It’s normal for people to sometimes feel sad, disappointed or disheartened, especially when they experience low points in their life. However, these “blues” usually go away when any happy circumstances occur.
But in some people, this low mood becomes persistent and lasts a long time — for weeks, months or even years. And if it comes with other hallmark symptoms, such as lack of interest in enjoyable activities, a feeling of hopelessness or thoughts about self-harm or even suicide, then watch out: You may be suffering from depression.
Depression Defined: Know the Facts
The Mayo Clinic defines depression, also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), as "a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” This debilitating condition affects you entirely — how you behave, think and feel — and paves the way for emotional and physical problems to arise. Depressed individuals usually struggle with completing their day-to-day tasks, feeling as if there’s no more point in living.1
Depression is a widespread global problem, with over 300 million people dealing with this severe mood disorder today.3 Even in developed, industrialized countries, depression is rampant. In fact, in the United States, between 2013 and 2016, 8.1 percent of Americans who were 20 years old and older suffered from depression in a given two-week period.4
This Disorder Is Now a Prevalent Problem
Depression is not a simple condition that you can “snap out of.” If not addressed immediately, it can damage your physical health, leading to low immunity and worsened pain, or worse, substance abuse. According to a study published in Current Opinion in Psychiatry, up to 33 percent of people suffering from clinical depression are prone to drug or alcohol problems.5
Even more alarming is the link between depression and suicide. According to the American Association of Suicidology, depression is the psychiatric diagnosis that is most commonly linked to suicide.6 It’s said that 30 to 70 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from major depression or bipolar disorder.7,8
Keep an Eye Out for the Signs — Before It’s Too Late
Depression does not discriminate between gender, race or social status. Anyone can be predisposed to it. Given its potentially dangerous effects, it’s only wise to take the necessary precautions to address and treat this disorder before it spirals out of control. But a word to the wise: Antidepressants and other medications are NOT the best solution for depression, and may even have more debilitating and long-term side effects.
Read these articles and learn important facts about depression, including its hallmark symptoms, devastating effects and how to avoid it. Plus, learn natural yet useful remedies that will help alleviate this disorder but will not put you at risk for side effects, unlike conventional antidepressant medications. Stay informed now, so you can avoid or address this mental disorder immediately.
Risotto is one of the many Italian dishes that have made their way into the hearts of thousands, even millions, of people around the world. A common staple food in Italy, risotto has been around for hundreds of years, starting from the point when rice was introduced to the region.
Although risotto is traditionally made with grain, changes in the recipe are now being done, giving you a surplus of healthier and tastier variations. One example is this delicious, no-grain butternut squash “risotto” from Felicia Lim of Paleohacks.
Butternut Squash Cauliflower Risotto
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and divided
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried garlic and parsley mix
Salt to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Toss the cubed butternut squash with 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking tray.
Roast for 40 minutes, flipping over the squash halfway through.
While the squash is cooking, make the cauliflower rice by placing the florets in a food processor and pulsing them into the size of rice.
Melt the remaining coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
Mix in the cauliflower rice and sauté for two minutes. Add the water, bay leaves, dried garlic and parsley. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
Once the butternut squash is ready, mix it into the cauliflower risotto until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Add salt. Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
What Is Risotto?
Being one of the top producers of rice in Europe, it’s no surprise that this grain is a main ingredient in a number of Italian recipes, including arancini and risotto. One common misconception: The term “risotto” does not directly refer to the grain used, but refers to the process in which the grain is cooked.
The traditional way that risotto is prepared is by using good quality rice and broth. The slow cooking process allows the rice to fully absorb the broth, lending it a rather creamy and flavorful taste.
Risotto is traditionally made with short, starchy rice, with Arborio and Carnaroli being two of the most popular choices. However, if you want to make a gluten-free dish, cauliflower works as a great substitute.
Why Cauliflower Is a Worthy Substitute for Rice
While rice itself contains specific nutritional components, it may also pose risks, especially if high amounts are eaten regularly, as it has been shown to increase postprandial blood glucose response. Cauliflower, on the other hand, has proven to be a deserving substitute not just for its rice-like texture, but also due to its nutrient density. In fact, cauliflower contains a surplus of flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants, which may help combat numerous body conditions. Some of the benefits you may get from cauliflower include:
Reduced inflammation: Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory component that may help inhibit inflammatory responses in the body. In a 2017 animal study, it was found that cauliflower leaf powder supplementation may help animals combat inflammation and oxidative stress.
Lower risk for cancer: Cruciferous vegetables have been linked to cancer prevention due to their bioactive compounds, one of which is sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been found to be chemoprotective by facilitating a cytotoxic response in cancer cells.
Enhanced brain development in babies in-utero: Cauliflower contains high amounts of choline, a component that is essential for brain development. In a 2004 study, it was found that prenatal choline supplementation may promote the development of hippocampal pyramidal cells and, in turn, improve memory and other brain functions in adulthood.
Get These Benefits From Butternut Squash
Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is a variety of winter squash that is loaded with numerous nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A and C. Some of the benefits that you may get if you decide to try out this recipe are:
Aids in digestion. A 1-cup serving (205 grams) of butternut squash contains 6.6 grams of fiber, which may help improve digestion and fight constipation.
May combat macular degeneration. Butternut squash contains high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients may help slow down or stop the progression of macular degeneration by fighting oxidative stress.
Helps maintain heart health. A cup of butternut squash contains 582 mg of potassium, a mineral that has been found to regulate blood pressure.
Follow These Tips to Choose the Right Squash
A lot of people might find it extremely hard to pick just the right squash since the ripening process is opposite to that of other fruits or vegetables. However, if you’re not entirely sure how to pick one out, there’s nothing to worry about. Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure that you get just the right vegetable for this recipe:
Choose a squash that has a firm and matte exterior. Unlike other fruits, the exterior of a squash hardens the more it ripens.
Knock on the squash’s skin to check for ripeness. Ripe squashes usually sound hollow, while unripe ones sound dull.
Avoid squashes that have a moldy stem, cracks or soft spots. This usually means that the squash is already overripe and unfit for consumption.
Another thing to note is that winter squashes were found to contain high pesticide residue, which means that they absorb more pesticides compared to other fruits and vegetables. So, if you’re planning on shopping for squashes for this recipe, it would be best that you go for organic ones. Better yet, you can make your way to your local farmers market where you can ensure the quality and source of the produce you’ll be eating.
Why Should You Use Coconut Oil for Cooking?
The abundance of cooking oils available in the market today may make it hard for you to determine what the safest or healthiest option is. The good news is that you don’t have to look far and wide to search for the perfect oil to cook with, as the best one is actually widely available, albeit it’s been demonized by the food industry for a number of years.
Coconut oil has been around for hundreds of years, with people using it for dietary or personal care purposes. Because of the impressive components found in coconut oil, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil offers a handful of health benefits you can get once you make the switch. Coconut oil may help:
Improve brain function. Coconut oil contains high levels of medium-chain fatty acids, which are readily absorbed and converted into ketones. Ketones are used as a healthy fuel alternative for the brain, reducing its dependence on glucose. MCT supplementation has also been linked to better cognitive function in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Protect you from cardiovascular diseases. Although coconut oil has been claimed to heighten your risk for cardiovascular disease, scientific studies prove otherwise. In fact, a 2016 study showed that the reduction of saturated fat intake had little impact in reducing mortality caused by cardiovascular disease. In addition, coconut oil has been found to increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels, which may lower heart disease risk.
Combat harmful pathogens in the gut. The overgrowth of G. albicans, a fungal pathogen that may infect the GI tract and cause bloodstream infection, may be controlled by coconut oil, according to an animal study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism journal.
This Butternut Squash Risotto Is a Delicious and Nutrient-Filled Dish for Your Family
As a popular dish, risotto may be one of the recipes that’s hard to tweak because of its distinct texture and flavor profile. However, this has not stopped cooks and chefs from around the world from changing it up, paving the way for healthier options, which include this Butternut Squash Risotto recipe. If you’re tired of the usual risotto they serve at Italian restaurants or you just want to prepare something new for yourself or your family, this recipe would be perfect.
It’s also important to learn how to cook this vegetable properly. Fortunately, there are several different methods you can try. Read my article, “How to Cook Butternut Squash,” for more helpful tips.
About the Blog: Paleohacks is one of the largest Paleo communities on the web. They offer everything Paleo, from a Q&A forum where users get their top health questions answered, to a community blog featuring daily recipes, workouts and wellness content. You can also tune in to their podcast, where they bring in the top experts in the Paleo world to share the latest, cutting-edge health information.
Dr. Mercola Interviews Paul Connett on Recent Updates Against Water Fluoridation - YouTube
By Dr. Mercola
In this interview, Paul Connett, PhD, toxicologist, environmental chemist and the founder FAN, Fluoride Action Network (FAN), an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from water supplies across the world, provides an important and exciting update on FAN's progress during this past year. FAN is an organization that has fought to remove toxic fluoride from the water supply across the world.
Over the past 18 years, FAN has helped hundreds of communities around the US, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Israel and New Zealand fight the reckless and unethical practice of water fluoridation.
Unprecedented Lawsuit Against EPA
In November 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individual mothers, filed a petition calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to the drinking water under provisions in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
The petition included more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health, including more than 180 studies published since 2006 showing fluoride causes neurotoxic harm and reduces IQ.
"Under the TSCA, the EPA has authority to ban the uses of chemicals that present unreasonable risks to the general public or to susceptible subpopulations. We've brought this case on the grounds that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable risk to the general public, especially to some susceptible subpopulations," Connett explains.
In its February 27, 2017, response,1 the EPA claimed the petition had failed to "set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride." Fortunately, the TSCA statute provides citizens with the ability to challenge an EPA denial in federal court, which is where we are now.
"Water fluoridation needs to end," Connett says. "The United States needs to follow the path of Europe and take fluoride out of the water supply. Those who want it can get it in toothpaste and dental products, which gives everyone the right to choose whether they want to use fluoride or not.
We can apply fluoride in a targeted fashion to the one tissue of the body that stands to benefit — the teeth — and keep it away from everywhere else, particularly to the brain. The focus of our lawsuit is on fluoride's effects on the brain, for which there is a large and growing body of research."
Federal Judge to Assess Fluoride Hazards
The current White House administration has vigorously opposed federal regulatory actions and has already reversed many of the environmental safety precautions previously established. This raises serious questions with regard to fluoride, because even if the lawsuit against the EPA turns out to be successful, the Trump administration could easily do something to eliminate its impact. While this is certainly a risk, Connett explains the importance of this historic case.
"One of the reasons we are excited about having this case now in federal court is that it takes this issue away from the federal health agencies, which have really been unable to get past the dogma on this issue.
Here, we have a federal judge who's going to look at the evidence. What's powerful about this TSCA statute, is it commands that the judge not defer to the EPA. The judge can't simply say, 'It's good enough for the EPA, it's good enough for me.' The language in the statute says that it is to be a de novo proceeding, meaning without deference to the federal agency.
Not only that, but we had a lengthy argument earlier this year where EPA tried to limit the scope of what we could bring to the court's attention. The judge denied that motion. We are going to be able to get discovery against the EPA. We're going to be able to request internal documents. We're going to be able to submit interrogatories to them and depose their experts.
It's going to be a nice fact-finding mission for us, in addition to having an opportunity to have the best evidence presented by the best experts before this federal judge. If the judge agrees with us [and] finds that there's an unreasonable risk, he has the authority to order EPA to begin proceedings to eliminate the risk of fluoride in drinking water. That would be a truly historic and unprecedented situation. We really are excited about the potential that this case brings."
Help Fund Legal Action to End Water Fluoridation
The trial date has been set for August 2019. While Michael is recruiting experts to testify in this case FAN continues its campaign to educate the public of fluoridation's dangers, especially the threat it poses to the developing brain.
In May FAN launched an urgent campaign to warn women to avoid fluoride during pregnancy in response to a major US government funded study which found a strong correlation between fluoride exposure during pregnancy and lowered IQ in offspring (Bashash et al, 2017 and Thomas et al, 2018).
The government and the media should be issuing these warnings but they aren't. So FAN – a relatively small non-profit organization – has taken on this huge task itself. Please help fund this important campaign by making a tax-deductible donation to FAN.
FAN's contention in this case is that adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water presents an unreasonable health risk. If the court agrees, the judge would order EPA to initiate a rule-making proceeding to eliminate that risk. And, while the judge cannot tell the EPA exactly what to do, the most obvious solution that would eliminate this risk would be to no longer add fluoride to drinking water.
Now, there are many powerful organizations that still support water fluoridation, including the American Dental Association (ADA), which supports not only fluoridation but also mercury fillings. The ADA has become quite notorious for ignoring the risks of toxic substances. With that in mind, Connett suspects that if FAN wins the case, there will be a rash of lobbying and pressure on the EPA to find a way to address the problem without actually banning fluoridation outright.
"We can cross that bridge when we get to it, but the EPA potentially could consider lowering the fluoride levels even further," he says. "But I think, really, if the judge finds that there's unreasonable risk, the one real solution that fixes the problem is just banning fluoridation. That's what the United States should be doing …
Western Europe demonstrates to us that this is possible. Countries like the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, they used to fluoridate some of their water supplies, but they decided to end the practice. Western Europe shows us that we can do it here as well.
When you couple the new research linking low-level fluoride exposures to adverse effects on the brain with the fact that we now know you don't need to swallow fluoride for the one benefit it may provide, then it makes no sense to be forcing hundreds of millions of people to swallow this every day — not just through their water supply, but also through the foods and beverages that our water is used for."
Water Fluoridation Gives False Appearance of Dental Care
One of the reasons why it's so important to eliminate water fluoridation is because this chemical is very difficult to remove. You can remove some or a significant amount using distillation, reverse osmosis and special filtration media, but the vast majority of water filters that people have access to will not remove fluoride. So, you might filter your water, thinking you've purified it, but you haven't eliminated one of the most significant hazards.
A primary target population for fluoridation is low-income communities, on the grounds that they have less access to dentists and are therefore in greater need of dental care. However, water fluoridation in no way, shape or form addresses this very real need. Adding fluoride chemicals to the drinking water is not dental care. As noted by Connett, "It's an illusion of dental care." What's worse, low-income populations are also more likely to suffer the ill effects of fluoride, as few can afford to buy expensive water filtration systems.
"There's plenty of reason to believe that lower income populations will be more vulnerable to fluoride's toxicity, because we know that good nutrition and healthy diets are critical to making one less susceptible to fluoride's toxicity," Connett says. "Having inadequate levels of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, protein — those are things we know can cause you to be more susceptible to suffering harm from fluoride.
We know that deficient nutrient intakes are more common in low-income populations, as well as certain diseases, like kidney disease and diabetes. Both of which make one more susceptible to fluoride toxicity, [yet] lower income populations are the very population targeted with fluoridation campaigns today. It's a very problematic situation."
What's Motivating the Promoters of Fluoridation?
Considering the evidence against fluoride, you might wonder what the motivation for the promoters might be. Just what incentives do the ADA and other industries have for continuing to promote it? One major factor is simply organizational and political inertia. Fluoride has been vigorously promoted as a health promoting tactic for decades. It's extremely difficult for those organizations to now change their tune and admit they were wrong this whole time, and have actually caused people harm.
In the early days of water fluoridation, there were of course political and financial incentives. Chris Bryson's book, "The Fluoride Deception," reveals the role the war-making industries in the U.S. — the aluminum, steel and bomb industry in the '30s, '40s and '50s — and their role in funding fluoride research.
"They had every interest in the world to not find fluoride to be harmful at low levels, because they were exposing workers and communities to fluoride pollution," Connett says. "They were the very people funding a lot of the key early research to explain how fluoride affects human health.
I think you had a corruption of the science early on in this issue. But the question of 'Why do we fluoridate water?' Honestly, it's a hard question. It's a complex question. I think there are a lot of people who absolutely and genuinely believe it's a good thing."
One of the most encouraging developments we're now seeing is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding much-needed studies looking at how fluoride affects the brain at low levels. The first NIH-funded paper was published last fall by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Michigan, Harvard and Indiana University. In the past, most of these kinds of safety studies were done by ardent pro-fluoridation advocates.
"There was a pretty vigorous suppression of scientific dissent in the early days of fluoridation. Today, we're seeing the emergence of independent researchers who now have the means to study this issue. We're starting to see the emergence of a more vigorous academic debate. I think that's a really important development … that will help us get out of the politics," Connett says.
How Fluoride Affects Your Brain and Thyroid
As noted by Connett, there are more than 50 human population studies that have linked elevated fluoride levels with neurological effects, particularly lower IQ. More than 200 animal studies also support this link, showing fluoride has adverse effects on the brain, including detrimental effects on learning and memory. The evidence quite clearly shows that fluoride is a neurotoxin. The evidence also shows fluoride is an endocrine disruptor.
The question is at what doses do such effects occur, and how do these doses vary based on individual susceptibility? According to Connett, the evidence suggests brain effects occur at doses that are very close to what many Americans are getting on a daily basis.
More than 20 papers have found effects of fluoride exposure on IQ at around 2 parts per million (ppm), and in the U.S., the recommended fluoride level in water is 0.7 ppm. "It's within the factor of 3. That's a pretty small margin," Connett notes, because you're also getting it from other foods and beverages, plus fluoridated toothpaste.
Fluoride also affects your thyroid gland. In fact, in the '50s and '60s, fluoride was used as a drug to lower thyroid activity in patients with overactive thyroid.
By adding fluoride to water, it may be lowering thyroid function in people with normal or underactive thyroid, leading to hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism, which carries a range of significant health effects, including obesity, heart disease and depression. We also know that suboptimal thyroid functioning during pregnancy can affect a child's cognitive development, so this may actually be one of the mechanisms by which fluoride affects the brain.
Fluoride Also Harms Your Teeth and Bones
Systemic fluoride also damages teeth, causing staining and pitting of the enamel known as dental fluorosis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 58 percent of American adolescents now have some form of dental fluorosis.
"Tens of millions of kids now have dental fluorosis, which is a visible sign of overexposure," Connett says. "Which begs the question, 'If fluoride is affecting the tooth-forming cells and causing this visible effect, what is it doing to the tissues in the body that we can't see?' [The high rate of fluorosis today] highlights that we're getting way more fluoride than was ever envisioned by the proponents of fluoridation back in the '40s and '50s.
When they started fluoridation back in the 1940s and '50s, the proponents of the policy … stated that they wanted to keep the level of dental fluorosis in the population to no more than 10 to 15 percent of children, and only in its mildest forms. Beyond that [it] would be a public health issue, they said. Fast-forward 70 years to where we are today, and you have 58 percent of American adolescents … with dental fluorosis.
We are far past the level that the proponents — not the opponents — considered permissible and acceptable when the policy began.
We really need to take a step back and look at this and say, 'Is there any need whatsoever to be supplementing every person's daily intake of fluoride by adding it en masse to water supplies and, with it, all our processed foods and beverages?' There's simply no need, because it's so easy to get fluoride. If you want it, you just … buy toothpaste with fluoride in it."
As for your bones, fluoride has somewhat paradoxical effects. While it tends to increase the density of trabecular bone in the spine, it decreases the bone density in cortical bone, which is more prevalent in the appendicular skeleton such as leg and arm bones, as well as the hip.
And, while the density might be increased in certain types of bone, the new bone structure is structurally inferior bone that is more prone to fracture. "I think U.S. health authorities were premature to dismiss concerns about fluoride's effects on the bone. I think that remains a substantial concern with the current exposures," Connett says.
The word “gluten” has become such a buzzword in recent years, most likely because of the sudden popularity of the gluten-free diet that’s been endorsed by famous personalities. Before you consider trying this diet, read this page first to learn about gluten, and how it can negatively impact your body and health in the long run.
What Is Gluten?
A type of protein, gluten is composed of glutenin and gliadin molecules that form an elastic bond when mixed with water. Gluten is highly noted for its adhesive abilities that can maintain a compact structure for holding bread and cakes together, and providing a spongier texture. This ability isn’t surprising, considering that the word “gluten” is derived from the Latin word for “glue.”
While it does wonders for these foods, the same cannot be said for your body. Research has shown that gluten can be quite harmful for you because of the vast range of complications it might cause (more on this to come in a while).
What Does Gluten Do to Your Body?
A major caveat linked to gluten is its tendency to impede proper nutrient breakdown and absorption from foods, regardless if they have gluten or not. This may prevent proper digestion because excess gluten leads to the formation of a glued-together constipating lump in the gut. Afterward, the undigested gluten prompts the immune system to attack the villi, or the fingerlike projections lining your small intestine.1 This may lead to side effects such as diarrhea or constipation, nausea and abdominal pain.
Excessive gluten consumption and further small intestine damage and inflammation may predispose a person to nutrient malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis, other neurological or psychological diseases, and complications linked to the skin, liver, joints, nervous system and more.
What Are the Types of Food That Contain Gluten?
Gluten is predominantly found in whole grains like rye, barley, triticale and oats; in wheat varieties like spelt, kamut, farro, durum; and in other products like bulgar and semolina.2 Wheat-based flours and byproducts that also contain high quantities of this protein include:3,4,5,6
• White flour
• Whole wheat flour
• Graham flour
• Wheat germ
• Wheat bran
• Bread, bread crumbs and croutons
• Flour tortillas
• Cookies, cakes, muffins and pastries
• Gravy, dressings and sauces
• Conventional oats (these have a high chance of being contaminated during the growing, harvesting or processing stages
If there’s another compelling reason why you shouldn’t eat processed foods, it’s because these items often contain gluten. Here are examples of foods with gluten, even though they’re not made from grains:7,8
Common Signs of a ‘Gluten Allergy’ You Should Watch Out For
Consuming too much gluten can prompt various complications, such as a gluten allergy, wherein the immune system produces “weapons” to combat gluten in your system. However, a gluten allergy is not to be confused with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity16 or celiac disease.17 It is quite similar to other food allergies, since these are all responses to a particular allergen. Some of the most common gluten allergy symptoms are:
Tightness of throat
Tongue and/or throat swelling
A metallic taste in your mouth
As the book “Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies” further highlights, a gluten allergy may lead to adverse effects such as anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock that may affect different organs. People may experience agitation, hives, breathing problems, reduced blood pressure levels, fainting or even death, if the reaction is very severe.18
Warning Signs of Gluten Intolerance
Should the immune system have an unusual response to gluten in your system, then it might be a sign that you have gluten intolerance.19 Sometimes it can be mistaken for celiac disease (another gluten-related disorder) or a wheat allergy.20 The root cause of a gluten intolerance is not fully understood, although it has been linked to the digestive system, compared to celiac disease where a genetic link has been found.21
Typical gluten intolerance symptoms include bloating, belly pain, diarrhea, tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell. Someone with a gluten intolerance might also experience these indicators, although these are less frequent and already affect areas beyond the gut:
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. This will help you determine whether you have gluten intolerance or if the symptoms occur because of other health reasons. This greatly applies if you or someone you know has severe belly pain. An extreme stomachache is not a sign of gluten intolerance, so it might be due to another potentially devastating disease that may require immediate treatment.
Having gut-related symptoms checked immediately may be helpful too, as numerous conditions that target the gut can overlap with other diseases. Fortunately, these can be examined during a checkup and your doctor may rule out other causes. Take note that symptoms of gluten intolerance are generally similar to those of celiac disease, although the reactions that people with these conditions experience aren’t identical.
To diagnose a gluten intolerance, it’s important that you continue eating your usual meals, especially if it’s abundant in foods with gluten. This could help the doctor determine the main cause of the symptoms. An inaccurate diagnosis might occur if the patient decides to stop eating gluten-loaded foods prior to, or during, a consultation.22
Common Indicators of Gluten Sensitivity
In various studies, gluten sensitivity is also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) as celiac disease patients are sensitive to gluten too. The difference between a gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is that the former may be triggered not just by wheat, but by other grains like rye and barley, too, as these grains are known to have the glutenin and gliadin proteins (or protein fragments) also found in wheat.23
Typical symptoms of gluten sensitivity include nausea, skin irritation, bloating and gas, brain fog and fatigue. However, these indicators can widely vary and may also occur alongside gynecologic conditions, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome.24
Because there is no specific laboratory test for gluten sensitivity, your physician will have to rule out other possible causes. In some cases, patients may need to be checked for wheat allergy or celiac disease. Should test results be negative, a gluten-free diet may be advised.25 However, if any of the aforementioned tests deliver positive results, then you may want to continue eating gluten-rich foods for a more accurate diagnosis.26
Why a Gluten-Free Diet Works
A gluten-free diet is an important course of action for combating gluten-related disorders, and picking gluten-free foods is the first step in doing so. Because there are foods that are incorrectly labeled “gluten-free,” it may be quite tricky at first to select the correct items. A set of guidelines on proper gluten-free labeling standards released in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may help. The organization states that for a food product to bear the gluten-free label and be considered such, it must be:
• Naturally gluten-free: Rice, non-GMO corn, quinoa, sorghum, flax and amaranth seed are naturally gluten-free grains.
• Refined to remove gluten: Gluten must be removed from any gluten-containing grain. As such, the final product should not contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Extreme vigilance is only likely if you have celiac disease, since exposure to gluten can cause sickness and threaten your health in the long run. What’s great about a gluten-free diet is that nearly everyone can benefit from it, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. Grains, even whole sprouted varieties, tend to cause many problems because of the following factors:
Other wheat proteins
Milling or baking process
Grains have high net carbs, so removing them from your diet can help improve mitochondrial function. Taking care of your mitochondrial health is important if you want to reduce your risk for problems linked to insulin resistance, such as being overweight and having high blood pressure levels, as well as diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Prior to beginning a gluten-free diet, consult a dietitian or health expert who can give advice on how to effectively avoid foods with gluten while eating a healthy and balanced diet.27
Best Foods to Eat if Following a Gluten-Free Diet
Once you’re given the go-signal to try a gluten-free diet, stock up on these natural and unprocessed foods:28,29
Beans (provided that you try to sprout and/or ferment your beans to reduce its lectin content, which may negatively impact your health in the long run)
Organic and grass fed meats that aren’t breaded, batter-coated or marinated
Fish (wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and herring) that aren’t breaded, batter-coated or marinated
Organically grown, GMO-free fruits and vegetables
Raw, grass fed milk or yogurt
Healthy fat sources (raw grass fed butter, coconuts and coconut oil, olives and olive oil and avocados)
If you think going on a gluten-free diet limits eating choices and preparations, you’d be surprised to know that it won’t. Type “gluten-free recipes” on a search engine and you’ll see a wide variety of gluten-free recipes, ranging from savory to sweet. A good and delicious example is this Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes Recipe from MindBodyGreen:30
Coconut Flour Almond Meal Pancakes Recipe
1/2 cup Dr. Mercola's coconut flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 organic, pastured eggs
1 tablespoon Dr. Mercola's coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw cow's milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of Dr. Mercola's Himalayan salt
1 to 2 tablespoons organic, raw grass fed butter, plus more for serving
Pure maple syrup to drizzle (optional)
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients: the eggs, coconut oil, milk and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. (If it feels a little dry, add more milk until it reaches the consistency you're after).
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt, then add scoops of batter (about a 1/4 cup each) for silver dollar pancakes. Cook for about a minute on each side until golden brown. Slather with butter and drizzle maple syrup as desired.
This recipe makes about 16 small pancakes.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Additional Reminders When Following a Gluten-Free Diet
Gluten Free & More magazine highlights these important tips for people who are following a gluten-free diet:31
• Read labels carefully: Knowing how to read labels properly will greatly help if you’re following a gluten-free diet. Ideally, never assume something is gluten-free even if the word “gluten” isn’t anywhere in the list.32 As mentioned earlier, some manufacturers purposely use other names to hide gluten in their products.
• If you’re in doubt, don’t buy the product: If you cannot verify that the product is free of grains, don’t buy or eat it at all. The same principle applies if you cannot find an ingredients list on the product.
• Remember that being wheat-free doesn’t automatically make a food gluten-free: This is because spelt, rye or barley-based ingredients, all of which contain gluten, may be used in products with a wheat-free label on them.
• Introduce new foods slowly: Ensure that you incorporate only one new food at a time, and take note of symptoms before adding another item.
• Be a “food detective”: Call, email or write a letter to a food manufacturer to verify a product’s ingredients. Take note of the ingredient and the lot number of the food. Once you are in touch with a representative, clearly state your concerns and be persistent, polite and patient.
This natural phenomenon takes place once every 29.53 days, or roughly once a month. As it did in March 2018, it sometimes appears twice a month. It occurs when the moon is completely illuminated by the sun's rays as a result of the Earth being nearly directly aligned between the sun and the moon. By now, you probably know what it is: a full moon.
Urban legend suggests the full moon brings out the worst in both people and situations. If you talk to emergency room (ER) personnel, firefighters, paramedics and police officers, they very likely will share a story or two about the “lunacy” that occurs on nights when the sky is enlivened by a full moon.
By the way, the word lunacy and a related term “lunatic,” which was coined in the mid-16th century to refer to a temporary insanity in humans attributable to changes in the moon, have their origin in the Latin root “luna,” which means moon.
According to Scientific American, “Belief in the ‘lunar lunacy effect,’ or ‘Transylvania effect,’ as it is sometimes called, persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were widely reputed to transmogrify into werewolves or vampires during a full moon.”1 But is it true? Does a full moon negatively affect human behavior? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.
The Full Moon Has Been Said to Cause Accidents, Crimes, Suicides and More
Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, has compiled research highlighting possible links between a full moon and human behavior. Below are the major categories of activities and experiences noted by Chudler that have been associated with increased activity during a full moon:2
According to Chudler, while urban legend persists, the scientific results related to how full moons affect human behavior are somewhat inconclusive. He states:3
“Perhaps one of the first things you notice about [lunar] studies is that the results are inconsistent. Some studies show a particular behavior will occur more often during the full moon and other studies show no relationship between the behavior and the full moon.
Although most experiments fail to show a relationship between the phase of the moon and abnormal behavior, the belief in the ‘lunar effect’ is still strong among many people. Unfortunately, the occasional newspaper story that describes strange behaviors during a full moon only reinforces this myth.”
German Researchers Debunk Influence of Friday the 13th, Full Moons and Zodiac Signs
While anecdotal evidence may suggest a full moon triggers strange human behavior, such as more ER visits, more psychiatric admissions and more traffic accidents, the scientific evidence doesn’t seem to support the belief there is a so-called “dark side of the moon” when it is full.4
For example, a 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery suggests that while a significant portion of medical staff believe lunar phases can affect human behavior, the evidence does not support such a conclusion. The study authors said:5
“The influence of superstition, moon calendars and popular belief on evidence-based medicine is stunning. More than 40 percent of medical staff is convinced that lunar phases can affect human behavior. The idea that Friday the 13th is associated with adverse events and bad luck is deep-rooted in the population of Western industrialized countries. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that these myths are transferable to real-life surgery.”
After analyzing operation records of nearly 28,000 patients who underwent some type of surgery during a nine-year period from August 2001 and August 2010 — a period punctuated by 111 full moons — researchers at University Hospitals of Saarland in Homburg/Saar, Germany, found patient characteristics did not differ with respect to lunar phases, zodiac signs or occurrences of Friday the 13th. The study authors said:6
“Full moon phases, the presence of Friday the 13th and zodiac signs influenced neither intraoperative blood loss nor emergency frequency. No statistical peaks regarding perforated aortic aneurysms and gastrointestinal perforations were found on a full moon or Friday the 13th.
Scientific analysis of our data does not support the belief that moon phases, zodiac signs or Friday 13th influence surgical blood loss and emergency frequency. Our data indicate such beliefs are myths and far beyond reality.”
Research Aside, Doctors and Police Subscribe to ‘Full Moon Madness’
Regardless of the scientific evidence, many doctors, such as Dr. John Becher, past president of the American Osteopathic Association and current treasurer of their board of trustees, believe the full moon has a very real effect on the ER. Having practiced emergency medicine for nearly 40 years, including more than 30 years as residency director of emergency medicine at the former City Avenue Hospital and Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Becher noticed changes in the 11-bed psychiatric emergency center area during full moons.
“You could almost tell the phase of the moon by how crowded that area … was,” says Becher. “Anytime the moon was full, that area was overflowing.”7 Dr. Paul Allegretti, program director for emergency medicine residency at Midwestern University-Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Illinois, also believes the ER seems busier when the moon is full. “I think people are sicker and it seems like more unusual things happen when the moon is full, though I don’t think I could ever prove it,” he says.8
According to BBC News, police in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after research in 2007 suggested an increase in violent incidents when the moon was full.9 The late Andy Parr, a Brighton inspector, said, "From my experience, over 19 years of being a police officer, undoubtedly on full moons, we do seem to get people with … stranger behavior [who are] more fractious [and] argumentative. And I think that's something that's been borne out by police officers up and down the country for years."10
Not All Doctors Are Convinced the Full Moon Matters
A 2004 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Science11 suggests a full moon has little or no direct bearing on ER admissions. Researchers from the Sina Trauma and Surgery Research Center in Tehran analyzed more than 54,000 patient cases, representing trauma admissions to three Tehran-based hospitals, during a 13-month time period. About the relationship between rate of admissions and full moons, the study authors said:12
“In our study the number of trauma patients was not increased during the full moon days [as compared to] other days of the lunar month. Statistical analyses of data didn't exhibit a positive relationship between full moon days and increased trauma patient admission to ERs. An association between assault and attempted suicide was not observed around the full moon days either … and [neither was there an] increase in severity of traumatic injury sustained during full moon days.”
In terms of anecdotal evidence, the aptly named Dr. Eric Moon, an ER physician who has more than 12 years’ experience working the night shift at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago, ascribes little value to urban legends linking medical events and full moons.
“For as long as I’ve worked in the emergency department, whenever there’s a full moon, invariably someone will make a comment about how it’s going to be a rough night,” he said. While his co-workers buy into the full moon myth, Moon thinks attempts to link lunar phases with ER work have little merit. “We frequently have crazy nights in the ER when the moon is full because that’s just the nature of the ER, no matter what phase the moon is in,” he noted.13
Dental Events Also Shown to Be Unaffected by Lunar Cycles
While you may hear a lot about how a full moon can affect physical health, what might its effects be on oral health? Can a full moon impact what’s going on inside your mouth? A 2015 study published in BMC Oral Health14 suggests there is no observable relationship between the occurrence of odontogenic abscesses (OA), also known as tooth abscesses, and lunar phases.
In the study, a group of German researchers analyzed the records of more than 1200 patients who experienced a dental emergency during 2012. All patients were surgically treated at the AllDent Dental Center emergency unit in Munich. The incidence of tooth abscess was correlated to “daily meteorological data, biosynoptic weather analysis and cyclic lunar activity.” Based on their analysis, the study authors concluded:15
“There was no seasonal variation in OA incidence. None of the meteorological parameters, lunar phases or biosynoptic weather classes were significantly correlated with OA incidence, except the mean barometric pressure, which was weakly correlated … There is no evidence supporting a correlation between the incidence of OA and the weather or lunar activities.”
Can a Full Moon Affect Your Sleep?
If you’ve ever wondered if a full moon affects your sleep, scientists from Switzerland’s University of Basel may have the answer. As noted in the journal Current Biology,16 their 3.5-day study involved 33 volunteers who were not told of the purpose of the research, nor could they see the moon from their beds. The research was conducted in a dark room inside a sleep lab under close supervision. In terms of a so-called “lunar influence” on sleep, during a full moon the researchers noted the participants:17
Took five minutes longer to fall asleep
Experienced 20 minutes less sleep, as assessed by an electroencephalogram (EEG)
Spent 30 percent less time in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) deep sleep, which was also assessed by EEG
The study authors noted those changes were associated with an overall decrease in subjective sleep quality as well as diminished endogenous melatonin levels. About the research, they stated, “This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues.”18
Professor Christian Cajochen, Ph.D., head of the center for chronobiology at the University of Basel and one of the study authors, added, "The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not see the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase."19
While some suggest poor sleep may come from the moon being brighter when it’s full, the current study controlled for brightness. This factor seems to suggest that you cannot manage potential full moon-related sleep issues simply by wearing an eye mask or using blackout curtains.
U.K. sleep expert Neil Stanley, Ph.D., says he found the University of Basel study intriguing. That said, he also believes more research is needed with a larger group of individuals over a longer period of time to substantiate any potential lunar effects on sleep. "It's one of those things you would instinctively believe, so to actually find an effect is interesting," he said. "Unfortunately, there has been no further research in this area since that study."20
Given the interest in blue moons and super moons these days, Stanley suggests some of the sleep issues linked to full moons might just be due to its brightness and size. After all, you are less likely to notice a crescent moon and therefore unlikely to attach your sleep problems to it. Such realities, he suggests, could be “an example of confirmation bias — where people are more likely to notice and remember information that fits with their beliefs.”21
The Bottom Line About a Full Moon’s Effects
As you can see, the opinions about how a full moon may affect human life vary widely. While anecdotal information suggests “the lunar effect” is real and is noticeable on a regular basis, scientific evidence fails to attribute clear physical cause.
The common perception that more accidents, crimes, medical emergencies, violence and other terrible events happen under a full moon are just that, perceptions. In an attempt to describe how people perceive a full moon, a pair of scientists coined the term “illusory correlation,” which Scientific American describes as:22
“[T]the perception of an association that does not in fact exist. Illusory correlations result in part from our mind’s propensity to attend to — and recall — most events better than nonevents. When there is a full moon and something decidedly odd happens, we usually notice it, tell others about it and remember it.
We do so because such co-occurrences fit with our preconceptions. In contrast, when there is a full moon and nothing odd happens, this nonevent quickly fades from our memory. As a result of our selective recall, we erroneously perceive an association between full moons and myriad bizarre events.”
As noted by The Washington Post, “No one has ever been able to show consistently, with multiple studies, that the full moon has any effect on behavior.”23 Until research is presented to overturn this fact, it’s best to simply enjoy a full moon as a natural wonder and object of beauty. In terms of any unusual events that may coincide with a full moon — I suggest you take them at face value and embrace them as part of the human experience as you would any other night, moon or no moon.
Hazards, Myths, and Science of EMFs: Oram Miller Interview Part-1/3 [HD] - YouTube
By Dr. Mercola
In the featured video, Xiren, host of Know How Things Work, interviews Oram Miller, building biology environmental consultant, electromagnetic radiation specialist in Los Angeles, and director of learning and development for the Institute for Building Biology and Ecology (IBE, www.hbelc.org).
Many of Miller’s clients have electromagnetic sensitivities, but some simply want to have as healthy an environment as possible. In some cases, he’ll assess electromagnetic field (EMF) levels in a home before the client purchases the home or moves into an office space. In addition to writing about the health hazards of EMF on his website, www.createhealthyhomes.com, Miller also lectures on this topic, and has been interviewed a number of times.
He also co-written a book called “Breathing Walls,”1 which details design protocols to avoid and eliminate mold and chemical outgassing in new and remodeled homes.
One key focus of this EMF interview, which is typically overlooked, is the importance of measuring electric fields and not just magnetic fields. Electric fields are sort of the “unknown EMF,” Miller says, but can have just as detrimental an effect on your health as other more well-known EMFs on everybody’s minds today.
Factors That Affect the Health of Your Home
As mentioned in this interview, a wide array of factors affect the health of your home — and you. This includes factors that affect indoor air quality, such as mold, chemical outgassing, radon, asbestos, lead, natural gas, carbon monoxide and more. Then there’s the EMF sources:
AC electric fields at 60 Hz (the “E” component of EMF) from house wiring and corded appliances (especially ungrounded ones; cords that have only two prongs rather than three)
AC Magnetic fields at 60 Hz (the “M” component of EMF) from power lines, wiring errors on house wiring, current on grounding paths, and from motors and transformers (“point sources”)
Radio frequencies (RF) from cellphones, smart meters, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in just about everything these days
Wiring errors, found in up to one-third of homes in the US, along with current on grounding paths such as incoming metal water service supply pipes and TV cables, are common sources of magnetic fields. IBE recommends a knowledgeable electrician and plumber to remediate and correct these problems.
Likewise, unshielded plastic-jacketed (Romex) wiring is a common source of another type of EMF, called electric fields, which are an unknown source of EMFs in all homes. Unfortunately, many in the EMF community don’t know that electric fields hide within their homes and often don’t look for them when measuring EMFs, Miller says.
Yet, electric fields have long been one of the most disease causing types of EMFs in homes over the decades (with wireless devices now fast catching up and dirty electricity also being widely present).
Electric and magnetic fields must be measured separately. Some of the EMF meters in use over the years have not been sensitive enough, measuring only extremely high electric fields that are far above what IBE considers dangerous. New combination EMF meters, fortunately, are now far more sensitive than older models when measuring electric and radio frequency fields.
When it comes to choosing a new home, three primary EMF sources that will cause Miller to tell a client to not purchase the home are:2 overhead or underground powerlines with excessively high magnetic fields (because shielding is not effective), a cell phone tower in close proximity, and/or ungrounded nonmetallic Romex circuits, which cause high electric fields and prevent the grounding of computers and appliances. Most other sources of EMFs can be mitigated, including EMFs from wiring errors, electric currents on grounding paths, and RFs from indoor and most outdoor wireless sources.
Health Effects of EMF Exposure
While skepticism still prevails, there’s extensive — and growing — research showing EMFs are harmful to human health. “There are considerable [biological] changes that occur,” Miller says. For example, research has shown EMFs:3
Create excess oxidative stress
EMFs activate voltage gated calcium channels located in the outer membrane of your cells.4,5,6,7,8 Once activated, the VGCCs open up, allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions into the cell. The excess calcium triggers a chemical cascade that results in the creation of peroxynitrites, extremely potent oxidant stressors believed to be a root cause for many of today’s chronic diseases.
Inside your body, peroxynitrites modify tyrosine molecules in proteins to create a new substance, nitrotyrosine and nitration of structural protein.9 Changes from nitration are visible in human biopsy of atherosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, inflammatory bowel disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and septic lung disease.10
Open the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins to enter your brain
Studies have shown EMFs cause DNA fragmentation. Significant oxidative stress from peroxynitrites may also result in single-strand breaks of DNA.11
Damage mitochondria, and impair proton flow and ATP production
The enzyme ATP synthase — which passes currents of protons through a water channel, similar to current passing through a wire — generates energy in the form ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons. Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the water channel to protons, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have system-wide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence.
Alter cellular function due to excessive charge
In a previous interview, Alasdair Philips, founder of Powerwatch,12 explained how EMF exposure alters cellular function by way of excessive charges. Essentially, the cell functions as a gel, held together by electric charge. When the charge becomes excessive due to a massive influx of electrons, the function of the cell is disrupted.
Raise the risk for abnormal cell growth and cancer, including leukemia and cancer of the brain, acoustic nerve, salivary gland, eyes, testes, thyroid and breast
As early as 2011, the evidence was strong enough for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, to declare cellphones a Group 2B “possible carcinogen.”13 Since then, a number of studies have found support for EMF having carcinogenic potential, including two recent government-funded studies.14,15,16
Has neurological effects
Studies dating back to the 1950s and ‘60s show the nervous system is the organ most sensitive to EMFs. Some of these studies show massive changes in the structure of neurons, including cell death and synaptic dysfunction. Consequences of chronic EMF exposure to the brain include anxiety, depression, autism and Alzheimer’s disease, which Martin Pall, Ph.D., details in a 2016 paper.17
Contributes to reproductive problems in both sexes
For example, prenatal exposure to magnetic fields can nearly triple a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage. Several other studies have come to similar conclusions.19,20,21,22,23 In men, studies show EMF radiation from cellphones and laptops reduces sperm motility and viability,24,25 and increases sperm DNA fragmentation.26
Alters your microbiome, turning what might otherwise be beneficial microbes pathogenic. This too can have far-ranging health effects, since we now know your microbiome plays an important role in health.
Why Some People Develop Symptoms and Others Don’t
Researchers agree that nearly all people exposed to EMFs are in fact biologically affected by them. However, only one-third develop symptoms. The difference between these individuals and the two-thirds that do not develop symptoms is that asymptomatic individuals still have the capacity to repair the cellular damage that is being incurred.
That doesn’t mean you’ll remain asymptomatic forever, though. Once the accumulated damage reaches a certain level, symptoms will begin to develop. Common warning signs and symptoms include ringing in the ears, dizziness, heart palpitations, headaches, insomnia, foggy thinking and chronic fatigue.
Over time, the cellular and mitochondrial damage being generated can set the stage and contribute to any number of health problems, including cancer. However, it’s important to remember that the primary hazard of EMFs, including cellphone radiation, is not cancer but, rather, systemic cellular and mitochondrial damage, which threatens health in general and can contribute to any number of health problems and chronic diseases.
Protecting Yourself From Excessive EMF Is Important for Optimal Health
There’s no doubt in my mind that EMF exposure is a significant health hazard that needs to be addressed — especially if you’re already struggling with chronic health issues, as your recovery will be severely hampered if your body is constantly assaulted by these unnatural fields. As stressed by Miller in this interview, be particularly mindful of electric fields, as these often get overlooked, as well as the many wireless devices you keep close to your body all day long.
The good news is there are a number of ways to reduce unnecessary exposure to EMFs — be they electric fields, magnetic fields, RF and/or dirty electricity — and many are quite inexpensive or free.
One of the best prevention strategies I've found so far is to reduce exposure to voltage transients that are on your electric wires typically in the 2 to 100 KHz range (commonly referred to as “dirty electricity”), while also reducing exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric field frequencies in the 60 Hz range. Both are especially important to do during sleep, as this is a most important time for your brain.
During deep sleep, your brain's glymphatic system is activated, allowing it to detoxify and eliminate accumulated waste products, including amyloid-beta proteins, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
In addition, 60 Hz AC electric fields from the hot (live) wire of plastic-jacketed circuits found in walls and floors extend 6 to 8 feet into a room, as well as from plastic power cords that you plug in. These electric fields encompass your entire body when you sleep, even when you shut lights off, as most beds are near a wall. They are not, however, as much of a problem for most healthy people in the daytime, except when you are near lamps or use ungrounded computers.
Electric fields come from voltage, not current, and pass right through sheetrock and plastic insulation. It is important to know that electric fields at 60 Hz from house wiring and plastic cords are always present, even in homes with little or no dirty electricity. Electric fields are not reduced by plugging in dirty electricity filters but rather by turning off breakers, using metal-clad circuits in walls, and by rewiring lamp cords with shielded cable, such as MuCord.
Electric fields from house wiring and plastic cords within 6 to 8 feet of your bed prevent the release of melatonin from your pineal gland at night when you sleep. Melatonin prevents hormone-dependent tumors, infections, insomnia, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It also promotes detoxification of the liver and lymphatic system, helping to avoid multiple chemical sensitivities.
Improvements in these conditions are reported by clients of building biologists who reduce AC electric fields in sleeping areas as part of their routine EMF evaluations.
Avoiding AC electric fields at night allows the body to spend more time in deep, restorative stage four sleep every ninety minutes during our sleep cycles. This results in more restful sleep and more energy in the daytime.
In most areas, the only way to accomplish this is by turning off the electricity around your bed by flipping the circuit breaker(s) that run to and through your bedroom. Miller advises this is best done in conjunction with a trained building biologist (http://hbelc.org/find-an-expert). Electricians can then install a cut-off switch so you can shut these circuits off remotely from your bedroom.
Remedial Strategies to Lower EMF Exposure
Below are several suggestions, many by Oram Miller himself, that will help reduce your EMF exposure. You can also find guidance and solutions for mitigating electric and magnetic fields at the end of Miller’s “Healthy Wiring Practices”27 document. There, he also discusses specific workarounds for various devices, including cellphones, MacBooks, Roku and Apple TV.
Flip off breakers (or a remote switch) at night to circuits in and around your bedroom to reduce 60 Hz AC electric fields. If you have metal-clad wiring and can keep your breakers on at night, use manual or remote plug-in switches at outlets to kill power to plastic lamp cords within 6-8 feet of the bed, or rewire lamps with MuCord from LessEMF.com.
Almost all dirty electricity in the bedroom will automatically be eliminated when you sleep if you flip off breakers to reduce 60 Hz AC electric fields, because dirty electricity rides on the voltage, which will be switched off. If you have metal-clad wiring, voltage will stay on.
In that case, use filters to remove voltage transients from your electricity and use meters to confirm that they are in a safe range. Keep filters more away from the bed, as they emit a localized magnetic field of about 2 to 3 feet.
Use a battery-powered alarm clock, ideally one without any light. I use a talking clock for the visually impaired.28
Consider moving your baby’s bed into your room, or keep doors open between your bedrooms, instead of using a wireless baby monitor. Alternatively, use a hard-wired monitor.
If you must use Wi-Fi, shut it off when not in use, especially at night when you are sleeping.
For more extensive RF shielding, you can consider painting your bedroom walls and ceiling (and floor, if necessary) with special shielding paint, which will block RF from inside, as well as outside sources, such as cell towers, smart meters, radio/TV towers and neighbors’ Wi-Fi routers and cordless telephones in an apartment or condo building.
Windows can be covered with metal window screen or transparent film. Line your curtains with RF-shielding fabric. For your bed, consider a shielding bed canopy.
Daytime strategies to reduce unnecessary EMF exposure
To reduce an important type of EMF exposure during the daytime, consider using Stetzer filters to decrease the level of dirty electricity or electromagnetic interference being generated. You can also take these with you to work or when you travel. This may be the single best strategy to reduce the damage from EMF exposure coming from voltage transients since it appears that most of them are generated by the frequencies that the filters remove.
Avoid daytime 60 Hz electric fields when using your computer by making sure it has a three-pronged, grounded plug rather than a two-pronged, ungrounded plug. Disconnect the two-pronged adapter on your Apple MacBook transformer and connect a grounded AC power cord.
If your PC laptop has a power cord with a two-pronged plug, connect a USB Ground Cord from LessEMF.com to a USB port on your computer and a properly grounded outlet. You can order shielded AC power cords for any PC computer tower or iMac from Safe Living Technologies (slt.co) or Electrahealth.com.
You can connect to the internet with iPhones and iPads while in airplane mode using a Lightning to Ethernet adapter and putting the device in airplane mode. You will need a Cat-6 or 7 shielded, grounded Ethernet cable as well as an Ethernet grounding adapter kit from Electrahealth.com to avoid electric fields.
Metal lamps emit high electric fields because the metal, especially in floor lamps, amplifies electric fields. Reduce this by rewiring with shielded MuCord from LessEMF.com.
Keep unshielded power cords away from your legs and feet at your home (and office) computer to avoid electric fields while you work. Transformers plugged into surge protectors under your desk emit high magnetic fields. Move them more than 2 to 3 feet away from your feet.
Connect your desktop computer to the internet via a wired Ethernet connection. Then, just as importantly, be sure to put your desktop in airplane mode. Also avoid wireless keyboards, trackballs, mice, game systems, printers and portable house phones. Opt for the wired versions and disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth whenever possible.
Ideally, work toward hardwiring your house so you can eliminate Wi-Fi altogether. Remember to always manually shut off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your router and computer when you do so. That does not happen automatically when you plug in an Ethernet cable.
It’s important to realize that if you have a Wi-Fi router, you essentially have a cellphone tower inside your home. Even more importantly, remember that the device right in front of you that communicates with the router also sends out harmful RF signals, right into your body. Most people forget about this because radio signals are invisible. You cannot see or smell them like you can cigarette smoke, and they are silent.
Ideally, you’d eliminate your Wi-Fi and simply use a wired connection to get on the internet. If you absolutely must have a router, you can place it inside a shielded pouch or wire mesh box and then move it as far away from where you sit as possible. Never have the router in a bedroom or within 15 to 20 feet of one. You can find shielded pouches and mesh boxes online, or make your own using Swiss Shield fabric.
If you have a newer, thinner laptop without any Ethernet ports, various adapters will allow you to connect to the internet with a wired Ethernet connection from any Thunderbolt, USB or USB-C port. This is also true for the Lightning port on iPhones and iPads. Keep electric field EMFs low when you do this (see above).
When looking for a corded telephone for your landline or VoIP connection, be careful not to purchase a hybrid corded/cordless model. They have a corded handset but contain a wireless transmitter inside that is always on. Look for the designation “DECT 6.0” on the box and phone, as well as a cordless extension inside the box.
Even if you never use the extension, the base unit continues to silently transmit a radio frequency signal 24/7, especially when sitting on your ..
Did you know that every feeling you have affects some part of your body? While positive emotions such as gratitude have been scientifically linked to a number of beneficial health effects, negative emotions and stress can wreak havoc — especially if you're not exercising or eating right, as both of these can ease pessimism and help keep stress in check.
It's interesting to note that certain emotions are known to be associated with pain in certain regions of your body, even though science cannot explain exactly why this is. For example, those suffering from depression will often experience chest pains, even when there's nothing physically wrong with their heart. Extreme grief can also have a devastating impact, and research confirms that in the days following the loss of a loved one, your risk of suffering a heart attack increases by 21 times.
While the exact mechanics of these mind-body links are still being unraveled, what is known is that your brain, and consequently your thoughts and emotions, play a distinct role in your experience of physical pain, and can contribute to the development of chronic disease. As a result of these kinds of findings, there's been an upwelling of mind-body therapies that take this interrelatedness between your emotions and physical health into account.1
The Science of Anger
The featured video reveals the biochemical cascade that occurs during a bout of anger. In the example given, someone cuts you off in traffic, and in response you get angry. When that happens, stress chemicals associated with the fight-or-flight response are released, preparing your body for quick action.
The stress response begins in your brain. When your eyes or ears register a sudden threat (the car encroaching into your lane), information is sent to the amygdala, a brain area that interprets images and sounds and is involved in the processing of emotions.
Interpreting the sights and sounds as an impending threat, your amygdala sends a distress signal to your hypothalamus, which can be likened to a central command center for your entire body. It communicates with various body parts and organs via the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for involuntary bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, dilation and constriction of blood vessels and so on.
Your autonomic nervous system has two "branches" — the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes the "rest and digest" response that calms your body back down once you're no longer in danger. As the amygdala sends its distress signal, your hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system, triggering your adrenal glands to release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine).
The sudden release of stress chemicals cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which in turn makes you breathe more rapidly. It also releases glucose and fats from storage sites in your body, thereby giving your body a quick boost of energy. Blood is also flushed toward your extremities, including your face. This is why anger can literally make you turn red. This chain of events occurs so quickly, it's already in full swing before your brain's visual center has fully processed what's happening on the road.
The Importance of Your Prefrontal Cortex
To maintain or regain emotional control at this point, you need to engage your prefrontal cortex — the area of your brain that controls executive functions, including complex cognitive and social behavior, personality expression, willpower, decision making and judgment. Without the engagement of your prefrontal cortex, you're incapable of self-constraint and logical thought processing.
As noted in a 2015 study looking at how subliminal anger messages affect your decision-making skills, "The behavioral and physiological impact of anger states compromises the efficiency of cognitive processing through action-ready changes in autonomic response that skew regional neural activity." While the featured video does not go into how you might go about activating your prefrontal cortex, scientifically proven ways to strengthen this brain region and improve your self-control include:2
Eating a healthy diet with high-quality fats
Getting enough quality sleep (most adults need seven to nine hours a night)
Getting regular physical exercise. When it comes to strengthening your prefrontal cortex, both relaxing exercises like Tai Chi or yoga and intense workouts will provide ample benefits
Managing your daily stress. Your prefrontal cortex starts to lose the battle when chronically flooded with stress chemicals. By not allowing stress to turn chronic, you'll be far better able to maintain self-control during challenging situations. Brief daily meditation has been shown to increasing activity in the prefrontal cortex in as little as eight weeks, thereby improving stress management and self-awareness
When anger strikes: Stop, and take a few deep breaths to reoxygenate your brain before responding
Short-Fused People Live Shorter Lives
Frequent anger is associated with a heightened risk of high blood pressure and heart problems, including heart attack and stroke.3 The biological reason for this is because epinephrine and norepinephrine constrict your blood vessels, making your heart work harder. They also increase the levels of glucose and fatty acids in your blood, which when chronically elevated damage your blood vessels and contribute to atherosclerosis. Research has also shown that people who get angry easily tend to die sooner than their mellower peers.
In a study4 of 1,300 men who were followed for 40 years, compared to those in the least-angry quartile, those in the angriest quartile had 1.57 times the risk of dying early. Even after accounting for other factors that correlate with mortality, like income level, marital and smoking status — even personality traits (like higher levels of cognitive ability, which can be protective) — the association still remained. As noted by the lead author:5
"It's not just about being angry occasionally… These people were likely to have been consistently angry. It's OK to have a cross afternoon, or even a year. This question may capture not transient anger, but a predisposition to anger."
That said, even an intense bout of anger has its risks. In one study,6 an individual's risk of a heart attack rose nearly fivefold and their risk of stroke increased more than threefold in the two hours following an angry outburst (compared to being calm and relaxed). The risk was even greater among those who had a history of heart problems.
Research published in Circulation further showed that men who frequently felt anger and hostility had an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm).7 Other negative emotions such as depression and loneliness have also been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.8
Suppressing Negative Emotions Makes Matters Worse
Suppressing your anger is not the answer, however. It too has been found to triple your risk of heart attack, and the risks associated with the suppression of anger were even greater when people felt they'd been treated unfairly.9 According to Iris Mauss, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and author of a study10 on the health effects of repressing versus accepting dark emotions:11
"We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health. Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention. And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up."
In other words, trying to pretend you don't feel what you feel, or judging your emotions harshly, tends to cause more stress than just feeling it and moving on. By contrast, people who allowed sadness, disappointment, anger or resentment to simply run its course had fewer symptoms of mood disorders. Accepting "what is," including your emotions, is what many meditation and yoga practices teach you. But why is accepting your emotions so important? Psychology Today explains:12
"When you try to deny or stifle any 'parts' of yourself — whether undesirable emotions, desires or fears — you become fragmented. But you need a sense of integration; of wholeness inside, to grow your well-being and capacity to handle the ups and downs, the successes and failures; all part of the relentless change and impermanence that characterizes life."
Repressed emotions such as anger, fear, frustration and rage may also be a factor contributing to chronic pain, especially back pain. I wrote about this in "Is Most Back Pain Caused by Repressed Emotions?" — an article focused on the groundbreaking work of the late Dr. John Sarno, who used mind-body techniques to treat patients with chronic, severe back pain.
Chronic Anger May Increase Your Dementia Risk
Your brain health also suffers negative consequences if you're chronically angry. For example, a form of chronic anger known as "cynical distrust" has been linked to a significantly higher risk of dementia. Cynical distrust13 is described as the belief that most people are out for themselves as opposed to looking out for others.
In one study,14 seniors with a high degree of cynical distrust had a more than 2.5 times greater risk of developing dementia than those with low levels. The finding adds to growing research showing that negative emotions, and cynicism in particular, contributes to poor health. It's dangerous in a number of ways. For instance, research has shown:
Women with cynical, hostile attitudes are more likely to die prematurely and have higher rates of death from coronary heart disease than women with "positive future expectations"15
People with cynical attitudes may suffer more from stress, and do not get as much of the stress-buffering benefits offered by positive social support16
Cynical hostility is associated with poor oral health17
Cynical hostility is associated with increased markers of inflammation, which may contribute to heart problems18 and dementia
Cynical hostility is associated with increased metabolic burden among middle-aged and older adults19
The chart above, by Centripetal Force Studio,20 details some of the possible emotions underlying aches and pains manifesting in different parts of the body. For example, neck pain is often related to stubbornness and emotional inflexibility, while shoulder pain is associated with a lack of joy.
Finnish researchers have attempted to establish a more definitive map of where emotions are felt in the body. Seven hundred volunteers were asked to think about one of 14 predetermined emotions, and then paint the areas of a blank silhouette that felt stimulated by that particular emotion. Using a second blank silhouette, they were asked to paint in the areas that felt "deactivated" during that emotion.
To help them generate the appropriate emotion, they could read a short story, or view a video. The experiment concluded that emotions indeed tend to be felt in ways that are generally consistent from one person to the next, irrespective of your age, sex or nationality. As reported in The Atlantic:21
"The mapping exercise produced what you might expect: an angry hot-head ... a depressed figurine that was literally blue (meaning they felt little sensation in their limbs). Almost all of the emotions generated changes in the head area, suggesting smiling, frowning, or skin temperature changes, while feelings like joy and anger saw upticks in the limbs — perhaps because you're ready to hug, or punch, your interlocutor.
Meanwhile, 'sensations in the digestive system and around the throat region were mainly found in disgust,' the authors wrote. It's worth noting that the bodily sensations weren't blood flow, heat, or anything else that could be measured objectively — they were based solely on physical twinges subjects said they experienced …
[T]he results likely reveal subjective perceptions about the impact of our mental states on the body, a combination of muscle and visceral reactions and nervous system responses that we can't easily differentiate."
Science Bulletins: Mapping Emotions in the Body - YouTube
How to Nurture Emotional Wellness
Anger is a normal human emotion and certainly can have its place. It may serve as a warning that something is wrong or alert you to an impending physical or psychological trauma. Anger, with its accompanying surge of adrenaline, may give you energy to resist a real physical threat. Anger can also help you learn to set healthier physical and emotional limits and boundaries.
Whether your anger eventually harms your health or not may be related not only to its frequency but also to how it's expressed, and how you cope with its aftermath. The key is to channel your anger into a controlled and constructive outward expression. This can actually help release tension and stress.
An example of this would be using your anger to fuel an intense exercise session, or to clean house. Constructive anger, in which people discuss (as rationally and calmly as possible) their angry feelings and work toward solutions, has also been shown to benefit both health and interpersonal relations.
If you tend to have a short fuse, I recommend using energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT can reprogram your body's reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life by stimulating different energy meridian points in your body. It's done by tapping on specific key locations with your fingertips while custom-made verbal affirmations are repeated. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.
Julie Schiffman Discusses Tapping for Anger - YouTube
Making a point to be more mindful — focusing on what you're doing and the sensations you're experiencing in the moment — can also improve your mental and emotional outlook. When you're mindfully present, your mind will have less chance to wander and ruminate on stressful or anger-provoking incidents, which can help you to let go of your angry feelings.
Also, make sure you get plenty of restorative sleep, as without it you are far more likely to lose emotional control. Exercise is yet another foundational strategy for emotional wellness. Studies have shown that during exercise, tranquilizing chemicals (endorphins) are released in your brain. It's a natural way to bring your body pleasurable relaxation and rejuvenation, and has been shown to help protect against the physical effects of daily stress.
Last but not least, consider taking the advice of Susie Moore, a Greatist life coach columnist and confidence coach. When something or someone pushes your hot button, just ask yourself, "So what?" Unkind statements, insults even, are not a reflection of your true worth, nor is getting cut off in traffic an indication of the Universe conspiring to ruin your day.
"There's an almost ancient wisdom to this two-word question — 'So what?' — when you think about it, and there are a million ways to apply it," she writes in "These Two Simple Words Can Cure Your Anger."22 "'So what?' means … Don't worry about other people. Everything's OK. Talk about a Buddhist-style edge … Now let me ask you: What are some situations that you can reply to with a 'So what?'
Not being included or invited to something that you wanted to be a part of?
Not being asked on a second date?
Not getting the job you applied for?
Paying a late fee for the 7 a.m. workout class you skipped for much-needed sleep instead?
Your brain is a powerful instrument that often seems to have "a mind of its own." This is certainly the case when it comes to how it handles pleasure, which has been shown to affect both the nucleus accumbens, or reward center, and frontal cortex regions of your brain.
If you've ever wondered about the roots of addiction and the role played by your brain, you should know that all addictions — whether it be food, sex, drugs or alcohol — have a similar hijacking effect on your brain. Fortunately, most addictive patterns are completely reversible and there is hope for a better brain and life.
What's Going on in Your Brain When You Experience Pleasure?
Pleasure — the good feeling you get in response to drugs, food, sex and other stimulants, including the simple act of doodling1,2 — is driven by the release of various neurotransmitters throughout your brain, including dopamine.3 As you probably know, dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward. When dopamine is released, it tells your brain to expect something rewarding. It also drives you to seek rewards and modulates how rewarding each one will be.
Furthermore, dopamine plays a role in supporting cognition and voluntary movement. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett, Ph.D., lecturer and tutor at the U.K.'s Cardiff University Center for Medical Education, and creative genius behind The Guardian's popular "Brain Flapping" column, says:4
"Anything that causes us to experience pleasure, in any context, invariably involves activity in the brain's mesolimbic reward pathway. It's a deeply embedded area of the brain, made up of many links between the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area.
It's very complex, but basically these regions are responsible for reviewing what we're experiencing and deciding whether it warrants the sensation of pleasure, and supplying this pleasure, or 'reward,' if the answer is yes. The neurological processes that govern this area use dopamine, hence dopamine's frequent labelling as the 'pleasure chemical.'"
The Conversation states all drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, release dopamine, as do other rewarding experiences like eating, gambling and having sex. On the other hand, they note, "decreases in dopamine within reward systems are associated with depression, a lack of pleasure or motivation and withdrawal."5
It follows then that mental illnesses like schizophrenia are characterized by too much dopamine release, thereby resulting in psychotic symptoms. In contrast, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease are thought to be tied to the premature death of dopamine cells responsible for motor coordination.6 Burnett believes your reward pathway is influenced by the reality that there are an unlimited number of things you can experience as well as countless connections and links to each one of those experiences.
It's as if your brain's reward system, Burnett says, is like one huge computer server that houses all the digital records pertaining to the entire world's supply of money. It would be difficult to imagine all the people and things that would be attached to this one server, not to mention all the ways and occasions it would be activated.7 Your brain's reward center is just like that — handling nonstop "transactions."
Unfortunately, anytime there are breakdowns in your decision-making process, you become vulnerable to pathological behavior, which is associated with most addictions. When you are addicted to a particular substance or experience, you adopt a type of "I'll do whatever it takes" attitude to achieve your desired outcome.
Over time, as the addictive attachment grows, it matters very little whether you still find the activity or experience to be pleasurable. No matter what you want to do, it becomes nearly impossible to stop the behavior or habit.
The Role of Dopamine in Food and Other Substance Addiction
Dr. Mercola and Dr. Peeke (Full Interview) - YouTube
The groundwork for the revelations about the role of dopamine in addictions was provided by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, an addiction psychiatrist who has admitted to nursing her own compulsive attachment to chocolate. Her breakthrough came with the introduction of high-detail brain imaging devices like functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, which offered high quality views of the brain.8
By studying the brain's reward center, Volkow realized you only feel pleasure or reward when dopamine binds with its receptor, called the D2 receptor. D2 receptors are located throughout the reward center in your brain. When dopamine links to this receptor, immediate changes take place in your brain cells, resulting in a "hit" of pleasure and reward. Peeke suggests some brains are more susceptible to addiction than others. She states:
"People who are vulnerable — who have an early history of any kind of abuse or trauma, mood issues or a history of addiction themselves and/or genetically in their family — these people are at much higher risk to develop an addictive-like eating behavior. This is especially true when they regularly consume what we now call 'the hyperpalatables' — refined, processed sugars, unhealthy fats and salt."
While it is difficult to estimate accurately just how many people struggle with addictive eating, we know it affects both men and women and involves a wide spectrum of problematic behaviors.
Addictive eating ranges from the mildly affected who are able to control the addiction through modified lifestyle habits like calorie counting, to seriously compulsive overeaters who live daily with the significant health consequences caused by obesity. While most people think addictive eating is a problem only for overweight people, it actually affects people of all sizes.
"It's not just about weight because some of my toughest addictive-eating behavior people are very small people," Peeke says. "They struggle every day. Addictive-like eating actually covers the entire gamut of the weight spectrum."
How Addictions Develop
The primary directive of your body (and mind) is survival, and it will go through all sorts of adaptations to achieve this goal. When you overindulge in hyper-stimulators like alcohol, sex, street drugs or sugar your brain's reward center takes note that you've become overstimulated. Because your brain perceives this state to not be good for your survival, it compensates by decreasing your sense of pleasure and reward. The first step it takes is to downregulate your D2 receptors, basically eliminating some of them.
Although this is a survival strategy, it creates another problem because now you don't feel nearly the same pleasure and reward you had when the addiction began. This is true regardless of whether your addiction was to food or drugs. As a result, you develop tolerance, meaning you crave more and more of your fix but are unable to achieve the same "high" you once enjoyed. Eventually, says Peeke, you are compelled to continue feeding the addiction not solely for the pleasure or reward outcomes.
Instead, the primary reason you keep feeding the addiction is to avoid the pain and angst of withdrawal, which you do not want and cannot tolerate. Interestingly, Volkow's work revealed the changes taking place in the brains of drug addicts and food addicts are identical.
Regardless of the addictive substance, she noted very little dopamine bonding with its D2 receptors in addicted brains, mainly because the number of receptors had been drastically reduced due to continual exposure to the addictive substance. About this finding, Peeke said:
"In the normal brain's PET scan of the reward center, you see a beautiful red-orange because it's all lit up where the dopamine is bonding with the D2 receptors. You show the person a sunset or something pleasurable, and you can see beautiful binding going on.
What do you see in the addictive brain? Not a whole lot; almost no orange there. For that matter, those D2 receptors are so low in number these people are in angst. They crave more and more and more of whatever their fix is."
Changes that take place in your brain's reward center are identical for all addictions
Your brain's reward center is just one of the affected regions; your frontal cortex is also impacted
About the impact addiction has on your frontal cortex, Peeke stated:
"This means you have an impairment of the 'CEO of the brain' in its ability to rein in impulsivity, irritability, impatience and all of the things associated with withdrawal and addiction. In this condition, you can't stay vigilant. It's hard to pay attention. You can't be mindful. You're unable to plan, organize or strategize. Basically, you're out of control. Now, you have an out-of-control CEO of the brain and you've got a hijacked reward center. What you have is a full-on addiction."
Early Trauma Sets the Stage for Future Addiction
As alluded to above, Peeke notes you may be particularly susceptible to addiction if you've experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or other trauma during your formative years. Trauma during childhood, adolescence and/or young adulthood can significantly affect your frontal cortex, thereby setting the stage for addiction.
Assistant professor Susan Mason, Ph.D., division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, working with the Nurses' Health Study II, showed women who had the highest levels of abuse during childhood had a 90 percent increased incidence of food addiction.9
In her book, Peeke also talks about the role of epigenetics, noting there's a "sweet spot" between the ages of 8 and 13 when your genome is particularly vulnerable to epigenetic influence.
This means your genes are being turned on or off, leaving molecular markers based on what is happening to you. The influences of your experiences, she says, go on to shape how you self-soothe and whether or not you become self-destructive. If not addressed, these issues will follow you into adulthood and set the tone for many aspects of your life.
Even if you do not have a history of abuse or trauma, Peeke suggests you may still be set up to act in either a self-soothing or self-destructive manner with respect to addictive behaviors. For example, you repeatedly may give into cravings when you are sleep-deprived or stressed, which could also set the stage for future addiction.
Beyond that, it may not be the actual addictive food or drug setting off the highest levels of dopamine release in your brain. Instead, it is likely the cues and triggers associated with them. Says Peeke:
"Just by showing people pictures or getting them triggered, they have very high levels of dopamine secretion … when they actually consume, especially if they're addictive, they're not experiencing the same level of reward that merely anticipating the fix provides."
Exercise and Mindfulness Can Help You on the Road to Recovery
Similarly, meditation has been shown to epigenetically turn off inflammatory gene groups, while turning on genes responsible for increasing neurogenesis. As such, both activities are important with respect to long-term recovery from addictions of any kind. Adds Peeke:
"With physical activity, with every step you take you're able to change gene expression along the entire spectrum of the metabolic syndrome to be able to augment brain health and brain healing from the entire addictive process ...
Now, with nutrition, there's no question, you absolutely can't keep hammering yourself with addictive products for which you say yes to loss of control and yes to feeling shame, blame and guilt. Instead, you're going to substitute what I call false addictive fixes with healthy fixes.
In the mind, it's checking in with one's self, being able to augment the mental capacity to be able to say yay or nay. You must organize and strategize to be able to decrease impulsivity, irritability and impatience …
You must heighten your vigilance and mindfulness, which is king here. When you're mindful, you take it hour by hour, moment by moment, so you're able to stay on track. People who have addictive-like habits tend to want to speed along. Instead, slow down and take a breath. Relax. Remind yourself you can do this."
In terms of healthy fixes, Peeke suggests if you're addicted to sugary soda, for example, you can clear out all sodas and replace them with beautiful glass decanters filled with pure water to which you can add berries, slices of citrus or cucumbers and mint leaves. Peeke's book is filled with many more options and substitutes she has developed through years of experimentation in addiction centers.
You can also experiment with imagery, which can be very powerful and engaging to the mind, whether positive or negative. Some do well with negative imagery, such as picturing a skull and crossbones on an addictive food. Others respond to positive imagery, such as pictures of healthier food choices like salads and fresh fruits and vegetables. Below is another helpful exercise provided by Peeke:
"I ask every person to sit down and develop something I call 'The Power Why.' Why do you want to do this at all? Why not just continue whatever addictive behavior you've got going? Why do you want to change? You've got to dig deep. You can't just say, 'Well, I want to be healthy.' What else is important in your life? You want to be here to do what? Close your eyes and go deep into your why."
One of Peeke's examples is the story of a nearly 300-pound woman who struggled with figuring out her why until she was told she was going to receive a national award for the work she had done in her community. The award would be presented a year later on stage with her entire family in attendance. At that point, says Peeke:
"Something clicked in her brain for her why. She said, 'I want to be proud of myself. I want to walk the talk. If I'm promoting health and well-being, I've got to live it.' And that's what did it. One year and 150 pounds later … she stood proudly before the audience and accepted her award … That was 12 years ago and she's still living the recovery lifestyle."
Next Steps You Can Take to Fight Food Addiction
Hooked, Hacked, Hijacked: Reclaim Your Brain from Addictive Living: Dr. Pam Peeke at TEDxWallStreet - YouTube
If you suffer with weight issues and suspect food addiction might be an issue, I highly recommend reading Peeke's book. It is a great resource to get educated about what's going on inside your body and brain with respect to the addiction. You'll also find tools to help you explore the roots of your addictive eating and create a recovery lifestyle you can feel good about and live long term. Peeke provides practical strategies you can apply to break the addictive cycle once and for all.
In this way, you can begin to take control of your health. Find more information on her website DrPeeke.com and check out her TedxWallStreet talk in the video above. In addition, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is another simple, effective and highly recommended tool that can rapidly help you eliminate your food cravings naturally.
You may have heard of myrrh from Biblical stories, as it’s one of the precious gifts (together with gold and frankincense) offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. This valuable element actually has a long history of use, especially in ancient civilizations. Today, myrrh is most commonly known — and used — as an essential oil. Keep on reading to learn more about its many benefits.
What Is Myrrh Oil?
Myrrh oil comes from a dried resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree, which belongs to the Commiphora plant genus.1 Like frankincense, myrrh comes from the Burseraceae plant family.2
Native to Northern Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Oman, Arabia and Yemen, the tree grows up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) high, and can be identified by its bluish grey, silvery or white bark and knotted branches.3,4 The word “myrrh” comes from "murr," which means "bitter" in Arabic, probably referring to the bitter taste of the resin.5
Myrrh was very popular among ancient cultures. The Chinese valued it as a medicine, while Egyptians used it not just for their sun-worshipping rituals, but also to embalm their pharaohs.6 In fact, myrrh was mentioned in “Ebers Papyrus,” one of the oldest Egyptian medical texts, which dates back to 1550 BC.7
Even the Greek soldiers made use of this resin, bringing it with them to battle to stop their wounds from bleeding.8 To extract myrrh, the bark of the tree is cut, and a pale yellow sap comes out. This gum is then allowed to dry, which then causes it to turn into a reddish-brown color.9 The dried pieces of resin are then steam-distilled to make myrrh oil. Myrrh oil has a yellow or greenish-yellow color, and a rich, balsamic and earthy aroma.10,11
Uses of Myrrh Oil
Both myrrh resin and myrrh oil have a long history of medicinal use, and are valued for their wound-healing properties. The Egyptians used myrrh to treat hay fever and heal herpes.12 The essential oil is also traditionally used to enhance emotional and spiritual well-being.13
Maintaining healthy skin is also one of myrrh oil’s renowned uses, as it helps restore the health of skin cells to help minimize the appearance wrinkles. It also has antibacterial properties that make it helpful against skin conditions like acne, eczema and athlete’s foot, to name a few.14 This is why it’s commonly added to many skin care products today. Myrrh oil is also used for:15
• Adding fragrance for perfumes
• Flavoring food products
Myrrh oil is also a valuable aromatherapy oil that can be used for massages, mixed in bathwater or simply applied on the skin. You can also:16
• Use it as a mouthwash to help eliminate dental infections
• Put it in a cold compress to help ease inflammation
• Dilute it with a safe carrier oil and use to promote the healing of wounds or ulcers
Composition of Myrrh Oil
There are many health-enhancing compounds in myrrh oil, such as terpenoids, a class of chemicals with inflammation-fighting and antioxidant effects. It also contains up to 75 percent sesquiterpenes, which are compounds that can affect certain parts of your brain, particularly your hypothalamus, pituitary and amygdala. These brain regions play an integral role in controlling your emotions and response to hormones in your body.17
Other components of myrrh include alpha-longipinene, beta-cadinene, eugenol, esters, cuminic aldehyde, acetic acid and formic acid.18,19
Benefits of Myrrh Oil
Myrrh oil’s benefits can be attributed to its powerful antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, expectorant and antispasmodic properties. According to the book “The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide,” it can help with many health conditions, such as:20
• Respiratory problems: Myrrh oil works well against coughs, colds and sore throat. It also helps relieve congestion and expel phlegm.
• Digestive ailments: It promotes digestive health and helps ease stomach upset, dyspepsia, diarrhea, indigestion, hemorrhoids and flatulence.
• Gum and mouth diseases: It helps relieve toothache, gingivitis and mouth ulcers, and also freshens your breath. Myrrh oil is even used as a natural ingredient in mouthwashes and toothpaste.
• Immune system health: A 2010 study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal found that an emulsion made from myrrh may help protect against lead-induced hepatotoxicity, oxidative stress and immunotoxicity among animal test subjects.21
A study conducted by Chinese researchers, published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, also found that extracts made from myrrh resin may be effective against human gynecologic cancer cells.22
How Does Myrrh Oil Work?
Myrrh oil is said to promote the health of the limbic center of your brain, which plays a role in its emotionally soothing effects. It’s also said to stimulate the endocrine glands and chakra centers in the body. This essential oil helps stimulate cell tissues, support proper circulation and restore physical energy.23 You can use myrrh oil by:
• Diffusing or inhaling it: You can also add a few drops to hot water and inhale the steam.
• Applying it topically: Apply it on your skin to get its skin rejuvenating and healing properties. Mix it with a safe carrier oil and blend with other essential oils. Myrrh oil blends well with frankincense, bergamot, cinnamon, rosemary and sweet orange oils.24
• Taking it internally: Myrrh oil has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as a food additive and flavoring agent.25 However, I do not advise ingesting it without the supervision of a qualified health care provider.
Is Myrrh Oil Safe?
If used in moderation and in the correct dosage (especially when ingesting it), myrrh oil is generally safe for adults. However, as with other essential oils, I advise you to use this oil with caution. Myrrh oil is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing moms.
A study in JBRA Assisted Reproduction journal noted that a pregnant woman experienced abdominal pain after using myrrh oil, which might indicate that the oil can act as a uterine stimulant.26 Young children and people with certain health problems should also refrain from using this oil. To make sure that myrrh oil will not have any allergic effects when applied topically, dilute it in a carrier oil and do a skin patch test on your inner arm first.
Side Effects of Myrrh Oil
WebMD states that if myrrh oil is consumed in excessive amounts — up to 2 to 4 grams — it may affect your heart rate and irritate your kidneys. Other possible side effects of myrrh and its essential oil include:27
Worsened systemic inflammation
Lowered blood pressure
Making a fever worse
Some people with sensitivities to myrrh oil may also experience allergic contact dermatitis28 when using this oil. Myrrh may also interfere with diabetes medications, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels, as well as anticoagulants, so I advise that you avoid the essential oil it if you are taking these medications.29
Your skin is the largest and fastest growing organ. It essentially protects your body from the outside. It regulates your temperature and allows you to experience your environment through your senses. Many people care for the skin on their face by regularly exfoliating, cleansing and moisturizing. However, the skin on the rest of the body is often overlooked.
The appearance of your skin has a lot to do with your environment, irritation and nutrition. Healthy fats help to promote beautiful and healthy skin. Getting enough high-quality omega-3 fat helps prevent rough dry skin and vitamins provide protection against skin damage, including acne. Acne and moles are not the only lumps and bumps you may find on your skin, however. Some suffer from skin tags; little fleshy growths you may be tempted to pick at.
What Are Skin Tags?
These raised bumps are known as acrochordons or cutaneous tags by dermatologists.1 While completely harmless, they can be especially annoying when they occur on your face or in areas of your body under consistent friction from clothing, such as around the neck, under the arms and near the groin.
Approximately 1 in 4 people will have skin tags at some point and they are especially common after age 50. These benign skin tumors may be removed for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons. There are a number of different over-the-counter methods that can be used, as well as a visit to the dermatologist. However, there are methods you should not use to remove skin tags at home.
Skin tags are connected to your skin by a thin stalk called a peduncle.2 They are commonly found in both men and women and are likely the single most common bump found on an adult skin. An individual may have anywhere from one to hundreds of skin tags, although middle-aged, obese adults are most prone.
There are several common misconceptions or myths about skin tags, including that they only occur on people who don’t practice good hygiene, that they’re precancerous or contagious, and that removing them will cause more to grow. Dermatologists do warn that not all growths sticking out from your skin are skin tags,3 and having large and numerous skin tags may be an indication of an increased amount of insulin and Type 2 diabetes.4
As noted by dermatologist Dr. Avnee Shah,5 "One skin tag has nothing to do with another. Though removing one does not mean that you will never get another — as a doctor cannot prevent them from coming — it also does not equate to causing more to grow.”
Factors That Increase Your Risk of Skin Tags
Although the exact cause of skin tags is unknown, they usually develop in skin folds. Some believe the friction of skin against skin, or clothing against skin, increases the potential for them to develop. However, there have been studies demonstrating an association between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and skin tags.6 Additionally, the appearance of these growths do appear in families, so there may also be a genetic link.
Further, there is speculation the tags may increase in number with changes in hormonal levels, pregnancy, increasing age, hypertension and elevated levels of C-reactive protein.7 Those who suffer high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, Type-2 diabetes, hypertension and elevated C-reactive proteins, which are all markers for cardiovascular disease, have a higher potential risk of developing skin tags.8
The tags may twist at the base, cutting off the blood supply and become painful. They may get snagged on your clothing and bleed, or become unsightly. There are a number of options to remove them safely at home. If you choose to see your physician, remember your insurance company may not cover the expense if removal is done for cosmetic reasons.9
Mechanical Means of Removal
There are mechanical methods you may consider to remove skin tags. It's critical to remember you should not just use scissors and cut them off. Skin tags have a blood supply and the larger the tag, the larger the blood vessel supplying oxygen. If done incorrectly, cutting may result in excessive bleeding and an increased potential for infection. Before using any of these techniques, it's important to remember to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent infection.
There are skin tag removal kits available at the drugstore. These come with a device allowing you to tie the tag off at the base, thereby cutting off the blood supply.10 Tying off the tag is referred to as ligation. Without oxygen, the cells die and the tag drops off. However, this process may also be painful. You can achieve the same results using a piece of dental floss at home. However, depending on the site of the skin tag, you may need another individual to achieve good results without the device.
Liquid nitrogen freezing kits are also available, sold for wart removal and use on smaller skin tags. It's important to follow the instructions. Several applications may be necessary, but the tag will often fall away within 10 days.11 Anything the liquid nitrogen touches will die, so be sure it doesn't come in contact with surrounding skin. The application of petroleum jelly to the area around the tag for protection may help reduce damage to the surrounding area.
Remove Your Skin Tags With Essential Oils
Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy and topically. Produced by distilling a plant or through mechanical methods, such as cold pressing, they are combined with a carrier oil. The term essential oil is actually a misnomer as technically the oils are highly concentrated plant compounds which are lipid soluble but contain no fatty acids. The compound molecules are unique as they penetrate cell membranes and have the ability to travel throughout the body within minutes whether applied to the skin or inhaled.
The oils work by gradually drying out the skin tag and causing it to fall off. Unlike tying off the skin, it is not painful. However, you may find some oils sting slightly or trigger itching. Simply apply the oil of your choice to the area several times per day for a few days to a month or two, depending on the size of the skin tag and the oil you're using. The following essential oils can be helpful for skin tag removal:
• Tea tree oil is sourced from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree found in Australia.12 It has also been used to treat acne, burns, ringworm, head lice and to stop insect bites from itching. The application may sting or burn slightly. Avoid using it in or near your mouth as it is hazardous when swallowed and even small doses may result in confusion and delirium.13
If you choose tea tree oil for your skin tags, ensure you're getting the real thing as counterfeiters are producing oils to meet high demand using a cheaper brand of tree.14 Do not apply tea tree oil to sensitive areas around your eyes, eyelids or genital areas. Dilute tea tree oil by mixing 1 to 2 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of a base oil before applying.15
• Oregano oil has a familiar scent used in many favorite Italian foods. The plant has been used in the Mediterranean countries for centuries to flavor foods and the oil has been popular for almost as long as an herbal treatment for urinary tract infections and as a folk remedy for gastrointestinal problems.
Oregano is in the same family as mint, basil, sage, marjoram and thyme.16 If you have an allergy to any of these you'll likely have an allergy to oregano. While not as effective as tea tree oil, it does work by drying the skin tag and making it drop off. Apply the oil up to three times daily, allowing it to air dry before putting a bandage over the tag.17
• Lemon oil is produced from the zest and peel of lemons. Traditional uses of lemon oil have been as a natural insecticide and as a relaxant by aromatherapists.18Lemon oil is also a cleaning agent and has been used in skin care products. Likely the most pleasant smelling of all the essential oils used to remove skin tags, the oil is also applied with a carrier oil.
In rare cases, citrus oils may cause phototoxicity through chemically inducing skin irritation exacerbated by exposure to the sunlight resulting in severe burns.19 It's critical you do a patch test before using lemon oil if you are applying it to an area of skin exposed to the sun. Some people report lemon oil may work in a matter of days, depending on the size of the skin tag. Lemon oil should not be used as a long-term solution as it often irritates your skin, even in diluted applications.
• Oil of clove20 is less common than lemon oil and tea tree oil. It has a very strong spicy scent. Traditionally it has been used to spice drinks, like mulled wine and as a traditional cure for toothaches. The smell is unique and very strong, which may put you off from using it. The oil is a well-known skin irritant, like lemon oil. It's necessary to dilute the mixture if you use clove olive oil and important it not be ingested as it may cause nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and even seizures.
• Frankincense oil is normally used in incense and is the product of Boswellia genus trees. The majority of Frankincense is produced in Somalia, Southern Arabia and Ethiopia.21 It is traditionally used in religious holy rites, and as an ingredient in perfumes and skin care products. Frankincense is manufactured through steam distillation and may be one of the better essential oils to remove skin tags if used consistently.
The oil has a very pleasant smell, not too different from pine, with a slightly floral and fruity fragrance. It does have the potential to irritate your skin if not diluted with carrier oil. As essential oils are readily absorbed, frankincense may cause rashes, nausea and stomach pain so it is recommended you do a patch test first.22
Using Frankincense Essential Oil at Home
Frankincense oil has many health benefits attributed to the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, digestive, diuretic and expectorant properties. The oil is considered a tonic as it benefits all symptoms in your body, including your digestive, respiratory, nervous and excretory systems. It aids in the absorption of nutrients and strengthens your immune system.23 Frankincense oil has been found useful for health conditions such as:
• Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis Research by Cardiff University scientists found frankincense can inhibit production of key inflammatory molecules, helping prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue triggering the symptoms of these conditions.24 Indian frankincense or boswellin, also a member of the Boswellia genus, has also been found to significantly reduce inflammation in animal studies.25
• Colds and respiratory disorders Frankincense oil can help break up phlegm deposits in your respiratory tract and lungs, and can potentially relieve bronchitis-related congestion.26
• Oral health problems The antiseptic qualities of this oil can help prevent bad breath, cavities, toothaches, mouth sores and other infections.27
• Digestive disorders Frankincense oil can help speed up the secretion of gastric juices, bile and acids, and help stimulate peristaltic motion, encouraging food to move properly through your intestines.28
• Uterine health Frankincense oil regulates estrogen production in women and helps reduce the risk of postmenopausal tumor or cyst formation in the uterus. It also regulates the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women.29
More Home Remedies for Skin Tags
Your options to remove skin tags are not limited to mechanical methods and essential oils. Here are a few other home remedies that can be helpful.
Apple cider vinegar
You may have significant results using apple cider vinegar.30 While little research has been conducted, case studies reveal positive results when apple cider vinegar is soaked in a cotton ball and affixed to the skin tag for 10 minutes, two to three times a day. It is important to watch for skin irritation and discontinue use if irritation develops. Never use vinegar around the eyes.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest liquid iodine may help remove skin tags.31 Protect the surrounding skill skin using petroleum jelly or coconut oil. Apply the iodine across the skin tag using a cotton swab, taking care to put it only on the skin tag. Cover the area until the iodine is dried and repeat this twice a day until the tag drops off.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a powerful antimicrobial, which may be helpful in removing your skin tags. Rub the tags every night before bed with coconut oil.32
Dandelion juice may also be an effective method of removing skin tags.33 Harvest fresh dandelions which have not been treated by pesticides by pulling them from the ground and squeezing the root gently to extract the sap. Store in a sterile glass jar and apply three drops to the skin tag three times per day.
Garlic or bananas
Oil from fresh garlic cloves has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Crush three or four cloves and apply the paste over your skin tag before bed. Cover with a bandage. Remove the bandage in the morning and wash it off. Repeat this process each day until the tags fall off.34
The same can be done with a small piece of banana peel against the skin tag, yellow side up. Secure it with a bandage or first aid tape overnight and remove the next morning. Repeat this each night until the tag falls off.35
These Tags Need Medical Attention
There are some instances when home remedies are not suitable for treatment of your skin tags. If the tag bleeds, itches or is especially large or long or is causing you pain, it is important to seek medical help. Warts and moles may resemble skin tags. Your physician will do a visual examination, and if in doubt will likely perform a biopsy.36
Skin tags located near your eyes or around your genitals should be treated by your physician as essential oils or mechanical methods may permanently damage tender tissue. In these cases, your physician may use cauterization to burn the tag or cryotherapy to freeze the skin. Small skin tags on your eyelids or around your eyes may be excised by a dermatologist using a surgical blade.
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