Natural solutions that work for childhood asthma, allergies, skin conditions, and many autoimmune diseases

Through my years in practice I have been blessed to be able to help many children with asthma, allergies, eczema, and related conditions – as well as adults with the same conditions or autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

All of these health challenges share a common trigger: a malfunction of the immune system causing the body to react – sometimes violently – to a benign substance like pollen or a tissue or organ of the body itself that does not normally pose a threat to health.

Conventional medicine addresses these conditions by using a wide range of drugs all of which work by suppressing the immune system. While suppression can manage the symptoms of an out of control immune reaction, it can also open a door for some very bad things to happen. Reading the potential side effects of some of these medications can be a chilling experience. Listed side effects often include cancer, antibiotic-resistant infections, and even death.

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MSM Rejuvenator: a great find for winter dry skin

If you are like me, when the weather starts to get chilly your hands also dry up. Drinking extra water, taking fish oil, or using most body lotions never seemed to make any difference.

Finally, years ago I found a cream called MSM Rejuvenator and that is the first thing that really made a difference for me by taking the dryness right out of my skin. The theory behind its effectiveness is that it provides the skin with the sulfur compounds necessary for skin to retain moisture.

If you’d like to try it for yourself, it is available from my office or can be ordered online from my website. If it works as well for you as it does for me, please let me know. Though “Rejuvenator” is part of the name I cannot say whether it does anything for wrinkles or aging skin, but if you find that it does, please inform me of that as well.

Amla, an ancient remedy from India making a major comeback on the wings of modern science

Amla is a berry that is native to the Indian subcontinent and neighboring areas. It has a long history of medicinal use as a remedy for everything from vision problems, to almost every digestive complaint, allergies, low immunity, and even hormonal imbalance in women.

A flurry of recent research has given a new scientific validation to this unique healing berry. Among other things, it was found to be one of the most potent antioxidants known. When compared to 1,000 herbs with well-established antioxidant properties, it was found to be among the top four in terms of beneficial effects and the ability to prevent cell-damaging effects from the strongest oxidants and carcinogens.

Amla was found to protect the liver from oxidative damage caused by chemicals or alcohol. It was found to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus slowing aging of the skin and – of course – preventing skin cancer. In studies performed on diabetics, it was found to protect the heart as well as the kidneys. Read More »

Four interesting new supplements

These are supplements that have either been recently released or are new to me and are now available from my office.

Cereboost 6-hour: this supplement contains extracts from the herbs American ginseng, which improves focus and overall brain function, and Rhodiola rosea, which normalizes stress hormones, and therefore has a positive effect on irritability, impulsivity, and other related symptoms. This combination is fast-acting and seems to be very effective. Early reports have been that children are more organized and pay more attention, and adults are more able to multitask when taking it. Though my sample is small, so far no side effects were reported and only one child appeared not to tolerate it.

Though fast-acting the effects of this supplement wear off within approximately six hours of taking it, hence the name. While not a complete or long-term solution, it can be helpful as a brain booster when a little extra help is needed, or for children having trouble focusing in school.

XanthiTrim: this newly formulated supplement from Pure Encapsulations may turn out to be a major help for people trying to lose weight. With ingredients like decaffeinated green tea extract, pomegranate juice and seaweed it contains nothing that comes even close to being a stimulant or an appetite suppressant that could be harmful. What these ingredients all have in common is the ability to stimulate the body to burn fat. Therefore it is no surprise that in studies it was shown to enhance the weight loss effects of diet and exercise. Read More »

Essential minerals: supercharge your (or your child’s) diet with homemade beef bone stock

When it comes to maintaining or regaining health, nothing plays as important a role as proper mineral balance in the body. Although we no longer hear much about it, leading experts in the field of nutritional medicine sounded the alarm as early as the 1930′s and 40′s: modern agricultural practices were depleting the soil, generating widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This in turn left us vulnerable to weakened immunity, digestive and nervous system disorders, and more. When combined with the dramatic spread of environmental chemicals and other toxins over the past half century, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Those sounding the alarm were the likes of Henry Bieler, MD, and Max Gerson, MD. Dr. Bieler wrote the book “Food is Your Best Medicine.” He believed in drug-free medicine and was well-known at the time for being the personal physician to Greta Garbo and other stars. He was also known because his patients had a habit of living well into their nineties. Dr. Gerson authored “A Cancer Therapy.” He used food, vegetable juices, and little else to successfully treat diseases ranging from migraines to diabetes and even cancer.

Mineral supplements can help correct deficiency in some instances; however, many essential minerals are poorly absorbed from supplements. In addition, manmade supplements that are not properly balanced can aggravate any existing imbalance. The bottom line is that only natural unprocessed foods contain minerals in optimal ratios and, in fact, the body is ideally suited to absorb minerals from food rather than supplements.
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Sunscreens and Cancer: Your Options

Now that summer is in full force and the sun is brutal most of the time, especially here in Houston, many of us feel we need to cover our bodies with sunscreen every day before we go out. But is that really such a good idea? And will it really prevent cancer?

I have always found it intriguing that while humans evolved under the sun – not in caves – the sun is increasingly blamed for skyrocketing skin cancer rates. If the sun was truly the culprit, and sun block a major defense, wouldn’t rates of skin cancer be dropping and not rising?

The facts, however, tell a different story. Today skin cancer is more common in the United States than all other forms of cancer combined. Its incidence is also growing faster than all other cancers, increasing by 6-7% each year.
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Healing and the ocean

I grew up by the sea and often tell people that the ocean is in my blood. Recently I came across some fascinating old research that made me think that this is true in a far more literal sense than I had ever thought possible.

The research dates back to the early 1900s and was conducted by French biologist and self-taught physician Rene Quinton. In analyzing the composition of human plasma and that of ocean water, and superimposing the two, Quinton observed that they are virtually identical – the only real difference between the two being that ocean water is three times more concentrated than plasma.

Quinton attributed this difference to the fact that, since life originated in the ocean millions of years ago, seawater has become more concentrated. His conclusion was that we all still carry original ocean water in our blood. Human (and animal) plasma, in his view, is a “marine environment.”

To prove his point Quinton carried out a series of experiments that later came to be known as the “dog studies.” Though we are no longer accustomed to studies being performed on dogs, in his day dogs and cats were often used for medical research.
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Safe sunscreens

Let me start by saying that the best way to approach the sun this summer is in moderation. Some dermatologists try to convince you that, for your health, every inch of exposed skin should be smeared with a thick layer of sunscreen every time you step into the sun. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, in a May 2005 article in USA Today Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard University professor of medicine and nutrition, laid out his case in a keynote lecture at an American
Association for Cancer Research meeting. His research suggests that vitamin D might help prevent 30 deaths for each one caused by skin cancer. “I would challenge anyone to find an area or nutrient or any factor that has such consistent anti-cancer benefits as vitamin D,” Giovannucci told the cancer scientists. “The data are really quite remarkable.”

The best source of vitamin D is from the sun. The body converts the perfect amount that you need and actually destroys any excess vitamin D. And unlike other parts of the country, we have the ability to use this wonderful and free resource for vitamin D almost year-round. It is a shame that most people block it completely at all times.

With this being said, it doesn’t give you free rein to fry yourself on a beach with baby oil. But “safe sun” – starting with 5 to 15 minutes or so every day of fully exposed skin without any sunscreen at the beginning of the season, and increasing it slowly – is actually very important for your health.

Back to the point of this article though: the fact is that there are some days or times that you may find yourself in the sun all day long. And if this is the case, you need to be aware what is in your sunscreen bottle; it may be more toxic than overexposure to the sun itself.

You want a sunscreen that has a sun blocker in it, like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both. They should not be nano-particles or micronized, because this will allow the particles to be absorbed into the body instead of being kept on the skin as a barrier (and out of your bloodstream). The only issue is that a sunscreen like this will leave a whitish hue on the skin when applied. I think that is a small price to pay to keep the particles out of my body.

In researching this article, I have found different chemicals that should raise a red flag when seen on your sunscreen bottle. Many of these products become more harmful when
exposed to sunlight. Try to avoid:

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
Propylene glycol
Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl, p-methoxycinnamate)
Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
Avobenzone (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane)
Digalloyl trioleate
Menthyl anthranilate
PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, p-aminobenzoic acid padimate O)

The sunscreen I use for my family when it is necessary is Mexitan. I have to order it online, because there is not a retailer in this area. Another one that a lot of people recognize as a safe and natural sunscreen is from Aubrey Organics but I have questions about it since it contains PABA esters. The more research I do on PABA, the more conflicting reports I get. So I will leave that judgment call up to you.

My best piece of advice if you are in for a day at the beach or water park is to bring along a shade umbrella and a hat and spend short 20 to 30 minute periods in the water or on the beach volleyball court, and let the sun work its magic on your body as it should.

Popular eczema creams shown to elevate cancer risk

In the January newsletter I wrote about airborne allergies resulting from poor intestinal health. You might accuse me of having a one-track mind (it’s happened before), but I could say the same thing about eczema. It’s on the skin, I agree, but it comes from the gut. I say this with confidence because I have seen it clear up time and time again with diet change and simple supplements to improve intestinal health.

So, you might ask, what’s the need for topical creams in the first place? I agree, but in today’s reality these creams not only exist, they’re also best sellers that are advertised over and over on TV. The ads say these creams are better because they’re not steroids. What they fail to point out is that, just like steroids, they work by suppressing the immune system.

New data from the FDA suggests that these creams, sold under the brand names Elidel and Protopic, may actually cause cancer. This new information is based on animal and laboratory research as well as reports from human users. According to the FDA spokesperson ‘the evidence raises serious safety concerns in children regarding the potential carcinogenicity in humans treated with these agents.’ For more on this go to washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17568-2005Feb11.html.

There are studies showing that a simple supplement containing lactobacillus – beneficial bacteria that help improve intestinal health – can reduce the severity of eczema (J Pediatr 2004 Nov; 145 (5): 612-6, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003 Feb; 111 (2): 389-95).

Lactobacillus GG taken during pregnancy prevents eczema in children

Lactobacillus GG is a type of beneficial bacteria that helps promote intestinal health. It is marketed here under the name Culturelle (see http://www.culturelle.com). This product may or may not be preferable to any of the many similar ones found in health food stores, but its manufacturer – ConAgra – has very deep pockets and has been regularly funding studies on it.

In the newest study from Finland, approximately 50 pregnant women were given Lactobacillus GG and fifty others were given a placebo. At two years and four years after birth, all children were evaluated. In both cases there were half as many children with eczema – an allergic skin condition – in the lactobacillus group than in the placebo group.

This shows not only that lactobacillus given to expectant mothers protects their children from later developing allergies, but also that the protection lasts past infancy (The Lancet, May 2003; 361 (9372): 1918).

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and wonder which other supplements besides lactobacillus and folic acid may help your child, fish oil has also been shown to be beneficial. However, you must be sure that the fish oil you take has undergone molecular distillation and is free of mercury and PCBs.

Food additives and eczema

A recent double-blind study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy (2001;31:265-273) found that food additives such as tartrazine, benzoate, nitrite and food colors can aggravate eczema (atopic dermatitis). It has been my consistent observation that individuals with eczema improve greatly when they avoid foods they are allergic to as well as food additives, and it is helpful to see this at least partially confirmed in the medical literature.

Two interesting studies on children’s health from Finland

The first of these studies was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2001;322:1-5). It followed 594 children who attended different day care centers in Helsinki over a period of seven months. The children were divided in two groups, one receiving plain milk, and the other milk with Lactobacillus GG (LGG) in it. Lactobacillus is a dietary supplement consisting of bacteria that is beneficial for the intestinal tract and the immune system. LGG is a special strain of this bacteria found in a product called Culturelle.

The group receiving LGG in their milk had significantly fewer days away from day care due to illness and they were free from respiratory tract symptoms for longer periods of time. More complicated infections, such as sinus or ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia were also reduced in the group receiving LGG.

The second study (Allergy, 2001;56:425-8) found that children who consumed higher amounts of margarine were more likely to develop allergic diseases, including eczema, asthma and hay fever. Children who remained free of these diseases typically consumed more butter than margarine. Here’s one more good reason to avoid margarine!