Tag Archives: Conditions and Diseases

Debating Titanium Dioxide

Element Titanium

Sometime ago, a young woman came into the supplement store looking for a titanium dioxide free iron supplement. She began telling me about the research on this ingredient and the reports that it was carcinogenic. She then went on to ask why a vitamin maker would use a whitening agent only to then turn around and dye the supplement another color. The absurdity behind this process was so conspicuous; I admittedly felt a little dumbfounded. I honestly had no answer for her other than the possibility of market research leading manufacturers to believe we consumers prefer pretty colored pills to naturally hued, and whitening a substance’s natural color probably allowed another color to take better. We both had to tilt our heads and roll our eyes as the words tumbled out and over themselves, but in that moment I decided to look into the meat of the issue and find out the deal with TD.

From the research I’ve read so far, much of the studies done on the carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide have been performed on rats, not unusual, and with powdered TD. Many of these studies did find that prolonged and excessive – six hours per day, five days per week, for two years- exposure of lab rats to TD dust did result in lung tumor development. And some of these studies did acknowledge the marked difference between the ways the body of a rat processes powders and dust particles in comparison to those of larger mammals like primates and humans. There are also studies, dating as far back as the 1960’s and conducted on larger mammals and humans, that tested the amounts of titanium dioxide present in the body after ingesting the substance through the diet over extended periods of time. These studies stated that no detectable amounts of TD were found in the urine, blood, kidneys or liver, giving way to the determination that dietary consumption of titanium dioxide did not lead to its absorption and thus accumulation within the human body.

So, surprise surprise, it’s a mixed bag. Findings like these enable the FDA to deem it safe for use and consumption. And boy oh boy is it used.

If you’ve become the diligent ingredient label reader I’ve encouraged, then you know what I’m talking about. TD can be found in everything from our multi colored multi vitamins to our body lotions and cosmetics. And because it occurs naturally in several minerals, it is widely used in mineral based make-up, especially the powdered foundations, bronzers, eye shadows and blushes.

So are there any benefits? Probably the more pointed question is whether the substance serves any function, has any use?

Titanium dioxide results from oxygenation of the widely present element titanium. Its strength and resistance to breakdown, along with its pigmentation make it a successful thickening and whitening agent for a variety of products like paints, inks, pills, toothpastes, cosmetics, foods and beverages. In addition, it is an able ultra violet light absorber and thus popular component of sunscreens and blocks. But is it truly, ultimately safe; and if so, then why the fuss?

Titanium_Dioxide_43Well it turns out that the nano-sized, ultra small particle form of TD is of concern to researchers. And many of them view the synthesized state as the real threat because this form is more susceptible to collisions/reactions with other particles and can potentially infiltrate otherwise protected areas of the body. It is these traits that make for an unpredictable agent with unforeseeable consequences, and thus no definitive answer to the question of long term safety.

Given the particular concern being powdered titanium dioxide and its impact on our lungs, the greater danger may be in our exposure to the inhalable forms and not the ingestible. Only time will tell for sure, but it is certainly our prerogative to play it safe. These manufacturers may provide some effective alternatives to their TD containing counterparts.

For titanium dioxide free mineral cosmetics: http://www.rejuvaminerals.com/store/titanium.html
For nanoparticle free sunscreens and blocks: http://mexitan.com/

As for ingestible products containing titanium dioxide, opting for clear veggie gel capped supplements or color free pills and tablets is a relatively easy adjustment. New Chapter, NOW and Source Naturals all offer TD free vitamin and mineral options in their supplement lines. Finding a medication that is free of titanium dioxide is probably more challenging; but when faced with the need for immediate care, healing in the now naturally takes priority over questions of future challenges. For those needing to take medications over an extended period of time, there should be no hesitation in asking about any additional ingredients or additives that cause concern. Let us remember that these are our bodies, nourished by our minds and without peace of that mind, health cannot truly be obtained.

Until next time…

Be Informed, Be Selective

BeWell

Sources

http://ezinearticles.com/?Titanium-Dioxide:-Toxic-or-Safe?&id=34675

http://www.eoearth.org/article/Nanoparticles

http://www.gcsescience.com/a37-nano-science-nanoparticles.htm

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Reinventing the Will

Walk to Health
Illness

Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness

March 6, 2012 began the most enduring healing process of my life, to date.
On that day I woke with symptoms I assumed were signs of the flu, and two mornings later I was greeted with the most excruciating physical pain I’ve yet to experience. Between then and now, I’ve worked with a fair share of doctors, visited quite a few medical facilities, underwent numerous assessments and confronted some frightening possibilities.
Eventually and thankfully, I was determined to have acute septic rheumatoid arthritis of the sternoclavicular joint, a torn rotator cuff and subsequent frozen shoulder. The infection slowly cleared, and the shoulder required no surgery, just a long bout of physical therapy. So by force or choice, I started removing the obstacles between my existing life and the elusive well life I needed and desired.

Heal

To set right; repair
To restore to health or soundness; cure
To become whole and sound; return to health

Why so long? I always thank my lucky stars and ancestors that I am a willful child, yet the gravity of both the blessing and curse of this trait was never as clearly laid out as it was during this time in my life. What I’ve experienced is a lot. But make no mistakes; I’m not playing my mini violin in search of sympathy. We all have our challenges to lament; some last for days or weeks, but for many, they last years. And while working to pull through the worst of mine, physically unable to throw the tantrum I so desired. I thought and wondered about those that suffered years, waited months for accurate diagnosis and went around countless times feeling ok, then not great, then a little better and then even worse than before. Members of my family, friends and loved ones, we’d had these conversations and I’d looked into their eyes as they shunned this round of that treatment with those potential effects and that other option’s predicted prognosis. Brave, obviously; faithful, probably; but willful, without a doubt.

Without our will, our willingness to pursue health at all costs, we are suspended in a state of vulnerability. But how many times have we set up unhealthy scenarios in our lives by that same shear will? Perhaps we were misguided by our ambitions, or what we perceived must be done to survive or sustain the ones that rely on us? These are the questions I’ve been mulling around lately. How do we assert our will to improve and secure our health? What exactly should this entail?

Wellness

The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort
An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseasesWell Wheel

In the science world there is the concept of dynamic equilibrium. This state is reached when the gains of a physical system stay equal to its losses. In wellness speak this is an ongoing pursuit of balance inside and out of the body, mind and spirit. Fittingly, it is often illustrated as a wheel with spokes that represent each area of our lives from physical activity to love, spirit and even finance. The goal is to keep a watchful eye on the state of each. It is both the proactive and creatively reactive participation of an individual in the design and construction of a life that promotes and perpetuates their wellness-wholeness, soundness. This is the true work. Work that acknowledges our reality that sometimes even the best efforts don’t prevent an illness, that a crisis when not avoided should then be quickly and effectively contained; and if our first attempts fail, then we must try again with more concentrated efforts. Of course this was not my thought process while sitting in the thick of it. By no means was I that objective or proactive. Hindsight is 20/20. And as I read my interpretation, it is “matteroffactish”, never mind debatable in its efficacy. But it does bring me straight to the heart of my question, perhaps even into the realm of its answer. How can we better use our will? How far back should we sit to gain perspective? How do we determine the direction in which we should steer?

Maybe it’s a matter of drafting a new outline, a new covenant that specifies the willingness to:
1. ask for help
2. go to the deepest root of the problem
3. set clearer health and wellness goals
4. objectively look at our ambitions, intentions, behaviors and subsequent choices
5. be honest about the impact of these choices on our emotional and physical wellness
6. let go and lose all things incongruent with our goals
7. follow the intrinsic flow and progression of our lives
8. commit to the process with persistence and patience
9. surrender the minutia of reaching those goals to a higher will
10. go through the growing pains that accompany progress toward our goals
11. adjust our pace and approach as needed
12. forgive our past mistakes
13. trust ourselves and our judgment

Will

To decree
A desire, purpose, or determination, especially of one in authority
The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action

Happy Easter, Happy Resurrection, and As Always…BeWell

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, I Pray the Soul My Body and Mind to Keep

Last Tuesday I awoke to the beginning of the most bizarre and cathartic healing process I’ve ever experienced. And because I am still recuperating, my ability to effectively research and write is limited. So, this was going to be the sorry I’m out sick un-post, but then I reconsidered. It dawned on me that though the meat of this blog has become nutritional healing, the greater point is still wellness. So, I’d like to share a little of my experience. It might come in handy for someone, someday.

As I said, when I woke last Tuesday morning something was terribly wrong. The first indication was an easily disregarded one. I felt really tired, like I had a few more hours of sleep in me, but that is a very normal Tuesday experience given my Monday work schedule. However the next sign was impossible to ignore-uncontrollable, non-stop shivering. This was disconcerting to say the least, but it was a really cold day here in NYC and the heat in my building was just starting to crank in, or so I rationalized. But the shivering continued even through a hot shower. ??Now the next clue was a symptom I loathe-vomiting. God I hate it! And I told myself if it happened more than that one time, I’d have to call out from work because I likely wouldn’t be able to make the train ride down without another incident. Well boy oh boy did “it” happen again; and not only it, but also “its” opposite end buddy. And then they commenced to toss me back and forth for a few rounds. Yep, it was time to call the job. I’d barely been awake for one hour, rough morning to say the least.

Between my bathroom breaks, I tried to backtrack and figure out what the hell I’d had or did to cause this and, equally important, what “this” was and needed to go bye-bye. Based on the weekend’s events and a Sun/Mon sneezathon, I determined my ailment to be the flu and started thinking about how I could get some medicine. By then I was weak, in crazy pain, and unable to stand upright; and going out in the cold to get the medicine could make it worse. Drug store delivery? No. Close by friend? Yes.

God love her because in the short time it took her to arrive with the day and night flu pack I’d gone a few more rounds with the V & S crew and could barely stand upright for more than moments at a time. I’m sure that leaving me there seemed the worst resort but I assured her that I simply didn’t do sick well, just needed sleep and medicine, and would call her and emergency assistance if things got out of hand. Ha! Because they were clearly under control at that moment. I tell you I marvel at my stupidity sometimes. Anyhow…

My plan was to start with the nighttime meds first and sleep off the pain, let the body heal, and reserve the daytime meds for the following workday.  A couple hours later I woke up feeling better. And the following day still better but with an oddly achey right shoulder, like I’d strained it or something. Nothing during my sleep, like a sharp pain or numbness, stood-out. And my life, and therefore work, had to go on. So I did what I was previously committed to that Wednesday -work at the store, train my client, and sub a dance class. I definitely at times felt and admittedly overtaxed my shoulder with that day’s line-up, but never did I think any of it would lead to the agony of the following day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Early a.m.-Hell, Fire and Damnation! What the fcuk have I done to myself?!!?

Mid a.m.-Oh my gypsies, the pain is excruciating! I can’t move my right side from the waist up.

Late a.m.-The pain is still throbbing, it really hurts to inhale fully but there doesn’t seem to be any dislocation. God I hope I didn’t tear the rotator cuff.

Early afternoon-Ok, less throbbing but I can’t really bend over without a lot of pain. Making the bed took 25 minutes. And I can’t pick anything up from the floor. Even cradling my right arm doesn’t help with that one. I bet this is one way people start learning to cook and drive with their feet. I can only pick up chords and small round things with my toes.

Mid afternoon– I still can’t put any weight on it, but I can lift the right arm to almost shoulder level, either straight or bent. I can rotate it out to the side and back in. The left arm still has full range of motion but when I reach above head with it, the right side hurts. I’ll give it rest. I’ll give it heat then cold.

Evening– The heat feels great, but the cold is damn near debilitating. Now the pain seems to start just right of my sternum and pierce through the same point of my back. Like a stake through my chest. I can’t breathe past that point and God help me if I sneeze.

Bedtime-What if I sit down and swing my legs onto the bed-ouch, nope. Or maybe I can slowly lower onto my left side and roll onto my back, let my legs follow and then scoot over to the middle of the bed? Then I just have to find a position and angle to place my head and arm in…

That hurt but I finally made it. I can’t move from this position though so hopefully I’ll dose off soon.

Wee morning hours– I wonder how long it took me to get into bed. Who cares? At least you made it without your legs seizing up again. If that happened I honestly couldn’t handle it. I think I would die from all the pain. Last time it happened I could at least move my upper body, but this time. I, I…no I wouldn’t survive.

I feel like something is stuck, locked and waiting for release. Maybe this is a job for a chiropractor. Lying like this and staring straight up is like lying in a box. A coffin. Can you imagine the horror of being buried alive? If I do die, and you know I don’t want that, but if it were simply my time, as much I haven’t seen, I could accept it. I have much. Thank you. Honestly the whole mouse in the house episode doesn’t seem like much now. Thanks for that too. Oh! Please not the spasms, please! Ok, wiggle the toes. Bounce the legs. Pull in the navel. And breathe; try to breathe deep, past the pain, the sharp point. Keep your head aligned your ribcage down and breathe into your legs, all the way to your toes. Use your left hand to punch the thighs a little. It’s gonna be ok. But my head is tingling. Girl, that’s probably all that breathing. Don’t make me laugh.

When I woke Friday, I had to get ready for work as efficiently as possible. I tried to recall the methods I’d used before to get out of bed, bathe and dress myself. Every small task became deliberate in nature. Choreographed. But that only got me through my rituals. Navigating my environment required constant presence of mind, observation, anticipation of possible obstacles, and instantaneous problem solving. These are all skills employed outside of the home; but keeping those guards up inside was exhausting and when I slipped up, intensely painful.

Still, I took no meds because I didn’t want to unknowingly make my situation worse. Pain was my only barometer and it was localizing a little every day. I still didn’t know what I’d done to set the whole thing off, but the existing symptoms weren’t getting worse and new ones weren’t emerging. And even better, sometime during Saturday’s semi sleepless night I broke through my breathing barrier! As annoying as my allergies were, I swear I could’ve French kissed the pollen right then because finally I could sniff, blow my nose, clear my throat and even yawn without feeling serious pain. God bless the little things!

So, against my friends’ advice I opted not to go to the ER feeling confident that the issue was not with an internal organ but something muscular. However, as a customer stated and I would soon start to ponder, “…self diagnosis is the road to hell”.

On Tuesday, exactly one week after waking with what I thought was the flu, I went back to a full schedule. And the early part of the day went relatively well. I thought I made all of the necessary adjustments at work, but by the time I got to my client things were bad. During our session I started feeling pressure radiating up the thoracic and cervical parts of my spine into the back of my head and clogging my ears. It felt like a two ton truck sitting on me and I was terrified. This was a completely new symptom and I wasn’t taking any chances on possible neurological damage. Now I was going to the ER. And by the time I arrived, I was in tears and couldn’t even write with my right hand. The hospital’s admitting staff was working their job like an assembly line; so they ignored this response to their demand that I complete the admittance questionnaire. Another patient took notice and he wrote the necessary info down for me. I guess this caught the staff’s attention and they brought me in to take BP, heart rate and temperature. These were relatively ok and so I was instructed to wait. Naturally I became less anxious at the prospect of finally getting some clarity on the whole thing, even as the pressure persisted. At least I was under professional care.

By the time I got to see the actual doctor I’d be working with, I’d been asked four times by four different nurses and/or interns to recount from the beginning how the symptoms all began. I was exhausted by the redundancy, their sighs of boredom and their rolling eyes, especially given it was only at their request that I was retelling every little detail. They weren’t narrowing the process by asking specific questions and I didn’t know how I’d injured myself to give them the short version. I had to tell the doc my concern of spinal damage and paralysis for her to go beyond the strength and range of motion assessments to those testing for sensory response and nerve damage. Afterward, in a dry and slightly condescending tone, she informed me that I was having a muscle spasm. Thankfully, her assistant/ intern had osteopathic experience and offered to try and locate the center of the tension for me. She felt for and found a lot of hardness in the muscles of my upper right back. She asked the doc to feel. But the doctor couldn’t tell any difference. Never the mind, my greatest fears had been ruled out and poor bedside manner was a tiny price to pay.

I was given a shot to bring down any inflammation and a muscle relaxer for the pain. I was given prescriptions for Motrin and Codeine, advised to take some time off and instructed to follow up with my primary physician in a week. By the time I was released I felt a bazillion times better. And I actually got some real sleep. So, was it all worth it?

Though I would never advocate this approach for any of my clients or customers, for me it was necessary. It allowed me to conquer some long held fears and self imposed limitations, feel my body’s inherent healing power, gain a deeper faith in my higher self and/or the divine’s (however you call it) protection, and let go of the delusions that certain aspects of my lifestyle were still practical and working.

As I said before, I juggle a few different hats to make ends meet; and when they’re all up and moving, things are good. But if one of them or I fall, the whole house comes down. Regardless of what actually caused this, and I still don’t know, having to work through it and not having the means to take off and fully recover absolutely caused the deeper damage. I am fortunate that the “culprit” was ultimately what I figured it to be, and I am fortunate to walk away with more insight into how to navigate a healing process while living alone. The things most worthy of reconsideration:

  1. Know which of your friends and/or family members can get to you most quickly. Consider the distance between you and take into account your daily schedules. Have conversations and determine if and how you can help one another in cases of emergency.
  2.  Have a stocked first aid kit that includes basic medications for things like fever, inflammation or pain.
  3. Determine with whom you’d feel most comfortable making emergency medical decisions on your behalf. Again, have the necessary conversations and make the necessary agreements and arrangements (i.e. living wills, powers of attorney, etc.)
  4. For the partially or noninsured and those without sick pay, start saving at least one week’s earnings to allow room to take off from work and heal or recuperate when necessary.

Tomorrow marks two weeks since this ordeal started and the symptoms are steadily, albeit slowly, improving. There is still discomfort and sharp surges of pain, but it is much less intense and they are much less frequent. I decided against filling the prescription and just take Aleve as needed.  And since my pain free range of motion is still limited, I try to do simple head, neck and arm stretches throughout the day. I also massage the area to help loosen the tension and can even get in and out of bed with less drama and pain. And oh yes, I’ll be following up with my own doctor in a few days.

I have to thank my friends for their patience and faith in me. I know I narrowly escaped a group staged intervention, abduction and hospital drop off. And I also thank you for your support and reading of this post as I know it was no quickie. Though the hope is to never be in a position to need any of the above info, the reality of current times is that we at some point probably will. Better to be prepared and thus truly BeWell.

Until next week…

Perking Up That Sluggish Thyroid

I recently came across a headline stating Americans may be
Iodine deficient due to heavy fluoride consumption and the current focus on low
salt diets. This returned my attention to a question posed by my Lil’Mommy a couple of months ago on natural alternatives to treating Hypothyroidism. The most
familiar herb associated with this condition is kelp, specifically for its naturally high iodine content. However, there are a few other recommended nutrients that can be supplemented for additional support. Before we delve into
these options, let us first clarify the difference between hyper and hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland, at the base of the neck, is the body’s temperature regulator. It does this by secreting two hormones-thyroxine and triiodothyronine-that control the rate at which the body uses calories and energy. If too much of these hormones are secreted, hyperthyroidism occurs. Too little and the result is hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism Some Possible Symptoms

  • Low body temperature and Intolerance to cold
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tendency to gain weight easily
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Yellow bumps on the eyelids and/or droopy, swollen
    eyes

A Suggested Self-Test: Using a thermometer, take the temperature underneath your arm as soon as you wake in the morning. Do this before getting out of bed, while lying down still and quiet. Hold the thermometer under your arm for 15 minutes; and repeat this test for the next 4 days, logging your temperature each morning. A consistent measurement of 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower may indicate an underactive thyroid and should
thus be discussed with your physician.

If you believe and receive confirmation of hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone depending on the extent of the condition and cause of under-activity. If medication is prescribed, request a recommended eating plan to follow and get their thoughts on your supplementing additional supportive nutrients that will not conflict or interfere with your prescribed medication. Once all appropriate information is reviewed and clearance is obtained, the below list of supplements may be helpful in managing the condition. Please note that sometimes medications and even simple foods can interfere with both the body’s natural processes and the helpful benefits of otherwise supportive nutrients.

Supplement

Benefits

Dose

Other
Sources

Competing
or Conflicting Nutrients

Kelp Natural source of iodine,
important to the synthesis of thyroid hormones
2000-3000mg/day sea salt, seafood, dulse, asparagus, garlic, mushrooms, sesame seeds,
soybeans
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, kale,
mustard greens, peaches, pears, turnips, chlorine, fluoride: Known to block
the thyroid gland’s absorption of iodine when consumed in large amounts
L-Tyrosine Thyroid hormones originate from this amino acid 500 mg twice a day, on an empty stomach. For better absorption, take only
with water or juice, 50mg of Vit.B6 and 100 mg of Vit.C
Almonds, avocados, bananas, poultry, dairy, pumpkin seeds Anti-Depressant Medications of
the MAO (monoamine oxidase)
inhibitor class. The two combined can cause dangerously high blood pressure
Natural raw thyroid glandular Can be used as an alternative to synthetic thyroid hormone As directed by your physician and supplement’s dosing instructions Armour Desiccated Thyroid Tablets;Natural Sources Raw Thyroid Blood thinners, estrogen therapy including birth control pills,
diabetes medications including insulin: may interact negatively with
glandular thyroid supplements

For more information on nutritional healing for hypothyroidism, Phyllis A. Balch’s Prescription for Nutritional Healing is an amazing resource, both thorough and user-friendly.

Thank you for visiting. Hopefully this information helps simplify and clarify some options available for managing this condition. Until next week…

Be Informed and BeWell

Checking in on Breast Health

pink ribbon
Image via Wikipedia

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month I took a look at the updated research for any new developments to share, and the information I discovered was quite interesting. Some previously praised supplements are actually no longer definitively considered strong preventives while other practices have been reviewed to make the reasoning behind their classification as a risk  more clear to the public. First up, some common practices that should be modified for better breast health.

Avoid Risk Safe Alternative
Antiperspirants,
especially immediately after shaving when razor cuts allow quick, easy access  into the body
Previously believed hazardous to breast health because of the
chemical and aluminum content, recent research has narrowed the danger of antiperspirants
to their prevention of toxins from exiting the body through the sweat glands in the armpits. Those un-removed toxins get deposited in the lymph nodes below the
arms. This, the upper outside quadrant of the breast, is the most common location of breast cancer tumors.
Deodorant, antiperspirant free
Sleeping in Bras or wearing them for 14 hours plus/day “…tends to increase the hormone prolactin, which decreases circulation in the breast tissue”. * Ample circulation is needed to insure your body’s natural expelling of toxic carcinogenic fluid
that accumulates in the breasts’ lymph nodes.
Limit bra wearing to 8-10 hrs /day
Drinking more than 7 Alcoholic
beverages a week and 3 alcoholic beverages per day
Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increase in the risk of most cancers, including breast. A glass or two of red wine like Pinot Noir that is high in antioxidants
Synthetic Estrogens added to many dairy, meat and poultry food products Synthetic estrogens increase the estrogen levels within our
bodies and create an overall hormonal imbalance. High levels of estrogen
have been linked to increased cancer rates.
Foods that clearly state “no added hormones”

Supplements and the Extent of their Potential

Vitamin D3

Where research in the preventive power of this prohormone has been inconclusive, what has been  consistently observed is a lower incidence of breast cancer in parts of the country and cities with more sunlit days. The more overcast and cloudy areas have more occurrences of the disease. Our bodies produce D3 when exposed to UV rays, and the lower risks have been observed in those with blood levels of D3 averaging approximately 4000 IUs / day. Until more conclusive research is obtained, supplementing 2000 IUs of D3 /day along with getting 20 minutes of daily protection free sun exposure is recommended.

The Omega 3:6 Relationship

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (found in salmon, tuna, algae, krill, flax and other foods) are necessary for many reasons. The healthy fat they provide carries the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from our food into our bodies and benefits the heart, brain and joints among other body systems and functions. However, latest research indicates that the anti-inflammatory benefits of Omega 3’s  are reduced when there is too much Omega 6 (found in poultry, eggs, avocados and most vegetable oils) present. Additionally, excess Omega 6  has been linked to increased breast cancer risks in post menopausal women. The healthiest ratio to maintain between these two essential fatty acids is 1:1. Most Americans unfortunately maintain a 1:14 ratio increasing our risk for disease development.

Melatonin

Many studies have been done recently on the impacts of melatonin on breast cancer development and treatment. And what has thus far been determined is that through its inhibitory effect of estrogen and progesterone production, melatonin can be helpful in both preventing the disease’s development and extending the survival rates of those diagnosed with it. Because our bodies’ natural melatonin production declines at age 40, supplementation in the mid to late 30’s may be beneficial. Stick with dosages between 1 and 5 milligrams as it has not yet been confirmed that more is necessarily better.

More importantly, excess melatonin can cause some side effects like drowsiness, nervousness, sweating and/or heart palpitations upon waking. For a natural boost in your melatonin production make sure you are sleeping in a completely dark room and that if you have to get up in the middle of the night, you don’t turn on the lights. “…production of melatonin rises from bedtime until the middle of the night, and then slowly declines throughout the rest of the night. If you get up during the night and turn on the light or open the refrigerator door, your melatonin production will abruptly stop.” **

Considerations for Complimentary Treatment

One of the greatest gifts from Mother Nature is the vast selection of healing plants, trees and vegetation from which we create our medicines. The following herbs have long and strong reputations for effectively aiding the fight against cancers. They can be further researched by you and your physician to determine their compatibility with your current treatment plan. They can compliment, but they should not be viewed as replacements for conventional treatment. More information can be found in Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Women, 1993.

  • Chaparral Leaves- blood purifier, antibiotic, useful against both bacteria and viruses
  • Pau d’ Arco Bark- slows and inhibits the growth of tumors and cancers
  • Reishi Mushroom- enhances immunity, reduces nausea associated with chemotherapy, increases radiotherapy’s effectiveness

Closing Thoughts

As the body of research in breast cancer grows, so do our means of protection and options for treatment. Regardless of our genetic make-up, family history and other perceived predispositions, we always have the power of the present moment on our side. The love we have for ourselves can be demonstrated everyday in the way we respond to our stressors, choose our health over work and task management and tune into our bodies’ most subtle yet perceptible signals and signs. We should never deny ourselves the leverage and upper hand that information provides. Nor should we accept an “expert’s” opinion over our own instincts. For the more closely and frequently we listen, the louder and clearer the messages lying within will become. Until next time…

Be Strong and BeWell

* Williams, David MD.  Natural Health for Women, Breast Cancer Prevention, Natural Healing. www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com

** Minton, Barbara L.  “Melatonin: A Hormone That Protects Against Breast Cancer and Aging”. 10 April 2008 http:www.naturalnews.com/022981_melatonin_cancer_breast.html

Sweet Solutions

While writing the series on energy and mood enhancement, I was asked to address the impact and issue of sugar. Given the increased circulation of information in the last couple decades, I’m almost certain that as many of us that can attest to the immediate gratification experienced by sugary foods and beverages is as many that can list the dangers associated with their over consumption. Mood swings, obesity and Diabetes are no longer merely suspected consequences of high sugar diets. Scientific data long ago confirmed the connection and yet many still continue to consume large quantities of sugar on a daily basis. The most obvious culprits are probably the ever prevalent and highly addictive fruit drinks, juices and carbonated soft drinks. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a child under the age of 10 drinking a full size soft drink…but I digress. The point of this post is not to review what we already know but to point out a few natural means of moving beyond our sugar dependencies. Let’s start at the beginning with sugar cravings.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are our bodies’ primary source of energy and fuel. There are many forms of simple carbohydrates-fructose from fruits, honey and vegetables; lactose from milk; maltose from cereal grains and sucrose or the white “table sugar” found in sugar cane, maple syrup and molasses.  Whether simple or complex like vegetable roots and whole grains, carbohydrates eventually break down to glucose. Glucose is the primary sugar used by our cells and tissues and the only food used by the brain.

The hormone insulin, secreted by the pancreas, regulates the amount of glucose circulating in the blood and the rate at which our cells absorb the blood glucose.  When we eat, our blood sugar levels rise and trigger the release of insulin. The insulin
opens the cells to absorb the blood glucose, and as the glucose is absorbed the level present in our blood drops back down to normal range. The more complex the carbohydrate, the longer the body takes to digest it; and the simpler, the more quickly the body will break it down and turn it to glucose. As we all know, a quick rise means an equally fast fall. For this reason, sugar cravings are more associated with simple carbs (sugars) than complex. It is literally a craving for more energy that we are experiencing, a need to feed the cells and brain.

Cutting the Cravings

There are a few supplement free ways to go about this. The most widely known is a three – fold approach to eating that requires a little pre-planning.

  1. Increase your consumption of complex carbohydrates to the recommended 60% of your daily caloric intake.
  2. Add some lean protein to your carbohydrate meals and snacks.
  3. Eat 4-6 smaller meals per day to better sustain energy levels.

Some Herbal Support from the “Sugar Taste Destroyer”

Gymnema Sylvestre is an Ayurvedic herb that earned its nick name through its reputation for actually varying our taste preferences and altering our taste buds’ perception of sweet flavors. To test this theory, first sample something sweet,”…then swish gymnema sylvestre tea in the mouth for 20-30 seconds and taste something
sweet again”. You’ll find that the tea has blocked your mouth’s perception of
the food’s sweetness.*

Lowering High Sugar Levels

Diabetes occurs when our bodies either do not produce insulin or cannot properly use the hormone. In these instances, glucose accumulates in the blood instead of being absorbed into the cells.

Another benefit of Gymnema Sylvestre is that it has a molecular structure similar to sugar and has shown the ability to enhance the body’s own natural production of insulin a big plus for insulin dependent diabetics. It also reduces the digestive system’s absorption of glucose and therefore lowers blood sugar levels. 400 mg/day of the herbal extract can benefit both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

If you are currently living with and managing elevated glucose levels, several other natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals have gotten very positive results. However, your physician should be consulted first to determine if there will be any interference with your current medications.

Two More to Consider

Bitter Melon– this vegetable is native to Africa, Asia and South America and has long been used as a treatment for diabetes in Ayurvedic Medicine. The whole plant,
including the leaves and seeds, has shown the ability to reduce blood sugar levels. Bitter melon can be taken fresh or dried, as a liquid extract, tea, or ground and encapsulated.

Cinnamon– yes the same spice used in cookies, cakes and pies is also known for its ability to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglycerides. One to two teaspoons per day (taken in capsule form) are recommended to obtain these benefits. But long-term daily use of the spice in this amount is not advised because of the possible accumulation of other toxic compounds like coumarin that are also found in cinnamon. For best results use the Cinnamon Cassia instead of Ceylon Cinnamon.

Still Needing Study

Chromium Picolinate is an extremely popular mineral supplement thought to help improve insulin efficiency and reduce blood sugar levels through its involvement in the metabolism of glucose. Type 2 diabetics are often found to be deficient in chromium leading many nutritional healers to recommend its supplementation as a preventive to  developing the disease. But some studies have shown that the chromium compounds used in supplements,”… can be converted into a carcinogenic form by means of oxidation in the body”. **

Until more conclusive research is available it is probably safest to get your chromium from food sources such as beef, turkey, fish, cheese, brown rice, whole grains and beer- Yay Oktoberfest! Permission to indulge!

Until next week…

Enjoy, Take Care and BeWell

*Michael Tierra, L. Ac., O.M.D., The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1998

**Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing 4th Edition. New York, NY: The Penguin Group, 2006