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Autoimmune Diseases: Immune System Gone Loco?

Peppermint and Corsican mint plant (cropped) P...

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One of the most interesting concepts that I’ve learned is that so-called “autoimmune diseases” are caused by accumulation of toxins in the whole body (that means including the brain, which, we are led to believe is impermeable like an iron curtain because of the blood brain barrier). This is in contrast to the general belief that autoimmune diseases are caused by an “immune system gone haywire”. Standard treatments include the use of anti-inflammatories such as NSAID’s and steroids. If they don’t work, then the use of immuno-suppressive agents are next in line. Makes sense if you just want to address the symptoms of inflammation. However, doesn’t it make more sense to try to find out the cause of why the immune system’s gone haywire? Toxins from the environment including heavy metals, pesticides, synthetic hormones and microorganisms, as well as toxins produced from internal metabolism, all contribute to these toxic burden. Well-functioning detoxification organs help our bodies eliminate these toxic build up. However, there are those people who just aren’t able to keep up with the elimination of these wastes. Thus, symptoms of toxicity start to appear. These include allergies, asthma, digestive problems, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, mood swings, skin problems and weight changes. Therefore, it makes sense to help rid the body of toxins and these can be done in different ways. Simple detoxification “procedures” that someone could easily incorporate include fasting, drinking more water, eating a plant-based diet, deep breathing and exercise. Other detox programs may need the guidance and support of a nutritionally-minded physician or other holistic practitioners. Nutritional supplements to support the organs of elimination and drainage such as kidneys, liver, lymphatics, lungs, colon and skin, all go a long way in improving someone’s over-all health. As far as auto-immune illnesses are concerned, natural anti-inflammatories can be used for symptomatic treatment while waiting for the “detox treatments” take effect. These include your essential fatty acids (from fish oil or krill oil or for vegetarians, flax seed oil), curcumin, and peppermint oil, among many others.

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Love and Other Drugs

Anne Hathaway at the 81st Academy Awards

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Just saw the movie called “Love and other drugs”. I wasn’t expecting a good story line but it turned out to be a great one. Lots of interesting points in the movie. Among these includes a lesson in what happens to people with Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism. Basic info on Parkinson’s disease. It is a progressive neuro-degenerative disorder that affects motor skills, cognition and the autonomic nervous system as well. It is characterized by depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the substancia nigra part of the brain. Initial symptoms include bradykinesia, rigidity and tremors. The simplistic approach to treatment is to prevent further depletion of dopamine (and diminish motor symptoms) using medications such as Sinemet or MAO inhibitors. What are the possible causes of PD? An obvious cause involves repeated head trauma such as seen in boxers (Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao’s boxing coach). In the medical literature, there’s idiopathic PD, meaning the causes are unknown. Of course, other possible causes are not explored and these include the presence of heavy metal toxicity (mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum), excitotoxins (chemicals such as pesticides or MSG which excite neurons to death) and oxidative stress. Anyway, I’m surprised that the movie even mentioned chelation therapy, which is the accepted form of treatment for heavy metal toxicity. Chelation therapy involves the administration of chelating agents such as EDTA, which attach to heavy metals and are then excreted through the kidneys primarily.

One other interesting point is when Anne Hathaway went to accompany seniors across the border to Canada to purchase their prescription medications. Sad but true. We’re spending more on the same medications that are sold elsewhere for less. And then another one is when Hank Azaria, who plays the doctor, confides to Jake Gyllenhaal, the erstwhile drug rep, that his job isn’t as fulfilling anymore because of HMO’s, paperwork and worry about medical malpractice lawyers just waiting to prey on him.

Anyway, the most important lesson in the movie I believe is unconditional love. We should love one another just because……

I want my coffee now!

Facts about coffee. It is a beverage prepared from the coffee seeds, otherwise known as “coffee beans”, of the coffee plant. It is grown primarily in agricultural communities in approximately 70 countries throughout the world. It was discovered in the Middle East where it’s cultivation spread throughout the Arab world. It is now consumed by more people all over the world. Just look at the popularity of Starbuck’s or Peet’s or Seattle’s Best Coffee in the US alone. Anyway, what are the benefits of drinking coffee? People who take it regularly do so because it perks them up or gives them energy (due to the caffeine content which has stimulating properties). One disturbing fact about coffee though is that it’s one of the most heavily pesticides crops in the world. So, if you’re going to have your coffee, choose sustainably-produced, organic coffee at least. Decaf coffee is another issue all by itself. During the decaffeination process, chemicals such as formaldehyde, are used which actually makes the coffee worse. So, for people who want their decaf coffee, find one that’s processed without toxic chemicals. And perhaps, have your adrenals checked out by a holistic practitioner if you’re totally addicted or dependent on coffee in general. One thing more, have you ever heard of the coffee fruit? It’s basically the whole fruit with the beans and the flesh all intact. The whole fruit has more beneficial nutrients than the coffee bean alone. It is rich in antioxidants called phenolic acids as well as beneficial polysaccharides. Antioxidants, as we all know, fight off free radicals while polysaccharides enhance cellular communication (which is beneficial for the immune system in particular). I’ll have my coffee fruit instead!

The Darker Side of Beauty

Dermatology products

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What’s up with mercury in skin whitening agents, toluene in nail polish, lead in lipstick and other sorts of toxins found in beauty products? The fact is that a lot of personal care products such as shampoos, lotions, make-up and hair styling products contain ingredients that are linked to asthma, cancer, infertility and birth defects, among many others. Why do you think there’s a surge in incidence of chronic degenerative diseases? Aside from the fact that our food is not as nutritious (because of farming practices and the extensive use of pesticides), we are seeing a deluge of synthetic chemicals that have not been tested for safety. And even if they have, they’re usually tested singly and not in combination with other chemicals. This toxic soup of chemicals have harmful synergistic effects. Scary! Therefore, go natural as much as possible. Read labels too! Explore for all natural body care.

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