breathing to detox the lungs.
- Coffee Enemas: these will aid in detoxing the body by increasing the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Oil Pulling: Pulling with a high quality coconut oil (or other oil) for 20 minutes 1-2 times a day will draw toxins from the body.
- Essential Oils:
o Frankincense (also known as Boswellia serrata): Frankincense has anti-inflammatory properties and, as research shows, is a potential treatment for brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers. Cancer scientists emphasize that this potency makes frankincense a viable candidate for both cancer prevention and treatment. It can be used in diffusers with ease to treat respiratory conditions, or you can use it as an essential oil or salve directly on your skin. You can also take frankincense (Boswellia) as a supplement with a few essential oil drops placed under your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or in powdered capsule form for treatment of many health conditions. http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/frankincense-oil.aspx
o Thyme: Wild thyme has been used to induce cell death in breast cancer cells. After 72 hours of treatment, thyme essential oil killed 98 percent of human breast cancer cells, with researchers concluding wild thyme “may be a promising candidate in the development of novel therapeutic drugs for breast cancer treatment.” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635581.2012.719658?journalCode=hnuc20&
Doctor Selection and Including Alternative Care
Make sure that you trust and feel comfortable with your cancer team. Include a holistic naturopathic doctor who supports cancer patients. Insurance typically do not cover these doctors, and bills can add up very quickly; however, meeting with a naturopathic doctor just once may be enough to help you on your journey.
Alternative Care you may choose to include:
Chiropractic Therapy: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/chiropractic
In order to truly restore your health, you will need to ensure that you are detoxing through all pathways of the body. These include:
- Colon: 1-2 Bowel movements a day
- Kidneys and Bladder: Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water and organic tea a day
- Skin: Sweating or Skin Brushing
- Lungs: Deep breathing exercises
- Emotional Cleansing: Forgiving others and evaluating relationships
If you are concerned about overdose, or a toxic level of Tylenol being consumed, contact poison control immediately. More information on the toxicity can be found here:
“Oxidation” is a normal process in the body that happens when we use oxygen to create energy for the cell. The byproduct of oxidation is the creation of “free radicals” which are unstable molecules. Free radicals are “bad” because they can damage cell DNA, potentially causing permanent mutations. The body uses anti-oxidants to “scavenge” free radicals, neutralizing them so they can’t damage the DNA or any other part of the cell.
Glutathione is a sulfur-containing molecule that can absorb the impact of many of these free radicals. Once it absorbs a free-radical it needs to be converted back to the active form. When the body takes a large oxidative “hit” it causes the depletion of active glutathione. The result is lots and lots and lots of oxidative damage. Glutathione is especially important because it is active in the brain, unlike most other antioxidants. Can you imagine what would happen if you deplete glutathione in the brain? You end up with oxidative damage, inflammation and brain injury.
So guess what medicine is known for depleting glutathione?
You guessed it, acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Tylenol has been called into question for decades now, but yet remains to be the last remaining member of the class of drugs known as “aniline analgesics” on the market. Acetaminophen only blocks the feelings of pain and reduces fever, it exerts no anti-inflammatory action. In reality, Tylenol can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation on the brain, all while masking the symptoms.
But Tylenol is Safe, Right? NO.
Acetaminophen (known as paracetamol in the UK) is linked to more deaths per year than any other over-the-counter pain reliever.
Acetaminophen (sold under the brand name Tylenol, among others) may be among the most dangerous medicines on the market. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to most of you, as virtually every single household keeps a bottle on hand for the occasional ache and pain, and doesn’t think twice about taking it.
Not thinking, it turns out, could cost you dearly… Acetaminophen overdose is actually the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the US—more than 100,000 instances per year—and, each year, is responsible for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths due to liver failure.
The International Journal of Epidemiology said children born to mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy were more likely to have behavior problems and slow motor development at age 3. Another study cited an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 7.
Even scarier than this information is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rating system for drugs in pregnancy ranks Tylenol safer than ibuprofen, and much safer than aspirin. The truth: There are no “safe” pharmaceuticals to take while pregnant (or at all.) So much is unknown about fetal development, especially in relation to pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, every mother should do her best to avoid taking any pharmaceuticals.
Brain Development while in utero: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Research data suggest that acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor, and abnormal hormonal exposures in pregnancy may influence fetal brain development.
Acetaminophen is the most commonly used pain and fever medication during pregnancy. Research shows a positive correlation between acetaminophen use and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and the longer duration the use of the medication (i.e., use for >20 weeks in gestation), the further increased risk of ASD or infantile autism with hyperkinetic symptoms occurs (almost twofold.) Studies suggest acetaminophen exposure early in fetal life may specifically impact this hyperactive behavioral phenotype. (Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.)
Infants and Children
The thing that makes Acetaminophen dangerous, especially for children, is that the difference between a “dose” and an “overdose” is fairly small. If twice the recommended daily dose is taken, liver damage can result. That does not give you much margin of error. It is very easy to improperly measure Tylenol drops and give your child too much.
There are four easy ways for your child to get an overdose of Tylenol/Acetaminophen:
- Giving your child the wrong dose of the medicine by mixing up infants’ and children’s Tylenol. If you have several children of different ages and one of them is an infant, this mistake can be extremely easy to make, especially at night.
- You can accidentally give your child a double dose. One parent gives the child a dose of tylenol, and then the other parent does the same thing 10 minutes later because of lack of communication.
- You give your child two medicines simultaneously, both of which contain Tylenol/Acetominophen.
- You drop a Tylenol pill on the floor, your toddler pops it in his/her mouth, and because Tylenol is “safe” you don’t even think about the ramifications.
Children Given Acetaminophen are at risk of:
*Note: These can be caused while in utero if the mother takes acetaminophen.
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders (ADHD)
- Learning Disabilities
- Prolonged Illness
- Liver Damage
- Hyperkinetic Disorders
- Leaky Gut
- Fatal Skin Reactions
Strong evidence proves that acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol or Paracetamol) increases in the rate of autism, asthma, and attention deficit with hyperactivity in genetically and/or metabolically susceptible children. http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/study-evidence-that-acetaminophen-especially-in-conjunction-with-vaccines-is-a-major-cause-of-autism-and-asthma/#sthash.bxNDiAiS.dpuf
Using Tylenol in lowering fevers actually prolongs illness: Studies show aspirin and acetaminophen suppress production of antibodies and increase cold symptoms, with a trend toward longer infectiousness.
- In a study of children with chickenpox, acetaminophen prolonged itching and the time to scabbing compared to placebo treatment.
- In test-tube studies, therapeutic levels of medicine suppressed the ability of human white blood cells to destroy bacteria.
- Another study found that a host of pain relievers, including aspirin, tylenol and ibuprofen, inhibited white-cell production of antibodies by up to 50 percent.
ADHD: Exposure to acetaminophen in utero and in infancy, increased both the likelihood of a diagnosis and prescription, and more exposure increased the chances even more. Based on the researchers’ estimates, any exposure to acetaminophen increases the risk of an ADHD prescription by 30 percent.
Asthma: A major study of over 20,000 children suggests that giving this popular medicine even as infrequently as once per year could have a permanent, life-threatening health effect – Asthma. Children who receive Tylenol (or other acetaminophen) only once per year are at 70% greater risk for asthma while those receiving Tylenol once a month or more were shockingly 540% more likely to have asthma. The study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, also found that children who had even a single dose of Tylenol before their first birthday had a 60% risk of developing asthma. http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706
Liver Damage/Failure: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26706992 Acetaminophen is the cause of many poisonings, which lead to liver damage. (Acetaminophen poisoning is responsible for nearly HALF of ALL acute liver failure cases in the US.)
(The liver is the place where your body processes acetaminophen to remove it from the bloodstream. This natural removal process is the reason why you have to take Acetaminophen every four hours or so. When you take too much acetaminophen, it overloads the liver’s ability to handle the drug. In the process, it creates a toxin that kills your liver, eventually killing you.)
Fatal Skin Reactions: Acetaminophen has been linked to very serious skin reactions. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/26/acetaminophen-overdose.aspx
As of 2013, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) reports the following cases of skin reactions caused by acetaminophen:
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS):This reaction begins with flu-like symptoms that progress into a painful purple or red rash that blisters and causes the top layer of your skin to slough off. This can lead to serious infections, blindness, damage to internal organs, permanent skin damage, and even death.
- Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TENS):TENS also typically begins with flu-like symptoms (cough, headache, aches, and fever) and progresses into a blistering rash. Layers of the skin may peel away in sheets, and hair and nails may fall out. TENS is often fatal, typically as a result of infection.
- Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis (AGEP):This skin eruption causes numerous pustules to appear on the skin, often accompanied by fever. This condition typically resolves within two weeks once the acetaminophen is stopped.
Leaky Gut Syndrome: 50-70% of chronic Tylenol users (even children) have increased intestinal permeability, which is linked to autoimmune diseases. http://www.side-effects-site.com/tylenol-side-effects.html
Cancer: New research shows that acetaminophen can be linked to blood cancers. Chronic acetaminophen users (as young as childhood even) have nearly twice the risk of developing blood cancer. The definition of “high” use was using acetaminophen at least four times a week for at least four years — an amount that numerous Americans could easily exceed without even realizing it. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/25/this-common-otc-painkiller-found-linked-to-cancer.aspx
Hyperkinetic Disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566677 Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk for HKDs and ADHD-like behaviors in children.
Autism: “In the early 1980’s about 42% of women used acetaminophen during the first trimester of pregnancy. The rate (of autism) climbed to over 65% in the early 1990’s, where it has essentially remained through 2004.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030462 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
Tylenol and Vaccines: Research shows that acetaminophen use after measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination is significantly associated with autistic disorder when considering children 5 years of age or less. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445737
A large part of what makes acetaminophen so dangerous is that it’s found in so many products. Please read your labels and understand the possible outcomes of your choices.
Remember that adults are at risk for the above mentioned side effects (and others), but today, we are just focusing on the pregnant mother and child.
Shaw W. Evidence that increased acetaminophen use in genetically vulnerable children appears to be a major cause of the epidemics of autism, attention deficit with hyperactivity, and asthma. J Restorative Medicine 2013;2:1–16.
Deth R (PhD). Personal communication 2010.
Hong RW, Rounds JD, Helton SW, Robinson MK, Wilmore DW. Glutamine preserves liver glutathione after lethal hepatic injury. Ann Surg 1992;215:114–119.
Bauer AZ, Kriebel D. Prenatal and perinatal analgesic exposure and autism: an ecological link. Environmental Health 2013;12:41.
As if reading Parts 1, 2, 3 haven’t stressed you out enough, let’s go ahead and dive into how stress affects our children. I’d like to say that the point of researching and writing this series is not to stress anyone out, but instead to make you (and me) realize just how important it is to learn to handle our stress and include more relaxation in our lives.
Stress is positive when the person feels stimulated and able to manage the situation. This positive response prepares the body for action and activates the higher thinking centers of the brain. A positive response to stress can provide the energy to handle emergencies, meet challenges, and excel.
Stress is negative when a person feels threatened and not in control of the situation. These feelings instigate a powerful reaction – affecting both the brain and body in ways that can be destructive to physical and mental health.
Children are more stressed than ever these days. Young children living in poverty or those living wealthy but expected to know how to read by four years old. Stress does not discriminate. A baby, toddler, or child’s body also does not discriminate when it comes to stress. It’s all relative to each child’s environment, and (if you read how stress affects pregnancy) even the stress level of their mother while pregnant with them.
We now know that early life abuse and neglect have adverse effects upon the developing brain and body that can result in poor self-control and emotional regulation, impair cognitive development, and raise the risk of cardiovascular, metabolic and immune system diseases. http://www.dana.org/Publications/ReportOnProgress/Effects_ofStress_on_the_Developing_Brain/
Animal findings demonstrate that isolation from mother, decreased skin stimulation, and withholding of breastmilk (not feeding on demand) have biochemical and permanent brain consequences. Correlating these findings with human behavioral research suggests which events lead to chronic stress and its permanent consequences.
Common Sources of stress in Infants: http://www.parentingscience.com/stress-in-babies.html
- Being away from caregiver: Without regular closeness to a caregiver, an infant not only suffers from elevated stress hormones, but also receives less benefit from oxytocin surges and other positive biochemical influences. The biochemical environment imposed on an infant’s brain during critical development stages affects the anatomy and functioning of the brain permanently. A poor biochemical environment results in less desirable emotional, behavioral, and intellectual abilities for the rest of a child’s life.
- Allowing a child to “cry it out” without affection
- Not feeding the child when hungry
- Not offering comfort when the child is disturbed or distressed
- Limiting body contact during feeding, throughout the day, and during stressful parts of the night
- Low levels of human attention, stimulation, “conversation,” and play
While it is evident that genetic makeup and life experiences influence behavior, it has been demonstrated that experiences during infancy have the strongest and most persistent effect on adult hormone regulation, stress responses, and behavior. Research has demonstrated that high levels of early physical contact and maternal responsiveness can even mitigate genetic predisposition for more extreme stress reactions.
Common Sources of stress in children: http://www.networkofcare.org/library/childrenandstress.pdf
- being away from home
- being bullied
- fear of wetting themselves (ages 5 and older)
- fear of punishment
- worry about getting along with peers
- worry about school work
- fear of being chosen last on any team
- fear of being different from others
- worry about changing bodies (ages 10 to 12)
- divorce of parents
- move to new town or city
- being held back in school
- serious illness
The HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical) axis, a relationship between specific brain organs and the adrenal glands, is the chief regulator of stress reactions. During stress, stress hormones are released under control of the HPA axis to help the body cope. Cortisol can elevate the blood pressure and the heart rate, increase blood sugar, and interrupt digestive and kidney functions.
The hippocampus, a structure important in learning and memory, is one brain site where development is affected by stress and bonding hormone levels. The level of the stress hormones circulating in an infant affects the number and types of receptors here. It has also been demonstrated that nerve cells in the hippocampus are destroyed as a result of chronic stress and elevated stress hormone levels, producing intellectual deficits as a consequence. Children with the lowest scores on mental and motor ability tests have been shown to be the ones with the highest cortisol levels in their blood.
Continuously elevated stress hormone levels in infancy from a stressful environment are associated with permanent “negative” effects on brain development, causing heightened stress responses that can lead to aggressive behavior and early puberty. Early life stress has also been tied to depression, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, and a lack of educational and employment success.
Behavioral problems and increased cumulative life stress were also linked to smaller hippocampus and amygdala volumes. Why early life stress may lead to smaller brain structures is still unknown.
Studies have shown that infants who receive frequent physical affection have lower overall cortisol levels, while psychological attachment studies reveal higher levels in insecurely attached children. http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Keeping%20Fit%20for%20Learning/stress.html
Common Signs that your infant or child is experiencing stress: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-054/350-054.html and https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002059.htm
Physical symptoms can include:
- Decreased appetite, other changes in eating habits
- Accident proneness
- Hitting, Kicking, Biting
- Extreme Laziness
- Fingernail biting
- Grinding Teeth
- Pounding Heart
- Thumb Sucking
- New or recurrent bedwetting
- Sleep disturbances
- Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
- Other physical symptoms with no physical illness
Emotional or behavioral symptoms may include:
- Inability to relax
- New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
- Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight
- Questioning (may or may not ask questions)
- Inability to control emotions
- Aggressive behavior
- Stubborn behavior
- Regression to behaviors that are typical of an earlier developmental stage
- Unwillingness to participate in family or school activities
We need to lead by example with handling our own stresses, and give our children the tools to handle theirs. The younger the child, the easier it is to set a solid foundation. You can’t lead a life of stress but then effectively teach stress management, it’s just not possible.
Be aware of how you are disciplining your child(ren). If children fear their parents, they are constantly experiencing stress over their actions.
Ways to Help Our Children: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Pages/Helping-Children-Handle-Stress.aspx and http://handtohold.org/resources/helpful-articles/what-causes-children-stress-understanding-childrens-developmental-stages-and-common-stressors/ and http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-054/350-054.html
- Be with your infant and hear their cues: Hold her. Rock her. You will not spoil a baby by holding her. Listen and learn your infant’s specific cues of hunger, wetness, being uncomfortable or unhappy and tend to their needs.
- Stop Overscheduling: One of the biggest stressors for kids is being overscheduled. Today, kids are expected to pay attention and perform in school for seven hours, excel at extracurricular activities, come home, finish homework, and go to bed just to do it all over again the next day. Kids need downtime to rejuvenate. Their brains and bodies need to rest. And they might not realize this by themselves. So knowing when your child is overscheduled is important.
- Make time for play: Children of all ages process their emotions through play. They need many opportunities to “play out” their worries and concerns. For younger children this may be done through pretend play while older children may choose to express themselves through avenues such as art and music. No matter what their age, let them know that you want to hear what they have to say and that you will do your best to help them through this crisis. Make sure that play isn’t “pressured” and there is no lesson to learn, competition, or end goal. (Bike riding, imaginative play, hiking, exploring.)
- Make sleep a priority: Sleep is vital for everything from minimizing stress to boosting mood to improving school performance. Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
- Teach Body Awareness: Understanding stress and when the body feels stressed may need to be taught. Encourage children to listen to what their bodies are saying.
- Manage your own stress: Stress is contagious and your children will feel your own stress. If you slow down, they will follow.
- Make mornings calmer: Disorganization, constant hurry, and pressure to perform from the moment they wake up is a stressful trigger.
- Prepare them to make mistakes: Perfection is not and should not be attainable. You are not perfect and neither is your child. Striving for such a thing can set the rollercoaster of lifelong chronic stress. Making mistakes, even BIG ones, is normal. Making bad decisions is also normal. Teach them how to recover and be loved through these moments.
- Encourage your child to face her fears, not run: Avoidance of anxiety causes further anxiety. By facing fears, stress naturally lowers.
- Focus on the Positives: Many times anxious and stressed children can get lost in negative thoughts and self-criticism. They may focus on how the glass is half empty instead of half-full and worry about future events. The more that you are able to focus on your child’s positive attributes and the good aspects of a situation, the more that it will remind your child to focus on the positives.
- Encourage your child to express his anxiety: Avoid telling your child how they feel (“You’re fine”). Instead, use statements that prompt a response (“You seem scared. Are you worried?”). This will ignite a conversation.
- Practice relaxation exercises with your child: Sometimes really basic relaxation exercises are necessary to help your child to reduce their stress. This might mean telling your child to take a few slow, deep breaths (and you taking a few slow breaths with your child so your child can match your pace). You can also meditate or do yoga exercises together.
- Study on early life stress: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3913903/
- aacap.org— American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America:adaa.org
- OCDFoundation: ocfoundation.org
- Child Anxiety Network:http://www.childanxiety.net/