Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Detoxifying Your Life

It’s one thing to be physically healthy by eating the right foods, exercising, and ensuring proper supplementation but what most people don’t usually think about is how their state of mind and their overall quality of life can affect health. I’ve discovered that it is not enough to eat healthy, cleanse, work out, and take natural supplements to have true health. So much of what we experience in our lives, including our physical experiences (or perhaps especially our physical experiences) have almost as much to do with what goes on in our minds as with what goes on physically in our bodies. As profound as the connection between our minds and our bodies is, the topic does not get nearly enough attention.
Shop for popular personal achievement resources that give you a competitive advantage in business and in life!

Some people call it the “placebo” affect. I’m not sure if that is correct, or if our minds aren’t just truly amazing and possess the power to heal themselves (and maybe others?) just by our thoughts. Before I get into the strange but very real possibility of this, I would like to discuss the “cleansing part” of our lives and minds.

When we detox our bodies, the idea is to clear out the toxins that have collected for months, years, and possibly our entire life. We are exposed to so many environmental toxins it isn’t even funny…and as time goes on more and more toxins are introduced. I remember reading, several years ago, how detrimental wireless technology is to our health. The article I read discussed the wireless technology behind cell phones. I remember being spooked by what it said. This was several years ago and I all but “forgot” about the dangers I read. Recently, however, I was sent some updated information on this very real problem and, I must admit, I went beyond spooked. It was downright scary. It said things like, at the rate we are going with these wireless technologies (it seems EVERYTHING is wireless these days – we can’t even have a keyboard and mouse that isn’t wireless!) the global sperm count will drop to 0 (yes, ZERO) by 2048! Whoa! This technology has the ability to render our species extinct? It also said that the incorporation of “smart grids” – the “smart meters” that are being installed by electric companies all over the country – could push human tolerance over the edge. There were other health issues discussed, including the prevalence of cancers today that are caused by these technologies. The entire article, which can be found here, caught my attention.

What the article made me realize is that we could put all our effort into watching what we put into our bodies and what we expose ourselves to, but ultimately we can’t remove the toxins from our lives on our own. In fact, I doubt that it will ever happen given the electronic addiction we are faced with today. As a result, we have to be even more diligent to clear out the toxins where we can (such as in our diets, what we put on our bodies and what we feed our minds).

I’m still researching effective methods to detox from the electronic pollution and I think there are some viable options, such as earthing and even things like acupuncture and energy healing, that the Chinese are known for. I couldn’t say just how effective these methods could be against such a pervasive and dangerous issue as electronic/wireless pollution but at this point I doubt anything could hurt! To learn more about our bodies and how they relate to the energy fields around us I urge you to read the book The Body Electric. For more information about earthing, check out Go Earthing. I will also do a future blog on this topic.

In addition to removing the toxins from our bodies, it is incredibly important to also cleanse and detoxify our minds. We are bombarded on a daily basis with such negative information it’s surprising that we aren’t all walking around in a depressed stupor. Between the stories we hear on the news and read in the newspaper and all the movies and other “entertainment” out there that contains so much violence, unhappiness, and moral issues, we are receiving so much negativity into our minds that we need to clean this negativity out from time to time (or maybe constantly).

There are many ways to do this, but one way I have recently discovered is called “Ho’oponopono”. Don’t bother trying to pronounce it ;) but the concept is that through love and forgiveness we can “clean” our minds of negative energy and, specifically memories. I first learned about this in the book Zero Limits by Joe Vitale. I will be honest that the book is trying to sell you something else, but I don’t see anything wrong with taking the message from the book and employing it into your life. Honestly, even if it doesn’t do what they say it can do, just the love and forgiveness aspect can greatly improve your mood and help you to offload the negative effects we get from all the drama going on around us.

The other reason I believe that saying, “I love you,” “Please forgive me,” and “Thank you,” could have an incredibly healing effect on our minds and bodies is because of some books I read a few years ago that discuss “water crystal healing”. A man named Dr. Masaru Emoto conducted some experiments on water to determine if words can affect the molecular structure of the water. The idea is that, because we are made up of mostly water and if the words we are exposed to can affect water on a molecular level, then we can be affected just by what we say and also by what is said to us. I purchased, read, and gave out as gifts, many of his books because I felt it was a beautiful message. Even though it may sound incredible and possibly unbelievable, again, the message itself is really nice. Whether you believe it or not, our thoughts are extremely powerful, particularly because of how they allow certain thoughts to seep into our subconscious.

On a similar note, there is a book called Think and Grow Rich (you can get a free copy of the book at that link) that talks about how to get what you want by putting the “right” thoughts into your subconscious. All of these books discuss similar concepts with the ultimate goal of “cleaning” the mind of negativity. It is not a simple task to change our thinking and to clean all the negativity out of our lives. It is a constant struggle since we’re battling the very environment in which we live not to mention the fact that everyone around us is battling the same negativity. But once we are able to begin to recognize when negative thoughts enter our minds and correct them as soon as possible, the overall mental cleansing begins and we will find that we are able to get much more out of life than we ever dreamed possible.

We don't realize how important it is to have a positive mindset in order to have overall health. I started this blog to discuss kidney issues and mental disorders as well as how to treat both of those issues with natural cures. One thing I have come to realize is that, along with dehydration, high blood pressure has probably the most detrimental effects on kidneys (as well as, probably, every other organ in the body, including the brain). When we have a positive outlook on life and mental clarity from letting go of the negativity, our blood pressure naturally lowers, which obviously helps our overall physical health. It is also no surprise that having a positive outlook increases self confidence and overall mental health thereby decreasing the need for pharmaceuticals, particularly antidepressants and antipsychotics. It's a win-win situation.

For more resources to help “cleanse” your mind and become mentally and emotionally healthier, check out the links below.

Here’s to a beautiful quality of life, mentally, emotionally and physically!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Antidepressants – An Interesting Story

When I started this blog it was at the prompting of my mother, for whom I had been doing research in the hopes of finding natural cures for her kidney issues. At the time she had been on antidepressants and antipsychotics for several years. When I found out about her kidney issues I assumed that her doctor was “taking care” of her. It wasn’t until later that I realized that this was not true. I began a quest to find out why this was happening and how to help the situation. My research led me to the fact that antidepressants were greatly exacerbating her problem.

The beautiful side effect of discovering the detrimental effects of antidepressants and antipsychotics in relation to kidney disease is that, once I figured this out, my mother got off these drugs immediately and she came back to us. Despite the fact that doctors insist that anyone getting off these medications must do so gradually, my mother was so concerned with her health that she just got off of them cold turkey. This was extremely unexpected. She had been on these medications for quite some time and had tried getting off of them before (cold turkey) but found that it was a shock to her “mental” state and believed that she needed to be on these drugs. At that time I recall thinking that it wasn’t that she needed to be on them but that she had tried getting off of them too quickly. Still, at that time, there was no way to convince her of that. She believed with all her heart (or perhaps just with all her mind) that she needed the medications to be “mentally stable.”

So, fast forward to her treatment for kidney disease and my discovery that these types of pharmaceuticals could exacerbate her kidney problems (you can read about this in a previous blog), she decided she needed to get off these medications once and for all and at once. I was very concerned that she would have the same problem that she’d had before. Still, I couldn’t convince her to get off of them gradually. She was determined just to get off of them at once and stay off of them – she was worried for her health.

I believed I had convinced her to get herself off them gradually, preferably under the care of her doctor and she said she would do that. Then about a month later I asked her how many (of her medications) she was taking a day. She said none, that she had just stopped taking them. My mother is very stubborn and strong-willed (kind of like me). I really should have known that I really hadn’t convinced her of anything and that, regardless of what I’d said, she’d do what she thought she should do.

Of course, I should have known this. I had been telling her for months that she needed to do this and she needed to do that to help her issue but she never did any of it. When she finally made the decision to get off of her medication it was not because I “told” her about it. It was because I had given her actual hard-core facts to read. Duh! My mother is no dummy. She needed to read that this was necessary otherwise there was no reasoning with her.

Anyway, after a while that she had gotten off these medications I realized that I had my mother back. It wasn’t until then that I realized how these medications had changed her personality, to the point that she was no longer herself. Gradually, over the years, she had become a shell of a person. It hadn’t really occurred to me why, I had just noticed that she wasn’t “mom” anymore. One memory that sticks with me was shopping for a birthday (or mother’s day, take your pick) card for her. I remember reading these touchy-feely cards that said things like, “Mom, you’ve been there for me through thick and thin and I have always been able to count on you…” or “Mom, what would my life have been like without you to do all the things a mother should do”…you catch my drift. I remember none of these cards were appropriate for my mom at the time. It was sad, but I remember thinking that I needed a card that said, “Mom, here’s to you coming to visit and sitting on the couch to watch TV….” That might sound bad, but, honestly, this is how it was. We all saw it. My mom always seemed upset and bored. There was no joy in her eyes, or in her voice.  We thought it was due to her “mental illness.” Boy, were we wrong.

I can’t say it was an immediate change from one day to the next. Or maybe it was and I just didn’t notice. But I can say that once I started spending more time with her, I realized that she was my mama again – the one that raised me and took me to the local hamburger joint as a kid so we could enjoy a burger on one of their outdoor tables. It was the same mama that would take me to walk around the plaza in Santa Fe and would buy me a treat at the Woolworth. Looking back, I think it was probably an immediate change, but it took me a while to realize that it was. Maybe I thought it was too good to be true.

I can safely say that three (or whatever) years later, she is my mama again and now I can’t find a card that expresses the love and gratitude I feel for her and all that she does for me. It makes me realize just how devastating those antidepressants and antipsychotics truly are. It also makes me realize how unnecessary they are. Ever since SHE made the decision that she did not need them, she didn’t need them! It may seem really amazing, but I guess it really isn’t, given the power of our minds and that we have the ability to heal just by thinking about it.

There is something else, very important that I need to point out. While I was learning about the detrimental effects of those medications, I was also learning how to naturally heal the kidneys. It is no coincidence that dehydration causes all sorts of issues, including kidney disease AND mental illness (along with probably every other disease out there) or that vitamin D is a necessary supplement for overall health. Well, among learning about the pharmaceuticals, I was also learning about other “natural” cures for her kidney issues. Little did I realize that implementing these things was also helping the “mental” issues along with just believing that she didn’t need the pharmaceuticals but now I know that it all was working together.

I know this particular post doesn’t give many tips on how to heal naturally…or maybe it does and you just have to read between the lines. But I thought it was a good story for anyone who is on antidepressants or antipsychotics that believe that they actually need them. My mother was in a hospital for a while and we really believed she was “mentally ill.” After all of this I realize more than anything that she is a strong, strong woman who had it in her all along to be mentally healthy. Even now, with her kidney issues, I realize that it is her strength, more than anything, which is keeping her going.

Let this be hope for anyone out there who thinks they “need” drugs…for anything, especially for “mental health”. Even though it seems like a true illness, I believe, and not to diminish anyone’s experiences with this, that mental health is really all in our heads (no pun intended).

Here’s to your healthy mind, and healthy body!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preparing to Launch!

Hello again…at long last! I know it has been a VERY long time since my last blog post. Much has happened and I’m hoping to fill you in as much as possible on the last year or so of my life in this post, as well as give you a little glimpse into the future of this blog and my corresponding web site.

You might be getting a little more info on this post than you really care to…but then again, maybe you’re interested in reading about the path that I’ve been on and what (I think) life has in store for me... and for you, my followers! I’ll try to spare you the “boring” details and hopefully just give you the “In A Nutshell” version. This blog post is going to be a sort of “bare all” and full disclosure into who I am and what craziness goes on in my life (and in my mind ;).

As you may recall, the reason I started this blog was because my mom actually suggested it, and the reason she suggested it was because I had been doing much research into CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) for her benefit, in the hopes of helping her get well or at the very least to prolong further damage to her kidneys. My goal was to pass on the information I had learned regarding what I had researched about how to get off of conventional medications and heal ourselves “naturally,” thus the name of the page “Ditch The Meds.” This, as I may or may not have mentioned before, was to be more of a hobby than anything.

At the time, I was very interested in learning about natural health and things relating to it and had actually developed quite a passion for it; however, I was working full time and was also attempting to start a home business. The reason for the home business was to help me get out of debt so that I could leave my job and do what I really wanted to do and not have to answer to anyone.  It wasn’t that I “hated” my job or even that I didn’t like it. Obviously there were things about it that I really wasn’t happy about, but mostly I just didn’t feel that humans are (or that I was) meant to be working 40 hours a week with only weekends off and very little time “off.” It just seemed very unnatural to me; and I’m all about natural! I was also beginning to lose faith in the work I was doing. As time went on I stopped believing in my job, my place of business, and that I was actually doing anything helpful for society.

I am a researcher by nature, especially when it comes to things that I find fascinating. I happen to find natural health really fascinating so this is obviously one area I research. I also find the “occult” extremely fascinating. What I mean by the occult isn’t what you might automatically think. Occult simply means hidden. I am extremely fascinated by the unseen world that drives the visible world. This has been a passion of mine for several years but has been mostly a hobby also since I always felt there was nothing I could do about what I discovered about the esoteric forces running our world. It was more of an entertainment for me.

Fortunately, I accidentally stumbled upon some “hidden” information that showed me how to use this knowledge to benefit me. This “new” (new to me) information came with a steep learning curve. I have had to unlearn many things that I thought to be true and relearn what is really true. I came to discover the mirror world we live in and, as a result, figured out how to accomplish my main goal in a much shorter amount of time - my main goal being leaving my job. Incidentally I have started writing an e-book based on this mirror world I’m talking about. Once I’m done with it, I’ll share it through this blog for those of you that might be interested. I think you’ll find it all extremely fascinating as well!

So to make a long story short, things happened in my life in such a way that allowed me to leave my job in April of this year – much sooner than I had anticipated. It was all very serendipitous I must say. You might be wondering why, if I’ve been off of work since April I have STILL not written a blog. Well, (I say sheepishly) I’ve been playing this summer. I figured that I have spent my whole life thus far in school and working full time, with very little time off and therefore I deserved a decent break but, alas, it is time to get focused and get busy.

Of course, much of this summer has been spent reading and learning as well, but I also used this time to do some serious soul-searching into what I want to do with the rest of my life and on what types of things I should be focusing. I decided that there was a reason I was seeing very little success in the home business I started. The main reason (or possibly only reason) was because I was doing something I wasn’t passionate about. I’ve read over and over in success articles and books that in order to truly be successful you must LOVE what you’re doing. The other thing I realized was that I didn’t feel that I was really contributing to humanity and to society with the business I chose. I have always had a desire to help others and have been doing so in various ways over the years since I was 14. Between volunteering at preschools, doing educational outreach, and serving on councils and boards of nonprofit organizations, I have spent a lot of time trying to “help” others. Whether or not those activities left an imprint on anyone or anything I don’t know. I hope so. What I do know is that they what they did was take up a lot of my time. It was time that I was willing to give, no doubt, but again I’m not sure it was making the impact I want to make in my life.

After reflecting on all of this I came to realize a few things: 1. I want to own my own business, first because I think it would be fun, and second because I need income. 2. My business should be something I’m passionate about – ummm, like natural health. 3. Whatever business I choose needs to make an impact on humanity. I.e. I need to help others. Lo’ and behold I realized that I could accomplish all of this by just continuing the thread I started with my blog.

I expect this blog to be extremely helpful to people that are seeking to improve their lives in many ways. I realize that to be truly healthy, we need so much more than just a few natural remedies or even just “ditching the meds.” I realize that we each need so much to live a healthy and happy life and therefore I am going to be taking a truly holistic approach with this blog. I will be sharing information on how to naturally treat many illnesses, including so-called incurable illnesses, just as I initially intended when I started the blog but I expect this blog to do so much more. In terms of health, I will also be sharing information on how to prevent illnesses using simple, natural items (foods, spices, etc.); how to maintain a non-toxic home in order to prevent illness; how to help the environment using green products not only in the home but in other areas of your life; inexpensive methods to get healthy and stay healthy; healthy weight loss programs; natural methods to treat injuries; and much more. But in addition to this, I’ve decided that it would be a disservice to my followers not to share other important information that I have learned such as how to achieve financial health and more importantly how I was able to leave my job so much sooner than I anticipated. I will also make recommendations on where to learn about investing so that you can protect your assets and your personal property. I plan on sharing publications and information that can help you maintain optimism through these trying times as well as tips on getting and keeping yourself debt free and stress free, which is so important to your overall health. One of my very first passions, even as a teenager, was writing. So in addition to this blog I also plan on writing e-books that are both entertaining and informative.

The format of my blog will not always be the same. Some days I might write about a particular illness and what types of things can be done to treat or prevent that illness. Other days I might review a product that I think is worth looking into. The frequency of blog posts will also vary, so don’t expect to see a blog post daily (necessarily) but do expect something regularly once this thing is truly up and running. The “business” part of my endeavor is a web page that my nephew’s company (Litecurve Business Services) is helping me design. My vision for this page is a sort of “one stop shop” with all my recommendations for healthy and natural living.

For the most part I will be pointing you in the direction of some very helpful products, tools, etc. but in the future I plan on carrying some products myself. The area in which I live is rich in culture and natural “cures” that have been passed on for generations. I am hoping to share some of these little treasures with the whole world.

To be honest, I am most excited to share with you as much of what I’ve learned as possible. I feel like my brain is about to burst if I don’t start doing something with all the information I’ve acquired over the past few years. This information has helped me in so many ways – physically, spiritually, mentally, and even financially. It is time for me to leave a real legacy and to truly contribute to society and humanity in a positive way and in a way that will allow me to truly help others.

FYI, if you are not a follower of my blog but would like to be just click the “Join This Site” button at the top of this page. If you do not have an account with any of the listed affiliates (Google, Twitter, Yahoo), which makes it very easy to follow through this page, but would still like to follow my posts, click here and you can submit your name and e-mail address to subscribe to my blog posts.

Stay tuned!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vitamin D and Kidney Health

This post has been a long time coming. In fact I have been meaning to write this for a year. My absence has not been for lack of caring but a result of a whirlwind of a year. But enough of that. It's time to get back to business.

This post is very important to me as it ties into the very reason I started this blog. As the title states, this post is about vitamin D and kidney health so I will be discussing the affect of vitamin D on the kidneys. More precisely I'll be discussing the effect that a deficiency of vitamin D can have on the kidneys.

I noticed several months ago, perhaps even a year ago, that the result on my mother's blood lab showed a deficiency in vitamin D. I didn't notice it until after we left the office and realized that the doctor hadn't noticed it either. I was about to be up in arms but in the doctor's defense she called later that day and informed my mom that she had called in a prescription for vitamin D because she had noticed the deficiency.

The prescription was written for her to take a high dosage once a month for 6 months and not refilled. Unfortunately it took several more months/appointments/blood tests showing vitamin D deficiency for me to fully understand, through research, what that doctor was doing to my mom's health by allowing her to continue being deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with kidney problems. Unfortunately my mom's doctor did not, (and I'm guessing most nephrologists do not) look at the vitamin D level as any real indicator of kidney health. In fact, she told me as much. While she did write the prescription the one time, she never talked to my mom about taking vitamin D as a supplement even when she was not on the prescription or even if she believed she was not exactly deficient. She also expressly said that she looks at the parathyroid hormone level (which I will discuss later in the blog) as an indicator of vitamin D deficiency. After studying everything I have researched, it is astonishing to me that this is the case.

I believe I established in an earlier blog that vitamin D is essential to every aspect of our health. I also established that the healthiest form of vitamin D to which our body has access is that which is produced from exposure to the sun. However, as I mentioned in a previous blog, most people do not get enough sun and therefore most people do not get enough vitamin D. This means that most people require supplementation to get an adequate amount of vitamin D; an amount that would help fend off illness and disease. It is my belief that this is one of the main reasons we have such a sickly society.

As it turns out, it is our kidneys that take the vitamin D from the sun and convert it to the activated form used by our bodies (calcitriol). Unfortunately, in compromised kidneys this action is either greatly reduced or impossible, which means that patients with kidney problems require even more supplementation than the average, deficient person with good kidney health. While there is no limit to the amount of D we receive from the sun, the medical community claims that there is such a thing as vitamin D toxicity when received from supplements. Currently the "normal" range of vitamin D level is purported to be 32 - 50 ng/dl. The lower level of this range was reduced a few years ago from 36 to 32. Doctors are claiming that toxicity results from dosages of 10,000 IUs a day and above. For this reason they are prescribing (or recommending) very low dosages of supplementation, many times in the range of 800 to 1000 IUs a day.

While the “average” person (with normal kidney health) might (but probably not) benefit from this low level of supplementation, this would not make a dent in the vitamin D deficiencies in kidney patients. I feel that these numbers are way too low based on the research. Science itself has proven that these numbers are low. According to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Published cases of vitamin D toxicity with hypercalcemia, for which the 25(OH)D concentration and vitamin D dose are known, all involve intake of > or = 1000 microg (40000 IU)/d. Because vitamin D is potentially toxic, intake of >25 microg (1000 IU)/d has been avoided even though the weight of evidence shows that the currently accepted, no observed adverse effect limit of 50 microg (2000 IU)/d is too low by at least 5-fold." This means that people can take over 10,000 IUs in supplementation daily and not even be close to the purported “toxicity” dosage.

Articles written in http://www.naturalnews.com and http://www.mercola.com go into much greater detail regarding vitamin D toxicity and many other health issues related to vitamin D deficiency. I will not reference the exact article here that refers to what I am about to say because I am hoping that people go to those web sites and read some of the many articles on the topic. According to one of the articles written, the D levels of people with kidney patients should be aimed toward the higher end of the accepted range. Just because 32 ng/dl is considered normal, people with kidney problems should be showing a level of 45 -50 ng/dl.

It is my belief that the claim of vitamin D toxicity being much lower than necessary, the lowering of the "normal" vitamin D range, and especially the vilification of the sun via sunscreen-promoting campaigns by the mainstream health community are ultimately techniques used by the pharmaceutical companies to keep people sickly so that they can sell more drugs. The basic premise of this blog is to encourage people to choose natural methods of healing over allopathic/conventional drugs. The main reason I encourage this is because I have read many publications discussing the mega profits made by pharmaceutical companies and the fact that Big Pharma is, at the end of the day, big business. This means that they are in the business of making money, not helping people as many would like to believe.

It's hard not to sound like a conspiracy theorist based on everything I have learned about vitamin D. Clearly it would behoove Big Pharma to either keep this information from the mainstream channels and/or to encourage the FDA and other government entities to essentially keep people deficient in vitamin D so that they suffer from illness and therefore "require" pharmaceutical drugs on an ongoing basis. It is in their best interest for people to be sick because they then can sell more drugs. On top of this all pharmaceuticals come with side effects and the typical practice is to prescribe more drugs to address the side affects. This means that the more drugs they sell the more drugs they sell. It is very profitable.

With this in mind let's get back to vitamin D and the kidneys. So, as I said, the more deficient a person with kidney problems is, the more supplementation they would need. This means that my mom's nephrologist should have either had her on an ongoing prescription until the deficiency was fully gone or she should have counseled her on the importance of taking a vitamin D supplement. Of course in my mom's case or that of other kidney patients it would have been more of a benefit to keep her on an ongoing prescription at least until she showed a consistent level in the upper range of the acceptable levels (~49 ng/dl). The reason for this is because the supplement available over the counter is in the form of cholecalciferol. Our kidneys then take this form and convert it to the activated form of calcitriol. Because people with impaired kidney function cannot efficiently perform this activation and much of the D they receive naturally is therefore lost, they must take the prescription version of the supplement, which is vitamin D already in its active form - calcitriol.

During the last conversation I had with my mom's ex-nephrologist (I made the decision to seek a new doctor because I felt this doctor was at best incompetent and at worst completely negligent in my mother's care) I brought up the fact that I had done research on this topic and I pointed out that my mom had been deficient in D the entire time she was under the doctor's care (around 4 years). The doctor attempted to defend herself by showing me a number (level) from early on in my mother's care that showed that she was at 36 ng/dl, which (as she stated) was not a deficiency. I told her that at the time of that particular test, the range had not yet been changed to reflect the lower number as deficient. At the time of the 36 reading, the range began at 36 and therefore she was on the cusp of deficiency at the time. The fact that the recommended range had changed after that to 32 on the low end was of no consequence. The point was that my mother's level had been extremely low, particularly for a person with kidney problems. As mentioned, it is recommended that people with kidney problems aim for something closer to the high end of the range (i.e. 47 ng/dl).

The next thing the doctor indicated or implied was that the vitamin D level shown on the lab report does not prompt her decision to prescribe supplementation of D. She actually uses the parathyroid hormone (PTH) level to determine if she should prescribe supplementation. This angered me because an elevation in PTH level is indicative of severe vitamin D deficiency and can create additional problems. Interestingly the medication prescribed to kidney patients with elevated PTH is the activated form of vitamin D (with a pharmaceutical name - Hectorol).

Based on this, it seems that most doctors, particularly my mom’s recent doctor, do not put a lot of stock in vitamin D levels. As long as the patient’s level is within this broad range, even if it is at the low end, it is deemed okay and supplementation is not prescribed or recommended. Ironically the medication prescribed is nothing more than the activated form of vitamin D. This just makes no sense to me. Instead of waiting to see a problem that results from D deficiency, why not just nip it in the bud and increase the supplementation before the problem ever occurs? I guess that would make too much sense.

Additionally, a deficiency of D, particularly in kidney patients, increases the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension further damages kidney function. This means it becomes a downward spiral. The more deficient a person is in D, the more likely they will become hypertensive which will then further cause kidney damage. This was the other prescription my mother's nephrologist was trying to get her to take - a high blood pressure medication. Because of the negligence of this doctor my mom is now very leery of medications. Unfortunately she really does need to get her BP down. Fortunately she is seeing someone locally that consults on natural treatments. That is a topic for another blog, but I do want to emphasize that it is imperative that kidney patients aim for a lower blood pressure. In fact, it is imperative that all people aim for lower blood pressure because anyone with high blood pressure is at risk of developing kidney disease.

But again, my point here is that the doctor – any doctor – could have prevented the hypertension by ensuring an adequate D level. Of course the doctor was looking for a symptom to prescribe a medication – in this case it was high blood pressure.

I put quite a bit of though after we'd left and in the days following about the fact that the doctor had been trained (as most or all doctors are) to treat a symptom as opposed to finding the underlying cause. In addition to treating a symptom, doctors are trained to look for specific symptoms that could be treated with drugs. They look for specific indicators and then treat that one indicator. The doctor reviews the blood work at each appointment and also has the patient's vitals taken. The doctor then "treats" the patient based on the results of these tests, however, the "treatment" is nothing more than the prescribing of drugs. Clearly vitamin D level is not one of them. If my conspiracy theory is correct, why would it be? Vitamin D supplementation is incredibly cheap. Not only that, Big Pharma would be losing out on billions of dollars of profit from the drugs that the doctor is not having to prescribe.

Had the doctor been monitoring and "treating" her vitamin D levels all along and had she "prescribed" a vitamin D supplement from the get-go, the hypertension might have never occurred or the PTH level may have never been elevated. In fact, I believe that if the doctor had been monitoring her D levels and making an active effort to get them to rise to something closer to the upper limit of the "normal" range, my mother's kidney function would not have continued to decline. Instead, the doctor waited until her kidney function had declined to the point of hypertension and elevated PTH which caused further kidney damage. Furthermore, if her regular doctor had been monitoring her vitamin D levels in the first place, she may have never had to refer my mom to a nephrologist and her kidney function might not be where it is today.

This entire situation has taught me a huge lesson. It is my responsibility to take control of my and my loved ones' health care. I have learned that I cannot just trust that the doctors are aware of the implications of a deficiency in vitamin D. Most doctors spend 2 years of their schooling learning anatomy. The remainder of their training (approximately 6 years) is focused on pharmacology. This means that they learn much more about the pharmaceuticals available to prescribe than they do about the way the body functions.

If it hadn't been for the fact that I took control and looked at the lab results levels I would have never discovered any of this. Next on my to-do list is to have my own vitamin D levels checked. Although I have been taking supplementation for a year or so, I can't trust that I am not still deficient.

I am confident that most diseases (including cancer) are reversible with the right information and natural methods. I understand that in severe (potentially fatal) cases of, for example, infections, an antibiotic might kill the infection more quickly than a natural method but those cases are rare. In this case conventional medicine is necessary and beneficial. However, I feel that holistic treatments should be tried first and that conventional treatments should be the last resort. Not the other way around.

My mom's D levels have increased since she has been on the medication for the PTH as well as an additional D supplement. She is also taking natural steps to reduce her hypertension. It is my hope that this will either reverse the kidney damage she has now or at least prevent further damage. My mom is my heart and I hope to have her around for a very long time; moreover I hope that for time that she is around she has an exceptional quality of life.

I hope this information is helpful. Feel free to comment and/or contact me with any questions or for more information. In the coming weeks (or months or depending on my schedule) I hope to get into this subject more deeply and discuss potential causes of kidney damage in patients that do not have kidney disease, such as patients as my mom, so be on the look out. Kidney damage and kidney failure is becoming more and more prevalent in our society as our diets become less healthy, more prescriptions are handed out, and obesity continues to rise.

Till next time!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunscreen and Skin Cancer

I recently read an article in Glamour Magazine regarding the importance of getting any unusual spots checked for cancer. They run this article or something similar every year around this time. They say that this article has helped many women identify potential cancerous spots. It is extremely informative regarding the types of spots to look for, etc., however, I have an issue with the assertion that the sun is the cause of skin cancer.

The sun is natural; it’s been around since the beginning of time. We NEED the sun; without it we would cease to exist. The sun’s rays allow our bodies to produce much needed vitamin D which helps us absorb calcium and also prevents many diseases. I feel it is extremely contradictory that something that is so good for us and absolutely necessary could also be so bad as to cause a potentially fatal illness.

While I do believe that everything should be had in moderation and that anything to an extreme could be harmful I have serious doubts that the sun is actually causing the cancer. I agree that getting burned by the sun is probably not healthy and I could buy into the notion that having severe sunburn could possibly increase the odds of skin cancer. I haven’t yet seen any data that points to how this would happen but with a good argument I could stand behind that. Perhaps the sunburn makes the skin more vulnerable allowing an external toxin to cause the cancer. I don’t know but I know there must be a reason the odds of getting skin cancer are increased after having been sunburned. This still doesn’t tell me that the sun actually causes the cancer. I don’t believe the sun is a carcinogen and if it is I’m not sure how that was ever proven. I get the whole "radiation" argument and the sun's rays being a form of radiation but still, the sun is necessary and life-giving.

The article states that “…the number of young women diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma has more than doubled over the past 30 years.” This is attributed to the use of tanning beds; however, I wonder if it could possibly have anything to do with the increased use of sunscreen.

The Glamour article also states that you can get cancer on your palms and the soles of your feet. I’m confused. If the sun is causing the skin cancer, how can the soles of your feet get it from the sun? How often do the soles of your feet see the sun? I would venture that it’s extremely rare. I also don't see most people walking around all day with their palms facing out or up. In fact, I can't remember the last time I witnessed that. The palms are, however, the one part of the body that is exposed to every, single product we use on ourselves from shaving cream to body lotion to shampoo.

It should be a well-known fact that women, since the beginning of time, have been sunning themselves. I recall my mother telling me that she’d become (much) tanned every summer because of all the time she spent outside. I’m fairly certain that she wasn’t using sunscreen in the 1940s. Bathing suits have been in existence for decades, yet the number of young women with basal cell carcinoma has more than doubled over the past 30 years? I hear the argument of young women using tanning beds clearly more than women 30 years ago (were there tanning beds in the 80s? I think so but maybe not as prevalent? Who knows?) but I also know that the awareness campaigns about their supposed danger have been highly pushed over the past twenty to thirty years also. To me this would suggest that many more women are aware of their perceived dangers and are either avoiding them altogether or avoiding them as well as slathering on the sunscreen.

I just don’t buy the argument that the sun causes skin cancer. I also believe that because the sun is necessary and healthy it doesn’t cause any type of cancer at all. I’m not saying that women should lie outside all day long getting fried I’m just saying that I don’t believe the sun is the villain that it has been made out to be. As I stated earlier, I feel that anything to an extreme could be “bad” and therefore I feel that the sun, in moderation, is not and is in fact a good thing. In fact I recall learning this in a toxicology class I took in college - that anything in the right quantities can be toxic. Fair enough. But is it really fair to place all the blame on the sun? I really don't think so.

Okay then, if that is the case then what IS causing the skin cancer? Could it possibly be the sunscreen itself? Could it be the product(s) that is being recommended to prevent the thing that is actually causing the thing? The article, “Sunscreen Causes Cancer!” actually states this as fact and corroborates this postulation. Additionally the article “Sunblock Can Actually Increase Your Cancer Risk” discusses a link between the food we eat and skin cancer. Both articles provide viable arguments and we all know that nutrition affects every aspect of our health.

Then, after the question from a friend and subsequent research, I found out that most sunscreens contain Oxybenzone, which is also known as Benzophenone-3. Not only has it been linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage (http://www.vivawoman.net/2008/04/10/avoid-sunscreens-containing-oxybenzone/) it is potentially a photocarcinogen (Wikepedia). This means that if so, when exposed to the sun, the sunscreen actually becomes a carcinogen! Does that make any sense at all? Push a product on people under the pretense that it prevents cancer only it actually CAUSES cancer!

Most Glamour articles contain suggestions/recommendations for specific brands of products relating to the topics discussed within their articles. I went back to that article to find out what, exactly, they were recommending as “good” products to use for sun protection. They recommended three different products – one “for face”, one “for every day” and one “for beach days”. After Googling these products and searching the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database I found that all three contain Oxybenzone and therefore all three are probably more detrimental to a person’s health than the “protection” they are claiming to provide. The cosmetic database rates the products on a scale from 0 to 10 – zero being non-hazardous and ten having the most hazards. The products ranked 0 – 2 are recommended for use, those ranked 3 – 6 should be used with caution and those ranked 7 – 10 should be avoided. All three of the products recommended by Glamour had high hazard ratings ranging from 8 to 10.

It would stand to reason that topical application products could be the culprit for skin cancer if it is also found on the palms and soles of the feet. I’ve read several articles and have heard references to studies of products that are now being found to be the cause of several illnesses and problems, particularly in women. The skin, being one large organ, is very porous. According to aforementioned Natural News article, anything that is absorbed by the skin makes its way to the bloodstream fairly quickly. For this reason it is important to limit the toxins and chemicals used on the skin in the form of beauty products. As it states, you shouldn’t put on your skin anything that you wouldn’t eat.

The bottom line is that the sun is necessary, without it we would die. In fact, it has been reported that many illnesses that people are suffering today are a direct result from vitamin D deficiency. It is recommended that everyone spend at least 15 minutes a day out in the sun while exposing as much skin as possible so that the body can produce the necessary vitamin D. This means no sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks the necessary rays that allow the body to produce the necessary D. There are many articles that point to this. My logic tells me that the sun is not the cause of skin cancer. Perhaps, in large doses and after having severe sunburns it triggers the negative effects of an outside toxin. I haven’t read information from any such study but that is something I could understand; however, it would take quite a bit for me to ever believe that the sun, in and of itself, actually causes any form of cancer.

I still believe that if you choose to spend hours in the sun you should use some sort of protection either in the form of a hat, long sleeved shirt, and/or non-hazardous sunscreen, which does exist. Burning is never good. After researching a variety of products, I found that several do not contain harmful chemicals. I recommend a variety of products that I have researched and have listed on my web page http://www.marciemartinez.ws/skincare. I have included several options for non-hazardous sunscreen for those times when you have to be out in the sun longer than 15 minutes. You will also find other useful information regarding natural health and alternative products and treatments for various issues by browsing my web site. Please bear with me as I'm still populating my site with my recommendations but I believe you will find the information I've provided so far to be useful.

Until next time have a fabulous week and enjoy the warm sun…in moderation!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Master Cleanse Part II

For this week’s blog I had planned on moving on to a new pharmaceutical; however, after I posted my last blog on the Master Cleanse I got into a lengthy discussion/debate with a friend of mine. I felt it would be beneficial and important to share that discussion with you so that you can see the other side of the argument.

It’s no secret that many people in the medical field are not in agreement with cleansing for health. I felt that posting the comments (and my responses) to my friend’s discussion would be beneficial to my readers because she is someone I hold in high regard not only because of her intelligence but also her knowledge on the subject – she is a Research Dietitian. I also want to emphasize the importance of diet and exercise with regards to health. She also emphasizes this and therefore I think it drives home the point that all health advocates (traditional/conventional and natural/homeopathic) stress the importance of diet and exercise.

I do not want to detract from the discussion on the cleanse but I do think it is necessary to leave in our comments on vaccinations to understand the context in which they were used. With that said, below is the discussion verbatim with my additional comments in brackets and italics.I added this information after the fact to provide more information on my position. Feel free to comment and add your own experiences and expertise as you see fit.

After posting my blog, the first comment from my friend began with this:

Friend: Probably worth checking this out http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/tdmay2008pg34.shtml.

My response: I've read pages and pages of people "trying to help" by saying cleansing is bad for you. I don't buy it. My logic tells me our bodies aren't digesting properly due to our diets. I've done an extreme cleanse 5 times and have only gotten positive outcomes. I do agree that the particular cleanse I do is not for everyone but that's why I recommend that anyone interested read the books on the subject. [And although I say it’s not for everyone, I believe there are only a small few that don’t benefit]

Friend: My only problem is that the science doesn't support it....and being in research, I tend to support that school of thought. The first step to improving your health is to change your diet. Your body is designed to digest a mixture of foods while your liver does the detox. Best way to keep both your digestive tract and liver healthy is to consume your vegetables and fruit…and your whole grains and fluid. There is nothing wrong with the food supply, only the choices we make in nourishing our bodies. [I would have to differ here because I believe our food supply gets worse every year. I believe that people with a decent income have access to high quality food in our country but most people don’t have a decent income and/or their money is already spoken-for. With the increase of feedlots and the use of pesticides, our food supply is becoming more and more harmful] But you’re right, it is an individual choice.

Me: I totally agree with the first step being a diet change. However, what I've found is that a cleanse is a good way to get that change rolling. It has a way of resetting the way you think. Diet change is mostly psychological. [In my experience people that are able to complete an entire cleanse change the way they eat so that it's much healthier]. It’s a pipe dream to think that people have always had healthy diets. I totally agree, we have access to healthy foods but too many people take the “convenient” route. If you’ve always had a healthy diet more power to you but that’s rare.

It really bothers me that doctors discourage something that I see (and have experienced) as being highly beneficial based on science not supporting it. Nobody has ever done studies [as far as I know] so we can’t say that science does or doesn’t support it. It’s also hypocritical considering that studies have actually been done on the lack of efficacy of vaccines and the flu shot yet doctors still PUSH them on people.

The concept of everything supported by science is nice but it’s just not possible. Sometimes we have to use common sense. And sometimes we have to think for ourselves and not follow everything that doctors say. They’re human just like me and I’m confident in my own logic and common sense…obviously I’m MORE confident in my own opinion. The most important thing is to do our own research and make our judgments based on what makes sense and not just taking the word of doctors. They’re only doctors…not gods, IMHO.

Friend: Overall, the cleanse idea is a band-aid to the real problem and it distracts people from focusing on the real issue at hand – changing the diet. Exercise (gravity works wonders) and a fiber-rich diet will manage healthy system and aligns with sound health and nutrition recommendations. I also think there’s a way to embrace both eastern and western medicine logic without criticizing one or the other. Now without getting off on a tangent, there are valid reasons for the flu shot but that’s another issue. [She later sent me this article: http://www.cppah.com/article/S1538-5442(10)00004-0/abstract]

Yes, there are major problems with poor dietary choices in America, which is why over 2/3 of our population is considered overweight. We also know that most Americans don’t meet the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables – possibly a HUGE factor in the sluggish gut issue. But cleansing, really, isn’t helping. [I never really got a solid answer as to why she felt cleansing isn’t helping. Is there actual data that shows this?] For those less educated and/or not willing to do the research, seeing something like this purported by someone so highly educated may sway some to do it because it sounds great. Likely, many of those same people have diabetes or other underlying ailments and don’t know it. So I see your good intentions, however, do you see how this could cause more harm than heal? As of now, it’s not recommended by health professionals simply, I’m guessing, because it sounds like quackery. Rule #1 in quackery is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. [I neglected to ask this but I think it’s valid: isn’t a quick-fix medication also too good to be true? The fact that there are ads for medicines every minor ailment tell me that to have a little pill that claims to fix any issue, big or small, is too good to be true – therefore the quackery argument could be used on medical doctors as well]. You also have to remember, the outcome you have isn’t going to be replicated by everyone, so you’re the exception, not necessarily the rule. [Again, I never really got anything supporting this assumption. I’ve seen many testimonials by people that have completed numerous cleanses and have gotten huge benefits.]


I think your way of dealing with problems (diet and exercise) is ideal. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Just because someone decided that quackery only applies to homeopathic medicine doesn’t mean it can’t also apply to allopathic medicine. I’ll tell you what my definition of quackery is: prescribing chemicals to “treat” problems that only the body itself can heal. Worse quackery is to prescribe chemicals to deal with the side effects that the first prescribed chemicals created. I believe Western medicine is beneficial in emergency situations but other than that they’ve lost all credibility with me.

I never said that cleansing is for everyone nor did I ever say someone should do it without understanding it completely. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about this or if you read my blog you’d know that I in fact say the opposite. I’ve stated that it isn’t for everyone and if a person is truly interested in it they must read the books. I can’t emphasize enough the last point. I can’t exactly go into that level of detail in one blog. I wouldn’t even attempt to do so. If you read the blog you will see that I’m vague about the recipe and process. I’m vague for a reason…I want people to inform themselves before even considering it. With people that ask me about it (in person) I am vague there as well and I emphasize that they need to know what it’s about and that it’s NOT about weight loss. It’s about health.

Also, I’m not quite sure how cleansing sounds “too good to be true”. It’s not a simple feat. Cleansing is tough. Only the most disciplined people will even get through the first three days. If they are not informed or misinformed they won’t make it to the second day. It has a way of weeding out the people looking for quick-fixes.

I’m not going to try to convince you that cleansing is actually good for a person’s body. You have your reasons for not agreeing with it based on your own experiences and knowledge. What I will say is that I would never argue with you about something I haven’t done my research on. If I hadn’t researched this extensively I would have given up on your second post. I’m adamant about the benefits (for most people). If people want to take my word for it, it’s up to them.

I don’t think I’m doing any more (in fact I’m pretty sure I’m doing much LESS) harm than the typical doctor that prescribes 5 prescriptions for a little back pain (yes, this is a real-life story…it happened to me). [This was just one example, hence the concept of my blog; in almost every conversation I have regarding illness and doctors I hear the same thing – the first reaction to any illness is a prescription by and large]

So, thanks for the info. One of these days I’ll blog about the importance of exercise and diet to deal with health problems…oh wait, I’ve already done that. But nobody will ever convince me to go back to my allopathic doctor for anything but an emergency.


Again, there are ways to embrace both sides of medicine to care for the individual as a whole. I agree with you in that society has become reliant meds/pills for a quick fix [this tells me that she agrees that the medical community provides “quick fixes” and that they’re not a good thing], and I assume some doctors are getting conditioned to this so they give out the pills because that’s what the majority seek. [I don’t totally agree with this; I think it is partly true – hence my response. I’ve heard and seen first hand how doctors prescribe medications to people that aren’t interested in any nor are they asking for medications. Here are a few examples:

When I went in for minor back pain I never asked for a single medication, I only wanted to know what I could do to help ease it. Immediately the doctor prescribed at least four different medications.

My mother’s nephrologist automatically wanted to prescribe medication for her kidney issues; however, my mother refused.

My sister-in-law’s regular doctor retired and when she started going to the doctor that took over his practice he wanted to prescribe a different medication for her blood disorder. She was not interested in a new prescription since the one she’d been on had worked fine for many years. In fact her dosage had progressively decreased. Against his persistence she did not allow the change. His reasoning for wanting to make the change was “This is the pharmaceutical company I go through”.

There are many more examples but here are just a few. I’m fairly certain that most people don’t go to the doctor specifically asking for pharmaceuticals, although I do know that some people do.]

This phenomena is similar to the restaurant industry (weird analogy, I know), but society demanded bigger portions of food when they ate out and over time, we got the super sized version of everything. Well, that contributed to the obesity problem, but it was the restaurants who got reprimanded. We demanded, they supplied, we got fat. In this case, we demand, they supply, we don’t necessarily get well. [Again, I tend to disagree that we “asked” for larger servings, etc.” I’ve never seen data stating so. It’s been said many times that serving sizes 30 years ago were much smaller than they are now. I’m fairly certain that McDonald’s didn’t introduce "supersizing" because people were ordering more than one burger or fries at a time.] So I wouldn’t place too much blame on the doctors…they’re doing what we’ve been asking for. [I would place most of the blame on pharmaceutical companies because of the techniques they use to “buy” doctors. Many times doctors don’t even realize what is happening. Big Pharma controls so much funding to medical schools and therefore most doctors are educated, essentially, by the pharmaceutical industry. A good book to read that echoes this – which I read some time ago – is “Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients”] Yet, this is why there is currently a huge movement toward preventive medicine – exercise, eat well and modify your behaviors for long lasting health and disease prevention. I do think all sides of medicine essentially support this.

I love your definition of quackery, but leaves me with the impression that you’re clearly one-sided. Quackery is basically non-science. The word “quack”, as it relates to medicine describes a person who has a lot to say about nothing or a pretender to medical skill. [Clearly my bias is showing but I wasn’t always biased; at one time I trusted allopathic medicine completely. It wasn’t until I experienced the non-improvement using it and the improvement using naturopathic treatments and also researching many different resources and using common sense. Still I know there are quacks in natural medicine but this is not to say there aren’t quacks in allopathic medicine. What my friend failed to recognize is that my comment that prescribing drugs is also quackery fits her definition of quackery. Many pharmaceuticals do not undergo clinical studies. In fact, I’ve read that many data have been altered or fudged to get on the shelves. I’ve also read that many studies claiming to be used as support were not double-blind studies and in fact were skewed to get the results that the pharmaceutical companies are after so they can be sold to make a profit. Additionally, many of the studies conducted by the “FDA” are actually funded by Big Pharma so to say that prescribing medications doesn’t fit the definition of quackery is patently untrue. One just has to do a little research to find out the truth. There have been very few drugs that are legitimately approved based on scientific studies.]

I also agree that you make it clear as to your reservations on the cleanse, but I also (big time!) the health connotation you attach to it. If it were healthy, it would be incorporated into public health message. I’m glad to hear you’ve had good experiences with it, I only hope that others are as thorough in their research. [people don’t research the pharmaceuticals they’re prescribed by doctors so what is the difference between them blindly accepting the cleanse versus blindly accepting prescription drugs? I would say the difference is that it would be more logical to research medications since they are actually unnatural chemicals and are known to cause hundreds of side effects. Cleansing is an ancient tradition and was even advocated in the Bible – fasting is shown to be necessary so that “the spirit can overcome the flesh.” This was true in biblical times and is still true today, many people that have completed any kind of fast will tell you that their senses were heightened and their minds became clear. Incidentally, the fasting that was done in biblical times were more extreme than the Master Cleanse. Typically their fasting consisted only of water. Additionally, having the discipline and resolve to complete such a cleanse or fast is proof that the spirit has overcome the flesh. Also, I’m fairly certain that there are no references in the bible to pharmaceuticals or surgeries to treat illness.]

Now going back to the vaccination issue…it’s another form of disease prevention…it saves lives, health care money, and reduces work absences. [My question on this is where she got this information…the statistics? I’ve researched this extensively and haven’t found a single study that shows any of this. I’ve seen the opposite:

just to share a few. There are many more articles and references on the dangers and lack of efficacy of vaccines. I have not yet had a chance to go through her article as closely as I’d like but I will eventually. I will say that I’ve read in many places that the statistics that are constantly being quoted regarding the efficacy of vaccines are subject to serious scrutiny. Many times the data behind these "statistics" were not obtained in a scientific way. This year’s flu season was a case in point. It was one of the worst flu seasons in recent years yet MORE people received the flu shot than ever before: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1030971/Brace-for-worst-flu-season, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33449637/ I’ve seen this type of statistic many times. I could go on and on, but this blog is about the cleanse, not vaccines.]

The minority who have side-effects are just that, the minority [I believe she is making the same argument here for vaccines that I make for the cleanse; there’s no difference, a small minority can’t or shouldn’t do the cleanse].


So, I will say (IMO) there is a need for Western medicine in third-world countries. I think, in the US, pharmaceuticals are so overused that they’re causing more harm than good. In small (very small) quantities I think they’re probably ok but that’s even a stretch. Here in America we have access to quality nutrition so there’s really no excuse to be looking for quick-fixes in meds [I initially agreed here but realized that the majority of Americans don’t have access to quality nutrition, still there is a way to keep healthy by prevention and there are cost-effective ways to eat healthy and keep your immune system strong so that it can fight off infection; which is the point]. I agree with what you’re saying about the public demanding larger portions and that doctors are not fully to blame. [I rethought this comment later as well and what I wrote above in brackets is more in line with what I believe. In some ways the public has demanded it but I would say only in the sense that they are actually purchasing the larger size meals and not “boycotting” them. In my opinion if it’s available on the cheap, the public will generally buy it. I could go into the psychology here but again, this isn’t the purpose of this blog]. I will say, however, that there are very few doctors that don’t automatically reach for their prescription pad or that counsel common sense practices such a diet, exercise and drinking enough water (read my second blog for an example). I don’t put all the blame on the public either. The public, in general, is not being informed on what they are really eating when they have fast food or just restaurant food in general. We place our “trust” in the government to look out for us and the media to keep us informed (read your comment about a public health message) but the bottom line is that they’re more concerned with big interests and not our health. I just recently watched Food Inc. I had no idea that ammonia was used in ground beef filler to kill potential bacteria. The FDA allows this not to mention the conditions at feed lots. But we’re trusting them to keep us informed about what’s healthy or not?

It’s funny that you would question the health connotation I attach to the cleanse. I attach that connotation because I truly believe it’s healthy. I’m not going to promote or even condone something I feel is unhealthy.

My quackery comment was the other side of the coin. This is not to say that I don’t believe there’s quackery in other (even natural) medicine. I was just trying to prove a point that quackery doesn’t only apply to homeopathic medicine. Still, I bet I could argue that most of the treatments touted as “quackery” wrt natural health really isn’t quackery.

As far as a “public health message” regarding the safety and efficacy of cleansing…or ANYTHING natural…you can forget about ever seeing anything like that. I believe there is something very sinister behind those public or lack thereof but that’s a topic for another day. Ultimately it goes like this: illness=perceived need for pharmaceuticals=profits to pharmaceutical companies=funding to law makers and the government=less stringent controls on pharma dangers=more strict controls on natural health=illness…and the cycle continues. At the end of the day the people that make the money make the rules and it is those people that benefit from illness in terms of profit. They also control the media and the government. As long as we’re kept in an unhealthy state, we’ll never widely hear about things that could help us become healthy. This is a fact. Why would Big Pharma bite the hands that feed them if they have the power to control the flow of information? [This same argument can be and has been made regarding the vaccination controversy http://ahrcanum.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/flu-shot-cost-taxpayers-600-each/. The point is that the pharmaceutical companies have $Billions to gain by “informing” the public of how “good” vaccines and medications supposedly are].

I have a question. So far you’ve made it clear that you disagree with cleansing as a viable healthy option; however, you haven’t told me why. You’ve said that there’s no science to support its benefits and that is harmful but you haven’t told me how you came to that conclusion. Where is the scientific support that states it is not beneficial or that it is harmful? [The article she initially shared states "there is 'little' scientific evidence" and appears to state mostly opinion of someone involved in the ADA. Anytime I see a statement made by someone involved in any "American X Association" (pick the industry) I am leery about their intentions. These types of associations tend to be funded by big interests and are therefore going to debunk anything that might detract from said big interest getting their payoff. What I mean here is that Big Pharma profits from illness and if there's a natural treatment that might prevent people from using pharmaceuticals, Big Pharma can and will do everything in their power to suppress the information." A simple search will show that the ADA gets funding from a variety of pharmaceutical companies as well as large GMO companies (i.e Monsanto and ConAgra) see http://cspinet.cc/integrity/nonprofits/american_dietetic_association.html. This means that their interests lie with their benefactors and NOT the general public. Normally I would have seen that and closed the article immediately but for argument's sake and because someone I have a great deal of respect for sent it to me I am willing to respond to it. Reading further into the story, the author and also the Johns Hopkins doctor point out some of the benefits I've already mentioned: 'detoxing or fasting can be used as a motivational tool for clients who are looking to take on healthier eating. “I think an ideal weight loss method is one where you are choosing a new way of eating that you’re going to be able to maintain rather than doing something for a short period of time and then returning back to your old habits."' The article also states the following: 'Detoxing may not be well researched, but Lanou (the doctor) says some scientists have taken an interest in the merits of fasting. “There is some interesting work that’s been done on fasting—both fasting with only a water fast and fasting with only specific liquids—that have shown real benefits to people with chronic conditions and also some real benefits for people trying to break an addiction, like a smoking habit or an alcohol consumption habit,” she says.' So with that said, the original article seems to be more in line with my reasoning anyway. All-in-all, the article actually supports my position over that against cleansing.]

I’m going to leave you with this; it came from a weekly e-mail sent by author of the (second) book on the Master Cleanse:

I was having dinner with my MD friend, Carlos Garcia, last night (an awesome alternative healer as described in last week's newsletter) and he was telling me he thought the Master Cleanse was a great cleanse. It got me thinking about other MD's who think it is a great cleanse, too.
Dr. Elson Haas, an authority on detoxification, nutrition and health, who has practiced medicine for 25 years and is the author of:
• Staying Healthy with the Seasons
• Staying Healthy with Nutrition
• The Detox Diet
• The Staying Healthy Shopper's Guide
• Vitamins for Dummies
• A Cookbook for All Seasons
• The False Fat Diet
says in his book, The New Detox Diet, that the Master Cleanse is his favorite fast. (p. 61)
"I believe in and consider the cleansing/fasting/detoxification process... to be the missing link in Western nutrition and a key to the health and vitality of our civilization. In over 25 years of medical practice, I have utilized extensively, various detox and healing/rejuvenation practices.... I truly believe that cleansing and detoxification... is virtually one of the most powerful healing therapies (real healing of ailments and not just suppression of symptoms) I have witnessed.... Its effects offer re-balance for the body/mind and are preventive for many health problems." (from "The Purification Process: Healing for Modern Times" by Elson Haas, MD)
He's also said, "Overall, after 35 years of medical practice, I have to say that the fasting/cleansing/detoxification process is the greatest and most effective healing tool I have found. It is an important component for the prevention of degenerative diseases and a key to transformational and evolutionary medicine and healing." (from "Spring Cleansing" by Elson Haas, MD)
Dr. James F. Coy, M.D., Past President of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine said, "In my environmental medicine practice, I attempt to identify toxic elements, physical and spiritual. Then I can help the patient avoid, protect against or detoxify them. I follow that with nutrition to promote as much additional healing as possible. In detoxification, my goal is always to use what works without further harming the patient and I use many, many things.
"The Master Cleanse is simple and combines & surpasses many other detox methods. It literally has been a God-send to my practice. I am grateful to Peter for seeing, loving, and promoting the values of this cleanse."
There were no more responses but I believe you get the gist of the discussion. I hope this shows that there ARE two sides of every argument. I also hope that it shows you that I would not recommend something without having thoroughly researched it.

I know I included many links in this blog and I urge you to try and get through most of them so that you can be informed as well. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much information out there and so many reasons not to blindly trust what you are told.

I also know this is a lengthy blog but I felt it was important to share. This is also the reason I hadn’t posted a blog in over two weeks. I wanted to make sure to take the time and give this the attention it deserves. As usual, feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Until next time, have a great and healthy week! (or two, depending on how quickly my next blog comes out :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Master Cleanse

For this week’s blog I’m going to take a little break from the medications to talk about The Master Cleanse. It’s a good time to do it now since I just finished my 5th Master Cleanse. I just want to talk briefly about why it is important to do an internal cleanse every so often and why I like The Master Cleanse. Some of what I’ll be writing isn’t for the faint of heart. I don’t mean to sound gross but to get my point across I’ll have to go into some details that I normally wouldn’t so bear with me.

Our bodies are designed to digest food within 24 hours of consuming it but because our diets are, shall I say, less than ideal, as most humans (who eat the typical diet) take up to 72 hours to digest food. With our diets full of processed foods and very little fiber (from whole grains or leafy green vegetables) much of what we consume stays in the colon only to cause future intestinal problems such as colon cancer and digestive problems.

Whole grains and fiber help serve as a sort of broom to brush our intestines and help get rid of waste. Because of the typical American diet our digestive systems are not being utilized to their full potential and, actually we really aren’t getting nutrients the way we are supposed to. Much of the food in the typical American diet doesn’t have nutrients at all or, what little nutrients that are there, don’t get absorbed by the body.

Diets high in meat and dairy products are mucus-forming. Mucus is actually a type of protection that our bodies create to help deal with foreign bodies such as toxins, viruses, or bacteria. Think about viruses – anytime we contract viruses almost immediately our bodies begin to create mucus to rid our bodies of those viruses. It is no different when we eat mucus-forming foods such as meat and dairy products. Our bodies create a protective layer within the colon to deal with these products.

I’m not advocating vegetarianism, it’s a personal choice and I’m not willing to become a vegetarian at this point myself. In fact, I believe we, as omnivores, require meat in our diets (a topic for another post). I do, however, advocate moderation. I believe that as long as we limit these types of foods in our diets our bodies can handle the negative aspects. Also, I advocate using only natural food sources, including meat sources. Feedlot cattle are disease-ridden and highly toxic. I recommend the movie Food, Inc. if you don’t believe me. I discovered, from that movie, that manufacturers of ground beef coming out of feed lots use fillers to stretch the product, no surprise there really, but what I didn’t know is that they use ammonia in the fillers to kill any potential bacteria, such as E. Coli.

Feedlot cattle are fed grain to make them bigger and to grow faster; however, the grain changes the pH in the cow’s stomachs creating a more acidic environment. Cows are, by nature, ruminants, meaning they eat grass. Eating grass maintains a more neutral pH in their stomachs. As a result, any bacteria that might be present are able to adjust to survive in a neutral environment. Because the bacteria have this ability they are also able to adjust to an acidic environment. This means that human stomach acid would no longer be able to kill potential bacteria. Feedlots are changing the natural bodily functions of cattle that allow humans to eat the meat. ALL fast food meat and probably most restaurant meat come from feedlots. This means that eating out is detrimental to your health.

Additionally, pesticides used on our fruits and vegetables as well as the irradiation used to “clean” the produce are stripping much of the nutrients from these normally healthy foods. That is, if your diet consists of conventional fruits and vegetables. If you eat primarily organic, clearly you will be getting more nutrients. On the other hand, if your diet consists of mostly processed foods (think all the foods in the center aisles of the supermarket) then you are getting very few nutrients. Not only do processed foods contain few nutrients, they also contain additives that are by and large full of toxins. Just look at the labels and some of the ingredients, and then do a search on what those ingredients are and how they’re detrimental to health.

Toxins we consume in the form of these foods as well as other toxins that our bodies are unable to release are stored in fat cells. For a great explanation on how this happens, and why we have belly fat, I recommend the book The Fat Flush Plan. Toxins also live in our waste, some of which does not leave our bodies in the intended 24 hours. For these reasons, I believe it is absolutely necessary to do a colon and full-body cleansing periodically to assist our bodies in the functions they are designed to perform naturally but are unable because of the diets and lifestyles of so many Americans today.

I have tried using cleansing products in the form of capsules (or kits) in the past. These typically require a regimented diet and special foods. I found that this type of discipline is too difficult for me. Call me crazy but it’s much simpler for me to not eat anything at all and drink the same (homemade) drink for ten days than it is to eat specific foods. This is essentially what the Master Cleanse consists of. It consists of: a laxative tea, a saltwater flush, and a lemonade drink made with fresh squeezed organic lemons, organic grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

The purpose of the lemon is to mobilize toxins within your body and break off old waste from the colon walls; the cayenne pepper is used to break up the mucus lining within the colon, and the maple syrup is used primarily for calories and energy. It is thought that the grade B syrup is drawn when the most nutrients are in the syrup, which is the purpose for this particular syrup. The laxative tea is used at night and the saltwater flush is used in the morning to flush out the waste and toxins that were mobilized the day before.

Some people may experience two or three “detox” days. These are days in which they feel symptoms of problems they’ve had in the past or even just symptoms of withdrawal from certain day-to-day habits such as coffee or sodas. People that have a lot of caffeine in their diets tend to get headaches during the cleanse either toward the beginning or in some cases, throughout the whole cleanse. Also, people with certain issues, such as reflux or joint problems will find those symptoms pronounced on certain days of the cleanse. These are detox symptoms. They rear their ugly heads when the toxins causing those issues are mobilized during the cleanse.

When I do the Master Cleanse I do it for health reasons and to “re-set” the way I see food. I find it highly beneficial and effective. The icing on the cake is the weight loss. It’s typical for women to lose 10 pounds and for men to lose up to 15. You must be careful how you incorporate food back into your diet after you’ve completed the cleanse so that you don’t gain all the weight back (and so that you don't hurt yourself). Your digestive system needs time to start digesting again so solid food is not incorporated until a couple of days after it is over.

I’ve had various experiences while on the cleanse but one recurring theme is the energy and vitality I feel. In some cases I go through one or two days of “detox” symptoms, although they aren’t typically debilitating in my case – I’m still able to function normally (and usually with a ton of energy!). After those two days, I have enough energy to zoom through my day and I am also able to do my normal work out. After I finished my latest (5th) cleanse and began eating normal food, in this case a salad, I immediately felt the drain of energy that it takes to digest food. We do not realize how much energy is expended by our bodies just to digest the food we eat. I felt it immediately.

I know many people think they couldn’t do this cleanse because of the idea of not eating. I say that if I can do it, anyone can. I love food. It’s one of my pleasures. I look forward to food. Doing this cleanse shows me that I can accomplish anything I put mind to. It’s not only physically healthy, it is also empowering. One of the things I find so remarkable when I’m doing these cleanses is the fact that we really don’t need much food to survive. I’ve read that having a calorie-restrictive diet can increase a person’s life by at least 10 years. Doing a cleanse can help kick-start a lifestyle of fewer calories.

Doing a Master Cleanse allows you to absorb more nutrients than you probably had in years. The mucus-forming foods we eat cause a barrier between the lining of the colon and the food that passes through. This means that fewer nutrients are actually absorbed into the bloodstream. After cleansing, and before you recreate that mucus lining, you are able to absorb much more nutrients. The way I see it is that you have a clean slate to work with. It’s a way to be removed from, what I see, as a “food-addiction”. I feel that many Americans today are obese and overindulge because of a food addiction. Doing a Master Cleanse removes you from that and allows you to see that we do not have to be what we eat. It allows for clarity of mind that we wouldn’t typically have.

I have turned many people on to this and have gotten excellent feedback. What I recommend to people is that if they really are interested in doing this cleanse for their health they read both books on the subject. Without reading these books they will almost certainly fail. It is absolutely necessary to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what to expect. But I feel that once you know, and once you’ve tried it you will be able to continue a path of health and pursue future cleanses with very little effort. I try to do one at least once a year. I do have to plan my life around them so I try to plan them for a time of year that I can dedicate at least a month of healthy eating including the two weeks required to do the cleanse and to break it.

Finally, I'd like to wrap up my blog on The Master Cleanse by discussing some of the amazing benefits that I've experienced from doing this cleanse:

Clear skin - this cleanse was actually quite noticeable. I don't have the nicest complexion - never have - but I'm enjoying a clear, bright complexion after this cleanse.

More energy - as I mentioned before, toward the end of the cleanse I had quite a bit of energy but sticking to a healthy diet after the cleanse allows for much of that energy to continue.

Clarity of mind - Even the bible talks about how fasting allows the spirit to rise above the flesh. I always find it amazing how clear my mind is and how much it makes me realize that food can be a hindrance to our thinking. I'm not just referring to the lack of proper nutrition from our foods or even the distraction that comes with always thinking of your next meal, but the simple act of not eating for 10 days clears your mind and helps you focus on other important things.

Emotional detox - With every cleanse I do I seem to be happier. The emotional detox on this, my 5th cleanse, was not nearly as bad as the first. I recall my first cleanse. I was a pill for at least 3 of the the 10 days...and this is a recurring theme among people that do the cleanse; my best friend has done a couple of these and her husband never fails to mention her moods. I know some people might attribute this to "not eating". I know I tend to get cranky when I'm hungry. But this is not the case during the cleanse. As well as detoxing from all the toxins within your body, you're also detoxing from toxins in your brain. Naturally, when you're releasing toxins you're going to feel those symptoms. Interestingly, I heard on the John Tesh Radio Show yesterday that a test was conducted on the tears of people who were crying over emotional reasons versus those that were crying due to exposure to onions. The emotional tears showed toxic stress hormones while those from onions showed none. Clearly crying is our bodies' way of ridding ourselves of harmful stress hormones and toxins. During the cleanse, these are being released in a variety of ways - sometimes tears, sometimes waste, and sometimes through saliva. Our bodies are so amazing. Not only were we given the ability to heal ourselves naturally (think of the way a cut heals by creating a clot, then a scab, and then a renews the skin) but also to remove harmful toxins from our bodies. Our sweat glands, lymphatic glands, tear ducts, and even saliva are ways to remove toxins from our bodies. Since I've been cleansing, I am a much happier person in general. There's a popular "healer" that lives in my area and we run into him every once in a while. He noticed that the last time he saw me I wasn't stressed out at all. The first time he saw me he saw the aura of stress. Clearly these natural things are working!

And last, but definitely not least is the weight loss. This cleanse I lost right around 10 pounds and, thankfully, due to breaking the cleanse gently and staying off meat and alcohol (which I will continue to do for at least another 3 weeks...and then moderately after that) among other "bad" things, I'm keeping it off. I don't have to tout the benefits of weight loss but one thing both my boyfriend and I feel is a huge benefit is being lighter and being able to exercise more easily. My little dog weighs ten pounds so to make a point, after the cleanse, I picked her up and started walking around with her. I told my boyfriend..."This is how much more weight I'd been carrying around." It doesn't "sound" like much, but if you're not at your ideal weight I challenge you to try this, find something that weighs ten pounds and walk around with it even just for five minutes. I think you'll find that it is much more difficult than without it. We don't realize how much even a little extra weight means to our bodies - joints, muscles, ligaments, and even brain will thank you for it.

Here's to health, being clean, losing your excess weight,and being happy!!

Have a great week!