Herbal Attack on Arthritis

Arthritis and joint pain can strike at any age

I have become aware of the medicinal plant, Artemisia annua recently. It has come to my attention lately…enough times to push me into doing some research on this medicinal plant. As a herbalist and an osteoarthritis sufferer, I came across this article below. It jumped out at me and I felt compelled to share it. I have tried just about every alternative remedy to change the course of my arthritis without success. Artemisia sounds so promising that I’m willing to try one more.

Arthritis and joint pain are not ailments reserved for the elderly. In fact, arthritis is a very common condition that affects more than 50 million adults and a surprising 300,000 children. Arthritis simply refers to the inflammation of the joints and comes in more than 100 different types.  According to mayoclinic.com, the signs of arthritis may include: pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and a decreased range of motion.

What are the most common types of arthritis?

Although there are over a hundred different recorded types of arthritis, there are only three commonly known types. These can be put into three major categories:

Inflammatory Arthritis –  this happens when the body’s defense system starts to attack its own tissues instead of fighting off germs, viruses and other foreign substances.  This then leads to pain, stiffness and joint damage.  One of the most common forms of this type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – is systemic in nature and affects the entire body.  It can either be mild with minor symptoms and far less risk of developing misshapen joints, or it can be chronic which is more painful and does result in misshapen joints. It can also last a lifetime with just short periods of remission.

Degenerative or mechanical arthritis – is a group of conditions where the main problem is damage to the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. It is commonly known as osteoarthritis and generally affects older people. The parts of the body where osteoarthritis commonly appears are those that are heavily used, such as hips and knees.

Article

Herbal Attack on Arthritis

Excerpts from an article written by Rosemary McLennan in 2012

A malaria treatment that unexpectedly improved the lives of people in Papua New Guinea who also had arthritis has been turned into a nutritional supplement by a New Zealand company.

The people were being treated with an extract from the herb artemisia annua which is effective against all strains of malaria, including those resistant to quinine derivatives.

Those who also had arthritis began to report to their doctor an improvement in joint movements and swelling. The doctor suggested a New Zealand trial by people with arthritis.

It took place in 2010 and 2011 and produced impressive results for 70 per cent of the participants.

Upper Hutt business developer Garrick Wells owns a supercritical CO2 extraction facility in Lower Hutt which processes artemisia imported from Tanzania…considered the best place in the world to grow it.  Mr Wells, has a background in the wood processing industry and his facility produces an extract that is 100 per cent pure with 98 per cent of the components of the plant remaining in the synergistic balance nature designed.

According to Mr Wells, scientific papers have suggested that artemisia helps arthritis by suppressing inflammatory and autoimmune aspects of the condition. In a 2008 trial in China scientists found the joints of animals who had induced arthritis significantly improved after they were given artemisia.

Turangi nurse Claire Birsse, 73, had suffered from arthritis for 27 years and had tried everything orthodox and complementary medicine had to offer. Her joints continued to swell and she suffered constant pain and disability. Within four months on the artemisia extract, she became free from pain. She now uses stairs, does household chores with ease and has returned to university.

Another arthritis sufferer was facing knee replacement surgery when he started taking the extract. Three months later he resumed his regular daily activities and no longer considers knee surgery.

Despite the success stories, Mr Wells says the supplement Arthrem will be ineffective for about 30 per cent of people. Those people, who have purchased his supplement are promised a refund. The product, initially being called Benefit Arthritis is made under the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985.

What research has been done on Artemisia annua?

Western medicine has seen a lot of potential in Artemisia annua, enough reason for certain groups to pursue research on its efficacy in helping arthritic patients. Some of these studies are:

Immunoquantitative analysis of artemisinin from Artemisia annua using polyclonal antibodies

Biosynthesis of artemisinic acid in Artemisia annua 

Component composition of essential oil from Artemisia annua and A. scoparia 

These studies are evidence of the increasing interest in this herb and its many uses to aid and complement traditional medicine.

It is available online at:

https://arthrem.com/thank-you-trial

https://arthrem.com/buy-now/

https://arthrem.co.nz/ 


Herb Garden1

I have compiled a list of herbal teas, most from Nature’s Creation Book. The majority can be grown in herb pots and used fresh. I live in a sub-tropical area of Australia and I’m able to grow Turmeric and Ginger outside but both Turmeric and Ginger can be grown inside in pots. http://www.containergardens101.com/2015/05/25/how-to-grow-turmeric-indoors/ 

Herb Garden2

Anise

Parts Used: leaves

Digestive, calmative, soothes dry coughs, good for colic, breath freshener.

Side Effects: Can aggravate high blood pressure, and have a negative effect if taking iron supplements.

Cardamom

Parts Used: seeds within pods

Tonic for digestive system, relieves nausea, congestion, stress reducer, breath freshener.

Side Effects: None known.

Cleavers (Sticky Weed)

Parts Used: leaves/stems

Considered one of the best herbal cleansing tonics known…purifies the blood, lymphatic system and kidneys, as well as remove toxins from the body. Clears skin conditions.

Side Effects:  None known.

Chamomile (German)

Parts Used: flowers

Calming, soothing…calms nervous and digestive systems, anti-inflammatory. 

Side Effects: None known.

Cinnamon

Parts Used: Sticks

Awakens the 5 senses allowing full enjoyment of meals, clears a path to the intuition, warming…fights off winter chills, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antibacterial, antifungal.

Side Effects: Considered safe.

Coconut

Considered by Pacific Islanders as a cure for all illnesses.

Side Effects: Ripened coconut not recommended for those suffering from diarrhea, dysentery and colic disorders. Should not be given to people suffering from liver disorders and higher cholesterol.

Cloves

Numbs pain (good for toothache), kills bacteria, good for viral infections, upset stomach and as an expectorant. Clove oil can be used for intestinal gas, nausea, and vomiting.

Side Effects: Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take clove in medicinal doses.

Fennel

Parts Used: Seeds, root, essential oil.

Properties very similar to Anise.  Digestive, breath freshener, expectorant, good for chronic coughs. Specifically effects the digestive, urinary, and nervous systems.

Side Effects: Excess amount fennel can disrupt the nervous system. May produce contact dermatitis.

Feverfew

Parts used: leaves and flowers

An effective remedy in preventing migraines, headaches, nervousness or pain.

Side Effects: Allergic reactions to feverfew are rare. May effect some prescription and non-prescription medications.

Ginger

Parts Used: Fresh or dried rhizome

The Ginger rhizome contains the constituent gingerol, found to inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which induce inflammation and considered a successful herbal alternative to many arthritis drugs. It is also excellent in the treatment of nausea and extremely effective when taken for travel/motion sickness, morning sickness and postoperative and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Ginger is known to stimulate the circulatory system and activate and warm the body.

Side effects: Rare

Lavender

Parts Used: flowers

The flowers contain high levels of the volatile oil that produce a soothing and calming effect physically, mentally and emotionally. Has the ability to cure headaches and relieve anxiety associated with the nervous system.  Balances emotions.

Side Effects: Side effects are rare but some people may develop an allergic reaction.

Lemon Balm

Parts Used: leaves

Tonic to the heart, nervous system and digestive system…anti-allergenic, anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, antiviral and antiseptic.  It is carminative, digestive, sedative and anti-spasmodic.

Especially useful for those who have mild anxiety, tension, insomnia and feeling depleted of energy physically, mentally and emotionally.

Side Effects: Rare

Lemon Verbena

Parts Used: leaves

Soothes stomach spasms, calms nerves, reduces fevers, calmative, antispasmodic.

Side Effects: Rare

Marjoram

Parts Used: leaves

Helps hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, warming and good for colds.

Side Effects: None known

Mint

Parts Used: leaves

Soothing effect on the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, easing the discomforts of indigestion, including heartburn, flatulence, abdominal cramping, bloating. Calms a queasy stomach and is good for nausea and vomiting and is especially calming for the lower bowel and helpful in relieving diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

Side Effects: Rare

Nettle

Parts Used: leaves

Medicinally, Nettle is used (in the form of infusion) as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier for hay fever, arthritis, and anemia. It is also excellent in the treatment of excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin conditions, especially eczema and burns.

Side Effects: Rare

Nutmeg

Part Used: Seed

Sedative, stimulant, relaxant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericide. helpful remedy for many digestive problems, especially gastroenteritis…relieves stomach pain.

Side Effects: Safe in low medicinal doses and culinary amounts. Can cause toxicity at high dosages

Red Clover

Parts Used: seed heads

A remedy for respiratory conditions, excellent blood purifier, treatment for coughs and bronchial ailments, skin conditioner.

Side Effects: None

Rooibos (Red Bush)

Parts Used: leaves

Rooibos tea is used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure, insomnia, nervous tension, mild depression, diabetes, skin problems, liver diseases and cataracts.

Side Effects: Can slow down the absorption of iron in consumed foods.


Rosemary

Parts Used: leaves

Increases circulation, improves memory, alleviates headaches, soothes and nourishes skin conditions, stimulates the liver, gall bladder and intestinal tract and possesses marked anti-bacteria, antiviral and antifungal properties.  An effective nerve tonic, anti-inflammatory, carminative and stimulates the central nervous system and circulation.

Side Effects: People with high blood pressure, ulcers, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis should not take rosemary. May interact with certain drugs.

Sage

Parts Used: leaves

Safe natural disinfectant. antimicrobial properties, astringent, antiseptic, tonic herb. Effective laryngitis and sore throat cure. Sage tea can also be used to relieve the discomfort of measles, dizziness, colds, fever, and headaches.

White Sage: Sacred to Native Americans

Side Effects: Should not be used by people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. Not recommended for stomach problems.

No drug interactions have been noted with sage use.

Turmeric

Parts Used: rhizome

Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. 

The principal organs it deals with are the skin, heart, liver and lungs. It also nurtures the entire gastrointestinal system and generates healthy digestion. Modern science has recognised the amazing healing qualities of Turmeric and much research is currently being conducted. Ayurvedic doctors use Turmeric as a medicine in the form of fresh juice, tea, tinctures or powder.

Side Effects: Rare

Thyme

Parts Used: leaves

Warming herb that is astringent, aromatic, antiseptic, and anti-fungal. It helps to improve digestion, relax spasms and controls coughing.

Side Effects: Side effects are uncommon with thyme teas and tinctures.


If we can do one thing to benefit our overall well-being we should focus on maintaining vigorous gut health. I ended up with severe gut issues, bordering on leaky gut because I ignored the obvious signs of food intolerances and allergies. I continued eating gluten loaded food (because I love bread), high GI sugar foods and dairy. I was aware that my gut was in poor shape and what was causing the problem but I was stuck in a “Ground Hog Day” scenario where I was repeating these lifelong habits until my gut finally said, “NO MORE!”

Almost a year ago I went to an amazing wellness retreat and I began to listen after I was tested for food intolerances and allergies and clearly explained the dire consequences of continuing to eat these foods. Most of us have an idea of what foods our gut likes or dislikes and deep down we know which ones we are intolerant of. However, we tend to ignore the signs because we love certain foods and we really don’t want (or know how) to change anything. As a herbalist, I was aware I had gut issues with certain foods but I didn’t realise how much damage I was creating by continuing to eat these foods. I was taking all the right supplements, however in the wrong form. Because of my severe gut issues, I was unable to assimilate these supplements in the solid form. I was literally “spinning my wheels” and going nowhere. With fairly severe arthritis, along with my gut issues, and my continued weight gain, I decided it was time to get to the root cause and make whatever changes necessary.

If you have been having gut issues for a while and none of the recommendations below help, I suggest you look into having food intolerance and allergy testing. I recommend going to a Naturopath or an alternative doctor who can do live and dry blood testing or

guide you to a practitioner who can. In Australia, I know of only a small handful of people who do this type of testing. This testing will also identify parasites, abnormal bacteria, yeasts and other gastrointestinal issues, which will help you create a supplement and diet plan. The test will also show up heavy metals in the body but an additional test like the Oligo scan will identify which heavy metals are involved. I had mercury, cadmium, and lead. Heavy metals can cause myriad health problems, but a good Naturopath will know how to eliminate them.

Excerpts from Kris Carr’s – 7 Ways to Improve Gut Health

Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help process your food, produce nutrients, and fight disease. In fact, there are ten times more bacteria in your gut than cells in your entire body! Balanced gut bacteria is fundamental to overall health. Since what you eat, drink and think affects the environment in your gut. Your daily choices play a critical role in whether those trillion plus bacteria help or hinder your well-being.

But when the harmful bacteria stage a revolt, all hell breaks loose. They totally gum up the works and cause painful problems like inflammation and infection, which can then lead to health issues such as constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases and more.

Medications (especially antibiotics and antacids), environmental toxins and chemicals, stress and illness greatly affect the ratio of good to bad bacteria. When bacteria are wiped out indiscriminately, the good guys get mowed down, giving the bad guys a chance to increase their ranks. Hello, chronic health issues.

The food you eat also affects the ratio of good to bad bacteria. Everything you consume is processed and either absorbed into your body or eliminated via your gut. Your gut completes the amazing task of digesting your food and pulling the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals out of the food so that they can be absorbed into your bloodstream.

Your gut is a major component of your immune system.

Did you know that about 60-70% of your immune system lives in your gut?

Meet your GALT, also known as gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Your GALT lies just below the mucosal lining of the gut wall. It’s very thin (only one cell thick!), and most importantly — it’s integral to your immune system. The GALT contains specialized immune structures called Peyer’s patches that are filled with immune cells, such as B cells and T cells, which are responsible for recognizing and neutralizing harmful bacteria. When pathogenic bacteria visit your gut via food or your environment, the Peyer’s patches trigger your immune response to prevent them from passing through the gut wall.

Another way your gut protects you from infection and disease is through an abundance of healthy bacteria.

To keep harmful bacteria from overthrowing your gut, healthy bacteria need to thrive and cover your gut wall — the only thing standing between everything inside your gut and your bloodstream. It helps to imagine that your gut wall is a parking lot. There are a limited number of “parking spots” along your gut wall. You want good bacteria parked in those spaces so bad bacteria are crowded out. Keep those spaces filled by adopting the following gut health.

Now that you know how important your gut health is to your overall wellbeing, how can you take care of your spectacular gut?

1. Take a probiotic supplement: A daily probiotic supplement will help boost the good bacteria in your gut, keeping the bad guys under control, boosting your immune system and easing digestive issues. This is especially helpful when you’re taking a medication, such as an antibiotic that has wiped out a large amount of gut bacteria. Any health food shop can recommend a probiotic.

2. Eat probiotic whole foods: You can also eat whole foods that are fermented and contain large amounts of good bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae and coconut kefir are fantastic plant-based probiotic-rich foods. When looking for probiotic-rich foods, avoid vinegar-based and/or pasteurized varieties, since these elements kill good bacteria. You want to pick up (or make!) lacto-fermented probiotic foods (FYI–this is a plant-friendly approach, no whey is necessary). If you’re interested in making your own probiotic foods, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz is a popular book on the subject. Word to the wise: Get educated on fermenting at home before diving in–it can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing!

3. Eat prebiotic whole foods: Certain foods feed and support the growth of good bacteria. By eating more whole, plant-based, fibre-filled foods, you’re fuelling the bacteria that support your health. Raw onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes, and bananas are some of the best prebiotic foods to add to your diet.

4. Eat regularly, but not constantly (eat your last meal of the day preferably before 6pm): To give your gut a chance to clean up and clear out bacteria and waste, it needs a rest from digestion. Every 90 minutes to two hours, the smooth muscle in your intestines move and groove to keep bacteria and waste truckin’ through your digestive tract. But this process is put on hold every time you eat. Can you see why snacking constantly slows down digestion and contributes to bacterial overgrowth? I’m not saying that you need to fast for long periods — eating regularly helps prevent constipation and bloating — but it’s best to take breaks between meals.

5. Stay hydrated: A good rule of thumb for staying hydrated is drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink about 65 ounces of water. That’s about eight 8-ounce glasses of water. Your gut needs water to keep bacteria and waste moving through your digestive system, which will help prevent constipation and bloating. When you’re dehydrated, these issues can throw off the balance of bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation. Give your gut a hand and drink more H2O!

6. Cut out refined sugar and processed foods: When you consume processed, sugar-laden, refined foods, you’re giving bad bacteria an all-you-can-eat buffet, which increases the likelihood of developing gut issues and associated illnesses.

7. Reduce stress:  The brain and the gut are closely connected and communicate with each other. When you experience chronic stress, your brain goes into fight or flight mode, causing your digestion and blood flow in the gut to slow down, the muscles that push along waste and bacteria to freeze up and the secretions for digestion to decrease. All of these stress responses equal a poorly functioning gut! Take care of your gut health by coping with stress through breath work, yoga, meditation, therapy, time in the outdoors and the countless other stress reduction techniques available to you.


1.What happens when the gut flora is disturbed

After struggling for many years with gut problems I finally spent two weeks in a wonderful Health & Wellness retreat and I discovered (through several tests) the reason for all of the health issues that plagued me. I had multiple problems including, leaky gut/malabsorption, adrenal stress, lymphatic congestion, candida, a parasite, heavy metal toxicity, low B12, liver congestion, acidic body and underactive thyroid. All these problems were caused by an unhealthy gut. 

It’s been nearly 6 months now and I’ve faithfully continued with a prescribed diet and supplements. My gut has healed (I’ve been re-tested), I’ve lost 15kg and I’m feeling energetic and healthy. The most noticeable change, apart from the weight loss is that my brain fog has disappeared and I have clarity of mind. This knowledge has changed my life.

I discovered this article below by Kale Brock and I wanted to share it because it took me 70 years of life to understand fully the impact of an unhealthy gut and how it caused myriad health issues for me. 

5. All Disease Begins in the Gut

The Gut-Brain Connection
Kale Brock
http://kalebrock.com.au/

The gut-brain connection is something that’s been talked about for thousands of years since Hippocrates said ‘all disease begins in the gut’. However, it’s only been in the last two decades, if that, that we’ve really seen science come to the table with strong evidence of the positive effect that probiotics & improved gut health can have on the functioning of the brain. 

As I’m often fond of saying, your gut is like a central dashboard within the body, communicating constantly with various extensions such as your immune system, your nervous system, your skin, your heart & of course your brain. If you have imbalances or malfunctions in that central dashboard, you can expect malfunctions in the parts reliant on the proper functioning of it (i.e. the aforementioned list). Correct the initial malfunction at the source & expect better functioning along the line, so to speak. 

Now, with so many studies pointing to the gut as the source of our ailments, it is important to put into perspective why this seems to be the case. And it would seem, through logic, that if so many people (supported with studies) are benefiting from taking probiotics or making positive alterations to gut function, it would suffice to say that so many people are out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract. Remember that nature always strives for balance in the first place so arguably depression, anxiety & mood swings are not intended in any way but rather come as a result of an imbalance somewhere in the body. This begs the question then, why are we so out of balance? 

One could not look past our frivolous use of antibiotics over the past 80 years as being the main culprit of such an imbalance. Antibiotics, as we well know, not only kill off pathogenic microbes but also beneficial ones – the first to grow back in most cases? The pathogenic species. The unfortunate thing about antibiotics (which have been life-saving in many cases) is that we now have a population who’s microbiomes (those microbes we talked about) are completely & permanently altered. We don’t really know what an ideal microbiome is anymore – all we know is that ours have changed completely since the use of antibiotics & we are seeing a huge rise in disease as a result.

When it comes to microbes & our brains the science is quite clear – microbes manufacture our brains most important chemicals known as: neurotransmitters within the gastrointestinal tract – up to 90% of them in fact. So that serotonin you’ve been wanting, that dopamine to help you feel happy & that all important melatonin to help you fall asleep is all dependent on gut microbes – interesting huh? 

Another factor in the gut-brain connection, it seems, is the management of inflammation by the actions of gut microbes & the immune system. Our gut bugs are literally talking with our immune cells, teaching them from the first time you enter the world how to behave cordially & appropriately. Naturally, if our gut bugs are imbalanced, we can experience numerous immunological challenges. This, according to the research, seems to stem from increased intestinal permeability, a situation where the thin membrane of the gut (used for diffusing nutrients from the gut into the blood) becomes too leaky & open. This is akin to a fly screen with large holes & tears in it; it doesn’t exactly work. Alongside macromolecules of food, pathogenic microbes & other such intruders now in the bloodstream, a specific marker has been noted to be particularly damaging on the body and brain & that is LPS – lipopolysaccharide. LPS has been found to be in extremely high levels in Alzheimer’s disease & is known to cause neuron damage in the brain. 

These factors may be extremely instrumental in the development of such mental illnesses as depression, anxiety & mood swings as the brain becomes inflamed & less capable of processing information. In fact this has been supported with studies where researchers have administered probiotics to mice & noted striking differences in behaviour – mice who receive probiotic treatment & then experience stressful situations report less cortisol development (a stress hormone) & behaviourally seem to be ‘more chilled’. Further, this experiment has been replicated in humans where probiotic treatment regularly reduces qualitative anxiety scores.

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride goes as far as saying that Autism is the manifestation of a gut that has become a source of toxicity instead a source of nutrition during developmental years. According to her, if the condition is treated early enough the autistic symptoms can be reversed. This opinion is supported by research that shows that autistic children are regularly found to have different gut microbes to their healthy counterparts, specifically having higher levels of microbes like E.coli & clostridia.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if we want to experience great mental health, then considering an approach that looks at the gut might be a good move. By taking a sensible, long-term approach such as taking probiotics regularly & eating a wholefoods, high fibre diet, both of which support gut-health, may be the key in attaining a more balanced brain.

I would also say that this research suggests that we may heighten our respect for the human body that seems to respond well to holistic treatment available from nature. As science continues to uncover the specifics of disease & the microbiome, & how we can pinpoint specific bugs for specific conditions, expect huge improvements in the symptom-based approach of western medicine.

But also expect some interesting products entering the market from big-pharma…because you can’t patent naturally occurring microbes ?

About Kale Brock

Kale Brock is an award-nominated journalist, researcher & professional speaker. With qualifications as a Health & Exercise coach, Kale has worked in the health and wellness industry since 2007 alongside some of the best naturopaths and health personalities in Australia. Now specialising in the areas of gut health & the microbiome, Kale shares a well-rounded & comprehensive message on these areas to the general public.

Below are some suggestions for books and URL links that I’ve found useful in the healing of my gut and my health. These are not part of this article.

The Good Gut
Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health
 By:Justin;Sonnenburg, Erica; Sonnenburg

The Body Ecology Diet
Book by Donna Gates
 
Dr. Axe
https://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
Link to Article by Dr. Bush on Restore for Gut Health
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/buck-wargo/health-problems-traced-to_b_12719780.html

card and book2

NATURE’S CREATION – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants – Book & Cards

A wonderful book and card set for those who are passionate about medicinal plants. Use the book and cards to learn about over 40 medicinal plants, their history, myths and, most importantly, their healing properties. Discover how to utilise the plants’ medicinal qualities through a variety of herbal preparations. Tinctures, decoctions, flower essences, essential oils and herbal teas can be powerful tools in healing on all levels…physical, mental and emotional.

Each card has also been designed to provide insight and to aid in recognising an issue and facilitating its release or simply in using a particular plant for personal support. Choose a card daily or whenever you need guidance and support. Browse the corresponding chapter to get a feeling for the plant and what it’s offering you and to reflect on the gentle lesson it teaches.

Many of the insights in the book embrace spiritual practices for personal growth and balance. Yoga, meditation, fire ceremony and other modalities can be used to strengthen the plants’ healing abilities and assist in transforming, aligning and bringing balance.

The perfect Christmas gift!

Buy the book/cards on the website: www.naturescreation.biz    

 

 


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This blog isn’t just about the damage sugar does to the human body and the gut. It is about my journey to find out why I wasn’t able to lose weight no matter what I did and seeking to make changes in my life to cure painful osteoarthritis. I have a great deal of knowledge about health and wellness. I know my body and I knew what was causing my weight issue and arthritis. I’ve known my gut was the main issue for many years now. I tried every alternative method to heal my gut, alkalise my body, lose weight and get healthy. So…what was I doing wrong??? If I was doing all the right things, then why was I unable to change the outcome??? The answers eluded me. I finally found the answers but they were not what I expected at all. I hope what I’ve discovered can ultimately help others. 

Firstly, let me say and positively clarify that this blog is NOT an advertisement for Chi of Life. However, I do attribute my new found wellbeing to Chi of Life and I feel extremely grateful for the guidance that directed me there. I trusted my intuition to guide me to the right Health & Wellness retreat to find the solution. I did heaps of research on the internet looking for the ‘right’ place. Only one retreat kept coming up and every fibre in my body was telling me…Chi of Life is the place to go. All the other retreats I researched, except Chi of Life, focused on a weight loss and boot camp scenario with no mention of finding THE CAUSE of the weight/health problem. What made Chi of Life different? They focused firstly on “the cause”. They take only 6-8 people at a time and each person is treated as an individual with their own specific issues. All participants take a “Metabolic Typing” Test so that Chi of Life can fine tune each person’s individual diet. You learn exactly what foods are compatible with your body chemistry and how to combine proteins, carbs and fats in a ratio that is just right for each person. Most people don’t consider that eating healthy, organic foods might not be enough for their highest level of wellness. They could actually be eating an all-organic diet and still be missing the mark. This was exactly my issue. Most of us have a friend or family member who did super well and lost all kinds of weight on a particular diet and when we tried it (and stuck to it religiously), we gained weight and our health declined.

Upon arrival, as most health retreats do, we were weighed and measured. Then, the next day we were taken to have live and dry blood analysis done. I was familiar with live blood analysis but I discovered that it’s the dry blood analysis that truly brings the whole health picture together. Only two people in Australia do the dry blood as it is very specialised. Live blood analysis allows you to view the red and white blood cells in the blood, the platelets, and the blood plasma. Imbalances seen in the blood will affect organs and tissues leading to malfunction and eventually illness. If our red blood cells are not perfectly shaped, with a proper structure, flexibility, and fluidity, their ability to travel around the body and do their job is severely compromised. This leads to tissue levels of oxygen and nutrients failing, which translates to low energy, fatigue, and a general sense of feeling unwell as well as potentially serious health problems developing. Similarly, dried blood analysis can show levels of oxidative stress and toxicity in the body (particularly the adrenals). Check out the short video (link below) for further explanation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_LE-q7i8_E 

Once they have the results of the live and dry blood analysis Chi of Life can access what is needed to make changes in diet and lifestyle to achieve total wellness. I wasn’t shocked by my results but relieved because I could now finally confront the obstacles head on and go forward with the healing my body. My results showed chronic digestive issues (no surprise) and leaky gut causing malabsorption and poor digestion (also not a surprise). As a consequence, I was not absorbing nutrients from food or supplements, hence…none of the supplements I was taking were absorbed by my body. I was like a hamster going around and around on a wheel and not going anywhere. It became clear that I needed to heal my gut first and foremost. I also had lymphatic congestion, chronic adrenal stress, candida, low B12, and underactive thyroid. Further testing showed heavy metal contamination that turned out to be from mercury and cadmium. These toxic metals seriously affect the nervous system along with the kidneys, blood, spleen, brain, liver, bones and fatty tissues. No wonder I had gut issues, arthritis, and problems with weight loss. 

I stayed at Chi of Life for two weeks. We were kept so busy with exercise (bike rides, beach walks, hikes, kayaking, water aerobics, gym workouts, saunas, chi machine, tennis) that the two weeks flew by. I learned that most people overeat, myself included. I had no idea I was overeating. And…I found out that I was eating way more (hidden) sugar than I even imagined. I have now eliminated all sugar from my diet, even honey and most fruits. I have cut out all grains and I now only eat seeds such as quinoa, chia, and buckwheat. I’ve eliminated all dairy, gluten, and caffeine. This all sounds quite radical but truthfully, it wasn’t difficult and I’m not hungry in between meals and I’m never really craving snack food or sweets anymore and the best outcome is that I’ve lost 11kg over the past 2 months since Chi of Life. 

I’m taking specific supplements to heal my gut, get rid of the mercury and cadmium, cure the candida and the other issues and I feel wonderful. My day begins with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water to alkalise my gut followed by a big glass of fresh green juice. My arthritis pain has improved and my brain fog (that I blamed on senior moments) has gone. I feel really clear and so much lighter (figuratively and literally). I will continue on this healthy, healing diet and way of life because it works. 

A video that I recommend for everyone to watch is The Sugar Film (thatsugarfilm.com). Sugar is the number one culprit of disease in the body…causing obesity, gut issues and possibly cancer. I didn’t realise how unhealthy I was until I got healthy!

If anyone is interested in The Chi of Life their website is: www.chiofliferetreat.com.au

For more information and comments please go to my Facebook page: Nature’s Creation Book

 


A Vegan Doctor Addresses Soy Myths and Misinformation

By Holly Wilson MD | January 14, 2014 | Categories: Health and Nutrition

Tofu

Soy has long been recognized as a nutrient-dense food and as an excellent source of protein by respected dietitians and clinical nutritionists. (1) The soybean contains all of the essential amino acids, as well as an impressive list of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Micronutrients in rich supply in soy include: calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C and zinc. Fiber and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are also present in soy. The composition of these nutrients varies among preparations, but is in the highest quantity in whole soy foods such as edamame (whole soy beans), soy milk, tofu and tempeh.

Yet despite the powerful health benefits of whole soy foods, myths and misinformation regarding the ‘dangers’ of soy consumption are being widely circulated and presented as fact. I will address a few of these myths by taking a closer look at some of the sources of confusion and controversy.

“All soy is GMO!”

Pic of tofu in packet

 

I would like to begin by explaining that the largest consumer of commercially grown GMO soybeans, both in the US and globally, is farmed animals. GMOs are genetically modified organisms, and their safety for human consumption is a hot topic of debate; many European countries have banned GMOs. While long term studies and conclusive data on the health effects of GMOs are lacking, GMOs are ubiquitous in our food supply. Soybeans are one of several major food staples now dominated by genetic modification. Currently, 81% of the global soybean crop is genetically modified, and approximately 85% of all GMO soybeans end up in farmed animal feed. The GMO soy consumed by farmed animals is utilized as a source of protein by them, and does not just magically evaporate in the slaughterhouse or the milk processing plant. It ends up on your plate.

But while an alarming percentage of soybeans are genetically modified, the claim that “all soy is GMO” is one of the great soy myths. Of the soy directly consumed by humans, non-GMO soy foods such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk are widely available in stores which offer soy products, and they are clearly labeled non-GMO.

 

 

“But I heard soy causes cancer!”

Misinformation regarding soy’s relationship to cancer largely stems from confusion around the presence of phytoestrogens in soy. Phytoestrogen is not estrogen. Estrogen and testosterone are steroid hormones, and occur naturally in both sexes of humans, as well as in animals used for food. They help regulate sexual function and secondary sexual characteristics, in addition to nonsexual cellular functions. While estrogen plays many important beneficial roles in humans, it also naturally promotes proliferation of cells, and, at high levels, can increase risk of some cancers by encouraging cells to multiply more than they usually would. Hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women (specifically, taking only estrogen) has also been implicated in cancer growth. (2)

While soy does not contain estrogen, animal foods do. Many consumers are aware that animals used for meat and dairy are commonly supplemented with synthetic growth hormones, but what they don’t consider is that animal flesh and cow milk also contain their own naturally occurring estrogen— and this is true even of “grass-fed” and “organic” animals. Furthermore, meat, dairy and eggs all contain phytoestrogens; they are pervasive in our food, both plant and animal-derived, and you are not avoiding them entirely by avoiding soy.  

Phytoestrogen is just a catchall term for numerous naturally occurring plant compounds which are structurally similar to mammalian estrogen, and functionally are weakly estrogenic (weakly mimicking estrogen) or antiestrogenic (blocking estrogen’s effects). The metabolism and functionality of phytoestrogens are incredibly complex, and vary between individuals. The concern over soy and cancer stems from the fact that soy-based foods contain phytoestrogens (specifically, isoflavones) in varying amounts (depending on the preparation), and these react with the estrogen receptor. There are two types of estrogen receptors in humans: alpha and beta. Alpha are distributed widely throughout the body, whereas beta are localized in the ovary, prostate, lung, and epididymis (testicle). While isoflavones, like estrogen, bind to both alpha and beta receptors (preferentially to beta), isoflavones do not have the estrogenic effect of inducing tumor growth. In fact, isoflavones have demonstrated a protective benefit against hormone-dependent cancers.

The inverse relationship between soy consumption and risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer has been clearly established. In other words, higher rates of soy intake are associated with lower rates of breast cancer. (3) However, large clinical trials have not yet been conducted regarding the effect of phytoestrogen consumption on tumor growth in established cancer patients. (4) To date, such studies have utilized small sample sizes, and the methods for obtaining data were highly variable. There have been ‘promising’ results from multiple animal models, demonstrating a reduction in tumor size with consumption of soy protein. Yet, aside from the immorality of artificially inducing cancer in unwilling participants, it is dangerous to compare laboratory animals to humans. We are not mice. Even within our species, there is tremendous variability in the metabolic processing of phytoestrogens and pharmacological agents, thus establishing the difficulty and complexity of this area of research. Instead, attention should be placed on the already available mass of epidemiological data which compares Asian cultures to those consuming a Western diet.

Lessons from Asia

Older Japanese man exercising

Soy has been a major staple in Asian cultures for centuries, and their incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, ischemic stroke, hormone-dependent cancers, osteoporosis, postmenopausal hip fracture, diabetes, and obesity are all markedly lower than what is seen here in the US. However, when sectors of these populations begin to consume foods based more on the Western diet, not surprisingly, their patterns of disease begin to mimic ours as well. I recall this point being made in medical school. The terms ‘vegan’ and ‘plant-based’ were not yet widely in use, yet there was at least recognition of the association between geographic variability in diet, and health conditions. During this time, the human genome project was completed. I had made the connection that independent of the mass of genetic information all humans share, how we live and what we eat will have a huge and direct impact on our health.

To cite just one example, the Okinawa Centenarian Study analyzed the health and dietary patterns of over 900 centenarians (individuals of 100 years of age or older) living on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Individuals in their 70s, 80s and 90s were evaluated as well. The Japanese Ministry of Health has been maintaining a family register for the entire country since the 1870s, and it is updated every 5 years. The world’s highest known concentration of centenarians live in Okinawa. Regular physical activity, lean BMIs (body mass index), and high consumption of fruits, vegetables and soy are all a part of traditional Okinawan lifestyle. Their aging population enjoy healthier lives and much lower rates of cancer (breast, ovarian, prostate and colon) as compared to those in the U.S., and even to those on the Japanese mainland. Their rates of dementia, osteoporosis, and coronary artery disease are also impressively low. By comparison, based on my 10 years of clinical experience, I can attest to the fact that our aging population suffers a high incidence of debilitating disease, dependency on pharmaceuticals, depression, and difficulty with mobility and physical activity.

The myth of ‘moobs’ (man boobs)

“Moobs” is another of the heavily circulated soy myths with no actual basis in scientific fact. I am reminded of the fear I had of swallowing bubblegum as a child — “because it will take 7 years to digest!” Gynecomastia is the medical term for developed breasts in men. Fetal sexual organ formation and secondary sexual characteristic development are essentially hormone driven. The ‘soy causes man boobs’ urban legend is thus likely rooted in the confusion between estrogen and phytoestrogen, but, as previously explained, phytoestrogen is not estrogen. If indeed this were the case, there would be a lot of men in need of bras.

In reality, clinical studies in men show that isoflavones do not affect testosterone levels or circulating estrogen levels. Even at levels of isoflavone exposure significantly higher than those of a typical Asian male consuming a soy rich diet, isoflavones have not been found to have feminizing effects. (6)

Soy myths and hysteria from the Weston A. Price Foundation

cow-milk

Soy myths and hysteria and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) are inseparable. Much of the fear-mongering around soy is a direct result of misinformation disseminated by the WAPF’s relentless anti-soy campaigns. The WAPF, registered as a nonprofit organization, is a multimillion dollar operation that lobbies for raw milk and grass-fed beef. Its members (often farmers) make financial contributions and in turn benefit from WAPF promotion. One of the WAPF’s ongoing strategies for promoting animal farming interests is a concerted effort to discredit veganism in general, and soy in particular. Soyfoods sales have climbed from $500 million in 1992 to $5.2 billion in 2011. The soy industry is expanding exponentially, thus posing a potential threat to the products the WAPF are trying to peddle. In response, the Weston Price Foundation actively publishes articles which propagate the supposed dangers of soy consumption, citing clinical and medical journals in an attempt to appear credible.

 

To give one example, there is a recent blog entry on the WAPF website from board member Kaayla Daniel, who attempted to interpret an article from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in a way that would promote the WAPF’s anti-soy agenda. On July 10 2013, JAMA published ‘Effect of Soy Protein Isolate Supplementation on Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer After Radical Prostatectomy’. (5) The study was well conducted (randomized and double-blind), and aimed to analyze whether or not soy intake would have any effect on patients being treated for advanced prostate cancer. Oncologists measured PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood at specific time intervals to assess response. It is not surprising that in patients with a lifetime consumption of foods high in animal fat and protein, pesticides, preservatives and antibiotics, and after a diagnosis of advanced cancer — that the biochemical markers were not affected by soy ingestion. The study could yield no solid conclusions about soy, except that with advanced prostate cancer, the consumption of soy will not reduce biochemical markers. Yet, the WAPF skewed data and selectively interpreted the study to support claims that further their anti-soy agenda.

 It’s also worth noting: Dr. Weston A Price (1870-1948) was a dentist, not a physician or a dietician. He studied teeth from primitive cultures and formulated dietary recommendations for modern society based on dental decay observations.

 Soy and thyroid function

Iron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thyroid gland has the essential function of controlling metabolism. There are multiple dietary nutrients required for the production of thyroid hormone, iodine being the most widely recognized. The relationship between soy consumption, iodine deficiency and goiter (enlarged thyroid) was first described in 1960 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Infants consuming nonfortified soy-based formula developed goiter, yet the exact nature of the relationship was unclear. Since then, there have been numerous studies which have disproven the causal relationship between soy and thyroid toxicity. (7)

Source: National Institutes of Health

TPO (thyroid peroxidase) is an enzyme located in the thyroid gland that catalyzes the necessary reactions to formulate thyroid hormone. Studies involving rats, pigs and humans demonstrated decreased TPO activity when fed isolated genistein and daidzein (the isoflavones in soy that react most strongly with TPO). Although some TPO activity was lost, there was no overall negative effect on thyroid function. Thyroid hormone levels measured in the blood of both experimental and control groups were the same. Furthermore, humans (as well as rats) only demonstrated hypothyroidism if their soy diets were iodine-depleted. Please see table for National Institute of Health recommendations.

 What types of soy foods are healthiest?

In discussions of soy foods, the assertion is sometimes made that only fermented soy foods are safe and healthful to consume, with the eating habits of traditional Asian cultures cited as support for this claim. In fact, contrary to this common misconception, the soy products regularly consumed in Asian countries are not all, or even primarily, fermented. According to research from Ginny Messina, R.D., “In Japan, about half of soy consumption comes from the fermented foods miso and natto, and half comes from tofu and dried soybeans. In Shanghai, most of the soy foods consumed are unfermented, with tofu and soymilk making the biggest contributions. In fact, even in Indonesia, where tempeh is a revered national food, unfermented soy products like tofu account for around half of soy intake.”

Personally, I enjoy a wide variety of healthful foods. I frequent my local farmers market, and buy locally grown, organic produce that is in season. When it comes to soy foods, I am always careful to buy non-GMO products, which are easy to find and are clearly labeled. Thai-style stir fry and tofu scramble are among my favorite tofu dishes; they are easy to prepare and can be made in one pan. I also season and bake firm tofu, then place it in a wrap for a quick lunch. In the winter months, I make creamy vegetable soups with a soy milk base, and grilled tempeh is great on sandwiches and crumbled over salads. There are numerous websites and cookbooks which offer delicious soy recipes, ranging from super-easy to gourmet.

Whole soy foods are safe and nutritious. I recommend incorporating them into a diet which contains a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes. For more on plant sources of protein, please see my article, “A Vegan Doctor Addresses the Protein Question.”

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(1) Tucker, Katherine L. et al. “Simulation with Soy Replacement Showed That Increased Soy Intake Could Contribute to Improved Nutrient Intake Profiles in the U.S. Population.” The Journal of Nutrition, doi: 10.3945/jn.110.123901; 27 October 2010

(2) Morito, Keiko. et al. “Interaction of Phytoestrogens with Estrogen Receptors Alpha and Beta.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol. 24, Issue 4, pp. 351-356, April 2001

(3) Lee, Sang-Ah. et al. “Adolescent and Adult Soy Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Results from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 89, Issue 6, pp. 1920-1926, June 2009

(4) Wu, A H. et al. “Epidemiology of Soy Exposures and Breast Cancer Risk.” British Journal of Cancer, Vol 98, Issue 1, pp. 9-14, 15 January 2008

(5) Bosland, Maarten C. et al. “Effect of Soy Protein Isolate Supplementation on Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer After Radical Prostatectomy: A Randomized Trial.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 310, Issue 2, pp. 170-178, 10 July, 2013

(6) Messina, Mark. “Soybean isoflavone exposure does not have feminizing effects on men: a critical examination of the clinical evidence.” Fertility and Sterility, Vol. 93, Issue 7 , pp. 2095-2104, 1 May 2010

(7) Chang, Hebron C. et al. “Dietary Genistein Inactivates Rat Thyroid Peroxidase in Vivo without an Apparent Hypothyroid Effect.” Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Vol 198, Issue 3, pp. 244-252, 1 November 2000


Fire Ceremony and Ecology – Heal the Environment & We Heal Ourselves

 

Havan 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire awakened the human consciousness millions of years ago and brought us to our present level of awareness. The tradition of havan (sacred fire ceremony) evolved thousands of years ago in order to bring balance and create harmony at all levels in the manifest as well as the un-manifest realm, on the individual as well as the universal plane. It is the worship of Nature in her most primordial form. That is what the ancients who worked for the progressive evolution of mankind prescribed.

The ritual of havan, also known as yajna, homa or Agnihotra, is one of the most ancient Vedic rituals. It consists of the kindling and consecration of a sacrificial fire, the invocation of one or more divinities, and the placing of offerings such as ghee, samagri (fragrant medicinal herbs) or grains into the flames. Sanskrit mantras and prayers are recited during the ceremony, which is often performed during an auspicious or astrologically aligned period. In modern Hinduism, fire ceremonies still play an integral part in daily worship, and are used as a symbolic form of communication with and honouring of the Divine. In many yogic traditions worldwide the havan is performed several times a week on specific days, at regular times.

Who benefits from Havan?

 

  • All who take part in the havan.

 

  • The household.

 

  • The veggie garden or organic farm, including the animals.

 

  • The neighbourhood within the ¾ km area.

 

  • It has been observed that crime rates drop in areas where havan is performed regularly.

 

  • The planet: Havan detoxes nature and helps to keep the energy cycles of the planet in harmony.

 

We have forgotten how to give back to Nature. We consume and consume – air, water, the plant, animal and mineral kingdom – for food, shelter and energy resources. This is only natural. What is not natural is the over-consuming and polluting at the same time. We have forgotten how to grow food naturally. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides is destroying the delicate ecosystems of nature, creating disturbance in nature and us as we daily accumulate the chemicals in our body from the food we eat. And now with the growing of genetically modified crops we are disturbing the very fabric of life itself.

Today there is a great deal of talk about ecology and the importance of ecological balance for the survival of this planet. We talk of planting more trees, of reducing our usage of petroleum products, of eliminating gas emissions resulting from industrial growth…reducing our carbon footprint. Apart from the external ecology there is also the internal ecology, our own individual nature that requires balancing. Thoughts, emotions, feelings, dreams, ambitions, passions, fears, neuroses, psychosis, depression, disillusion and anxiety often grow out of proportion and overwhelm us. The inner ecology reflects on our outer ecology.

 

For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also.

Through Permaculture (sustainable agriculture) we can learn to heal the earth and bring balance to everything that exists around us and through yoga and yogic practices like havan, we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.

Havan is a super science known to heal Nature. When Havan is performed regularly it will reverse pollution, balance ecological turbulence and purify everything around it. Due to pollution, the planet is deteriorating rapidly. The 2005 Stern Report revealed that 2/3 of the planets ecological systems are disturbed and out of balance. Such reports leave the public feeling powerlessness and not knowing what to do or how to feel. The good news is that Havan is a solution…easy to apply and with fast results.

Come and join us at Anahata Yoga Retreat in magnificent Golden Bay, South Island for a unique Permaculture Design Certificate course with integrated yogic practices focusing on the internal and external ecology…including havans.

 

Permaculture poster 


Anahata yoga1

Anahata building greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outer environment is in danger from global warming, pollution and myriad chemicals. As our toxic outer world spins out of control we become aware of the environmental dangers of disturbed emotions, disease, negative and aggressive thinking.

The external environment is a reflection of the environment within our bodies. When the external environment and ecology is out of synch, our inner ecology is also affected. The mental and emotional pollution within us needs to be restored and harmonised just as the outer pollution does. Yoga practices can restore the inner ecology and Permaculture practices can restore the outer environment and ecology…bringing back harmony and balance internally and externally. The two are intricately connected.

For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also. Through yoga we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.

Combining Yoga & Permaculture is a foundation for complete approach to living a sustainable and healthy life. Anahata Retreat in NZ invites you to join us in November for a unique Yoga & Permaculture Design Certificate course to learn how to balance these two important aspects of a sustainable, healthy life.

Permaculture poster 


food drink organic foods organics health foods pesticides no pesticides mban1414 low

 

I found this article very interesting as I’m one of those organic minded consumers who have never really questioned organic status and growing methods. I’ve put my entire trust in the organic industry standards believing that I was eating food that was chemical free and non-carcinogenic. I’m in Australia and this article was written about USA standards, therefore I’m not sure if Australian Certified Organic standards differ from US standards!

Reading this article has made me now question the organic standards and safety of ‘organic pesticides’. I still believe that organic is by far the best way to go as long as I know where my food comes from and how it’s grown. I buy all my fruit and vegetables at the local weekly farmer’s market. Next week when I do my shopping, I will be sure to ask the growers some questions. This has made me realise that I need to become fully informed and aware of how my food is grown whether organic or non-organic.

In saying this, I know that there are safe organic pesticide free sprays that we can all use…at least on our home gardens. Here is one I’ve used successfully:Take a spray bottle and fill with water. Add a good squirt of dish soap, some garlic juice and for those gung ho gardeners…soak some cigarettes in water overnight and add the tobacco juice to the mixture. Of course, this mixture doesn’t discourage all pests. I know of organic growers who use beneficial insects very successfully. Food can be grown organically using many different methods of insect control but it is well worth the effort o do some research on this subject. Using Roundup is definitely way more dangerous than using an organic spray…of this I have no doubt.

 

 Organic Pesticides verses Synthetic

Organic Pesticides

Organic produce has become increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers have grown more health conscious and environmentally aware. Many stores and supermarkets now have large sections devoted to organic fruits and vegetables.

WHAT MAKES PRODUCE “ORGANIC”?

Contrary to what most people believe, “organic” does not automatically mean “pesticide-free” or “chemical-free”. In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops.

 So what does organic mean? It means that these pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.

Most organic farmers (and even some conventional farmers, too) employ mechanical and cultural tools to help control pests. These include insect traps, careful crop selection (there are a growing number of disease-resistant varieties), and biological controls (such as predator insects and beneficial microorganisms).

ORGANIC PRODUCE AND PERSONAL HEALTH

When you test synthetic chemicals for their ability to cause cancer, you find that about half of them are carcinogenic.

Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.

This is a case where everyone (consumers, farmers, researchers) made the same, dangerous mistake. We assumed that “natural” chemicals were automatically better and safer than synthetic materials, and we were wrong. It’s important that we be more prudent in our acceptance of “natural” as being innocuous and harmless.

systemic pesticides health risks

ORGANIC PESTICIDES VERSUS SYNTHETIC PESTICIDES

Clearly, the less we impact our environment, the better off we all are. Organic farming practices have greatly advanced the use of non-chemical means to control pests, as mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, these non-chemical methods do not always provide enough protection, and it’s necessary to use chemical pesticides. How do organic pesticides compare with conventional pesticides?

A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides; imidan is considered a “soft” synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone- pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan.

It seems unlikely that 7 applications of rotenone and pyrethrin are really better for the environment than 2 applications of imidan, especially when rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

 It should be noted, however, that we don’t know for certain which system is more harmful. This is because we do not look at organic pesticides the same way that we look at conventional pesticides. We don’t know how long these organic pesticides persist in the environment, or the full extent of their effects.

When you look at lists of pesticides allowed in organic agriculture, you find warnings such as, “Use with caution. The toxicological effects of [organic pesticide X] are largely unknown,” or “Its persistence in the soil is unknown.” Again, researchers haven’t bothered to study the effects of organic pesticides because it is assumed that “natural” chemicals are automatically safe.

WHY HAVEN’T WE HEARD THIS BEFORE?

For obvious reasons, organic farmers have done little, if anything, to dispel the myth that “organic = chemical/pesticide-free”. They would only stand to lose business by making such a disclosure.

Pesticide manufacturers have little concern in the matter. To them, “synthetic pesticides sold” and “organic pesticides sold” are both “pesticides sold”.

As for conventional farmers, they are not really in a position to be critical. It would not be in their interest to draw attention to chemical and pesticide use.

WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?

The purpose in writing this article is not to discourage you from buying organic produce.

It is only meant to let you know what you are or aren’t getting when you make such a purchase. Unless you know your grower personally, there is no guarantee that your produce has been grown without pesticides or other chemicals. It’s a point to consider, given the substantially higher cost of organic foods.

There are many choices and decisions that we, as consumers, are asked to make. Hopefully, this has provided some new information that you will find helpful.

* * * * * * *

A formatted MS Word version of this document may be downloaded at:
http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~lhom/organics.doc

The data describing the carcinogenicity of natural and synthetic compounds are referenced in Gold, L.S., et al. (1992) _Science_ Vol. 258, pp. 261-265.

Many thanks go to the Organic Crop Improvement Association for their cooperation in this study. The OCIA has chapters in AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, PA, SD, UT, and WI. Thanks are also extended to the California Certified Organic Farmers, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. (The appropriate information has not yet been obtained from the Natural Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), but it is almost certain that all facts stated here apply to their products as well.) The following state Departments of Agriculture have also been very helpful: AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IA, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, ND, OK, SC, TN, VA, and WA. States with no laws governing organic products include Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Tennessee.