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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Interesting books: first in a series of articles

I always find it very rewarding when people I see share my passion for reading and learning about health and healing. Recently, I was asked to make a presentation at a conference on autism, and afterwards a number of people were asking me for names of books they should read. A mother even told me she had printed and read more than seventy pages from my newsletter archives! Clearly people have figured out they have to find their own answers.

With this piece I plan to start a series of short articles in which I will review a book or a couple of related books that have in some fashion influenced my thinking about diet or health in general.

The first one of these is more of a booklet than an actual book, but the information in it is fundamental to my way of looking at health. It is entitled “Pottenger’s Cats” and describes experiments carried out by Dr. Francis Pottenger on cats in the 1940’s.
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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.

Serious Adverse Reactions to Hepatitis B Vaccine Found to Outnumber Cases of the Disease

About ten years ago, the United States government recommended – and most states mandated – that infants should be vaccinated against hepatitis B before being discharged from the hospital after birth. Apparently, little consideration was given to the fact that this vaccine contained mercury as a preservative, or to the fact that infants may not have a sufficiently mature immune system for the vaccine to work appropriately. Hepatitis B is primarily a sexually transmitted disease, most common in promiscuous adults, and is also found in users of intravenous drugs. Historically, this disease has been rare among American children, with the highest incidence found among newborns whose mothers were infected.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) recently released an independent analysis of government statistics on reported cases of serious adverse reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine and cases of the disease in children. Looking at children under the age of 14, 872 serious adverse reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine were reported in 1996 alone, including 48 deaths. By contrast, only 279 cases of hepatitis B were reported nationwide in that age group in the same year. Considering children under the age of 5 from only 8 states, there were 106 serious adverse reactions in 1997, including 10 deaths, versus 25 cases of the disease.
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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!