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Weekly Health Quiz: Herbicides, Sweeteners and Inflammation

1 Which of the following strategies has been shown to reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer by more than 80 percent?

  • Getting an annual mammogram
  • Raising your vitamin D to a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL

    Research shows having a vitamin D blood level above 60 ng/mL lowers your risk of breast cancer by more than 80 percent, compared to having a level below 20 ng/mL. Most cancers occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL, and the optimal level for cancer protection has been identified as being between 60 and 80 ng/mL. Learn more.

  • Biannual mammogram with CAD (computer-assisted diagnosis)
  • Getting an annual thermography scan

2 Recent animal research shows all artificial sweeteners currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are:

  • Nourishing for beneficial gut bacteria
  • More effective for weight loss than glucose or fructose
  • Toxic to gut bacteria

    Animal research shows all artificial sweeteners currently approved and deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are toxic to gut bacteria and interfere with their normal and healthy activity. Learn more.

  • A safe and effective sugar alternative for diabetics

3 Recent research shows your appendix serves the following function in your body:

  • None ? the appendix has no known function
  • The appendix aids the gallbladder by dissolving hard-to-digest foods
  • The appendix aids digestion by secreting digestive enzymes
  • The appendix acts as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria, helping to repopulate your intestines with probiotics after an infection

    With the help of white blood cells known as innate lymphoid cells, the appendix acts as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria. Once your body has successfully fought and rid itself of a gut infection, the bacteria emerge from the biofilm of the appendix to recolonize your intestines. Learn more.

4 Which of the following compounds has been shown to play an important role in the regulation of inflammation in your brain?

  • Endocannabinoids

    The cannabinoid receptor that which produces the "high" in response to THC in marijuana, also helps regulate inflammatory reactions in your brain. With age, your natural production of endocannabinoids decreases, leading to impaired immune response regulation and chronic inflammation. Learn more.

  • Dopamine
  • Glutamate
  • Serotonin

5 After analyzing surveys involving 1.9 million participants representing 168 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide are at risk of:

  • Insect-borne illnesses transmitted by flies and mosquitoes
  • Developing or exacerbating diseases linked to inactivity

    Given the fact 1 in 4 adults does not perform the recommended amount of weekly exercise, the study authors suggest nonexercisers are putting themselves at increased risk of chronic diseases linked to inactivity. Learn more.

  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Substance abuse

6 Which herbicide is the most widely used in the world?

  • 2,4-D
  • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
  • Glyphosate

    Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Globally, nearly 5 billion pounds (over 2 billion kilograms) of glyphosate are applied to farm crops each year. Learn more.

  • Atrazine

7 Which of the following has recently been found to have powerful therapeutic benefits by improving redox status and activation of the Nrf2 pathway?

  • Oxygen
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen
  • Hydrogen

    Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a gas with very unique and selective antioxidant effects that specifically target the most harmful free radicals. It works primarily by improving and optimizing the redox status of the cell when needed. Learn more.

Resveratrol Causes Rogue Cells to Self-Destruct

A Swiss study1 involving lab mice suggests the grape constituent resveratrol may be effective in treating lung cancer, at least when administered nasally in high doses. The researchers observed a 45 percent decrease in tumor load in mice treated with resveratrol, noting they also developed fewer and smaller tumors than untreated mice.

Despite the favorable outcome showing resveratrol?s ability to cause rogue cells to self-destruct, more research is needed. This is so mainly because resveratrol, upon ingestion as an oral dose, is metabolized and eliminated within minutes ? well before it has time to reach the lungs.

Pterostilbene is another potent plant compound similar to resveratrol that you may want to check out. It is the primary polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries and although it possesses many similar properties, pterostilbene outperforms resveratrol with its superior bioavailability.

Lung Cancer: The World?s Deadliest Cancer

According to The Global Cancer Observatory, a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), lung cancer, which is the deadliest form of cancer in the world, has claimed more than 1.7 million lives so far in 2018.2 Deaths from lung cancer outpace those from cancers of the breast, pancreas and prostate combined.

Notably, the American Lung Association suggests smoking contributes to 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths.3 The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report in 2004 stating men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop this type of cancer than nonsmokers, whereas female smokers face a 13fold increased risk.4

Even if you have never smoked, you still may be at risk for lung cancer. A 2006 report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asserts nonsmokers have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer if exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.5

Given the statistics, there is a clear need to continually emphasize the need to forgo the use of tobacco. If you smoke, this is yet another wake-up call emphasizing the need to quit smoking.

What Is Resveratrol and Why Is It Good for You?

Authors of the Swiss study on resveratrol and lung cancer suggest it is ?one of the most studied natural products, notably for its cancer chemoprevention properties.?6 Indeed, more than 11,000 studies involving this compound can be found on the U.S. National Institutes of Health?s (NIH) PubMed.gov website.7

Given the popularity of resveratrol in scientific research, you may wonder why it commands so much attention. The massive interest in resveratrol comes about mainly due to its ability to act as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are well-known for their antiaging and health-promoting properties, especially with respect to preventing free radical damage.

As mentioned in the featured video, resveratrol can neutralize and control free radicals, which are generated by your body in the course of normal activities like breathing, exercise and metabolism. An overabundance of free radicals can contribute to aging and a host of diseases.

Specifically, resveratrol is a polyphenol designed to increase the life span of plants through disease resistance and stressors such as disease, drastic climate changes and too much ultraviolet light. As you may imagine, humans face some of those same threats, making resveratrol a potential booster of human, as well as plant, health.

Resveratrol is found in food sources such as blueberries, grape skins, pomegranates, raspberries and red wine, as well as dark chocolate and raw cacao, among other plant-based foods. Lest you think, however, that a few extra glasses of wine would bring about the antiaging and neuroprotective benefits of resveratrol, be advised otherwise.

Gregorio Valdez, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and co-author of an earlier study investigating the antiaging potential of resveratrol, notes, "In wine, resveratrol is in such small amounts you could not drink enough of it in your life to have the benefits we found in mice given resveratrol.?8

Because alcohol is a neurotoxin known to damage your brain and organs, I advise you get resveratrol from other food sources or a supplement.

Researchers Cautiously Optimistic About the Effects of Resveratrol on Lung Cancer

As mentioned, research performed by a team of scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland involving the administration of resveratrol to lab mice suggests it may be useful in treating lung cancer.

"We tried to prevent lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol ? in a mouse model," said Muriel Cuendet, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of pharmaceutical sciences at UNIGE.9

The study featured four groups of mice treated three times a week for 25 weeks: an untreated control group, a second group receiving just the carcinogen, a third group getting both the carcinogen and resveratrol treatment and a fourth given resveratrol only.

Given the positive outcomes, Cuendet said, "Resveratrol could therefore play a preventive role against lung cancer."11 The resveratrol solution given equated to about 1.2?milligrams (mg) per mouse or about 60?mg per kilogram. In terms of outcomes, the researchers observed:10

  • The resveratrol-treated mice showed a 27 percent decrease in tumor multiplicity and developed smaller tumors than the untreated mice
  • A 45 percent decrease in tumor load per mouse in the treated mice
  • When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to the carcinogen, 63 percent of the resveratrol-treated mice failed to develop cancer, compared to just 13 percent of the untreated mice
  • In vitro experiments suggest resveratrol?s chemoprevention mechanism is most likely related to apoptosis (programmed cell death), a process known to destroy rogue cells

Resveratrol?s Low Bioavailability Limits Its Effectiveness When Taken Orally

Despite the results with lab mice, it is unclear if resveratrol would have the same effects in humans afflicted with lung cancer, mainly because of how quickly it is metabolized and eliminated ? well before it could reach the lungs. About resveratrol?s low bioavailability, the author of a 2011 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences stated:12

?The oral absorption of resveratrol in humans is about 75 percent and is thought to occur mainly by transepithelial diffusion. Extensive metabolism in the intestine and liver results in an oral bioavailability considerably less than 1 percent. Dose escalation and repeated dose administration of resveratrol does not appear to alter this significantly.

Metabolic studies, both in plasma and in urine, have revealed major metabolites to be glucuronides and sulfates of resveratrol. However, reduced dihydroresveratrol conjugates, in addition to highly polar unknown products, may account for as much as 50 percent of an oral resveratrol dose.

Although major sites of metabolism include the intestine and liver (as expected), colonic bacterial metabolism may be more important than previously thought.?

With that in mind, Aymeric Monteillier, a scientist in the UNIGE school of pharmaceutical sciences and lead study author of the current research, commented, "This is why our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration.?13

Monteillier went on to suggest this mouse-tested formulation could be applicable to humans and may possibly allow the compound to reach human lungs.

Underscoring the benefits of an alternative method of administration, the UNIGE researchers noted the resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs of mice after nasal administration was 22 times higher than what would have been found if the treatment had been given orally.14

Health Benefits Associated With Resveratrol

Previous studies suggest resveratrol may benefit your health in the following ways:

Combats free radicals15

Improves brain blood flow and suppresses brain inflammation16

Contains antimicrobial and antioxidant properties17,18

May protect against depression19,20

Delivers antiaging effects21

Mimics the effects of calorie restriction22

Enhances learning and memory23

Provides neuroprotective benefits24,25

Best Sources of Resveratrol

While resveratrol can be sourced in small amounts from the foods mentioned previously, muscadine grapes contain the highest concentration ? most especially in the skin and seeds. As noted, blueberries and raspberries are other sources.

Due to the fact whole fruit contains fructose, be sure to moderate your intake to ensure you consume less than 25 mg of fructose a day if you are healthy. If you are dealing with a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes, you?ll want to further restrict your daily fructose intake to 15 mg or less until your health improves.

Because it is unlikely you will be able to get therapeutic amounts of resveratrol from food, you might consider adding a whole food resveratrol supplement. I regularly take one that features both grape seed extract and grape skin extract from muscadine grapes.

One serving of that supplement, which contains 50 mg of resveratrol, contains the same amount of resveratrol you?d find in 39 eight-ounce glasses of wine. To prevent your body from developing a tolerance to resveratrol, I recommend you cycle it ? consuming it on weekdays, for example, and taking a break from it on weekends.

What?s Next for Resveratrol Research and Lung Cancer?

Now that the intranasal method of administration has been established, the UNIGE team is moving on to identify a potential biomarker that will support them in selecting people eligible for preventive treatment with resveratrol.

As noted by the study authors, ?This study presents an effective way to overcome [resveratrol?s] low oral bioavailability, encouraging a reevaluation of its use in future clinical trials.?26

Interestingly, the scientists suggest resveratrol could potentially benefit current and former smokers were it to be successfully developed for use in nebulizers and e-cigarettes. Given the health hazards associated with them, I cannot recommend e-cigarettes or vaping as safe alternatives to smoking. That said, the researchers commented:27

?For ex-smokers, one could easily imagine a nebulizer similar to those used for beta-2-sympathomimetic administration in asthma ?

A [resveratrol] containing electronic cigarette could combine the advantage of pharmacological cancer chemopreventive activity with promotion of the transition from conventional tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.?

An Alternative to Resveratrol: Pterostilbene May Be Even Better

Besides resveratrol, a lesser-known inflammation fighter called pterostilbene also deserves attention. It is the predominant polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries. Similar to resveratrol, pterostilbene is a stilbene but it has far superior bioavailability.

While resveratrol is considered to be about 20 to 25 percent bioavailable, pterostilbene is known for its 80 percent bioavailability, meaning your body can use it more effectively and efficiently.28 Some experts suggest the two compounds are better when consumed together, noting they will act synergistically to boost your health and help prevent disease. About pterostilbene, authors of a 2013 study designed to review its antioxidant properties stated:29,30

"The antioxidant activity of pterostilbene has been implicated in anticarcinogenesis, modulation of neurological disease, anti-inflammation, attenuation of vascular disease and amelioration of diabetes.

Substantial evidence suggests that pterostilbene may have numerous preventive and therapeutic properties in a vast range of human diseases that include neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and hematologic disorders.

Further benefits of pterostilbene have been reported in preclinical trials, in which pterostilbene was shown to be a potent anticancer agent in several malignancies.?

In terms of pterostilbene?s value as an anticancer compound, the researchers said:31

?Studies suggest pterostilbene exhibits the hallmark characteristics of an effective anticancer agent based on its antineoplastic properties in several common malignancies. In vitro models have shown pterostilbene inhibits cancer growth through alteration of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and inhibition of metastasis.

In vivo, pterostilbene inhibits tumorigenesis and metastasis with negligible toxicity. Pterostilbene has also been shown to be effective as an inducer of antioxidant capacity in multiple cancer cell lines that may facilitate its function as an anticarcinogenic compound.

Additionally, preliminary studies show pterostilbene exhibits much greater bioavailability compared [to] other stilbene compounds.?

Before You Begin Taking Resveratrol and Pterostilbene, Talk to Your Health Care Provider

Beyond the benefits already mentioned, a study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine32 suggests when given in daily doses of 250 mg, pterostilbene also can be useful to lower your blood pressure. Additionally, it has been shown to reduce anxiety in experiments involving lab mice.33

While the news about resveratrol and pterostilbene seems promising, more research is needed to validate the true extent of their health-benefiting potential. Before you begin taking either or both of them in supplement form, I suggest you talk to your health care practitioner first.

As you may imagine, taking any supplement indiscriminately is unlikely to have beneficial effects. Why? Because your body does best when it receives the right nutrients at the right time, in the right amount. Keep that guiding principle in mind as you seek to take control of your health.

Butter and Cheese Help Regulate Blood Sugar

Regulating blood sugar has become a high priority for an increasing number of people, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. In fact, medical experts say diabetes affects more than 30 million people in the U.S.,1 and in the U.K., where Type 2 diabetes alone impacts more than 3.3 million, such statistics constitute epidemic proportions, according to Daily Star.2

However, there?s hope for people with high blood sugar, but it requires simple lifestyle tweaking to reduce individual risk. Most predominant in the methods you can adopt to reduce your risk of developing diabetes or multiplying the health risks associated with this condition is changing your eating habits.

You can even alleviate the symptoms and regulate the high blood sugar levels linked to diabetes, and it?s often just as much about the foods you eat as the foods you stay away from.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine revealed that a few choice foods, which some ?experts? have previously warned against, can be eaten or reintroduced into your diet to lower your Type 2 diabetes risk. This includes butter, yogurt and cheese. Lead author Fumiaki Imamura, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge, asserts:

?Our results provide the most comprehensive global evidence to date about dairy fat biomarkers and their relationship with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. We?re aware that our biomarker work has limitations and requires further research on underlying mechanisms, but at the very least, the available evidence about dairy fat does not indicate any increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.?3

Senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, notes three interesting aspects of what constitutes ?dairy fat;? first, that dairy foods are recommended as part of a healthy diet, both in the U.S. and internationally. More specifically, consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese is linked with a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

However, there?s been confusion, lost context and misinformation in regard to consumption of saturated fat, including that found in dairy products, not only in the general public but by the medical community, which is most likely why Mozaffarian was prompted to add, ?Our findings, measuring biomarkers of fatty acids consumed in dairy fat, suggest a need to reexamine the potential metabolic benefits of dairy fat or foods rich in dairy fat, such as cheese.?4

Caveats on Butter, Yogurt and Cheese: Choose Wisely

Daily Mail explains that the crux of the new research means eating cheese may help lower your Type 2 diabetes risk, even while acknowledging that millions of consumers are following misguided dietary guidelines, concentrated on the errant associations linking dairy products with calories and ?bad fat.? 

Current (and faulty) guidelines maintain that saturated fats found in dairy foods should be limited; the recommendation is no more than three servings per day, and it should be either fat-free or low-fat to avoid raising your LDL cholesterol and, subsequently (and again misguidedly), a heightened heart disease risk.

If followed, the recommended dairy consumption would equal 1 teaspoon of butter, one 15-gram (approximately a half-ounce) of cheese, 1 cup of yogurt or an 8-ounce glass of milk. But now, there?s a major shift:

?Indeed, research is mounting that saturated fat is better for you than processed carbohydrates like sugar and white bread, which have been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease many times over ? Other studies have also shown that full-fat products like dairy can be useful in weight maintenance and other health factors.?5

Mozzafarian notes that different foods are made up of different nutrients, so that while we may be eating cheese, butter, yogurt, milk and meat, it?s not altogether correct to say we?re consuming calcium, fat and protein. In fact, there?s a huge difference between the fat in a pat of butter and what?s present in a pastrami sandwich. The reason, he explains, is that:

?Processed meats may have different effects on stroke and heart disease, not because of the saturated fat, but because of sodium and the preservatives. In the end, just making decisions about a food based on one thing like saturated fat is not useful.?6

However, it?s not a good idea to choose just any old dairy product from the dairy section of your local supermarket.

Conventionally produced dairy products are alarmingly out of balance in regard to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which creates a greater risk for chronic disease, not to mention the problems that stem from CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), such as ingesting the antibiotics the cows have been given, as well as hormones and genetically engineered (GE) organisms.

Instead, choose raw, organic and grass fed (rather than grain-fed) options when you?re looking for milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. Look for real cheese made from unpasteurized milk for optimal flavor and nutritional benefits, as what often passes for real is anything but.

Whole, grass fed and unsweetened yogurt has been found to fight inflammation, it?s been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, and it?s great for gut health, and real butter, far from the killer it?s been made out to be, contains short-chain fatty acids including butyrate, which helps fight several of the leading causes of disease, including diabetes.

The Call for a ?Reexamination of Dairy Fat? by Nutritional Scientists

While there are advantages to taking another look at the way fatty acids in dairy foods are viewed, the researchers also note that you can?t differentiate between individual foods, such as cheese, yogurt and butter, in regard to the biomarkers measuring them.

According to the Cambridge news release, ?Biomarkers are telltale molecules in the body that can be measured accurately and consistently, and act as indictors of dietary consumption.?

As Mozaffarian observes, biomarkers of dairy fat consumption can be, and have been, influenced by factors that may or may not have anything to do with dairy intake. Examples include limited data from nonwhite populations, as well as populations where not only the dairy products but the way they?re prepared might be different.7

The study, published in PLOS Medicine,8 was part of the Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE),9 which describes its aim as ?Understanding how fatty acid biomarkers relate to the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancers, chronic kidney disease, and other conditions.?

The scientists used data compiled from 16 studies to compare how nearly 64,000 adults were affected over 20 years. Their review found that the participants who didn?t consume dairy products were more likely to develop the condition and, in fact, 15,100 of them, free of diabetes from the outset, went on to develop Type 2 diabetes during the 20-year follow-up.

Conversely, ?those with higher concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers had less chance of contracting the condition.?10 Further:

?When all the results of the 16 studies were pooled the researchers found that higher concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers were associated with lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This lower risk was independent of other major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes including age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical activity and obesity.

For example, if people among the top fifth of the concentrations of dairy-fat markers were compared with people among the bottom fifth of the concentrations, the top-fifth people had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.?11

?The Low-Fat Trend Was Misguided?

More and more people within the medical community are reading the tea leaves, so to speak, in regard to the erstwhile recommendation to opt for low-fat and no-fat dairy options. In early 2016, Time magazine examined the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, presented by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.12

At the time, while the government agencies that produced the guidelines said they were ?grounded in the most current scientific evidence,? several experts in the field of nutrition alluded to the use of outdated and contradictory research.

Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, asserted that the way the guidelines were compiled was fraught with manipulation of data, lobbyists and undue leverage by food manufacturers, producers and special interest groups.

Six months later, Time referred to a ?growing body of research showing that the low-fat-diet trend was misguided.? But sadly, a Gallup Poll reported in 2014 that roughly two times the number of people were still closely monitoring their fat intake as opposed to the number of those watching their carb consumption.13 Time added:

?The new study analyzed nine papers that included more than 600,000 people and concluded that consuming butter is not linked to a higher risk for heart disease and might be slightly protective against Type 2 diabetes. This goes against the longstanding advice to avoid butter because it contains saturated fat.?14

In a nutshell, word is finally spreading through the circles of nutritional scientists that avoiding dietary fat, including saturated fat, was doing more harm than good for consumers and patients trying to be conscientious about their eating habits. Interestingly, the featured study wasn?t Mozaffarian?s first foray into the topic. Another, separate study published in Circulation was covered in Time:

?Mozaffarian and his colleagues analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults enrolled in the Nurses? Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study taken over about 15 years. They found that people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46 percent lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels ?

Since full-fat dairy products contain more calories, many experts assumed avoiding it would lower diabetes risk. But studies have found that when people reduce how much fat they eat, they tend to replace it with sugar or carbohydrates, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk.?15

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes You Shouldn?t Ignore

Diabetes is a disease rooted in insulin resistance and perhaps more importantly, a malfunction of leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels.

Type 1 is the type many sufferers are born with, while Type 2 can come on at any time. With Type 2, the problem stems either from the pancreas? failure to produce enough insulin or your cells fail to react to the insulin produced ? insulin being a hormone responsible for regulating the amount of glucose in your blood.

There are a number of symptoms that people frequently experience with Type 2 diabetes, many of which are your body?s way of showing you there?s a problem. When glucose starts building in your blood instead of heading to your cells, it results in physical symptoms.

Many people head to their doctor and subsequently start on what is typically an unending cycle of medically-supervised ?management? of the disease. Sadly, Type 2 diabetes is one of the main reasons why life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped in just the last few years for younger and younger people, and those with the condition often have other disorders as well, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.16

Perhaps even more disturbing are studies that show that half the adults in the U.S. are either diabetic or prediabetic.17 An alarmingly low number of doctors address how possible it is and how crucial it is for people with diabetes to offset their disease and even prevent it by adopting simple strategies involving their food intake.

What you eat can literally make or break your health. If you find a gap in your knowledge base regarding what you should and should not eat, you could start with brushing up on how to restore insulin and leptin sensitivity, both of which are directly diet- and exercise-related.

It?s also helpful to know that the same metabolic defect responsible for mitochondria dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and most cancers is also responsible for Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Addressing your diet is Job No. 1 in turning diabetes around, but so are strategies in getting more movement into your lifestyle, lowering your carb and sugar intake, increasing your fiber and incorporating healthy fats like organic, grass fed dairy products.

How do you know if you have a blood sugar problem? Daily Star18 lists a number of the most common symptoms to watch for, although you can also get a blood test.

Excessive thirst

Constant hunger

Weight loss

Frequent urination

Mood swings

Wounds that are slow to heal

Itchy, dry skin

Blurred vision

Fatigue

Foot numbness or pain

UTIs and yeast infections

Insomnia

If you haven?t already been diagnosed, or if your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, it?s never too early (or too late) to combat it before you begin experiencing damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, gums, teeth and neurological system.

The research makes it clear that if you?ve bought into the notion that eating full-fat dairy is bad for you, be assured that the latest research is turning around an industry that?s been crying ?wolf? for far too long. Now is the time to increase the amount of healthy, grass fed butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy foods in your diet every day, and fight diabetes from the inside out.

Intermittent Fasting Instead of Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes

Conventional medicine still has Type 2 diabetes pegged as a blood sugar problem. In reality, it's a disease rooted in insulin resistance1 and faulty leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels. In other words, it's a diet-derived condition.

Unfortunately, as noted by Dr. Abhinav Diwan, associate professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,2 "In general, the concept of reversing or curing diabetes ... is not well-accepted in the medical field. It is not even a therapeutic goal when people start to treat diabetics."

This is why the medical community's approach to diabetes treatment, which typically involves the administration of insulin, is not getting anywhere. Treating Type 2 diabetes with insulin is actually one of the worst things you can do, and can even lead to the development of Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes in some cases.

Conventionally trained doctors also continue to pass along seriously flawed nutritional information (such as recommending a high-carb diet and use of artificial sweeteners), which is yet another reason why Type 2 diabetes has ballooned to such epidemic proportions.

Most People Are on the Verge of Becoming Diabetic

An estimated 30.3 million Americans, nearly 1 in 10, have Type 2 diabetes.3 Another 84 million American adults ? about 1 in 3 ? are prediabetic. Prediabetes4 is defined as an elevation in blood glucose over 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) but lower than 125 mg/dl, at which point it formally becomes Type 2 diabetes.

However, any fasting blood sugar regularly over 90 mg/dl really suggests insulin resistance, and seminal work by the late Dr. Joseph Kraft suggests 80 percent ? 8 in 10 ? Americans are in fact insulin resistant,5 which means they're already well on their way toward developing diabetes.

That's the bad news. The good news is Type 2 diabetes is reversible, and the treatment doesn't cost you anything. In fact, it actually saves you loads of time and money. I'm talking about fasting. Both intermittent fasting and longer water-only fasting have been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes.

Fasting ? A Therapeutic Alternative to Insulin

A recent case series paper6,7 published in BMJ Case Reports by a friend, Dr. Jason Fung, details how fasting can be used as a therapeutic alternative for Type 2 diabetes. This exciting report actually made the front page of CNN online.8 As noted by the authors, their paper:

"? [D]emonstrates the effectiveness of therapeutic fasting to reverse insulin resistance, resulting in cessation of insulin therapy while maintaining control of blood sugars. In addition, these patients were able to lose significant amounts of body weight, reduce their waist circumference and also reduce their glycated hemoglobin levels."

A case series paper is not a controlled study; rather, it simply presents the case history of one or more patients and may propose a hypothesis for why a treatment did or did not work. In this case, three diabetic patients between the ages of 40 and 67 participated in a supervised fasting regimen to evaluate the effects on their insulin requirements. The patients had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for 10, 20 and 25 years respectively, and were taking insulin daily.

Of the three patients, two did alternating-day 24-hour fasts, while one fasted for 24 hours three times a week over a period of several months. On fasting days, they were allowed to drink unlimited amounts of low-calorie fluids such as water, coffee, tea and bone broth, and to eat a low-calorie, low-carb dinner.

On nonfasting days, they were allowed both lunch and dinner, but all meals were low in sugar and refined carbohydrates throughout. The complete manual of the fasting regimen used is described in Fung's book, "The Complete Guide to Fasting."9

Two of the patients were able to discontinue all of their diabetes medications while the third was able to discontinue three of his four drugs. All three also lost between 10 and 18 percent of their body weight. As reported by the authors:

"In our study all three patients eliminated the need for insulin by initiating a therapeutic fasting regimen. All three patients succeeded within a month and one in as little as five days. Further, all patients improved in multiple other clinically significant health outcome measures, such as HbA1C, body mass index and waist circumference ?

As such, patients with T2D can reverse their diseases without the worry of side effects and financial burden of many pharmaceuticals, as well as the unknown long-term risks and uncertainty of surgery, all by means of therapeutic fasting."

In another similar trial,10 Type 2 diabetics were placed on a severely restricted calorie diet where they ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks. By the end of their fast, all were disease-free, and three months later, having returned to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants remained free of diabetes.

Why Fasting Is Such a Powerful Intervention for Diabetes

Fung is a nephrologist (kidney specialist) with a practice in Toronto. Two years ago, I interviewed him about fasting, which is one of the most powerful interventions for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance I know of. Fung was also one of the experts who peer reviewed my book, "Fat for Fuel," which integrates some of his work.

Ultimately, diabetes is just one symptom of insulin resistance, which is the underlying problem. Insulin resistance, which results in mitochondrial dysfunction, is also at the heart of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases, and it all starts because your body is unable to burn fat as a primary fuel.

When your body relies primarily on sugar, more reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated, which damage the mitochondria in your cells. Fasting massively upregulates autophagy and mitophagy, and stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis during the refeeding phase, which allows your body to naturally regenerate.

In fact, research11 published just last year demonstrated that partial fasting actually helps your pancreas to regenerate, by promoting the generation of insulin-producing beta cells. These are cells that detect sugar in your blood and release insulin if blood sugar levels get too high.

Through this restorative effect on the pancreas, the fasting-mimicking diet also reversed diabetes symptoms in mice. Valter Longo, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and biological sciences and director of the USC Longevity Institute, led the study, and explained the results:12

"Our conclusion is by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back ? by starving them and then feeding them again ?the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning ?

Medically, these findings have the potential to be very important because we've shown ? at least in mouse models ? that you can use diet to reverse the symptoms of diabetes. Scientifically, the findings are perhaps even more important because we've shown you can use diet to reprogram cells without having to make any genetic alterations."

Type 2 Diabetes Is Predicated on Excess Sugar in Your Diet 

Once you understand what insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes actually are, then you'll understand why something so simple as abstaining from food for a period of time can be such a powerful intervention. Contrary to infectious diseases, you cannot treat metabolic disease with a pill, because metabolic diseases such as diabetes are predicated on lifestyle, primarily diet. As previously explained by Fung:13

"You have to use metabolic treatments, which is why using fat for fuel is so important ? Remember, the glucose goes into the cell, and insulin resistance is when the glucose doesn't go out of the cell. So, for years we've used this paradigm of lock and key.

That is, the cell is sort of gated off. Outside the cell there's blood, and when insulin comes around it turns the key, opens the gate and glucose goes in. So, if insulin is there, why is the glucose not going in? ? You can measure the insulin and the insulin level is high. You can look at the insulin receptor, the gate is completely normal.

So, [conventional medicine] said something like, 'Well, maybe there's something gumming up the mechanism. It's stuck in the lock so it doesn't open properly, therefore the glucose can't get into the cell. There's a huge problem with this sort of paradigm, because if that is happening, the cell has no glucose and should be starving.

You should be losing lots of weight; you'd have a very thin liver. All your fat should just melt away, because if you think about untreated Type 1 diabetes, where you don't have enough insulin, that's exactly what happens. The cell literally starves and everything just wastes away ? But that's not what's happening here.

In Type 2 diabetes you see that people are generally obese, they have large abdomens ? What's happening instead is that it's actually an overflow syndrome. The cell can't accept any more glucose because it's jam packed full of glucose already.

That's the reason you have insulin resistance. Insulin is trying to move glucose into the cell but the cell is full ? So, it's really an overflow mechanism ?

That's also why your liver is full ? it's a big fatty liver. The liver is busy trying to get rid of all this glucose by turning it into fat ? Now, if Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are the same sort of thing, it's really about too much sugar. That's the bottom line.

And if you understand that the whole problem is too much sugar, then the solution is not to use more insulin to jam more glucose into an already full cell. The key is to get rid of it all. So, what you want to do is: 1) Don't put more sugar into your system, because you have too much sugar in already, and 2) burn it off."

Why Insulin Therapy May Do More Harm than Good

Now, when you take insulin, the added insulin allows your body to use more of that excess glucose, but it turns it into fat. This is why most diabetics who take insulin end up gaining weight, which is the exact opposite of a healthy development, as the more weight you gain, the worse your diabetes gets and the more insulin you require. As noted by Fung, this treatment doesn't make sense as diabetics already have high insulin.

"[Why give] more insulin in a situation where you have too much insulin already? If you have hyperthyroidism, you don't give more thyroid hormone.

If you have an alcoholic, you don't give more alcohol. It's the exact wrong thing to do. In fact, if your levels of insulin are too high and that's your disease, you need to lower insulin. By giving insulin, you're actually making the fundamental problem much worse," he says.

Research14 has also confirmed that insulin therapy fails to significantly add to your life expectancy and quality of life. As reported by Medical News Today:15

"[T]hey estimate that a person with Type 2 diabetes who begins insulin therapy at age 45 and lowers their hemoglobin A1c levels by 1 percent may experience an extra 10 months of healthy life.

But for a patient who starts treatment for Type 2 diabetes at age 75, they estimate the therapy may only gain them an additional three weeks of healthy life. The researchers say this prompts the question ? Is 10 to 15 years of pills or injections with possible side effects worth it?"

In Some, Insulin Treatment Can Rapidly Induce Disease Progression

One really significant potential side effect of insulin therapy is disease progression from reversible to irreversible diabetes. This was demonstrated in a 2014 study16 published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The study found that giving genetically engineered recombinant insulin ? which is the type typically used ? to Type 2 diabetics with certain genetic susceptibility can trigger their bodies to produce antibodies that destroy their insulin producing cells (pancreatic islet cells).

Basically, it triggers an autoimmune disease response, producing a condition in which you have both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes simultaneously. The average time of Type 1 diabetes onset was 7.7 months. One study participant developed Type 1 diabetes in just over one month.

According to the authors, acute deterioration of blood glucose control after administering insulin is a warning sign of this problematic side effect. According to this study, the genes predisposing you to this autoimmune-type response to insulin are:

  • Type 1 diabetes high risk HLA class II (IDDM1), thought to play a role in about half of all Type 1 diabetes cases, and
  • VNTR genotype (IDDM2), which is believed to predispose you to Type 2 diabetes

Insulin Treatment Raises Risk of Several Health Complications

What's more, a 2013 study17 found that treating Type 2 diabetes with insulin more than doubled patients' risk of all-cause mortality. It also leads to:

Twice as many myocardial infarctions

1.4 times more strokes

2.1 times more neuropathy

1.4 times more cancer

1.7 times more major adverse cardiac events

3.5 times more renal complications

1.2 times more eye complications

2.2 times more deaths

A study published in Diabetologia18 in 2014 also found that diabetic cancer patients have a significantly elevated risk of death. Diabetic patients using insulin at the time of their cancer diagnosis had a four times higher mortality rate one year after cancer diagnosis compared to nondiabetic patients, or those who did not use insulin to control their diabetes. While this was an observational study, which means it cannot establish causality, the results are still noteworthy.

Other diabetic medications also have their risks. Avandia, for example, has been linked to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 64 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death, compared with other treatments.

So, it's really important to understand that Type 2 diabetes is best controlled by restoring your insulin and leptin sensitivities, and this is what fasting helps you do. You will also dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes by:

? Limiting grains and sugars in your diet and getting plenty of healthy dietary fats, including animal-based omega-3

? Exercising regularly19

? Getting plenty of restorative sleep ? In one 10-year-long study20 of 70,000 diabetes-free women, women who slept less than five hours or more than nine hours each night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes symptoms than those who slept seven to eight hours each night

? Optimizing your vitamin D level to between 60 and 80 ng/mL

? Optimizing your magnesium level ? Magnesium plays an important role in glucose and insulin homeostasis21 and is required to activate tyrosine kinase, an enzyme required for the proper function of your insulin receptors.22

One 2013 study involving prediabetics found that most had inadequate magnesium intake, and those with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by a whopping 71 percent23

Work With a Knowledgeable Physician if You're on Any Medications

While fasting is a profoundly effective intervention for Type 2 diabetes, you do need to use caution if you're diabetic. If you are taking medication, especially for your blood sugar, you have to make sure you talk to your doctor because there's a risk your blood sugar may end up dipping too low.

If you're taking insulin, and keep taking insulin while fasting, you could get into trouble. So, it's important to closely monitor your blood sugar and adjust your medication accordingly. As previously noted by Fung:

"Remember, the fasting is going to drive your blood sugars down, and your insulin or your medications will drive your blood sugars down, so you've got kind of two things driving your blood sugars down.

All of a sudden you go low, you can have seizures, you can wind up in the emergency room and you could absolutely die. And that's one of the things you have to be very careful of. So yes, you can do it, but you have to make sure you do it in a supervised setting with somebody who knows what they're doing."

Periodic Partial Fasting Is a Key to General Health and Wellness

By upregulating autophagy and mitophagy, stimulating mitochondrial biosynthesis and triggering the regeneration of stem cells, partial fasting (with days of 300 to 700 calories based on lean body mass) is not only beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but also for health in general, and likely even longevity.

There's even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris. By lowering insulin, you also increase other important hormones, including growth hormone (aka the fitness hormone), which is important for muscle development and general vitality.

As previously noted by Fung, fasting is "fundamentally one of the keys of wellness." Other ailments that can benefit from fasting include polycystic ovaries, polycystic kidneys and fast growing cancer cells.

The reason for this is because when autophagy increases, your body starts breaking down old protein, including fast growing cells. Then, during the refeeding phase, growth hormone increases, boosting the rebuilding of new proteins and cells. In other words, it reactivates and speeds up your body's natural renewal cycle.

An Introduction to Acid Reflux

Approximately 60 million adults are affected by acid reflux, with about 25 million living with the symptoms on a daily basis.1 Unfortunately the prevalence of acid reflux in the population is still on the rise.

The gradual increase in people who suffer from acid reflux can be attributed to various factors. In a 2011 study, it was determined that acid reflux cases had doubled in the previous 10 years, with the researchers noting that this rise in acid reflux patients runs parallel to the number of people who are obese and overweight, especially since obesity is a known risk factor for acid reflux.2

The exact cause of this condition cannot be pinpointed on one particular cause, but it may be triggered by numerous external and internal factors. These articles will focus on the reasons why acid reflux happens, its causes and the treatment options and lifestyle changes you can employ to dampen or eliminate the symptoms completely.

Is Acid Reflux the Same as GERD?

The burning sensation people feel in their chest or the back of their throat is usually attributed to heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While they all share the similar symptoms, this may become a problem when it comes to treatment options.

When an individual mentions that they have heartburn, they are usually referring to a burning sensation felt in the chest.3 In some cases, this may be mistaken for heart attack pain, especially when the pain is severe.4 Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, the condition brought on by a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to travel up the esophagus. Aside from heartburn, patients who suffer from acid reflux may also get sore throats and a cough.

If acid reflux occurs more frequently than normal, you may be diagnosed with GERD, which is its chronic form. GERD is characterized by acid reflux symptoms occurring more than twice a week, together with the inflammation of the esophagus. Because of the rate of recurrence, patients also suffer from more symptoms than just acid reflux, including damaged tooth enamel, mucositis, asthma and bad breath.5

If you?re having trouble differentiating these terms, just remember that heartburn is a symptom of both acid reflux and GERD, and GERD is the chronic form of acid reflux.

Is Acid Reflux Dangerous?

Acid reflux may seem like a common condition since it doesn?t cause much debilitation aside from the heartburn and nausea, but it may still lead to serious diseases if left undiagnosed or untreated.

The constant barrage of stomach acid traveling up the esophagus may lead to serious damage in the esophagus, as its lining is thinner and more delicate than the lining of the stomach. Numerous esophageal complications may arise if adjustments are not done to control this condition.6

Acid reflux may also cause patients? teeth to decay due to the stomach acid?s ability to break down the teeth enamel, weakening it and exposing patients to a higher risk of cavities.7

MORE ABOUT ACID REFLUX

? Acid Reflux: Introduction

? What Is Acid Reflux?

? Acid Reflux Symptoms

? Acid Reflux Causes

? How to Get Rid of Acid Reflux

? Acid Reflux Treatment

? Acid Reflux Prevention

? Acid Reflux Diet

? Acid Reflux FAQ

Next >

What Is Acid Reflux?

The Remarkable Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen

Molecular hydrogen is a gas with very unique and selective antioxidant effects.1 Tyler W. LeBaron is a world-class expert on molecular hydrogen, who has done research at Nagoya University in Japan, where most of his research started. He's executive director of the Molecular Hydrogen Institute (MHI), which is a science-based nonprofit under Section 501(c)(3). MHI is focused on advancing the research, education and awareness of hydrogen as a therapeutic medical gas.

He's also director of several other nonprofit organizations, including the International Hydrogen Standards Association, which is currently creating standards for the ISO criteria for measurement of hydrogen gas. The reason you probably haven't heard of molecular hydrogen is because it's relatively new. The landmark paper published on it in Nature Medicine came out only 10 years ago (2007), and most of the research has been done in Asia.

Molecular Hydrogen 101

Molecular hydrogen refers to diatomic hydrogen or H2 gas ? two hydrogen atoms combined together. Hydrogen is the smallest molecule in the universe, and is neutral and nonpolar, which is why its bioavailability is so great. It does not dissociate into its electrons and protons when dissolved in water, so it will not alter the pH of water or your body and has nothing to do with the alkaline water concept.

"It's just hydrogen gas. It's three times more energy-dense than gasoline. That's why it's being looked at as an alternative energy source or fuel," LeBaron says. "It's what powers the sun and fusion in producing helium. This is the hydrogen we're talking about and we're seeing it can also be therapeutic, [and is] effective whether you inhale it, dissolve it in water and drink it, or other methods of application.

In 2009, I came across an article published in Nature Medicine2 [in 2007] ? [which] showed [2 percent] hydrogen [gas] was effective at preventing the brain damage from ischemia reperfusion induced by a middle cerebral artery occlusion in a rat model ? I was getting my degree in biochemistry at the time, but I've always been interested in health ?

I took it from there and was able to read all the research, all the literature, and continue advancing in this area, then later go to Japan. Now I'm able to work with and collaborate with some of the top researchers around the world in this. I feel very fortunate to be involved in this emerging area of hydrogen gas."

Molecular Hydrogen Has Unique and Selective Antioxidant Effects

Molecular hydrogen remediates oxidative stress, which is one of the most fundamental mechanisms that destroys human health. That's why molecular hydrogen is so exciting ? because it has such unique antioxidant effects that specifically target only the most harmful free radicals. Now, while you might think the hydrogen gas dissociates or neutralizes hydroxyl free radicals (which cause the most oxidative damage), it doesn't appear to work that way.

There are more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications on molecular hydrogen, which have collectively demonstrated that H2 has therapeutic potential in over 170 different human and animal disease models. In fact, hydrogen is shown to benefit virtually every organ of the human body, The reason why is because hydrogen targets and mitigates the root cause of many diseases, inflammation and oxidation. But just how does it do this? LeBaron explains:

"To understand how hydrogen works, we need to understand how free radicals work and why they're produced. First, the hydroxyl radical, which is OH neutral with a lone pair electron, is produced in your body through the Fenton reaction. When free radicals get too high, like superoxide radicals, peroxynitrite [or] ionizing radiation,3 [they] can be converted to hydroxyl radicals ? [Hydroxyl radicals] are damaging because they're so reactive ?

When you look at other free radicals [such as] nitric oxide, that's a very important free radical which causes vasodilation. We don't want to neutralize that. We have superoxide radicals [and] other oxidants like hydrogen peroxide ? these are all very important.

Of course, too much is bad, but having them in the right concentrations and at the right locations is very good for you. We don't want to just neutralize all of those, whereas hydroxyl radicals or peroxynitrite oxidants, we don't want any of them.

That Nature Medicine publication specifically showed that hydrogen could act as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing the cytotoxic oxygen radicals, specifically the hydroxyl radical and to a lesser extent peroxynitrite, without decreasing the other oxidants like hydrogen peroxide or superoxide ?

Most other antioxidants are not selective ? [and] that can be problematic ? Hydrogen is selective in that it's only going to decrease or reduce those toxic radicals like the hydroxyl radical.4"

How Molecular Hydrogen Works

There are two basic definitions of an antioxidant: 1) a molecule that donates an electron to a radical reaction, and 2) a molecule that improves the redox status of the cell. Redox stands for oxidation reduction. In your cells, you need both oxidation and a reduction of oxidation in order for everything to work properly.

When that balance gets perturbed by too much oxidation, you end up with oxidative stress. If you don't have enough oxidation, you end up with other serious problems. In many cases, damage is not caused by an excess of free radicals but rather a redox dysregulation.

"We need free radicals," LeBaron says, "and studies have shown you can actually suffer from too much oxidative stress and too much reductive stress5 (or not enough oxidative potential) not only in the same body or the same organ, but in the exact same cell. Too much oxidative stress in the cytosol; not enough oxidative power in endoplasmic reticulum. Hydrogen helps to bring everything back to homeostasis."

So, while hydrogen has antioxidant effects, it works primarily by improving the redox status of the cell when needed. As a result, you see improvements in superoxide dismutase and glutathione levels, for example. Not only does hydrogen selectively reduce the most toxic radicals, but it can help prevent an excess (which becomes toxic) of the free radicals from being produced in the first place. This is a very powerful prevention mechanism.

Another way is by activating the Nrf2 pathway when the activation is needed. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that, when activated, goes into the cell's nucleus and binds to the antioxidant response element in the DNA. It then induces the transcription of further cytoprotective enzymes such as glutathione, superoxide dismutase catalase, glutathione peroxidase, phase II enzymes, heme-1 oxygenase and many others.

"One study6,7 [looking at] metabolic syndrome found that subjects drinking hydrogen-enriched water had a 39 percent increase in extracellular superoxide dismutase. So, yes, hydrogen does have this antioxidant-like effect, because it can help regulate Nrf2 pathway8 and bring enzymes and cytoprotective proteins back to the levels they're supposed to be; back into that realm of homeostasis."

Cyclical Ingestion Is Key for Optimal Effectiveness

Depending on the individual and their diet, intestinal bacteria that ferment fiber produce about 2.5 gallons of hydrogen gas per day,9,10 which is part of the therapeutic benefits of fiber. From an evolutionary perspective, we've also always been exposed to hydrogen gas.11,12

These facts alone are indicative of its safety. "Anybody can have it ? pregnant women, children, everybody. Hydrogen gas itself is very safe. They have used it in deep sea diving to prevent decompression sickness13 since the 1940s," LeBaron says. (Normally, helium gas is used but for very deep dives, hydrogen gas is used, such as hydrox, which is 96 percent hydrogen.)

Now, if hydrogen gas is so beneficial, and your body already produces loads of it, why would ingesting hydrogen-rich water still be therapeutic, seeing how you're getting far lower amounts of hydrogen this way?

Interestingly, one Nagoya University study14 showed that while continuous administration of hydrogen in air was ineffective for the prevention of Parkinson's disease, intermittent exposure was effective. The greatest effects, however, were obtained by drinking hydrogen-rich water. Just what is it about cyclical or intermittent exposure (opposed to continuous) that makes such a big difference? LeBaron explains:

"It appears to be more of a gaseous-signal modulator. The way a signal modulator works is, it needs to have this intermittent type exposure, or else you get habituation or subsequent attenuation of the signal. That's what we're seeing with hydrogen gas ? it modulates gene expression, protein phosphorylation and many transcription factors, but the primary targets remain elusive.

Molecular hydrogen has also shown clinically to have some great benefits. More research is always needed, but there are some compelling ones that show its safety and effectiveness.

[In one study15] they had 50 patients with cerebral infarction; 25 [received] hydrogen inhalation and 25 in the control group [received] an approved medical drug ? [T]he hydrogen was significantly more effective than the approved drug on all the measured parameters, with no side effects.

Again, the reason I'm so passionate about hydrogen is because here we have a molecule that is simple, safe, easy to administer, and actually has some really significant therapeutic potential.

There was just another study published for ? Alzheimer's disease. If you look at the genotype, those with the APOE4 genotype is susceptible to Alzheimer's disease ? When we look at the effects of drinking hydrogen-rich water ? they found it was significantly therapeutic for this disease. That's big because there are no approved drugs that are effective for Alzheimer's disease."

Molecular Hydrogen Mimics Effects of Fasting

Interestingly, there's evidence to suggest that if you have the APOE4 gene, you really need to intermittently fast to avoid Alzheimer's, and one of the pathways that hydrogen seems to mimic is that of fasting. Dr. Dale Bredesen expands on this in his book "The End of Alzheimer's" and in my interview with him.

LeBaron cites a study published in the Journal of Obesity, which basically shows that drinking hydrogen-rich water had the same effect as restricting calories by about 20 percent. Also, both fasting and molecular hydrogen increase neuroprotective gastric ghrelin secretion, a hunger hormone, and in at least one study, this was shown to be one of the primary mediators in benefiting those with Parkinson's disease.16,17,18

Hydrogen Applications for Diabetes

Clinical studies have also shown molecular hydrogen effectively prevents liver damage (fatty liver) caused by a high-sugar diet and metabolic syndrome.19,20 "In some of the metabolic syndrome studies, glucose levels in some of those with impaired glucose tolerance were brought back to the normal range," LeBaron says. Animal research21 suggest hydrogen may induce GLUT4 translocation by a similar mechanism as insulin.

"We need more studies to investigate this, but some of this preliminary data is really showing it's a great for these diabetics,22" he says. There's also some evidence23,24,25,26 it may help suppress cancer growth as an adjunctive treatment and ameliorate the toxicity of cancer drugs,27 but LeBaron is cautious in this regard, saying more research is needed.

Available Hydrogen Therapies

There are a number of ways to administer hydrogen. For example, you can inhale hydrogen gas, and for this, there are inhalation machines you can buy. Caution is required however. The gas produced at the cathode is hydrogen gas, but if the electrodes are impure or develop mineral buildup, and the water you're using has chloride in it, then chlorine gas can be produced, which you would then inhale.

Other methods are drinking and/or bathing in hydrogen-rich water, and there are several ways to do that. For example, you could bubble it into the water from a tank of hydrogen gas and dissolve it under pressure. Just keep in mind that if you plan on storing it, you cannot use plastic containers, as the hydrogen molecules are so small they'll dissipate right through the container.

For clarification, hydrogen gas is simply two hydrogen atoms bound together. When you dissolve it into water, it will not attach to the water molecules, so there's no risk that you're going to create some other structure. There are also intravenous hydrogen-rich saline injections and hyperbaric hydrogen therapy, developed in Japan.

How to Measure the Concentration of Hydrogen Gas

One way to check the quality of your molecular hydrogen product is to use a redox titration reagent called H2 Blue. This is available on many different websites, including Amazon.

This allows you to measure the concentration of hydrogen in the water you're about to drink. To do this, simply fill the small beaker with 6 milliliters of your hydrogen water. If there's no hydrogen gas in there, the blue reagent will remain blue

If hydrogen gas is present, the reagent will turn from blue to clear. Once it turns clear, add another drop of the reagent. Keep adding a drop at a time until the solution turns blue and stays blue. This is called the titration endpoint.

Simply count how many drops it took to get there. Each drop is equivalent to about 0.1 milligram per liter and the number of drops required to neutralize the test solution will determine the concentration of molecular hydrogen. So, if you had to add 10 drops, you would have 1 milligram of hydrogen per liter.

Therapeutic Dosages

Unfortunately, there's still insufficient data on what the minimum effective concentration is. There are many variables involved. However, as a very general guideline, clinical studies have shown therapeutic effects at doses ranging from 0.5 milligrams to 5 milligrams or more of hydrogen per day. We should be able to obtain this dose by consuming no more than 1 liter of hydrogen-enriched water according to IHSA standards.

"We need more research, but it appears, at least in some of these studies, that a higher concentration or a higher dose is as effective as and sometimes more effective than a lower amount," LeBaron says.

In terms of half-life, if you were to drink hydrogen-rich water, you're going to reach a peak blood level and breath exhalation point after about five to 15 minutes depending on the dose. This demonstrates that hydrogen can easily diffuse into the bloodstream in order to measure changes in the breath. Your hydrogen level returns to baseline in about an hour or so.

"That's also how we know hydrogen is more of a signal modulator, because you can drink the hydrogen water and it's gone out of the system within an hour, yet it has residual, therapeutic, protective effects that last for hours, days and even weeks.

One small, double-blinded, randomized study28 on rheumatoid arthritis found that drinking hydrogen-rich water was very effective for the disease ? Those with early onset rheumatoid arthritis had remission. During the washout period, no one was taking hydrogen and they ? continued to see improvements in the disease for an additional four weeks ?

[The reason for this is] because you're targeting gene expression.29 By taking hydrogen, within three days we see increases for PGC-1?, [which] is mitochondrial biogenesis ? There are so many different transcription factors hydrogen operates on, so if we start to alter the gene expression, then some of these changes of the signal modulator can last for quite some time, so we get residual effects."

More Information

To learn more about molecular hydrogen, please visit the Molecular Hydrogen Institute's website. There, you'll find research, video lectures and a variety of other resources, including a number of different certifications for those interested in working with and administering molecular hydrogen.

"Again, we are a science-based nonprofit working to advance the research, education and awareness of hydrogen as a medical gas, so you're not going to find products and things on our site, but you will find a lot of information, and we do our best to provide what's going on in the hydrogen area," LeBaron says.

"I hope that you'll review this video, review the information on hydrogen, and although we have a responsibility as researchers to understand the molecular mechanisms and targets of hydrogen and do clinical studies, because we have a molecule so significant, and so safe, perhaps it's also your responsibility to share it; to let other people know about it.

There's so many people who don't have access to medical care that this could really benefit. There are also those who have access to too much medical care, where hydrogen can help mitigate the toxic effects."

Comforting Cauliflower Stew With Tomatoes, Herbs and Spices

Recipe From Healthy Holistic Living

 

Nothing beats a warm bowl of stew to nourish your body and soul. What?s great about it is that it encourages experimentation. You can use different ingredients each time you cook to keep on discovering new flavors.

 

If you?re looking for a new and nourishing stew to try, this recipe from Healthy Holistic Living is the perfect choice. It uses cauliflower as the base vegetable, coconut milk for the broth and various herbs and spices to bring out a wonderful flavor and aroma.

 

Ingredients:

         2 tablespoons of coconut oil

         1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

         1 medium organic onion, finely chopped

         3 ripe organic tomatoes, finely chopped

         1 medium head organic cauliflower, stemmed and cut into bite-size florets

         1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped

         1 cup of organic kale, chopped

         2 teaspoons of ginger paste

         1 tablespoon of cumin powder

         1 tablespoon of coriander powder

         1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

         14 ounces of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk

         1 teaspoon of sea salt

         2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

 

Procedure:

1.       In a medium-sized stock pot, heat the coconut oil for 30 seconds on medium heat.

2.       Add the cumin seeds and stir them until they start to sputter. Add the onions and cook for another minute, and then, add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes soften.

3.       Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to keep it from burning.

4.       Pour the soup into bowls and enjoy. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container.

 

Cauliflower Is a Great Foundation for a Stew

 

Cauliflower belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and looks similar to broccoli, except it has a white head. Research has shown that it may help:

 

         Fight Cancer

 

In a study that used mice, scientists discovered that a combination of phenethyl isothiocyanate (a cancer-fighting compound found in cauliflower) and turmeric was found to be effective against prostate cancer cells.[i]

 

In another study, sulforaphane, another beneficial substance found in cauliflower, was found

to help prevent the proliferation of breast cancer cells.[ii]

 

         Improve Brain Health

 

Cauliflower contains choline, a B vitamin that may help promote a healthy nervous system. In one study, increased choline intake during pregnancy helped supercharge the brain activity of mice in utero, which can possibly lead to improved cognitive function, learning and memory later in life.[iii]

 

         Improve Digestive Function

 

Sulforaphane may help reduce the number of harmful bacteria growing inside your stomach, thereby lowering your risk of developing digestive problems.[iv]

 

         Fight Inflammation

 

Cauliflower contains a mixture of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, quercetin, rutin and kaempferol to help combat inflammation throughout your body. To maximize your antioxidant intake, I suggest you purchase the Graffiti variety of cauliflower because it has the highest amount compared to other types.[v]

 

Tomatoes Add More Nutrients and Help Thicken the Stew

 

Tomatoes are a great ingredient for many dishes because they contain an impressive combination of nutrients, such as:

 

         Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K

         Fiber

         Potassium

         Magnesium

         Phosphorus

         Copper

 

In addition, tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant suggested to be more effective in helping lower your risk of stroke and cancer compared to other carotenoids. In one study, high consumption of cooked tomatoes has been associated with a lowered risk of prostate cancer.[vi] Another study suggests that lycopene can help against pancreatic and lung cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.[vii]

 

Coconut Milk Is the Best Broth You Can Use for a Stew

 

Coconut is one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet regularly. In fact, I use coconut oil in my cooking whenever possible. In this recipe, the broth used is coconut milk, which is made by extracting the liquid from coconut meat, resulting in a thicker viscosity compared to coconut water.[viii] Just like coconut oil, it can offer many benefits, such as:

 

         Bolsters your immune system: The fatty acids found in coconut contain antimicrobial properties, which can improve your immune system and lower your risk of developing diseases.

         Gives you energy: Coconut?s fatty acids are immediately converted by your liver into energy instead of being stored as fat.

         Helps improve your cardiovascular health: Consuming coconut frequently may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in your blood.

 

Adding Kale Greatly Improves the Stew?s Nutritional Profile

 

Kale is a good choice for this recipe because it?s versatile and a superfood in its own right. In one study, kale was singled out as the best food you can eat to help lower your risk of bladder cancer.[ix] Furthermore, it contains 32 phenolic compounds that can help eliminate free radicals throughout your body.[x]

 

Herbs and Spices Improve Not Only the Taste but Your Health, Too

 

The flavor and aroma of any dish can be greatly improved by adding the right combination of herbs and spices, and this recipe follows this practice to great effect:

 

         Cilantro: Rich in antioxidants such as quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and epigenin, cilantro can help lower the risk of arthritis and improve healthy cholesterol levels.

         Cumin: One of the main spices used to create curry, it contains minerals such as iron, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins that can help inhibit stress and respiratory disorders.

         Coriander: An aromatic herb native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, coriander may reduce insulin resistance and decrease blood sugar levels.[xi]

         Turmeric: Prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, using it regularly can help reduce your risk of osteoarthritis and cancer, and may even protect against liver damage.

         Jalapeno: Peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which is the source of their spicy flavor. Research has shown that capsaicin may help reduce your risk of developing tumors,[xii] and may assist with weight management due to its ability to boost your body?s metabolism and fat burning.[xiii]

 

About the Author

 

Healthy Holistic Living is an independent alternative health news resource that provides innovative, alternative health-related content, resources and product information that empower individuals to make positive change in their lives and in the world.



The Monsanto Papers

The Australian documentary, "The Monsanto Papers," reveals the secret tactics used by global chemical giant Monsanto (now owned by Bayer AG1,2), to protect its bestselling herbicide, Roundup.

The film starts out with a quick history of Roundup and how its now-clearly absurd safety claims (such as "it's biodegradable," "safe enough to drink," and "safer than table salt") made it into the worlds' most widely used weed killer, used by farmers and private gardeners alike. Indeed, it was at one time known as "the world's most trusted herbicide," but those days are now long gone.

Between 1974 ? the year glyphosate entered the U.S. market ? and 2014, glyphosate use increased more than 250fold in the U.S. Today, an estimated 300 million pounds are applied on U.S. farmland annually. Globally, nearly 5 billion pounds (over 2 billion kilograms) of glyphosate are applied to some 70 types of farm crops each year.3

Roundup Is Far From Harmless

Mounting evidence suggests Roundup is far from harmless, and evidence unearthed during legal discovery shows Monsanto has been well aware of its product's toxic nature, and has been covering it up.

As previously discussed in many articles, glyphosate and glyphosate-based weed killer formulations such as Roundup have in recent years been linked to a wide variety of human health consequences, including:

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma4

Impairing your body's ability to produce fully functioning proteins5

Inhibiting the shikimate pathway (found in gut bacteria)

Interfering with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes, required for activation of vitamin D and the creation of nitric oxide

Chelating important minerals6

Disrupting sulfate synthesis and transport7

Interfering with the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, resulting in folate and neurotransmitter shortages8

Disrupting your microbiome by acting as an antibiotic9

Impairing methylation pathways10

Inhibiting pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to hypothyroidism11,12

Monsanto Papers Reveal Company's Efforts to Squash Evidence of Carcinogenicity

August 10, 2018, a jury ruled in favor of plaintiff Dewayne Johnson13,14,15,16,17 in a truly historic case against Monsanto. Johnson ? the first of 9,000 pending legal cases ? claimed Monsanto's Roundup caused his Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Forty-six-year-old Johnson sprayed about 150 gallons of Roundup 20 to 40 times per year while working as a groundskeeper for the Benicia school district in California, from 2012 through late 2015.18 His lawsuit, filed in 2016 after he became too ill to work, accused Monsanto of hiding the health hazards of Roundup.

According to the ruling, Monsanto "acted with malice or oppression" and was responsible for "negligent failure" by not warning consumers about the carcinogenicity of this pernicious weed killer. His court case, presided by Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, began June 18, 2018, and ended August 10 with a ruling in his favor.19

The jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to Johnson ? an amount that effectively wipes out Monsanto's reserve fund for environmental and litigation liability which, according to Bloomberg,20 totaled $277 million as of August 2018.

The evidence presented to the jury, including email correspondence and corporate documents, create a comprehensive narrative of corporate malfeasance and collusion with U.S. regulatory agencies, and it was this evidence that ultimately led to Johnson being awarded a quarter of a billion dollars in damages.

You can review many of these "Monsanto Papers" on the U.S. Right to Know website.21 To learn more you can also read "Spinning Science & Silencing Scientists: A Case Study in How the Chemical Industry Attempts to Influence Science,"22 a minority staff report dated February 2018, prepared for U.S. House members of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

In "The Monsanto Papers: Poisoning the Scientific Well,"23 a paper published in The International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, June 2018, Leemon McHenry describes the importance of this cache of documents:

"The documents reveal Monsanto-sponsored ghostwriting of articles published in toxicology journals and the lay media, interference in the peer review process, behind-the-scenes influence on retraction and the creation of a so-called academic website as a front for the defense of Monsanto products ?

The use of third-party academics in the corporate defense of glyphosate reveals that this practice extends beyond the corruption of medicine and persists in spite of efforts to enforce transparency in industry manipulation."

What About the 800 Studies Showing Glyphosate Is Safe?

Following Johnson's verdict, Monsanto vice president Scott Partridge released a statement saying "more than 800 scientific studies and reviews support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer."

However, as noted by Brent Wisner, lead trial counsel for Johnson and thousands of other plaintiffs, those 800 studies did not address carcinogenicity at all.24 Rather, they were studies looking at safety issues such as whether the chemical causes eye irritation or skin rashes and other random effects.

Only 13 animal studies and half a dozen epidemiological studies have looked at the chemical's carcinogenic potential, and the vast majority of those studies actually show a correlation between glyphosate ? the active ingredient in Roundup ? and cancer. They show it causes tumors in mice, and that it causes Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and genetic damage in humans.

It was evidence such as this that in 2015 led the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ? the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the "gold standard" in carcinogenicity research ? to classify glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen."25,26

In response, Monsanto launched an all-out attack on IARC and its researchers, and even lobbied to strip IARC of its U.S. funding. The American Chemistry Council, of which Monsanto is a member, also formed a front group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research,27 for the express purpose of discrediting the IARC and seeking to reform the IARC Monographs Program, which evaluates and determines the carcinogenicity of chemicals.28

Monsanto has also fought California's Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in court,29 trying to prevent the agency from adding glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Under California's Proposition 65, all such chemicals must bear a warning label informing consumers of the potential risks. So far, the company's attempts have all failed, and glyphosate-containing products will indeed be required to carry a cancer warning when sold in California.

Corrupted Science

The film also talks to Carey Gillam, a veteran investigative journalist and author of "Whitewash ? The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science," who has previously gone on record about how Monsanto tried to discredit her for writing critical pieces about the company and its toxic products.30

As noted by Gillam, scientific corruption is widespread, and few of those 800 studies that Monsanto clings to are in fact done by unbiased and independent researchers. Doubts about the science actually arose as early as the 1970s, when Monsanto hired a company called Industrial Biotech Laboratories to conduct some of the safety research required for approval in the U.S.

The lab got caught up in a fraud scandal as it was discovered the researchers had doctored much of the data. After an investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the study results invalid. A study done in the mid-1980s subsequently led the EPA to classify glyphosate as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," but Monsanto refused to accept the findings.

After nearly a decade of strife, the EPA decided to go against the findings of its own toxicologists and declared glyphosate was not likely to be a human carcinogen. However, several EPA scientists refused to sign that final report. Kraven Laboratories, another lab hired by Monsanto to conduct its research, was also caught falsifying test results, not only for Roundup but also for other pesticides. Fifteen Kraven Lab employees were either fined or imprisoned as a result.

Monsanto has long argued it was a victim of fraud and had to spend large sums of money to redo the falsified studies. However, according to Gillam, it's extremely difficult to ascertain which of those studies have in fact been redone, and which studies our regulatory agencies have relied on. The film also reviews how Monsanto pushed Roundup using false advertising that grossly overstated its safety.

Monsanto Never Did Necessary Cancer Testing

The Monsanto Papers reveal the company's own employees were concerned about (and helped cover up) Roundup's potential risks for decades. For example, in a 2003 email, Monsanto lead toxicologist Donna Farmer, Ph.D., writes, "You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen ? we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement."

In 2014, when Monsanto learned IARC was planning to investigate glyphosate's carcinogenic potential, Farmer wrote, "? what we have long been concerned about has happened. Glyphosate is on for an IARC review?" Internal documents also reveal how Monsanto orchestrated the campaign to discredit IARC's findings ahead of time.

As noted in the film, if Monsanto was so sure about the safety of its product, why would it preplan a campaign to discredit the IARC's findings before the scientific review was even completed? In response, Partridge claims the company was simply preparing to educate the public about the truth, as it knew glyphosate "would be besmirched" by inaccurate conclusions.

IARC scientists disagree, saying they were merely following well-established toxicology procedures; they looked at the evidence, and came to a conclusion that fit the evidence at hand. One of the tactics used to counter IARC's findings was to publish a ghostwritten review that supported glyphosate's safety.

To this end, Monsanto convened a "panel of independent experts" and tasked them with reviewing the data and publishing an analysis of the evidence. However, email correspondence reveals William Heyden, safety lead for Monsanto, actively wrote and edited the review himself. All of this evidence was shown during Johnson's jury trial, and these outright lies are ultimately what prompted the jury to award such extensive punitive damages.

How Monsanto Derailed EPA Action Following IARC's Ruling

Part of Monsanto's defense of glyphosate still hinges on the EPA's ruling that the chemical is "not likely to be carcinogenic" to humans,31 but evidence reveals Monsanto had a strong hand in shaping the EPA's views as well. Following strong criticism, the EPA convened a scientific advisory panel to reanalyze the scientific evidence and evaluate the strength of its decision that glyphosate is an unlikely carcinogen.

A four-day-long panel meeting was held in December, 2016, and right from the start, some of the experts expressed concerns about the quality of the EPA's analysis.32 Some said the agency had violated its own guidelines by discounting data showing a positive association between glyphosate and cancer, while others questioned exclusion of data showing statistical significance.

Pointed questions were also raised about the chemical industry's influence over regulators. As a general rule, peer-reviewed, published research, especially by independent scientists, tend to carry more merit than unpublished industry research.

But as discussed in the film, CropLife America, which represents Monsanto and other agribusinesses, demanded the EPA remove nationally recognized epidemiologist Peter Infante, Ph.D., from the scientific advisory panel, claiming he was incapable of impartiality because he would give more weight to independent research than industry studies.

The EPA complied, booting Infante off the panel. He still made an appearance at the meeting, though, and in his testimony, Infante urged the advisory panel not to ignore "impressive evidence" linking glyphosate to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the film, Infante says he agrees with the IARC review, which found evidence of carcinogenicity, but denies anti-industry bias.

How Monsanto Killed Safety Assessment by US Health Department

The film also discusses email correspondence showing an EPA official colluded with Monsanto to prevent the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, from conducting an investigation into glyphosate.

The EPA official in question was Jess Rowland, a key author of the EPA's report that found glyphosate was unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans.33 At the time, Rowland was the associate director of the EPA's Pesticide Health Effects Division.34 Email correspondence between EPA toxicologist Marion Copley and Rowland suggests Rowland may in fact have colluded with Monsanto to find glyphosate noncarcinogenic in the first place.35,36

In one email Copley cites evidence showing glyphosate is toxic to animals, adding "It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer." She directly accuses Rowland of playing "political conniving games with the science" to help Monsanto and other pesticide manufacturers. There's also evidence showing Rowland warned Monsanto of the IARC's determination months before it was made public,37 which gave the company time to plan its attack on the IARC.

As for the ATSDR investigation, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he'd had with Rowland in an email, in which Rowland said, "If I can kill this I should get a medal,"38,39 referring to the ATSDR investigation. Jenkins also wrote, "I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this, but it's nice to know they're going to actually make the effort."

As it turns out, his pessimism was unwarranted. Another Monsanto memorandum notes the ATSDR "agreed, for now, to take direction from EPA," showing Rowland did in fact succeed in his mission to thwart the ATSDR's investigation of glyphosate.

By colluding with Monsanto to declare glyphosate safe and stopping toxicology evaluations by other federal offices, the EPA has used taxpayers' money to hide the truth about a dangerous toxin and prevent consumers harmed by the chemical from being able to effectively prove their case in court. But despite such collusion, Johnson was able to make his case against Monsanto, and he's not the only one. Another 9,000 plaintiffs are waiting for their day in court.

Monsanto's Toxic Legacy Remains

While the Monsanto name has been retired, its toxic legacy will remain for decades to come. As noted by Johnson's attorney, Wisner, nearly all chemicals produced over the past 100 years that have been shown to be extraordinarily toxic can be traced back to Monsanto, including DDT, PCBs, dioxins, Agent Orange and now glyphosate.

"Monsanto effectively made a business out of poisoning people, and getting away with it," Wisner says.

"For the last 20 or 30 years, Monsanto has engaged in a systematic and deliberate campaign to attack any science that says their product is not safe, and to attack any scientist that has the courage to say something. They have a corporate culture that has zero interest in safety. It has only an interest in maintaining the ability of them to sell this product."

Valerian Tea May Help You Relax and Sleep Better

If you?ve ever looked into natural ways to improve your sleep, you?ve probably noticed that one of the most common herbal remedies used for this purpose is valerian (Valeriana officinalis). In fact, it?s been prescribed for insomnia since the second century A.D., and its other therapeutic uses were even described by Hippocrates.1

One of the most popular ways to reap the potential health benefits of valerian is by brewing it into a cup of tea. Read on to learn more about the properties of this relaxing beverage and what you should keep in mind before including it in your diet plan.

What Is Valerian Tea?

Valerian tea is derived from the dried roots of the valerian plant.2 Also known as ?nature?s valium,? valerian is a perennial herb that?s famous for its potent calming effect.3 It?s native to Europe and Asia, but is also cultivated in America and China, among other countries.4

Valerian grows up to 5 feet tall and has sweet-smelling flowers that are white, lavender or pink.5 Unlike its flowers, the roots of the valerian plant from which the tea is made have a distinctive earthy scent that many people find unpleasant.6 This odor is caused by its volatile oils and active compounds.7

Despite valerian root?s long history of use for medicinal applications, there is still no scientific agreement as to what specific compound is responsible for its sedative properties. Researchers suggest that its effects may be the result of the interaction between its chemical constituents.8

Health Benefits of Valerian Tea

The ability of valerian root tea to help promote sleep quality and quantity is perhaps its most valued health benefit. This herbal concoction is usually consumed by people with sleeping disorders such as insomnia, since its sedative effect makes it a great natural alternative to sleeping pills.9

According to studies, the valerenic acid from every sip of valerian tea may help increase your levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and inhibit its breakdown.10 GABA is an amino acid that plays a major role on the nerve impulses in your brain and nervous system.11 Low levels of it have been linked to anxiety and poor-quality sleep.12

Valerian tea may also help maintain high serotonin levels in your brain, which in turn helps improve your sleep by stabilizing your mood.13 Moreover, studies show that the extract of valerian root may help you fall asleep quicker and stay in deep sleep longer.14 In addition, a cup of valerian tea may provide the following benefits:

  • Helps ease anxiety and stress ? When consumed in adequate amounts, valerian tea may help decrease your stress levels and anxiety with its anxiolytic property.15
  • Helps tone down hyperactivity ? When combined with lemon balm, valerian extract may help reduce hyperactivity, as well as improve focus by up to 50 percent in children with very strong symptoms.16
  • Helps ease menstrual symptoms ? A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that valerian extract may help relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and sleep disturbance.17

Valerian tea is also believed to be useful for helping relieve indigestion18 and boosting mental health.19 The famous herbalist Nicholas Culpeper also used valerian leaf tea for treating headaches.20

Valerian Tea Nutrition Facts

There isn't a lot of information available regarding the nutritional value of valerian root tea. However, research shows that there are more than 150 chemical constituents present in valerian root, most of which are physiologically active.21

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology states that valerian contains 51.2 milligrams (mg) of total carotenoids and 44.87 mg of vitamin C.22 These compounds are just some of the beneficial attributes that you can receive when enjoying a cup of this herbal drink.

Valerian Tea Caffeine Content

Valerian tea contains zero caffeine,23 which makes it beneficial for promoting relaxation, relieving restlessness, and helping you sleep quicker and better.

How to Make a Cup of Freshly Brewed Valerian Root Tea

Valerian tea is very easy to prepare. Simply steep 1 teaspoon of valerian root in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes to make sure that its beneficial compounds are infused into the water.

If you find its flavor too bitter, you may opt to sweeten it with a bit of honey. Some people also prefer to mix valerian tea with other herbs, but you should avoid doing this if you?re not sure how a particular plant reacts with valerian root.24

How to Store Valerian Tea

As with other types of tea, valerian root tea also needs to be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight in order to preserve its freshness. It?s best to store it in an airtight glass container to keep out moisture and dirt. Keep in mind that tea absorbs odors easily, so be sure to store your valerian root tea away from foods that have a strong aroma.25

Take Note of These Valerian Root Tea Side Effects

Valerian tea is generally considered safe. However, it is possible to experience side effects when drinking this herbal tea, as it contains a number of powerful compounds. Some of the adverse effects associated with valerian tea include:26,27

Headaches

Mental dullness

Itching

Dizziness

Stomach upset

Irregular heartbeat

It?s still unclear whether valerian tea is safe for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. To guarantee you and your baby?s safety, it?s best to avoid drinking it altogether. You should also avoid valerian tea if you drink alcohol, or take sleeping aids or antidepressants.28,29

Other Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Aside from drinking valerian tea, you can improve the quality of your sleep by making sure that you go to bed early and wake up at a specific time every day. Setting a consistent schedule helps regulate your circadian clock, allowing you to fall asleep easily at night.

You should also create a pre-bedtime routine to help your mind and body relax before going to sleep. Turning off your electricity and keeping the temperature cool inside your room during bedtime may help you sleep more comfortably. For more natural techniques to get a good night?s sleep, read my article ?Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Valerian Tea

Q: Where can you buy valerian tea?

A: Valerian tea is available in groceries and online health food stores.

Q: How does valerian tea work?

A: Valerian tea?s mechanism of action potentially lies in the interaction of its multiple chemical constituents, which results in increased levels of GABA and serotonin. This promotes better sleep and a stable mood, making valerian tea useful for improving sleep quality, as well as alleviating anxiety, stress, hyperactivity and menstrual cramps.30

Q: Where does valerian tea come from?

A: Valerian tea is extracted from the brewed dried roots of the valerian herb.31

Is It Dangerous To Be Left-Handed?

An article published in Reader?s Digest1 suggests you are at a greater risk for certain negative health and life outcomes if you are left-handed, including accidents, certain mental and physical problems and even early death.

While it?s obvious left-handers face challenges with respect to using everyday items like keyboards, notebooks, scissors and zippers, which are typically designed to favor right-handed users, does research support the notion left-handedness is actually dangerous to your health?

Factors That Influence Your Choice of Handedness

Handedness ? your tendency to be more comfortable and skilled using one hand more than the other for tasks like dressing, throwing a ball or writing ? is a complex matter. Although you may think it is determined solely by genetics, handedness is a complex trait influenced by multiple factors, such as chance, environment and genetics.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH),2 the development of handedness begins before birth and is influenced by genes, as well as both your right-left asymmetry and the right and left hemispheres of your brain. They state:3

?It was initially thought a single gene controlled handedness. However, more recent studies suggest multiple genes, perhaps up to 40, contribute to this trait. Each of these genes likely has a weak effect by itself, but together they play a significant role in establishing hand preference.

Studies suggest at least some of these genes help determine the overall right-left asymmetry of the body starting in the earliest stages of development.?

Science Daily highlights asymmetry as an important feature of your brain, noting the left side usually controls speech and language, while the right side controls emotion. They assert, ?In left-handers this pattern is often reversed.

There is also evidence that asymmetry of the brain was an important feature during human evolution; the brains of our closest relatives, the apes, are more symmetrical than those of humans ? and apes do not show a strong handedness.?4 Authors of a 2013 study published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews comment similarly:5

?Handedness is the single most studied aspect of human brain asymmetries. For long it has been thought to be a monogenic trait that can produce an asymmetrical shift of cerebral mechanisms, thereby producing right-handedness. Nevertheless, a single gene explaining a sufficient amount of phenotypic variance has not been identified.

The results of several recent studies using advanced molecular genetic techniques suggest that a multifactorial model taking into account both multiple genetic and environmental factors, as well as their interactions, might be better suited to explain the complex processes underlying the ontogenesis of handedness.?

Additionally, your prenatal environment and cultural influences are thought to play a role in determining which hand will dominate. In terms of prevalence, the NIH asserts 85 to 90 percent of the population in Western countries are right-handed.6 About 10 percent are left-handed and the remainder thought to be ambidextrous (able to use both hands equally well).

According to Clare Porac, Professor Emerita of psychology at Penn State University, the lowest rates of left-handedness, 4 to 6 percent, are found in Africa, Asia and South America.7

Genes Associated With Handedness

To date, researchers have identified a few of the genes thought to influence handedness. Two notable genes associated with handedness are:

? LRRTM1 (Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal 1) ? This gene has been associated with an increased likelihood of left- or mixed-handed people also having schizophrenia or another neurological disorder.8,9

Authors of a 2001 meta-analysis featured in the British Journal of Psychiatry ? involving 19 studies on handedness, 10 dichotic listening studies and 39 studies investigating anatomical asymmetry in schizophrenia ? stated:10

?The prevalence of mixed- and left-handedness (?nonright-handedness?) was significantly higher in patients with schizophrenia as compared to healthy controls, and also as compared to psychiatric controls. Strong evidence is provided for decreased cerebral lateralization in schizophrenia.?

? PCSK6 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 6) ? This gene has been linked to an increased chance of left-handedness being noted in people with dyslexia. Researchers involved with a 2011 study presented in Human Molecular Genetics commented:11

?These results provide molecular evidence that cerebral asymmetry and dyslexia are linked. Furthermore, PCSK6 is a protease that cleaves the left?right axis determining protein NODAL.

Functional studies of PCSK6 promise insights into mechanisms underlying cerebral lateralization and dyslexia.?

Potential Health Risks Thought to More Often Affect Left-Handers

Although being left-handed is not an exclusive factor in any health risk, there are a number of situations that have been linked to left-handedness. Research suggests left-handed people are at increased risk for:

? Accidents ? A 1989 body of research published in the American Journal of Public Health12 focused on self-reported injuries and handedness in a group of nearly 1,900 Canadian college students.

Researchers found more left-handers (51 percent) reported having an injury requiring medical attention during the past two years than right-handers (36 percent). In addition, left-handed people were 85 percent more likely to be injured while driving a vehicle than right-handers.

? Breast cancer ? While your diet, lifestyle and any number of environmental factors can influence your chances of developing breast cancer, a 2007 body of research presented in the British Journal of Cancer asserts left-handers are at greater risk than right-handers of being diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly after menopause.13

Based on surveys completed by 1,786 Australian women who were part of a larger multidecade health study, the scientists said, ?Left-handedness may be an indicator of intrauterine exposure to estrogens, which may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Left-handers had higher risk of breast cancer than right-handers and the effect was greater for postmenopausal breast cancer.?14

? Earlier death ? In a 1991 study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine,15 researchers analyzed death certificates and distributed questionnaires about handedness to the next of kin for 2,000 deceased individuals from two counties in southern California.

Based on 987 usable cases, they noted the mean age of death for right-handers was 75 years, as compared to just 66 years for left-handers. The study authors stated, ?These results are consistent with predictions based on implied pathological factors and environmental interactions suggesting left-handers are at greater risk of death.?16

? Psychotic disorders ? As mentioned, being left-handed could put you at increased risk for a psychotic illness. A 2013 study17 from Yale University observed the handedness of 107 patients diagnosed with a mood or psychotic disorder at a public outpatient psychiatric clinic in a low-income urban area.

Whereas the prevalence of mood disorders was 11 percent (a figure consistent with rates in the general population), they discovered 40 percent of the schizophrenic patients reported writing with their left hands. 

Lead study author Dr. Jadon Webb, a psychiatrist at the Arapahoe Mental Health Center in Littleton, Colorado, and his team said, ?Our results show a strikingly higher prevalence of left-handedness among patients presenting with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, compared with patients presenting with mood symptoms.?18

Other Ways Left-Handed People Differ From Those Who Are Right-Handed

Beyond the potential for increased risk of certain health-related outcomes, research suggests left-handed people are also prone to being affected differently than right-handers as it relates to alcohol, money and sleep, among other areas. Scientists suggest lefties:

? Drink alcohol more often ? Earlier studies suggesting left-handed people were more prone to alcoholism than their right-handed peers have not stood the test of time.

?There is no evidence that handedness predicts risky drinking,? study lead Kevin Denny, associate professor of economics at University College Dublin in Ireland, told the British Psychological Society.

?Hence, the results do not support the idea that excess drinking may be a consequence either of atypical lateralization of the brain or due to the social stresses that arise from left-handers being a minority group.?19

That said, research highlighted in the British Journal of Health Psychology20 in 2011 involving 27,428 adults age 50 and older from 12 European countries indicated left-handers do, on average, drink more often than right-handers.

? Earn less money ? A 2014 study, featured in the Journal of Economic Perspectives,21 suggests the salaries of left-handers were as much as 10 to 12 percent lower than their right-handed colleagues.

Study author and economist Joshua Goodman, Ph.D., associate professor of public policy at Harvard, noted the median income for left-handers in the U.S. was $1,300 a year less than the wages paid to right-handers.

Goodman stated: ?A large fraction of this gap can be explained by observed differences in cognitive skills and emotional or behavioral problems. Lefties work in more manually intensive occupations than do righties, further suggesting their primary labor market disadvantage is cognitive rather than physical.?22

? Experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ? According to psychologists who showed volunteers an eight-minute clip from an intensely frightening movie, left-handed people were more likely than right-handers to exhibit fear.23

Their fear was notable in the sense they gave researchers more fragmented accounts of what they?d seen, an effect associated with PTSD.

Lead researcher Carolyn Choudhary, a lecturer in the psychology and sociology division at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, presented the team?s findings at the British Psychology Society?s annual conference in 2011. She told The Telegraph:24

"The prevalence of [PTSD] is almost double in left-handers compared to right-handers. We used a portion of film from ?Silence of the Lambs? that we know elicits fear, so we could check the recalled account against the film.

People who were left-handed showed significantly more fragmentation in their memories and more repetition [than right-handers]. It appears these are tied to the way the brain makes memories during fearful experiences.?

? Sleep restlessly ? Based on research involving 100 patients affected by periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) ? a repetitive cramping or jerking of your legs during sleep ? the American College of Chest Physicians suggests left-handers are at greater risk than righties of developing the disorder.25

When the research was presented at their annual conference in 2011, the group noted 94 percent of left-handed patients had PLMD as compared to just 69 percent of right-handers ? irrespective of variables such as age, race and sex.

Their findings indicate ?left-handed people have significantly higher chances of having bilateral limb movements, indicating the potential for PLMD.?26

? Struggle in school ? A 2009 Australian study published in the journal Demography,27 drawing on data collected from parents and teachers regarding 4,942 children ages 4 and 5 years old, suggests left-handed children perform less well academically than their right-handed peers.

The researchers noted the perceived ?cognitive disadvantage? facing left-handers was not a result of demographics, socioeconomic status or behavior. About the study, they commented:28

?A broad range of skills were assessed, including vocabulary, reading, writing, copying, social development and gross and fine motor skills. Left- and mixed-handed children performed worse than right-handed children on nearly all of these measures.

Conversely, two measures showed no effect of hand preference: the PPVT [Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test] and expressive language skills. Both measures reflect a child?s vocabulary and ability to express ideas and do not require a written response.

Thus, it would appear that, despite being disadvantaged in most areas of cognitive achievement, left- and mixed-handers have the same ability for verbal expression as right-handers.?

It?s Not All Bad Being Left-Handed

In the event you?ve found this article to be somewhat depressing when it comes to the realities faced by left-handers, below are a few positives associated with being in the minority when it comes to being a lefty. Lefties are said to:29

? Be better at processing information at a fast rate ? Research from Australia National University30 involving 100 people performing computer-based tasks showed left-handed people outperformed right-handers in processing large amounts of information at a fast rate.

Left-handers tend to use both sides of the brain more easily and therefore may perform better than right-handers at fast or complex tasks.

? Engage in right-brain activities more readily ? Research published in the Journal of Mental and Nervous Disease asserts musicians, painters and writers are significantly more likely to be left-handed.31

The study authors said, ?Creative people have been found to ? be more likely to report an excess of nonright-handedness compared with controls ? more widespread left hand use [was] reported by artists involved in the creative activities traditionally associated with the right [brain] hemisphere.? 32 Two areas mentioned were music and painting.

? More easily become ambidextrous ? Given the reality most products and surroundings are geared to right-handed people, lefties are naturally challenged at a young age to use both hands, especially when it comes to putting on certain clothing with buttons and zippers, using notebooks, typing on keyboards and manipulating scissors.

? Stand out in a crowd ? Given the tendency for their left-handedness to be easily noticeable, especially when eating, lefties often stand out in social situations. Because it?s common to exchange a handshake upon meeting someone for the first time, left-handedness can become a conversation starter.

Some Famous Lefties

Before ending, I can?t leave without mentioning that history is full of famous lefties whose names you will recognize right away, including eight U.S. presidents and many entertainers and entrepreneurs. Just a few of those famous lefties on a long list compiled by Time magazine include Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, Jimi Hendrix and Henry Ford.33

Children's Lack of Sleep Is a Hidden Health Crisis

By Dr. Mercola

It?s recommended that school-age children get nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, while teens need eight to 10. Preschoolers and toddlers need even more to function optimally ? ranging from 10 to 14 hours a night.1 But many kids are falling short on fulfilling this basic need, putting their physical and mental health at risk.

In England, sleep disorders among children are also on the rise, an investigation by The Guardian revealed. The number of children and teens aged 16 years and under admitted to a hospital due to a sleep disorder rose from about 6,500 in 2012-2013 to nearly 9,500 in 2017.2 Most of the admissions were due to sleep apnea, with 8,274 admissions alone in 2017-2018.

Why Are Children Finding It Hard to Sleep?

One of the joys of childhood should be the ability to drift off to sleep without a care in the world, or at least without the difficulty that plagues many adults. Children, however, may be kept awake at night due to anxiety over everything from school and peer pressure to social media and terror incidents.

At one private sleep clinic in London, The Guardian reported there had been a 30 percent rise in anxiety-related referrals for sleep issues among children in the past year alone.3 Not only can anxiety make sleep difficult, but ? in a vicious cycle ? lack of sleep can trigger more anxiety.

Practical issues may also be playing a role. With parents sometimes working late, children may not have regular bedtimes or bedtime routines that are conducive to sleep.

Vicki Dawson, founder of The Children?s Sleep Charity, which provides support to families for children?s sleep, told The Guardian, ?We are increasingly seeing families where both parents are out working and this can mean that bedtime becomes later, bedtime routines may be rushed or abandoned all together ? A good sleep routine is key in supporting a better sleep pattern.?4

Dawson mentioned dietary issues as well, including excessive sugar consumption or intake of energy drinks that children may consume because they?re tired during the day. Both can interfere with getting a sound night?s sleep. This ties in with obesity, another factor that may be influenced by diet and which can significantly interfere with sleep.

Is Obesity to Blame for Kids? Sleep Problems?

In the U.S., over 18 percent of teens and nearly 14 percent of young children are obese,5 which raises the risk of sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which causes the airway to become blocked during sleep, leading to reduced or blocked airflow.

If a child is obese, there?s extra stress put on the upper airway, which can cause it to collapse, leading to sleep apnea. Left untreated, pediatric sleep apnea can lead to:6

  • Behavior issues such as hyperactivity and poor impulse control
  • Cognitive dysfunction and inattentiveness
  • Heart disease later in life, especially if the child is, and continues to be, obese
  • Mood problems

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, studies suggest as many as 25 percent of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could be suffering from OSA.7

As such, many of the behavior problems and learning difficulties attributed to ADHD might actually be consequences of chronic fragmented sleep. Further, there are other contributors to sleep apnea in children aside from obesity. One of the first may be lack of breastfeeding, as breastfeeding longer than one month is linked to a lower risk of habitual snoring and apneas.

Researchers believe there may be a ?beneficial effect of the breast in the mouth on oropharyngeal [middle part of the throat, behind the mouth] development with consequent protection against upper airway dysfunction causing sleep-disordered breathing.?8

It?s thought that breastfeeding helps expand the size of the child's palate and shift the jaw forward, helping prevent sleep apnea by creating enough room for unobstructed breathing. That being said, if your child is obese, losing weight can dramatically improve sleep apnea (and therefore overall sleep quality) by reducing pressure on the abdomen and chest, thereby allowing the breathing muscles to function more normally.

Obesity is another double-edged sword in that it may contribute to sleep problems while lack of sleep may also contribute to obesity. Michael Farquhar, a consultant in sleep medicine at the Evelina London Children?s Hospital, told The Guardian:9

?We have two main epidemics among children. One is obesity and the other is mental health, and underpinning both of these is sleep ? We always thought sleep was a consequence of obesity but there is an increasing understanding that sleeplessness contributes to obesity.

When you are sleep-deprived, your body responds by altering the hormones that affect appetite and hunger ? you crave unhealthy things when you are tired.?

US Teens Short on Sleep: Could Later School Start Times Help?

According to a Sleep in America Poll, 58 percent of teens average only seven hours of sleep a night or less,10 which is significantly less than the recommended eight to 10. One challenge is certainly electronics, with many teens staying up late to browse social media or play video games. However, teens are also wired with different sleep and wake patterns, which favor staying up late and getting up later.

Despite this, many middle and high schools start the day as early as 7 a.m., leaving teens little chance to sleep in. One National Sleep Foundation poll revealed that 60 percent of kids aged 18 and under say they?re tired during the day while 15 percent said they?ve fallen asleep at school.11

They?re now urging educators to use later school start times for teens to facilitate better sleep, along with adopting sleep education curriculum to teach students about the importance of sleep and the negative effects of getting too little.

Mary Carskadon, director of the Chronobiology and Sleep Research Laboratory at E.P. Bradley Hospital in East Providence, Rhode Island, told ABC News, ?Teenagers are getting way too little sleep ? They are being asked to get up at the wrong time. They are being asked to be in school when their brains are asleep.?12

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics also issued a policy statement urging middle and high schools to delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later in order to ?align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.?13 Dr. Judith Owens, lead author of the policy statement, explained:14

?The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life ?

Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.?

Why It?s Risky for Teens to Skimp on Sleep

Lack of sleep has major effects on health, performance, mood and more. At least one study suggests that teens who start school at 8:30 a.m. or later had improvements in academic performance, attendance and tardiness.

In a survey of over 9,000 high school students, the later start time allowed more than 60 percent of them to get eight hours of sleep a night, and the number of car crashes for teen drivers was reduced by 70 percent when a school changed its start time from 7:35 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. Further, the researchers reported:15

?Teens getting less than eight hours of sleep reported significantly higher depression symptoms, greater use of caffeine, and are at greater risk for making poor choices for substance use.?

What?s more, research suggests that high school students who sleep six hours or less each night are twice as likely to engage in risky behaviors as those who sleep for eight hours (and only 30 percent of the students in the study averaged eight hours of sleep a night).16 This includes:

  • Using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs
  • Driving after drinking alcohol
  • Carrying a weapon
  • Being in a fight

Sleeping less than six hours a night was also linked to a threefold increased risk of considering or attempting suicide. Lead author Matthew Weaver, Ph.D., associate epidemiologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a news release:17

"We found the odds of unsafe behavior by high school students increased significantly with fewer hours of sleep ? Personal risk-taking behaviors are common precursors to accidents and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among teens and have important implications for the health and safety of high school students nationally."

Electronics Play a Major Role in Childhood Sleep Issues

Electronics are a formidable force when it comes to childhood sleep quality, with 56 percent of the parents in one survey blaming them (including social media and cell phones) as the primary reason why their teen has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.18

What?s more, among those teens with frequent or occasional sleep problems, 72 percent said their doctor had recommended turning off electronics and cell phones to address sleep problems. Exposure to LED-backlit computer screens or TVs at night significantly suppresses melatonin production and feelings of sleepiness.

When your brain ?sees? blue light at night, the mixed message can add up to serious health issues. In 2011, for instance, researchers found that evening exposure to LED-backlit computer screens affect circadian physiology. Among 13 young men, exposure to five hours of an LED-lit screen at night significantly suppressed melatonin production along with sleepiness.19

If your child views screens at night, it?s therefore essential to block exposure to blue light while doing so. In the case of a computer, you can install a program to automatically lower the color temperature of the screen. Many use f.lux to do this, but I prefer Iris software for this purpose.

In addition, when watching TV or other screens, be sure to wear blue-blocking glasses after sundown. For children and teens, however, electronics should be shut off ideally at least one hour before bedtime and preferably as soon as it gets dark.

Top Strategies to Help Your Child Sleep

Sleep deprivation, or a lack of quality sleep, has a significant impact on your overall health and may lead to the following:

Increased risk of car accidents

Increased accidents at work

Reduced ability to perform tasks

Reduced ability to learn or remember

Reduced productivity at work

Reduced creativity at work or in other activities

Reduced athletic performance

Increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease

Increased risk of depression

Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Decreased immune function

Slowed reaction time

Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception

Poor grades in school

Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers

Exacerbation of current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and cancer

With just one hour less sleep a night, increased expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress20

Accelerated premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep

It?s therefore essential to help your child develop healthy sleep habits early on. If you believe sleep apnea is the issue, have your child evaluated by a professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. You may also have considered natural remedies like melatonin, but be aware that there are other options.

While occasional melatonin supplementation in healthy children may help sleep and is unlikely to cause harm, most sleep problems should be addressed via improved sleep hygiene and behavioral changes.

However, there is some evidence that melatonin supplementation may help children with autism, ADHD or other neurodevelopmental or psychiatric conditions.21 In particular, Canadian Family Physician suggested:22

Napping during the day should be avoided

Dinnertime should be at least two hours before bedtime

Screen time (watching television, playing computer or video games) should be discontinued at least one hour before bedtime

Regular bedtime routine including routine sleep and wake-up times should be maintained

Children should sleep in their own beds

Sleep environment should be dark and quiet; room should not be too hot

Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol should be avoided

In addition, I?d add installing blackout drapes in your child?s bedroom, avoiding exposure to blue light at night, having your child wear blue-light blocking glasses after the sun sets and getting exposure to bright light in the morning as much as possible to help reset your child?s circadian clock daily.

Even doing homework too late at night may make it difficult for your child to fall asleep, so try to have any responsibilities wrapped up early so your child has time to unwind before bed.

Being a good role model is also important, including limiting your own exposure to electronic devices and blue light at night, and finishing up your work prior to bedtime so you can be fully present and help your child through a relaxing bedtime routine.

Fibromyalgia Linked to Extensive Brain Inflammation

Fibromyalgia, characterized by chronic, widespread pain is an often-debilitating condition that primarily affects women. While as many as 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia, its cause remains a mystery.

Brain scans of fibromyalgia patients have offered hard evidence that the pain they experience is indeed real ? mainly because their threshold for tolerating pain impulses is substantially lower than that of most individuals. But the mechanism causing this lowered pain threshold is still unknown.

Some experts, such as Dr. Frederick Wolfe, the director of the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases and the lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined fibromyalgia's diagnostic guidelines, believe fibromyalgia is mainly a physical response to mental and emotional stress.

But while stress and emotions may indeed play an important role, more recent research shows fibromyalgia patients tend to have severe inflammation in their body, including their nervous system and brain.

Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Diagnosis can be a challenge, but the updated case definitions of fibromyalgia, issued in 2010 and later simplified in 2012, claim to correctly diagnose about 83 percent of cases.1 Originally, the condition was thought to be a peripheral musculoskeletal disease. Today, fibromyalgia has become increasingly recognized as a neurobiological problem causing central pain sensitization.

Unfortunately, there are currently no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia, so physicians primarily depend on patient histories, reported symptoms and physical exam findings. Classic symptoms of this condition include:

? Pain ? The key marker of fibromyalgia is pain, which is profound, widespread and chronic. Pain inside of your elbows and knees, collarbones and hips is indicative of fibromyalgia when it's present on both sides.

People also frequently report pain all over their bodies ? including in their muscles, ligaments and tendons ? and the pain tends to vary in intensity. It has been described as deep muscular aching, stabbing, shooting, throbbing and twitching.

Neurological complaints add to the discomfort, such as numbness, tingling and burning. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors include cold/humid weather, nonrestorative sleep, fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress.

? Cognitive impairment ? So-called "fibro-fog" or foggy-headedness is a common complaint.

? Fatigue ? The fatigue of fibromyalgia is different from the fatigue that many people complain of in today's busy world. It is more than being tired; it's an all-encompassing exhaustion that interferes with even the simplest daily activities, often leaving the patient with a limited ability to function both mentally and physically for an extended period of time.

? Sleep disruption ? Another major part of the diagnostic criteria for this condition is some type of significant sleep disturbance. In fact, part of an effective treatment program is to make sure you're sleeping better.

Medical researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in the Stage 4 deep sleep of fibromyalgia patients. During sleep, they are constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity, limiting the amount of time they spend in deep sleep.

? Other symptoms ? Other common symptoms include irritable bowel and bladder, headaches and migraines, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movements, impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth, anxiety, depression, ringing in the ears, dizziness, Raynaud's Syndrome and impaired coordination.

Conventional treatment typically involves some form of pain medication, and perhaps psychotropic drugs like antidepressants. I don't recommend either as they fail to address the cause of your problem. Many fibromyalgia sufferers also do not respond to conventional painkillers, which can set in motion a vicious circle of overmedicating on these dangerous drugs.

Brain Inflammation ? Another Hallmark of Fibromyalgia

Using PET imaging, a recent investigation2 by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden revealed the presence of widespread brain inflammation in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia.3,4

Earlier research5 conducted at Karolinska Institutet also discovered high concentrations of cytokines (inflammatory proteins) in the cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting fibromyalgia patients have inflammation in their nervous system as well.6

The team at Massachusetts General Hospital, meanwhile, has previously shown that neural inflammation, and glial cell (immune cells) activation specifically, plays a role in chronic back pain. Animal studies have also offered evidence for the hypothesis that glial cell activation can be a cause of chronic pain in general.7

Here, they found that when glial cells in the cerebral cortex were activated, the more aggressive the activation, the greater the fatigue experienced by the patient. As reported by Medical Life Sciences:8

"The current study first assessed fibromyalgia symptoms in patients using a questionnaire. A PET tracer was then used, that is, a radioactive marker which binds a specific protein called translocator protein (TSPO) that is expressed at levels much above the normal in activated glial cells, namely, astrocytes and microglia ?

[G]lial activation was found to be present at significantly higher levels in multiple brain areas in patients who had fibromyalgia than in controls. Glial cell activation causes inflammatory chemicals to be released, which cause the pain pathways to be more sensitive to pain, and promote fatigue ?

One area showing higher TSPO binding in direct proportion to the self-reported level of fatigue was the cingulate gyrus, an area of the brain linked to emotional processing. Previous research has reported that this area is inflamed in chronic fatigue syndrome."

Brain Inflammation Linked to Loss of Brain Cells

In related news, German researchers investigating inflammation mechanisms in the brain have found that as mice get older and regulation of inflammatory responses become increasingly impaired, they start losing brain cells.9

Interestingly, the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), which produces the "high" in response to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana, also helps regulate inflammatory reactions in your brain. In short, chronic brain inflammation is in part driven by the CB1 receptors' failure to respond. To understand how this works, you need to know a little bit about how microglial cells work.

Microglial cells are specialized immune cells found in your central nervous system, including your spinal cord and brain. These immune cells respond to bacteria and are responsible for clearing out malfunctioning nerve cells. They also signal and recruit other immune cells when needed and trigger the inflammatory response when necessary.

Problems arise when the inflammatory response becomes dysregulated and overactive. In the brain, the inflammation can easily damage healthy brain tissue. The "brake signal" that instructs glial cells to stop their inflammatory activity is endocannabinoids, and the endocannabinoids work by binding to certain receptors, including CB1 and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2).

Immune Cells Communicate and Influence Inflammatory Response Using Endocannabinoids

Curiously, microglial cells have virtually no CB1 and very few CB2 receptors, yet they still react to endocannabinoids. The present study was designed to investigate this puzzling riddle. As it turns out, there's a type of neuron that does contain a large number of CB1 receptors, and it appears that it is the CB1 receptors on these specific neurons that control microglial cell activity.

In other words, it appears microglial cells do not communicate with nerve cells directly; rather, they release endocannabinoids, which then bind to CB1 receptors found in nearby neurons. These neurons in turn communicate directly with other nerve cells. So, the brain's immune response is regulated in an indirect manner rather than a direct one.

Now, what happens with age is that your natural production of endocannabinoids decreases, which then leads to impaired immune response regulation and chronic inflammation. As noted by coauthor Dr. Andras Bilkei-Gorzo:10

"Since the neuronal CB1 receptors are no longer sufficiently activated, the glial cells are almost constantly in inflammatory mode. More regulatory neurons die as a result, so the immune response is less regulated and may become free-running."

Earlier research11 by this same team found that THC can help restore cognitive function in older brains, and the current study also hints at THC-containing cannabis may have valuable neuroprotective benefits in older people by quelling brain inflammation and preventing loss of brain cells. As the study was done on mice, further research is needed to confirm that the same mechanisms apply to humans, but it's compelling nonetheless.

Are You Living an Inflammatory Lifestyle?

Your diet can either promote or decrease inflammation. For example, foods that increase the inflammatory response in your body include:

  • Sugar, especially processed corn syrup
  • Synthetically produced trans fats
  • Processed vegetable and seed oils, high in oxidized omega-6 fat
  • Processed meats
  • Refined carbohydrates

Meanwhile, marine-based omega-3 fats have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and are crucial for healthy brain function in general. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are also important for controlling inflammation, as is optimizing your vitamin D to a level of 60 to 80 ng/mL, ideally through sensible sun exposure.

In addition to anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue, and researchers believe optimal vitamin D levels may enhance important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of glial cells that help nurse damaged neurons back to health.

A number of ubiquitous chemicals have also been implicated in inflammation, so if you struggle with fibromyalgia you'd be wise to take a close look at your choice of foods, household and personal care products. As mentioned earlier, getting enough high-quality sleep is another key treatment component for fibromyalgia.

Ketogenic Diet Massively Decreases Brain Inflammation

Research12 published last year suggests ketogenic diets ? which are high in healthy fats and low in net carbs ? are a particularly powerful ally for suppressing brain inflammation, as ketones are powerful HDAC (histone deacetylase inhibitors) that suppress the primary NF-?B inflammatory pathway.

As explained by Medical Xpress,13 the defining moment of the study14 came when the team "identified a pivotal protein that links the diet to inflammatory genes, which, if blocked, could mirror the anti-inflammatory effects of ketogenic diets."

A ketogenic diet changes the way your body uses energy, converting your body from burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat as your primary source of fuel. When your body is able to burn fat, your liver creates ketones, which burn more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

Animals (rats) used in this study were found to have reduced inflammation when the researchers used a molecule called 2-deoxyglucose (2DG) to block glucose metabolism and induce a ketogenic state, similar to what would occur if you followed a ketogenic diet. By doing this, inflammation was brought down to levels near those found in controls.

Suppressing Inflammation Improves Pain

Senior study author Dr. Raymond Swanson, a professor of neurology at UCSF and chief of the neurology service at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, commented on the results, saying:

"I was most surprised by the magnitude of this effect, because I thought ketogenic diets might help just a little bit. But when we got these big effects with 2DG, I thought wow, there's really something here.

The team further found that reduced glucose metabolism lowered a key barometer of energy metabolism ? the NADH/NAD+ ratio ? which in turn activated a protein called CtBP that acts to suppress activity of inflammatory genes."

The study also pointed out that a ketogenic diet may relieve pain via several mechanisms, similar to the ways it's known to help epilepsy.

"Like seizures, chronic pain is thought to involve increased excitability of neurons; for pain, this can involve peripheral and/or central neurons. Thus, there is some similarity of the underlying biology," the authors stated, adding:

"A major research focus should be on how metabolic interventions such as a ketogenic diet can ameliorate common, comorbid and difficult-to-treat conditions such as pain and inflammation."15

Cyclical Ketosis for Optimal Health

Eating a ketogenic diet doesn't have to be complicated or painful. My book "Fat for Fuel" presents a complete Mitochondrial Metabolic Therapy (MMT) program, complemented by an online course created in collaboration with nutritionist Miriam Kalamian, who specializes in nutritional ketosis.

The course, which consists of seven comprehensive lessons, teaches you the keys to fighting chronic disease and optimizing your health and longevity. In summary, the MMT diet is a cyclical ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats and fiber, low in net carbs with a moderate amount of protein.

The cyclical component is important, as long-term continuous ketosis has drawbacks that may actually undermine your health and longevity. One of the primary reasons to cycle in and out of ketosis is because the "metabolic magic" in the mitochondria actually occurs during the refeeding phase, not during the starvation phase.

Ideally, once you have established ketosis you cycle healthy carbs back in to about 100 to 150 grams on days when you do strength training. MMT has a number of really important health benefits, and may just be the U-turn you've been searching for if you're struggling with a chronic health condition. You can learn more by following the hyperlinks provided in the text above.

Address Emotional Contributors

Since fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, it becomes emotionally challenging in addition to the physical challenges it imposes on your life. Having a game plan to deal with your emotional well-being is especially important if you suffer from any chronic disease.

If you have fibromyalgia, you might be able to trace it back to a triggering event, or you might not. Any traumatic experience has the potential to linger in your mind for a lifetime. You can have the perfect diet, the perfect exercise routine, and an ideal life; but if you have lingering unresolved emotional issues, you can still become very sick.

A tool that can help release this emotional sludge is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). If you are a regular reader of my newsletter, this won't be an unfamiliar term to you. EFT is a form of bioenergetic normalization. If you have fibromyalgia, this is something that is going to be extremely helpful. You can do this yourself, at home, and it takes just a few minutes to learn. For a demonstration, see the video above.

Mugwort: A Weed to Some, but a Beneficial Herb to Others

Weeds are invasive plant species that can thrive in various environments.1 They typically produce a large number of seeds, which allows them to take over a location where they are not supposed to grow. Hence, gardeners exert tremendous effort to remove them whenever possible because their produce can suffer.2

However, not all weeds are inherently bad ? some can actually be beneficial to your health, like mugwort.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is an aromatic plant with a rich history, with many ancient cultures having numerous uses for it. Its botanical name is derived from Artemis, the Greek goddess for chastity, virginity, the hunt and the environment.3

Historically, Anglo-Saxon tribes revered mugwort as a sacred herb gifted to them by their chief deity, Woden. Romans, on the other hand, planted mugwort on sidewalks to help travelers rest their feet from long walks.4

The Benefits of Mugwort

Mugwort plays an important role in Chinese acupuncture, with a history going back around 3,000 years.5 It is used in moxibustion, a process where mugwort leaves are gathered into sticks or cones the size of a cigar, and then burned over an acupuncture point to help release energy.6

Moxibustion can help treat menstrual cramping, stimulate a regular menstrual cycle and may even aid unborn infants to move into the correct position prior to delivery. In a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, researchers noticed that performing moxibustion at the tip of the fifth toe yielded positive results for infants in the breech position.7

Native American tribes in California also use mugwort in their folk medicine tradition. It is believed to help with common conditions such as pain, colds and allergies.8

Different Uses of Mugwort You May Like

Despite being classified as a weed, mugwort surprisingly has several practical applications, which you may find useful. The most well-known include:9

  • Cooking ingredient ? Mugwort leaves are known for their bitter flavor. You can use them for flavoring meat or fish, or even add them to a green smoothie.
  • Dream pillow ? This is a small pillow filled with one or more aromatic herbs, which can help provide a relaxing sleep. Mugwort is a popular choice for this particular product.10
  • Natural insecticide ? Mugwort's aroma is useful in helping keep pests out of your garden. If you plan to try this method, keep mugwort in a pot because it can spread rapidly throughout your garden if planted on soil.
  • Incense ? Create a mugwort incense to help kill bad bacteria and spread a wonderful aroma around your home.

Growing Mugwort in Your Garden

Being a weed, mugwort can thrive just about anywhere, from fields to ditches and even the side of the road.11 That being said, growing mugwort requires discipline and consistency, because it can quickly overtake your garden and become truly invasive. Here are some tips to help you out:

? Preparing mugwort seeds ? Before growing mugwort, the seeds need to be prepared for germination through stratification, a method that breaks seed dormancy by creating an optimal environment for them to grow. This drastically reduces the time it takes for seedlings to emerge.12

To stratify the seeds, you must simulate a cold climate. Start by mixing them with lightly misted sandy soil or peat moss inside a plastic bag. Then, chill the bag in a refrigerator for two weeks. Check every other day to ensure that the mixture is moist. If not, add some water again to maintain moisture.13

? Planting the seeds in your garden ? Once stratification is done, plant the seeds during the early spring, because the cold soil will enhance the stratified seeds further. Scatter the seeds lightly and evenly on the soil's surface, 3 inches apart in all directions.14

Don't worry about the soil's pH level. However, it should have good drainage and full sun exposure. If all instructions are followed correctly, seedlings should appear in two weeks.15

? What to do once seedlings emerge ? Once the seedlings reach a height of 4 inches, prune them to avoid overcrowding. Spread out the healthy seedlings, placing them 2 feet apart. Low-quality seedlings can be removed using garden shears.16

? Maintaining your mugwort plants ? As your plants grow and reach maturity, maintain them properly to yield a high-quality harvest. Avoid overwatering, and trim them to prevent being overshadowed by fellow mugwort plants. If a plant becomes too heavy to support itself, remove the top or sides with pruning shears.17

Recipe: Making Mugwort Tea

Mugwort has several applications in cooking, but it is mostly known as an alternative to tea. It became popular during World War II in England, due to the increasing prices of regular tea throughout that period.18

How to Harvest the Best Mugwort Tea Leaves

Directions

Harvesting mugwort specifically for tea follows a certain procedure. Please follow this to harvest high-quality mugwort tea:

  1. Cut the top one-third of the plant when mugwort's flower is in bloom.
  2. Hang the plant upside down to dry (such as from an indoor clothesline), or chop it into small pieces, and spread out on a newspaper. The roots are dug up and collected in the fall.
  3. Use a scrub brush and running water to clean the roots, then spread them out on a newspaper to let them dry completely.
  4. Store all parts of the plant away from light, such as in paper bags.

How to Make Mugwort Tea

Procedure

  1. Place 1 ounce of dried mugwort in 4 cups of boiling water and let it boil for five to 10 minutes, then strain.
  2. If you let it sit longer and make a standard infusion in a Mason jar for four hours, the tea will become quite bitter.
  3. Feel free to halve this recipe if you want to make less tea. You can keep any unused tea in the refrigerator for two to three days.

You Can Make Mugwort Root Tea as Well

Procedure

For a different kind of tea flavor, you can use mugwort roots. Here's the procedure:

  1. Chop 1 ounce of mugwort roots and place them inside a glass or ceramic pot. Add 4 cups water afterward.
  2. Let the mixture come to a boil, then continue to simmer while covered, until it reduces by half. This should take around 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Strain and drink.

Mugwort Is Also Useful as an Essential Oil

Aside from its culinary uses, mugwort enjoys a reputation in aromatherapy, which is the practice of using, dispersing or applying essential oils to promote better health. "Essential Oils: All-Natural Remedies and Recipes for Your Mind, Body and Home" discusses various ways mugwort oil can benefit you to:19

  • Relieve pain ? The essential oil may help ease inflammation such as arthritis and stiff muscles.
  • Fight colds ? Mugwort essential may help decongest and loosen up phlegm to provide relief in your respiratory system.
  • Support women's health ? Gently massaging the oil on the abdomen may help ease cramps and tension.
  • Boost mood ? The aroma of mugwort can uplift and relax your mood.

Before using mugwort essential oil, be sure to visit a doctor to make sure mugwort is an herb that will be beneficial for you. Your skin may have an allergic reaction to it, making it unsafe to use. You can perform a skin patch test by placing a diluted drop on your arm; wait and see if any negative reactions occur. If you're pregnant, it's best not to use this oil to avoid any side effects.

Two-Thirds of Appendectomies May Be Unnecessary

You've probably heard that your appendix is a useless organ, an artifact from our ancient past when early humans had to digest tree bark and other fibrous materials.1 However, modern medical science has again proven your body does not contain superfluous organs that serve no useful function.

Unfortunately, the idea that your appendix is little more than a nuisance and potential health risk has led to the routine removal of this organ. Many doctors will even suggest prophylactic removal of the appendix when you're having some other abdominal surgery done. As noted in a 2017 paper:2

"Appendectomy is the most common emergency surgery performed in the USA. Removal of a noninflamed appendix during unrelated abdominal surgery (prophylactic or incidental appendectomy) can prevent the downstream risks and costs of appendicitis. It is unknown whether such a strategy could be cost saving for the health system."

Based on hypothetical patient cohorts aged 18 to 80, the researchers concluded that people under the age of 30 could save about $130 over their lifetime by undergoing prophylactic appendectomy during other elective abdominal surgery. However, considering the potential benefits of keeping your appendix, saving $130 over a lifetime doesn't seem very good value proposition.

Your Appendix Has an Immune Function

Your appendix is found in the lower right portion of your abdomen. This small, slimy, finger-shaped organ is attached to the cecum, a small pouch that's part of the intestines (the cecum is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine) and is part of your gastrointestinal tract.3

According to scientists in France and Australia, your appendix actually plays an important role in your immunity. Published in Nature Immunology, their study showed that the appendix ? with the help of white blood cells known as innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) ? works as a reservoir for beneficial bacteria (probiotics), which are essential for good gut health and healing from infections.4

When certain diseases (or use of antibiotics) eliminate the healthy bacteria in your gut, the appendix works as a storage unit for some of these probiotics. The researchers say that these findings should make people rethink whether the appendix is "irrelevant" to their health.

Once your body has successfully fought and rid itself of the infection, the bacteria emerge from the biofilm of the appendix to recolonize your gut, bringing it back to a healthy state.5 According to Gabrielle Belz, a professor at Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute:6

"We've found that ILCs may help the appendix to potentially reseed 'good' bacteria within the microbiome ? or community of bacteria ? in the body. A balanced microbiome is essential for recovery from bacterial threats to gut health, such as food poisoning."

Despite such findings, other recent research7 suggests prophylactic appendectomy "is ethically justifiable, as there are few complications," and "allows early detection of malignancies." In this case, 10 cases of cancer were found as a result of prophylactic appendectomy on 173 patients.

In the end, it may be an issue of personal choice after considering the pros and cons of removing this organ. Personally, I believe having the ability to repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria after infection is a significant health benefit that I would be reluctant to eliminate unless absolutely necessary. And, recent research suggests surgery may not even be necessary in most cases of appendicitis either.

Two-Thirds of Appendicitis Cases Do Not Require Surgical Intervention

According to a Finnish study,8,9,10,11 nearly two-thirds of patients with appendicitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics alone. In the U.S., an estimated 300,000 appendectomies are performed each year, which means some 199,800 people undergo surgery unnecessarily.

Not that antibiotics are without their side effects in damaging the microbiome, but it appears to be the lesser of two evils in this setting. Overall, the lifetime risk of appendicitis in the U.S. is 1 in 15.12 As reported by Live Science:13

"The study looked at data from more than 250 adults in Finland who had appendicitis ? and were treated with antibiotics. This group was compared with another 270 adults who had surgery for appendicitis. All of the participants were followed for five years.

At the end of the study, nearly two-thirds of people who received antibiotics (64 percent) were considered 'successfully treated,' meaning they didn't have another attack of appendicitis. The other 36 percent eventually needed surgery to remove their appendix, but none of them experienced harmful outcomes from the delay ...

It's important to note that all patients in the study had uncomplicated appendicitis, meaning their appendix had not burst, which was confirmed with a CT scan. (Patients with a burst appendix would indeed need surgery.)"

In an accompanying editorial,14 deputy editor of JAMA, Dr. Edward Livingston, noted that these findings "dispel the notion that uncomplicated acute appendicitis is a surgical emergency."

Interestingly, of the 100 patients in the antibiotic group that later went on to have surgery anyway, seven of them actually had no evidence of appendicitis at the time of surgery ? a finding that hints at underlying skepticism and an ingrained idea that it's better to just take the appendix out to be done with it once and for all.

Pros and Cons of Antibiotic Treatment

The antibiotic treatment group also had fewer complications than the surgical intervention group ? about 1 in 4 surgical patients suffered some sort of postoperative complication, ranging from abdominal pain to surgical wound infections ? and those who received antibiotics took on average 11 fewer days off from work (surgical patients took on average 22 days off from work).

Cost is also a factor, as surgery is far more expensive than a round of antibiotics. In this study, antibiotic treatment consisted of intravenous antibiotics for three days, followed by oral antibiotics for seven days.

On the downside, antibiotic treatment for suspected appendicitis could exacerbate the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs, so wanton use of antibiotics is not necessarily ideal either. Dr. Paulina Salminen, a surgeon at the University of Turku in Finland who led the study, told The New York Times:15

"If I have a CT scan, and I can see that the appendicitis is uncomplicated, I would discuss with the patient the possible results of antibiotic treatment alone or surgery. Then we would make a joint, unbiased decision about what would be best."

Other Supporting Research

This isn't the first time researchers have found antibiotics can do the job well enough that surgery becomes unnecessary. A 2014 study16 published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons reviewed 77 uncomplicated cases of acute appendicitis that met certain criteria.

Here, 30 of the patients were given intravenous antibiotics for 24 hours and oral antibiotics for a week instead of surgery. Those whose condition did not improve after the first 24 hours had their appendix removed surgically at that time.

Of the 77 participants, only two required surgery within 24 hours, while a third needed an appendectomy after being discharged due to lack of improvement. However, none of the patients experienced complications.

The other 27 participants who received antibiotics missed fewer days of school and went back to their normal activities much sooner than those who underwent an appendectomy. 

Nationwide Children's Hospital professor of surgery and senior study author Dr. Katherine J. Deans said,17 "It's so dogmatic to operate for appendicitis that it requires a huge paradigm shift. But there are choices. It may be safe to wait."

Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis

While the proper course of treatment may be up for debate, what's clear is that appendicitis can be a serious condition that needs to be addressed. In short, appendicitis is inflammation in the appendix, usually caused by pathogenic bacteria.

Once these harmful bacteria multiply rapidly, it can lead to swelling and formation of pus in the organ.18 Hallmark symptoms of appendicitis include intense and progressively worsening pain in the lower, right-side quadrant of your torso, nausea and vomiting. It can occur at any age, although people ages 10 to 30 tend to be more susceptible.19

If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from an inflamed appendix, do seek immediate medical attention. If not addressed, the swollen appendix can rupture and may be fatal.

Just remember that surgical intervention may not be necessary if you have a case of uncomplicated appendicitis. A round of antibiotics may be enough. In this case, also remember to restore the balance of your gut microbiome with a high quality probiotic supplement, after you've finished the antibiotics.

Surgical Alternatives

When it comes to surgery, there are two main types of appendectomy,20 both of which are performed under general anesthesia. Depending on the progression of the inflammation and the condition of your appendix, your doctor will determine which of these two will be preferable:21

? Laparoscopy ? Also known as "keyhole surgery," this is the preferred procedure today because of its quicker recovery time. It is also recommended for obese or elderly patients.22 In the Finnish study above, all surgeries were open; hence the extended recovery time (22 days) among the surgical patients.

Three or four small incisions are made on the abdomen, and then special instruments and small surgical tools are inserted and used to remove the appendix. Afterward, dissolvable stitches (or regular ones that your physician will have to remove after several days) will be used to close the incisions.

? Open surgery ? If the appendix has already ruptured, if you've previously had an open abdominal surgery or if your physician isn't experienced in keyhole surgery, this is the recommended procedure.

A single, larger incision is done in the lower right side of your abdomen, so the appendix can be removed. However, if peritonitis (infection of the abdominal lining) has already occurred, a long cut in the middle of the abdomen may be necessary. This is called laparotomy.

Normal activities can be resumed in a couple of weeks, but strenuous activities must be avoided for four to six weeks after the surgical procedure to allow enough time for your body to heal. As with any surgical procedure, an appendectomy can still predispose you to certain risks and complications, such as bleeding, infection, injury to other organs, blocked bowels and side effects of general anesthesia.23

Natural Treatments for Appendicitis

There are some natural techniques that can help you deal with the pain that comes with appendicitis, but remember that you should not rely on these solely to treat this condition. They should only be used as an adjunct and with the approval of your physician. Natural remedies that may be useful when the infection is detected at an early stage include: 24,25

Castor oil pack ? This can help relieve the appendiceal blockage and reduce inflammation. To prepare this, simply fold a large cloth, pour 2 tablespoons of castor oil on it and then apply it to your abdomen while lying down.

You can repeat this three times a week for two or three months. Taking castor oil orally may also help relieve constipation and improve bowel movements.

Ginger ? This root can reduce inflammation and pain, while alleviating vomiting and nausea. Drink fresh ginger tea twice or thrice daily or massage ginger oil on your abdomen for a few minutes daily.

Garlic ? It's a potent anti-inflammatory that can alleviate inflammation and pain. Eat two to three raw cloves on an empty stomach per day.

Fenugreek seeds ? They help prevent the intestinal waste and excess mucus from accumulating, which can reduce the risk of the problem becoming severe. Fenugreek seeds also help alleviate pain.

Fresh lemon ? Mixed with a small amount of honey, lemon helps prevent indigestion and constipation, relieves pain and boosts your immunity.

Basil ? It helps bring down the fever that may come with appendicitis. It's also great for relieving indigestion and intestinal gas. Boil a handful of fresh basil leaves with a teaspoon of grated ginger and then drink the concoction twice a day for two days.

Vegetable juice ? A mixture of beets, cucumber and carrot juice may be helpful for patients with appendicitis.

Fasting as a Potential Treatment for Uncomplicated Subacute Appendicitis

A case study26 presented by the TrueNorth Health Center also demonstrates how fasting may address appendicitis without further drug intervention. In this case, a 46-year-old man with uncomplicated appendicitis ? confirmed through a sonogram ? refused surgical and drug treatment, which led the doctors to prescribe medically supervised water-only fasting for seven days. According to the case report:

"The patient was monitored daily by on-site physicians in a residential facility. Twice-daily interviews and examinations were performed throughout the fast. Vital signs were taken once in the morning for the duration of the patient's stay as well as a urinalysis performed every five days.

The seven-day fast was followed by a four-day gradual introduction of food consisting of juice, fruits and raw and steamed vegetables.

After the careful refeeding period, the abdominal pain was much improved ? Follow-up laboratory tests revealed a normal white blood cell count ? At three-month follow-up, the patient reported compliance to recommendations and no further abdominal pain.

The patient reported that he had been able to resume his normal exercise regimen of running four hours per week ? At one-year follow-up, the patient reported no return of the abdominal pain over the year. He had resumed full exercise and had even completed a triathlon ?

At two-year follow-up, the patient reported compliance to the lifestyle recommendations, continued to be free of right lower quadrant pain, and still had no recurrence of symptoms since the original presentation."

Electronic Cigarette Maker Juul Gets Raided

Electronic cigarettes go by several different names. While the most common name has been e-cigarettes, the brand name Juul not only has taken over the market, but also has become a commonly used verb.1 E-cigarettes or vaping devices heat a liquid solution to a temperature high enough it produces vapor.

The liquid typically contains nicotine and a variety of different flavors. Although some of the flavors have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for oral consumption, they have not been for inhalation.2 The lack of approval is based on a lack of research into the safety of the compounds once they reach your lung tissue.

The design of the product may resemble a regular cigarette, cigar, pen or a USB flash drive. The most recent designs have a sleek, high-tech appearance and are easily recharged, sometimes on your computer. The most recent device, Juul, appeared in 2016 and has been the leading e-cigarette product since early 2018.

As you might expect, other companies wanting to take advantage of this meteoric rise in popularity have created similar products to follow Juul's high-tech look and high nicotine delivery.3 However, while skyrocketing sales have been financially profitable for the company, it may come at the price of health.

Government Agency Seized Thousands of Document Pages During Surprise Inspection

Across the country, parents and regulators have been wrestling with the growing problem of teenage e-cigarette use. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey went public with her concerns that teenagers are the target of Juul e-cigarette advertising and focused her investigation on whether the California-based company adequately monitors its website to prevent minors from accessing products.4

The FDA launched what they called the5 "largest coordinated enforcement effort in FDA's history" against 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarette products. They announced they intend to hold retailers accountable for continued violations and will take steps to work with manufacturers directly to hold them accountable as well.

An official request for information was sent directly to Juul Labs regarding their product marketing, research on the health, toxicological, behavioral or physiological effects of the products, and youth-related adverse events.6

Weeks after the FDA requested manufacturers submit plans on how they will reduce use of their products in young people, the agency conducted a surprise inspection of Juul's corporate headquarters, seizing thousands of documents, many related to sales and marketing practices.

The FDA stated it was part of their7 "ongoing efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes." FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum wrote in an email to CNN:8

"The new and highly disturbing data we have on youth use demonstrates plainly that e-cigarettes are creating an epidemic of regular nicotine use among teens. It is vital that we take action to understand and address the particular appeal of, and ease of access to, these products among kids."

Despite Advertising and Youth-Based Flavors, Juul Claims They Don't Target Teens

The FDA also is considering banning several flavored liquids9 as they make it easier for teens to get hooked on nicotine. Flavors Hook Kids10 describes the process as masking the taste of any harsh chemicals and tobacco. Flavors also have an emotional link, which is triggering the development of a terrifyingly high number of flavors.

While Juul has a limited number of flavors available in their vape products, there are over 15,000 tobacco and vape flavors available, customized to pique the curiosity of teens and adults. Juul Labs made a statement following the FDA seizure, saying it was:11

"... committed to preventing underage use and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep Juul out of the hands of young people."

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found advertising aimed at youth for e-cigarettes continue to increase in retail stores, on the internet and in television advertising.12

Interestingly, some full-page advertising run in newspapers contains one of the oldest reverse psychology devices in the tobacco industry's playbook ? advertising warning the product contains an addictive chemical and is for adult smokers only.13

According to preliminary data from the CDC annual National Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of students who have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days rose by 75 percent since their last report in 2016. This means nearly 20 percent of high school students are using e-cigarettes today, as compared to 11.7 percent from their last survey.14

In a survey from Truth Initiative, a nonprofit tobacco control organization, researchers found 63 percent of teens using the product did not know it contained nicotine.15

The New Nicotine Is a Chemical Disaster in the Making

Juul represents their product as the16 "most genuine alternative to smoking cigarettes." Statements also appear to support the switch to vapor and not quitting completely when they say, "adult smokers interested in switching from cigarettes should be offered high-quality alternatives that satisfy them because satisfaction is a key component to supporting their switch to vapor."

These goals resulted in the production of patented JuulSalts delivering a nicotine hit much more like smoking a cigarette than any other e-cigarette product.17 The breakthrough occurred when Juul began using benzoic acid to freebase nicotine salts for rapid nicotine delivery.

Since the 1960s, cigarette companies have freebased nicotine using ammonia, which can be very irritating to the chest and lungs. However freebased nicotine from JuulSalts are not as irritating and are readily absorbed into the lungs and brain.

Juul has one of the highest nicotine content of any e-cigarette sold in the U.S.18 As one addiction expert explained,19 "The modern cigarette does to nicotine what crack does to cocaine."

Juul Has Over 50 Percent of the E-Cigarette Market Share

A combination of the high-tech sleek design and increased nicotine hit with high addiction rate has resulted in a meteoric rise in sales. According to Nielsen data, just two years after the launch of the company, Juul garnered more than half of the e-cigarette retail market sales in the U.S.20 

As there are hundreds of other devices available to consumers, this market share is staggering. According to Meg Kenny, assistant head of school at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont,21 "Ninety-five percent of the disciplinary infractions we deal with in the fall and continue to deal with into the spring are all connected to the Juul." Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said:22

"There are no redeeming benefits of e-cigarettes for young people. The use of certain USB-shaped e-cigarettes is especially dangerous among youth because these products contain extremely high levels of nicotine, which can harm the developing adolescent brain."

Early Nicotine Use Increases Risk of Addictive Behavior Throughout Life

The 2016 Surgeon General's report23 showed a 900 percent increase in use of e-cigarettes between 2011 and 2015. Several studies have supported the hypothesis e-cigarettes are a gateway habit, leading teens from vaping to smoking traditional combustible cigarettes, hookah and cigars.24,25,26

In other studies using animal models, researchers discovered rats exposed to nicotine during adolescence grew into adulthood with a greater potential to exhibit addictive behavior.27 Exposure to nicotine during adolescence results in long-term changes in the midbrain reward center that may also be a gateway to other addictive drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and morphine.28

Nicotine administration during adulthood in animal models did not alter the function of the inhibitory midbrain circuitry in the same way it did with exposure during adolescence.29 Vapor from e-cigarettes also contains acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, and the FDA has detected antifreeze chemicals linked to cancer in e-cigarettes.30

Despite lower levels of nicotine pollution from e-cigarettes, researchers have found bystanders have similar levels of cotinine, a measure of the amount of nicotine taken into the body, as those who are exposed to traditional combustible secondhand cigarette smoke.31

A Growing Market for Illegal Sales

As Juul attempts to protect sales of their products from the website to underage consumers, a black market business has grown in the teen population. According to a high school sophomore from Houston,32 if you deal the e-cigarettes you can make a lot of money.

She described the types of dealers in her school, some of whom sold pods or devices, or who would bootleg refills if you wanted a different flavor or THC oil. Another student reported:33

"Dealers will announce on Snapchat that they've bought a hundred of them, and they'll write the price, the date and the meeting place for kids to show up with cash."

One college student argues the Juul represents his generation's "tech-savvy ingenuity when it comes to making bad decisions." He described his experience when he first tried Juul in 2016, saying:34

"Someone pulls one out at a party, and naturally the question is 'Can I try it?,' and then after 'Can I try it?' five or six times you end up buying your own, and, soon enough, you're breathing in more Juul than air."

Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, former chair of the American Academy of Pediatric Tobacco Consortium, trying to end youth smoking, commented:35

"Let's be clear. Juul is already a massive public health disaster ? and without dramatic action it's going to get much, much, much worse. If you were to design your ideal nicotine-delivery device to addict large numbers of United States kids, you'd invent Juul.

It's absolutely unconscionable. The earlier these companies introduce the product to the developing brain, the better the chance they have a lifelong user."

Juul Complains Copycat Products Cut Into Profit Margins

Despite garnering over 50 percent of the market, Juul Labs has filed a patent infringement complaint in the U.S. and Europe against what they believe are copycat products.36 Their complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) named 18 companies, many of them based in the U.S. or China, claiming development and sale of products based on Juul's patented technology.

They request the ITC prevent the products' importation and sale into the U.S. The copycats are basing their marketing strategy on the sale of lower-priced products.

Juul products have become a ubiquitous presence in high schools in America in more affluent ZIP codes. In recent decades, the same areas have seen a decline in smoking combustible cigarettes. In part, this may be attributed to price. The Juul retails for $34.99 and a four-pack of pods cost $15.99 (or about $4 a pod).37 Combustible cigarettes, on the other hand, range from over $5 a pack in Missouri and Virginia to nearly $13 a pack in New York.38

While Juul's complaint against copycat products focuses on its desire to "protect consumers and prevent underage use," it is more likely driven by the company's perceived loss of market share. Kevin Burns, Juul's chief executive officer, stated:39 "The rapid proliferation of products infringing on our intellectual property continues to increase as our market share grows."

Whatever the Delivery Method, Nicotine Is Addictive

While most advocates of e-cigarettes claim they are best used to help smokers quit, the delivery of nicotine is always addictive. Studies have demonstrated the health dangers with nicotine maybe slightly different in e-cigarettes, but are no less dangerous than smoking combustible tobacco.

Nicotine is one of the oldest botanical insecticides40 and a powerful poison linked to a number of different health conditions.41 Evidence suggests nicotine adversely affects your cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and reproductive systems.42

Damage to your heart and vascular cells triggers an inflammatory response that may lead to atherosclerosis and promotes tumors by affecting cell proliferation, increasing resistance to chemotherapeutic agents.

I believe the "secret" to quitting smoking is to get healthy first, making quitting mentally and physically easier. Exercise is an important part of this plan, as research shows people who engage in regular strength training double their success rate at quitting smoking compared to those who don't exercise. Healthy eating is another crucial factor to improve your health and strengthen your ability to quit.

 
 

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