Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sick State of Healthcare

Is our health care system making us sick, or worse yet, killing us? Most of us think that our doctors and hospitals are there to help us be healthy. The truth of the matter is that our health care system is there to make money. From the primary care doctor to the major medical center none of them are going to stay in business unless they make a profit. Most of them have investors. Investors are not guardian angels that give out money for the fun of it. They are people who want their money to work hard at making more money. You would not leave your money in a bank that charges you for the privilege. Neither would an investor loan money to a business that isn't making a profit. But what does that mean for our health? One concept rises to the top "Buyer Beware!".
Nursing homes are notorious for being understaffed, and the staffing they do have in under trained. There was an incident that a male patient burnt to death in front of the nursing home staff, and they did nothing about it. They were afraid of doing the wrong thing, so they did nothing! He sat outside in his wheelchair alone while they waited for paramedics. The staff was not heartless. They were afraid of doing the wrong thing, so they did nothing! Many law makers try to legislate common sense in places like that, but what happens is that they train their staff to comply with the paperwork and forget about teaching them common sense on how to care for people.
It isn't just nursing homes. Hospitals can have the same type of problems. A patient in San Francisco went missing from her hotel room. They had missing persons posters were put up in the neighborhood. Two weeks later they found her, dead, in an unused stairwell. If the hospital had done a proper search they would have found her within hours. The saddest part of all was that the door of the stairwell led outdoors, and it was locked from the outside! If there were a fire anyone using that stairwell would have been trapped.
Medical mistakes account for one sixth of all deaths in the United States! Mistakes are preventable. We have the most expensive medical care of any country on the planet, yet we still have problems with people making mistakes. I personally know a woman that suffered from major infections for years because the surgeon left a sponge or a clamp in her. There was too much infection for them to operate to get it out! Then she began having money problems because of it. Everything they did to 'correct' the problem they charged her for.
Unnecessary surgeries are another area where our medical system is costing us money and endangering our health. The most highly abused surgeries are heart surgeries such as angioplasty or stints, pacemakers, back surgeries, hysterectomy, knee surgery, and Cesarian section. Most of these are considered 'emergency surgery'. If you think you need it you think you need it as soon as possible in order to save your life or the life of your child. The rest are issues with high pain level. If surgery is offered when you are in extreme pain you will jump at the chance for pain relief.
Why are these considered unnecessary? In many cases it is because there are other ways of dealing with the problem that do not increase risk. In many cases the risk of alternative treatment is less risky than the surgery. All of these incur long term problems for the person undergoing the surgery. In many Cesarian sections there is evidence of long term problems for the child. In some of these cases there is statistical proof that these surgeries don't do what they are purported to do. They do not relieve the pain.
Any time surgery is performed there is some risk. When anesthesia is used that risk is increased dramatically. Anesthesia has lasting effects on the brain. This is dramatic in someone elderly, yet the elderly are having more surgeries than the rest of our population. Many of our oldest loved ones go into minor surgery thinking clearly and come out with a marked level of dementia. Others just don't make it through the surgery.
We have all heard about the poor food in hospitals. There is very little 'real' food or fresh food available. A family member recently had surgery and once she began eating every meal had something on the plate that she was allergic to. Her allergic reaction was an increase in her pain. Even though this was pointed out repeatedly they still did not pay attention to what was being served to her, they just increased her pain medications.
Another thing that increases pain for those in the hospital is the lighting. In a supposed effort to keep the atmosphere calm there is low level artificial lights on day and night. This light level, and lack of natural lighting decreases the ability to sleep and increases the level of pain and depression for the patient.
What are we to do?
Take good care of yourself so that you need the medical industry as little as possible.
If you or a loved one is told they need surgery get a second opinion. Do some research and find out if there are any non-surgical solutions you can try first.
If you absolutely must have surgery have an advocate available to look out for you. They can't be in surgery, but they can question medication and food options. They can also request a room with a window and open the curtains for you so you can get some natural sunlight.
Our medical system is broken. We need to opt out of it as much as possible. Taking care of ourselves for the little things will keep us from needing medical care for the major things.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disease that affects the motor skills of its victims. In many people’s opinion it is similar to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) except that with AD the disease attacks the cognitive functions of the brain. Both are associated with depression, anxiety, and speech impairments. PD is often recognized by tremors and stiff muscles that are hard to control. Both diseases are listed as ‘cause unknown’.

Some links are starting to be made, but they are more statistical links than something that is a direct cause. This may be because it is when many of these links combine that they overcome the immune system and symptoms begin.


One of these links is with leaky gut syndrome. PD patients are much more likely to have a high level of bacterial growth in their small intestines. This is both a symptom and a precursor to leaky gut. It can be caused by eating food high in pesticides and antibiotics. There has been proven to be a link between the gut and the brain. A healthy gut digests things easily, and is filled with a variety of good bacteria, with minimal evidence of bad bacteria. Gluten intolerance can be both a cause and an effect of an unhealthy gut. People with an unhealthy gut are more likely to experience constipation, IBS, and autoimmune disease.


Iron overload has also been shown to be prevalent with those that have been diagnosed with PD. This is usually more common with men and post-menopausal women. Women in the child bearing years don’t normally have to worry about iron overload because their menstrual flow typically eliminates the excess iron.

Vitamin D

Another statistical link is low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked in this way with many different illnesses. These include type 2 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, cancer, and infections. It now includes Parkinson’s.  Those with PD that have raised their D3 blood levels have been shown to improve their speech and mood. Vitamin D can be raised through sun exposure and supplementation.


Those that have trouble controlling their muscles tend to shy away from exercise, but studies show that exercise may be one of the best things for them.  One man found that joining the gym and taking boxing lessons severely slowed the progression of his illness. A study involving 231 patients showed that those who exercised regularly experienced less falls.  Other, larger studies show a reduction in loss and even improvement of motor skills. One study suggests that exercise can prevent you from ever developing symptoms.


It seems strange that simply not eating can improve your PD symptoms, but fasting can do much more than that. Unless you are already severely underweight fasting as little as several hours once or twice a week has been shown to improve overall health and cognitive functions. After a short term fast the immune system has shown marked improvement. The brain has been shown to have from 50 to 400 percent more of a substance that creates new neurons.

Ketogenic Diet
Along with the occasional fast what you eat on the days you do eat seems to play an important role. We already mentioned that pesticides and antibiotic laden foods need to be avoided. It turns out that what we do eat plays just as big a role. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fat (90% or more of calories from fat) and low in protein and carbohydrates.  Eating this way has been shown to improve balance, tremors and mood.  The quality of that fat can also play an important role.  Things like coconut oil, organic butter, avocados and nuts improve body functions more than vegetable oils or trans fats. Limiting protein to half a gram per pound of body weight and carbohydrates to 30 or 40 grams per day seems to be ideal.

To wrap it up here are some ideas for improving the life of someone experiencing PD, or limiting the possibility of developing it.
•    Eat an organic, whole food diet.
•    Find a way to exercise every day.
•    Optimize your Vitamin D levels.
•    Get some good fats every day.
•    Avoid chemicals whenever possible.
•    Include foods that reduce inflammation such as cinnamon (Ceylon), pomegranates and Turmeric.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Beat Aging Naturally

We have all heard the story of two older women. One says "I want to grow old gracefully." The other one answers "I going to fight it kicking and screaming." There is something to be said for both approaches.

When I had just turned forty I mentioned a problem I was having to my doctor. Instead of asking more questions or doing some tests he answered, "Well, you are getting older." Even back then I knew enough to change doctors. Lazy doctors automatically blame aches, pains, indigestion, fuzzy thinking and the like on aging. Many in today's society think we are designed to fall apart after we turn forty, fifty at the latest. This is the furthest from the truth. There are real life people that are enjoying happy, healthy lives into their eighties, nineties and even over 100.

What can we do to be among those people as our birthdays begin to mount up?

Of all the studies on longevity and successful aging there are two key things that seem to make the biggest impact, diet and exercise. I know, that's the last thing you want to hear, but it is the truth. The problem is that everyone gets a different picture in their minds when they hear that phrase. Just what kind of diet and what kind of exercise works best?

Whether you refer to it as an Atkins style diet, a Ketogenic diet, or a Paleo diet you are getting close. They all have a few things in common, but they don't always completely hit the mark. This is because once again we all get a different picture in our minds as we read those words. So, what are the common denominators of these diets that work so well?

Get rid of:
•    Sugar and artificial sweeteners
•    Processed foods
•    Starches
•    Industrially grown fruits and vegetables
•    Industrially grown meats and dairy
•    Alcohol in excess
•    Tobacco products
•    Unnecessary medications

Add in:
•    Natural herbal sweeteners such as pure stevia, not an artificial sweetener made from stevia.
•    Home cooked meals
•    Low glycemic foods
•    Raw foods
•    Organically grown fruits and vegetables
•    Organic, free range meats, eggs and dairy
•    Good fats such as coconut, nuts, avacado, and real butter
•    Herbs, spices and supplements

By eating this way you are eliminating a majority of the toxins in our world. In addition to these things you can look for personal care and home care products that are made from all natural and safe ingredients. Watch the manufacturers, they have been known to call something natural and safe when it is the farthest thing from it. To be 100% sure you may decide to make your own.

The 'good' foods above, eaten in the right proportions improve your leptin and insulin receptors. This moves you away from diabetes and obesity and towards a strong and healthy metabolism. Numerous studies show a diet higher in good fats and clean proteins keep your appetite satisfied better. Unlike the high card, grain based diets you won't need to eat six times a day. Three or less meals a day will keep you perfectly happy and healthy.

Eating this way improves your thinking ability. Many people think that fuzzy thinking is a natural by product of aging. It's not. Fuzzy thinking can be caused by many different things. Things that we can control. Among them are:
•    Dehydration
•    Lack of good fats in the diet
•    Lack of magnesium
•    Lack of Vitamin D
•    Medications

Magnesium and Vitamin D also play a significant role in bone strength and health. Many people think of calcium when they think bone health. Without the proper amount of magnesium and Vitamin D that calcium cannot get into the bones. It ends up in places where it doesn't belong, such as joints and muscles. The image of a bent over little old man or woman can be a thing of the past. The truly healthy man or woman can walk straight and strong all of their days.

Another sign of aging that we think of as inevitable is a loss of eye sight. Dehydration can play a part of that as well. So can sugar and grains. Dropping these things from your diet can keep your eyesight strong for many more years.

Sometimes it is hard to get all your nutrition from your food. Do not be afraid of supplements. They may be just the thing to keep you from having to take medications. Turmeric is one that has been showing great promise in the area of aging. It has also been shown helpful in fighting degenerative diseases and even cancer.

Exercise also plays an important role in healthy aging. Many of the so called ageing diseases are really caused by a sedentary lifestyle instead of by the number of birthdays you have enjoyed. Once again, not all exercises are equal when it comes to aging. What should we be looking for? Things that build muscle! I think I just heard someone cringe. It used to be taught that as we age we automatically lose muscle, no matter what we do. Studies are showing that isn't 100% accurate. We may have to work harder to keep and build muscle, but it is possible to do so.

The biggest problem is that as we age we become more afraid of hurting ourselves. Therefore we don't climb the ladder that we used to climb without hesitation. We take the elevator instead of the stairs, because after all we have 'earned' it with the number of years we have lived. Our younger friends and family want to 'help' us by doing the lifting and carrying for us. The trouble with all these things is that they add up to less exercise, and especially of the type that builds muscles. The healthiest old people are the ones that have kept physically active! The harder that activity is the better! I have a relative whose father (and mother) still does roofing in his eighties! Looking at him you would think he was in his sixties! He has better arm muscles than most twenty year olds I know!

Diet and exercise. They are not the easiest things to incorporate into your lifestyle, but they could be the most important. A strong healthy body and an equally strong and healthy mind are rewards worth working towards.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Turmeric beats Prozac against depression

It’s common knowledge in the natural health world that pharmaceuticals often (if not always) do more harm than good. It’s also clear that foods, herbs, and other natural sources can offer similar benefits without those nasty side effects. Once again, our beliefs have been affirmed by science: A recent study published in Phytotherapy Research says that not only is turmeric effective at treating depression, it may even be more effective than some of the most common anti-depressant drugs currently on the market.

While previous studies have indicated the effectiveness of turmeric (curcumin) in treating serious depression, this study was the first randomized controlled clinical trial of its kind.

Researchers with the Department of Pharmacology of Government Medical College in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India compared the effects of turmeric and Prozac (fluoxetine), both used together and individually, in 60 patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD).

According to, the researchers used the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale to measure their results:
“We observed that curcumin was well tolerated by all the patients. The proportion of responders as measured by the HAM-D17 scale was higher in the combination group (77.8%) than in the fluoxetine [Prozac] (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%) groups; however, these data were not statistically significant (P = 0.58). Interestingly, the mean change in HAM-D17 score at the end of six weeks was comparable in all three groups (P = 0.77). This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”
While reading the researchers conclusions indicates one treatment (turmeric) is equally effective as Prozac, it doesn’t account for the negative effects of Prozac, which boost turmeric’s value considerably. Prozac is known to cause “suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders,” frightening side effects that are clearly absent in turmeric use.

In addition to fighting depression, the bright yellow root commonly used in Indian cooking known as turmeric has been found to have numerous health benefits. In addition to this enlightening research on its efficacy in depression treatment, we know it also has value in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, diabetes, and even cancer. If that isn’t enough, it’s also been shown effective in aiding in weight loss and cutting heart disease risk. Plus, it tastes amazing.

Anti-depressant medications are some of the biggest of Big Pharma’s many big money-makers. Equipped with knowledge like the findings of this most recent study, consumers have the potential to undermine their goal of drugging America and the world.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure diagnosis is increasing in the United States. Depending on who you talk to the estimate is one in three Americans have high blood pressure, or even more.  Others say the estimate should be closer to 40%, and will increase faster as Americans age.  One estimate says that by age 65 nine out of ten Americans will be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Are these estimates accurate? Are we really in the middle of an epidemic of high blood pressure? There is as much difference on that question as there is on the number of people who ‘suffer’ from this problem.

Why are doctors so concerned about blood pressure? For those who truly have this problem the consequences of doing nothing can be very real, and very life threatening. The number of deaths linked to high blood pressure have increased nearly 62%. Problems that have been linked to high blood pressure include.
•    Kidney damage
•    Stroke
•    Vision loss
•    Fluid in the lungs
•    Heart damage
•    Arterial damage
•    Memory problems
•    Cancer

The causes of high blood pressure are not as straight forward as the causes of sun burn or pregnancy. There are multiple things that add up to raise your blood pressure. It is only as those numbers creep up that they become a problem.

One of the best known causes is too much salt in the diet. Each person’s tolerance for salt seems to be different, and there is a difference in the effects of what type of salt you are consuming. Natural salt, which contains less sodium and a larger amount and variety of minerals, seems to be tolerated much more than processed salt, which is mainly sodium chloride. The balance of other minerals in the body also seems to make a big difference. Those that have more potassium and magnesium in there systems seem to have a smaller reaction to the sodium.

Scientists are discovering that sugar may play and even larger role in blood pressure than even salt does. Since sugar is increasingly included in processed foods the average American is getting a lot more in their diet than they realize.  Sugar, even the ones in fruit, elevates our uric acid levels. Excess uric acid drives up blood pressure by inhibiting the nitric oxide in your blood vessels. This causes your blood vessels to lose their elasticity. It also increases your insulin and leptin levels. This in turn limits the amount of magnesium your body stores. Magnesium helps the body relax, including your blood vessels. This keeps your blood pressure higher. It is recommended that you keep your sugar levels below 25 grams per day, even lower if you already show problems.

Obesity contributes to high blood pressure. The larger your body the more blood is needed. The same pump has to work harder to push the excess volume through the system. Even as little as a 5% increase in body weight can bring the blood pressure up by an average of 4 mm Hg. That doesn’t sound like much, but when added to salt, sugar, stress, and other contributors it can make a big difference.

What can we do about high blood pressure?

If you see a standard MD they are going to prescribe medication. In that case you have several choices. They include taking the medication without asking questions, running screaming from the room, or asking your doctor if you can try some natural methods before you succumb to the pharmaceutical ones. Blood pressure medications have been linked to problems that can shorten your life, or rob you of the quality of your life.

Natural methods include changing your diet and other lifestyle factors that could be contributing to the high numbers.


To eliminate both salt and sugar, as well as other chemicals in  your food that may be contributing to your high numbers you may want to consider what is being called an ‘all natural’ diet. This would exclude any processed foods and include anything that is in its natural form, such as fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, nuts and seeds that are as close to the way they would be found if man wasn’t involved with them. Think organic, grass fed, free range, even raw in some cases. The closer to nature you can eat the better off you will be. The farmer needs to become a closer friend than your grocer.


Many people with elevated blood pressure are simply dehydrated. If the blood you are pushing through your veins and arteries is as thick as pancake batter your heart is going to have to push harder to get it to move. A good starting place is to divide your weight in pounds in half. This is the number of ounces of water you need to drink every day. If you perspire a lot you will want to increase your intake.


This is where you might need some help at first. If your blood pressure is too high it might be dangerous for you to jump head long into an exercise program. Start slowly, but continue to build. High-intensity exercise, which combines intense cardio in short spurts with your normal exercise has shown great promise, just make sure you are ready for that intensity.  Exercise also reduces stress, which is a key contributor to high blood pressure.


As mentioned earlier, there are other minerals that we need in order to keep our blood pressure low. These include:
•    Potassium
•    Magnesium

Herbs and other supplements you might want to partake of include:
•    Probiotics
•    Resveratrol
•    Vitamin D
•    Vitamin C
•    Vitamin E
•    Olive leaf extract
•    Hawthorne

All of these things sound fairly simple. Trying just one or two may not lower your numbers much. Remember those numbers are an accumulation of factors. Changing one will make a small change. Changing a lot of them will make a much bigger change.