Friday, March 30, 2012

New CDC Information on Autism

The CDC (Center of Disease Control) has released a new report that shows a 78% increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) since 2002. However, the exact reason for this increase is unclear to the them. In fact they don't have a clue. They think part of it has to do with increased identification of autistic children being reported. However, they can't account for that being the only reason and they have no idea what else might be causing the increase in autism. Apparently, they don't pay attention to the reports of side effects from immunizations or concerns about heavy metals in general.

Overall, the report's data, derived from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) surveillance network, show that in 2008, 1 in 88 children aged 8 years — 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls — had an ASD diagnosis by age 8.

This marks an estimated 23% increase since the last report in 2009 and a 78% increase since 2002. 

Further, there was wide variation in prevalence estimates by sex and race and ethnic group. Boys were 5 times more likely than girls to have an ASD diagnosis. The largest increases were among Hispanic and black children.

Many alternative practitioners believe the pathways of detoxification have become overwhelmed by  toxins in autistic children.

It is believed that mercury and aluminum as well as other heavy metals may be a part of the problem. The main exposure of mercury and aluminum is from vaccines as well as contaminated seafood.

Electromagnetic Fields(EMF) are another possibility. These are from cell phones, cordless phones, and other wireless equipment such as WI-FI as well as electrical outlets. See this past blog on cell phones and children.

Viruses, bacteria and mold has also been implicated. Even viruses such as herpes simplex can be problematic. People who live in moldy houses need to rethink their living situation or clean up the house.

There is a link between vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and the increase in autism. The vitamin D receptor appears in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain. 

I think all pregnant women should have their vitamin D levels normalized to 50-60 ng/ml.

Anything that can add to the strain of an already overwhelmed detoxification process will be an additional factor in causing autism.

If you want to see some more details of things that can lead to autism, click here.

Pregnant women need to make sure they stay away from anything that may harm their fetus and children should be kept away from environmental toxins as much as possible.

I suggest you read the following by Dr. Amy Yasko who specializes in treating Autism. 1) Autism: Pathways to Recovery. 2)Foundational Protocol for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. 3) Detecting Neuro-provoking Foods  I downloaded both lengthy papers (books) off her website although it was hard to find them when I did it about 6 months ago. They are very well written and helpful to parents/practitioners working with autistic kids. If you are a parent and don't know where to begin after reading them, find a physician who will read it and help you. I think you will find you can understand a lot of it. Here is Amy Yasko's website. Click Here.

You will be really glad you went to her website if you have a kid with Autism. Most Naturopaths can be helpful in treating Autistic kids. Find a qualified, licensed Naturopath in your community. They are trained to support normal detoxification pathways. Their background is 4 years pre-med followed by 4 years of medical school that emphasizes supporting the bodies natural healing processes. They are your ticket to a healthier life for you and your children.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great New Research on Honey Bees & Neonicotinoids

 You can find numerous posts about the research. Here are a few. Check at least one of them out.

Monsanto Shut Down for Two Days by Public March

Watch this 5 minute video  orated by a young child at the recent Davis California march. The march of 1000 people who shut down Monsanto's research headquarters for two days recently. This young man read in 5 minutes all the atrocities that Monsanto has unleashed on the world. Watch it and pass it on. Everyone needs to see it as it is easy to understand and takes little time to view it.  See it here!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Obesity - Hungry For A Change

A new movie has been released and is available free until March 31st called, Hungry For a Change. I viewed it and think that it is a wonderful movie for anyone to watch who is obese or has a family member or friend with an obesity problem. It is also a great movie for practitioners to suggest their obese patients watch.

A few of the ideas it covers are:

• Diets do not work, so don't bother. Diets make you fat.

• MSG is in 80% of prepared food products and it makes you fat. MSG is used in research to fatten rats.

• Diet drinks make you fat as they cause you to crave carbohydrates.

• Diet Cola kills brain cells.

• Aspartame in diet drinks and other diet foods has been shown to cause many health disorders including migraines, impaired vision, cognitive problems, MS type symptoms etc.

• Lack of sleep causes obesity as you are unable to metabolize stress hormones when you don't get enough sleep. 

• Obesity is a solution to chronic stress, sadness, trauma, or drama. People turn to comfort food as a solution to the stress.

• Using visualization of how you want to look gives your unconscious brain the symbols it needs to change what your unconscious is telling you to do so you can be healthy and happy.

• If you are obese your body is starving for nutrients. Give your body those nutrients by juicing veggies. Soon, you will not crave the foods you use to crave.

You may already know all these things if you are a practitioner or avid researcher/reader. However, you may have a friend, family member or patient who needs to watch this. It was put together very well and is uplifting and gives the obese person hope as well as tools to make changes in their lives to lead them towards a healthier and thinner life. 

You can view this movie through March 31st at two different web addresses.
Mercola's website.
The Hungry For A Change website (you will need to sign up - for free here.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Goat milk to contain malaria vaccine via genetic engineering.

Goats are being genetically engineered to become "pharm animals" that carry vaccines in their milk.
Current experiments being conducted by researchers from Texas A&M are geared toward producing an "edible" malaria vaccine, with the ultimate goal being that children drinking the milk will become vaccinated in the process. What does ingesting the DNA from the malaria parasite in your milk cause? No one knows.

Read more on this here.

They will just keep on going with this genetic engineering horror show until we demand they stop. This is why I financially support the Organic Consumers Fund in their effort to label GM food in California. If we all ban together and help California get this bill on their ballot and we all help by educating our friends and family in California on how to vote, we can start the ball rolling in the right direction.  You can support this initiative by clicking here.

Please also be sure to read the blog I wrote on the initiative here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why California Will Rescue Us All From GMOs

California Is Our Ticket Out of The GMO Mess
The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act needs 830,ooo signatures of registered voters by April 22nd to get on their the ballot in November. If they can pass this it will get rid of GMOs for all of us. California's economy is huge. (The 8th largest in the world.) If food companies have to change their labeling to include data that the packages they are selling contains GMOs it will end their ability to sell those brands in California. They know Californians will no longer buy them. This is why theses companies fight these bills and initiatives so hard.  It will be the beginning of the end of GMOs in the United States.

The Federal Government Can Not Be Depended On
 California is our best hope. The federal government has been bought and sold to Monsanto, Dow and the other big Ag companies.

Last week the USDA announced plans to speed up the approval process for more genetically modified crops - cutting in half the time it will take for Monsanto, Dow, and others to get their genetically modified crops to market. -This was despite the growing public outcry against GMOs -

Last year the public sent more than 250,000 comments asking the government to stop the commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa. The agency approved it anyway.

More recently, 850,000 US citizens had written to the FDA demanding the right to know if GMOs are in their food. Don't hold your breath for the FDA to listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to know whether the food they are eating contains GMOs. They receive too much money from the big Ag companies to listen to us.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, in 2010 alone, Monsanto spent $8 million lobbying and more than $400,000 in political contributions. It also spent $120 million in advertising in the mass media, including National Public Radio, to convince consumers that GMO-tainted foods are safe – despite the overwhelming scientific evidence otherwise.

Now Monsanto and Big Food Inc. are cranking up their PR campaign again in California. Same old arguments, same old lies – this time, backed by even bigger bank accounts.

We will never be able to outspend monopolistic corporations with billions in profits at stake. (However, we can out-educate them. Send this blog post to everyone you know. Tell them to send it to everyone they know also.  Let's get this going viral!  I have attached additional GMO educational blog data below for them to learn more.)

The Good News
The good news is that we have Organic Consumers Association on our side. We will be able to raise enough money to collect 830,000 signatures, to get this Initiative on the ballot, and to run a strong counter-campaign. They (we) can win in California. Here's why OCA says they can get this passed.

● This time, we have far more scientific information and greater public awareness on our side. GE (genetically engineered) contamination is now a mainstream media issue. Monsanto has become the most hated corporation in the world.

● This time, we have overwhelming public support. Polls show that more than 8 out of 10 voters in California want mandatory GMO labeling.

● This time, we have built the strongest coalition of alternative food and health consumers in history, for the exclusive purpose of passing this law.

OCA has been campaigning on this issue for years. They are closer than ever to a win. But OCA needs all the help they can get to pull this off for all of us.  OCA needs to raise $150,000 more, as soon as possible. This money will be used to pay the signature gatherers, media consultants, attorneys and others whose expertise is necessary in order to win. 

Please go to this LINK to help win the fight against GMOs by making any size donation you can! 

Get your friends and family in California to help with the petition.

Educational Data on GMOs - Please take a look at the educational material below and make sure all your friends, family, co-workers, etc see these. Send these to everyone on your email list. Genetically engineered food is one of the most pressing problems of our generation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Herb Class March 4th, 2012

Recap of March “Becoming An Herbalist” class at Wise Acres Farm

We were all here this time and what a lovely and diverse group of folks.

We continued looking at  roots and barks. It started with a discussion of astringent plants and tannins in general.

Highlights form the morning discussion on tannins.

We noted that astringent herbs bind with protein and cause contraction of tissues. When we taste them, they contract our mucous membranes and dry out the mouth. This astringing action is due to tannins. We talked about the two groups of tannin containing plants of interest to us called hydrolyzable and condensed (proanthocyanidins). Astringent plants with tannins are used for diarrhea. Tannins precipitate proteins on the gut wall and numb the sensory nerves and decrease stimuli that causes peristaltic activity. They also decrease secretions and inflammatory proteins as well as inhibiting microorganisms that may be causing the diarrhea. Astringent plants with tannins are used for passive bleeding. They act as a hemostatic or stypic by causing local vasoconstriction as well as creating artificial blood clots which are probably due to tannins precipitating proteins. These astringent herbs are used for internal and external beleeding, diarrhea, incontinence or other excessive secretions. They are also used for hemochromotosis (a condition causing excess iron in body) as tannins will bind with minerals. They bind with and decrease iron. It has been shown that one cup of strong coffee taken within two hours of consuming a meal will impair 60% of iron absorption (Coffee contains tannins). 

Old Gall on Small Oak Tree in Winter
We talked about tannins being soluble in water and alcohol so we could make a tea or tincture. They will precipitate alkaloids (proteins) so if both are in a tincture they will precipitate and settle out. 5% glycerin added to the tincture can help stop this from happening.

Young Gall Collected in Summer
We looked at galls on oak trees and discussed they are very high in tannins. They can contain 50-70% tannin known as gallotannic acid.

We noted the effect tannins have on animals that eat them and how those with proline rich proteins  (PRP) are able to eat more tannic plants than those with low levels of this protein in their saliva as the tannins bind to this protein. Humans have about 40% PRP in their saliva. Research shows that the more tannins a ruminant animal eats, the more PRP their body makes.

Lastly we talked about the concern of using too much tannic plants or using them over time and how they might cause problems. I pointed out they are used to tan hides and can cause problems precipitating out proteins in our gastrointestinal tract if use in high amounts or for a long time. They can cause an anti-nutritional effect as they will bind with minerals, carbohydrates and of course proteins in our meals and decrease their absorption. Although, there is controversy about how much tannins are actually absorbed in the GI tract, we know they are absorbed to some lesser or greater degree and can be problematic in large quantities. Toxic doses of them can be fatal. This is why they are generally no longer used in emergency rooms to bind alkaloids after alkaloid poisonings although this use to be a standard protocol.

Poplar Bud Collection & Tincture Making
Group Collecting Poplar Buds in March
Poplar Bud
Poplar Bud Tincture
After our morning discussion it was warming up outside. It was our first really warm day of 2012 and I sure enjoyed it. We were lucky enough to have a perfect day to collect Poplar buds at our altitude of 500 feet. We made a folk tincture of the fresh buds using 95 percent organic alcohol. We reviewed these wonderful resinous poplar leaf buds. They are used as an antimicrobial in the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract and urinary tract. They are a wonderful stimulating (irritating) expectorant and taste good in cough elixirs. They also have a numbing quality so it helps to decrease pain if used in a cough elixir or throat spray. Their anti-inflammatory property is also helpful in a throat spray. (Special notes: Resins do not dissolve in water and it is best to make a tincture out of them with 95% alcohol to preserve them. The resin can clog spray bottles if you put too much in a formula.) I meant to get out and collect some more buds and dry them for a second addition to our tincture but I did not get them in time. If anyone finds some at the bud stage to add, bring us a dried cup of them please. I plan for us to make a cough elixir later with this.

Digging Up Comfrey Root
Comfrey Root Digging and Making Slurry
We also had fun digging up comfrey root and making a slurry out of it. Everyone got to put their hands into the gooey concoction and see how soothing and healing comfrey root is. I have used the slurry for healing chapped hands of gardeners and contractors as well as for beat up feet. It is also wonderful for soaking wounds on the hands and feet as long as the wound is completely free of debris. Comfrey heals so fast, that a wound with debris can get healed over with the debris still there and cause an infection. The constituent in comfrey that lends it to being a vulnerary (wound healing) is called allantoin. This same constituent is in Aloe and is also produced by maggots used to clean and heal wounds. We discussed the problems with identifying comfrey and disagreements among some folks.

Some Comfrey Species Information
The creamy yellow-flowered form is stated by Hooker to be Symphytum officinale proper, and the dark purple flowered he considered a variety and named it S. officinale, var patens. The botanist Sibthorpe makes a definite species of it under the name patens.
"Symphytum grandiflorum "Hidcote Blue" Large Flowered Comfrey" – pink/red buds and blue flowers.
Symphytym uplandicum or Bocking is the one most folks have – light purple color and sterile. Many people call this officinale species even though it is uplandicum.

There has been controversy about which comfrey species contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which alkaloids are harmful and if they are really mutagenic (cancer causing) and cause veno-occlusive disease in people or not. So we discussed this until I almost put people to sleep. Most herbalists do not use comfrey internally any more and just use it externally to be safe. We discussed when to use it and when not to use it.  The recent research I have seen shows that they all contain a wide variety of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in differing amounts. Although some herbalists still use comfrey internally, the research shows that they all contain some amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are harmful. This amount changes depending the part of the plant studied,  the time of year collected and how they are grown.
The Scoop on Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids…
Everyone has heard about Comfrey and the concern about the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Comfrey causing hepato veno-occlusive disease (HVOD). The liver changes the pyrrolizidines into potent alkylating agents that react rapidly with cell constituents resulting in cellular destruction or abnormal cell growth patterns. This is a rare form of liver disease that results in blockage of the small veins of the liver and causes necrosis of liver tissue. It is diagnosed by liver biopsy. Clinically it appears to be hepatitis or cirrhosis without liver biopsy. They herbs that usually protect against liver damage would be no help here. Liver function tests may not pick this problem up until the veins are occluded and the necrosis is taking place which is too late. Even giving harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloid plants to people with healthy livers can be problematic.

Reseaerch needs to be completed with comfrey and the prevelence of HVOD. The cases that exist are sketchy and few but are reason for us to act cautiously. What most people don’t seem to realize is there are other medicinal herbs that also contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The FDA has made it illegal to sell any of them for internal consumption. These herbs are Alkanna tinctoria (Alkanet), Anchusa officinalis (bugloss), Borago officinalis (borage), Crotalaria spp., Cynoglossum spp., Erechtites heiraciifolia, Eupatorium cannabium (hemp agrimony), Eupatorium purpureum (gravel root), Heliotropium spp., Lithospermum officinale (European gromwell), Packera candidissima, Petasites spp., (e.g., butterbur), Pulmonaria spp., (e.g. lungwort), Senecio jacobea (European ragwort), Senecio vulgaris (groundsel herb), Symphytum spp., (comfrey), and Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot).

AHPA requires the following labeling for products with pyrrolizidine alkaloids: For external use only. Do not apply to broken or abraded skin. Do not use when nursing.

Some manufacturers  remove pyrrolizidines from Comfrey to use it internally. The best route will be for growers to select for and provide a comfrey plant free from the harmful pyrrolizidines. Some species of comfrey are known to contain more harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids than others. Symphytum officinalis has been thought to contain less than Symphytum uplandicum. However, Symphytum uplandicum has been sold as Symphytum officinalis in the past and the purchasers have not been aware they were buying the incorrect species. Most people think they are growing officinalis when it is really uplandicum. The  Comfrey leaves contain less alkaloid than the root generally and plants that do not go through the full winter season are thought to contain more of the alkaloid than comfrey that that lives in regions with a winter.

Comfrey is said to have been used to feed anmals in the past. It is said that animals have been fed comfrey to improve their health and to increase their productivity. I have read that chickens fed comfrey have been known to lay more eggs while comfrey fed cows gave more milk. However, this is not common practice. I would love to hear peoples stories of consumption of comfrey. Susan Weed says she eats it all the time.

Marshmallow Root in Bowl
We made marshmallow lozenges with the marshmallow that had been collected in February and dried. We also made some slippery elm lozenges. We will have to take a look at the slippery elm tree here next time we have class. We discussed how they could both be made into slurries and drank or added straight to hot cereals. The important thing to remember when using water soluble fibers such as these is to be sure to drink a glass of water after taking them as a slurry, in a capsule etc. They will soak up fluid in your gut other wise and can make you constipated or even worse case scenario cause a bowel obstruction (Unlikely but to be sure, drink plenty of water when you consume water soluble fibers.) We also noted that while poplar buds are a stimulating (irritating) expectorant that marshmallow is a soothing expectorant.

Fresh Cut Bark
Oregon Grape and Berberine
Mahonia aquifolium - Oregon Grape Flowering
 We collected bark from Oregon grape and tasted it. We all noticed it was very bitter due to the isoquinoline alkaloid called berberine. Berberine can also be found in other Mahonia spp plants as well as goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), gold thread aka yellow root (Coptis chinensis), and cork tree (Phellodendron amurense). We talked about how these plants with the berberine alkaloid have all been used similarly historically. They are all bitter (the alkaloid berberine is bitter) so they are used to support normal digestive processes, as well as choleretics and cholagogues; meaning they stimulate production of bile in the liver and flow of bile from the gallbladder. This also gives them a slight laxative effect. This herb and the others have commonly been used as antimicrobials and antiparasitics. They are helpful lowering fevers and decreasing inflammation when used in infectious conditions. Externally they are also used to decrease inflammation and infection in wounds. One of the practitioners in our group said she has used the tincture of Oregon grape mixed with sodium bentonite clay to apply topically for MRSA. I mentioned some research I had collected on the use of berberine for MRSA and yes, I will be getting a pdf of that and all the other research emailed to you all very soon. I don’t think we mentioned it is an anti-oxidant. We also discussed the use of the alkaloid berberine in research and in clinical practice for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The amount being used by most practitioners is 500 mg three times per day of berberine. Research has shown it to be as effective as the common antidiabetic drug metformin. I would point out this is not an herb being used. Berberine is a plant constituent and a “neutraceutical”. Some western herbalists have noted the hypoglycemic action of plants with berberine in them in the past but have not used the plant for diabetes as it is a strong plant. There was concern by some of us that it would be irritating used long term. There are of course other herbs used for diabetes as well as dietary/lifestyle measures that work well. The side effects noted in research with berberine has been digestive in nature. Here is some data regarding side effects. This is from one example of research  giving berberine 500 mg tid (These adverse events included diarrhea in 10 percent, constipation in 7 percent, flatulence in 19 percent, and abdominal pain in 3.4 percent. The side effects were observed only in the first four weeks in most patients. In 24 percent, berberine dosage was decreased from 500 to 300 milligrams thrice daily because of gastrointestinal adverse events, and all of these side effects disappeared within one week. Dewick, P. (2009). Medicinal Natural Products: A Biosynthetic Approach (3rd ed.). West Sussex, England: Wiley. p. 358. ISBN 0471496413.) The most notable side effect I have found with giving high doses of berberine containing herbs is a headache.

Processing Tinctures
We also pressed the Echinacea tincture, dug up more Echinacea and added it to the tincture. We will press it next time for the final time.

We additionally pressed out the elecampane and it is settling for filtering.

Chickweed-Stellaria media
English Daisy - Bellis perennis

We looked at hellebore, English daisy and chickweed. Hellebore is not used usually anymore. It was used by the eclectic physicians, but it is a strong purgative and although it has been used in the past for congestive heart failure we discussed other herbs used that are not so harsh and that do not have the drastic reaction of hellebore root. Hellebore is a low dose botanical and toxic, so I suggested not to use it. We also munched on some chickweed which is used in salads and noted it is also a diuretic and used as a vulnerary (wound healing). English daisy is used similarly to Arnica but is specific for internal bruising.

Indian Plum Blooming

I forgot to show you the Indian Plum flowering. Here is a couple photos of it at least. Remind me to show you the bush next time.
Close Up of Indian Plum Flowers