Category Archives: immunity

Super Simple Super Tonic Recipe

One of my favorite aids to use during cold and flu season is my formula for “Super Tonic.” Super Tonic is a combination of herbs Super Tonic Ingredients and vegetables known to have properties that include being antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cleansing, immune-boosting and more. The beauty of Super Tonic is that it can easily be made at home by anyone. You can make a batch in the fall and it will keep well until spring. If you need more, you can whip up a new batch in no time at all, or simply add a bit of each ingredient to the existing jar and top with more organic apple cider vinegar. This formula is gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free, and is free of the top eight allergens.

There are a wide variety of ways to use Super Tonic. Some people take between a teaspoon and a tablespoon daily, while others only use it while fighting a cold or flu. People who take it while battling a virus take anywhere from one teaspoon every four hours to one tablespoon every two hours. Some people make the mixture and then use the liquid as a spiced vinegar in salads, salad dressings and more. Others use it as a meat marinade. There are obviously a wide variety of ways Super Tonic can be used, many of which fall far outside the realm of using it to boost immunity and increase wellness.

My formula for Super Tonic follows. The beauty of this formula is that it’s very forgiving. You can use more or less of every ingredient and still have great results. The only requirement is that the organic apple cider vinegar completely cover all the veggies. 

Good Works Super Tonic Ingredients (All ingredients are organic)

3 inches of ginger root

3 inches of horseradish (Look for at farmer’s markets if you cannot find it in your local grocery)

1 full head of garlic, all cloves peeled

1 small red onion

2-4 cayenne peppers (other hot peppers may be substituted if needed; vary quantity to adjust taste)

1 quart of organic, apple cider vinegar with the mother

Optional:  

3 inches of turmeric root

3 tablespoons whole cloves

3 tablespoons Manuka honey

Instructions

  1. Chop all ingredients into small pieces
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  2. Place in a food processor and cover at least half way with organic apple cider vinegar
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  3. Pulse until ingredients are uniform in size, then process for at least 60 seconds. Transfer to a quart Mason jar.
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  4. Completely cover ingredients with organic apple cider vinegar.
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  5. Can be used immediately, but will have stronger effects if mixture is allowed to meld 2-3 weeks.

That’s it! If the flavor of the straight Super Tonic is too strong, feel free to make a tea out of it by adding 1-2 tablespoons to a cup of hot water. People rave about its ability to slow coughing and clear stuffy heads.

Do you make your own Super Tonic? What’s your favorite way to use it?

Important Information About the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is one of the most important systems in our body, yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Our Lymphatic System - Thymuslymphatic system plays a primary role in detoxification and immunity, and some have said the lymphatic system is just as important as the circulatory system. The truth is that we have four times as much lymphatic fluid as blood. In spite of that, very few medical professionals encourage their patients to pay attention to their lymphatic system. The goal of this article is to explain the importance of the lymphatic system and to share simple techniques you can use to support it.

The lymphatic system’s primary job is to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other pathogenic invaders. The lymphatic system uses cells called “lymphocytes” to protect us. Lymphocytes are white blood cells whose job is to kill pathogenic cells. In a healthy human body, lymphocytes make up 20-40% of all blood cells. Lymphocytes’ main job is to determine what type of immune response is needed and to implement that response. Lymphocytes originate in the bone marrow and are found in various organs of the lymphatic system, including the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, etc. Lymphocytes work by binding to pathogenic cells to neutralize them and eliminate them. For every pathogen we may be exposed to, we have a specific lymphocyte whose role is to bind to it and neutralize it. There are two main types of lymphocytes:

  • B Lymphocytes:  Also called “B Cells.” B Cells handle immunity controlled by antibodies. B Cells remain in the bone marrow, where they mature into cells that spring into action when we are exposed to an invader. Some types of B Cells create antibodies that play an important role in immunity, as they develop in response to a pathogen (antigen) and work to neutralize it. Excesses in lymphatic reactions can lead to antibody imbalances such as allergies.
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  • T Lymphocutes:  Also called “T Cells.” T Cells travel to the Thymus gland, where they mature to become either helper, regulatory, cytotoxic or memory T Cells. Helper T Cells stimulate the B Cells to turn into plasma cells to produce antibodies. Regulatory T Cells work to control immune reactions; while Cytotoxic T Cells work to bind to and kill cells infected with pathogens. Killer T Cells are the body’s primary defense against cancerous cells. Memory T Cells retain a memory of past immune responses. Memory T Cells remain in an inactive state until they are needed, at which time they quickly mobilize to combat the pathogen using the same approach that was effective previously. (Our body is pretty darn amazing, isn’t it?)

Although lymphocytes play a primary role in the functions performed by the lymphatic system, the lymphatic system is responsible for much more. The organs included in the lymphatic system include:

  • A network of 600-800 lymph nodes and lymph vessels
  • The thymus gland*
  • Bone marrow
  • The spleen
  • The Peyer’s patches in the digestive tract
  • The tonsils and adenoids
  • The appendix. (It is important and is not disposable.)

When you consider the fact that lymphatic organs exist from head to toe in virtually every portion of the body and that the lymphatic system plays a key role in protecting us from invading antigens, it’s hard to believe we aren’t encouraged to take better care of it. Each of the organs in the lymphatic system plays an important role in white blood cell production and in protecting the body from invaders. The lymphatic system also collects toxic debris from cells and carries it to the bloodstream for removal. Lymphatic fluid is the body’s mobile garbage system, so it’s important to keep it moving.

*On a side note, your thymus gland is located in the center of your sternum, about two inches below the ends of your collar bones. The thymus gland is highlighted in red in the graphic above. Tapping the thymus gland stimulates it to create lymphocytes and boosts immunity. I recommend tapping your thymus anytime you’re in an environment where people have contagious illnesses. I tap it frequently when I fly.

One of the challenges the lymphatic system has is that the system has no pump to move the lymphatic fluid throughout the body. The only way to get the fluid moving is via exercise, deep breathing or massage. This is just one more reason we should each engage in some form of movement on a daily basis. Our immunity and body’s detoxification efforts rely on some form of daily movement.

You can help your lymphatic system work most efficiently by:

  • Exercising daily in a way that gets arms and legs moving up and down and back and forth.
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  • Drinking plenty of water.
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  • Eliminating as many toxins as possible from your eating habits, skin care products and environment. Eliminating toxins will mean your lymphatic system will not need to work as hard to eliminate toxins.
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  • Bouncing on a mini-trampoline for a few minutes daily, or simply bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet for a few minutes daily.
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  • Getting a therapeutic lymphatic massage. If you have lymphatic blockages or stagnation, be sure to tell the massage therapist about it and request a specialize lymphatic massage.
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  • Sweating in a hot bath or sauna, or using detoxification methods such as an ionic foot bath or far infra-red session.
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  • Eating more healthy fat! The lymphatic system needs fatty acids to function correctly. Load up on healthy fats such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, organic butter, extra virgin coconut oil, organic eggs and bacon, etc. (For more information on why fat is healthy, please read Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.)
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  • Breathing deeply! Deep breathing is known to help circulate lymphatic fluid and to help the body use the lymphatic system for toxin elimination.
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  • Dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing is a method of stimulating lymphatic flow using a natural bristled brush. Always brush toward the heart. If you don’t have access to a natural bristle brush, you can use a dry wash cloth to accomplish the same thing. Start at your feet, working upward and always brushing/stroking toward the heart.
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  • Detoxification. I recommend doing a total body detoxification every three to four months. To learn more about detoxification, please read How to Know You Need to Detoxify, How Your Body Detoxifies Itself and How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis.
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  • Eliminating tight clothing. Tight clothing restricts the flow of lymphatic fluid, so do yourself a favor and switch to comfortable clothing that allows your body to move freely.
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  • If necessary, herbs such as nettles, burdock, yellow dock, or goldenseal are known to support the lymphatic system. Please work with a trained professional to help you choose the best option for your specific needs. 

Your lymphatic system is your friend. Treat it well and you’ll benefit!

Natural Solutions for Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Otitis Media – the common ear infection – is the most common reason parents schedule doctor appointments for children. Ear infections are incredibly painful and can lead to hearing issues, yet research has proven antibiotics are ineffective. There are a Picture of baby with ear infectionvariety of alternative approaches that are known to be very effective.

When discussing ear infections, it is important to recognize they typically involve biofilms. Biofilms are a complex matrix of bacteria that may also include fungal and viral cells. The various cells in an ear infection create a strong matrix, called a “biofilm,” to protect them from antibiotics. The antibiotic resistance often develops before the child feels pain or realizes there’s a problem.

One important thing to remember about ear infections is that the human body is perfectly capable of healing them without intervention if the person’s immune system is functioning as it should. One of the primary ways of resolving ear infections is to help protect your immunity by eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, etc. However, there are times when medical intervention should definitely be sought.

If a child’s fever is extremely high (above 102F degrees), if the pain is intense or if symptoms last longer than three days, seek medical treatment immediately.

If an ear infection does develop, the following are known to help:

  • Eliminate sugar from the diet. I realize that may be tough, but sugar depresses immunity and makes it difficult for the child’s body to use its natural defenses to battle the infection.
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  • Use herbal ear drops. Commercial herbal ear drops typically contain Garlic, Goldenseal and perhaps Mullein infused into oil. The oil is gently warmed and 2-5 drops are put in each ear every 2-4 hours. The oil feels good and diminishes pain, but the antibiotic/antiviral/antifungal properties of the herbs actually penetrate (soak through) the ear drum to reach the infection on the other side. I find the combination of Garlic and Goldenseal to be far more effective than garlic and mullein. I like this one: http://amzn.to/1NpuXmw.
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    NEVER use ear drops if the ear drum has ruptured. Seek immediate medical attention.
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  • Use other naturally antibacterial ear drops. There are a wide variety of ear drops available which contain ingredients known to be naturally antibacterial and antiviral. One of my favorites contains Grapefruit Seed Extract and a tiny bit of Tea Tree Oil blended into a soothing amount of Glycerin. You can view them here: NutriBiotics Ear Drops.
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  • Consider homeopathic remedies. There are a variety of homeopathic remedies for ear aches. When using homeopathics, remember that nothing should be eaten ten minutes before or after taking them orally, and that mint products should be avoided for an hour. Homeopathic ear drops can be alternated with other ear drops being used. One advantage of homeopathics is that they do not interact with prescription medications and do not cause side effects when used as directed.
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  • Use colloidal silver drops. Colloidal silver drops can be placed in the ear canal every 2-4 hours. Similar to the ear drops described above, colloidal silver is known to be soothing and to stimulate the body to heal itself. For more information on colloidal silver, please read: Common Uses for Colloidal Silver.
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  • Use a probiotic and/or fermented foods other than yogurt. Probiotics help the Peyers Patches in the gut boost immunity. Probiotics also help maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Since 70% of immunity resides in the gut, it makes sense to care for it! I recommend using a probiotic specifically designed for children, such as the ones made by Udo’s Choice, Renew Life or Garden of Life. Fermented veggies are also a great way of gaining beneficial bacteria. Serve some with every meal or serve water kefir between meals.
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  • Use immune boosters.  During an active infection, the body will respond well and be able to fight infection better if immunity boosters are consumed. Eating a lot of garlic, onions and turmeric is a great place to start. Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D or Monolaurin are also known to boost the body’s ability to fight infection.
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  • Eliminate dairy. If a child has recurring ear infections, try eliminating dairy for one month. Many parents find ear infections miraculously stop occurring when dairy is eliminated. Wheat or other food allergies may also be a culprit, but dairy is the most common.
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  • Use a rice bag:  Applying a bit of warmth to the affected ear is a very effective way to bring soothing relief from the pain. The simplest way to create a heating pad is to pour uncooked rice into a clean cotton sock, tie the top, and then microwave the sock in 20-second bursts until it is warm to the touch but not hot. Lay the sock over the ear, repeat as needed. (For the record, this is the only time I advocate the use of a microwave.)
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  • Seek medical intervention when needed. There are times an antibiotic may be needed. If symptoms or fever remain for more than three days, if the fever is extremely high or if pain is intense, seek treatment immediately.

What’s your favorite ear ache remedy?

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Williams

Tips for Avoiding the Stomach Flu (Norovirus)

It seems almost everyone has been hit with the nasty stomach bug that is spreading rapidly. As I’ve said many times before, we don’t get sick because we’re exposed to a virus, we get sick because our body’s immune system is too weak to fight the invader. Maintaining a strong immune system is not as difficult as it sounds. 

Here are my tips for avoiding stomach viruses:

  • Take a strong probiotic (or eat a lot of probiotic foods) daily:  In my experience, people who are taking a Lady on floor with stomach flustrong probiotic are often the only ones untouched by nasty stomach bugs. Why? Because the probiotics support the Peyer’s patches in the digestive tract. Peyer’s patches are responsible for 70% of your overall immunity. Keeping them healthy makes a big difference in how vulnerable you are. I recommend taking a probiotic with at least 30 billion active cultures. There are many conflicting opinions about what makes a “good” probiotic. In reality, there are no “bad” probiotics, some are simply better suited for specific needs. A general probiotic is known to be a powerful immunity booster. I like those made by Now Foods, Renew Life and Trace Minerals.
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  • Take 2000 or more IU of Vitamin D3 daily:  Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It is a hormone that is known to have a huge effect on boosting immunity. Some studies found taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D on a daily basis was actually more effective against fighting the flu than a flu shot. For more info on Vitamin D, read 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
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  • Don’t eat or drink after others:  This seems very logical, but I find many families eat and drink from the same containers without even thinking about it. If someone you love has been affected by the stomach flu, be careful to not eat or drink using the same containers or utensils. Keeping kisses limited to the forehead is also wise.
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  • Wash bedding more frequently:  Studies found that pillows, pillow cases and bedding often harbor fungus that might interfere with the body’s ability to kill off viruses. Washing these items more frequently (at least once a week) may help improve immunity.
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  • Use Hot Water:  The virus responsible for the stomach flu, the norovirus, is not easily killed. Using very hot water when washing clothing can help. It may also help to use your dishwasher set to the highest heat and sanitation level possible. Be aware that the norovirus can live on carpets for several weeks. If someone vomits on the carpet, take time to clean the area well using a very strong cleanser. Many people believe using chlorine bleach is the only way to disinfect surfaces. Using hydrogen peroxide is equally effective without exposing yourself to the poisons in bleach.
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  • Buy a new toothbrush:  Viruses can live on toothbrushes for a very long time. This is why some people find it wise to soak their toothbrushes in a solution of 50% hydrygen peroxide and 50% purified water between uses. If someone in your home becomes ill, it may be time to throw away your old toothbrush and start fresh.
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  • The basics:  Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, wash your hands frequently, etc. We all know these are important, but the simple things often get ignored. Keep all of your systems functioning at peak performance by taking good care of yourself.
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  • Eliminate sugar and chemical additives from your food:  A single teaspoon of sugar is known to depress immunity for 8-12 hours. Eliminating sugar and eating a clean diet void of chemical additives is a simple way to help your body maintain strong immunity.
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  • Exercise:  There’s no escaping the fact that exercise boosts immunity. You should not exercise while ill, but exercising while you’re healthy may help keep you that way.
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  • Don’t take risks with food:  Food poisoning is obviously not viral, but this time of year many people fall prey to errors in judgment that result in a very upset tummy. Play it safe and don’t take risks. Do not eat foods that are questionable for any reason.
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  • If you get sick, stay home:  This is another factor that seems like a “no brainer,” yet we all know that one co-worker who comes to work when they shouldn’t, or parents who send their kids to school when they shouldn’t. Quarantine yourself from the outside world so that you do not expose your already weakened immune system to other illnesses and to protect others from getting what you have.
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  • Seek medical attention when needed:  If you catch the stomach flu, sip water as much as possible to avoid becoming dehydrated. Sipping on coconut water blended with a bit of sugar is a great way of replenishing electrolytes and maintaining hydration. If you or a person you are caring for becomes extremely lethargic or weak, does not improve after 24 hours, or develops other symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. Dehydration is a serious issue that may require medical intervention to reverse.

What’s your favorite way to beat winter digestive illnesses?

Photograph courtesy of Evil Erin

Common Uses for Colloidal Silver

Colloidal Silver has been used for centuries in a wide variety of ways. If you are unfamiliar with Colloidal Silver, please read Colloidal Silver: Valuable Tool or Snake Oil for more information about the myths surrounding Colloidal Silver. This article shares the most common uses for Colloidal Silver. There are many other uses, but the most common ones are described here with information on the safest way to use colloidal silver for each application.

Please note all information shared in this article is shared for educational purposes only. No information in this article is intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Please discuss any changes in your lifestyle or health regimen with your physician. Never take any supplement without discussing it with your physician first.

The most common uses for colloidal silver include:

Water Purification

if you have any doubts about the purity of water, colloidal silver can be used to purify it and remove bacteria. Use at a ration of one tablespoon colloidal silver to one gallon of water. If you are trying to purify water from an outdoor source, filter the water first. Proof of its effectiveness is that NASA used a silver purification system on the space shuttles and many airlines use silver filtration combined with hydrogen peroxide to purify the water on their planes.

Oral Care

Soak your tooth brushes between uses to ensure they are free from bacteria, viruses and fungus. I have a dental partial which I also soak in colloidal silver a few times a week. As an added benefit, add a bit of colloidal silver to your oral irrigator to help control oral bacterial. I make my own toothpaste and mouthwash and always add colloidal silver.

Nasal Irrigation and Sprays

Colloidal silver can be used in a neti pot as a nasal wash. Many people have reported success in reversing colds and sinus infections using colloidal silver, but please do not substitute colloidal silver for an antibiotic if your doctor has identified a severe sinus infection. Colloidal silver can also be used as a nasal spray to help diminish symptoms of allergies.

Household Cleaning

Colloidal silver is known to be antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral. For that reason, it makes an effective household cleaner. Keep a spray bottle filled with it and use as a topical disinfectant on counter tops, as an anti-fungal spray in the bathroom, or as a means of preventing bacterial growth on kitchen sponges and dishrags. It is also a very effective cleaner for trash cans and diaper pails. If you make your own household cleaners, adding a few ounces of colloidal silver can boost their effectiveness.

Conjunctivitis

In my household, we have always used colloidal silver at the first sign of an eye infection or conjunctivitis. I place 3-5 drops of 10 ppm colloidal silver in the affected eye every two hours until the issue clears. However, I watch the condition of the eye closely and immediately seek medical attention if the condition does not improve within two to three hours. Please do not substitute colloidal silver for a physician’s care. Any issue affecting the eyes should be immediately addressed by a medical professional.

Skin Care

Colloidal silver is popularly used for mild abrasions, burns, fungal infections and even acne and eczema. One advantage of colloidal silver is that it does not harm skin cells as many topical antiseptics do. (Please never use hydrogen peroxide on a wound or sore. It kills new cell growth and may slow healing.) Many people find that spraying colloidal silver onto minor burns and abrasions speeds healing and helps prevent infection. (The key word there is “minor.” Serious wounds and burns require medical attention.) 

Internally

I purposely left this topic for last. Most of the controversy surrounding colloidal silver revolves around its use internally. Every person has his or her own opinion about whether or not colloidal silver is “safe” to use internally. The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people use it internally on a daily basis. These people experience health benefits with no negative consequences from the colloidal silver. If you’re comfortable using colloidal silver internally, then do so in a controlled manner and do plenty of research. If you are not comfortable using it, never let anyone talk you into doing something that isn’t right for you. Each person must decide what is right for him or her. I believe colloidal silver can be very effective and used without danger if:

  • A true colloidal silver is used. Be sure your colloidal silver is a colloid and not a protein synthesis. Most of the products sold over the counter are ionic, not colloidal. Ionic silver solutions are clear; colloidal silver solutions are brown or rust colored, not clear. Ionic solutions are safe to use, but are not as strong as a true colloid.  Beware of any product that foams when shaken and has bubbles that remain for several minutes, as that product is most likely a protein synthesis which may be dangerous.
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  • A realistic, safe dosage is used. Dr. Mercola recommends the following formula to determine the appropriate amount of colloidal silver to take on a daily basis:
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    12 times body weight divided by the colloidal silver strength (ppm) = drops that can be safely ingested on a daily basis
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    If someone weighs 150 pounds and is using a colloidal silver at a strength of 10 ppm, the equation becomes:
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    150 lbs x 12 = 1800 / 10 ppm = 180 drops per day. (One tablespoon is approximately 180 drops.)Having shared that,
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    I can also share that many people take much higher doses during an illness. Please contact a trained professional for guidance on what dosage is correct for your personal needs.
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  • Colloidal silver should never be used by anyone who has an allergy to silver jewelry.
  • Use caution when reading about people who claim colloidal silver miraculously cured them of incurable diseases. I’m not saying their claims are not true, but each person’s situation is very different. Use caution and do extensive research.

I use colloidal silver on a daily basis. Since starting to use it daily, I have experienced fewer bladder infections, lower yeast levels, improved digestion and slightly lower blood glucose levels. My experience was very positive, but each person must monitor his or her health and make changes as needed.

We make our own colloidal silver using this generator: LifeForce Compact X-2 Colloidal Silver Generator. Please note it is imperative to use distilled water and extremely pure silver if making your own colloidal silver. We also use a TDS Meter to measure the potency of our colloidal silver so we know exactly what we’re using.

If you don’t want to make your own colloidal silver, I highly recommend Sovereign Silver colloidal silver. It is sold in most health food stores and is highly reliable.

What do you think? Do you use colloidal silver? If so, what do you use it for and how do you use it?

Top 11 Reasons I Refuse to Get a Flu Shot

I recently heard an extremely ill woman comment she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick. She went on to say she had gotten a flu shot, and obviously believed that should have protected her. My research has led me to conclude otherwise. I need to confess this article is extremely long. I felt the importance of the information warranted a longer format.

I want to state very clearly that getting vaccinated is a very personal choice. I support everyone who chooses to get the vaccination, and encourage those who are undecided to do further research. I am not “anti-vaccine,” I am simply pro-research.

I am one of the people mainstream medicine insists “must” have a flu shot. I’m considered “high risk” Flu Vaccine Syringebecause I have Type 1 Diabetes and have multiple other auto-immune conditions. I do not get flu shots and never get sick. In fact, I spent the last five years working in environments where I was exposed every day to multiple people who had active flu infections. In spite of that, I never became infected and never had so much as a sniffle. Unfortunately, mainstream media and mainstream medicine use a wide variety of scare tactics to convince people they will become sick if they are not vaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following are my top eleven reasons for not getting a flu shot:

  1. Infection is based on lifestyle, not exposure: The belief that everyone who gets exposed to the flu becomes ill is outdated and untrue. If it were true that exposure causes illness, none of us could enter a public place without becoming ill. The truth is that our lifestyle and our body’s environment are what determine whether or not we get sick. This is why my teenagers got sick in 2008 with a nasty case of the flu, but neither my husband nor I became ill while caring for them. Their lifestyle and high-sugar eating habits lowered their body’s ability to fight the flu, while ours provided natural immunity.
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  2. Low probability of correct strains used in vaccine: There are close to 300 different strains of flu, yet each year the CDC chooses 3-5 strains of Influenza Type A and 1-2 of Influenza Type B to include in the flu vaccine. They use scientific methods to try and predict which strains will be the most prevalent each year, but they are often wrong. Additionally, flu strains constantly adapt and mutate. This means the likelihood of the CDC choosing the correct strains is less than 5%. The CDC admits: “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness.”
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  3. Those who were vaccinated have higher infection rates than those who were not: More than seven studies proved flu shots do not reduce infection rates and may actually increase them. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Canada , shared findings proving increased infection rates were consistently found for two years following vaccination in both humans and ferrets who received flu vaccines. These findings were true across seven different studies done on flu vaccines for 2008 and 2009. The findings agreed with statistical comparisons of over 30,000 people. The vaccines used in 2008 and 2009 are very similar to those being used today. (Ferrets are used in influenza studies because their physiology most closely mimics that of humans’ in influenza infections.)
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    It also needs to be pointed out that pediatric deaths due to flu were dropping prior to 2003. The decrease in deaths can be attributed to improved health conditions, better nutrition programs in schools and preschools, and other lifestyle improvements. Pediatric deaths caused by flu skyrocketed after the CDC insisted that all children older than six months of age receive a flu shot. The increase in death and infection rates following the CDC’s mandate is not coincidental and is too large to be ignored.
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  4. Zero science to support effectiveness of flu shots: A review of 5707 articles and 31 studies found little evidence to prove that flu vaccines actually reduce infection rates. The researchers also found that although the vaccines provided “moderate” protection some years, they provided little or no protection other years. The researchers also found that flu vaccines offer zero protection for anyone over age 65 or younger than age 7. Another group, the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, studied 41 clinical studies and concluded the data showed flu vaccines provide zero reduction in infection or death across all age groups. The Cochrane group also studied 260,000 children between the ages of 23 months and six years and found the flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo at preventing illness. In 2009, many providences in Canada stopped recommending flu vaccines for anyone under 65 years of age. Their infection rates have not increased.
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    Commenting on other studies proving the ineffectiveness of flu shots, Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Director of the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said, “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine … It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
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  5. Most illnesses called the “flu” actually are not: Researchers found that only 6-8% of illnesses called “flu” were actually caused by a true flu virus. The other illnesses were caused by other viruses or bacteria, none of which would be included in a flu vaccine. Additionally, the CDC drastically increases their statistics by making the assumption that all deaths caused by pneumonia originated with a flu infection. This is simply not true. Although having the flu can increase the likelihood of a pneumonia infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, pneumonia is a bacterial infection and flu is a viral infection. Not all cases of pneumonia are caused by the flu, which means the CDC’s statistics are grossly inflated and are designed to create fear.
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  6. The “Original Antigenic Sin” Argument: This term refers to the fact that a vaccine only protects you against specific illness strains, whereas catching an illness provides immunity against that illness and against multiple others with similar chemical structures. In other words, if you get a flu shot which claims to protect you against Strains A and B, that’s all you have protection against. If you catch Strain A, you wind up with immunity against Strain A and potentially against hundreds of other flu strains which contain similar proteins. This may be why flu vaccines are virtually worthless for anyone over age 65. They have already been infected with and exposed to enough flu strains that they have naturally occurring immunity against a wide array of flu strains.
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  7. Flu vaccines suppress the immune system: The ingredients in flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to combat a few strains of flu, yet suppress it against all other viral and bacterial invaders. This is why so many people get sick with colds and other illnesses shortly after receiving the flu vaccine. Based on the other evidence shared in this post, it makes little sense to lower the body’s overall ability to fight infection by receiving a flu shot.
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  8. Increased risk of cardiac problems and oxidized cholesterol: A 2007 study found that flu vaccines cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiac problems and which also causes oxidation of the low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). The oxidation of LDL cholesterol means that the very small cholesterol molecules capable of passing through vessel walls become oxidized, or hardened, in arteries, which directly contributes to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other coronary disorders. This potentially deadly effect only lasts for a maximum of fourteen days, but needs to be considered by anyone having a pre-existing cardiac condition. The inflammation can also cause a condition called “Arteritis,” in which the walls of large arteries become inflamed. Depending on the body region affected, arteritis may cause visual disturbances, headaches, jaw pain, and more. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women are especially susceptible to the inflammatory effects of flu vaccines and that receiving a flu vaccine led to higher rates of pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and increased complications following birth.
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  9. Toxic ingredients: Most flu vaccines contain one or all of the following –
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    –  Mercury (Thimerosol): Thimerosol is a common preservative used in vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain enough mercury from Thimerosol to be deemed toxic by the EPA if they are taken by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Because mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, this information should be regarded with concern by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Note: There are a few vials of vaccines made without Thimerosol, but they are typically saved for children and pregnant women. You have the right to request them, and definitely should if you weigh less than 265 pounds, are pregnant, or are having your child vaccinated.
    –  Adjutants: Adjutants are ingredients added to vaccines which serve to stimulate the immune system. The most common adjutant used in flu vaccines is Aluminum, a heavy metal which is associated with many neurological illnesses. Primary among the neurological illnesses associated with aluminum toxicity is Alzheimer’s.
    –  Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. When combined with aluminum (as it is in the flu vaccine and many the vaccinations), formaldehyde is known to increase the likelihood of neurological damage.
    –  Eggs: Although not directly a toxin, all flu vaccines are grown on cultures from chicken eggs. This means the vaccines could be deadly to anyone having a severe allergy to eggs. Please be aware of this. The incidence of severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines is rising at an alarming rate, largely because many of the people administrating vaccines are not trained in their side effects and are not in a facility equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. If you choose to get a flu shot, please get it in your doctor’s office and not in your local grocery store.
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  10. Negative reactions: Flu vaccines are known to cause the following reactions, some of which are deadly and some of which can cause permanent disability: injection site reaction, fever, convulsions (especially in children), narcolepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic auto-immune neurological condition which can result in permanent disability), allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, increased risk of heart attack, encephalitis, neurological disorders, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder causing low platelet counts, fatigue and potential blood loss from bruising or internal hemorrhage), and more..
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  11. Studies found Vitamin D more effective than flu shots: There is a good reason the flu only occurs during the winter months. Even in tropical climates, flu rates increase during the rainy season. The common factor? Sun exposure. Unprotected exposure to sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Studies conducted by John Cannell and associates found a direct connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased respiratory illnesses in adults and children. The studies also found that as little as 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis could prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses 500% more effectively than flu vaccines. Another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Vitamin D deficiency caused higher infection rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses. Per Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, “The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu.” Vitamin D stimulates the body to produce over 300 different antimicrobial peptides which help the body combat viral and bacterial infection. My personal recommendation is that anyone living in a cold climate should take a minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis and should get their blood serum levels checked at least once each year. Ideal blood serum levels should be maintained between 50-80 nmol/L.
What are your thoughts about getting a flu shot? My next post will focus on effective ways to protect yourself from the flu. Please feel free to share your opinions below.
References:
 
 
Does the Vaccine Matter? – The Atlantic
 
 
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness – Centers for Disease Control
On the Epidemiology of Influenza – Journal of Virology

The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection – Linus Pauling Institute


Twenty Surprising Facts About Vitamin D

Vitamin DThe following facts about Vitamin D may surprise you:

  • Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
  • Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
  • 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
  • The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3 
  • The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
  • Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it 
  • Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
  • Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
  • Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
  • Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
  • It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
  • Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
  • Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
  • Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
  • The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
  • The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
  • The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more

Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.

If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Natural Approaches to West Nile Virus

Picture of a mosquito biting a human

The recent rise of West Nile Virus has raised concerns about ways to prevent the spread the virus. West Nile Virus can become a severe illness in a very small percent of the population. The majority of us have nothing to worry about. The best defense against West Nile Virus is controlling mosquito populations in your neighborhood and ensuring your immune system is functioning at full capacity.

Please note: West Nile Virus is a very serious illness. Anyone with symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The information in this post is shared for educational purposes only. The information in this post has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. It is also not intended to replace the medical advice received from your physician.

Facts About West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is reported to be a virus that is typically found in birds. The virus spreads to humans when a mosquito stings an infected bird and then stings a human. Although the virus is listed as a “severe illness” by the CDC and mainstream media, the fact is that less than 1% of those who are bitten by an infected mosquito develop severe symptoms. Children are reported to be the least likely to be infected. The population most at risk are adults over 50 who have pre-existing conditions which compromise their immunity.

Per the CDC, “No reliable estimates are available for the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis that occur worldwide.” The CDC also acknowledges that there is a broad variance in the data reported about the prevalence of West Nile Virus in areas where it is tracked. This raises questions about whether or not many cases listed as West Nile Virus truly are. Many people believe the severity and frequency of the virus are being exaggerated to support the spraying of dangerous chemicals. I encourage everyone research and draw your own conclusions. I also encourage you to take measures to protect yourself from the sprayed chemicals, as most of the insecticides being sprayed are known carcinogens and/or are known to impair liver and endocrine function.

Good News About West Nile Virus

It is important to note the following very positive facts about West Nile Virus:

  • Most people bitten by an infected mosquito never notice any symptoms. Their body very naturally combats the virus and they never contract a full-blown case.
  • A smaller number of people, typically those with slightly weaker immune systems, experience very mild flu symptoms. These symptoms include headache, sore joints, mild fever, etc.
  • Less than 1% of people – typically those with extremely compromised immunity – experience the most severe symptoms of West Nile Virus. These symptoms are very similar to those of encephalitis and include brain inflammation with headache, fever, muscle weakness, stiffness, confusion and sometimes convulsions. Only 5% of the one percent that may contract these severe symptoms experience long-term complications or death from the virus. (This equates to 0.05% of those infected.)

Protective Measures Against West Nile Virus

The most obvious way to protect yourself and your loved ones from West Nile Virus is to ensure there is no standing water in or near your home. The most common carrier of West Nile Virus, female Culex mosquitoes, typically do not travel more than 440 yards (one quarter mile) from where they hatch. Although they may travel further, your best defense is to focus on controlling stagnant water in your neighborhood. If you have a water source you cannot eliminate, I recommend using Bt bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), a non-chemical insecticide. This insecticide is used heavily in third world countries and has no known harmful effects to humans and other mammals even in very high doses. Most garden supply stores carry it.

The other option for reducing your risk of serious infection is to ensure your immune system is working at full capacity. The most effective way to boost immunity is to limit sugar and to eat a clean diet consisting of organic whole foods and no artificial food additives. Drinking adequate water, getting plenty of sleep and engaging in exercise are also known methods of improving immunity. If you wish to take a supplement to boost immunity, I recommend the following three for adults. Dosages must be adjusted for children:

The final option for protection is to use insecticidal sprays. The CDC has acknowledged that the essential oil Lemon Eucalyptus is equally effective as DEET when applied frequently. I recommend using natural sprays for protection, but you must realize these sprays must be applied more frequently to be effective. Very simple spray-on protection can be made using the recipe that follows:

Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipe

Blend all ingredients well and allow to “meld” for at least 48 hours. To use, shake well and spray onto skin and clothing. Re-apply frequently. Avoid spraying into eyes or mouth.

Other home remedies that can help include eating lots of garlic and taking Vitamin B1 on a daily basis. For maximum protection, dress in long sleeves and pants and avoid going out at dawn and dusk.

What are your favorite mosquito repellents? What are your thoughts on media coverage of West Nile Virus? (Let’s keep comments positive, please.) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some links in this post are affiliate links

Top 10 Ways to Shorten the Duration of a Cold

This post is a follow-up to Surprising Facts About the Common Cold. You may want to read that post before you read this. 

I’m often amazed at how many people are affected each year by colds and flu’s that attack their depression immune system. So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are the steps I recommend to shorten a cold. Using these techniques have very successfully helped many people shorten the duration of illness and reduce the severity of their symptoms. Doing the following may help shorten the duration of a cold:

  1. The Obvious: Drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods (lots of fruits and veggies), and avoid sugar at all costs. A single teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system from two to six hours, so a single can of soda could potentially make you more susceptible to colds for up to 24 hours. It’s not worth it. Another tip that should be obvious is to please blow your nose, constantly if necessary, so that you don’t swallow infected mucous. Do I really need to say anything more? Another tip is to take at least 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D daily to boost immunity and help prevent colds before they start. You can take higher doses while fighting a cold.
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  2. Use a Neti Pot with Additives: I recommend using a Neti Pot twice daily to help clear congestion, reduce inflammation and eliminate virus-infected mucous from the sinus passages. You can increase the effects of a Neti Pot by adding two to three tablespoons of Colloidal Silver or 30-60 drops of Goldenseal Extract. Both of these additives can also be taken internally. (Read The Wonders of Goldenseal for more info on this great herb.) If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, please rest assured that it is not an unpleasant experience. When done correctly, you should feel next to nothing while using it. The trick is to keep your mouth open and make sure your head is pointed slightly forward. If you find yourself gagging, change your head tilt to correct this. Please ONLY use distilled water in your Neti Pot.
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  3. Make Clove Tea to Soothe a Sore Throat: Cloves not only have an anesthetizing effect but are also one of the highest sources of antioxidants on the planet. (Antioxidants are known to lower infection rates from viruses and bacteria.) Make clove tea by putting one to two tablespoons of whole cloves in a tea strainer and allowing to seep in hot water for five minutes. (You can also put the cloves directly in the water and then scoop them out. They float, so scooping them out is relatively easy.) Add stevia to sweeten it if needed. This tea is a true blessing for a sore throat. The warmth is very soothing, the steam will help clear the sinuses, and the cloves work as an anesthetic to kill the sore throat pain. This tea is a perfect remedy for children, as they generally like the taste and will enjoy not having a sore throat. The fact the tea also makes the mouth numb is a minor inconvenience.
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  4. Take Extra Vitamin C: The body uses Vitamin C to produce the white blood cells which are responsible for fighting viral infections. The recommended dosage of Vitamin C is typically 1000-5000 mg/day. Taking excess Vitamin C produces an “ascorbic acid” flush and causes diarrhea, but during a cold your body can absorb far more. Since getting sick, I’ve been taking an average of 25,000-65,000 mg in divided doses throughout the day and have not experienced the flush effect. This means my body is craving the Vitamin C and is using every single bit of it to fight this cold. During a cold, I recommend starting with 4000 mg/day and very gradually working up to 10,000 mg/day. (Note: I can tolerate higher amounts of Vitamin C because I receive intravenous Vitamin C in huge doses to combat autoimmune issues. Please don’t take the same dosage I take.) You can also use other immunity boosters, such as ZincAstragalusOlive LeafGarlic, etc. Please follow the dosage recommended on the bottle.
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  5. Use Elderberry Extract: Elderberry Extract is one of the strongest anti-viral ingredients known, yet it is 100% natural and will not react with any prescription medications. It is known to very effectively and very quickly kill viral cells. Some expert estimate that 1000s of deaths could have been prevented if Elderberry Extract were distributed during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It is a powerful antiviral that works very quickly. It is very easy to take, tastes good, and is safe for children.
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  6. Use an Immunity-Boosting Combination Supplement: Instead of taking 40 different pills every day, take a combination supplement designed to boost immunity. A few of my favorites that can be easily found in health food stores include: 1) SystemWell by Nature’s Way: SystemWell helps protect and improve cellular health, digestive immunity, respiratory immunity, systemic, lymphatic and circulatory immunity. It’s a great product and works well. 2) Full Spectrum Immunity Defense: This is a heavy-hitter containing 18 of the top immunity-boosters known. It is a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs. I highly recommend it! The dosage can be increased based on need, which is nice.
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  7. Use Monolaurin: Monolaurin is potent antibiotic and antiviral. It is a simple fatty-acid that is present in breast milk and is considered to be one of the components responsible for boosting immunity in breast-fed babies. It is also present in extra virgin coconut oil and a few other vegetable oils. Monolaurin is one of my “can’t live without” supplements, mainly because it’s so darn effective! It is also perfectly safe, having no known interactions with other supplements or prescription medications. The bottle recommends taking three to six 600mg capsules daily, but many MDs who prescribe Monolaurin recommend using higher doses at the beginning of a cold.
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  8. Use Proteolytic Enzymes: Proteolytic enzymes help by reducing the inflammation that contributes to congestion and irritated nasal passages. They also help kill viruses. Most viruses have cell walls that are made of proteins. Using a proteolytic enzyme containing high amounts of Protease (which digests protein) on an empty stomach will work to destroy the cell wall of virus cells, thereby killing them. The most important part of proteolytic enzymes is to always take them on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before eating or two hours after eating. If you take them with food in the stomach, the enzymes will help digest the food and will not get into the blood stream to work their magic. The company Enzymedica makes what I consider the best product in the business for combating viruses: ViruStop 2x. I highly recommend it! The best of the best in terms of a mainstream proteolytic enzyme that functions as an anti-inflammatory is WobenzymWobenzym is also useful for inflammatory arthritis, bursitis, and other joint issues, and is used in Germany as part of a cancer treatment.
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  9. Cook Up a Healing Soup: I don’t want you slaving all day in the kitchen, but tossing handfuls of anti-oxidant rich veggies into the crockpot/slow cooker with lots of mineral-rich veggie broth, meat of choice (or not), and immune-boosting spices can do wonders for a cold. It’s also easy to digest, allowing your body to dedicate more energy to healing than to digestion. As you sit and sip, the vapors from the soup will help clear out your nasal passages and the warmth will soothe your throat. Herbs and spices that are known to boost immunity include: garlic, oregano, turmeric, sage, basil, ginger, cayenne, rosemary, and many others. Ginger is especially nice because it opens blood vessels, allowing the body’s own defenses to circulate more easily. See my next hint for another potential use.
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  10. Take an Anti-Virus Bath: Taking a bath is a simple way to help your body eliminate toxins and viruses. It is also wonderfully soothing, so why not take advantage of it? Here’s my favorite blend for baths: 1-inch (grated) of ginger root to increase circulation, warm you up and help you sweat out the virus; 10 drops of tea tree oil to boost immunity and help pull toxins out of your system; 2 cups of Epsom salts to increase your magnesium and to soothe aches and pains (See Why You Need More Magnesium for more info); 3-4 drops Eucalyptus oil as a decongestant; 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar to help your body expel mucous. Add everything to the tub while the water is running, and then sink into the warmth and think positive, healing thoughts for 20 minutes. You’ll feel better immediately and will sleep like a baby! You can repeat part of this process in the morning by putting 30-40 drops of Eucalyptus oil on a washcloth and placing it on the shower floor to inhale while you take a hot shower, or by using Aura Cacia’s Eucalyptus Shower Tablets. Eucalyptus is a wonderful decongestant that is also known to be antiviral and to boost the body’s immunity. For more bath info, read: Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.

Ok … you obviously can’t do every single one of those. Since several of you have already asked, following is a list of what I’m doing on a daily basis to combat this cold. Please note that what’s right for me may not be right for you. Please consult a trained professional before taking any of the supplements mentioned, and please note that I have extremely high tolerance to some of these supplements and therefore take higher doses than what is typically recommended. The fact my cold is moving through incredibly rapidly and is diminishing quickly is testimony to the fact that these things truly work:

  • Nightly detox bath
  • Drinking high amounts of water, green tea and an immunity-boosting tea
  • Eating lots of soup loaded with a rainbow of veggies and lots of dark, leafy greens; completely avoiding grains, dairy and all sugars. (Eating 100% organic, non-processed foods will also reduce your body’s toxicity and boost immunity.)
  • Taking high doses of Vitamin C, Goldenseal (60 drops four times daily for five days; then 30 drops three times daily until symptoms subside), Monolaurin (900-1200 mg four times daily). During the first few days, I used Agricept (10 drops in one ounce of water) every two hours.
  • Drinking lots of probiotic-rich coconut water kefir every day
  • Using a neti pot with goldenseal tincture and colloidal silver twice daily
  • Light yoga daily
  • I broke down and got an antiviral IV from a functional medicine MD. If you have access to a doctor who offers IV therapies, I highly recommend these when you come down with a cold or flu. The IV contains vitamins, minerals, glutathione (a natural amino acid that is an antioxidant, immunity booster and detoxifier). The antiviral IVs are a great way to get rid of a viral infection quickly. I felt better within an hour and will get another one tomorrow to help protect me when I fly to LA on Friday. 

Many people are surprised to hear I am available to assist with temporary ailments and do not limit my practice to chronic conditions. If you are struggling with a cold, flu or other short-term challenge, please consider scheduling a 15-minute phone consultation. Feel free to email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.

Please consult a medical professional if your cold persists, if you have an extremely high fever, or if you develop a severe cough. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your personal health practitioner before making any changes to your health regimen. I hope you feel better soon!

Teal Pumpkin Project Candy Alternatives for Halloween

Teal Pumpkin Project LogoUPDATE, October 5, 2015:  A new effort was launched last year with the aim of protecting children who have health issues that make Halloween candy (any candy) a serious risk. This effort is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can learn more about it here:  Teal Pumpkin Project. That page also has a link where people can get teal pumpkin window clings in exchange for a donation to FARE (Food Allergy Resource and Education.) 

Since no single food item would be safe for every child and/or every health condition, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages everyone to hand out non-food items. Those who choose to distribute non-food goodies are asked to place a teal pumpkin on their front porch (or a picture of one on their front door) to indicate they are not distributing food items.

This approach is one I’ve endorsed and encouraged for many years. The article that follows provides a list of non-food alternatives that are inexpensive and safe. 

Please note that the TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).


I’ve shared some of this information before. It was met with snorts of laughter and threats to toilet paper my house. I’m ok with that.

It’s that time of year when fall is in the air and kids aged 2-90 across the US are excitedly planning their costumes. Most families I know put far more thought into costumes than they put into selectively choosing treats to distribute to trick-or-treaters. This concerns me. Following are a few quick reasons why it is so important to carefully plan what we put in our Halloween treat bowls:Crossed Out Halloween Bowl

  • Every teaspoon of sugar decreases immunity for 2-4 hours. Think the weather causes kids to get sick around the holidays? Think again! I have pediatrician friends who tell me they can count on having packed offices starting the first weeks of November … immediately following Halloween. There is a connection between sugar consumption and illness.
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  • Food allergies are on the rise: Some day when you have absolutely nothing better to do, wander down the candy aisle and read labels. You’ll be amazed how many candies contain more than one of the top seven allergens: dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts. Almost all chocolate contains dairy, and wheat flour is often used as a thickener. (Twizzlers candy contains wheat. You must read labels.) I realize it is not your responsibility to protect kids who have food allergies, but why not choose a treat that presents fewer risks? For the record, most parents of kids with food allergies don’t let their kids trick-or-treat or only take their kids to homes of friends and family who have approved treats. I’m also encouraged that many allergy-support groups host allergy-free Halloween parties for kids affected by food allergies.
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  • Almost all candy contains Genetically Modified ingredients: 90% of corn and sugar beets grown in the US are genetically modified. Why is this a problem? Because inserting gene particles from insects or other plant species into a plant’s existing gene structure is extremely dangerous. Additionally, when our bodies are subjected to foods having genetic structures our bodies were not designed to recognize, our bodies react by launching an allergic attack. Food allergies and digestive disorders have skyrocketed since genetically modified foods were introduced. Please visit the Institute for Responsible Technology website for in-depth education on the dangers of GMO’s and the scientific studies that prove those dangers.

So what can you give that kids will love but that won’t have the potential to cause negative health effects? My favorite alternatives follow. For safety, it may be wise to tell kids if an item is not edible:

  • Skip Halloween and hold a fundraiser for starving children instead: People in the US spend an average of $80 per person on Halloween festivities. Imagine the powerful change that could occur if we celebrated by donating that money to a worthy charity instead.
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  • Nickels or Dimes: Depending on what you buy and where you shop, distributing nickels or dimes can be cheaper than buying candy.
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  • Temporary tattoos
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  • Coupons for kid-friendly activities
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  • Tiny toys: Pick up toys sold for insertion in birthday treat bags, or check out the Oriental Trading Company for oodles of great options at a low cost. (Put together a large order with several friends to decrease shipping costs. That way you can divvy up the toys so that you have a wider variety, too.)
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  • Stickers
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  • Colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc.: If time allows, let the kids pick their own. Little kids actually love this and get excited about it! Older kids may not visibly show they like it, but most do.
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  • Patterned shoe laces: Some stores sell these in bulk at a great price.
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  • Tiny containers of glitter. (Moms hate this one.)
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  • Character erasers: Please be sure to tell kids these are NOT edible for safety’s sake.
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  • Glow sticks or glow jewelry (added bonus is that these increase visibility)

Wander the aisles of dollar stores and craft stores for additional ideas.

Ok … GO! What other candy-free ideas for goodies can you share? Please share in the comments!

 

Photo courtesy of John Puett

The Wonders of Goldenseal

Goldenseal Plant and Flowers

Many people have heard of the herb Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) but have little idea of the multitude of uses this versatile herb has. Goldenseal has been used throughout history as a medicinal herb, partly because of its amazing ability to stimulate the body’s own immunity. The bushy plant typically grows wild in rich soils. and has beautiful bright yellow flowers that produce a gorgeous red oil when infused. Goldenseal is now an endangered species due to excessive wild harvesting. It should therefore only be purchased from companies who grow it and who do not wildcraft it.

Please note that this information is shared for informational purposes only. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your MD before taking any supplement.

Goldenseal’s popularity is based on the following properties herbalists believe it has:

Antibacterial and Antiviral

Goldenseal has been shown to have powerful antibacterial properties. Because it targets the mucous membranes, it is commonly used to address issues such as upper respiratory infections, dental infections, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bacterial diarrhea. It has even been shown to successfully combat the bacteria H Pylori which is thought to cause some forms of bacterial ulcers. Goldenseal is often described as having a “miraculous” effect on colds or flus that have lasted longer than they should. I can attest to Goldenseal’s effectiveness as an antibiotic, having recently used it to avoid needing a prescription antibiotic for an abscessed tooth and a root canal.

Goldenseal’s antibacterial properties make it wonderful to use topically on small wounds and cuts. It is known to be especially useful in preventing or addressing skin infection. Another benefit of Goldenseal is that it is a powerful styptic and can be used to stop bleeding in minor wounds. I again can personally verify its effectiveness on wounds. I used Goldenseal in ample amounts after wrecking my motorcycle two years ago, and had incredibly rapid healing with no infection. I also used it recently when I deeply gashed my finger but didn’t have a way to get to a mainstream medical facility for stitches. I poured Goldenseal powder (which I always keep on hand) over the cut and bound it tightly. The bleeding stopped in less than a minute. (I had been applying strong pressure to the wound for over 45 minutes with no luck.) The wound healed cleanly within a week without stitches, with no infection and with very minimal scarring. I was amazed at how little scarring occurred, as I tend to scar deeply and very easily.

Goldenseal is also known to have powerful antiviral effects which make it popular used internally against colds and flus. It is also commonly used to help with cold sores and herpes lesions when made into a tea and used as a gargle or topical wash. Goldenseal has the added benefit of being known for boosting the body’s own immunity, which makes it a great help in colds and flus.

Anti-fungal

 

Goldenseal is known to be a powerful ally against Candida overgrowth and other forms of fungal infection. Whether used internally or topically, Goldenseal is reported to curtail fungal growth very quickly. The trick with using Goldenseal for Candida is to keep the Candida confused so that it cannot adapt to the antiviral properties of Goldenseal. I use Goldenseal for two weeks and then use a different antifungal supplement for two weeks on a rotation basis.

Digestive Aid

Goldenseal has a long history of use as a digestive aid and a liver supporter. It is thought to stimulate the production of bile, which may make it helpful in digesting fats and as a general digestive aid. The fact it stimulates bile production makes it a popular choice for use in addressing potential liver and gallbladder issues. Goldenseal also has a strong reputation as a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and appetite.

Anti-diabetic

Many herbalists recommend Goldenseal to people with diabetes because of its reputation of helping lower blood sugars and the belief that it has a stimulating effect on the beta cells of the pancreas. Goldenseal is a popular addition to many herbal products designed to help lower blood glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and support the pancreas. I find that my blood glucose levels stay much lower when I use Goldenseal on a regular basis. It is most effective when used in combination with other herbs that support normal blood sugar levels.

Astringent

Goldenseal has a very astringent effect when used topically, which makes it an excellent choice for topical use on hemorrhoids. It is also known to help alleviate inflammation in hemorrhoids and to have a soothing effect. Some people find that using it as a wash for acne is also very helpful. I find that using an infused oil of Goldenseal in my baths adds a wonderfully soothing touch and makes me feel very pampered.

Preparations
Goldenseal is commonly sold as (listed in order of my opinion of the highest potential strength to lowest):

1.  Tinctures containing an alcohol-based extract of Goldenseal root. Herb Pharm makes one of my favorites: http://amzn.to/Qsmm80

2a. Capsules containing an extract of Goldenseal root.  

2b. Capsules containing powdered, dried Goldenseal root. There are many on the market. I have come to rely on Nature’s Market as an over-the-counter brand providing reliable, high-quality herbs: http://amzn.to/QIdOLO

3.  Teas containing dried Goldenseal root. Alvita carries a wide range of herbal tea bags: http://amzn.to/UFRKQb

When determining what form of Goldenseal to use, select the form you take the most consistently . For example, if you do not like the strong taste of a Goldenseal tincture (which does have a very strong flavor) and may not take it as frequently as needed because of the taste, then using a capsule form may be best. If you find swallowing capsules to be difficult, then a liquid tincture might be best. The powdered extract, which contains only the active chemical in Goldenseal, may or may not be more potent than the straight herb, depending on how many milligrams are delivered per serving. The author’s preference is to use the root in its entirety to ensure receiving the full potential of the herb’s beneficial qualities. There is some evidence that suggests that some of the chemicals in Goldenseal are not soluble in water but are readily soluble in alcohol.

Dosage
There are many different opinions about the ideal dosage of Goldenseal. Please note that the dosages that follow are intended for adults only. Please consult a qualified practitioner before giving Goldenseal to children. The general recommendations for adults include taking 400-2000 mg of the powdered root three times per day. Recommended dosage of an alcohol based tincture is 90-210 drops per day in divided doses. Typical dosage for a powdered extract is 30-120 mg three times per day. As with any herb, discontinue use if any unusual symptoms or reactions occur after starting to take Goldenseal.
In my experience, a low dose (500 mg, three times per day) of powdered root is effective for Candida overgrowth, while higher doses (1000-2000 mg, three to five times per day) are effective for bacterial infections. I used 6000 mg/day when battling my abscessed tooth and during my root canal. It worked like a charm!
Considerations
As with any herb, there are some things that should be considered when taking Goldenseal. Although these considerations are important, please note that Goldenseal is considered a very safe herb to use. I recommend Goldenseal without hesitation when appropriate.

1. Goldenseal should never be used by pregnant women or given to children under age two unless under the direction of a qualified practitioner.

2. People using the prescription medications Warfarin (Coumadin), protease inhibitors or cardiac glycosides should not use Goldenseal due to a potential interaction with these prescription medication.

3. Goldenseal can sometimes cause an imbalance in the bacterial balance of the digestive tract. It is therefore recommended to take a probiotic (acidophilus or other probiotic) when taking it long-term. If using Goldenseal on a short-term basis, most people take it for a period of 10-14 days, then take a break of one to two weeks, then resume taking it if needed.

4. People taking prescription antibiotics should refrain from taking Goldenseal within two hours of taking the prescription medication.

5. Some people with pre-existing hypertension have noticed higher blood pressures when taking Goldenseal for a prolonged period of time. Although this side effect is rare, it is wise to check blood pressures frequently if taking Goldenseal for more than two weeks.

6. Goldenseal may lose its effect if taken for a long period of time. For that reason, I typically recommend a “two weeks on, two weeks off” regimen when Goldenseal is needed for use over an extended period of time.

7. Diabetics who use Goldenseal should check blood glucose levels more frequently.

This explains why Goldenseal is one of my most favorite herbs!!!


[i] Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Stoia A, et al. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to isoquinoline alkaloids from Sanguinaria canadensis and Hydrastis canadensis. Phytother Res. 2003;17(3):217-21.
[ii] Jellin J.M., Gregory P.J., Batz F. and Hitchens K. (2004): Pharmacist’s Letter/ Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA, Therapeutic Research Faculty. http://www.naturaldatabase.com/member_home.asp?ph_img=memberhome.gif&ex=0&ex=0

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