Jun 142017
 

Fermentation is an ancient art that pre-dates writing and agriculture.

Unlock the True Potential of Vegetables

  • By Kaare Melby
    Organic Consumers Association
    Want to boost your immune system, increase the nutrient content in your food, improve your mental health and detox your body? Fermented vegetables are for you!Fermentation is the process that occurs when the natural bacteria in a vegetable break down the food’s complex elements into more digestible forms. When fermentation occurs, vegetables become easier to digest, allowing your body to work less, while reaping more benefits. And those benefits include higher levels of available nutrients, and live cultures of pro-biotic bacteria (kind of like the good stuff in yogurt). These pro-biotic bacteria can improve  your digestion, boost your immune system, improve your mental health, and detox your body.
  • Worried that fermenting is risky? No need! Fermented veggies are actually safer than raw vegetables, because the fermentation process actually kills off any unwanted or dangerous bacteria that may exist on the food prior to fermentation. According to the USDA, there has “never been a single case of food poisoning reported from fermented vegetables.”

    Fermented foods have been around for eons. Fermentation is an ancient art that pre-dates writing and agriculture. It’s often considered to be the practice that first ushered our ancient relatives from the natural world, into a culturally driven world. In fact, the word ‘culture’ is another word for fermentation. Sandor Katz, who has written several books on the subject, calls it “a health regimen, a gourmet art, a multicultural adventure, a form of activism, and a spiritual path, all rolled into one.”

    And the good news is that it’s a simple process that even the most novice cook can accomplish.

    To get started, you’ll want to choose vegetables that are fresh, local, and organic, as your ferment will be only as good as the ingredients you start with. You can ferment any vegetable, but some work better than others. It’s best if you experiment and find a mix of vegetables that you enjoy. Here at the OCA office, we like to mix as many fresh organic veggies together as possible. Not only does this create a variety of textures and flavors, but it also creates a wider variety of beneficial bacteria in the end product.

    If you are looking for a good place to start, cabbage is easy to process, and makes a great ferment. Raddishes, carrots, turnips, apples and beets also make good ferments. The fermentation process creates a wonderful flavor that is often refered to as “sour.” But you can add more or different flavors in any way you want. Onions and garlic are great additions, and you can use fresh or dry herbs, and spices, too. The best approach is to experiment until you discover what combination of flavors you like most.

    Here’s how to get started.

    What you need
    • Fresh vegetables
    • A knife or grater
    • A glass or ceramic jar for fermentation (quart sized, wide-mouth canning jars work well)
    • A smaller jar that fits inside the fermentation jar (small jelly jars work great)
    • Salt
    • Clean water
    • A clean towel
    • Rubber band to fit over the mouth of the fermentation jar
    • Herbs and spices (optional)

    What to do

    • Chop/shred/grate vegetables, salting lightly as you go. You want to get all of the vegetables as uniform in size as possible. This way, they ferment at the same rate. Vegetables like carrots and radishes do well grated, while it’s best to slice up that cabbage or onion. As you chop or grate the vegetables, add small pinches of salt. But not too much—fermentation only needs a little. Try tasting as you go. The vegetables should taste only slightly salty.

    • Mix the veggies well. You want to make sure that the salt is spread out evenly throughout all the vegetables. Taste the veggies, and add more salt to taste if needed. If you are going to add any herbs or spices, add them now.

    • Let the vegetables sit for 5 to 10 minutes. As they sit the salt will start to draw the liquid out of the vegetables.

    • Squeeze the vegetables to release their juices. Take handfuls of vegetables and squeeze as hard as you can, keeping the juice that comes out. You want to get as much juice out of them as possible.

    • Tightly pack the vegetables into the fermenting jar and cover with collected juice. As you fill the jar with the vegetables, be sure to pack them down tightly to the bottom of the jar. This will help release more juice, and remove any air bubbles that get stuck in the vegetables. Add any remaining juice once the jar is filled. Be sure there is enough liquid to completely cover the vegetables. If you need to, use a mixture of salt and water to bring the juice level up over the vegetables. You don’t need too much salt for the water, just enough to make it taste like seawater.

    • Fill the smaller jar with salt water, then place it on top of the vegetables in the fermenting jar. The purpose of the second jar is to hold the vegetables under the liquid in the jar. This will help the fermentation process by preventing “scum” from forming on the top of the ferment.

    • Cover the fermenting jar with a clean towel, and secure it with the rubber band. Using a towel to cover the jar ensures that gases can escape, without letting any dirt or bugs get in.

    • Let it ferment! Put the jar in an easily accessible area, and keep an eye on it. In about 24 hours you will begin to see air bubbles in the vegetables. This is how you know it’s working. After a few days, the ferment will start to smell sour. Taste it at every stage. This will help you determine how fermented you like your vegetables. Some people like “young” ferments that have only fermented a few days, while others like “mature” ferments that have been fermenting for months. If there is a white layer of “scum” that forms just scrape it off. It’s ok if you don’t get it all. When you like the flavor, remove the towel and smaller jar, put a lid on the fermentation jar and put it in your refrigerator. When the ferment cools down, the fermentation process rapidly slows, and you will be able to enjoy your fermented foods for several weeks or longer.

    That’s it! Now you know the secret to unlocking the true potential of your vegetables. To learn more, check out Sandor Katz’s book “Wild Fermentation,” available through Chelsea Green Publishing. Good luck and happy fermenting.

  • Kaare Melby is social media coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association.
Jun 142017
 

Carefully Weigh Your Need for Narcotic Pain Relievers

Dr. Mercola

It’s extremely important to be cognizant of your level of impairment when taking ANY drug. Know your dosage. Also beware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs. I urge you to seriously weigh your need for them. If you have not seen it yet, watch the documentary “Chasing the Dragon” before filling that prescription. There are so many other ways to address pain.

Below is a long list of suggestions. If you are in pain that is bearable, please try these options first, before resorting to prescription painkillers of any kind.

If you need a pain reliever, consider an over-the-counter (OTC option. Research shows prescription-strength naproxen (Naprosyn, sold OTC in lower dosages as Aleve) provides the same pain relief as more dangerous narcotic painkillers. However, while naproxen may be a better alternative to narcotic painkillers, it still comes with a very long list of potential side effects, and the risks increase with frequency of use. Ibuprofen(Advil) belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other members of this class include aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen) and several others. These drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. Pain, fever, and inflammation are promoted by the release in the body of chemicals called prostaglandins. Ibuprofen blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower levels of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain and fever are reduced. The FDA approved ibuprofen in 1974.

Non-drug Solutions for Pain Relief

 

Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars

from your diet

Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin

and leptin resistance, which is 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.

Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat

Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact,

that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, by manipulating prostaglandins.) Good

sources include wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies, which are all high

in healthy omega-3s while being low in contaminants such as mercury. As for supplements,

my favorite is krill oil, as it has a number of benefits superior to fish oil.

Optimize your sun exposure and

production of vitamin D

Optimize your vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work

through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain. Sun exposure also has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects that are unrelated to vitamin D production,

and these benefits cannot be obtained from a vitamin D supplement.

Red, near-, mid- and far-infrared light therapy (photobiology) and/or infrared saunas

may also be quite helpful as it promotes and speeds tissue healing, even deep inside the body.

Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana has a long history as a natural analgesic and is now legal in 28 states.

You can learn more about the laws in your state on medicalmarijuana.procon.org.

Kratom

Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is another plant remedy that has become a popular opioid

substitute. In August, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a notice saying

it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However,

following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative,

the agency reversed its decision.

Kratom is likely safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain.

However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should

not be used carelessly. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and

effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next.

Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive.

So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and

potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

EFT is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the

principles of acupuncture in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system.

It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, and negative emotions that may be

exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture

points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.

Meditation and Mindfulness Training

Among volunteers who had never meditated before, those who attended four 20-minute

classes to learn a meditation technique called focused attention

(a form of mindfulness meditation) experienced significant pain relief —

a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.

K-Laser, Class 4 Laser Therapy

If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis or other inflammation-based pain,

I’d strongly encourage you to try K-Laser therapy. It can be an excellent choice

for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying

cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers.

K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain,

reduce inflammation and enhance tissue healing — both in hard and soft tissues,

including muscles, ligaments or even bones. The infrared wavelengths used in

the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body and can penetrate

deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip.

Chiropractic

Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and

less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain

such as low back pain.

Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians are reliable,

as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal

disorders during their course of graduate health care training, which lasts between

four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in

musculoskeletal management.

Acupuncture

Research has discovered a “clear and robust” effect of acupuncture in the treatment

of back, neck and shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis and headaches.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions

such as torn cartilage and arthritis.

Foundation Training

Foundation training is an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat

his own chronic low back pain. It’s an excellent alternative to painkillers and surgery,

as it actually addresses the cause of the problem.

Massage

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine

included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use

of massage for various types of pain, including muscle and bone pain, headaches,

deep internal pain, fibromyalgia pain and spinal cord pain.

The review revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no

treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture

and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects.

In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and

health-related quality of life.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has

very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more

effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required

and you may need 8 milligrams (mg) or more per day to achieve this benefit.

Ginger

This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and

stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water

as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.

Curcumin

In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day

to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study

also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked

inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a

protein that triggers swelling and pain.

Boswellia

Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains

specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Bromelain

This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory.

It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple,

including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)

This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory.

I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and carpal tunnel syndrome.

I used a topical preparation for this.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils

These contain the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA),

which is particularly useful for treating arthritic pain.

Cayenne Cream

Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers.

It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P,

a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.

Methods such as hot and cold packs, aquatic therapy, yoga,

various mind-body techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy

can also result in astonishing pain relief without drugs.

Grounding

Walking barefoot on the earth may also provide a certain measure of pain relief

by combating inflammation.

Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for

the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses (LDN, available

only by prescription), it triggers endorphin production, which can boost your

immune function and ease pain.

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May 092017
 

Why Aged Cheese is so Good for Your Heart (and Make You Live Longer Too)

metabolism  http://publin.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/walsh3.jpg

Story at-a-glance

  • Polyamines such as spermidine, spermine and putrescine are derivatives of amino acids, found both in food and your gut microbiota, and are critical for cellular growth and survival
  • Polyamines have potent anti-inflammatory activity, protect your DNA against free-radical damage and have been linked to longevity
  • In one recent study, those who had the highest spermidine levels had a 40 percent lower risk of heart failure

By Dr. Mercola

Cheese can be an excellent source of nutrition, especially if made from unpasteurized grass fed milk and aged according to tradition. Among the many valuable nutrients in real cheese is vitamin K2, which is important for heart, brain and bone health. The highest amounts of vitamin K2 can be found in Gouda, Brie and Edam. Other cheeses with lesser but still significant levels of K2 include cheddar, Colby, hard goat cheese, Swiss and Gruyere.

Cheese also provides a cornucopia of other vitamins (including vitamins A, D, B2 and B12), minerals (including calcium, zinc and phosphorous), amino acids and protein, as well as high-quality saturated and omega-3 fats. In recent years, a number of studies have exonerated cheese (especially full-fat cheese), showing higher cheese consumption results in improved health and aids weight management. For example:

  • High-fat cheese has been shown to raise your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, thought to be protective against metabolic diseases and heart disease
  • Cheese consumption also helps prevent fatty liver and improves triglyceride and cholesterol levels — parameters used to gauge your cardiovascular disease risk
  • Full-fat cheese can be useful for weight management, in part by ramping up your metabolism
  • Roquefort cheese in particular has been linked to cardiovascular health and improved longevity, courtesy of its anti-inflammatory properties

Now, researchers have discovered yet another major compound in many cheeses that helps explain its beneficial impact on your health.

Polyamines in Cheese Linked to Longevity and Lower Disease Risk

Polyamines are derivatives of amino acids, found both in food and your gut microbiota, and are critical cellular growth and survival. Polyamines in turn contain chemicals such as spermidine and spermine (thus named as they were originally discovered in human semen) and putrescine. As noted by the Royal Society of Chemistry:

“Spermine derives from spermidine. And, spermidine, with the help of spermidine synthase, arises from another polyamine originally named for its role in rotting meat, called putrescine … [T]hese polyamines are the reason why sperm and, in the springtime, some species of trees, give off a spunky [odor] …”

Spermidine, spermine and putrescine all have potent anti-inflammatory activity, protect DNA against free-radical damage, and have been linked to longevity in animal studies — even when the animals were given the polyamines starting in middle age. As a group, polyamines are positively charged molecules that strongly interact with negatively charged molecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins. This is why they’re so important for cellular processes involving growth, division, differentiation and survival.

Spermine Protects Against Heart Disease

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that when you increase levels of polyamines in an organism (including humans), cellular activity goes up and mortality goes down, in part by improving cardiovascular function and lowering blood pressure. In one recent study, which included 800 cheese-loving Italians, those who had the highest spermidine levels had a 40 percent lower risk of heart failure.

In another, spermine was not only found to offer potent protection against heart disease in both animals and humans, it was even found to counteract the adverse effects of a high-salt diet in salt-sensitive mice:

“[O]ral supplementation of the natural polyamine spermidine extends the lifespan of mice and exerts cardioprotective effects, reducing cardiac hypertrophy and preserving diastolic function in old mice. Spermidine feeding enhanced cardiac autophagy, mitophagy and mitochondrial respiration, and it also improved the mechano-elastical properties of cardiomyocytes in vivo, coinciding with … suppressed subclinical inflammation …  

In Dahl salt-sensitive rats that were fed a high-salt diet, a model for hypertension-induced congestive heart failure, spermidine feeding reduced systemic blood pressure, increased titin phosphorylation and prevented cardiac hypertrophy and a decline in diastolic function, thus delaying the progression to heart failure.

In humans, high levels of dietary spermidine, as assessed from food questionnaires, correlated with reduced blood pressure and a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. Our results suggest a new and feasible strategy for protection against cardiovascular disease.”

Polyamines Help Combat Visible Signs of Aging and Increase Lifespan

Previous research showed transgenic mice bred to not produce spermine and spermidine suffered hair loss, developed more skin wrinkles and died at an earlier age than normal mice, suggesting polyamines play an important role in combating both visible signs of aging and early death.

Importantly, polyamines encourage cellular autophagy, which has serious implications for longevity. Autophagy means “self-eating” and refers to the processes by which your body cleans out debris, including toxins, and recycles damaged cell components — processes that tend to decline with age.

Lifetime feeding studies using rodents have linked spermidine-rich diets to as much as a 25 percent increase in lifespan. In human terms, that equates to an average lifespan of 100 rather than 81.

Animals given spermidine at a later age gained about 10 percent in longevity, which can still amount to several years’ worth of life for a human. As noted by Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology’s Center for Translational Cancer Research:

“Only three interventions — severely cutting the number of calories consumed, restricting the amount of methionine (a type of amino acid found in meat and other proteins) in the diet and using the drug rapamycin — have been shown to truly prolong the lifespans of vertebrates, but eating less and not eating meat will not be welcomed by [the] general population, while rapamycin has shown to suppress the human immune system. Therefore, spermidine may be a better approach.”

Aside from its general anti-aging influence, autophagy is also one of the mechanisms by which polyamines help protect against cancer (specifically liver cancer) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Polyamines Correct Your Internal Body Clock

Interestingly, recent research has also shown that polyamines have the ability to restore your internal body clock, suggesting it might serve as a natural sleep aid. Improving sleep also helps lower your risk of chronic disease — including cancer and Alzheimer’s — and is important for longevity. According to the authors:

“Polyamines are … present in all living cells. Polyamine levels are maintained from the diet and de novo synthesis, and their decline with age is associated with various pathologies. Here we show that polyamine levels oscillate in a daily manner.

Both clock- and feeding-dependent mechanisms regulate the daily accumulation of key enzymes in polyamine biosynthesis … In turn, polyamines control the circadian period in cultured cells and animals by regulating the interaction between the core clock repressors PER2 and CRY1.

Importantly, we found that the decline in polyamine levels with age in mice is associated with a longer circadian period that can be reversed upon polyamine supplementation in the diet. Our findings suggest a crosstalk between circadian clocks and polyamine biosynthesis and open new possibilities for nutritional interventions against the decay in clock’s function with age.”

Fermentation Boosts Polyamine Content

Polyamines are found in many different foods, including the following (see listing below): As a general rule, fruits and cheese contain the highest levels of putrescine, vegetables have the highest levels of spermidine, and meat products have the most spermine. Research also shows polyamine levels are further increased through fermentation.

The Mediterranean diet, high in fresh vegetables and seafood, typically contains twice the amount of polyamines found in the average diet (which tends to be high in processed foods), and some scientists suggest the high polyamine content may be why the Mediterranean diet has such a positive influence on health and longevity.

Aged (fermented) cheese such as blue cheese, cheddar, Swiss, Brie, Gruyere, Manchego, Gouda and Parmesan Shell fish, including squid, oysters, crabs and scallops Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and miso Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower
Leafy greens Pears Mushrooms Green peas
Wheat germ Matcha green tea Nuts and seeds, including hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts Chicken liver

Potential Contraindications

Some scientists and oncologists do warn that polyamine-rich diets may be contraindicated for those with psoriasis, as rapid skin cell regeneration may worsen the condition, and certain polyamine-sensitive cancers, such as prostate cancer. As noted in one study,

“… [D]ifferences in biological [behavior] of prostatic (cancer) cells are associated with changes in polyamine levels and/or the activity of their metabolic enzymes. Faulty antizyme regulation of polyamine homoeostasis may play an important role in the growth and progression of prostatic carcinoma. Treatment of human prostate carcinoma cells with inhibitors of polyamine metabolic enzymes or polyamine analogues induces cell growth arrest or (apoptotic) cell death.”

Eat Real Food for Optimal Health

If you love cheese, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest real cheese is a boon to your health, and there’s no reason to avoid it for fear of its fat content. The healthy fats found in real cheese will neither pack on pounds nor contribute to heart disease. On the contrary, these fats will actually boost your weight loss success and lower your cardiovascular health risks.

One caveat is to make sure you’re eating real cheese. Natural cheese is a simple fermented dairy product made with just a few basic ingredients — milk, starter culture, salt and an enzyme called rennet. Salt is a crucial ingredient for flavor, ripening and preservation.

You can tell a natural cheese by its label, which will state the name of the cheese variety, such as “cheddar cheese,” “blue cheese” or “Brie.” Real cheese also requires refrigeration. Processed cheeses are typically pasteurized and otherwise adulterated with a variety of additives that detract from their nutritional value. The tipoff on the label is the word “pasteurized.”

A lengthier list of ingredients is another way to distinguish processed cheese from the real thing. Velveeta is one example, with additives like sodium phosphate, sodium citronate and various coloring agents. A final clue is that most processed cheeses do not require refrigeration. So, be it Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, squeeze cheese, spray cheese or some other imposter — these are not real cheeses and have no redeeming value.

Even if you don’t like cheese, there are plenty of other foods rich in polyamines, as you can see from the list above, with fermented foods and beverages having some of the highest levels. Following a Mediterranean-style diet is one way to ensure you’re getting plenty of these anti-inflammatory, anti-aging compounds.

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Feb 052017
 

16 Cancer-Causing Foods You Should Avoid!

by  Caroline Bayard

Today, it seems like doctors link everything to causing cancer – it’s hard to determine what to really stay away from. While you think you may be doing the right thing for your health by drinking diet sodas or low-calorie popcorn, you’re actually eating some of the worst cancer-causing foods out there!

Below are 16 of the biggest carcinogen culprits that you probably eat every day. While you may be thinking “Everything causes cancer, so why bother changing my diet,” these 16 common food items have been scientifically shown to significantly increase the risk of cancers.

Please SHARE these 16 REALLY BAD foods that you should try to avoid at all costs!

#1 - Microwave popcorn

Sure it’s easy to pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave when you want a quick and tasty snack, but is it really worth risking yourself for liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer? The microwave popcorn bags you have in your cabinet are lined with carcinogenic chemicals AND so is a chemical in the popcorn itself, which creates the artificial butter flavor. If you can’t give up your favorite movie-time snack, it’s time to switch to the old-fashioned stove top or a kernel popping machine like you see at movie theaters.

#2 – Non-organic produce

#2 - Non-organic produce

You’re not alone in thinking ALL fruits and vegetables are good for you, but there are actually many dangerous pesticides sprayed on non-organic fruits that are linked to cancer. One example is Altrazine, a weed-killer used at many U.S. farms, but banned in Europe for causing severe problems in humans, such as infertility. Another problem with non-organic farmed produce is the use of toxic fertilizers and hormones used to make fruits and veggies bigger. In case you were wondering, the worst offenders are apples, followed by oranges, strawberries and grapes. ALWAYS wash fruits and veggies to be safe, but know that this doesn’t remove all pesticides.

#3 – Canned tomatoes

#3 - Canned tomatoes

I know what you’re thinking… You’ve likely heard how the nutrient Lycopene in tomatoes lowers cancer risks, but that benefit is completely cancelled out when the lining of canned tomatoes contain chemicals that disrupt hormonal activity in the body. Since tomatoes are so acidic, the chemical BPA actually leeches from the lining into the tomatoes. This toxic chemical has been linked to different cancers, heart disease and reproductive problems. Next time you feel like making a nice red sauce, go with a glass jar or stew the tomatoes yourself.

#4 – Processed meats

#4 - Processed meats

If you’re a carnivore, it may be hard to give up tasty deli sandwiches or cured meats to go with your wine and cheese, but the benefits definitely outweigh the cancerous risk. Processed meats are created with excessive salt and chemicals that damage our health. A study over 13 years showed that 1 out of 17 people died who ate 160 grams of processed meats. That’s 44 percent risk of cancer, as opposed to people who ate 20 grams or less. These meats are so packed with preservatives to look fresh, but they are well-known carcinogens, including the same things found in cigarette smoke.

#5 – Farm-raised salmon

#5 - Farm-raised salmon

Sure fish, especially salmon, is known as one of the healthiest foods out there, but unfortunately more than 60% of salmon in the U.S. is farm-raised… and could be deadly. Farm-raised fish are fed unnatural diets and contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides and other known carcinogens found in materials like asbestos. Farmed salmon is also fattier than fresh salmon, which means it soaks up more toxins. Next time you want a healthy omega-3 packed, treat yourself to fresh Alaskan salmon instead.

#6 – Potato chips

#6 - Potato chips

They may be cheap, easy and delicious, but these crispy, addicting snacks can also be deadly. These fatty foods don’t only cause weight gain because of their high trans-fat content, they also have excessive sodium levels, which cause high blood pressure and artificial flavors, preservatives and colors. Another risk is the presence of acrymalide, a known carcinogen found in cigarettes. Try not to feed these quick snacks to yourself or your kids and choose pretzels, air-popped popcorn or baked apple chips instead.

#7 – Hydrogenated oils

#7 - Hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils are vegetable oils, which cannot be naturally extracted like olive oil, soy or canola oil, they must be chemically removed. They are commonly used in many foods in your pantry to preserve and keep their shelf life, yet they are also linked to cancer, birth defects, heart disease and many other fatalities. NEVER cook with hydrogenated oils and check your labels for healthy oils like organic virgin coconut oil, olive, soy and canola instead.

#8 – Salty, pickled and smoked foods

#8 - Salty, pickled and smoked foods

They may be delicious, but many salty, pickled and smoked foods are processed with the preservative nitrate, which changes in our bodies to N-nitroso composites, which are associate with high cancer-developing risks. Smoked foods like meat or nuts absorb the smoke, which contains the same tar found in cigarettes. Colorectal and stomach cancer are linked to salty, pickled and smoked foods. Replace white salt for Pink Himalayan Salt which contains 84 bio-available minerals.

#9 – Processed white flour

#9 - Processed white flour

Oprah famously lost a lot of weight by cutting out anything white, especially the big culprit – white flour. You may have heard it’s bad for you, but you probably don’t realize that chemically-bleaching flour with chlorine gas kills all of it’s healthy nutrients. Chlorine gas can be deadly when inhaled, so why would we want it in our dinner? White flour also contains a high glycemic rate, which raises blood sugar and insulin levels and can directly cause diabetes. Cancerous tumors feed on sugar in the bloodstream, so by avoiding refined grains like processed white flour, you can avoid or starve deadly tumors.

#10 – GMO’s

#10 - GMO's

You may have heard the term GMO, but you’re not alone in not fully understanding the dangers of genetically modified organisms. Why would anyone want to eat something that sounds like that, right?! WRONG! After GMO’s were introduced in 1996, Americans with 3 or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7 to 13% in just 9 years. Allergies skyrocketed and so did Autism in children, reproductive and digestion problems. GM vegetables fed to rats caused development of horrifying tumors. One of the biggest culprits was GM bovine growth hormone found in milk. Stay away from these silent killers and choose certified organic, non-GMO verified and locally-grown foods that are produced without biotechnology. You’ll be thankful you did later on in life.

#11 – Refined sugars

#11 - Refined sugars

Cancer cells LOVE refined sugars, which spike insulin levels and and promote cancer growth. High-fructose corn syrup is considered the worst offender and it’s found in any sweet you can think of. It’s been known for a long time that cancer cells feed off of sugar, so with so many people addicted to sugary treats, it’s no wonder why cancer rates have skyrocketed.

#12 – Artificial sweeteners

#12 - Artificial sweeteners

While many people choose artificial sweeteners to lose weight, they are actually doing way worse damage to the body. People who consume artificial sweeteners in soda, coffee or diet-candy actually end up gaining weight and it does nothing to help those with diabetes. Aspartame found in artificial sweeteners has been known to cause convulsions, cataracts and gastro paresis. Also, artificial sweeteners do nothing to inhibit the body’s ability to monitor its daily calorie consumption, making us crave sweets even more. Another deadly toxin called DKP forms in the body from these fake sweets that produces cancer-causing chemicals, especially brain tumors. To sum it up, there is pretty much NEVER a good reason to ingest artificial sweeteners.

#13 – ANYTHING “diet”

#13 - ANYTHING "diet"

You may be thinking you’re doing the right thing when choosing a food with a “diet” or “low-fat” label, but you’re actually doing way more harm than good. Chemical artificial sweetener aspartame, again, is the big culprit, causing cancer, birth defects and heart problems. Think about it – anything “diet” is chemically processed and not REAL food. These foods also contain additives like ones found in cocaine to make you feel good, but also be addicting. Be smart and eat nature’s delicious, natural foods – organic only, of course!

#14 – Alcohol

#14 - Alcohol

Alcohol use is the second leading cause of cancer, right behind tobacco use. While a moderate or low consumption of alcohol can be healthy and lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, excessive drinking is known to cause heart failure, stroke, and sudden death. Excessive alcohol use is the biggest cause of mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, mouth, rectum and breast cancers. Don’t worry! You don’t need to give up your glass of wine with dinner, but, for your health’s sake, stick to one.

#15 – Red meat

#15 - Red meat

If you love a delicious steak now and then, don’t worry! Red meat is actually a good thing in your diet in small doses, but only if it’s grass-fed beef, which can actually help fight certain cancers. However, people who eat meat like hamburgers every day have a greater risk in developing deadly cancers, upping their risk to 22% in men and 20% in women. Red meat is particularly good at causing colon cancer. So, enjoy your steak dinner now and then, but don’t do it every night of the week and when you do crave red meat, stick to grass-fed, organic beef.

#16 – Soft drinks

#16 - Soft drinks

Soft drinks, soda, pop… no matter what you call it, it’s still detrimental to your health! Soda is packed full of calories, sugar and artificial ingredients, and has ZERO nutritional benefit. One can of soda contains about ten packets of sugar and most popular diet and sugared sodas are nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid. Think the occasional soda won’t hurt? Studies have shown that only drinking two sodas per week nearly doubles the risk of pancreatic cancer. There are plenty of alternatives out there, so next time you’re craving something sweet, think about what you’re putting into your body. Try squeezing half a lemon in your water with a little Chia seed and a dash of pink salt for alkaline water.Your health is an investment, never forget that!

Jan 232017
 

KENAF       

(Hibiscus Cannabinus)           Eddie Kenaf Field A                                                 Kenaf SeedsKenaf Leaf Everglades

 

By

Eddie D Katz

A cellulose fiber plant dating 4,000 years back with historical roots in North East Africa. Kenaf has a botanical relationship with cotton, okra and hemp; a member of the hibiscus family.

There are several varieties of Kenaf (broad and palmate- segmented like hemp) and has been studied since the 1930’s at the University of Mississippi. Tender young leaves are used as alternative forage for livestock and food eaten by Africans, East Indians and Asians for 1,000 + years. In Pakistan it is called “Gongoora”.  As food, for example, it is a great salad addition (green leafy texture like spinach with a citrus flavor).  Nutritionally potent with high levels of calcium, selenium, protein, omega fatty acids, nitrogen, etc.

Kenaf is totally earth-friendly.  All you need is water and fertilizer to grow as high as 20 feet in about 150 days.  Having no natural predators, growing Kenaf nourishes the soil and cleans the air.  The flowers are pretty yellow-white blooms with a deep red center that opens at sunrise and closes at night.  Harvesting Kenaf three times during the growing season (to 5 feet) produces tender young leaf for highest nutrition (wet or dry).  Food for humans–forage for livestock.Growing Kenaf for the rest of the season yields stock and core material that can be made into paper and textile products, animal bedding, soil remediation (pollution buster–water, land and air).  Highest organic oil absorbancy to a 92% clean up, starting as soon as you apply it.  One pound of Kenaf absorbs 1.66 gallons of oil or over 11 pounds of oil.  Amazingly absorbs hydrocarbon products up to 12 times its own weight.  Environmentally safe and correct.  A great alternative to plywood (save the old growth trees).  For the garden it’s a great mulch.

Much can be said! Food,Clothing, Building Material( Plywood, Brick, Plastics) Cleans the Soil,Water and Air.  A remedy that we should act on now.  Proven environmentally correct, one that should be used to make paper without killing trees and it doesn’t need insecticides or fungicides.  There’s no need for importing from out-of-state any type of sawdust (substrate), bedding for livestock, mulch for gardens.  EPA approved for 20 years.  Bioremediation (clean up method converting contaminants such as creosote preservatives, PCP-pentachlorophenol, petroleum products into harmless byproducts, i.e. carbon dioxide and water.  Kenaf contains indigenous hydrocarbons digesting microbes without any cultures, preservatives or stablizers.  We can balance our pollution problem right here, right now!  Use Kenaf everywhere.

OIL SUCK:  Just a little sucks a lot. Kenaf manufactured locally by American farmers, is all natural and biodegradable. Kenaf absorbs up to 12 times its own weight. Kenaf assimilates pollution. Kenaf is a remedy for balancing pollution from industrial, military and lakes.  Store 2-5 pound bags of Kenaf in cars, boats and trucks.  Helps keep available proven clean up materials close by.   Do your part–clean the ground and water.  It will help clean our air, an incentive to reduce greenhouse effects.  Need Seeds? Inquire about a Kenaf Presentation. Contact us at WellnessWillpower.

                               Future   Green   Industries

Personal use

  • Food (leaves raw or cooked) for Humans and livestock
  • Dehydrated — freeze-dried — juiced — pickled (picture of pickled Kenaf in oil and garlic)
  • High in nitrogen, protein, calcium, selenium, omegas
  • Seeds yield nutritious food grade oil

 Agricultural benefits

  • Soil remediation – biodegradable (can be disposed in compost)
  • Absorbs oil 12 times it’s own weight
  • Highest organic oil absorbency tested by the us navy
  • Nourishes the soil – soil less potting mix
  • Landfills/ restore environmental balance
  • Store 2-5 lb. Bags of fine dust in cars, boats, trucks
  •  Kenaf Cleans the air as it grows (more co2 absorption)

 Industrial applications                                                         Kenaf Absorbent

  • Building materials that are environmentally safe
  • Paper 100% free of tree and chlorine
  • Pulp — Pellets
  • Particleboard — Composites
  • Lost circulation media/Oil well mud mixed with kenaf fiber
  • Pavers — Block
  • Grass erosion mats –- Seeded mats — Mats for roads of the future
  • Thermo Plastic extender (bio-degradable plastics) — auto industry
  • Soil Neutralizer — landfills, farms, beaches
  • Filter Applications –- water treatment plants (pools, water and air)
  • Oil — Bio-fuel -– industrial lubricants -– cosmetics
  • Containment booms –- absorptive booms -– absorptive blankets
  • Insulation material –- non toxic

 Textiles

  • Clothing
  • Jute (java jute) Indonesia – Burlap North America
  • Cordage
  • Upholstery
  • Canvas – sails

 Animal Bedding                        Animal Bedding

  • Alternative to sawdust (premium grade) no need to import
  • Many times more absorbent than wood shavings
  • Animal litter – low dust – non toxic
  • Preferred for reptiles and horses with allergy problems

    KENAF

       Facts

1.  History: Indigenous of southern Asia, Africa, Middle East.

2. Age: Cultivated for at least 4000 years – originating in Egypt.

3. Yield: Kenaf may yield 6 to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre. Per year. This is 3 to 5 times greater than the yield for pine, which requires 7   to  40 years before they are ready for harvest. 5000 acres produce pulp to supply paper plant 200 tons a day.

4.  Fiber: The outer fiber or bast makes up 40% of the stalks dry weight; the inner fiber or core makes up the other 60%.

5.  Processing: Can be processed in a mechanical fiber separator similar to a cotton gin.

6.  Growth: In the right climate, kenaf grows 14 feet tall in 4 to 5 months and is an annual. Environmentally safe.

7.  Harvesting: Harvesting kenaf 3 times during the growing season (to 5 feet) produces tender young leaf for highest nutrition (wet or dry).

8.  Flowers: Kenaf flowers at the end of the growing season, producing showy hibiscus-like blossoms.

9.  Requirements: Requires a minimum of fertilizers, pesticides, and water in comparison to other row crops.

10. Growing areas: Almost all growing areas of U.S. kenaf, seed cannot mature. You need 60 to 90 days frost free to germinate. Arizona and southwest deserts can produce mature seed.

11. Seeds: 15,000 to 20,000 seeds per pound. Varieties include; Everglades41, Dowling, Whitten, tainung2, all have broad shape leaf, tainung2 has both palmate and broad shape leaf. Seed Price range: $8.50 for 240+, advance order: $2.80/lb. Minimum order 2000 lbs. (Kenaf.seed.com)

12. Absorption:  Cleans the air 3 to 9 times more than other plants in Co2 Absorption. Absorbs oil up to 12 times its own weight. Neutralizes oil toxicity up to 92%.

Summary: America has studied KENAF enough for 80 years. I have been knocking on heads to start businesses for 14 years now!

                     Just a little Sucks Alot

Better than any Sponge-  Absorbs 12 times its own weight-  Oil Spills are happening Now. Its time to get this green industry on line now!

By Eddie D Katz
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Dec 292016
 

Your Baby’s Brain on Music… It’s not Sci-Fi

Music is sound. Sound is heard. But music is so much more.

Music ignites the brain, orchestrating a neural symphony between the ears. A melody drifts into the ear, spirals down the cochlea, drops individual tones onto waiting receptors. Tones are deconstructed and launched out on a variety of trajectories, simultaneously activating multiple regions of the brain to process the wealth of information embedded in the music. Consider listening to your favorite song; memories and emotions are triggered, the beat plays out in your head, you smile or cry, your body dances in time. Surely experience shapes these perceptions, assigning meaning and emotion to songs. But is the neuronal encoding for musical information actually formed by these experiences or is it an intrinsic property of merely being human?
The adult auditory system is asymmetrical, the right side associated with music and the left with speech. In 2010 researchers in the field of cognition asked if the neural correlates for asymmetrical sound processing were already in place at birth (Perani et al., 2010). To answer this question, they imaged the brains of peacefully sleeping swaddled newborns, only 1 to 3 days from the womb, while playing piano excerpts from top composers of the Baroque and Classical eras. Next, they challenged the babies’ brains by shifting the key of the music, effectively altering the music’s tonal context while maintaining its musical integrity. This allowed the researchers to not only ask how music is perceived outside of rich contextual landscape of experience but also how this perception could be altered by structural changes to the melody.

Surveying Sound: Your Baby’s First Critical Window
Music entered the babies’ brains and traveled to the most likely of places, the right (musical) auditory cortex. The auditory cortex is subdivided into hierarchal layers – the primary, secondary, and tertiary cortices. After the initial receipt of musical tones in the primary cortex the other two regions are typically recruited for decoding of complex melodic structures and to initiate motor responses (i.e. tapping and dancing to the beat). At only three days of age the babies’ brains were already engaging all three auditory cortices in an asymmetrical manner. But the music did not stop there; it traveled into the emotional processing centers of the right brain as well. This suggests that the babies were not only perceiving and processing the music but they were also ‘feeling it’.
So what happened when the music tones were altered? When the researchers played the same music but with shifted tonal structure the babies’ brains lit up in both the right and left auditory cortices and emotional processing centers. Why, if the altered music maintained a musical quality, did the left (speech) auditory cortex get involved? In adults we see this left-sided pattern of brain activation when trying to discern irregularities in sound patterns. Perhaps, then, the unexpected nature of the altered tones spiked the little ones’ curiosity, causing them to send the music to the left side of their brains to figure it out. Given that the altered music was still musical in nature this left-side switch likely was the result of surprise associated with the tonal shift instead of failure to recognize the music as, well, music.
Instinctively we know that music can soothe and engage our babies but the degree and effect of this engagement has remained elusive. Overall, this study showed that babies are born into this world with a neural asymmetry for sound processing and a neural-based sensitivity to the structure of sound. Likely this framework was established before birth, even as early as the onset of hearing at only 16 weeks’ gestation. These results are particularly intriguing in the context of the prevailing “use it or lose it” hypothesis in the field of cognitive neuroscience. This hypothesis states that the more a neural circuit is engaged early in life the stronger it becomes, forming a neural scaffold on which learning is built. Conversely, circuits that are not engaged lose strength and disappear from the neural framework. Use it or lose it. This research suggests that music can be used in a new and unexpected way to differentially induce and reinforce neural pathways that may not be activated by traditional music in a newborn baby’s brain.

Perani, D., Saccuman, M. C., Scifo, P., Spada, D., Andreolli, G., Rovelli, R., . . . Koelsch, S. (2010). Functional specializations for music processing in the human newborn brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4758-4763.

Social Interaction: The Missing Link in Your Baby’s Learning

The power of song to both soothe and stimulate babies is a universally known truth. Mothers instinctively respond to their baby’s cries by rocking them gently while singing sweet melodic songs, inducing a sense of calm and peace. As babies grow and begin to explore their world song is used to stimulate learning. Consider the classic learning song “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”, this is a fun, engaging way to learn the parts of our bodies which, otherwise, might be all together uninteresting.
Using music to promote emotional calm and enhance learning is far from novel, but how and why does it work? Over the past two decades neuroscientists have sought to understand underlying mechanisms and outcomes of music engagement in promoting infant cognitive, emotional, and social development.
In 2012, researchers from McMaster University asked if music exposure could positively impact brain cognition and development in babies during brief but critical window of time, from 6 – 12 months of age. During this time babies transition from being able to recognize all possible sounds to only focusing on the sounds they actively hear, i.e they become culture-bound listeners. Scientists have dubbed this the “use it or lose it” hypothesis; if babies do not hear specific sounds during this time then they lose their ability to accurately perceive them by one year of age [see Surveying Sound: Your Baby’s First Critical Window].
This study compared the effects of two different types of music exposure – Active and Passive – with no musical interventions in babies starting at 6 months of age, at the opening of this critical window. In the Active group, babies actively engaged in music playing and listening with their parent. In the Passive group, babies engaged in normal everyday play while Baby Einstein™ CD’s played in the background. The main differences between these groups was that the Active group reinforced learning through repetition, used positive social interaction to enhance learning, and emphasized music quality.
After six months the researchers tested their little subjects on their preference for Western tones, their ability to discriminate novel sounds, their emotional response to novel sounds, and their overall ability to communicate. In each parameter tested, the babies who had Active music exposure scored significantly higher than the other two groups. There was little difference between the Passive group and babies receiving no music interventions. Thus, this study concluded music enhances cognitive, emotional, and social development only when exposure is in the context of active learning and social interaction (Gerry, Unrau, & Trainor, 2012).
This need for social interaction in infant learning is echoed in research on language acquisition. Researchers have found that babies are only perceptive to foreign language sounds when they directly interact with another human ; babies exposed to foreign language through passive exposure such as watching a foreign speaker on tv (Kuhl, Tsao, & Liu, 2003) or watching Baby Einstein™ CD’s (DeLoache et al., 2010) do not learn the foreign language sounds.
All caretakers can likely attest that infants are social learners; If imitation is truly the highest form of flattery, then infants surely are the greatest charmers. However, the absolute need for this interaction to improve cognitive outcomes from learning experiences was unknown. These studies highlight a currently overlooked yet critical component of learning that is absent from most educational baby products on the market – the need for human interaction during the process of learning.

DeLoache, J. S., Chiong, C., Sherman, K., Islam, N., Vanderborght, M., Troseth, G. L., . . . O’Doherty, K. (2010). Do babies learn from baby media? Psychological Science.
Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental science, 15(3), 398-407.
Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F.-M., & Liu, H.-M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096-9101.

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Dec 192016
 

Some Say Kratom Is A Solution To Opioid Addiction. Not If Drug Warriors Ban It First.

Prohibition is a short-sighted, ineffective policy, but that’s not standing in their way.

03/03/2016 08:38 am ET | Updated Sep 07, 2016

go-pong via Getty Images
A Mitragyna speciosa korth plant, also known as kratom. A number of states are trying to ban it in response to concerns about drug abuse.

America’s drug war is changing. Marijuana, long demonized without evidence as one of the world’s most dangerous drugs, is now legal, at least for medical use, in 23 states and Washington, D.C. The president has said that treatment ― not incarceration ― is the best way to combat the opioid addiction epidemic.

But even as the nation comes to terms with the overwhelming failures of the drug war, lawmakers around the country are pushing to open a new front.

Right now, politicians in at least six states are pushing to ban kratom, an herbal drug made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, a Southeast Asian tree. The natural substance, usually consumed as a tea or powder extract, contains mitragynine and a related compound, 7-hydroxymitragynine, which appear to activate opioid receptors in the brain and reduce pain. While most opioids have sedative qualities, low to moderate doses of kratom serve as a mild stimulant.

As kratom gets a modern makeover, popping up in new products like energy shots and bright, gaudy packages sold in head shops, the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration are raising concerns about it.

State lawmakers, encouraged by sensationalist news stories and isolated reports of abuse, are treating it like a dangerous recreational substance that must be outlawed. Kratom bans are already in place in Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Vermont and most recently, Arkansas. Legislation is now pending in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York, with more states jumping aboard the effort each session. People involved in abstinence-only drug rehab have spoken out against kratom, arguing that the drug is easy to abuse and can interfere with recovery from opioid addiction.

Despite the crackdown, there isn’t a scientific consensus on kratom’s full range of potential benefits and dangers. People in Southeast Asia have been using kratom for centuries, if not longer, and thousands of Americans now tout it as a promising therapy for opiate withdrawal and an alternative to certain prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers. But if the drug warriors get their way, none of that will matter ― and kratom will be illegal.

Alissa Scheller
An assortment of products made from kratom, which lawmakers are now trying to ban.

Susan Ash’s path to kratom began around a decade ago in an old-growth forest in Oregon. Ash, then in her mid-30s, was working on a conservation project that often took her on treks through the towering redwoods, Douglas firs and Sitka spruce.

When she started feeling intense joint pain and debilitating fatigue, Ash didn’t think to consider Lyme disease. Nor did any of the many doctors she saw over the next few years. Though they couldn’t make an accurate diagnosis, the doctors did what they could to treat Ash’s worsening symptoms. That meant prescription drugs ― and lots of them.

“I was on every controlled substance under the sun,” Ash said.

Doctors were soon prescribing her pills just to treat the side effects of her other medications.

“I was on morphine, and because of the morphine, it was making me so fatigued that I wasn’t able to keep my job at the time, and so they put me on Adderall so that I could perform my work,” Ash said. “With the Adderall, my previous struggles with depression and anxiety got worse. They added on the Xanax. At one point I was on all three ― the benzodiazepines, the narcotics and the stimulants ― in addition to Seroquel [an antidepressant sometimes used for sleep], Lyrica [a pain medication used to treat fibromyalgia], Flexeril, a muscle relaxant.”

“I could go on,” Ash continued.

Despite being prescribed a cocktail of as many as 10 different pills, Ash’s condition only deteriorated. In 2010, after years of suffering, she began experiencing temporary paralysis and disturbing neurological effects. She was getting lost in her own neighborhood. She’d sometimes wake up unable to move her limbs until someone could pry them out of their torpor.

Finally, a pain specialist asked Ash if she’d been checked for Lyme disease. The test came back positive, and she began a 10-month course of antibiotics, pumped through a port installed in her chest.

Susan Ash
Susan Ash holds up an IV bag while receiving treatment for Lyme disease in 2011.

But while Ash’s Lyme disease symptoms began to subside, the years-long regimen of increasingly powerful painkillers had awakened another disease. As Ash’s opioid tolerance grew, so did the strength of the drugs doctors prescribed her, and by 2011, she says she was addicted to pain pills.

Millions of Americans caught in the nation’s surging opioid epidemic have followed a similar trajectory. In 2013, doctors wrote nearly 207 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, up from around 76 million in 1991, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Much of this was due to the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying and PR campaign, led by Purdue Pharmaceutical, to boost the use of narcotics. (Purdue would ultimately plead guilty to misleading the public about the addiction risk posed by the painkiller OxyContin, and pay a $634.5 million fine.)

The United States is far and away the largest global consumer of these drugs, making up almost 100 percent of the world total for consumption of hydrocodone (also known as Vicodin) and 81 percent for oxycodone (also known as Percocet) in 2013 — all of which brings in billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the pills.

In some cases, dependence on prescription opioids for pain management leads to something more harmful. In 2014, 1.9 million Americans ages 12 or older had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. More than 18,000 people died after overdosing on prescription opioids that year. Another 10,574 died of heroin overdoses, a death toll that has continued to spike as people who get cut off from narcotic painkillers turn to harder, cheaper and easier-to-access drugs.

Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. That number fell slightly in 2013.

But like many people who get addicted, Ash wasn’t aware of her problem. She had a legitimate need for the pills, and didn’t realize what they were doing to her until it was too late.

“My family would look back on how I was then and say I was living my life with morphine glasses on,” said Ash. “I was not caring about my actual living environment. It was dirty and nasty and I wasn’t cleaning it up, and I didn’t even notice.”

Ash entered treatment in 2011. She successfully detoxed, and for a number of years continued in recovery with the help of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. It worked, Ash says, but she still felt chained to pills, as if she couldn’t live free from narcotics. That’s when Ash discovered kratom, first as a way to help deal with the symptoms of withdrawal, and then as a replacement for other medications.

“Life couldn’t have been much worse at that point. I was not leaving the house at all. I was only leaving the house to see doctors,” she said. “In a matter of two weeks, I had the energy, I had the pain relief and I had the depression and anxiety relief I needed to become a productive member of society again. It was such a stark difference and such an immediate change in my life.”

Uncle Sam vs. Kratom

Kratom has long been known as an effective way to alleviate opiate withdrawals. In the 1940s, the Thai government banned it in what some historians believe was an effort to eliminate a threat to opium, which was bringing in substantial tax revenue at the time. Without an alternative drug or legal means to combat withdrawals, many users were likely driven back into opium dens, where the state could benefit financially from their addiction.

The U.S. government hasn’t gone that far — yet. Kratom is on the DEA’s list of “drugs of concern,” which means federal drug warriors are eyeing a more heavy-handed approach. The FDA has also identified kratom as a botanical substance that could pose a risk to public health and could potentially be abused, which has prompted large-scale seizures at the agency’s behest.

Much of this anxiety has been driven by fatalities supposedly linked to kratom. But in almost all of the cited cases, toxicology reports showed that kratom users who died also showed signs of polydrug abuse or pre-existing health conditions. In a number of instances, they appeared to have taken deceptively marketed products that contained not only kratom, but more dangerous synthetic drugs — a concern for people on either side of the kratom issue.

Is It Really Dangerous?

But focusing on reports like these mischaracterizes the potential risks of the plant, says Walter C. Prozialeck, a professor of pharmacology at Midwestern University who wrote a comprehensive literature review on kratom for the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

“After researching the literature, I found that were more positive aspects to kratom than there were negative,” he said. “Additional studies are needed to explore potential benefits of kratom. Also, work is needed to look at toxicity, though. How would kratom interact with prescription drugs or nutritional supplements that a person might be using?”

Prozialeck described kratom itself as largely benign, and said it doesn’t produce much in the way of psychoactive high in low-to-moderate doses. That means it doesn’t have a particularly high potential for recreational use.

“With anything, there are dangers of using too much,” Prozialeck said. “But the amount that a person has to take in to get any severe effects is ridiculously high. You’re talking 10 to 15 grams of raw leaf. Most people who are using kratom for pain management don’t take that much. Most people can’t take that much.”

In online forums like Erowid and Sage Wisdom, users report that higher doses lead to sedative effects, and that taking too much kratom can cause gastrointestinal issues — stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This isn’t fun, most of them suggest, and it’s certainly a stupid way to use any drug.

Others say kratom must be banned because its promise as a therapy that relies on a less harmful opioid substitute is complicating the addiction recovery process. But the loudest critics have so far been the ones who believe abstinence is the only way to overcome addiction, a position that has come under intense scientific scrutiny in recent years.

In January, The New York Times reported on a Florida woman who’d turned to kratom during her time in a recovery facility for heroin addiction. She was getting regular drug tests, and said she began buying kratom beverages at a kava bar — an establishment that sells a variety of mildly intoxicating drinks, often at an obscene markup — because it didn’t interfere with her screening. She eventually got addicted, she said, and spent hundreds of dollars a week before eventually returning to heroin. The woman said kratom was “causing a lot of relapses” among people who are addicted. The article concluded that the plant was essentially analogous to other opiates, and in some cases, equally as risky.

That thinking isn’t uncommon.

Gloria Anderson, supervisor of addiction programming at the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic, a 12-step facility in New York City, recently told TV station PIX11 that 20 percent of her patients reported using the drug as “a Band-Aid when they are unable to get ahold of opiates such as painkillers and heroin.”

Anderson and others argue that lawmakers should respond by making kratom a Schedule I substance alongside heroin itself, classifying it as one of the most dangerous drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

“After researching the literature, I found that were more positive aspects to kratom than there were negative.” Walter C. Prozialeck, professor of pharmacology at Midwestern University.

Initial studies have suggested kratom does have some addictive potential. And this is perhaps more likely to be true among people who have existing opioid abuse disorders and who may be in mandatory, abstinence-only drug treatment, where they may be going through painful withdrawals without the help of medication.

All of this speaks to the need for better education on kratom to encourage responsible use and minimize potential harm.

Considering the research he’s reviewed, however, Prozialeck says it’s a stretch to compare kratom to heroin and other opiates.

“I would respectfully disagree with the idea that kratom poses as much risk as other opiates,” he said. “I think kratom is probably less dangerous in terms of long-term dependence and addiction. People who turn to kratom are probably desperate for an alternative.”

Jag Davies, director of communications strategy at the Drug Policy Alliance, says he’s skeptical of the desire to ban kratom. He sees it as a function of the “treatment industrial complex,” which he says is profiting from treatment-instead-of-incarceration policies that funnel clients from the criminal justice system into programs that aren’t based on science, such as abstinence-only and 12-step. Davies said there’s a better way to approach the problem.

“A health-centered approach to drug use assesses improvement by many measures, not simply by someone’s drug use level, but also by their overall health, their employment status, their social relationships and their general well-being,” said Davies. “Determining success by boiling it down to this single measure of abstinence to this arbitrary group of certain drugs isn’t realistic or effective.”

If we were more willing to judge the success of treatment and recovery by other metrics, Davies says, people wouldn’t be so dismissive of the idea that a recovering addict could use kratom and be a productive member of society, while causing less harm to themselves than they did with heroin. In fact, from a treatment provider’s perspective, that should be seen as a victory.

Where Are We Headed?

But that would appear to be asking a lot in the current debate over kratom.

In Florida, a bill to ban kratom advanced through an initial committee vote last month, despite opposition from some members.

“They provided zero reasons for supporting it,” state Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) said of the legislation’s supporters. “Honestly, this was the least intellectual rigor I have seen in the Florida legislature — on this bill and on banning a product. There was literally zero testimony as to why this product should have been banned.”

Brandes voted against the bill, but he’s not so sure his colleagues will view the effort with the same skepticism as it progresses through the state Senate.

“It shows the utter conflict in drug policy,” he said. “I think it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to someone saying, ‘Oh, this is dangerous,’ but then providing no data to support their position.”

The stakes are high for advocates of kratom, and they’re now working to combat the sensationalism and misinformation that has historically dominated political debates about drugs.

Big Kratom Fights Back

In 2014, Ash formed the American Kratom Association, a consumer-based nonprofit that now has hundreds of dues-paying members and around 2,500 active contributors who share their experiences with kratom in an online forum. The AKA recently announced that Paul Pelosi Jr., son of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would serve as the group’s executive director.

Advocates have been busy trying to convince lawmakers that banning kratom would deprive the public of a promising treatment that has already helped many people who struggle not just with opioid addiction, but with other ailments treated with heavier prescription drugs. And while Ash says kratom has worked for her and thousands of others, she adds that the drug affects everybody differently. As with any drug, prospective users should approach it with caution.

Drew Angerer/AFP/Getty Images
Paul Pelosi Jr., right, with his parents Paul Pelosi and Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi Jr. was recently named executive director of the American Kratom Association, a group fighting to keep kratom legal.

There are also some legitimate concerns surrounding kratom, Ash admits, but points out they tend to get lost in the hysteria of total ban legislation. There is plenty of room, she says, for further regulation of kratom to ensure proper consumer protections are in place.

Much of the bad press has revolved around unscrupulous manufacturers that have sold adulterated products, or have marketed their products deceptively, leading to confusion about what kratom actually is. It doesn’t help that it’s regularly found in head shops, alongside shady synthetic drugs that have attracted their own share of negative headlines, in many cases for good reason.

“The industry needs to come together to self-regulate and self-police one another and get rid of some of the bad apples out there,” said Ash.

The AKA supports placing an age restriction on kratom for consumers who are 18 or older. The organization also believes that stricter labeling guidelines are necessary. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use kratom, for example, and anyone with a medical condition or who is taking prescription medications should consult their doctor before trying kratom. Perhaps most importantly, the AKA wants to make sure that products aren’t being deliberately marketed toward younger consumers, or with the intent of comparing its effects to other drugs, like actual opiates.

Ash says that although she hopes the FDA will stop cracking down on kratom, she doesn’t see a path toward more mainstream medical acceptance. Clinical testing and FDA trials require huge financial investments, and considering the product in question is a plant that’s likely been around for millions of years, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t see any way to make money from it. In fact, broader use of the plant as an alternative treatment would presumably take away from their bottom line.

But the pharmaceutical industry does factor in to what the AKA says are its broader hopes that it can help foster a smarter, more robust approach to treating addiction, chronic pain and other conditions that currently leave people with few options beyond prescription drugs. The organization would like to see better programs to manage and monitor the prescribing of opioids, while ensuring they’re accessible to those who need them, says Ash. The AKA also believes lawmakers need to invest more resources into recovery and reduce reliance on abstinence-only programs that, according to Ash, have shown “a dismal success rate.”

“Rather than put all of this effort and sensational attention onto this plant that could be part of the solution, why not focus on making better programs and evidence-based programs on recovery and putting more attention on mental health and addiction,” she said.

That may sound like common sense to the growing number of people who believe in a health-based approach to drug policy. But the campaign to ban kratom — which has shown therapeutic promise, but would benefit from further scientific research — shows we still have a ways to go in order to truly reorient the political conversation around drugs.

“We’re at a really contradictory moment in drug policy in some ways, where there seems to be this consensus for a new approach, but then at the same time, there’s still these knee-jerk, punitive responses whenever a new drug comes up,” said Davies, of the Drug Policy Alliance. “People are very easily fooled by new drugs, and it’s still very easy to push through bad legislation.”
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Dec 192016
 

Our mission is to equip patients and families with the best information, resources and tools to overcome addiction and lead a lifelong recovery.

 

DrugRehab.com is a web resource provided and funded by Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS). ARS is an integrated behavioral health care management organization dedicated to the treatment of addiction, substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health issues. We provide well-researched, fact-based resources on this site.

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Jasmine McCarthy
Outreach Specialist

Nov 232016
 

For Optimal Health, Opt for Organic Food

Go Organic

Go Organic

 

A large number of studies have shown that organic foods:

  • Are less likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. (Synthetic chemicals are not permitted in organic agriculture, yet can occur due to contamination from nearby conventional farms.)
  • Contain fewer heavy metals (on average 48 percent lower levels of cadmium for example).
  • Contain anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally-grown varieties.
  • May in some cases be more nutrient-dense. For example, one 2010 study which was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), found that organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than non-organic strawberries.Set in Motion Proper Digestion

If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:

EatWild.com

EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

FoodRoutes

The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com

If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area.

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk law s. California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

 

Oct 052016
 

As part of our ongoing efforts to promote senior wellness across the web,  it’s very much in line with what we do here at ElderAction!

WellnessWillpower thanks

Jim Vogel

http://elderaction.org/ | jimv@elderaction.org

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