Bitter flavors are perhaps the least appreciated and sought-after, yet bitter herbs and spices offer valuable benefits and can go a long way toward improving your overall health. Historically, bitter herbs have been primarily used as cleansing agents, vitality builders and digestive support.1 According to a paper published in the European Journal of Herbal Medicine:2
"With so many bitter herbs, most with a long history of medicinal use in multiple cultures, it is not surprising to read that 'the urinary system seems to be the only system that does not derive direct benefit from the administration of bitters.'"
As noted by Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism:3
"It is unfortunate, then, that our modern diet seems to be completely lacking in the wild bitter tasting plants our ancestors considered so fundamental to their health. Many of the diseases riddling our modern culture ? from indigestion and gastric reflux to metabolic disorders ? seem to all point back to the deficiency of bitterness in our diets, and the lack of the protection and tone it imparts to our digestion and metabolic functions."
Bitters Are an Important Part of Optimal Health
As noted by the Price Foundation, bitter-tasting foods are not necessarily "medicine" as much as they are a necessary part of a healthy diet, providing your body with components you cannot get elsewhere, and these components are important for overall good health.
The term "bitters" is an umbrella term for a collective of secondary plant metabolites that include iridoids, sesquiterpene lactones, sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, monoterpene iridoids, alkaloids and volatile oils, all of which have a bitter flavor.
Many bitters have been shown to have antifungal, antiseptic, antiprotozoal and even antitumor activity. Secondary plant metabolites are thought to serve no nutritional purpose per se. Instead, these compounds are part of the plant's self-defense mechanism against microbes, oxidative damage and predators, which include us humans at the top of the food chain.
Typically, bitter-tasting plants are avoided both by insects and mammals. One hypothesis is that animals (including us) learned to correlate bitter taste with toxicity. Indeed, many bitter compounds are in fact poisonous. However, when consumed in small amounts, they can be significantly beneficial.
Much in the same way bitter compounds help protect the plant from harmful influences, they can be helpful in your body by inhibiting microbe growth, oxidation and inflammation. Importantly, these compounds tend to have a very stimulating and tonifying effect on your digestive system. This is an effect caused by what's known as "the bitter reflex."
The Bitter Reflex
When you eat something bitter, it triggers the release of a hormone called gastrin, which in turns supports and strengthens your digestive function by stimulating the secretion of:4
Saliva, which is where the digestion of food begins
Hydrochloric acid, necessary for breaking down proteins and enhancing the absorption of minerals from food. Hydrochloric acid also helps destroy harmful microbes, so taking bitters prior to eating not only prepares your stomach for digestion, but it may also offer some protection against foodborne illness, or at least reduce the potential effects of foodborne contaminants
Pepsin, an enzyme that breaks protein molecules into smaller pieces
Bitters also stimulate the flow of bile, which improves digestion of dietary fats and helps prevent the accumulation of waste in your liver. Over time, consuming bitters in small doses on a regular basis ends up strengthening your entire digestive system, including your stomach, gallbladder, liver and pancreas.
The bitter reflex also has the effect of triggering appetite and actually preparing your body for the receipt of food by triggering contractions in your intestines. This is likely why bitters are generally recommended to be taken about a half-hour before food rather than after.
The bitter reflex also causes your esophageal sphincter to contract, thereby preventing stomach acid from migrating up through your esophagus ? a condition known as acid reflux.
Importantly, the reflex stimulates self-repair mechanisms in your pancreas and intestinal wall,5,6 which is another reason why bitters are associated with improved and strengthened digestive function. While there are no studies to prove this, bitters could be helpful in the prevention and/or treatment of leaky gut for this reason.
Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract, to escape into your bloodstream ? hence, the term leaky gut syndrome.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, proteins and other molecules that were never meant to be absorbed intact into your body end up leaking into your bloodstream, which can cause a significant increase in inflammation, allergies and autoimmune diseases.
Bitters also help prevent gassiness ? an effect resulting from increased secretion of digestive enzymes that improves the breakdown of nutrients. By breaking molecules down into units your body can actually absorb, gas formation is prevented. Bacteria in your small intestine are also able to properly break down those units even further, which also prevents gas formation.
Keep in mind that all of these bitter reflex activities are triggered by the actual tasting of the bitter on your tongue. As noted in the European Journal of Herbal Medicine,7 bypassing the taste receptors by taking bitters in capsule form "renders it virtually useless."
Treatment Indications for Bitters
Bitters are considered "cooling," and therefore suitable for "hot" conditions such as inflammation (including arthritic conditions), dryness, flushing, tension, headache and fever, for example. Other indications for bitters include chronic candidiasis, thyroid dysfunction and allergic conditions such as asthma, urticaria and eczema. Moreover, according to the European Journal of Herbal Medicine:8
"They have a general tonic effect, exciting the sympathetic nervous system and improving cardiac function by decreasing heart rate and cardiac stroke volume. They stimulate muscles and improve circulation to abdominal organs.
Some bitters have an antidepressant effect. Some are emmenagogues. Quinine (an alkaloid of cinchona) was the standard anti-malarial for years, and new malaria research is being done on both gentian and wormwood."
As noted by the Price Foundation,9 one of the most basic benefits of bitters is the fact that they improve nutrient extraction and absorbability. Nutrition, after all, is the foundation upon which your health is built, and anything that helps your body make use of the nutrients you put into it will be beneficial.
Historically, bitters have also been treated as an important part of culinary tradition, first and foremost, opposed to actual medicine.
"Taken over time, they will lessen symptoms of poor digestive function such as gas and bloating, constipation, loose stools and food allergies; enhance vitamin and mineral absorption; promote balanced blood sugar levels ?
Protect the liver and strengthen eliminatory function; heal inflammatory damage to the gut wall; and reduce the incidence of allergic disorders. In short, the daily use of bitters can address some of the most rampant and heavily medicated health conditions of our time," Weston A. Price reports.10
Contraindication and Side Effects
While generally safe when taken as directed, bitters are contraindicated for:
People with serious erosive or ulcerative conditions of the gastrointestinal tract
Chronic respiratory congestion
Poor blood circulation
Also, while side effects are rare, some people may experience:
A feeling of general malaise when initially starting treatment, likely due to improved detoxification
Side effects caused by excess absorption of medications taken, as bitters tend to increase the absorption rate of not only phytonutrients but also drugs
At high dosages, bitters may have an opposite effect, inhibiting gastric secretions and suppressing appetite rather than improving them. Overdosing will trigger nausea and vomiting, and in extreme cases may lead to death. As noted in the featured paper:11
"In 18th century France, consumption of wormwood caused an outbreak of absinthism, a psychiatric disorder with epileptiform seizures, hallucinations and delirium, eventually leading to paralysis and death, due to its high thujone content.
Some other bitters also contain toxic compounds; for example, bitter almonds, used in baked treats for centuries, and recommended by Pliny the Elder ? are always taken sparingly, as overdoses can result in death."
How to Add Bitters to Your Diet
Historically, bitters were taken before mealtime, either in the form of fresh bitter greens and roots, or as a bitter aperitif or pre-dinner cocktail ? essentially an alcoholic beverage made with a dash of bitter herbs.12 Another, and probably better alternative to taking up the habit of a pre-dinner cocktail, is to use a bitter tincture.
Commercially available bitter tinctures that are reasonably easy to find include Swedish Bitters13 and Underberg. These are basically concentrated extracts in an alcohol base. While you can take a teaspoon straight, it may go down easier by mixing it into a couple of ounces of plain water or soda water.
Another easy way of getting more bitters into your diet is simply to add more bitter greens to your salads, and eating your salad first. Examples include chicory, dandelion, arugula, radicchio, endive and burdock. Start with a small amount and add more as your taste buds and body adjusts.
1 To reap optimal health benefits, which of the following omega-3 sources is the best?
Omega-3-rich plant foods such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and leafy greens
Fish oil supplements
Krill oil supplements
Small, fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies and herring
The health benefits of DHA and EPA are well-established. However, this research refers to fish consumption only. A number of studies have failed to find benefit when studying the effects of fish oil supplements. Reasons for such poor results include studying dosage rather than omega-3 blood levels, and the fact that most fish oil supplements contain a poorly absorbed form of DHA and EPA. Learn more.
2 Silver dental fillings (dental amalgam) consist primarily of what metal?
So-called "silver" dental fillings are actually mercury fillings; about half of it is mercury, a neurotoxic heavy metal. Learn more.
3 Which of the following is the greatest contributor to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
Use of antibiotics in organic crop farming
Use of antibiotics in children
Use of antibiotics in CAFO livestock
In the U.S., four times as many antibiotics are used in livestock as are used in human medicine, and this is a major driving factor behind the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and drug-resistant disease in humans. Learn more.
Use of antibiotics in human medicine in general
4 Which of the following has NOT been scientifically identified as a factor that can contribute to the development of anxiety?
Chronic exposure to microwave radiation from wireless technologies such as cellphones
Diets high in non.fiber carbs and processed foods
Diets high in fats and fresh fruits and vegetables
Several factors can contribute to anxiety, including diets high in sugar and processed foods, toxic exposures, stress, improper breathing and microwave radiation exposure from wireless technologies. Recent research suggests you may also inherit a predisposition to anxiety from your parents. Learn more.
5 The mild flavor of this large, leafy cousin of garlic and onions is found in the bottom 6 inches of its tender leaf sheath.
When it's been blanched and kept tender, you'll find the bottom 6 inches of a leek's leaf sheath to be the most edible and enjoyable part of the plant. Learn more.
6 Fever is a well-known part of the disease process. Barring dangerously high temperatures, the healthiest course of action when running a fever is to:
Let the fever run its course without trying to lower it
While your first instinct might be to lower a fever, it actually plays a very important role in the healing process and should not be interfered with. Unless dangerously high, avoid lowering your fever and let it run its course. Learn more.
Suppress the temperature to below 104 F using acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen
Take an ice bath or use ice under the armpits until the temperature gets below 104 F
Drink ice cold water until the temperature goes below 104 F
Herbal teas can be a rich source of beneficial compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most soothing of all herbal teas ? with a long history of beneficial use dating back to ancient Egypt ? is chamomile. Chamomile is the common name for several daisy-like plants belonging to the Asteraceae family, namely German chamomile (Matricaria retutica) and Roman or English chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
While you are very likely familiar with the tea, you may not realize chamomile is also useful as a bath, cream, essential oil, gargle, inhalation, poultice and tincture. In addition to having a sedative effect, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, chamomile also possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, antiulcer and antiviral properties.
Consumption of chamomile tea has even been shown to protect you from benign thyroid diseases and thyroid cancer. Without a doubt, chamomile is one herb you shouldn't overlook.
History of Chamomile
Chamomile's history1 begins in ancient Egypt, where it was first mentioned as a cure for fever. The Egyptians also used chamomile as a cosmetic, as well as an embalming oil for preserving dead pharaohs. The Romans used chamomile in incense, as a medicinal herb and as a flavoring for drinks.
In Spain, chamomile flowers are known as "manzanilla," meaning "little apple," and the herb has long been used to flavor a light sherry of the same name. During medieval times, chamomile petals were strewn about on the ground during gatherings to create pleasant odors.
Seven Health Benefits of Chamomile
In addition to its pleasant taste as a tea and ready accessibility, chamomile has been praised for millennia for its many health benefits. The presence of numerous antioxidants contributes to chamomile's many positive effects on your body. Among its many health benefits, chamomile:2,3,4
Acts as a mild sedative and sleep inducer ? Chamomile has long been used to treat insomnia and is highly regarded for its ability to induce daytime calmness and relaxation. Its sedative effects are likely due to the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain.
While there is an absence of clinical trials to validate the effects of chamomile on sleep, 10 cardiac patients who drank chamomile tea were reported to have quickly fallen into a deep sleep lasting 90 minutes.5 Authors of a study involving the effects of chamomile extracts on sleep-disturbed rats concluded chamomile extracts exhibit "benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity."6
Addresses cold symptoms and sinus pain and pressure
? Anecdotal studies suggest chamomile can be effective as a natural cold remedy, especially for cold symptoms such as sinus congestion, pain and pressure. Check out the video above for a demonstration on how to use dried chamomile flowers as an herbal steam to clear your sinuses and lungs.
Calms gum inflammation, mouth sores and tooth abscesses ? Chamomile has been shown to be effective in the treatment of gum inflammation, mouth sores and ulcers and tooth abscesses. Some suggest placing a wet chamomile teabag alongside an inflamed tooth may provide pain relief until you are able to be seen by your dentist.
Reduces menstrual cramps and pain ? Multiple studies have validated chamomile tea to help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. A 2010 study7 published in the Iranian Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility indicated that consuming chamomile tea for a month appears to reduce menstrual pain and cramps, as well as the anxiety and distress that often accompanies it.
The study authors said: "[C]hamomile tea [is] an effective therapy in relieving the pain originated from primary dysmenorrhea and its consequent psycho-social problems."
Relieves gastrointestinal complaints and bowel problems ? Though most of the evidence is anecdotal, chamomile is believed to help reduce smooth muscle spasms associated with gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease, diverticular disease, gastritis, irritable bowel problems and ulcerative colitis.
Chamomile is particularly helpful in dispelling gas, soothing heartburn and relaxing muscles that move food through your intestines. It also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium linked to stomach ulcers.
Soothes burns and other skin irritations ? Although somewhat less effective than hydrocortisone cream, chamomile has been shown to be effective in relieving minor burns and sunburn, as well as soothing skin conditions such as chickenpox, diaper rash, eczema and psoriasis.
Treats eye infections and inflammation ? Due to its calming and soothing properties, chamomile has been shown to reduce eye irritation and redness.8 Add two chamomile teabags to 3 cups of boiling water. Allow to steep until the tea has cooled, then discard the teabags. Dip a clean washcloth into the cooled tea and apply to your eye as a compress for 15 minutes, three to four times a day.
Increases NAD+ ? Chamomile is relatively high in a flavone called apigenin which just happens to inhibit CD38 that is one of the largest consumers of NAD+. If you inhibit CD38 and reduce NAD+ consumption you will increase NAD+ levels. Because of this benefit i drink a cup of chamomile tea every night.
Volatile Oils Are the Basis for Chamomile's Many Health Benefits
The many health benefits of chamomile are linked to the volatile oils found in its flowers, which include bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B and matricin, as well as other bioactive ingredients, such as:9
Chamazulene or azulenesse
Coumarins like herniarin and umbelliferone
Farnese and spiro-ether sesquiterpene lactones
Flavonoids such as apigenin, luteolin, patuletin and quercetin
About the extensive medicinal benefits of chamomile, authors of a 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports said:10
"Chamomile preparations are commonly used for many human ailments such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain and hemorrhoids. Essential oils of chamomile are used extensively in cosmetics and aromatherapy. Many different preparations of chamomile have been developed, the most popular of which is in the form of herbal tea consumed more than 1 million cups per day.
Chamomile has been used as an herbal medication since ancient times, is still popular today and probably will continue to be used in the future because it contains various bioactive phytochemicals that could provide therapeutic effects. Chamomile can help in improving cardiovascular conditions, stimulate [the] immune system and provide some protection against cancer."
Chamomile Shown to Reduce Your Risk of Thyroid Cancer
A 2015 study11 published in the European Journal of Public Health linked the consumption of chamomile tea to a lower risk of benign thyroid diseases and thyroid cancer. In fact, the more tea consumed, the lower the cancer risk. Specifically, those who drank chamomile tea two to six times a week had a 70-percent lower risk of developing thyroid abnormalities, while those who drank the tea regularly for 30 years achieved an 80 percent lower risk. According to the study authors:
"Although in the last decade several studies have addressed the protective role of black and green tea on several diseases, including cancer, there are only few, and controversial, studies on the effect of tea on benign and malignant thyroid diseases ? Our findings suggest, for the first time, that drinking herbal teas, especially chamomile, protects from thyroid cancer, as well as other benign thyroid diseases."
Chamomile's anticancer effects very likely result from naturally occurring flavonoids such as apigenin. Found not only in chamomile, but also in celery and parsley, as well as other vegetables, fruits and herbs, apigenin has been shown to slow cancer growth and shrink cancerous tumors in animal studies. A 2012 study12 in which mice implanted with the cells of a fast-growing human breast cancer were treated with apigenin, cancer growth slowed and tumors shrank.
While more research is needed, authors of a 2017 study13 published in Cell & Bioscience indicated: "All evidence gathered thus far clearly indicates that apigenin has strong anticancer activities against various human cancers alone, and in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents."
The Best Ways to Use Chamomile
If you've long known about chamomile tea but never considered using this versatile herb for anything else, you may be interested to know of its other uses for adults, which include:14
Bath ? Add 1/4 pound of dried flowers or 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to bathwater to soothe cuts, eczema, hemorrhoids or insect bites
Capsules ? Consume 300 to 400 milligrams three times per day, as directed by your physician
Cream ? Apply cream containing 3 to 10 percent chamomile to treat dry, flaky skin, as well as eczema and psoriasis
Gargle or mouthwash ? Gargle with cooled chamomile tea as often as desired or make a mouthwash by adding 10 to 15 drops of German chamomile liquid extract to about 3 ounces of warm water, and use up to three times a day
Inhalation ? Calm a cough by adding a few drops of chamomile essential oil to a pot of hot water and breathe in the steam
Poultice ? Mix powdered chamomile with water to make a paste and then apply it to inflamed skin
Tea ? Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of dried chamomile, steep as long as desired and drink between meals
Tincture ? Take 1 teaspoon up to three times daily to calm frayed nerves, ease menstrual cramps, improve sleep and relieve headaches.
Chamomile Tincture Recipe
The video above, posted by Homesteadonomics, explains how to make a chamomile tincture at home, as well as some popular uses for it. Making a tincture is a great way to preserve chamomile because the potency of its volatile oils is more effectively retained through preservation.
Pour boiling water over the flowers until they are covered; stir as needed to ensure flowers are saturated
Add vodka to fill the jar, then cover tightly with lid and shake well
Store in a cool, dark place and shake daily for four to six weeks
After four to six weeks, pour liquid through a strainer and discard flowers
Store tincture in a clean glass jar
In terms of the vodka used, choosing a USDA certified, organic alcohol is best to ensure it is free of GMOs and pesticides. The recommended dosing for chamomile tincture is as follows:15
Adults ? 1 teaspoon three times a day, as needed, to induce relaxation and promote restful sleep
Infants ? Rub a small drop on gums during teething or on the stomach to relieve colic pain and calm a restless child
Toddlers and older children ? 1/2 teaspoon up to three times a day, when needed, to induce sleep
Giving babies and young children who are having trouble sleeping a dose of chamomile tincture immediately prior to bedtime may help relax and prepare them for a restful night's sleep.
Cautions About Chamomile
While chamomile is generally well tolerated, you should avoid it if you have an allergy to ragweed or any other member of the daisy family of plants such as chrysanthemum or marigold. Avoid chamomile if you are pregnant, or if you are taking anticoagulants or sedative medications.16
Prior to using chamomile essential oil, do a skin test on your arm before applying it to your whole body. As with most other essential oils, it is best to use chamomile with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil.
Herbs and teas contain a wide variety of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that help maximize the nutrients you consume each day. They help to upgrade your nutrient intake without adding calories. One 8-ounce cup of tea contains only 2 calories. Both herbs and teas have unique medicinal value as well.
For instance, herbal teas may help you relax before bed, making you feel drowsy, allowing you to fall asleep faster. However, some may also cause sleep disturbances, so it's important to know the actions you might expect from the herbs or tea before using them. Fresh herbs add flavor and have been used for thousands of years as natural treatments.1
While herbs are short on calories, many pack a powerful vitamin punch, such as parsley, which has significant amounts of vitamin K, C and A.2 Remember too that while they are natural, herbs and teas may interact with prescription medications you may be taking or with an underlying medical condition. Not all herbs or teas are appropriate for children either.3
Eating fresh herbs adds depth and flavor to your dishes, but may be more difficult to find in the winter months. Growing and drying your own herbs may offer you the benefits of fresh in the summer and healthy dried herbs through the winter. However, before jumping into purchasing loose tea leaves or drying herbs this summer, it's important to know how to best store your products so they retain the greatest amount of flavor and nutrition.
Loose-Leaf Tea Healthier Than Tea Bags
While steeping tea from a bag is slightly more convenient, especially when you're away from home, loose-leaf tea, also known as whole-leaf tea, has some distinct advantages. Whole-leaf tea is made from an entire leaf of the plant, or at least the majority of the leaf, while tea bags are often filled with very small pieces of the tea leaves, sometimes having been reduced to powder.4
When the leaves are broken, they have a larger surface area with greater opportunity for the essential oils that add to the flavor of the tea, to dissipate. When packed in a paper box with paper wrapping, the oils have ample opportunity to be absorbed. This means tea made from tea bags may taste dull and stale sooner than loose-leaf tea that has been properly stored. Some tea bags are made with whole leaf tea, although they are the exception and not the rule.
Tea bags are also blended so the taste is standardized from one box to the next, wherever that brand of tea is sold. Unfortunately, this standardization may come at a price to the quality of the tea, as many manufacturers place a premium on the flavor and price of the final product and not on the nutrient value.5 Tea bags may also contain added toxins and fillers as they are often not organically grown and fillers are added at the point of manufacture.6
There are several ways of using bulk whole-leaf tea to make your own tea bags, thus enjoying the benefits of high-flavor tea and the convenience of being able to steep your tea. One way is to use coffee filters or muslin cloth to make your own tea bag.7 Put your tea in the center of a rectangular cut cloth or filter, fold the sides in toward each other and staple together. Fold the top down twice with string in the fold hanging out, then staple.
If you'd like the do-it-yourself project to be a little easier, consider single-use, drawstring tea bags. You fill the bag with your favorite tea leaves, draw the string closed and pack away for use when you leave home. A morning or afternoon tea is an easy way to incorporate a healthy habit into your daily routine and enjoy the benefits of antioxidants and great flavor.
12 Easy Ways to Use Herbs in Your Kitchen
One of the strongest selling points for eating organic foods is to reduce your exposure to pesticides and insecticides. Organic herbs and teas offer you the same benefits. If you've been cooking with processed flavorings, consider these simple suggestions to incorporate healthy herbs into your cooking.8,9,10
Add chopped fresh or dry parsley or dill to your scrambled eggs.
Add one or two leaves of basil, mint or cilantro to your sandwiches.
Add fresh cilantro, parsley, mint or basil to your salads.
Add a generous amount of oregano or thyme to your homemade salad dressings.
Make fresh pesto with basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and raw walnuts; add over chicken.
Rub a mixture of dried thyme and rosemary on your chicken before roasting.
Add fresh mint to iced tea or sparkling water.
Add fresh basil to your tomato sauce.
Sautee green beans or zucchini and basil, parsley or mint for added flavor.
Combine basil with raspberries or strawberries.
Rosemary works well with chicken, pork or salmon; it blends with tomatoes and spinach or add it to your quinoa.
Sage works well with squash and sweet fruit like apples. It holds up well in cooking and adds a flavor punch to sausage and cheeses.
Consider Stocking These Herbs
One of the best ways to keep fresh herbs handy for your dishes is to grow them yourself. Many herbs will grow throughout the year indoors when given a window with direct sunlight. They brighten your kitchen and provide inspiration for your cooking. Whether you snip them at home or purchase at the store, fresh herbs are relatively fragile and don't usually last more than a week after cutting.
To keep the fresh flavor longer, cut them and place in ice cube trays with bone broth. Freeze, remove from the tray and transfer to a plastic bag and keep frozen for use in soups and stews.11 Different herbs offer unique benefits to your health. Consider keeping these at home, whether fresh or dried:
Sage ? Used in the Middle Ages to help prevent the plague, sage has a long history of medicinal benefits. Current research has demonstrated that sage may help prevent dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease.12 In a four-month study, sage extract was also shown to improve cognitive function in people who already suffered from Alzheimer's disease.13
Holy Basil ? This is a different type of basil than regular or Thai basil. Small studies have demonstrated an improvement in immune function, an inhibition in the growth of bacteria and yeasts14 and a reduction in blood sugar levels.15
Thyme ? A member of the mint family, thyme contains a potent antioxidant oil called thymol. Teas made with thyme may be used to treat vaginal yeast infections and athlete's foot, and may be consumed to help speed recovery from an illness.16
Rosemary ? This robust herb has anti-inflammatory effects that help suppress seasonal allergic responses, including runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.17
Peppermint ? Peppermint helps relax the smooth muscle in your colon, reducing pain and bloating associated with irritable bowel syndrome,18 but not the diarrhea often associated with the condition.19 As an aromatherapy agent, it helps reduce nausea.20
Oregano ? Commonly found in Italian and Greek cooking, oregano has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is high in antioxidants and the oil of oregano has been used for treatment of fever, cough and congestion.21
Five Teas to Boost Your Health
Tea is a tasty and healthy way of consuming antioxidants that help prevent damage from oxidation of your food during digestion. Consider drinking a couple of cups throughout the day. Different tea leaves offer different benefits you may find help you to sleep, reduce anxiety or calm an upset stomach.
? Chamomile ? This is one of the most popular teas in the world, with a hint of apple flavor and naturally sweet taste. Chamomile tea is a good source of magnesium that may help you de-stress at the end of the day and has a mild soothing and sedative property to help you sleep at night.
? Matcha ? This is the most nutrient-rich green tea and will come in the form of a stone-ground fermented powder. The best quality Matcha teas come from Japan. This tea has up to 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries and seven times more than dark chocolate.
? Mint ? Mint tea is popular for soothing your stomach and helping to alleviate heartburn, indigestion and nausea.
? Lavender ? Too strong to be used in tea alone, you may mix dried lavender leaves with four times the amount of mint leaves. Lavender has many health benefits I've covered in "Lavender: The Flower With Many Faces."
? Black tea ? Made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the leaves are rolled, fermented, dried and then crushed before being added to tea bags. You may purchase black tea as whole-leaf tea and make your own bags at home. It has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the highest amount of caffeine of any tea.
How to Preserve Bulk Herbs and Teas
The purchase of quality bulk herbs and teas may be expensive, especially when the products oxidize and become unusable. Incorporating these plants may help improve your physical and emotional health, as well as reduce your reliance on Western medicine. Properly stored, many herbs and teas may last up to nine months, but they are best used in the first three to five months after purchase. To preserve your investment, you'll need to take some simple steps to maintain potency and flavor.22,23,24,25
Dry ? Before storing herbs or teas they should be in the driest form possible if you are harvesting from your own garden. A good way to test is to crumble a leaf between your fingers. It should crumble easily and be almost crisp to the touch. Your herbs and tea should also remain dry in storage. This means keeping them in an airtight container to retard moisture and air, which can cause the product to oxidize, losing flavor and health benefits.
Keep out of direct sunlight and heat ? The sun hitting jars of teas and herbs may look pretty, but the light will destroy the benefits and reduce the flavor. Instead, store in dark containers and keep away from sunny areas. Consider using small jars of herbs or teas on your counter space for decoration only, leaving the usable product out of the sun.
Some teas may store best in your refrigerator or freezer to reduce moisture and keep them cool. To do this, squeeze as much air out of a single-use package as possible before placing in your refrigerator or freezer. Remove the package several hours before use and keep unopened until the package and leaves reach room temperature to reduce the risk of condensation of the leaves.
Stay cool and dry ? Your herbs and teas will retain their potency best when stored away from areas that may retain moisture, like a bathroom or even kitchen. Store on the coolest side of your home.
Watch the temperature ? The best temperature for your teas and herbs is at a steady 65 to 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C). For this reason bathrooms and kitchens, where the temperature often fluctuates, may not be your best option. If your home's seasonal fluctuations vary more than 1 or 2 degrees outside this range consider a root cellar or the addition of an air conditioner.
Keep away from strong odors ? Teas and herbs may absorb odors from their surrounding environment, reducing the flavor. Store your ready-to-use herbs and teas in a cabinet away other foods.
Consider the container ? The best containers are colored glass or stainless steel with airtight seals, completely dry and odor free. The worst containers are clear glass that let in light, containers that leak, paper or plastic.
Date the canister ? To ensure healthy, flavorful herbs and teas, date your storage canister with the date you purchased or harvested from your garden to ensure you use the oldest canister first and within the first five months after purchase or harvest.
Teas Can Be Infused or Fermented
Consider fermenting the herbs to add probiotic and enzymatic elements or making an herbal infusion. Infusions are made with boiling water that is allowed to cool. The initial heat releases any dissolved gasses from the herbs and then as the water cools, a tight lid restricts the gas from re-dissolving into the water. This is known as the "wonder water" effect.26
Using dried herbal leaves, add 1 ounce to a 1-quart Mason jar and fill to the top with boiling water. Screw the lid on tightly and leave it at room temperature for four hours. Once cooled, you may strain out the plant. Drink approximately two cups per day until it has been finished. Infusions spoil rapidly, so store the unused portion in the refrigerator for 24 hours and make a new batch when you need one.
Fermenting herbs for herbal tea is yet another way of consuming herbs and tea, with additional benefits and flavor. This recipe for fermented herbal tea is courtesy of Cultures for Health.27
1 quart of clean, fresh water
1/4 cup loose herbal tea (your choice)
3 tablespoons honey or unrefined cane sugar
1/3 cup whey from yogurt or kefir or 1/8 teaspoon powdered starter culture or a few tablespoons of lacto-fermented vegetable brine
Prepare the herbal tea by bringing the water to a boil. Add the 1/4 cup herbs to a quart jar and pour boiling water over herbs.
Cover and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes to extract the properties of the herbs.
Strain the tea from the herbs into another quart jar. Add sweetener while still hot in order to dissolve the sugars. Allow to cool to room temperature with a lid on to keep out dust and bugs.
When the tea and sweetener have cooled add the whey or other culture starter. Stir well with a wooden spoon, cover loosely with either a towel and rubber band or a canning lid that hasn't been tightened all the way.
Place in a dark, warm place for a couple of days and check for fermentation. Is it slightly sour or slightly fizzy?
If you desire a more carbonated drink you can add a bit more sweetener and cap the jar tightly. After another day (three total, depending on temperature) you should have a bubbly brew.
In this interview, Dr. Thomas Cowan, a practicing physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shares his perspective on vaccines and autoimmune disease, which is the topic of his latest book, "Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness." The book was an outgrowth of answering a rather simple question: How do we recover from illness?
"When we get sick, there's a very certain sequence of events that happens, which I describe as, 'We're fine, then we get hot, then we get snot, and then we get better.' I've asked myself all these years, 'Why does that happen in that sequence?' That little question made me get into 'What is the nature of fever, and what is the nature of the cell?' Because, in my opinion, we have that wrong ?
What's the intention of your body? Once you see that, then you start to see that if you do something to prevent that sequence of events from happening ? you're going to end up with something worse happening. In a sense, that's the story of modern pediatrics and health of the children in the United States, and even more broadly, probably in the world.
The thwarting of that sequence is such a problem. That, of course, is tied in with vaccines, because they're a preemptive attack on that sequence."
The Role of Intracellular Water in Health and Disease
While writing "Human Heart, Cosmic Heart" ? a book focused on heart function and the mechanics of heart disease, Cowan began investigating the nature of water, discovering that water exists in more than three phases (solid, liquid and vapor). It also has a gel phase, known as exclusion zone (EZ) water. This is thoroughly explained in Gerald Pollack's book, "The Fourth Phase of Water."
"That was crucial to the understanding of the role of fever in vaccines and childhood illness," Cowan says, "Because what I realized is that, first of all, all of the intracellular fluid is in a gel phase.
It's a bit like Jell-O. If you think about how Jell-O is made, you take hydrophilic proteins and you put it in water. If that's all that happens, nothing happens. You have to heat up the proteins. This unfolds the proteins ? from a circular to essentially a linear shape.
Then they can interact with the water, so that when it cools, it forms this gel. That process is exactly the same as what happens inside our cells. There are intracellular proteins and there's water. The role of heat ? is a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which some people say is the energy molecule, but I would actually beg to differ.
What it does is it binds with the proteins in the cell, unfolds them and allows the cell to interact with water. That forms a gel inside the cell ? As a result of the difference between the sodium and potassium [in the cell], there's a charge around the cell, which allows the cell to integrate itself into a whole and to do work. There's literally nothing more important in cell biology than that process.
Over the years, people have [concluded] that it must be because of this sodium-potassium pump in the membrane ? But, interestingly, Gilbert Ling did studies on it and showed it would take 30 to 40 times the energy to run the sodium-potassium pump than we have as energy for our entire being, so it can't be the pump. How does this happen?
It happens because the nature of the intracellular gel is like a mesh. The mesh naturally excludes sodium and collects potassium. There's no energy required, except for the ATP to unfold the proteins. Essentially, when the gel is, let's say, the perfect liquid crystal, like the perfect Jell-O, then that's a perfectly well-functioning cell.
The things that create good health so you don't get sick ? things like sunlight, earth exposure (grounding), holding hands, infrared radiation, avoiding electromagnetic fields, good food, no sugar ? all those things facilitate the creation of this perfect gel, which then, in a sense, creates perfect health."
The Roots of Disease
Cowan postulates that when something happens in your body that interferes with this process of creating structured water (its gel form) in the cell, the disease process sets in, with the intention of reestablishing healthy gel.
When you insert toxins such as arsenic, aluminum or glyphosate, for example, it distorts the ability of the gel to form properly, which in turn prevents healthy cell functioning. "It's like having a screen on your house to keep mosquitoes out, but now the holes in the screen are an inch wide," Cowan says.
As a result, the cell cannot exclude the sodium and it cannot include the potassium. Nor can it properly perform any of its other functions. According to Cowan, to eliminate the toxin, your body creates heat, because by heating up the gel, it gets runny, more liquid. That's phase 1: fever. Phase 2, the snot part, is the detoxification stage. The mucus traps the toxin, allowing it to be expelled from your body.
"That's how we get rid of whatever is interfering with our intracellular gels to essentially keep ourselves healthy," Cowan says. "When you look at children and how they get sick, it's just one process after another. They're growing. They're making metabolic poisons.
They're exposed to all kinds of things. It's part, in a sense, of the growing process to, every once in a while, ? do a heating up and a snotting out, a kind of spring cleaning, and then you get on with being a healthy child.
When you see a child who is doing that all the time, and then it becomes ? a chronic disease, that's a child who is, A) chronically being intoxicated by all these different influences; doesn't have enough sun, earth, good food and all of those other things, or is B) being thwarted from going through those natural phases. In either case, you're going to end up with chronic disease."
Challenging the Definition of ATP
Cowan challenges the concept that ATP is the energy currency of the cells. This goes back to Ling's studies on the sodium-potassium pump, which showed that this pump acts like a backup generator. Again, when the ability to form this gel, which naturally excludes sodium, is impaired, everything in the cell starts to break down.
If a mechanism involving energy was required to fix the situation, it would be extremely difficult to heal, since your cells are already impaired and are not creating energy efficiently. Were this the case, then illness would be a kind of death spiral your body could not get out of.
"The other thing [Ling] did, which is very controversial ... is he essentially said there's no more energy in an ATP molecule than any other common molecule. [Energy] is not the role of ATP. The role of ATP is to bind to the intracellular proteins and change their configuration so that they unfold and interact with the water to form the gel."
Understanding Your Immune Function
All of this helps explain Cowan's position that all vaccines cause a distortion in the two branches of your immune response ? the cell-mediated immunity and the humoral immunity ? which in turn radically increases your risk of cancer. Essentially, when you get a viral childhood disease, the virus enters your body and infects your cells.
What this means is it enters the cell and distorts the gel, which triggers the disease process of fever, followed by snot or mucus, followed by recovery. This process involves your cell-mediated immune response, which activates white blood cells and chemicals that attract them to the site of infection, where the white blood cells basically chew up and spit out the infected cells. The byproduct of this process is snot or mucus. As a general rule, this process typically takes five to 10 days, after which you recover.
As explained by Cowan, "The experience of being sick is the cell-mediated immune system becoming activated. The function of that is to clear the virus, clear the dead cells and rejuvenate the gels. Once that happens, you're no longer sick."
Once you've recovered, your humoral immune system kicks in and starts generating antibodies against the virus to prevent the disease process from occurring again, should you be exposed to the same virus later on. "For your entire life, if the cell-mediated comes first and the humoral comes second, you will never have [that infection] again. That is almost a 100-percent foolproof system," Cowan says.
Vaccines Distort Your Immune Responses
According to Cowan, here's what happens when you inject a vaccine, which is meant to prevent you from ever getting sick (i.e., prevent the activation of your cell-mediated immune response) in the first place...
"Vaccines are engineered to avoid a cell-mediated reaction. Why is that? Because if you gave somebody a live virus and provoked a cell-mediated reaction, you would make the child sick with all the attendant risks of that ? The whole point of a vaccine is to not have a cell-mediated reaction, which is the part that clears the virus ?
[Vaccines] do provoke a humoral or antibody response, albeit a temporary one. Because without the cell-mediated [response] coming first, the antibody response doesn't last. How do I know that?
Because you have to keep giving booster shots over and over again, or the immunity wears off. Now, you could say the strategy of a vaccine is to provoke antibody responses. That's the strategy.
The other thing that comes into play here is, why don't they give just measles virus in saline? Why do they put all [these toxic additives] like dead fetal cells, glyphosate,1 aluminum, formaldehyde and a whole list as long as your arm of stuff [into the vaccine]? ?
Because [a saline and virus solution] doesn't create an antibody reaction. There's no antibody reaction to do anything ? so you have to put aluminum or another adjuvant in it.
Adjuvant means 'helper.' These are added to provoke a broad-spectrum antibody humoral immune response. Now, when you look at the definition of autoimmune diseases ? they are characterized by an excessive antibody reaction.
That's how we diagnose them. If you have antibodies to antinuclear antibodies, that means you have lupus. If you have antibodies to rheumatoid factor, that means you have rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have antibodies to your thyroid [hormone], that means you have Hashimoto's. At some point, somebody has to ask, 'How come all these people have too many antibodies?' As you know, because I'm a bit of a smart aleck, I'd say, 'Maybe the vaccine program worked.' I mean that's the point, right? To make you have the antibodies. So, it worked."
Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants
The problem with vaccine adjuvants is that they cannot selectively trigger the activation of antibodies against a specific virus. "There's no theoretical way you can give a nonspecific adjuvant and think that it's only going to make diphtheria antibodies, for example. It doesn't work like that," Cowan says. Sure, the diphtheria vaccine, for example, will trigger the creation of diphtheria antibodies since diphtheria antigens are added to the solution, but the chances of it making diphtheria antibodies exclusively is zero.
"So, you have people walking around with nonspecific activation of their humoral immune system," Cowan says. "Yehuda Shoenfeld, editor-in-chief of Autoimmunity Reviews and The Journal of Immunology, who has written hundreds of papers and books on how autoimmune diseases develop, basically says there's a syndrome called ASIA, which stands for 'Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants,' which is apparently going to be renamed 'Shoenfeld's Syndrome.'
He estimates there are 150 million people worldwide who have this syndrome ? When you talk about cancer, the reason it's been so difficult to develop an effective cancer vaccine is because vaccines make antibodies. It's not generally speaking the part of the immune system, if even cancer is an immunological disease in the first place, which I doubt. It's probably a metabolic disease.
But it's certainly not a disease of the humoral immune system. If anything, it's an intoxication, which then affects your metabolic function. The detox system is the cell-mediated immune system. The cell-mediated immune system is deactivated, suppressed by Tylenol, Motrin, and antibiotics and just the fact of not letting children go through cell-mediated activating diseases. That's the tragedy of this ?
For some reason, medicine in general and pediatrics in particular, have essentially decided to wage war on the cell-mediated immune system. But that's our best friend. That's how we detoxify. If you suppress fevers your whole life, essentially, you're going to have to do saunas when you're older."
Why Fever Needs to Run Its Course
In short, fever facilitates your detoxification process, with the aim of producing a cleaner system. Unfortunately, most parents will rush to administer fever-reducing medicine as soon as their child develops a fever, thereby effectively preventing or interrupting this healing process. A far better alternative would be to administer liposomal vitamin C, which will aid and speed the process, not stop it. Certain homeopathic medicines can also be beneficial.
The story of Coley's toxin is an interesting side note showing just how powerful a healer fever can be. John Coley was a surgeon and sarcoma specialist who worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. In the early 1900s, Coley followed up on a rare case involving a man who was mysteriously cured of sarcoma after contracting an infection and spending four weeks in the hospital with a high fever.
When Coley tracked the patient down, nearly a decade later, he was still alive and well. It turns out he'd contracted erysipelas, a strep infection of the skin characterized by very high fevers and red skin. Coley subsequently spent a number of years infecting people with erysipelas in an effort to develop an effective fever therapy for cancer. Coley's toxin was a combination of the fever-producing part of the erysipelas bacteria mixed with Neisseria bacteria endotoxin.
"He would give this so-called Coley's toxin to people; injecting them once a day ? to give them a 104-degree fever for four weeks. There's documentation of literally 1,000 people being cured by this," Cowan says. "Roche Pharmaceuticals developed their own Coley's toxin. It was the first and main adjunctive therapy for cancer in the U.S. ? widely popular and widely successful ?
[T]he immune therapy was the activation of the cell-mediated immune system with fever, which is exactly what measles does. Interestingly, measles was well-known for actually curing the nephrotic syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease of the kidneys.
If you have nephrotic syndrome and then you get measles, in most of the cases, the nephrotic syndrome goes into remission and never comes back when you're done with the measles.
Of course, once they developed the measles vaccine, they took children with nephrotic syndrome and injected them with the measles vaccine, because they were telling us at the time that the vaccine creates an identical immunity as the natural disease.
I'm sure you can guess what happened to the children with nephrotic syndrome. Nothing. It didn't work. Why? Because it's not the humoral immune system that cures you of nephrotic syndrome. That makes it worse. [Activating] the cell-mediated immune system ? and that's like taking a sauna every day, or detoxing ? that's what works. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to register."
The Unknown Toxic Backstory of the Polio Epidemic
In his book, Cowan also goes into the toxic component of polio. The polio virus is an enterovirus, meaning it lives in your gastrointestinal tract. It's supposedly been around for millennia, yet there are virtually no recorded cases of paralytic polio in the medical literature until the late 1800s. So, what causes this virus to "turn" on its host? Cowan notes that in two of the earliest outbreaks, which took place in Europe and Vermont, arsenic-based insecticides had been introduced shortly prior to the outbreaks.
It was well-known that this arsenic-based insecticide caused paralysis in cattle. Eventually, it was discovered that this insecticide acts on the anterior horn cells of the nervous system ? the very part of the nervous system that polio is said to affect. Over time, this arsenic-based chemical became increasingly widespread, and along with it came the emergence of polio. In mid-1915 to 1918, polio cases were concentrated on the Eastern Seaboard, particularly in Long Island.
Award-winning journalist Dan Olmsted researched the matter, discovering that Long Island was the first place to introduce sugar grown on Hawaiian sugar plantations using a particular form of arsenic for weed control. As it turns out, arsenic concentrates in the sugar, and wherever this sugarcane ended up, so did outbreaks of paralytic polio. Epidemics actually tended to cluster around candy stores.
"So, in order for the virus to cause disease, you first have to have some negative effect on the anterior horn cells, which came through arsenic," Cowan explains.
Another chemical with a particular affinity for the anterior horn cells of the nervous system is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). And, when you compare the summer sprayings of DDT and rates of polio in those same areas, you find an incredibly close correlation. The more DDT was sprayed, the more polio cases were reported.
Eventually, congressional hearings were held on whether polio was really caused by a virus. Many experts insisted paralytic polio is actually caused by neurochemical poisoning. A study was conducted in which they were able to identify the virus in only 51 percent of cases in which children died of paralytic polio, which means that in 49 percent of cases, the children had no evidence of any viral infection at all.
Hence, paralytic polio cannot be a virally driven disease. "In the early '60s, Rachel Carson wrote the book 'Silent Spring,' and DDT stopped being used [in the U.S.]. That was around the exact same time that the polio epidemic ended. We no longer use arsenic on the fields [and] we don't see paralytic polio anymore," Cowan notes.
In addition to recognizing the value of fever in the healing process, another take-home message is the importance of sauna use. If you've been vaccinated, you probably need to take saunas on a regular basis. As Hippocrates once said, "Give me a medicine to produce a fever and I can cure any disease." To learn more about sauna use, and the importance of selecting one with low or no electromagnetic fields and other safety precautions, see "The Many Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing."
Recipe by Paleohacks https://blog.paleohacks.com/keto-breakfast-burger/
People all over the world enjoy burgers, as they can be interpreted in several ways depending on how creative you can get. But have you imagined yourself eating a burger in the morning? It might sound unusual, but with the right ingredients, a breakfast burger is a great way to jump-start your morning and set the mood for the rest of the day. And do it with not just any burger, but a ketogenic breakfast burger using bacon, avocado and assorted vegetables.
This recipe from Paleohacks is exactly what you?re looking for in a breakfast burger. It might not be a traditional breakfast meal, but it?s healthy and delicious ? which is how every breakfast should be. As a bonus, the smell of bacon wafting through the kitchen is sure to wake your senses.
Place the bacon rashers on a cold frying pan. Turn the stove on and start frying the bacon. When bacon beings to curl, flip it with a fork. Continue cooking the bacon until it is crispy.
Remove the bacon from the pan and crack the egg into the same pan, using the bacon fat to cook it. Cook until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.
Slice the avocados in half width-wise. Remove the pit and use a spoon to scoop it out of its skin.
Fill the hole where the pit used to be with mayonnaise.
Layer with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon and fried egg.
Top with the second half of the avocado.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Avocado Gives You a Healthy Dose of Essential Fats
The inclusion of avocado makes this recipe ketogenic, giving the burger sufficient amounts of healthy fats that are good for your well-being. It may seem odd, but using avocado as a bun for your burger is a great way of exploring new flavors in an exciting way. Plus, avocado is simply healthy for you. Research has found that this fruit can benefit your health by:
Improving nutrient absorption: Consuming avocado can help improve your body?s ability to absorb carotenoids from other foods, which are antioxidants that can help fight free radicals throughout your system.
Promoting cardiovascular health: In a study published in the Archives of Medical Research, individuals who ate avocados for one week lowered their total serum cholesterol level by 16 percent.
Encouraging healthy weight: Avocados contain generous amounts of fiber, which can help you feel full longer, thus helping reduce your caloric intake. In one study, participants who were given avocados felt more satisfied after eating and had a 28 percent lower desire to eat food within the next five hours.
Organic Bacon Is the Patty for This Burger
Bacon is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, and it?s easy to see why. The flavor is very unique, and depending on your creativity, bacon can be used in a variety of ways. However, the main issue I have with bacon is that it is conventionally processed, and is rich in nitrates that are known to be carcinogenic. A 2007 study published by the World Cancer Research Fund notes that consuming 1.8 ounces of conventionally processed meat per day (around two to three or slices of bacon) can increase your risk of bowel cancer by 20 percent.
But remember that the devil?s in the details. In moderation, bacon can be safe to eat, as long as you?re getting the healthy type ? specifically one that?s made from organic pasture-raised pork and is free from added nitrates. An easy way of knowing this is simply looking at the meat ? the pinkness indicates that it has been treated with nitrates and nitrites. Also, make sure that the bacon is made using traditional curing methods to ensure safety and quality.
Bacon from pastured pigs can be healthy, too, as it contains healthy saturated and monounsaturated fat, mostly consisting of oleic acid, the type found in olive oil. Bacon also contains fat-soluble vitamin D, palmitoleic acid that?s known for its antimicrobial properties, and phosphatidylcholine that possesses antioxidant activity superior to vitamin E.
Vegetables Add Flavor and More Nutrients
No burger is complete without vegetables. Aside from adding flavor, vegetables simply make the dish healthier. Each vegetable in this recipe has unique properties that contribute to a healthy meal:
Tomatoes: These fruits are rich in lycopene, which is also responsible for their red pigmentation. Studies have found that lycopene has varied applications, such as promoting a healthy cardiovascular system by helping lower LDL cholesterol, reducing gingivitis and improving lung health.
Note that this recipe uses a single raw tomato slice, which means you won?t get enough lycopene for your daily needs. Furthermore, research suggests that cooking tomatoes can actually improve the bioavailability of lycopene. With this in mind, I suggest that you add other cooked tomato-based foods to your diet to obtain more lycopene.
Onions: A staple in traditional burgers, onions have a pungent aroma that will literally bring tears to your eyes, but they contain beneficial nutrients to compensate for this caveat. One study found that onion is rich in inulin, which is a type of fiber that has prebiotic capacity, or the ability to promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut.,, Furthermore, inulin can help proper bowel movement by improving stool frequency and quality.,,
Lettuce: Another mainstay in burgers, studies have found that lettuce has various potential benefits to your health, such as helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, managing anxiety and lowering the risk of cancer.
Go Ahead and Have a Healthy Burger for Breakfast
Over the years, I have refined my views on eating breakfast, as I do understand that some people cannot start their day without it. In my opinion, if you?re doing intermittent fasting, it doesn?t matter which meal you skip ? breakfast or dinner ? as long as you skip one of them.
Eating a burger in the morning may sound unusual, but if it?s healthy and tastes great, why stop yourself? If you?re looking for ways to spice up your mornings and look for creative ways to incorporate avocados into your meals, then this recipe is right up your alley. Just make sure that all your ingredients are organic and come from reputable producers to ensure your safety and maximize nutrients obtained.
About the Blog
Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.
Some people tend to overlook the fact that the skin is your body?s largest organ, and that it performs vital functions such as retaining body fluids, avoiding dehydration and shutting out harmful microbes. Moreover, your skin is one of the most visible body parts that typically come into contact with your surroundings.1
Maintaining skin health and keeping it well-nourished may work wonders not just for your body, but for your confidence too. Unfortunately, there are certain conditions, such as psoriasis, that can severely affect you on both a physical and emotional level.
A Brief Overview of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease2 wherein skin cells build up quickly on the surface, eventually causing scaling and inflammation3 in the form of pain, swelling, heat and redness.4 Psoriasis patients often notice the development of sections of thick and red skin surrounded by silver scale-like patches, on their elbows, knees, scalp, face, feet or lower back.5
The onset of psoriasis is typically linked to the immune system, in particular a type of white blood cell called the T cell that helps with shielding your body from infections and diseases.6 If you have psoriasis, these cells are extremely stimulated and trigger immune responses that eventually result in inflammation and rapid skin cell turnover.7
Some patients may be affected with psoriasis because of genetics. It is said that 1 in 3 people with a close relative diagnosed with psoriasis may have the condition. Children with one or both parents diagnosed with psoriasis are more prone to develop this skin condition too.8
How Many People Are Affected With This Condition?
Psoriasis is a condition that affects more than 7.5 million people in the U.S.9 According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), the condition typically develops in patients between 15 and 35 years old, although psoriasis can manifest at any age. In fact, 10 to 15 of psoriasis patients are already affected with the condition before they?re 10 years old, and some infants may be diagnosed too, although this is considered rare.
The condition is not gender specific, as the NPF states that men and women develop psoriasis at equal rates. From a racial perspective however, roughly 1.9 percent of African-Americans are affected with psoriasis, while 3.6 percent of Caucasians have the disease.10
Good News: You Can Effectively Prevent Psoriasis
Since psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease, making sure that your immune system is in optimal shape is a huge must if you want to prevent this condition from affecting you or someone you know.
Not only will these pages help you learn about this disease and how it could affect people of various ages, but you can also learn how to avoid psoriasis in the first place, the warning signs that you should watch out for and the best food items to eat if you have the condition. Read up about psoriasis to help you stop the condition before it happens.
We finish up this, our eighth, Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, with a documentary by Elizabeth Hong and Daniel Montoya. "Mercury Undercover" exposes the very real dangers of mercury toxicity, and its connection to amalgam fillings.
Amalgam, also called "silver fillings," is in fact a massive consumer fraud. By referring to the color of the compound rather than its content, consumers everywhere have been tricked into placing a known neurotoxin in their mouths.
Think about it: If your dentist said, "OK, I'm going to put a large mercury filling into this molar," you'd probably sit up and say, "Hey doc, maybe we should talk about this!"
Most people are aware that mercury is hazardous to health, but if they don't know that amalgam contains mercury, then they cannot object to it in the first place. And that's exactly how the dental industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) want it.
Most Americans Are Deceived by Inaccurate Term
In a report titled, "Measurably Misleading,"1 Consumers for Dental Choice, led by Charlie Brown, former attorney general of West Virginia, reveals how the FDA and the dental industry have deceived you about amalgam.
A Zogby poll, commissioned by Consumers for Dental Choice, reveals that Americans are indeed fooled by the terms "silver fillings" and "amalgam."
Fifty-seven percent of Americans are unaware that amalgam is a mercury filling, and 23 percent believe amalgam is made of silver. Also, a mere 11 percent of people say their dentist ever told them that amalgam contains mercury.
The FDA is responsible for addressing consumer fraud that occurs in medicine and health. But when it comes to mercury fillings, the agency has refused to take corrective action. Not only that, it actually condones, not condemns, the marketing of amalgam as "silver fillings." Hence, the deception continues.
Dental Mercury Fuels Chronic Inflammation in Your Body
Indisputable evidence exists that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor when you eat, drink hot liquids, brush your teeth or otherwise stimulate your teeth.
As noted in a 2010 scientific review2 on mercury exposure and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury. Ideally, exposure should be zero, so any dentist insisting that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is really not acting in an ethical manner.
The mercury vapors released from the amalgam in your teeth readily pass through your cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system. Effects can be psychological, neurological, and/or immunological.
At above average doses, brain functions such as reaction time, judgment and language can be impaired. At very high exposures, mercury can affect your ability to walk, speak, think and see clearly.
One 2012 study3 evaluating the effects of mercury on cognition in otherwise healthy adults found that those with blood mercury levels below 5 µg/L had the best cognitive functions. Mild impairment was evident at blood mercury levels of 5 to 15 µg/L, and above 15 µg/L, cognition was significantly impaired.
Mercury is also known to cause kidney damage, which is why it's so important to have your mercury fillings removed by a properly trained biological dentist. As explained by mercury expert Chris Shade, Ph.D., mercury can also displace other elements such as zinc and copper, by attaching to the receptors that would otherwise hold these essential minerals.
Overall, mercury has a very strong ability to dysregulate your entire system, which is part of the reason why mercury toxicity symptoms are so difficult to pin down. For example, I've written about one case in which a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis came to realize she was actually suffering from mercury toxicity. She recovered after undergoing an appropriate detoxification protocol.
Putting an End to FDA's Concealment of Mercury
For decades, the FDA and American Dental Association (ADA) have successfully concealed the fact that amalgam is made of 50 percent mercury, and that there are health risks associated with mercury fillings. It's time for the truth to be acknowledged.
The Minamata treaty on mercury , thanks to an aggressive and strategic three-year campaign by Brown and his team, includes a mandate that every ratifying nation scale down amalgam use ? and start immediately. The United States ratified the Minamata Convention, which entered into legal force a year ago this week, on August 16, 2017.
The FDA's stance on amalgam is in direct violation of the Minamata Convention, as its amalgam rule advocates more mercury fillings for Americans, not less! Thus, Consumers for Dental Choice created a petition to FDA, signed onto so far by over 45,000 people.
Why Do Half of All American Dentists Still Use Mercury Amalgam?
When Consumers for Dental Choice was founded, only 3 percent of dentists were mercury-free. The organization has been instrumental in catalyzing change in the industry. Today, more than 50 percent of dentists in America have stopped using mercury filings. Unfortunately, we seem to have stalled out at around 50 percent of dentists who still insist on using amalgam.
"We think the pro-mercury dentists have stabilized because they won't learn anything new and the profits are so easy," Brown says.
Indeed, dentists make more money per chair per day when using mercury fillings. For factory-style dentistry, where the teeth represent dollar signs instead of part of a human being, dentists drill, fill and bill.
And, of course, since amalgam damages tooth structure and cracks teeth, pro-mercury dentists continue to profit from amalgam long after its initial placement. The good news is that in virtually every community in America you can now find a mercury-free dentist, and I urge you to keep looking until you find one. You can use the seven links at the bottom of this page to help you find one.
"Never go to a dentist that uses mercury fillings on anybody; on the welfare child, on the young, on the old, on the black or white, or the Asian, or on anyone. Do not go to that dentist. Don't give them one dollar, one euro, one pound, one peso, or one Australian dollar. Go to a mercury-free dentist; the men and women who only put safe materials in everyone's mouth," Brown advises.
For Decades, the ADA Forbade Dentists to Reveal Truth About Amalgam
The ADA's longstanding effort to keep consumers uninformed is another factor that has kept the secret going for so long. The ADA owns two patents on amalgam: patent numbers 4,018,600 and 4,078,921.
The patents have now expired, but while they were in effect the ADA went to incredible lengths to wipe out mercury-free dentistry and quash dissent from the emerging critics of mercury-based dentistry. It went so far as to adopt a "rule of conduct" that actually prohibited dentists from discussing mercury with their patients:
"Based on available scientific data, the ADA has determined that the removal of amalgam restorations from the nonallergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical."
Yes, the ADA said it is unethical for a dentist to tell the truth to his patients. This gag rule, enforced by state dental boards, clearly violated the First Amendment. It was finally undone by Consumers for Dental Choice, starting in 1998, and by dentists who boldly stepped forward over the years. Still, the effects linger.
Mercury Has No Place in 21st Century Dentistry
As noted in the Consumers for Dental Choice report "Measurably Misleading,"4 a majority of consumers are not given even the most basic information about amalgam ? the fact that it contains mercury. The central deception revolves around referring to mercury fillings as "silver" or "amalgam."
Still to this day, many dentists will not use the "M" word ? mercury ? in talking to their patients for fear of jeopardizing their license, thanks to the ADA's rule of conduct (above). For a long while now, mercury has been dentistry's greatest controversy and its great little secret.
Fortunately, dentists worldwide are now moving toward mercury-free dentistry. Indeed, it's time for dentists everywhere to "grab the bull by the horn" and tell their patients that amalgam is about 50 percent mercury. The word "silver filling" is a deception and "amalgam" is an ambiguity.
Both terms need to be replaced with the truthful description of "mercury filling." Mercury-free dentistry is the future, but to get there, consumers need to be told the truth, and that means that dentists need to speak out and make their voices heard in their communities.
Bringing Mercury-Free Dentistry to the US
Working with talented environmental, consumer and health leaders, Consumers for Dental Choice has launched mercury amalgam phase-out campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America to complement the North American campaign. The world and American campaigns are synergistic, each helping feed the other. In the United States, efforts are also being redoubled, with a focus on forcing the FDA to uphold the promise made by the nation when it signed the Minamata treaty on mercury pollution.
It's quite simple really. The United States of America has made a promise to the international community to immediately begin reducing the use of amalgam.
Consumers for Dental Choice and its leader Charlie Brown continue their full-court-press campaign to bring mercury-free dentistry to the U.S. and worldwide. If you wish to stay informed, I encourage you to follow them on Facebook. You can also receive their announcements by joining their mailing list at ToxicTeeth.org.
Three Ways You Can Help the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry
This is the week we can get Consumers for Dental Choice the funding it deserves to achieve these aims. I have found few NGOs as effective, and none as efficient, as Consumers for Dental Choice. Its small team has led the charge on six continents ? including ours! So for the eighth year in a row, I will match the funds you give.
The goal is to raise $125,000. I?ve upped the ante 25 percent from last year?s cap of $100,000. So, please, consider giving a generous donation, and all funds received will be matched by Natural Health Research Foundation, which I founded. There are three ways you can help Consumers for Dental Choice succeed:
1. Use only mercury-free dentists. If your dentist still offers amalgam as a choice, switch to one who will not put mercury in anyone's mouth. Also be sure to let your dentist know why you're leaving.
Are you tired of drinking the same old tea over and over? Chaga mushroom tea may be a good option for you. Chaga tea has been used in Russia and other Baltic countries for hundreds of years to boost immunity and improve overall health.1 It is now gaining popularity in Western countries, as numerous studies are touting the nutritional components of chaga mushrooms. Continue reading this article to learn more about the impressive health benefits of chaga tea and how you can include it in your daily routine.
What Is Chaga Tea?
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a parasitic fungus commonly found in cold climates, typically in Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada.2 It is usually attached to birch trees, with the infection eventually killing the tree and the mushroom dying soon after.3
Trees infected with it develop a black growth on their bark reminiscent of charcoal, with a brown interior.4 Chaga mushrooms come irregularly shaped and cracked with a distinct cork-like texture. They typically grow within arms? reach, making them easily accessible for harvest. However, in some instances the mushrooms may grow at heights of 10 to 30 feet.5
While chaga may look like something you wouldn?t want anywhere near you or your beloved trees, it is actually popular for its wide array of health benefits. Its high concentration of vitamins, minerals and nutrients paved the way for chaga to be lauded as a superfood.6
After numerous studies showed the benefits of chaga consumption, chaga product availability in the market increased. These products range from raw chaga mushroom chunks to chaga tea, skin cream, lip balm and joint rubs. However, brewing chaga tea may be the easiest way for you to benefit from this mushroom.
The Health Benefits of Chaga Tea
Before it became widely popular, chaga tea was already being widely utilized in Russia, Poland and other Baltic countries. It is valued for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and tumor-preventive properties.7 In addition to these uses, chaga tea may:
Boost immune function. In a 2011 animal study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, chaga extracts were found to influence the production of cytokines that regulate the production of antibodies in the body.8
Help regulate blood sugar. A 2017 animal study from Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy shows that the polysaccharides found in chaga may have antihyperglycemic properties due to its effect on the Akt/PKB signaling pathway.9
Help keep inflammation at bay. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, mice were administered chaga extracts to test its effectivity on easing inflammation. Its effectiveness was linked to its effect on the inflammatory cytokines.10
Chaga Tea Nutrition Facts: Does It Contain Caffeine?
Chaga tea contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are essential to keeping the body at peak condition. It is rich in vitamin B2, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and a lot more.11
If you?re caffeine-sensitive or you?re trying to limit your caffeine intake, the good news is that chaga tea is caffeine-free. It?s also free of other stimulants like methylxanthines, including theophylline and theobromine. This makes it ideal for drinking in the morning and at evening.12
Here?s How You Can Brew Chaga Tea
When brewing your first batch of chaga tea, it?s important that you use wild chaga instead of the lab-grown kind. Also, note that you?ll achieve better extraction the more you crush the chaga mushrooms into powder. Brewing this type of tea yields an earthy and natural-tasting tea with hints of vanilla, due to the trace amounts of vanillin found in the mushroom.
To help you brew chaga tea, here?s a step-by-step guide from David Wolfe?s book ?Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms:?13
Fill a glass teapot with cold water. Put the ground chaga or chunks in the water.
Allow the herbs to steep in cold water from a few minutes to an hour.
After steeping, take the cold water up to a hot temperature slowly to about three-fourths of the temperature to a full boil. You can do this in 45 minutes to an hour. The slow rise in temperature will allow a better extraction of the chaga essences.
Using a strainer, push the chaga chunks away from the surface of the tea. Dip a ladle in the area within the strainer to get the filtered tea. Enjoy!
How to Correctly Store Chaga Tea
If you?re fortunate enough to live in a region where you can get fresh chaga, you?d need to know how to correctly store the mushrooms. Fresh chaga is susceptible to mold, so any type of moisture can be extremely damaging to it. If you have fresh chaga on hand, make sure that your supply is completely dry before storage. Here?s how to store your fresh chaga correctly: 14
After harvest, dry your fresh, wild chaga in direct sunlight for several days. Make sure that you bring the chaga in during the night and only bring it out during the daytime.
If sun exposure is not possible, you have the option of using a dehydrator. Set the dehydrator at a temperature of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also use a stove for drying out the chaga mushrooms. Set it at 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you have to keep a close eye on the chaga to avoid burning.
Once dry, break the chaga into golf-sized chunks with a mortar and pestle, or wrap the chaga in a small towel and carefully break with a hammer.
Store the dry chaga chunks in airtight glass containers. Use the chaga as needed.
Note that if a white film develops on the outer bark, it can still be used, but do so immediately. Mildewed chaga should not be stored as this is not usually present in the mushrooms; rather, mildew develops due to improper storage.
Chaga Tea Side Effects and Contraindications
While chaga tea boasts of impressive health benefits, its consumption may amplify the symptoms of numerous conditions, which include:15
Autoimmune diseases. Chaga?s effect on immune function may prove to be problematic for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases. By making the immune system more active, chaga could magnify the symptoms that accompany these conditions.
Diabetes. Chaga may alter blood sugar levels, which could make it harder for diabetes patients to regulate and control blood glucose fluctuations.
Bleeding disorders. While it is unclear how chaga may affect blood clotting and bleeding, this tea should be avoided by patients suffering from bleeding disorders.
Boost Your Immune System With Chaga Tea
With its impressive nutrient and antioxidant load, chaga tea may just be the next big thing in health maintenance. Its ability to help strengthen the immune system and ease inflammation is enough reason to add this herbal tea to your routine. Just make sure you get chaga mushrooms from trustworthy sources so you can be entirely sure that you?ll be getting all the health benefits they have to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chaga Tea
Q: How much chaga tea should I drink?
A: Because of the varying tolerance that people may have for chaga tea, it?s best that you consult a health care professional to know the recommended amount.
Q: How long does chaga tea last?
A: When refrigerated, chaga tea may last for up to 14 days.16
Q: Where can I buy chaga tea?
A: There are numerous stores that sell different types of chaga mushrooms. You can get them in chunks or in powdered form. Some health stores also offer chaga teabags for an easier brewing experience. However, make sure that you?re getting chaga from reputable sources to guarantee that you?re getting only the highest quality possible.
Q: What does chaga tea taste like?
A: Chaga tea tastes earthy and a little bitter, but not unpleasant. It?s also said to have hints of vanilla, thanks to the trace amounts of vanillin in the mushroom. Note that the taste may vary depending on the quality of the chaga mushrooms.17
The recall of more than 145,000 containers of almond milk suspected to be tainted with dairy milk has again stirred the debate about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines ?milk.? The FDA and American dairy industry contend beverages sourced from plant materials such as almonds and coconuts do not meet the criteria necessary to be labeled as milk.
FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has gone on record saying, ?Almonds don?t lactate,? citing federal regulations suggesting liquids sourced from lactating cows be the only beverages permitted to be referred to as milk.1 Given Gottlieb?s comment (and penchant for the obvious), you may enjoy the featured video, which takes a satirical look at ?almond milking.?
While the recalled containers of vanilla Almond Breeze are important news given the potential danger posed to anyone with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, the bigger concern for American consumers relates to food labeling.
Is it really necessary to differentiate dairy milk from alternative milk-like beverages originating from almonds and other plant foods? After years of passively allowing nondairy beverages to be labeled as milk, why is the FDA finally acting to uphold its antiquated labeling rules?
Dairy-Tainted Almond Milk Recalled, Stirs Debate About Alternative ?Milk? Beverages
In early August 2018, HP Hood LLC voluntarily recalled more than 145,254 half-gallon refrigerated cartons of Vanilla Almond Breeze due to the possibility the product may contain cow?s milk, a known food allergen not listed on the label.
The affected containers feature a use-by date of September 2, and were shipped to retailers and wholesalers in 28 U.S. states.2,3
While the beverage is safe for anyone who can tolerate regular dairy products, the contaminated beverages pose a risk to consumers who have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. At least one allergic reaction has been reported to date.4 According to Time, the recall stirs the debate about the labeling of alternative ?milk? beverages:5
?The dairy debacle comes in the midst of a debate over whether beverage makers can call nondairy products ?milk,? since the FDA?s current ?identity standards? for milk refer to lactating animals.
The FDA is in the process of deciding whether it will amend that definition or require companies to stop using the word ?milk? in reference to drinks made from soy, almonds, coconuts, oats and other common nondairy alternatives.?
Speaking at the POLITICO Pro Summit in July 2018, Gottlieb noted the FDA would be issuing a guidance document with respect to any forthcoming changes to its policies related to milk labeling.6 (The current policy, which has been revised multiple times, was put in place in 1977.7)
Changes are expected to be well-received by dairy groups, many of whom are struggling with falling prices and global oversupply.8 You may not realize milk has a standard definition designed to be enforced by the FDA. Given the reference to lactation, it?s clear nondairy alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk technically do not qualify as ?milk.?
Although the FDA?s definition of milk fills an entire page, the first sentence disqualifies nondairy alternatives in plain language: ?Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.?9
Dairy Groups Unhappy About Plant Products Being Labeled as Milk
As you may imagine, dairy industry groups are not happy about what they perceive to be the misuse of product names such as ?milk? when applied to nondairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk.
With respect to the FDA activity, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), a pro-dairy group established in 1916 that acts as a frontrunner for 27 major U.S. dairy cooperatives,10 asserts the FDA ?must stop turning a blind eye toward violations of food labeling laws. It needs to use more enforcement and less discretion as dozens of brands flagrantly violate government requirements.?11
As mentioned in the video above, the NMPF and other industry groups have repeatedly urged federal regulators to enforce U.S. food labeling laws to restrict the use of dairy-related terms to products originating from farm animals.
Sorting out the labeling discrepancies is important to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of the authors of a farm bill introduced to Congress in 2017, in part because of the many challenges facing American dairy farmers, such as low milk prices, uncertainty in export markets and the impact of Canadian milk pricing.12 In a statement issued by the NMPF, Mulhern said:13
?After years of inaction in response to our complaints about these labeling violations, Gottlieb?s announcement the FDA is intending to act on this issue is very encouraging.
The marketing of nondairy imitators must comply with federal standards of identity, and consumers should not be misled these products have the same nutrition as real milk, yogurt, cheese and other actual dairy products.?
?DAIRY PRIDE? Bill Seeks to Ban the Use of Dairy-Related Terms for Nondairy Products
A bill dubbed the ?DAIRY PRIDE Act,? which is actually an acronym for "Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Every Day,"14 was introduced in both houses of Congress in January 2017 by Baldwin and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont. The bill, part of a much larger package of agriculture-related legislation, seeks to ban the use of terms such as ?cheese,? ?milk? and ?yogurt? for nondairy products.15
Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, a state long known as America?s Dairyland, says using the term "milk" to describe plant-based foods amounts to mislabeling according to FDA rules. ?Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy's good name for their own benefit which is against the law and must be enforced,? says Baldwin. ?Mislabeling of plant-based products as ?milk? hurts our dairy farmers.?16,17
Despite the bill gaining little traction in Congress, Baldwin and Mulhern continue to press Gottlieb and the FDA to issue new guidance to the industry and declare its intent to enforce labeling according to existing regulations.
According to ABC News, the FDA ?will open a docket ?very soon? and solicit public comment to help develop a guidance document that would enforce the new standards.?18 They note the process may take a year or more and will most certainly face challenges from nondairy beverage producers and consumers alike.
Does the Mislabeling of Nondairy Products Amount to Consumer Fraud?
As a staunch defender of real dairy products, Mulhern has gone as far as suggesting the lack of FDA enforcement around alternative beverages such as almond, coconut and rice milk has resulted in ?rampant consumer fraud? due to ?the inferior nutrient content of these nondairy products.?19
Mulhern calls out the lack of protein in almond and rice milk, for example, noting regular dairy contains about 8 grams of naturally occurring protein per serving.20
The NMPF suggests there are ?significant public health implications? due to the fact dairy alternatives, unlike real milk, vary widely in their nutritional profile, whereas real milk, with the exception of fat content, maintains a consistent nutritional package from brand to brand.21
While I would like to believe Mulhern is concerned about the welfare of the American public, as a representative of an industry group, it?s obvious his primary concerns revolve around advancing the interests of the dairy industry, especially as it relates to market growth and profits.
For that reason, I don?t buy what I perceive to be feigned concern by Mulhern, as expressed in an NMPF news release. He stated:22
?Consumers who purchase these imitations are not receiving the same level of nutrients found in cow?s milk, and that contributes to Americans falling short of the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet. The FDA must act on this matter or else see the further decline of proper nourishment of our children and families.?
The more likely reason for the NMPF?s concern relates to the bottom line: Dairy alternatives are siphoning off market share and profits once neatly controlled by the dairy industry. Given the growth expectations for nondairy products, it makes sense dairy groups are hoping for some help from the FDA to draw consumers back to their product.
A Renub Research study published in January 2018 suggests the alternative dairy market is on track to exceed $34 billion by 2024 due to increasing consumer preferences for casein- and lactose-free products.23,24 As you may imagine, every dollar spent on nondairy alternatives is perceived to be a takeaway from the dairy industry, which is still adjusting to the depth and breadth of the competition plant-based alternative products pose. As stated by PR Newswire, highlights of the Renub report suggest:25
Roughly two-thirds of adults worldwide are lactose-intolerant, and in Africa and Asia the figure is around 90 percent, underscoring the need for nondairy alternatives26
Following a dairy-free diet can be beneficial, and this lifestyle has become increasingly more popular worldwide
Demand for fortified dairy beverages and foods is expected to fuel continued growth of the dairy alternatives market
The potential danger of cross contamination and the higher cost of dairy alternatives are two factors that may negatively influence the growth of this segment
What Is the Best Milk for You?
The easiest way to determine the best milk for you is to listen to your body. If you feel ill after drinking dairy milk, chances are good you may suffer from lactose intolerance, a casein allergy or another type of dairy sensitivity. Rather than eat and drink illness on yourself, your best strategy is to simply avoid traditional dairy products.
Replacing milk and other dairy products with nondairy substitutes is a matter of personal choice. If you don?t miss drinking and eating milk-based products such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt and can obtain requisite nutrients from other foods, you can easily forgo nondairy alternatives.
However, if you cannot imagine life without eating certain types of foods ? like ice cream or yogurt, for example ? then by all means, find a substitute. Nondairy alternatives are especially helpful when you need milk-free options for use in recipes.
Keep in mind that many who believe they cannot drink regular cows? milk actually do fine when drinking raw, organic grass fed milk, which is far easier on your digestive system. Raw, grass fed A2-only milk may be even more ideal.
Regardless of the type of ?milk? and ?milk-based? beverages and foods you choose, be sure you are consuming enough calcium, protein and other vital nutrients from dairy or nondairy sources. When choosing nondairy alternatives, particularly for consumption by children, be sure to read product labels and watch out for artificial ingredients and added sugar.
Due to the unique needs of their developing bodies, it is important to ensure your kids are getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, as well as sufficient amounts of high-quality fat and protein, on a daily basis.
Raw Milk: A Source of Superior Nutrition if You Can Tolerate Dairy
Nondairy alternatives aside for a moment, if you are able to tolerate milk, I highly recommend you drink raw milk from organic, grass fed cows. You are sure to enjoy the thick, creamy taste and the many beneficial nutrients raw milk provides, such as calcium, enzymes, omega-3s and probiotics.
The best raw, unpasteurized milk comes from healthy cows raised on open pasture where they are free from herbicides and other toxic chemicals known to negatively affect the quality and taste of the final product.
If you?re new to raw milk, you should note the appearance of grass fed organic milk is quite different from the milk you may have purchased from the grocery store. It usually has a yellowish color resulting from the carotenoids in the grass. It is one of the healthiest beverages around and far superior to the pasteurized variety. Most also agree it has a superior taste compared to pasteurized milk.
Final Thoughts from the Nation?s No. 1 ?Health? Agency
In the months ahead, the FDA has committed to addressing the ?dairy versus nondairy? issue openly and thoroughly. The first public stakeholder meeting was held in July 2018.27 About the process, Gottlieb stated:28
?We will not be doing this in a vacuum. We?re going to have an active public process for reviewing our standard and how consumers understand the use of terms like ?milk? on both animal-derived and plant-based products.
We want to see if the nutritional characteristics and other differences between these products are well-understood by consumers when making dietary choices for themselves and their families.
We must better understand if consumers are being misled as a result of the way the term ?milk? is being applied and making less informed choices as a result.
At the FDA, we have a unique chance to empower individuals who are using nutrition to improve their health and the health of their families, and to leverage diet and nutrition as a tool for impacting the burden caused by chronic disease.?
The true test of the FDA?s commitment to the American public will only be seen in the action they take. If and when the FDA opens up the lines of communication for citizen input, I encourage you to share your opinions about nondairy alternatives. By speaking up and working together, we can continue to influence government agencies like the FDA.
You can get a 6-ounce jar of extra hot, ?feels like your hair is falling out? Atomic brand horseradish sauce on Amazon for $5.99. If you?re a horseradish lover, that might not be a problem, but can you imagine growing your own spicy horseradish roots to produce your own horseradish sauces, saving money and learning the tricks of this easy-to-propagate, fast-growing crop?
Horseradish tolerates nearly every climate, but generally requires full sun or part shade. Starting with ?crowns? or roots acquired either by a generous gardening friend, the supermarket or nursery, these are best planted in the spring for harvesting in fall, winter and the following spring. For one household, three plants is usually all you need to rustle up some tantalizingly tasty heat for any number of dishes, or a simple spread for sandwiches.
Although it can be grown from seed, horseradish is usually propagated from a small root piece. With its botanical name Armoracia rusticana, horseradish roots may look a little like skinny parsnips or pale carrots with their tough, leathery skin. But one nick of your hoe on their brown skin reveals not just cream-colored flesh inside, but a nasal-burning sensation that tells you there?s something a little hotter going on.
Horseradish is usually made into a sauce that turns potatoes, sandwiches, eggs and roast beef ? and that?s a very limited list ? into a flavor sensation. Patricia Boudier, co-owner of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, featured in the above video, explains her own experience with the spicy root:
?I grew up eating horseradish. We put it in our potatoes, we grated it on sandwiches and we made a cream sauce out of it. And if you like a wasabi rush, you need to grow some horseradish.?
The unique essence of horseradish is a pleasant addition to kimchi, fermented mustard, flavorful summer rolls, sushi, and bread-and-butter pickles. Wasabi, however, is the Japanese version of a tasty heat in a thick green paste that many people crave, but few people are aware that much of the ?wasabi? sold in the U.S. is actually horseradish. Morning Chores explains:
?True wasabi ? as in the stuff made from the Wasabia Japonica root ? is incredibly hard to find outside of Japan. The plant is also super picky about growing conditions. In fact, to grow it in most areas, you'd need to create the perfect artificial conditions and intensively care for plants for two years before harvesting.?1
The Key to the Kick: Two Healing Plant Chemicals
Preparing horseradish for your table isn?t much more difficult than shopping for it at the store, bringing it home and twisting off the lid. After harvesting it, simply peel the rough skin and grate the root straight up into whatever dish needs an extra punch of flavor. The key to the kick, it turns out, comes from powerful plant chemicals known as isothiocyanates.
Derived from the hydrolysis of glucosinolates, the sulfur-containing compounds found in horseradish (including glucosinate enzymes that are 10 times more powerful than those in broccoli2), are especially effective in fighting lung and esophageal cancers.3 These gastrointestinal and respiratory tract cancers can be diminished by these phytochemicals, according to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.4 As one study5 notes, isothiocyanates are effective against cancer in three different ways:
They prevent carcinogens from activating
They counteract the toxic effects of activated carcinogens
They fast-track their removal from your body
The Linus Pauling Institute asserts that cruciferous vegetables such as horseradish contain a variety of glucosinolates, each of which forms a different isothiocyanate when hydrolyzed. That hydrolysis is catalyzed by a class of enzymes known as myrosinase (or ?-thioglucosidase) which forms several breakdown compounds, including indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates.6
In addition, whether you eat them or are exposed to them in the environment, antioxidant sulforaphane increases enzymes in your liver that help destroy cancer-causing chemicals. It?s even been called one of the most powerful anticarcinogens found in food.7 Other areas the compounds in horseradish have been known to be effective against include skin blemishes, gallbladder problems, respiratory problems, headaches, asthma, sciatic nerve pain and more.
Horseradish to Eat for Fall and Winter Heat
Without adding a lot of adjectives, you could simply say growing horseradish is easy. The root is not only what you eat; it?s also what you plant, and they grow deep into the soil like a carrot. Here?s one tip that helps explain just how easy: If you don?t harvest the entire root, you?ll end up with another horseradish plant the following year, as it easily propagates on its own.
In fact, it?s so easy you may need to learn a few tricks to keep it from cropping up in flower beds next to it. Leaving a one-and-a-half-foot buffer zone between your horseradish and other plants may be wise; if the rhizomes start popping up in the buffer zone, dig them up and share them with heat-loving friends and neighbors, or start another plant bed.
While you can plant horseradish roots directly into the ground, to prevent the horseradish invasion and make harvesting easier as well, you can use large pots or half-size barrels that hold a minimum of 15 gallons.
Horseradish is very cold hardy; some sources says it grows best in gardening zones 4 through 7, which encompasses roughly the upper three-quarters of the U.S., but others maintain zones 3 and 9 work well, too. The good news is that if you?re looking for heat, horseradish thrives where hard freezes are common, as it forces the plants into dormancy. It also becomes more pungent where long, cool growing seasons are the norm, particularly in the fall. Mother Earth News offers a few more tips:
?Growing horseradish is easy in Zones 4 to 7, where established horseradish plants require little care? (It) grows best in moist, silty soils like those found in river bottomland, but enriched clay or sandy loam with a near neutral pH is acceptable. Situate horseradish roots diagonally in the soil, with the slanted end down and the flat end up.?8
That said, the above video features Boudier?s tips on growing horseradish in gardening Zone 8, which covers a wide horizontal band across the Southern U.S., generally from South Carolina through middle Texas to narrower bands upward to Washington state. This zone?s first frost date is December 1, the last frost date is April 1, and temperatures rarely dip below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Propagating Horseradish: Tips and Tricks
Because these roots have a tendency to dry out after being harvested, you may want to soak yours in water for a few hours before planting. Fill your pot (or garden plot) with a high-quality potting soil. Place a single root into one pot with the crown at the top (where the leaves will emerge) as horseradish becomes quite large. Cover the root with about 5 inches of soil, and while you don?t want them to get waterlogged, keep them watered well until the plants are about 1 foot high. Don?t worry; they grow incredibly fast.
Boudier also recommends adding a high phosphorus-low nitrogen fertilizer (too much nitrogen may produce more leaves than roots) or booster blend to your soil will help augment the root system, but your own compost tea is a recipe that?s inexpensive and simple to make. In fact, you can make a compost tea out of the horseradish itself. It?s useful as a preventive fungicide that you can spray on fruits and other plants to prevent or treat damaging and unsightly diseases. Off the Grid News reports:
?Horseradish is a potent substance, as anyone who has eaten it can tell you. That spicy flavor indicates a potent cleanser that is an excellent way to prevent fungal infections and particularly, brown rot in apple trees. Process 1 cup of horseradish roots in a blender or food processor and mix with 2 cups of water. Let it sit for 24 hours and strain out the roots. Dilute this liquid with 2 quarts of water.
It is best to use the spray in the early morning or in the evening. Do not spray when it is too hot, or it may burn your plant?s leaves. Before trying any spray, you would be wise to test it on one leaf first. Observe the leaf 24 hours later to see if there was an adverse reaction. Only spray the part of the plant that is diseased. Protect yourself while spraying. Some of the ingredients may be irritating to your eyes, nose, or skin.?9
When you look at different types of horseradish varieties, the first thing you?ll likely notice about the generally long, narrow leaves is that they can vary. Older strains can be as wide as 10 inches across, while ?Bohemian? (smooth-leaf) varieties originating in Czechoslovakia, such as Maliner Kren (crinkly), are usually what?s used when the plant is grown commercially, and these leaves are narrower.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension10 explains that as horseradish plants grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall, they develop numerous leaves. Varieties can also be identified by the smoothness (i.e., the Big Top Western strain, created at the University of Illinois11), ?frilliness,? or the crinkly texture (Common, Swiss and Sass varieties) of the leaves.
Similar to planting other herbs and vegetables, growing horseradish in the same place year after year can deplete the soil of beneficial organic matter and minerals. To remedy that, applying compost every fall is recommended. Beyond that, when you?re ready to harvest, be careful to remove all the roots when harvesting, snip off the green leaves, wash the soil off and place them in a baggie in your refrigerator?s crisper drawer.
Protecting Horseradish Naturally, and Why Growing Your Own Is Best
Like other plants, organically grown horseradish is not immune to disease and/or pests, but there are natural ways to both prevent most problems and solve them should they occur. Morning Chores12 and Off the Grid News13 tackle a few of the most common problems with growing crucifers, including horseradish, offering practical and natural ways to deal with each:
? Imported cabbage moth larva ? Watch for small white moths with tiny black dots on their wings, as they lay eggs that become this leaf-destroying pest. The best way to deal with these caterpillars is to pick them off by hand or place them in a bowl of soapy water.
? Imported crucifer weevil ? Metallic blue beetles with pointy faces produce larvae that bore into horseradish roots. You can use diatomaceous earth, which is a form of algae. It has sharp, microscopic edges that cut into insect bodies if ingested, destroying them from the inside out, but without being harmful to mammals.
? White rust ? This looks like white pustules on the plant, mostly due to being waterlogged or planted too closely together. Bacterial leaf spot starts as dark green spots that eventually turn brown. Sprayed liberally with a homemade fungicide made from horseradish itself may be an effective natural, DIY remedy:
?Process one cup of horseradish roots in a blender or food processor and mix with two cups of water. Let it sit for 24 hours and strain out the roots. Dilute this liquid with 2 quarts of water.?14
The ease of growing horseradish makes it more fun than a chore, but there are other factors that may make the prospect even more attractive. At the grocery store or supermarket, if you take a look at the labels of several commercially produced horseradish preparations, you may notice more than the root and a little water; in fact, you might find surprising ? not to mention unwanted ? ingredients.
For instance, according to the manufacturers? labels, Rothschild?s15 contains soybean oil and corn syrup. So does Woebers Sandwich Pal.16 Heinz Premium17 has soybean oil, sugar and high fructose corn syrup in it, as does Inglehoffer Cream Style Horseradish,18 which also adds the preservative sodium benzoate, which one study reported to be ?clastogenic, mutagenic and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes? and ?significantly increased DNA damage.?19
Morrison?s Hot Horseradish Sauce contains titanium dioxide for color, but one study shows it induces both DNA damage and genetic instability.20
So how easy is it to grow horseradish, someone may wonder? Boudier?s answer is succinct as well as encouraging: ?Make sure it?s free of weeds, water it when it dries out, let it grow all summer and harvest it after the first frost.?
If you've never tried leeks, you may be interested to include them in your fall garden this year. Actually, you can grow leeks year-round, but given their hardiness to cold, they make a great fall crop. If you live in an area with mild winters, you can even leave leeks in the ground during winter and harvest them in early spring. Now is the time to consider growing (and eating more) leeks.
Taking a Peek at Leeks, the Tall, Leafy Cousin of Garlic and Onions
Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum porrum) are a member of the allium family vegetables, closely related to garlic, onions, scallions and shallots. Given their thick green sheaths and long floppy leaves, leeks stand out in the crowd. In fact, leeks grow 12 to 30 inches tall, 9 to 12 inches wide and 1 to 2 inches in diameter.1
Often considered to be a root vegetable, leeks don't typically form a bulb. When it's been blanched and kept tender, you'll find the bottom 6 inches of a leek's leaf sheath to be the most edible and enjoyable part of the plant. When preparing leeks for eating, you can compost the tough upper leaves or use them to make stock. Due to their cold hardiness, you can plant leeks year-round. As such, they were featured in my article titled Plan and Plant Your Fall Garden Now.
Leeks are biennial and will grow a flower stalk in the second year. That said, you'll want to harvest them in the first year. Only allow leeks to bloom if you are interested in saving seed; otherwise, treat them as an annual.
Though they were once rarely seen outside of potato-leek soup in the American food mainstream, leeks are growing in popularity. They have a long history of culinary use around the world, including northern Europe. Thought to originate in the Mediterranean and Central Asia, leeks also were cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks and popularized by the Romans.2
The subtle, mild flavor of leeks adds depth to a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews and stir-fries. Leeks can be enjoyed cooked or uncooked. They add antioxidants, beneficial fiber, bulk and as well as important vitamins and minerals to any meal.
Suggested Leek Varieties You May Want to Try
Mother Earth News suggests types of leeks you may want to try, based on your choice of growing season, as follows:3
Summer leeks: Lincoln, Kalima, King Richard, Rikor or Titan
Fall and early winter varieties: Falltime, Imperial, Tadorna or Varna
Winter-hardy types: American Flag, Blue Solaise, Giant Musselburgh, Siegfried or Winter Giant
In most U.S. regions, says Mother Earth News,4 the winter-hardy varieties will endure winter and resume growing in early spring when temperatures warm. If you plant winter-hardy leeks, be sure to mulch them well and harvest them in the spring before they flower and produce seed. If you wait to harvest them until late spring, chances are they will have turned woody. As such, to ensure the best flavor, harvest winter leeks between January and April.
How to Grow Leeks
When planning for leeks, be sure to plant them early in the growing season because most varieties take 120 to 150 days to mature. If you want them ready sooner, seek out one of the modern cultivars that have been bred to be ready in about 90 days. Below are tips from gardening experts on how to grow leeks:5,6
Leeks do well either direct-sown or as transplants. If you live in a cold climate, start seeds indoors, using a loose, well-aerated seed-starter mix, eight to 12 weeks before your last spring frost. Give them plenty of light. When outdoor temperatures remain above 40 degrees F, you can harden the plants off slowly during a period of seven to 14 days and then transplant them in your garden.
In warmer climates, you can start seeds indoors three to four weeks prior to your last spring frost and then transplant your seedlings outdoors for an early summer harvest. Another option is to direct-sow seeds in your garden in late summer for a winter through early spring harvest.
To avoid damage from diseases and pests known to linger in the soil, choose a planting site where onions, garlic and other alliums have not grown for several years. Check out the featured video above for two demonstrations on the best way to plant leeks in your garden.
Although they will tolerate somewhat alkaline soil, leeks thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. To fuel the growth of their long leaves, you'll want a loose, rich soil with lots of organic matter. If desired, you can add a balanced fertilizer during the transplanting process.
Because leek leaves grow in the same direction, you can set your transplants out as close as 2 to 6 inches apart as long as you allow room for the leaves room to branch out into the spaces between rows.
Leeks thrive in full sun.
Pests and problems
In terms of pests, watch out for onion maggots, thrips and slugs, which may nibble leaves and stunt growth. Leaf rot or leek rust can be a problem in the case of damp weather, wet soil or poor air circulation, so be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings. Remove any infected plant material as soon as it appears.
Provide about 1 inch of water weekly. If desired, you can mulch the plants to help retain water, cool the soil and prevent weeds. By the way, weed control is vital to the success of your leeks because they don't like to compete with weeds for water and nutrients.
Although leeks are not heavy feeders, due to their long maturity, you may want to apply a side dressing of composted manure or a high-nitrogen fertilizer midseason. Alternately, you can apply fish emulsion fertilizer occasionally throughout the growing season to keep your leeks growing strong.
Two Tips to Ensure Your Success When Growing Leeks
Below are two tips provided by The Spruce to ensure your success when growing leeks:7
? Blanching: Leek shafts are made tastier through a process called blanching, which blocks photosynthesis, thereby keeping the plants tender and sweet. You can blanch your leeks by planting them in a trench or mounding up soil or straw at the base of the plants as they grow. Another option is to place wide boards alongside your rows in the shape of an inverted "V" when your leeks reach a height of 8 inches. All of these methods block the sun's access to the plant, thereby creating a white sheath.
? Grittiness: Due to the tight formation of their sheaths and close proximity to the soil, leeks are well-known for attracting grit. As the plant grows, soil can easily become trapped between the leaves. One way to keep them cleaner is to slip a cardboard tube, such as those used for paper towels and toilet paper, over young leek plants. Not only will the tube keep out the grit, but it will also disintegrate naturally.
Because leeks don't die back like onions, signaling their readiness, it's best to wait to harvest them until the base feels firm and solid and is at least 1 inch in diameter.8 The best way to harvest mature leeks is to dig them up with a gardening fork. When harvesting immature leeks, simply twist and pull them from the soil.
As mentioned, leeks are frost tolerant. If you live in a mild climate you can leave them in the ground all winter long. Because leeks will store better in the ground than in your refrigerator, harvest them in small batches and use them within a day or two.
Tasty Ways to Prepare and Enjoy Leeks
When preparing leeks for eating, the hardest part may be removing the mud and grit they've attracted while in the ground. Due to the blanching process, which may have involved trenching, your leeks might contain layer upon layer of dirt. An effective way to clean leeks is to start by cutting them in half lengthwise and rinsing them well. Another option is to soak them in cold water for several minutes and then rinse them afterward.
Taking extra time to wash your leeks well is important says Dani Lind, owner and operator of Rooted Spoon Culinary in Viroqua, Wisconsin. She states, "Really take care when cleaning leeks ? there's nothing worse than biting into a mouth full of grit in an otherwise carefully prepared dish."9 Lind offers the following tasty suggestions for preparing and enjoying leeks:10
Add chopped leeks to soups; consider combining leeks with chicken, cream and potatoes
Blanch chopped leeks in boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften and then add them to salads
Cut leeks in half lengthwise and braise in water with aromatic herbs
Cut leeks lengthwise into quarters, blanch, brush with coconut oil and grill
Poach chopped leeks in an oven-safe casserole dish with wild-caught fish, lemon, white wine and dill
Sauté chopped leeks in coconut oil along with garlic, onions and your favorite herbs
Use whole or halved (lengthwise) leeks as a base for slow roasting large cuts of grass fed beef, chicken, lamb or pork
Nutrition Facts for Leeks
Leeks are a good source of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Due to the presence of folate, adequate intake of leeks during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in newborns. In addition, the B vitamins in leeks may support heart health by keeping your levels of homocysteine in balance, which is important because elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease, blood clots and stroke.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Eating Leeks May Help Protect You from Cancer and Heart Disease
Leeks are versatile, tasty and easy to prepare. If you are unfamiliar with them, I encourage you to give them a try. As with most vegetables, you may enjoy them more if you grow them in your own garden. Leeks have much to offer in the way of nutrition. Similar to garlic, the therapeutic effects of leeks centers around its sulfur-containing compounds like allicin.
Allicin is a well-known antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant agent. When digested, allicin produces sulfenic acid, a compound known for its fast action to neutralize free radicals. Leeks also contain kaempferol, a natural flavonoid found in broccoli, cabbage and kale.
Kaempferol has been shown to help your body resist cancer and other chronic diseases. As reported in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry:12
"Some epidemiological studies have found a positive association between the consumption of foods containing kaempferol and a reduced risk of developing several disorders such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Numerous preclinical studies have shown that kaempferol and some glycosides of kaempferol have a wide range of pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antiosteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic activities."
Kaempferol is also known to protect your blood vessel linings from damage, possibly by increasing production of nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels to dilate and relax.13 In a meta-analysis of 19 studies involving 543,220 subjects, researchers found consuming large amounts of allium vegetables, including leeks, may significantly reduce your risk of gastric cancer.14 Another study suggests the consumption of allium vegetables like leeks can protect against other types of cancer too:15
"Allium vegetables have been shown to have beneficial effects against several diseases, including cancer. Garlic, onions, leeks and chives have been reported to protect against stomach and colorectal cancers ?
The protective effect appears to be related to the presence of organosulfur compounds and mainly allyl derivatives, which inhibit carcinogenesis in the forestomach, esophagus, colon, mammary gland and lung of experimental animals."
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), or Indian tobacco, is a flowering herb that is named after the Belgian botanist, Matthias de l?Obel.1 It was formerly used as a substance to aid in smoking cessation, but has since been discontinued because of mixed results.
In a broader sense, lobelia can refer to a wide variety of flowering plants, with some botanists claiming that these varieties belong to a separate family, Lobeliaceae.2 One of the most common and popular variety of lobelias is the Lobelia inflata variety. Other varieties of lobelia plants include both Lobelia siphilitica and Lobelia cardinalis. These varieties normally can be distinguished from the Lobelia inflata through their flowers? different colors.
Lobelia siphilitica is the most cultivated variety of this plant and is often called the ?great blue lobelia? because of its vivid blue flowers, as opposed to the pale color of Lobelia inflata.3 Lobelia cardinalis is also much easier to differentiate because of the distinct bright red color of its flowers.4
Because of its dainty flowers, lobelia plants are usually planted in the garden or in window boxes to accentuate the ambience of the surroundings. However, its beauty sometimes leads to its nutritional components being overlooked.
Nutritional Benefits of Lobelia Inflata
Here are some of the benefits that you?ll likely receive when you start using lobelia therapeutically:
Respiratory stimulant and antispasmodic: Lobelia may help the bronchial tubes relax, stimulating breathing and loosening phlegm.5
Expectorant: Lobelia decreases the viscosity and promotes the excretion of mucus produced in the respiratory system. It works by triggering the cough reflex and is said to be more effective than other expectorants. It is commonly used to ease pneumonia and bronchitis.6
Muscle relaxant: In small doses, lobelia may help constricted areas in the body relax, promoting better blood circulation. It may also aid in easing stomach cramps and other body tensions.7
Scientific studies have also linked lobelia to seizure prevention and neuron protection in those with Parkinson?s disease. In a 2014 study published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, lobeline, an alkaloid from lobelia, was found to inhibit dopamine transportation by blocking DAT-mediated uptake. This helps protect dopaminergic neurons from toxins that may trigger neuron damage and death.8
In a 2012 study from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, mice were given isolated lobeline to measure the preventive effects the alkaloid has on pentylenetetrazol- and strychnine-induced seizures. The anticonvulsant properties of lobeline were found to be effective in increasing GABA, which helps offset seizures.9
How Do You Use Lobelia?
Applied externally, lobelia may help relax smooth muscles through its antispasmodic properties.10 It can also be added to your bathwater. For oral ingestion, lobelia can be dried and then brewed into tea.11 For best results, consult your physician to determine the appropriate dosage for you, so that you can avoid ingesting too little or too much of this herb.
Here?s How You Can Grow Your Own Lobelia
Lobelia is commonly planted in regions with low temperatures. But while they thrive well in cold climates, they are actually very sensitive to frost. Listed below is a step-by-step guide on how to successfully plant lobelia in your backyard either for ornamental or medicinal purposes:12
Start indoors roughly 10 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost in your region. Spread the tiny seeds just on top of the soil and water thoroughly. Place them in a warm, well-lit area.
The seedlings should pop up within a week or two, at which time you can begin thinning them out.
After the danger of frost is gone and the plants are at least 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant them to your garden ? spacing them about 4 to 6 inches apart.
During hot and dry periods, water the plants frequently, especially if they are planted in containers.
Try This Recipe for This Muscle Relaxer Tea
Because of the strong effects of lobelia when taken in it?s pure form, some people choose to incorporate it into their various tea recipes. One such example is this recipe from Living Herbal Tea, which combines lobelia with other tea leaves:13
Combine the herbs. Steep 1 tablespoon of the herb blend in 8 ounces (approximately one standard mug full) of boiled water for five to seven minutes. Steeping too long or in water that?s too hot will cause the blend to become bitter.
Keep your cup covered while the tea steeps to make sure you don?t lose any of the flavor or healing properties.
Allow the tea to cool to a safe and comfortable temperature. Sip and enjoy.
Watch Out for These Contraindications and Possible Side Effects of This Herb
Even though it has a variety of health benefits when taken in moderation, lobelia may actually be poisonous when ingested in large quantities. It?s also poisonous for pets and other animals, and should be removed from the vicinity where these pets reside to avoid them from being harmed.14 If you have pets, do not plant this herb in an area that?s accessible to them. Some of the side effects that you may experience when you ingest lobelia include the following:15
Nausea and vomiting
Severe symptoms may arise if you overdose on lobelia. If you observe the following side effects, immediately seek the attention of a healthcare professional:
Low blood pressure
Loss of consciousness
Lobelia should also be avoided when you suffer from the following conditions and diseases:
High blood pressure and heart disease: Lobelia is a vasomotor stimulant and may cause an increase in blood pressure. This may worsen the symptoms of high blood pressure and could even cause irreversible damage.16
Tobacco sensitivity: Lobelia contains lobeline, a substance that has the same effect of nicotine in the human body. This alkaloid contains about 5 to 20 percent of nicotine?s potency.17,18
Lobelia should not be used by people who suffer from liver or kidney disease, seizures or shortness of breath. Like other herbs and medications, lobelia should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it may cause adverse effects.19
Anxiety has exponentially risen in recent years. Not only do more than half of all American college students report anxiety,1,2 research3 also shows anxiety ? characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear ? is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.
Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.4,5
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don?t involve drugs. This is well worth remembering, as doctors are far more likely to prescribe opioids to patients who complain of anxiety than those who do not have any mental health issues.
Anxious and/or depressed patients also receive higher dosages. Remarkably, nearly 19 percent of Americans diagnosed with a mental health disorder use narcotic painkillers, compared to just 5 percent of those without a mental health disorder.6
Opioids are extremely addictive, and if you?re already struggling with anxiety, you may be at even greater risk of addiction and its potentially lethal consequences. What?s more, if you?re concurrently taking benzodiazepines such as Valium, Ativan, Klonopin or Xanax, which are widely prescribed for anxiety, your risk of lethal overdose increases fivefold.7,8,9
Anxiety May Be Inherited From Your Parents
While any number of issues can contribute to anxiety, from diet10 and toxic exposures to sociological conditions,11 recent research suggests you may also inherit a predisposition to anxiety from your parents.
According to this research,12,13 conducted on rhesus monkeys, connectivity between the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis ? two brain regions involved in the processing of fear ? can be passed from parents to their offspring.
Lead author Dr. Ned Kalin, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Newsweek:14
"We are continuing to discover the brain circuits that underlie human anxiety, especially the alterations in circuit function that underlie the early childhood risk to develop anxiety and depressive disorders.
In data from a species closely related to humans, these findings strongly point to alterations in human brain function that contribute to the level of an individual?s anxiety. Most importantly, these findings are highly relevant to children with pathological anxiety, and hold the promise to guide the development of new treatment approaches."
This inherited brain connectivity is nowhere near the complete story, though. The researchers stress that its contribution to the variance in anxiety measurements is small ? probably around 4 percent or so. Still, it?s another part of the puzzle, and researchers hope the findings will eventually lead to better intervention strategies in high-risk children.
A Little-Known Contributor to Anxiety and Depression
Paralleling the rise in anxiety and other mental health disorders such as depression is the chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from cellphones and cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, smart meters and other Bluetooth devices, and research shows this exposure can have a direct influence on your mental health.
Thanks to the pioneering work of biochemist Martin Pall, Ph.D., we now know that voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are over 7 million times more sensitive to microwave radiation than the charged particles inside and outside our cells. This means that the safety standards for this exposure are off by a factor of 7 million.
When EMFs hit your VGCCs, nearly 1 million calcium ions per second are released into the cell, which then causes the cell to release excessive nitric oxide (NO). When NO is combined with superoxide, peroxynitrites are created, which in turn form dangerous hydroxyl free radicals that causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction.
The reason your mental health is so easily influenced by EMFs is because one of the organs with the greatest density of VGCCs is your brain. When the channels in the brain are activated, it causes a major disruption in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance that can radically increase the risk for not only anxiety and depression, but also autism and Alzheimer?s.
This research reveals the fatal flaw in the argument that microwave radiation is harmless because it cannot cause thermal damage. The way EMF exposure causes biological damage is by activating VGCCs in your cells, especially nerve cells that have a higher density of VGCCs, triggering a cascade effect that results in peroxynitrite being produced and causing oxidative damage. So, the lack of thermal influence is inconsequential.
Failure to realize this and take steps to minimize your exposure will not only damage your DNA and increase your risk of most chronic illness; it will also seriously impair your body?s ability to detoxify, and significantly impair your immune response to address the large variety of pathogenic infectious assaults.
The take-home message is this: If you or someone you love struggles with anxiety or depression, it would be wise to take whatever steps necessary to minimize your exposure to cellphones, portable phones, Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, wireless computers and tablets, especially exposures at night while you are sleeping. It would also be wise to address other sources of dirty electricity in your home.
How Stress Influences Anxiety
While genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events play a role in the development of anxiety disorders, stress is one of the most common triggers. Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but in some people the anxiety becomes overwhelming and difficult to cope with. The National Institute of Mental Health explains how your brain reacts to stress, and how the anxiety response is triggered:15
?Several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety ? scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders.
The amygdala ? is believed to be a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It can alert the rest of the brain that a threat is present and trigger a fear or anxiety response.
The emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears, such as fears of dogs, spiders or flying. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories.?
Aside from the hippocampus and amygdala, the thalamus is also involved in anxiety. The stria terminalis is a fibrous band that runs along the lateral margin of the thalamus, and all of these brain areas are involved in the generation and processing of fear and are well-established parts of the ?anxiety circuitry? in your brain.16
As noted in the featured monkey study, connectivity between your amygdala and stria terminalis may be inherited from your parents, and if you have this predisposition, then stress may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel?s back.
Your Breathing Also Has Direct Influence on Anxiety
Your breathing is part of the stress response, and the way you breathe is intricately connected to your mental state. I?ve previously published interviews with Patrick McKeown, a leading expert on the Buteyko Breathing Method, where he explains how breathing affects your mind, body and health.
Here, I?ve chosen a video featuring Robert Litman, where he specifically addresses the relationship between breathing and anxiety. According to Buteyko, the founder of the method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen.
In this video, Litman explains how your breathing affects the ratio of these gases, and demonstrates how you can literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.
A Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety is summarized below. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.
Take a small breath into your nose; a small breath out; hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath; and then release to resume breathing.
Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for five seconds, then let go and breathe normally for 10 seconds.
McKeown has also written a book specifically aimed at the treatment of anxiety through optimal breathing, called ?Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind ? Featuring the Buteyko Breathing Method and Mindfulness,? which can be found on Amazon.com.17 In addition to the book, ButeykoClinic.com also offers a one-hour online course and an audio version of the book, along with several free chapters18 and accompanying videos.19
Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist, has also written an excellent book called ?Breathe.? In it, she details a program that can help improve your physical and mental health. You can learn more about her breathing program in this recent interview.
Other Common Contributing Factors
Aside from stress, improper breathing and excessive exposure to microwave radiation from wireless technology, a number of other situations and underlying issues can also contribute to anxiety. This includes but is not limited to the following, and addressing these issues may be what?s needed to resolve your anxiety disorder:
Food additives, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, GMOs and glyphosate. Food dyes of particular concern include Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and the preservative sodium benzoate
Gut dysfunction caused by imbalanced microflora. This is often a result of eating too much sugar and junk food
Exposure to toxic mold and other toxins. Ask yourself if there?s any kind of pattern; do your symptoms improve when you spend time away from your home or office, for example?
EFT ? A Potent Nondrug Treatment Alternative
In addition to learning proper breathing, another potent treatment alternative that does not involve drugs is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), one of the most well-established forms of energy psychology. Akin to acupuncture, EFT is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians.
By gently tapping on specific energy meridian points in your body and using verbal affirmations, you can reprogram how your body responds to stress, thereby lowering your anxiety.
Research confirms EFT can be a powerful intervention for stress and anxiety,22,23,24 in part because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.25
In the video above, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for panic attacks and anxiety relief. For serious or complex issues, you may need a qualified EFT therapist to guide you through the process. That said, the more you tap, the more skilled you?ll become. You can also try acupuncture,26 which like EFT bridges the gap between your mind and body.
Other Nondrug Treatment Options
Considering the risks of psychiatric drugs, I would urge you to view them as a last resort rather than a first-line of treatment. In addition to the breathing exercises and EFT already mentioned, other far safer strategies to explore include:
Regular exercise and daily movement. In addition to the creation of new neurons, including those that release the calming neurotransmitter GABA, exercise boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress.
Many avid exercisers also feel a sense of euphoria after a workout, sometimes known as the "runner's high." It can be quite addictive, in a good way, once you experience just how good it feels to get your heart rate up and your body moving.
Mindfulness training and/or a spiritual practice. Research suggests psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, may be a game changer in the treatment for severe depression and anxiety, and the spiritual intensity of the experience appears to be a key component of the healing.
Magic mushrooms are illegal, so this is not a viable treatment as of yet, but it highlights the importance and relationship between having a spiritual foundation that can provide hope and meaning to your life.
Optimizing your gut microbiome. Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety and depression. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain,27 which helps explain why mental health can be so intricately connected to your gut microbiome.28
Lowering your sugar and processed food intake. Research shows your diet can have a profound effect on your mental health.31,32 Pay particular attention to nutritional imbalances known to contribute to mental health problems, such as lack of magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins and animal-based omega-3 such as anchovies, sardines, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and/or krill oil.
Studies33 have demonstrated that diets high in fresh produce and healthy fats significantly reduce and can help prevent depression. Conversely, diets high in refined carbs and processed foods are associated with and increased risk.34
Getting plenty of restorative sleep. Poor sleep is strongly associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety (including post-traumatic stress disorder). In fact, researchers have been unable to find a single psychiatric condition in which the subject's sleep is normal.
Being mindful of your exposure to EMFs and use of wireless technologies. At bare minimum, avoid keeping any of these gadgets next to you while sleeping
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They even offer CBT for young children these days.35 A number of universities offer Tao Connect36 to their students, but even if you?re not a student, there are free online programs available that you can use. Some examples include MoodGYM,37 e-couch,38 Learn to Live39 and CBT Online40
Nature therapy and listening to nature sounds. Spending more time in natural environments has been shown to lower anxiety. Nature sounds also have a distinct and powerful effect on your brain, lowering fight-or-flight instincts and activating your rest-and-digest autonomic nervous system.41,42,43
Nature sounds also produce higher rest-digest nervous system activity, which occurs when your body is in a relaxed state. Listening to nature sounds can also help you recover faster after a stressful event.
So, seek out parks, or create a natural sanctuary on your balcony, or indoors using plants and an environmental sound machine. YouTube also has a number of very long videos of natural sounds, such as the one featured above. You could simply turn it on and leave it on while you?re indoors.
Anxiety can take a significant toll on your quality of life, so it?s well worth it to keep going until you find an effective long-term solution. You may need a combination of several interventions. As a general rule, you?d be wise to begin by addressing your diet, and then experiment with a variety of stress reduction techniques, several of which have been mentioned above.
Last but not least, don?t underestimate the value of social interactions ? face-to-face, that is, not via social media, as the latter has actually been shown to trigger and worsen anxiety. In fact, ?social media anxiety disorder? is now a recognized mental health condition similar to social anxiety disorder.44
According to Sarah Fader, CEO and founder of Stigma Fighters, about 30 percent of social media users spend more than 15 hours a week online, which significantly diminishes your ability to enjoy real life and can worsen feelings of loneliness and inferiority. So, if you?re in the habit of checking your phone several times an hour, consider a smartphone detox. This will also lessen your exposure to damaging microwaves, as discussed earlier.
It's Mercury Awareness Week ? a time when I focus on how and why we, together, can end the use of dental amalgam, which has no role in 21st century dentistry. By now you likely know that amalgam dental fillings are 50 percent mercury ? a toxic heavy metal that has no place in the human body.
But do you know about all the many other problems caused by this outdated dental product? Next time a pro-mercury dentist tries to illogically claim that the mercury in their amalgam is perfectly safe, as the Boy Scouts motto goes, "Be Prepared."
Today I give you 10 more reasons to support mercury-free dentistry. The bottom line is no one should receive mercury fillings, despite what the pro-mercury dentists, insurance companies and the government bureaucrats say!
The campaign for mercury-free dentistry is led by an effective nonprofit group which spends its funds carefully and efficiently: Consumers for Dental Choice. I have worked closely for several years with its leader, Charlie Brown, and I continue to see the results we need.
So, I now step up to match all donations received until August 20, 2018. This year, I've raised the match ceiling by 25 percent, from $100,000 to $125,000. With my match, here is a way for you to double your charity money!
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002
Reason No. 1: Amalgam's Mercury Puts Children at Risk
Amalgam emits mercury vapor even after it is implanted into the body. This mercury is bioaccumulative and crosses the placenta to accumulate in fetuses, as well. Dental amalgam's mercury is a known health risk, especially for children, fetuses, nursing infants and people with impaired kidney function.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concedes that the developing neurological systems of children and fetuses are more susceptible to "the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor," and that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for these populations.
Now Consumers for Dental Choice is working to make FDA take action to end amalgam use in children ? a step the European Union (EU) has already taken. Via citizen petitions, coalition-building, workshops, international pressure and grassroots organizing, they will succeed! You can join in by signing Consumers for Dental Choice's online petition.
Placing amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth matter. This removal weakens overall tooth structure, which increases the need for future dental work. On top of that, amalgam fillings ? which expand and contract over time ? crack teeth, once again creating the need for more dental work.
Consumers for Dental Choice is bringing to light this lesser known health consequence of amalgam, making sure that policymakers and patients know about it too.
Reason No. 3: Amalgam Pollutes the Environment
Amalgam pollutes 1) water via dental clinic releases and human waste; 2) air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration and respiration; and 3) land via landfills, burials and fertilizer. Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to its even more toxic form: methylmercury and becomes a major source of mercury in the fish people eat.
Dental mercury in the environment can cause brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Consumers for Dental Choice was instrumental in getting amalgam recognized as a significant environmental problem at the negotiations for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an environmental treaty that requires countries to reduce their amalgam use.
In the meantime, Consumers teamed with environmental allies to successfully convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require separators in dental offices to catch amalgam's mercury before it enters the wastewater.
Due to mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, studies have shown dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels. Few of these dental workers ? mostly women of child-bearing age ? are given protective garb or air masks to minimize their exposure to mercury; many are not aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure.
As a result, dental workers have reported neurological problems, reproductive failures and birth defects caused by amalgam in the workplace. Consumers for Dental Choice has been raising awareness of the occupational hazards of mercury in the dental office by working with dental schools and professors, as well as supporting projects to measure the level of mercury in the air in dental clinics to demonstrate just how much mercury dental personnel are exposed to.
Reason No. 5: Amalgam Perpetuates Social Injustice
While middle class consumers opt for mercury-free filling materials, people in developing nations, low-income families, minorities, military personnel, prisoners, and people with disabilities are still subjected to amalgam. Dentists place almost 25 percent more mercury fillings in American Indian patients than in white patients.
In his testimony before Congress, former Virginia state NAACP president Emmitt Carlton described this injustice as "Choice for the rich, mercury for the poor." Consumers for Dental Choice's Medicaid campaign aims to right some of these social injustices by ensuring that even low-income patients have access to mercury-free fillings.
For example, they are challenging Connecticut's Medicaid program that decreed "Medicaid will not pay for composite restorations in the [adult] molar teeth regardless of whether the [dental] practice markets itself as 'amalgam free'" and tells dentists, "If your office cannot provide amalgam services, please have your patients call the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership (CTDHP) ? to locate a new dental home."
Here is your opportunity, with my matching funds, to double the impact of your dollars, and accelerate the end of mercury fillings:
Reason No. 6: Amalgam Is Frequently Used Unethically
Most dentists do not inform consumers that amalgam contains mercury. As a result, over 76 percent of consumers do not know that amalgam is mainly mercury, according to Zogby polls. Once informed of this fact, 77 percent of people said they did not want mercury fillings ? and were even willing to pay more to avoid this unnecessary source of mercury exposure.
Consumers for Dental Choice has not only documented this problem with Zogby polls, but they have worked to secure and enforce the distribution of amalgam fact sheets in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, California and the city of Philadelphia.
Reason No. 7: Amalgam Is More Expensive
Taxpayers foot the bill for the environmental cleanup of amalgam and the medical care associated with mercury-related health problems. Meanwhile, the dentists who dump their mercury into our environment and our bodies are not held financially liable.
Consumers for Dental Choice documented the high environmental cost of amalgam in the economic report, "The Real Costs of Dental Mercury."1 After environmental costs are added up, each amalgam filling can cost up to $87 more than a comparable composite filling, and that does not even include the added health costs associated with mercury exposure and tooth damage.
Reason No. 8: Amalgam Gets Diverted to Illegal Gold Mining and Other Unlawful Uses
Amalgam is commonly shipped to developing countries labeled for dental use, but is then diverted to illegal use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Not only are the miners exposed to the risks of mercury poisoning, but the dental mercury they use to extract gold is released into the environment.
Consumers for Dental Choice works to raise awareness of these issues, especially in developing countries where illegal gold mining is more common. By teaming with environmental organizations on the ground in these countries, we are able to efficiently spread the word about this unintended ? and still dangerous ? use of amalgam.
Reason No. 9: Amalgam Holds Back Progress
The continued use of amalgam keeps the price of mercury-free filling materials high by decreasing demand for these alternatives. As use of mercury-free materials increases, their price is expected to decrease even further.
Additionally, insurance companies that rely on amalgam as the standard filling hold back progress in dentistry by artificially driving demand away from mercury-free fillings. Consumers for Dental Choice is challenging insurance companies with its Demand Your Choice campaign, which urges consumers to speak out against insurance companies that take their money and then only cover mercury fillings.
Reason No. 10: Amalgam Has Been Surpassed by Alternatives
Mercury-free dental fillings have been developed and studied for over 50 years. As a result, a wide variety of alternatives to amalgam fillings are available today; the most popular mercury-free filling is composite.
As Consumers for Dental Choice explains to government officials, dentists and consumers worldwide, mercury-free dental fillings offer many advantages because in addition to not containing mercury, they are:
Environment-friendly: Composites and glass ionomers are mercury-free and there is no evidence of environmental toxicity.
Preserve teeth: The placement of mercury-free fillings allows for less tooth destruction, which preserves more natural tooth structure. Composites fillings can also strengthen and enhance biomechanical properties of the restored tooth. As a result, the tooth itself can survive longer.
Easier to repair: Composite fillings are easier to repair than amalgam, which can save you both tooth structure and money.
Durable: Recent studies show that properly placed composite fillings can last just as long as, or even longer than, amalgam fillings.
Prevent caries: Glass ionomers, used in atraumatic restorative treatment (ART), have proven valuable in certain clinical situations where they can be more accessible and less expensive than amalgam (for example, in communities without electricity).
User-friendly: All properly trained dentists can place mercury-free fillings in any tooth requiring a filling. If a dentist tells you he or she has to use amalgam because it is too hard to use a mercury-free filling in your tooth, find a more competent dentist!
How You Can Make a Difference
With so many reasons to end the use of amalgam, I urge you to contribute to Consumers for Dental Choice, the advocacy wing of the mercury-free dentistry movement. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at ToxicTeeth.org. Please join me with every dollar you can. I promise you that I will double it! Thank you for supporting mercury-free dentistry.
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002
Protect Your Children and Yourself Now
Find a mercury-free dentist who recognizes the many problems with mercury fillings and provides non-mercury fillings today! The following organizations can help you find a mercury-free dentist in the U.S. and (in some cases) internationally: