Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give the Gift of Health This Year!

OK, so I realize this is a bit "Last Minute" but I figured, better late than never!

Below you will find a random list of my favorite "Healthy Gift Ideas". This list is not presented in order of my preference, for I feel that certain items are good for some people, while other ones are better for other people. I encourage you all to check out the items that sound interesting and match them appropriately. Not only will they all help improve the health of the person you give them to, they will also help the wonderful, hard-working person behind the gift as well!

Books on Health Eating:

Great Cookbooks that Follow Similar Principles:

Other Great Food Related Services:

Places to Learn
the Right Way to Move (hint- buy someone a gift certificate!):

Ways to Make Your Body Feel Good:

Go forth and help make your friends and family healthier this year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Surviving the Holidays

Well, they are definitely upon us everyone!

While I don't have any "last minute shopping tips", or "how to survive Christmas with the in-laws" tips, I did find a great little list of well thought out tips on how to stay as healthy as you can be during this holiday season.

These tips come courtesy of Nikki Young, author of two great little e-cookbooks on Primal Eating. Please support her wonderful efforts with these books and check out the site I've linked to above.

Anyway, on with the tips!

The Holiday Survival Checklist

• Never show up to a party on an empty stomach
• Drink plenty of Water all day/during a party
• Keep portions small, use a small plate & make several trips
• Eat Protein and Vegetable based dishes first
• Watch Sugary drinks as they do count
• Socialize, Talk, Dance, Have fun!
• Help offset a High Calorie day with Lower Calorie Days
• Be Active every day, make it a Lifestyle choice
• Use your Muscles to keep your Fat Burning factories
• Slow down and Enjoy the Holiday season

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Primordial Ooze for Everyone!!

Anyone out there who knows me knows I am a big fan of healthy eating. While, in my practice I use many types of natural medicines to help support the efforts of people's bodies as they work to become healthier, I fully believe that these medicines will not be able to do it all. In other words, I feel that, for true healing to occur, you must have a foundation of healthy life practices in place to build upon.

Perhaps the most important part of this foundation (or at least tied with exercise) is eating a healthy diet. The type of dietary approach I recommend, more than anything else, focuses on what I call nutrient dense foods. Nutrient dense foods are foods that contain the most nutrients per calorie.

To help you on your way to adopting more nutrient dense foods into your daily diet, I thought I'd share with you a recipe for a wonderful morning (or any time of the day!) drink you can make which perfectly follows these ideas. I try to drink this for breakfast at least 5 days a week. For more of a cleansing program, you can also make twice the amount and consume 1/2 for breakfast and 1/2 for lunch, then a sensible dinner.

The name given to this drink by its creator (not me I'm sorry to say) is PRIMORDIAL OOZE.

Sounds gross. Tastes pretty good. Helps IMMENSELY!

Primordial Ooze Recipe

For one serving, blend the following items in a high powdered blender in this order:
  1. 4 oz filtered water
  2. 4 oz organic, unsweetened juice (ideal choices are pomegranate or unfiltered apple)
  3. 1 tsp or 1 bunch (depending on form it comes in) of seaweed (dulse, arame, etc)- let it soak for a couple minutes while you get out the other ingredients
  4. 4 tbsp hemps seeds
Blend the above together til milky, then continue adding:
  1. Large handful of dark, leafy greens (rotate kale, collard greens, spinach and dandelion greens)
  2. Small bunch of cilantro
  3. Small bunch of parsley
  4. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 banana
  6. 1/2 avocado
  7. 1/2 to 1 cup frozen blueberries
  8. Liquid stevia can be added to taste
Beneficial additions if tolerated:
  1. 1-2 tbsp grass-fed liver powder
  2. 1 clove raw garlic
  3. 1-3 raw egg yolks (save the whites and cook on the side for more protein)

Blend and ENJOY!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Even MORE Info on the Swine Flu

Well, believe it or not, there's MORE info to talk about here, specifically regarding measures to take for prevention and treatment of this nasty little flu.

Specifically, I have added the following suggestions to the measures I have already mentioned in previous posts:

NAC (n-acetyl cysteine)
  • Adults: 600mg twice a day throughout flu season
  • Children: 20mg per kg of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 lbs) throughout flu season
  • If flu symptoms start, DOUBLE dose and maintain there until symptoms subside.
  • Reduces likelihood of getting flu, and is a mucolytic (breaks up mucous) agent, which could be of particular benefit in the lung congestion that people get with this condition.
Vitamin C
  • Adults- 1000mg three times a day
  • Children: 250mg-500mg three times a day depending on size
  • If flu symptoms start, triple dose for one dose, then continue at above normal dose every hour (paying attention to how much you've taken) until stools become loose. Back this total off by 1 dose and take that each day until symptoms subside. If stools become loose again, continue lowering dose as needed.
  • Extremely important anti-flu virus remedy. See this article for more info.
  • Also keeps NAC from breaking down in the body.
  • Always consume vitamin C supplements along with a natural source of it, like organic oranges or orange juice.
  • If symptoms continue to worsen to a critical point, definitely consider intravenous vitamin C doses as explained here.
  • Adults and children: 400-500mg per day for duration of the flu season
  • In a recent study, colostrum was shown to be 300% more effective than flu vaccination, in preventing flu symptoms. In other words, those people who got vaccinated ended up getting the flu 3 times more often than those people taking ONLY colostrum! Those who got vaccinated and took colostrum fared better than the straight vaccine group, but WORSE than the group taking colostrum alone!
OK, that's IT!

If we do all these things (and you know I will be doing them) and we still end up getting the flu, then this is a nastier bug than the experts think it is!

**I am in the process of designing a customized nutritional and herbal formula specifically for prevention and treatment of the Swine Flu, which contains the above ingredients and more in one formula.

Please stay tuned for more info in this regard, and contact me if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Follow Up on the Swine Flu- What ELSE Can You Do?

Hopefully after reading my last post, you can see there is a very simple thing you can do to help prevent yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu (Swine or otherwise) this winter. However, I couldn't call myself a naturopathic doctor if I didn't have some additional suggestions. While admittedly it is a huge one, vitamin D is still just the tip of the iceberg.

Since my last post was so long, I will try to keep this one brief and to the point. All of the recommendations below have general benefits for one or more aspects of your health and well being, as well as some more specific benefits regarding flu prevention.

Preventing the Flu Naturally (click on each entry for more info on why)
  1. Avoid Sugar
  2. Avoid White Flour
  3. Exercise
  4. Eat Raw Sauerkraut
  5. Take Tulsi
  6. Reduce Stress
  7. Get good sleep (contact me if this is easier said than done for you)
  8. LAUGH (start by watching this video clip)

Treating the Flu Naturally

OK, so what if you do all of the above and you still get this little bug? First of all, keep in mind that there is a much greater likelihood you will be fine than in trouble. Again, most cases are fairly mild. If, however, things seem to be getting out of hand, you might consider the following:
  1. IV Vitamin C and the Swine Flu
  2. Asafoetida Can Kill the Swine Flu Virus (I will be carrying a supply of this hard to find herb in my office)

What to Do If You Get a Swine Flu Vaccine

Finally, what about that vaccination everyone is talking about? First, if you haven't done so already, read my previous post to find links for more info on it. If you still choose to get one, or are forced to get this vaccine for some reason, consider the following information:
  1. Dealing with Effects from the Swine Flu Vaccine

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vitamin D and the Swine Flu

No longer needing an introduction, nearly every human with access to the news has undoubtedly heard of the swine flu (or H1N1) by now. Not one to scare easily when it comes to the media's standard depiction of the horrors of the upcoming flu season, I have to admit, this time around I am paying much closer attention to things.

While there is a good chance the swine flu will turn out to be less harmful than even the typical winter flu (which, by the way, still kills many thousands of people worldwide each year), there is also a legitimate chance it could turn out to be much, much worse. Some authorities speculate that, if H1N1 turns out to be as nasty a bug as it could be, this flu season could end up rivaling the Spanish Flu of 1918, when nearly 1 BILLION people contracted the virus worldwide, 1/2 a billion people got sick, and approximately 100 million people died.

The problem right now is we have no idea how minor or how bad things could become, as we have no idea yet as to how lethal this strain of virus could become. The 1918 virus had a potent combination of high lethality, novelty (it was a new strain) and a high transmission rate. So far, this virus has not shown us much in terms of lethality, but it is very contagious and transmissible. It is also a new virus, so no one has antibodies in their systems to fight a specific fight against it.

So, with all this bad news, is there any good news? Well, a vaccination is now available, but, based on what I've read here and here and here, I'm not going to be getting one any time soon. I am not telling anyone else to get vaccinated or not to, but I would recommend reading as much as you can about it before making your decision.

It is also important to remember that, in the majority of cases, the swine flu produces fairly minor symptoms, akin to a standard flu. What worries many authorities the most is that there have been some cases of a very severe form of the disease in young and otherwise healthy people, where the virus directly infects the lung, causing severe respiratory failure. If anything, that is what worries me a bit too. It could also mutate into a more lethal strain.

So, what's a father of two otherwise healthy young boys to do?

Well, lots of things!

However, if you get your information from the popular media, it might sound to you like the only chance we have of avoiding this bug is to wash our hands enough times that you never expose yourself to it. While hand washing is certainly a valid option for reducing transmissibility of the bug, the intense focus on this single activity still makes it seem like our bodies are basically helpless otherwise.

How on Earth can that be?

Remember, as is the case in virtually any other disease out there, we do have at least some say in what does and doesn't happen to our health. For one thing, there are these pretty fancy things in our bodies called "immune systems" that, if supported properly and treated well, can do some pretty cool stuff, namely keep us from catching this or any other bug this winter at all!

So, I'd say right about now it would be a good idea to start supporting the health and function of your fancy immune systems, which brings us (finally!) to today's topic- my favorite nutrient, vitamin D.

Many of my patients are already aware of the general health benefits of vitamin D, as I talk to nearly every one of them about it. But because of the way things work in this country, few if any of you out there are aware of the particularly important role vitamin D could play in all of this swine flu business.

While even the experts out there, like Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council, aren’t saying that optimizing your vitamin D levels will provide your body 100% immunity to the Swine Flu, they certainly feel it is well worth it to make sure your levels are optimized. Considering two key facts about vitamin D, I would tend to agree with him.

Fact 1:

Vitamin D has a profoundly positive effects on your innate immunity, the portion of your immune system that acts as your first line of defense, protecting you from anything foreign, whether your body recognizes it or not. This is the part of your immune system that would be involved in keeping you from getting sick in the first place. This is also a crucial issue, because (remembering that no one who hasn’t already caught it has antibodies to the swine flu yet) the other part of your immune system that makes antibodies to help you fight things (the “acquired” or “adaptive immune system”) will be relatively ineffectual in this case.

Fact 2:

Vitamin D is known to help suppress the release of what are known as “pro-inflammatory cytokines”. These substances are normally an important part of your immune system’s reaction to a bug, as they help to create the inflammation that results in symptoms which will help you more quickly rid yourself of the bug and return to a state of health. However, things are a bit different with the Swine Flu. Recall that, while symptoms in most people who have caught it already appear to be relatively minor, there is a subset of people (mostly young healthy people) who get severely affected. The process involved in these cases has a lot to do with these pro-inflammatory cytokines, as they are behind the massive over reaction (termed a “cytokine storm”) that leads to the lungs shutting down. Again, what does vitamin D appear to do? Suppress this action.

To summarize vitamin D’s effects on your immune system, I will quote Dr. Cannell directly:

“Thus, vitamin D appears to both enhance the local capacity of the epithelium (skin and mucous membranes) to produce endogenous (made by our bodies) antibiotics and at the same time dampen certain destructive arms of the immune response, especially those responsible for the signs and symptoms of acute inflammation, such as the cytokine storms operative when influenza kills quickly.”

Sound important? It does to me!!!

Optimizing Your Vitamin D Levels

So how do we make sure we have enough vitamin D in our bodies to be able to accomplish the feats mentioned above? Well the magic number, according to Dr. Cannell is 50. Specifically 50 ng/mL, which he says is the minimum level of vitamin D we want to see in our blood in order to do a good job of fighting bugs this winter. Remember also, the specific test to order for investigating your levels is called 25, OH Vitamin D.

To reach this level, the average adult needs to take about 5000 iu of vitamin D per day (assuming they have little to no sun exposure), and children need to take 1000 iu per 25 lbs bodyweight. I recommend you start taking extra vitamin D now (I use a specialized form of vitamin D with my patients, that is emulsified, so it is more easily absorbed, and provides 2000iu per drop), then get your levels tested in a month or so. There are numerous options available for getting your levels tested. For patients with high deductibles or no insurance coverage, I can get tests done for about $55. Another option which takes longer, but is cheaper, is to get tested via the Grass Roots Health Organization. If you can get it fully covered by insurance, that will be your cheapest option. The point is, just get it tested!

It’s important to realize though, that everyone is an individual, and some people may need to take higher doses. That is why getting tested is so crucial.

What about the naysayers?

Many authorities (especially the drug companies selling us their vaccines, and the doctors they have brain washed) aren’t quite ready to accept vitamin D as a viable option for helping to prevent this potential disaster. This is mostly due to the fact that there is no hard research yet available to fully prove it can help against the Swine Flu, and the fact that there were some aspects of the Spanish Flu that seem to prove vitamin D probably didn’t play a big role. For those of you who are still with me, I will review those issues now.

Facts from Dr. Cannell on the 1918 flu, leading to uncertainty about vitamin D’s role or lack thereof in this case:

1. Black people were less likely to contract the flu or die from the flu than whites in 1918. (people with darker skin tend to make lower amounts of vitamin D)

2. Young people, presumably with the highest 25(OH) D levels, were the most likely to die in 1918, as they have been in Mexico to date.

3. In October of 1918, the Spanish flu erupted simultaneously in both Northern and southern hemispheres.

4. Significant deaths occurred in the Northern hemisphere during the summer of 1918 although the extraordinary killing erupted in October of 1918 in the Northern Hemisphere.

5. One of the worst affected countries was Western Samoa. A crippling 90% of the population was infected; 30% of adult men, 22% of adult women and 10% of children were killed. This devastation occurred during their summer. I doubt 90% of the population of Western Samoa

6. had levels below 50 ng/mL in 1918 but I have no way of knowing. More likely, the population had little acquired immunity to any influenza virus.

Facts from Dr. Cannell suggesting vitamin D could indeed play an important role:

1. The mass of deaths in the Northern hemisphere occurred when Vitamin D levels were low (fall and winter).

2. While infection rates were similar for sailors and troops on infected troop transport ships, the sailors had 1/4 the mortality of the troops. One has to assume the 25(OH)D of sailors aboard 1918 troop transport ships was higher than the troops inside.

3. Underground coal miners in North America had the highest mortality of any occupation.

4. The incidence of influenza in the French army was much higher in troops away from the front (assumably in barracks) than in front line troops.

5. Open air hospitals in North America allegedly had lower mortalities than regular hospitals.

6. Mortality for sailors at sea was markedly lower than sailors ashore, despite the crowed conditions on board.

7. In the Western Front, the 1918 flu disappeared in August (when 25(OH)D levels reach their peak) only to return in September, when 25(OH)D levels fall rapidly.

Although there are obviously other factors at work here (stress? sugar consumption?) these facts present strong enough evidence to me to take this extremely simple step with myself, my family and to recommend it my patients.

Another key point about vitamin D Cannell points out is that, if you are going to take it, make sure you take enough vitamin D to get your levels up high enough (and of course, test yourself to be sure). He says that levels just over 30 (while considered “normal” by the conventional medical system) are not high enough to stop the pro-inflammatory cytokine release I mentioned earlier.

The Truth Begins to Trickle In

I thought it best to end this post with what seems to be some actual evidence that the swine flu can be prevented using vitamin D. You see, Dr. Cannell is a pretty popular guy amongst "physicians in the know", in other words, there are many docs out there who are actually reading what he has writes, then doing what he recommends.

Below are copies of actual letters sent to him from two such doctors. To say the results are encouraging would be an understatement! Reading these letters is what sold me on the whole idea and prompted this blog posting.

September 17, 2009- Dr. Cannell’s newsletter:

I’m writing to alert readers to a crucial email from a physician who has evidence vitamin D is protective against H1N1 and to ask you, the reader, to contact your state representatives to help protect Americans, especially children, from H1N1 before winter comes.

Letter #1

Dear Dr. Cannell:

Your recent newsletters and video about Swine flu (H1N1) prompted me to convey our recent experience with an H1N1 outbreak at Central Wisconsin Center (CWC). Unfortunately, the state epidemiologist was not interested in studying it further so I pass it on to you since I think it is noteworthy.

CWC is a long-term care facility for people with developmental disabilities, home for approx. 275 people with approx. 800 staff. Serum 25-OH vitamin D has been monitored in virtually all residents for several years and patients supplemented with vitamin D.

In June, 2009, at the time of the well-publicized Wisconsin spike in H1N1 cases, two residents developed influenza-like illness (ILI) and had positive tests for H1N1: one was a long-term resident; the other, a child, was transferred to us with what was later proven to be H1N1.

On the other hand, 60 staff members developed ILI or were documented to have H1N1: of 17 tested for ILI, eight were positive. An additional 43 staff members called in sick with ILI. (Approx. 11-12 staff developed ILI after working on the unit where the child was given care, several of whom had positive H1N1 tests.)

So, it is rather remarkable that only two residents of 275 developed ILI, one of which did not develop it here, while 103 of 800 staff members had ILI. It appears that the spread of H1N1 was not from staff-to-resident but from resident-to-staff (most obvious in the imported case) and between staff, implying that staff were susceptible and our residents were protected.


Norris Glick, MD

Central Wisconsin Center

Madison, WI

Dr. Cannell's Response:

Dear Dr. Glick-

This is the first hard data that I am aware of concerning H1N1 and vitamin D. It appears vitamin D is incredibly protective against H1N1. Dr. Carlos Carmago at Mass General ran the numbers in an email to me. Even if one excludes 43 staff members who called in sick with influenza, 0.73% of residents were affected, as compared to 7.5% of staff. This 10-fold difference was statistically significant (P<0.001).>

Second, if you read my last newsletter, you will see that children with neurological impairments, like the patients at your hospital, have accounted for 2/3 of the childhood deaths for H1N1 so far in the USA. That is, the CDC knows, because they reported it, that patients with neurological impairments are more likely to die from H1N1.

The problem is that I cannot get anyone in authority at the CDC or the NIH to listen. I need readers to email or call their senators and congresspersons in Washington. Ask your senator or congressperson to contact the CDC and NIH to complain about CDC and NIH inaction on Vitamin D and H1N1. Also, ask your senators and representative to demand congressional hearings on Vitamin D and H1N1, before it is too late. Here is the link below, just click it and follow instructions to contact your own represenatives.


Letter #2

Dear Dr. Cannell:

Thanks for your update about the hospital in Wisconsin. I have had similar anecdotal evidence from my medical practice here in Georgia. We are one of the 5 states with widespread H1N1 outbreaks.

I share an office with another family physician. I aggressively measure and replete vitamin D. He does not.

He is seeing one to 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness.

In my practice-- I have had zero cases. My patients are universally on 2000-5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50-80 ng/ml.

Ellie Campbell, DO

Campbell Family Medicine

3925 Johns Creek Court Ste A

Suwannee GA 30024


Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Options for a Vice

Everyone is human.

Myself included.

Lately, I've been drinking coffee. Of course it's organic and I only have one cup a few times a week, but it's still the dreaded COFFEEEEE (supposed to look spooky) that I learned in naturopathic school is something akin to devil water, especially if you have adrenal stress.

I admit, I have, at various times in the past, asked my patients to stop drinking this stuff. It is very dehydrating and can lead to mineral imbalances and even constipation if consumed excessively. It can also overstimulate a tired person, giving them a false sense of 'energy' when really they should be feeling so horribly fatigued that the only viable option for them should be a nap.

AND- It stains your teeth!

These are not good things.

Why then do I drink it sometimes? Why then have I recently adopted more of a lenient attitude about this beverage with my patients (and myself)? Well, a couple of reasons.

For one thing, as I mentioned already, I'm human. So are most of my patients.

Being human, amongst other things, means we are typically unable to maintain a perfect diet and lifestyle 100% of the time, especially if our lives are so crazy that we have no choice but to become so tired that even though we should (correction- we HAVE to) take a nap, we can't.

What are we all supposed to do then? Drinking green tea would a MUCH better idea if we needed a bit of caffeine pick-me-up, but green tea doesn't taste like coffee. So some of us, addicted as we are to its lovely flavor and aroma, will keep on drinking it, regardless of what I or anyone else tells them.

The point of this post then is this- For various reasons, some better than others, many of us feel as though we need a vice- some 'bad' habit or another that is less than perfectly healthy but makes us feel good. And so, I have come to realize that my job is not only to teach you about the healthiest possible things you can do in your life, but also to teach you about the healthiest UN-healthy things you can do in your life.

In other words, I know many of you think I'm a perfectionist when it comes to health, but I'm trying to be a realist here OK people? I know that this world if FULL of unhealthy things, many of which smell good, look good, taste good and can even make you feel good. These are attractive attributes, especially for someone who is so wiped out and worn down they don't smell good, look good, taste good OR feel good! So, I've come up with a short list of the healthiest options out there for a good old fashioned vice.

Here is my list:
  • Coffee
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red Wine
What, no doughnuts? No french fries? Come on people, this isn't a free for all. There actually has to be some benefit to be had here. (I know, I know, "But french fries are made from potatoes, and potatoes are VEGETABLES!" Blah, blah, blah. I've heard it all before.)


So you are already familiar with some of the negative attributes of coffee. Well, there may be some other ones that are potentially much worse, but for the most part the jury is still out. You see, while some studies suggest that coffee could actually contribute to heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, other studies show just the opposite, like this one and this one.

All that being said, coffee is still my least favorite vice, mainly because people tend to drink it (or "need it" as some of my patients like to say) when they really shouldn't, ie when they are wiped out and need a nap! If this is you, try the nap- it's cheaper and healthier. However, if you are basically healthy and just like the taste and the gentle pick me up it provides you, I don't really have a problem with it. I would, however, recommend always drinking an extra cup of water and making sure you are taking regular amounts of magnesium and other minerals to help compensate for some of the potential negative effects.

Dark Chocolate


High in powerful, disease preventing antioxidants.

Good fat source.

Lowers blood pressure and reduces stroke risk.

Potential aphrodisiac.

'Nuff said.

Red Wine

There is rapidly growing list of the likely health benefits to be had from consuming alcohol in moderation, in particular red wine. In fact, when consumed in moderation (1-2 small glasses per day) this is probably my favorite, "healthy" vice of all for most people.

The simple fact that red wine is high in resveratrol, perhaps one of the most health-benefiting antioxidants to be discovered yet, is good enough for me. But now, even the big boys in the health care industry are starting to sing its praises.

For a more comprehensive look at the health benefits of red wine, you can also take a look at my favorite blog, Mark's Daily Apple.


So, should we all just skip the exercise, sleep and organic whole foods eaten in a more 'primal way' and instead just eat chocolate, and alternate between cups of coffee and red wine?

Funny enough, if you did you'd probably still be better off than the average American, but obviously I gest.

The idea instead would be to do the exercise, get the good sleep and eat really good foods in a primal way, AND THEN feel free to dabble in a few, higher quality vices like these.

Adios from one human to another.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are Drugs EVER Good For You?

Well the answer, I guess, has to be yes, but it pains me to say so. There are indeed some drugs out there that save lives. There are also others that eliminate symptoms which might otherwise be unbearable. So, I guess you could say (wince) some drugs are good for you.

Maybe my real question then should be stated differently. How about:

Do drugs save more lives than they eliminate?

This question pops into my head all the time as I see patient after patient who are on some medication or another to help "treat" their health condition. However, when looked at from an objective standpoint, many of these patients are also suffering from one or more side effects of the same drug. Some of these effects are so severe that, if nothing were to be done about them, they could eventually result in my patient being one of those nearly 200,000 deaths!

The true problem is that so many of these folks are being told by their doctors they can never get off their drugs. However, if treated appropriately, they could indeed eliminate the vast majority of these drugs they have been told they "need".

OK, back to the question- Do drugs save more lives than they eliminate?

One way to obtain more insight into this query is to simply look at how many people are actually harmed or killed by prescription drugs. When you do that, the answer you will find is downright scary. According to a recent study, each year drug related "problems" put 8.8 million people in hospitals, accounting for up to 28% of all hospital admissions. Of those 8.8 million, 198,815 people end up dead.

By the way, if we include surgeries and other medical procedures, we come to a staggering number of nearly 800,000 deaths PER YEAR being caused by direct medical treatment. This is more than either of the so-called #1 and #1a biggest killers in the U.S.- Heart Disease and Cancer.

The answer of "Yes" I gave at the beginning of all this seems to be even harder to say now don't you think?

Nonetheless, there must be at least a few drugs out there that help more than they hurt right? What about the simpler, "safer" ones? What about the ones that EVERYONE should be taking?

They're OK right?

How about a little test? Let's pick three common drugs and really dig to see if they help more than they hurt. My selection criteria for these three drugs is simple- If asked, most people would consider them either useful, harmless or both.


Why does nearly every senior citizen you know take a daily aspirin? Because it will help keep you alive right?


Did you know that all large, long term (the larger and longer term the better usually) research on using aspirin after having a heart attack show it has no effect on improving overall mortality rates? Instead, most research shows regular aspirin intake simply leads to a reduction in NON-fatal cardiovascular events, but an INCREASE in sudden cardiac death!

Some would also argue that daily aspirin use to "prevent" heart disease can divert attention away from other more useful preventative measures like eating well, reducing stress and exercising, as those taking it may be feeling a (likely unfounded) greater sense of security and protection.

Not only that, when we consider some of the real dangers involved with taking aspirin, we begin to realize it really has no place in the (dare I say mythical?) category of drugs that help but do not harm. You see, even though they're called "baby" aspirin they pack a mighty big, and harmful punch indeed.

Studies on aspirin have actually shown that, when taken long term it can cause:

  • A 58% increase in pancreatic cancer from as little as 2 aspirins per week.*
  • An 86% increase in pancreatic cancer from 14 aspirin per week (common dose for many people)*
  • A 200% increase in gastrointestinal bleeding (which can prove to be fatal in some cases)
  • A 300% increase in gastrointestinal bleeding when consumed along with an NSAID, like Ibuprofen

*An important side note- pancreatic cancer is one of the nastiest of all, with average survival rates of less than 3 years after diagnosis)

Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

Have you ever had a bad headache, toothache, injury or some other type of pain that prompted you to take a little more Tylenol than was recommended on the label? (if you happened to read it at all) I'd bet most of you answered yes.

Is Tylenol helpful? Yup- definitely helps reduce that pain.

Is Tylenol harmful? ........Yup.

This post is getting really long, really quick, so I'll get right to the point. Excessive (and possibly even recommended) intake of Tylenol can cause liver damage, liver failure and death. In fact, here are the FDA's recommendations on Tylenol intake:

  • Follow dosing directions and never take more than directed; even a small amount more than directed can cause liver damage.
  • Don’t take acetaminophen for more days than directed.
  • Don’t take more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at a time. For example, your risk of liver damage goes up if you take a medicine that contains acetaminophen to treat a headache, and while that medicine is still working in your body, you take another medicine that contains acetaminophen to treat a cold. (a VERY common occurence!!)

Did you know there were such stringent directives out there for a "harmless" little drug like Tylenol? Scary huh?

The strangest thing of all to me is that the FDA makes it sound like, as long as you stay within recommended dosing guidelines, Tylenol is perfectly safe.

How can that possibly be???

If taking even a little more than the recommended dose can cause acute liver failure and death, how can a little less than that be totally harmless? In other words, I don't think a person goes from zero effects to acute liver failure and death with the addition of a couple more pills. In all likelihood, there's at least a some harm being done (to a very important organ by the way) well before such thresholds are reached.

So, does Tylenol pass the "more helpful than harmful" test? I think not.


The most popular in a long and (unfortunately) growing line of "wonder drugs" for lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk. Now, if you were to simply pay attention to mainstream media, you'd think Lipitor and other statins were the greatest things out there since sliced bread. (Of course, sliced bread's greatness should be questioned as well, but that's a different post.)

However, there is a lot of research and opinion out there suggesting statins don't do much at all for us. And even though, in most circumstances, they don't seem to kill people right away, their safety is still a big question mark for me. More of my opinions on this topic can be read about here and here.

My last question then is- If such "helpful" and "harmless" drugs like Tylenol, Aspirin and Lipitor fail our test, which drugs actually pass the test?

There are probably a few out there, but I don't want to put forth the effort or expend the brain power to try and come up with one.

Wouldn't it just be easier to try and live a life that creates such boundless energy and vibrant health that you don't even need to bother with these drugs anyway?

Check out some of the links on the right side of this page and start investigating ways to do so. You won't regret it!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts on Swine Flu

By now most of you have heard about the recent outbreaks of Swine Flu. Though confirmed cases in the US have thus far been mild, with no deaths and nearly no hospitalization, the nation still seems on the verge of a bit of a panic, perhaps rightfully so.

I wanted to give you my two cents on the matter, plus some simple, practical tips that everyone can follow to shore up their immune systems and make them more resistant, as well as some things to do if you feel you have come down with the flu, or worst of all may have contracted this virus.

How Concerned Should We Be?

First of all, let me state that this is indeed a potentially serious threat. Though the cases in the US have been mild, there have been over 100 confirmed deaths in Mexico attributed to this illness, since April 13th. That is not something to take lightly. While I don't think it is close to a time for panic, I think we should all take positive steps to improve upon our immune system function, in turn reducing our susceptibility to this or any other virus. I am definitely in support of the "better safe than sorry" tactic on this one.

On the other hand, it is important to also remember that even though the media seems to be saying a pandemic is all but imminent, the number of cases in the US is still tiny when looked at on a grander scale, or compared to even the average winter flu. In other words, you should keep a watchful eye, follow at least some of the steps I recommend and basically brace for a problem, but at the same time, keep living your life and not let the typical, overblown media coverage scare you too much!

How to Prevent the Spread of this or any other Flu

The basics-
  1. Avoid contact with people if they are sick.
  2. Stay at home — from work, school or other public activities — when you are ill.
  3. Shield others from your coughs and sneezes by using a tissue.
  4. Wash your hands often with a natural (vs antibacterial) soap.
  5. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose or mouth.
Additional Prevention Tips
  1. Eat lots of garlic. I recommend a raw clove every day or every other day, along with cooking with it whenever possible.
  2. Eat lots of shiitake mushrooms.
  3. Practice these the Healing Breath Exercise every morning and night.
  4. Do regular exercise without over doing it. And rest if you start getting flu symptoms.
  5. Get lots of sunshine and vitamin D.
  6. Eat like a caveman and Stay away from soda, juice and other forms of sugar as much as possible.
  7. Use Now Foods Activated Nasal Mist once or twice a day.
You Feel a Flu Coming On, Now What???
  1. Constitutional Hydrotherapy Everyday
  2. Take large, frequent doses of Echinacea, Garlic and Elderberry, three of the best antivirals around.
  3. Take Oscillococcinum at recommended doses, at the first sign of illness. (available in most healthfood stores)
  4. If you have a fever over 99.5 DO NOT consume anything other than bone broth, unsweetened electrolyte formulas (if vomiting or diarrhea), water or herbal tea until the fever goes below this number. Nursing children should continue nursing as they desire.
  6. Pick a homeopathic remedy that most closely matches your symptoms.
  7. Take Vitamin D3 at 1000iu per kilogram body weight (1 kg + 2.2 lbs) for three days in a row.
  8. Continue Healing Breath Exercise.
  9. Contact me or another doctor if you are not getting better!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

At least 2 hours of high intensity exercise per day required to gain benefit.....April Fools!!

Many people out there are still under the impression that a veritable TON of exercise, lasting a long, long time, is required if you even have a snowball's chance in Jamaica to get some real benefit for your heart. Thoughts of what is necessary often conjure up images of you slaving away for hours on a treadmill or elliptical machine, eyes darting back and forth between the "calories burned" and "pulse rate" monitors, as you search for validation of the supreme effort you are putting forth.

Well don't despair! Some new research continues to support the notion that running on a treadmill until the cartilage in your knees has thinned to rice paper consistency may not be necessary. In fact some research suggests that large amounts of cardiovascular exercise may actually do more harm than good.

Quality vs. Quantity

A recent study took a fresh approach to exercising for disease prevention. Sixteen inactive men in their early twenties took part in the program, which consisted of short, all-out bouts of sprinting on a stationary bicycle alternating with periods of rest. During each session, the men sprinted for 30 seconds against a resistance, rested for enough time to recover, then repeated three to five repetitions of the same sprint/rest sequence. These sessions were repeated three times each week, bringing the grand total of time spent actively exercising to 7 minutes per week (or about 20 minutes, three times per week, including the rest time), with total calories spent doing so to about 250.

Following two weeks of this exercise training, all men showed significant improvements in insulin sensitivity compared with the beginning of the study, meaning that their ability to process sugar (glucose) from a meal improved by adhering to the program. Three other measures of glucose metabolism also improved, demonstrating that short bouts of intense exercise can have a profound effect on cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors.

The study's authors concluded, “This novel, time-efficient training paradigm can be used as a strategy to reduce metabolic risk factors in young and middle-aged sedentary people who otherwise would not adhere to time consuming traditional exercise regimens."

In other words, it doesn't take much! The neatest thing of all is that you can take this formula and apply it to nearly any exercise that suits your fancy and fitness level. The key is the mixture of approximately 3o seconds of exercise with enough intensity that you really couldn't do much more, followed by a period of rest in order to recover, and repeating this sequence a few times.

For some this could mean all out sprints plus brisk walking to recover, for others this could mean brisk walking plus standing in place to recover. Others might even find benefit from simply standing in place and swinging your arms like you are sprinting, then resting. The possibilities are endless!! I would actually recommend choosing from a variety of exercises and just applying these principles to each one on a different day.

If you are totally new to exercise or in pretty poor shape, I would encourage you to speak to your doctor or at least a trainer before embarking on this plan. If you don't want to then start off very gently.

Is Extreme Cardio Even Good For You?

I have been an exercise fanatic for a long time, but I have to say my views and approach to it have changed drastically over time. I used to think a lot like the way I poked fun at above-
ie. cardiovascular exercise is king and the more of it the better. In fact, I used to workout about 2 hours a day, sometimes at extremely high levels for nearly the whole time. And, guess what, I got sick a lot more often than I do now. These days, my workouts take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Just about the only time I do straight exercise for longer than that is when I play basketball once a week, and I always feel bad afterwards (too bad I'm addicted).

However, not only is there research supporting the idea that we can derive benefit from the new style of exercise I have described thus far, there is a lot of opinion and research out there suggesting this style of exercise is much better for your health.

In fact, nowadays I cringe when I hear a friend or patient tell me they are training to run a marathon. Surely they are doing it because from what they understand it is an ultimate test of endurance and completing one means they are in supreme physical condition. Again, recent research is now suggesting these people are actually putting themselves in danger by pursuing such activities.

Here are some great resources for starting an exercise program that will be safe and beneficial for you:

If you prefer to exercise at home and keep things simple the various routines recommended in the book TBK Fitness, by Tamir Katz, are great. I often do these sorts of workouts when I travel. There are a wide variety of exercise routines suggested that will fit nearly every fitness level, and he also gives a wonderful description of how to eat the healthiest diet on the planet.

If you are in the Portland area and prefer to exercise in a group or even get some private lessons with a high quality trainer who will teach you what I deem to be the absolute BEST exercise methods I have come across yet, check out CrossfitPortland.com.

And get some rest wouldja???

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Help For Healthy Eating

Well, in my continued quest to get you all eating as well as I possibly can, I wanted to provide you with a bunch of awesome links I found recently. With help like this, it's going to be hard to convince me that you can't adopt some of these ideas at least once or twice a day, if not all day everyday!
What to do if you can't be "perfect" about your diet
Paleo/Primal Office Snacks
Paleo/Primal Breakfast Ideas
Grain Free Muffins
Inexexpensive Homemade Jerky Without a Dehydrator
Additional Recipe Ideas

Even More Recipe Ideas
A great description of basic guidelines for a Paleo/Primal eating plan
A great description of how to live a more Primal (healthy) Lifestyle

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cod Liver Oil, Bugs, Organs and Sunshine- Key Factors in Your Health

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy lately, swirling around the various nutritional circles I am connected to, involving the supposed toxicity of vitamin A and one of its most potent nutritional sources- cod liver oil.

The topic was first brought to light after early research showed an increase in fracture rates and osteoporosis risk from excessive vitamin A intake. However, additional studies in 2005 and 2009 seem to have discredited the original findings, suggesting there was no connection between the two.

More recently, the Vitamin D Council came out with a statement again suggesting that vitamin A can indeed be toxic and that cod liver oil should be avoided. This article suggested that while cultures around the world who are deficient in vitamin A certainly benefit from taking it, more affluent cultures like ours have no such deficiency and cited studies showing that taking additional amounts could be harmful.

An article by Dr. Joe Mercola followed soon afterwards, echoing the statements made by the Vitamin D Council. In this article Dr. Mercola, a long-time proponent of cod liver oil, completely reversed his stance based on the findings reported by the Vitamin D Council, suggesting we all avoid it from now on.

Finally, the Weston Price Foundation, another long time supporter of cod liver oil consumption, had previously published articles supporting the use of vitamin A and refutting the vitamin A-osteoporosis connection. They then came out with a preliminary rebuttal to the statements by Mercola and the Vitamin D Council and plan to publish a more in depth article exploring this topic further in the next edition of their journal.

The problem with all of this is that these three groups, especially Weston Price and Mercola.com have been some of the main influences in my nutritional education and research. Having also been a long time consumer and supporter of cod liver oil, I was (for lack of a better term) FREAKING OUT a bit when I read all the recent information from Mercola and the Vitamin D Council.

After taking a few breaths, researching more on my own, re-reading the article by the Vitamin D Council and contacting Dr. Mercola, Sally Fallon (president of the Weston Price Foundation), Dave Wetzel (owner of Green Pasture- the company who makes the cod liver oil I take and recommend to my patients) and Dr. Ron Schmid (owner of DrRons.com and long time cod liver oil advocate) all directly, I was finally able to revise my opinion on this entire topic. The remainder of this post will contain my best effort at summarizing my current stand on things.

Basically when it comes to vitamin A or cod liver oil my feelings are the same as they are when considering any other vitamin or supplement. In essence, natural and whole is better and safer than processed, isolated or synthetic.

What quickly became apparent to me when re-reading the information from the Vitamin D Council is that they kept referring to "modern cod liver oil" as being a problem. I would agree whole heartedly with this contention. You see, "modern cod liver oil" is not fully natural or whole. It is processed, molecularly distilled, heated, and basically altered in many ways from it's original form. It's difficult to say just how much all of these actions do to change its constituents, but one thing is for sure. The processing many cod liver oils go through significantly reduces their vitamin D levels. In turn we are left with a product that has much LESS vitamin D than whole, unprocessed cod liver oil does.

This brings me to my second point. As seems to be the case in other categories of nutrition and life in general, with vitamin A, vitamin D and cod liver oil, it's really all about balance. It's pretty well established that both vitamin A and D are essential nutrients for us. The problem comes when we over consume one over the other. Typical store bought cod liver oil, having been through all the processing it has, has less vitamin D than it should, thus decreasing its ratio in comparison to vitamin A. This is where I along with other experts I have spoken with feel the problem truly lies. Most cod liver oil brands are, in fact, unsafe, because they contain too much vitamin A compared to vitamin D.

In fact, some experts in the field have already come out in direct opposition to the Vitamin D Council's statements about cod liver oil, stating that they were making sweeping generalizations and, in essence, throwing the baby out with the bathwater!

Thankfully, all this time I have been recommending a brand of cod liver oil to my patients that is not nearly as highly processed, and still contains the natural ratios of vitamin A to vitamin D in it. I have also taken to recommending many of my patients take additional vitamin D during the winter time. I feel these steps have eliminated the risks proposed by the Vitamin D Council and Dr. Mercola.

Remember, cod liver oil has been used to complement traditional diets throughout the world for centuries. Traditional diets centered on foods rich in vitamins A and D – liver and other organ meats, seafood and the fats of grass-fed animals. People spent much more time outdoors in the sun than we do. Yet these people still used fish liver oils as an essential part of their diets.

The basic fact then is that extensive evidence shows natural vitamin A in foods such as cod liver oil is not toxic except in cases where vitamin D is deficient. The key is to avoid cod liver oil that contains low levels of vitamin D in relationship to vitamin A. The natural ratio is about ten to one, yet in some brands the ratio is as high as one hundred to one.

I have even come to find out that soon the company I get cod liver oil from for my patients (greenpasture.org) will only be carrying a fermented version of cod liver oil, the most truly natural form of all. Fermented cod liver oil not only contains the appropriate ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D, it is also easier to digest than regular cod liver oil, and contains a variety of other known and unknown nutrients produced directly via the fermentation process (see below for more details). Fermented cod liver oil is indeed one of nature's true super foods.

Finally, in all this discussion about vitamins A and D, something very important has been left out. Vitamin K. More specifically vitamin K2, the form of vitamin K found only in certain fermented foods and certain animal foods. Vitamin K1, found in plants and grasses, is not nearly as useful to us humans as K2 is now being found to be. Research is now showing K2 to be crucial for cardiovascular and bone health. Some research is now showing evidence that consuming it may even reduce plaque formation already present in a person's arteries!

It is my belief that we must eat a good balance of all three of these fat soluble nutrients- A, D and K, and that doing so will keep us safe from any potential toxic effects over consuming any one of them may cause. If we consume a traditional diet rich in high quality animal foods and the fats they naturally come with, and we are sure to get into the sun regularly, whenever we are able, we will get substantial, live-giving portions of all three of these nutrients.

Vitamin A can be found in beef and chicken livers, high quality, full fat dairy foods and fish liver oil. It's precursors-the carotenes are found in dark colored (especially reds and oranges, but also dark green) vegetables. If you are not a fan of organ meats, you can take these items in capsule or powdered form like I do.

The best source for vitamin D is sunshine. If that is not available and/or you live at a latitude where in the winter you can't make vitamin D from the sunshine no matter what, the next best source in my opinion is a vitamin D lamp. The third best option is old fashioned, fermented cod liver oil and straight vitamin D supplements. Again, if the vitamin D lamp is not an option for you, I recommend consuming both fermented cod liver oil and extra vitamin D during the winter (preferably emulsified).

The best sources of vitamin K2 are the traditional Japanese fermented food natto, raw fermented cheeses, raw butter and egg yolks. Interestingly enough, another way we are designed to obtain vitamin K2 is through the fermentation process that is supposed to be going on naturally in all of our guts. You see we are all supposed to have a high level of probiotic organisms in our guts, some of whom actually make vitamin K2 for us to absorb, when they ferment the vegetables and other healthy foods we are supposed to be consuming every day.

Unfortunately, many of us either don't eat the foods these bugs want to ferment, or we've done too many things like take antibiotics, prednisone and birth control pills, all of which destroy these precious friends of ours.

So the bottom line in all of this again is two fold:
1) Consume things in their most natural, unprocessed states.
2) Consume a balanced amount of ALL the nutrients needed for health, especially the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K.

This is obviously a vast topic and there is even more to it all than I am able to get down on a single blog posting. I've already gone way longer than usual! So, if you'd like to know more about this truly crucial component of nutrition and health, please contact me.