By Dr. Mercola
Last month's National Honeybee Day (August 16) marked the sixth annual event – a day started by beekeepers to build community awareness of the bee industry. This year's theme, "Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees," showed that concerned citizens are increasingly getting involved in efforts to save the bees.
While beekeeping is most often thought of in regard to large farms and agriculture, bees are important to each and every one of us. The bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat – without which their help we would suffer catastrophic consequences!
Meanwhile, 98 percent of those who keep bees are "backyard beekeepers," raising bees in their backyards, not on traditional farms. In addition to food, bees are required for pollination in your backyard garden, and many municipalities have removed anti-beekeeping laws, allowing just about anyone with an interest to try their hand at beekeeping.1
March Against Monsanto Group Joins the Effort to Save the Bees
The first March Against Monsanto, which took place in May 2013 involved some 2 million people in 450 cities and 50 countries, who took to the streets with the same message—that genetic engineering and Monsanto are out of control, and, at the very least, we need labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods and safety testing.
Monsanto, which is the world leader in GM crops (and the pesticides and herbicides that go along with them), is clearly no friend to the bees. And so the Tampa-born activist group organized Bee Against Monsanto, an event in celebration of National Honeybee Day.
The effort was a success, with 86 events planned across the globe, helping to get word out that corporations like Monsanto could very well be at the foundation of the widespread bee die-offs. This isn't the case if you ask Monsanto, of course, which responded to the media coverage of Bee Against Monsanto thusly:2
"As a company focused solely on agriculture, we recognize the importance of bees to our business, our growers and the environment… In 2013, Monsanto announced its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action on Honey Bee Health… Using a diverse group of stakeholders, the Coalition will work to:
- improve honey bee nutrition;
- provide research investment in novel technology for varroa and virus control;
- understand science-based approaches to studying pesticide impacts on honey bees and increasing awareness of pesticide best management practices among growers and beekeepers; and
- enable economic empowerment of beekeepers."
Monsanto also took to Facebook on August 7, just before National Honeybee Day, to reaffirm their "commitment" to "saving" the bees. They posted:3
"Think about the last plate of food you ate. Chances are, it was made possible by a honeybee. Learn how we're working to protect these important insects."
The Facebook community was not amused… nor were they fooled by Monsanto's seemingly altruistic message. Their page was flooded with angry comments, hundreds of them, stating sentiments of outrage like "Protect them?? You're the ones who are killing them off!" and "Totally DISGUSTED!"
Corporate Funding Has No Place in Bee Research
Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides have been increasingly blamed for bee deaths (and were implicated in last year's mass bee die-off of 25,000 bumblebees along with millions of bee deaths in Canada), prompting the European Union (EU) to ban them for two years, beginning December 1, 2013, to study their involvement with large bee kills. At the end of two years, the restriction will be reviewed.
In July 2014, the UK's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) conducted a consultation on a draft of the National Pollinator Strategy,4 with the final version to be published this fall.
The draft lists plans to produce a "better understanding of the role and value of pollinators, as well as the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators and the impact of the EU ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides on farmers' crop growing practices."
The UK's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has taken issue with DEFRA's strategy, however, stating that it relies too heavily on corporate funding from pesticide manufacturers, which threatens the integrity of the research. Chair of the Committee, Joan Walley MP, said:5
"When it comes to research on pesticides, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is content to let the manufacturers fund the work… This testifies to a loss of environmental protection capacity in the Department responsible for it.
If the research is to command public confidence, independent controls need to be maintained at every step. Unlike other research funded by pesticide companies, these studies also need to be peer-reviewed and published in full."
The concern now is that these studies will be heavily biased with industry funding, or that DEFRA may try to overturn the ban ahead of schedule next year. This includes pesticide makers like Syngenta, which has already tried to seek an "emergency" exemption to the ban.
The EAC is calling on DEFRA to take a clear stance against such loopholes, and their report further added, "New studies have added weight to those that indicated a harmful link between pesticide use and pollinator populations."6
Pesticide Makers All Want Their Hands in the Honey Pot
Monsanto bought Beeologics in 2013, a company whose primary goal is finding a solution to the colony collapse disorder (CCD, the widely used term to describe bee die-offs). Bayer is a leading manufacturer of the neonicotinoid pesticides at the heart of the debate.
They opened the North American Bee Care Center in 2013, where they are conducting "bee health research" and promoting "bee-responsible use of Bayer products." Monsanto and Bayer are going to stop at nothing to make sure their insecticides and GM crops are completely cleared of any wrongdoing.
Already, in 2010 a study by Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk found that CCD was not caused by pesticides but rather a combination of fungus and virus, found in all collapsed colonies, may be the culprit…
What was not widely reported in the media, however, was that Dr. Bromenshenk received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination – a massive conflict of interest that is likely to be carried over into any upcoming research from Bayer and Monsanto.
Are Pesticides Killing Our Bees?
Since 2006, US beekeepers have lost 10 million beehives, worth an estimated $2 billion.7 The monetary loss is staggering, but the losses to the food supply, which could soon be disastrous if bees keep disappearing, is beyond words. There are many theories for why the bees are dying. Viruses, fungi, lack of natural foraging areas (due to monoculture), malnutrition, and even electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have all been suggested.
But no theory has received as much attention, or as much credible support, as the use of pesticides, and specifically neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids are now used on most American crops, especially corn. This newer class of chemicals is applied to seeds before planting, allowing the pesticide to be taken up through the plant's vascular system as it grows. As a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant.
These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water-soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive. Neonicotinoids affect insects' central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time. One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee's immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it's consumed by all of the bees.
Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly "natural" bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi, and bacteria. In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially "unacceptable" for many crops,8 and in the US, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that they were restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing dinotefuran, a type of neonicotinoid.
An independent review by 29 scientists with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (which looked at 800 studies) recently put another nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids. The study found that neonicotinoids are indeed gravely harming bees and other pollinators (like butterflies). And that's not all. The research also showed serious harm to birds, earthworms, snails, and other invertebrates.9
Do You Want to Help Save the Bees?
"While the players in our industrial food system are 'bee-washing' themselves at 'Honey Bee Summits' and with 'Bee Care Centers,' the bees are being systematically exterminated by the very products these supposed "bee loving" companies produce. Worldwide, the production of Genetically Engineered produce is skyrocketing. In the US nearly 90% of the corn and 94% of the soy grown is Genetically Modified (GMO). These GMO crops are especially designed to release Bt toxins, result in increased pesticide use, and demand neonicotinoid seed treatments -- all factors in Colony Collapse Disorder and an overall decrease in our pollinator populations.
The companies who produce widely used pesticides would have us believe a parasitic mite is to blame for CCD -- and that their poisons are not only safe to humans, but are also non-toxic to the Bees. A particular class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, has been demonstrated -- most recently by a study at Harvard University -- to impair the neurological function of bees, disrupting their ability to navigate home. Beekeepers often find their hives empty and their bees nowhere to be found."
You can further help by supporting the Save America's Pollinators Act, which was introduced in 2013. If passed, this bill, HR 2692, would require the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pull neonicotinoid pesticides from the market until their safety is proven. Please contact your representative today to voice your support for this incredibly important issue. Friends of the Earth has also launched the Bee-Action Campaign to tell stores to take bee-killing pesticides like neonicotinoids off of their shelves, and you can help by signing their petition now. In addition, you can even make a difference right in your own backyard:
- Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides
- Plant a pollinator-friendly garden by choosing a variety of plants that will continue flowering from spring through fall; check out the Bee Smart Pollinator App for a database of nearly 1,000 pollinator-friendly plants
- Choose plants native to your region and stick with old-fashioned varieties, which have the best blooms, fragrance and nectar/pollen for attracting and feeding pollinators
- Install your own beehive
Beekeeping Industry 'Doomed' -- Might We See Destruction of Food Supply Before the End of This Decade?
Bees Dying by the Millions
By Barbara Loe Fisher
On Aug. 27, 2014 a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1 publicly admitted2 that he and other CDC officials, including the current CDC’s Director of Immunization Safety,3, 4 published a study about MMR vaccine safety in 20045 that “omitted statistically significant information” and “did not follow the final study protocol. “He said the study “omitted relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub group for a particular vaccine” and added that “there have always been recognized risks for vaccination” and “it is the responsibility for the CDC to properly convey [vaccine] risks.”
CDC: A History of Limiting Transparency
We couldn’t agree more. CDC officials should not be in the business of deliberately withholding information from the public about vaccine risks that may be greater for some children than other children.6 Unfortunately, CDC officials have a long history of limiting transparency7, 8 and being less than honest with the American people about what it does and does not know about vaccine risks.9, 10
Last July, a RAND Corporation study commissioned and funded by DHHS was published proclaiming that vaccines “are very safe.”11 What was not made clear to the public was that the study was designed and peer reviewed by high-level CDC officials, including the CDC’s Director of Immunization Safety.12
NVIC Calls on Congress to Take Action on DHHS Conflicts of Interest
Today, the National Vaccine Information Center is renewing our call for oversight of vaccine safety to be removed from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).15
It is a conflict of interest for DHHS to be in charge of vaccine safety and also license vaccines,16 and take money from drug companies to fast track vaccines,17 and partner with drug companies to develop and share profits from vaccine sales,18 and make national vaccine policies19 that get turned into state vaccine laws20 while also deciding which children will and will not get a vaccine injury compensation award.21, 22
That is too much power for one federal agency. That is putting the fox in charge of guarding the chicken coop.
Vaccination Can Cause Brain Inflammation and Injury
Especially when it has been known since the first vaccine for smallpox that vaccination can cause brain inflammation23, 24 25, 26, 27 and a wide spectrum of brain injury symptoms, like developmental delays and disabilities.28, 29, 30
It is very telling that Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have declared that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and completely shielded drug companies from vaccine injury lawsuits.31, 32 In America, if you or your child gets hurt by a vaccine, you can’t hold anyone who developed, regulated, recommended, marketed, mandated, administered, or profits from the vaccine accountable in a civil court of law in front of a jury of your peers.
Parents Concerns About Vaccine Safety Legitimate
The recent statement by a CDC senior scientist admitting that vaccine risk data is being withheld from the public is just one more piece of evidence that parents’ questions and concerns about vaccine safety are legitimate.
Congress should act now and take vaccine safety monitoring away from DHHS.
The health of our children is at stake.
Contact Your U.S. Senator and Representative
Contact your U.S. Senator and Representative today and tell them you want something done about conflicts of interest in the nation’s vaccination system.33, 34 If your child’s health has been harmed by vaccination, tell them about that too.
Go to NVIC.org and learn more about making informed vaccine decisions and protecting your informed consent rights.
It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.
Back-to-School Vaccines: Know the Risks and Failures
Kids Given Vaccines Have 22 Times the Rate of Ear Infections
By Dr. Mercola
The hot dog is one of America's most popular foods, with the average person consuming 50 of them per year. Hot dogs are one of the most nutritionally bankrupt foods.
Yet for decades, they've been given a free pass, granted one pardon after another thanks to their towering status in American culture. But when you look at what they are giving you in return, you will want to seriously reconsider their status.
The hot dog's gustatory glow took a significant hit in 2009 when the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) issued its landmark report1 about hot dogs and cancer risk, based on more than 7,000 scientific studies.
AICR determined that every 50 gram serving of processed meat you consume daily—for example, just ONE hot dog—raises your risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Despite these health warnings, frankfurters have been unstoppable.
In 2013, Americans spent $2.5 billion on hot dogs in US supermarkets, which amounts to more than one billion packages of wieners. During peak hot dog season—which is from Memorial Day to Labor Day—Americans belt down seven billion dogs.
On the Fourth of July alone, Americans consume 150 million hot dogs—enough to stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times! Hot dogs pose another danger for your child that you may not be aware of—they are responsible for 17 percent of all choking cases among children, killing about 80 kids per year.2
Transformation of Slaughter By-Products Into Hot Dogs
Many blame the hot dog's carcinogenic effects on nitrates and nitrites, but I would argue that this is an overly simplistic view. When you look at what goes into hot dogs and how they are made, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Between the type and grade of "meat" used and its sources, as well as the torrent of chemicals added to make the dogs safe and palatable—of which nitrates are only one—it's easy to understand how serious health problems could arise.
Most of the meat and meat by-products come from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where animals are tortured in crowded, unhealthy, unsanitary, and cruel conditions, as the primary goal is cheap food, not quality food.
The video at the top of the article about how hot dogs are made provides a somewhat glorified view of the process, but it does succeed in portraying just how far from natural this food really is. And when you boil it down, it's rather disgusting.
Here is the not-glorified version. They start with an animal carcass that's been stripped of all desirable cuts, boil the heck out of it, force it through a metal sieve, add water, grind it up into a slimy carcass paste ("meat emulsion" or "meat batter"), add a bunch of chemicals to make it taste good and binders to make it stick together, then extrude it into links.3, 4
'And ALL the Trimmings'
Once desirable meat cuts are removed from beef, pork, and poultry (steaks, chops, ribs, thighs, breasts, briskets, etc.), what remains is a carcass consisting mostly of gristle, fat, and offal. The meat industry refers to this as "trimmings." According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):5
"The raw meat materials used for precooked-cooked products are lower-grade muscle trimmings, fatty tissues, head meat, animal feet, animal skin, blood, liver and other edible slaughter by-products."
The butchering process imparts a considerable amount of bacteria to these carcasses, but because hot dogs are pre-cooked, manufacturers can get away with using these pieces and parts even if they are teeming with bacteria.
Cooking helps kill them, as well as separating the remaining muscle, fat, and connective tissues from the head and feet bones. The slimy paste that results from this rendering brew is what's referred to as "mechanically-recovered" meat. The process of manufacturing hot dogs is colorfully summarized in the Daily Mail:6
"In vast metal vats, tons of pork trimmings are mixed with the pink slurry formed when chicken carcasses are squeezed through metal grates and blasted with water. The mush is mixed with powdered preservatives, flavorings, red coloring and drenched in water before being squeezed into plastic tubes to be cooked and packaged."
Where's the Beef?
Now that you know the basics of the process, let's take a closer look at the ingredients. Meat makes up a relatively small proportion of the average commercial hot dog. And it's typically low-quality meat and meat by-products—which technically are not meat at all.7
Meat Turkey, chicken, beef, pork, and others Pork must be 20 percent or less due to risk of pathogens Fillers Corn syrup, dried milk, maltodextrin, cereal grains, and modified food starch Up to 3.5 percent Salt Sodium chloride One hot dog can contain 670mg sodium, more than 30 percent of your daily allowance8 Preservatives Potassium lactate, sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate Flavorings Paprika and other spices, artificial flavorings, MSG, carmine (a dye from the shells of small beetles, boiled in ammonia or sodium carbonate), and any number of other additives USDA does not require manufacturers to list these on labels, so just about anything goes when it comes to "flavorings" Water Water thins the meat batter so that it can be extruded into the desired form No more than 10 percent, per regulations Casings Derived from beef, pork, lamb, fibers, wood pulp, or plastic Many hot dog casings are removed prior to packaging so they don't have to be edible; others are made from plant or animal-derived cellulose, dissolved cowhides, or the intestinal tracts of farmed animals9
At least the above list of ingredients "belong" in hot dogs... what's far worse are the extras. According to reports begrudgingly released by the USDA under the Freedom of Information Act, foreign objects recently found in hot dogs include Band-Aids, glass shards, razor blades, metal fragments, maggots, rat legs, and pieces of eyeballs.10
Large hot dog factories can blast out 300,000 of these dogs per hour. It takes only 30 seconds to build a chain of hot dogs that would span a soccer field twice. When a commercial operation is THIS massive, you can get some rather revolting contaminants.
The Truth About Nitrates and Nitrites
Many are confused about nitrates and nitrites, so let me clear up the confusion. Nitrates are present in many vegetables, such as beets, celery, lettuce, spinach, and most other leafy green vegetables. When you eat nitrates, your body converts a small percentage of them into nitrites. Nitrites and nitrates are not inherently bad for you—in fact, they are the precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which lowers your blood pressure and exerts mild anti-inflammatory effects.
Sodium nitrite is a synthetic preservative added to meats like hot dogs to help them maintain that nice pink color. The problem is, in the presence of heat—especially high heat—nitrites can combine with amines in processed meat to form nitrosamines, and it's these that are carcinogenic. Nitrosamines inflict cellular damage and have been linked to cancer, typically in your colon, bladder, stomach, or pancreas. Processed meats are far more prone to nitrosamine formation than vegetables, due to being higher in amines and intensively heat processed.11, 12, 13, 14
Vitamin C inhibits some of the nitrosamine formation, which is why 550 ppm ascorbic acid is now required added to all processed meats in the US.15 Vegetables contain more vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants, which is another reason why the nitrates in vegetables don't cause a problem.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, around 90 percent of the nitrite in your body comes from vegetables, while just 10 percent comes from processed meats.16 When meat or fish is cooked at high temperatures, other potent carcinogens are also created, such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). If your processed meat is smoked, you can add polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to the list.
What About Nitrates in Organic Hot Dogs?
Natural or organic hot dogs may not be much lower in nitrite—and some may even be higher than conventional hot dogs. Companies that label their products natural or organic must use natural sources of the preservatives, which usually come in the form of celery powder or celery juice, as celery is naturally high in nitrate.
A 2011 study published in The Journal of Food Protection found that natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrite of conventional hot dogs.17 A similar scenario exists for bacon. So, buying organic hot dogs is not necessarily going to reduce your nitrate exposure—although it will likely result in a higher quality food product in many other respects.
Brainwashing Kids Into Loving Junk Food
Unacceptable rates of childhood obesity and disease are evidence of the damage being done to our children by hot dogs, sodas, and other unhealthy foods. With such grave health dangers, the earlier that fast food habits can be nipped in the bud, the better. Kids are extremely vulnerable to and under constant bombardment by junk food marketing.
If you want to see evidence of how powerful this brainwashing can be, take a look at the eye-opening video of Jamie Oliver's experiment, where he attempts to educate a group of elementary schoolers about what really goes into chicken nuggets. Of course, he COULD have used hot dogs for the example and the outcome would have probably been the same. Despite his success in disgusting them with what really goes into a chicken nugget, they STILL want the nuggets! This experiment reveals the depth of children's emotional attachment to fast food—which also shows just how effective fast food marketing is to children.
An even more powerful marketing strategy has emerged for brainwashing your child, which takes advantage of smartphones and other mobile devices. The "advergame" is a game that promotes a particular brand, product or message by integrating it into play. The game IS the advertisement, engaging children to such as extent that they form strong relationships with the product or brand, so they consume more of it—and research proves it works. For example, KFC's "Snack in the Face," which mimics the massively popular game Angry Birds, is described as "the future of junk food advertising."18
The Best of the Wurst
If you are going to eat hot dogs or other processed meats once in awhile, there are a few considerations that may help you reduce your risk of adverse health affects. Again, these options are not ideal as these meats are still processed, but the following guidelines will ensure you are consuming a product that is better for you than the vast majority of processed meats on the market:
- Look for "uncured" varieties that contain NO nitrates
- Choose varieties that say 100 percent beef, 100 percent chicken, etc. This is the only way to know that the meat is from a single species and does not include byproducts
- Avoid any meat that contains MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavor, or artificial color
- Ideally, purchase sausages and other processed meats from a small, local farmer that makes those products right on the farm, whom you can ask about the ingredients
Truly Healthy Meats are a Much Better Option
In contrast to eating products that are little more than a heat-processed slurry of reassembled slaughterhouse remains, real meat is a different story altogether. Make sure the meat you consume is grass-fed, organically and humanely raised, preferably from a local farmer you know and trust. Grass-fed beef tends to be leaner and have higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting CLA. It also has a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Organic farms tend to provide far more sanitary conditions, so the animals are less likely to harbor dangerous pathogens.
Organic, grass-fed standards do not permit non-medical use of antibiotics, and with antibiotic-resistant infections being a major public health hazard today, this is an important consideration. To counteract some of the harmful effects of cooking, add homemade spice rubs, herb-enhanced marinades, or even fresh blueberries to your meat prior to cooking. This will not only augment its nutritional value, but also reduce the harmful substances like heterocyclic amines that are formed during the cooking process. Consume plenty of fresh vegetables along with it, which will further enhance its nutritional value.
Meat Glue: Why You Should Never, Ever Eat This
A River Of Waste: The Hazardous Truth About Factory Farms
By Dr. Mercola
Before there was modern-day medicine and its pharmacopeia of synthetic drugs, there were plants, and ancient civilizations knew how to use them strategically to treat common ailments and even life-threatening diseases.
The ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, a scroll from 1550 BC that’s over 100 pages long, details 700 medicinal herbs and how to use them. The Greek Corpus Hippocraticum from the 16th century BC also details the use of herbal medicine.1
Later, during the 1800s and early 1900s, the knowledge of herbal medicine was passed down from one generation to the next. Typically, the woman of the house was well versed in the use of herbs for healing, and would act as the family’s physician not only to treat illnesses but also to prepare various herbal wellness tonics and other remedies.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population still uses traditional remedies, including plants, as their primary health care tools.2 Meanwhile, the majority of new drugs (70 percent) introduced in the US are derived from natural products, primarily plants.3
Unfortunately, the reverence for the use of medicinal plants in everyday life has largely been lost in the US. But if you are interested in using natural remedies to support your health, you should know that there are many right at your fingertips.
7 Medicinal Plants You Can Use to Benefit Your Health
Below is an excellent starting point to learn how to harness the power of medicinal plants. This is only a small sample, of course, and once you get your feet wet, you’ll likely be inspired to explore more and more uses for these healing wonders.
Ginger is one spice that I recommend keeping on hand in your kitchen at all times. Not only is it a wonderful addition to your cooking (especially paired with garlic) but it also has enough medicinal properties to fill several books.
Ginger is best known for its antinausea effects but also has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 scientifically confirmed pharmacological actions. It is anti-inflammatory, making it valuable for pain relief for joint pain, menstrual pain, headaches, and more.
The pain-relieving potential of ginger appears to be far-reaching. Along with help for muscle and joint pain, ginger has been found to reduce the severity of migraine headaches as well as the migraine medication Sumatriptan – with fewer side effects.4
Ginger also shows promise for fighting cancer, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, asthma, bacterial and fungal infections, and it is one of the best natural remedies available for motion sickness or nausea (from pregnancy or chemotherapy, for example).
Taking one gram of ginger daily may help reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, or those with migraines and ginger has been shown to work better than a placebo in relieving morning sickness.5
Ginger is also a must-have if you struggle with indigestion, and it does more than simply relieve pain. Ginger contains powerful protein-digesting enzymes and helps to stimulate the emptying of your stomach without any negative effect, and it’s an antispasmodic agent, which may explain its beneficial effects on your intestinal tract.
Many people enjoy ginger tea on a regular basis, and this is one of the simplest ways to use it. Simply chop off a couple of inches of ginger root and let it steep in hot water for fresh ginger tea. I would advise against using it daily as it can lead to an allergy and is what happened to me about twenty years ago.
You can also peel the root using a paring knife and then slice it thinly (or grate it or mince it) to add to tea or cooked dishes. You can’t go wrong by adding ginger to stir fries or even your favorite homemade chicken soup. For serious issues, a natural health care provider can help you get the maximum therapeutic benefits of ginger.
Eating a clove or two of fresh garlic a day may indeed keep the doctor away, in part because it has immune-boosting, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects. Many of garlic’s therapeutic effects are derived from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its characteristic smell. In general, garlic’s benefits fall into four main categories:
- Reducing inflammation (reduces the risk of osteoarthritis and other disease associated with inflammation)
- Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
- Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure)
- Toxic to at least 14 kinds of cancer cells (including brain, lung, breast, gastric, and pancreatic)
In addition, garlic may be effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and research has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.6 This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume.
In order to get the health benefits, the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.
Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.
A single medium-size clove or two is usually sufficient and is well-tolerated by most people. The active ingredient, allicin, is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic, so garlic pills are virtually worthless. Black garlic, which is basically fermented garlic, and sprouted garlic may contain even more antioxidants than regular garlic.
Peppermint offers benefits to the respiratory system, including for coughs, colds, asthma, allergies, and tuberculosis. In terms of digestive health, peppermint oil capsules have been described as "the drug of first choice" in IBS patients,7 and peppermint oil is an effective alternative to drugs like Buscopan for reducing colonic spasms.8
It may also relax the muscles of your intestines, allowing gas to pass and easing abdominal pain. Try peppermint oil or leaves added to tea for gas relief. Inhaling the peppermint aroma may offer memory enhancement and stress relief, and peppermint oil acts as an expectorant and decongestant, and may help clear your respiratory tract.
Use peppermint essential oil as a cold rub on your chest or inhale it through a vaporizer to help clear nasal congestion and relieve cough and cold symptoms. Peppermint oil may also help relieve tension headache pain. For headache pain, try dabbing a few drops on your wrist or sprinkling a few drops on a cloth, then inhaling the aroma. You can also massage the oil directly onto your temples and forehead. Peppermint essential oil is ideal for muscle and chest rubs, headache pain, dental care, and aromatherapy. You can even add it to your homemade cleaning supplies for extra antimicrobial power and natural fragrance.
When selecting peppermint for your own use, the fresh leaves will impart a superior flavor to dried leaves (such as for use in tea). Look for fresh leaves that are green in color without any dark spots or yellowing. In addition to using fresh mint leaves in tea, you can add them to soups, fruit salad, or gazpacho. Additionally, it is really easy to grow peppermint yourself and the plant works as a highly effective deterrent to many insects that might invade your garden or your home.
Lavender oil has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents.9 This oil is rich in esters, which are aromatic molecules with antispasmodic (suppressing spasms and pain), calming, and stimulating properties. The chief botanical constituents of lavender oil are linalyl acetate, linalool (a non-toxic terpene alcohol that has natural germicidal properties), terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. Other constituents in lavender oil that are responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties include cis-ocimene, lavandulyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, and geraniol.
Lavender oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties, and has been used aromatherapeutically for alleviating insomnia, anxiety, depression, restlessness, dental anxiety, and stress. It has also been proven effective for nearly all kinds of ailments, from pain to infections.
I am particularly fascinated by lavender oil's potential in fighting antifungal-resistant skin and nail infections. Scientists from the University of Coimbra found that lavender oil is lethal to skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes, as well as various Candida species.10 Lavender oil can also be used to:
- Relieve pain. It can ease sore or tense muscles, joint pain and rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago. Simply massage a small amount of lavender oil onto the affected area. Lavender oil may also help lessen pain following needle insertion.
- Treat various skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. It also helps form scar tissues, which may be essential in healing wounds, cuts, and burns. Lavender can also help soothe insect bites and itchy skin (lavender oil can help ward off mosquitoes and moths. It is actually used as an ingredient in some mosquito repellents).
- Keep your hair healthy. It helps kill lice, lice eggs, and nits. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCB) says that lavender is possibly effective for treating alopecia areata (hair loss), boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment.11
- Improve your digestion. This oil helps stimulate the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices, which may help treat stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Relieve respiratory disorders. Lavender oil can help alleviate respiratory problems like colds and flu, throat infections, cough, asthma, whooping cough, sinus congestion, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. It can be applied on your neck, chest, or back, or inhaled via steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
- Stimulate urine production, which helps restore hormonal balance, prevent cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), and relieve cramps and other urinary disorders.
- Improve your blood circulation. It helps lower elevated blood pressure levels and can be used for hypertension.
Thyme is a fragrant herb that makes a wonderful addition to your cooking, in part because it is rich in antioxidants. Thyme contains health-boosting flavonoids including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin, and has been shown to protect and increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation:12 “In particular, the amount of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) in brain, kidney, and heart cell membranes was increased after dietary supplementation with thyme.”
Thyme is also nutrient dense, containing vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, manganese, copper, and dietary fiber. When used in cooked dishes, thyme may also help inhibit glycation and the formation of dangerous advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in your food, making thyme a potential preventer of heart disease and premature aging. Due to thyme oil’s antibacterial, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, expectorant, hypertensive, and calming properties, it also has a long list of topical uses, including:
- Home remedy – Thyme oil is used to relieve and treat problems like gout, arthritis, wounds, bites, and sores, water retention, menstrual and menopausal problems, nausea and fatigue, respiratory problems (like colds), skin conditions (oily skin and scars), athlete’s foot, hangovers, and even depression.
- Aromatherapy oil – The oil can be used to stimulate the mind, strengthen memory and concentration, and calm the nerves.
- Hair product – It is said that thyme oil can prevent hair loss. It is used as a treatment for the scalp and is added to shampoos and other hair products.
- Skin product – Thyme oil can help tone aged skin and prevent acne outbreaks.
- Mouthwashes and herbal rinses – Like peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils, thyme oil is used to improve oral health.
- Insecticide/insect repellent – Thyme oil can keep insects and parasites like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and moths away.
Chamomile is most popular in tea form for use to calm upset stomach and help support restful sleep. Germany’s Commission E (a government organization) has even approved the use of chamomile for reducing swelling on your skin and fighting bacteria. Chamomile is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also has antibacterial, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, muscle relaxant, and sedative properties. It is used to treat psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, diaper rash, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, and gum inflammation,13 and according to Herb Wisdom may also be useful for the following conditions:14
“The oil serves many medicinal purposes, but one of the best-documented uses is for relaxation. The oil has a calming effect on people, and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of calmness and well being. It is great for those with nervousness or anxiety problems. Aside from having mental calming properties, chamomile is also good at relaxing sore muscles and tight joints.
It can ease menstrual cramps and back aches, as well as relax the digestive system to ease upset stomach or indigestion issues. When applied topically to the skin, it soothes redness and irritation. For this reason, it is a common ingredient in skincare. It also eliminates itchiness and is good for those with allergic reactions. Sometimes chamomile is used on rashes. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can work to take down swelling caused by rashes or skin irritants.”
This flowering plant has traditionally been used as a liver tonic, useful for detoxification and improving liver function. Dandelion is known as a stimulant that is typically used for kidney and liver disorders. It is also traditionally used to reduce the side effects of prescription drugs, as well as to treat infections, gallbladder problems, water retention and swelling.15 Dandelion greens, which you can prepare simply by blanching them in boiling water for 20 seconds to help remove their bitter flavor (they can also be added to vegetable juice), contain many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. They are a particularly good source of vitamin A and may also have cancer-fighting properties.
Getting in Touch with Your Inner Healer: How to Use More Medicinal Plants
In the past, I have regarded herbs, in many cases, as a safer alternative to drugs, useful for treating various symptoms but not to treat the underlying cause. I have since revised my opinion on this quite significantly, and now realize that herbs can help support your health from a very basic level, just as foods do. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, you could walk into a drug store and find hundreds of herbal extracts for sale. Upwards of 90 percent of the population at that time knew how to use the medicinal plants growing in their backyards to treat common illnesses and injuries; they had too, as this was virtually the only “medicine” available.
With the rise of what is now known as conventional allopathic medicine shortly before World War I, herbalism slowly fell out of favor and became to be thought of as folk medicine. Rather than viewing nature as the source of healing, as had been done for centuries, people began to view drugs and other “modern” healing methods as superior. If you would like to start using medicinal plants more often, here are 9 tips to do so:16
- Learn to identify three medicinal plants you don't already know that grow in your region and learn their uses.
- Add at least one of these herbs to your garden or to pots on your windowsill.
- Make a tincture, tea, syrup, or salve. Or make one of each!
- Harvest and dry mint, lemon balm, calendula, nettles, or any other plant growing in your region.
- Find a plant to sit with quietly each morning for a week; draw the plant.
- Identify one healing skill you would like to have but don't, and find a way to learn it—perhaps by taking an herb or aromatherapy class.
- Make an herbal first aid kit.
- Organize local healers for emergency response in your community.
- With medicinal plants grown in your region, learn how to treat one condition that you and/or someone in your family struggles with.
Ginger's Many Evidence-Based Health Benefits Revealed
By Dr. Mercola
If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, you’ll want to bypass much of the traditional fare in the US. Cereal, bagels, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and doughnuts all have one thing in common…
They’re refined carbohydrates that will quickly break down to sugar, increase your insulin levels, and cause insulin resistance, which is the number one underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease and condition known to man, including weight gain.
Highly processed carbohydrates stimulate brain regions involved in reward and cravings, promoting excess hunger, which means when you eat toast or cereal for breakfast you might be priming your body to overeat junk food for the rest of the day.
If you’re going to eat breakfast, you need to give your body the proper fuel, which means healthy fats, fiber, a moderate amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals – all of which you’ll find in the irresistible recipe that follows…
Try This Spicy Avocado Egg Recipe
Free-range, pastured organic eggs are one of the best foods you can eat. Combine them with another superfood, avocado, plus healthy spices and salsa, and you’re on to something. This recipe, from Mountain Rose Blog,1 is described as a breakfast food, but you can eat it any time of day. If you don’t like spicy foods, you can adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Rise & Shine Baked Avocado
- 1 organic Hass avocado, cut in half with seed removed
- 2 organic pastured farm eggs
- ½ tsp. organic Mexican Seasoning or equal parts organic cumin powder, garlic powder, oregano, and chili powder
- ¼ cup shredded organic cheddar cheese
- Organic salsa
- Fine sea salt and organic cracked black pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the avocado halves into a baking dish and stabilize them with a little foil if needed. Crack one egg into each empty pit of your avocado halves. You can scoop a bit of avocado out if you need more room for the egg.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Sprinkle ¼ tsp. of Mexican Seasoning on each egg filled avocado. Top each half with shredded cheese and pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with salsa, and enjoy!
What Makes This Recipe Good for You?
It’s comprised of whole foods that will give your body a boost of energy while offering multiple synergistic benefits, courtesy of its phenomenal ingredients:
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid.
Research has found that avocados can help optimize cholesterol levels within as little as one week, and contain compounds that appear to inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells, as well as, compounds that protect against liver damage.
Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The best way to consume eggs, provided they come from a high-quality source, is to not cook them at all, which is why my advanced nutrition plan recommends eating your eggs raw.
In the beginner plan, however, eggs are still included and you can prepare them anyway you like them. While less "well-done" eggs are still preferable (such as poached, soft-boiled, or over easy with very runny yolks), a hard-boiled egg makes a fine snack or source of protein for your meal.
If you follow the recipe above, your eggs will come out close to hard-boiled. For less well-done eggs, simply shorten the cooking time. It’s very important to choose free-range or "pastured" organic eggs, as they are far superior when it comes to nutrient content. Eggs from hens raised on pasture contain more vitamin A, omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and beta carotene than commercial eggs.
Conventionally raised eggs are also far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella. The key to finding truly free-range, pastured eggs is to buy your eggs locally. This is typically even preferable to organic eggs from the grocery store.
Cumin, Oregano, and Chili Powder
These spices are rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that may fight diseases like cancer, reduce inflammation, and even slow down the aging process. For instance, oregano has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal effects, and may kill MRSA, listeria, and other pathogens.
Cumin, meanwhile, has properties that may enhance your memory and reduce stress, while chili powder contains capsaicin, an anti-inflammatory compound linked to pain relief, weight loss, and the suppression of cancer cells.
Salsa is a wonderful condiment to add to your meals, full of antioxidant-rich tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices. It’s low in calories but heavy in vitamins and flavor, so you can use it generously in your diet.
Why You Might Want to Skip Breakfast
As mentioned, this recipe is ideal for morning, noon or night, and you might actually want to try it later in the day, as opposed to at breakfast time. Emerging research suggests that omitting breakfast, as part of an intermittent eating schedule, can actually have a number of phenomenal health benefits. These range from improving insulin sensitivity to shifting your body into burning more fat instead of sugar for fuel. The interesting aspect about eating first thing in the morning is that it coincides with your circadian cortisol peak, that is, the time of day when your cortisol (a stress hormone) levels rise and reach their peak.
The circadian cortisol peak impacts your insulin secretion, such that when you eat during this time it leads to a rapid and large insulin release and a corresponding rapid drop in blood sugar levels, more so than when you eat at other times of the day.
If you're healthy, your blood sugar levels won't drop to a dangerously low level (such as can occur with hypoglycemia) but they can drop low enough to make you feel hungry. So, although skipping breakfast goes against the conventional idea that you should not skip meals, omitting breakfast could actually make it easier for you to control food cravings and hunger throughout the day.
That said, there are also many other reasons to consider skipping breakfast, including its beneficial affect on your levels of human growth hormone (HGH). Personally, I revised my personal eating schedule to eliminate breakfast and restrict the time I eat to a period of about six to seven hours—typically from noon to 6 or 7 pm. I typically exercise in the morning, and most of the time I am fasting, as exercising while in a fasted state has been shown to produce many beneficial changes.
In the first few months of adopting this approach, I lost two inches from my waist size and gained three pounds, which means I lost body fat and gained muscle mass. The most amazing benefit that intermittent fasting produced is that it shifted me to fat-burning mode, which was one of the most amazing and radical health transformations I have ever experienced. Once you are truly shifted to primarily fat-burning mode your hunger dramatically decreases and your desire for unhealthy processed junk foods virtually disappears. You then don't have to have much discipline or will power to follow a healthy eating plan, as your hunger for unhealthy carbs is just not there.
However, it is important to remember that skipping breakfast is a process, not an action. You don't simply stop eating breakfast one day and reap all the benefits. It is a major commitment that may come with some discomfort, and it typically takes several weeks to successfully transition from being a primary carb burner to using fat as your primary fuel. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to eat breakfast or not, but if you do choose to eat it, remember that it should include fiber and healthy fats, making the avocado and egg recipe above an ideal option.
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