Spirulina for radiation, mercury detoxification and health

The tragic earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan last month brought about death and destruction at a level that most of us cannot fathom. The ensuing explosions and near-meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant gave this tragedy a dimension never seen in the past.

Miles of densely populated land had to be evacuated. Within a matter of days radiation was detected in food and even the water supply and, tragically, the consequences of these events will be felt for decades to come among the Japanese people.

It only took a few short weeks for radiation from the Fukushima plant to be detected throughout the planet reminding us once again of how small and connected our world really is. Measurable levels of radiation were found in both the East and West coast of the US as well as in several countries in Europe. Wherever you are at the present time you can be sure that some radiation from Japan has already reached you.

At the same time experts from around the globe have been assuring us that levels of radiation detected in Western countries are minimal and pose no risk even to newborn babies. Can such reassurances be trusted? Read More »

The benefits of Chinese herbs

Throughout my years of practice I heard of the amazing results achieved with Chinese herbs and herbal combinations. Compared to Western medicine that only came to be in the past century or less, Chinese medicine has had thousands of years to build its knowledge base. In addition, Chinese medicine uses herbs that have boundless potential whereas in the West we have limited ourselves to synthetic drugs that often cause side effects or are later found to be toxic.

The drug companies would like us to believe that synthetic drugs are used because they are more effective, but in reality they are chosen only because they can be patented and become a source of enormous profit. In fact, not only are herbs powerful medicines, they are far less toxic, and can at times achieve results that are impossible with drugs.

As an example there are Chinese herbal combinations that can help normalize the body’s immune system, thus helping people with immune system disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis, without suppressing immunity, which is the only thing drugs can do.

However, Chinese medicine is not only about treatment. First and foremost it is about prevention. To achieve this, Chinese doctors developed complex methods to analyze the human body in order to detect what might be about to go wrong before illness strikes. Looking at the tongue and the nails is a central component of the Chinese diagnostic system.
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Natural Treatments for Allergies, Colds and Flu, and Bacterial Infections

In this piece I am going to discuss several specific brand-name products, something I have not done in the past in my newsletter to avoid appearing commercial. On the other hand there is no other way for me convey this information without sharing with readers the products I have used in some cases for years and that have worked for me and for my patients.

Rest assured that this is not commercially driven and that no one is paying me to promote their products, something I would definitely find objectionable and would never agree to do. Further proof of this is that the products I mention are from different manufacturers and reflect the brands I have found to be most valuable for each application. You can search for the products I am recommending under their respective names and I am sure you will find different sources for each one of them. At the same time, these products are all available from my office or online store, which is a supplement website I started for the convenience of people ordering supplements from out of town and those who prefer online ordering.

As I am sure you noticed when reading the email reprinted above, diet plays a big role in strengthening the immune system, breaking the cycle of illness and strange as it may seem even reversing allergies to airborne substances like pollen or dust.
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Toss that chemical-laden insect repellent! Vitamin B-1 does the job (I think)

If you live in the Houston area you know that the mosquito season is just around the corner and, if you are like many of the parents who email me every year about this, you don’t feel comfortable using chemical-laden insect repellent on your child but don’t know what other options you have.

Last summer I became aware of locally produced patches called “Don’t Bug Me” patch sold at some grocery stores that contained a dose of vitamin B1. I decided to see if they worked and asked a few mothers who happened to be around to try them on their children.

The consensus was that the patch worked, but was expensive, and patches often fell off or children scratched them off and then could no longer be used.
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What is lurking in your soap and shampoo?

I must admit that I have basically ignored this aspect of living healthy. Sure I buy the Whole Foods 365 brand or other health food brands when they are on sale, but what I didn’t realize is that many of the personal care products that are stocked on the shelves of health food stores are nothing more than chemical soup. The more research I did, the more I was convinced that I could find some good products that I could use on my hair and body, and still be willing to go out in public. I am happy to say that not only did I find some, but after an adjustment period of some really bad hair days, my hair is healthier and softer than it has been in a long time.

So lets get down to business. What is lurking in these products that give cause for alarm? The following list is not all-inclusive, I am not a chemist, and have to rely on others for my research, so if you know of another super scary ingredient, feel free to share those with me.

The following are some of the dirty ingredients in your soap and shampoo; they range in concern from skin and eye irritant, to allergen, to hormone disruptor, to carcinogen, to even damage of vital organs:

Cocamide DEA or MEA; lauramide DEA or MEA; phthalates; cocoamidopropyl betaine; olefin sulfonate; PVP copolymer; methyl, propyl or butyl parabens; diazolidinyl urea; triclosan;

D&C colors; synthetic fragrance; sodium myeth sulfate; formaldehyde; propylene glycol; and sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)

SLS has had a lot of press, so I will explain it in more detail. It is a surfactant widely used in shampoos, toothpaste, and soaps to give it a good lathering or foaming quality; and that includes most health store brands. Labeling regulations allow “derived from coconut oil” which makes one think it is very natural. But in reality it is drying to skin and hair, irritating to eyes, and can cause damage like cracking, inflammation, and allergic reactions. This damage to the skin can also allow other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin and reach the bloodstream easier. But the even bigger problem is that it has the potential to become contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines when manufacturers add chemicals to make the product less irritating so it won’t cause the problems listed above. So although sodium lauryl sulfate is not a recognized carcinogen by itself, the chemical is frequently combined with TEA (triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), or MEA (monnoethanolamine), which can produce the formation of the carcinogenic substances known as nitrosamines).

There are so many more chemicals…way too many to list. And some chemicals go by multiple names. And if you rush to your shampoo and soap bottles, you will probably see
many of these as well as many others on the ingredient list, as I did. So I set out to find the cleanest soaps and shampoos and test them on my family. These were my results. (I
wish I could say that I was being paid by these companies to promote them, but sadly I am not)

Any truly natural shampoo is going to irritate the eyes. A no-tear formula shampoo has simply added multiple chemicals to neutralize and offset the burning sensation to the eyes; this doesn’t make the chemicals safer. So when using any of these natural shampoos, keep it out of little eyes (and yours for that matter) because it will sting.

For my son, who has a buzz cut and is also the one I want to have the safest products, I was able to use the extremely pure products from Terressentials (clay based – no
detergents), as well as Burt’s Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar and Tropical Traditions Shampoo Bar. I am thankful for these products because he also likes to sit in the bath water and play, and sometimes without me seeing, sip on the water. I finally feel comfortable that he is not poisoning himself. Although these are the best shampoos I have found, I am afraid they didn’t work so well for my hair and my daughter’s hair. I would definitely try them to see if they will work for you though.

So the next best option I found, and am very pleased with is Aubrey Organics Shampoos. The worst ingredient in this line of shampoos is hydrolyzed soy protein and carrageenan.

And although I wouldn’t eat these ingredients (although many people do), I feel okay with them on my scalp. With the natural shampoos, my daughter and I have found it necessary to use a conditioner, and Aubrey Organics conditioners are also very natural.

A few other brands are also worth mentioning. Although they contain a few skin irritants (cocamidopropyl betaine, olefin sulfonate) they are relatively clean and include Burt’s Bees liquid shampoos, Kiss My Face Organic Whenever Shampoo, and Desert Essence Organic Shampoos.

Your best bets are bar soaps. There are many brands that make a good clean bar soap. Check out Dr Bronner’s, Aubrey’s, Burt’s Bees, or check out local farmer’s markets, or do a
search on the Internet for natural soaps, just watch for added synthetic fragrances. For a shower gel try Dr. Bronner’s, these soaps are very pure and have very interesting reading material on the bottle. Aubrey Organics also makes an everyday herbal body soap gel.

If you are like me, you would prefer to have a pump dispenser of liquid hand soap at the sink. Liquid soaps are trickier when trying to avoid chemicals. Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps are excellent, and I use them as a shower gel, but they have clogged up every hand dispenser I have. Tropical Tradition’s foaming hand soaps are great, and they don’t clog up nearly as bad. They are pretty pricey, but if you check their website periodically they will put them on sale often, and their tea tree oil hand soap is nice to have by the kitchen and bathroom sinks for killing germs.

The next best thing I have found for liquid hand soaps with only one or two chemical skin irritants are once again Burt’s Bees and Kiss My Face Organic Foaming Hand Soap (it has
to be this part of their product line, many of their other products have multiple chemical problems).

Remember, if you try these products and you are highly sensitive, some of the essential oils used in the natural soaps might be irritating to your skin. If that is the case try unscented varieties.

Now that I am done reducing chemicals in family’s personal cleaning, I am working on other ways to lighten my home’s chemical load, and have found some great alternatives to chemical home cleaners. Stay tuned next month.

Natural insect repellents

It is that time of year when kids are playing outside for longer hours, enjoying the beautiful warmer weather. Unfortunately, it is also the time when mosquitoes and other insects are out enjoying our children.

So how do we avoid all the toxic concoctions of DEET, but still supply adequate protection for our families? I have summarized information I’ve gathered from various sources over the last two summers. I won’t say that we went insect-bite-free, but we did significantly reduce the number of bites. Here are a few tidbits of information about our backyard enemy:

1. Mosquitoes are attracted to

Dark clothing dark clothes and foliage are initial attractants

Carbon dioxide and lactic acid avoid exercising during peak mosquito hours – dawn and dusk -since more carbon dioxide and lactic acid is released when you have been exercising

Floral and sweet fragrances avoid perfumes, lotions, scented soaps, hair products, scented sunscreens, and fragrance from fabric softeners

Moisture keep your eye out for these sources of standing water: discarded tires, roof gutters clogged with leaves or other debris, rain barrels, wading pools, drainage ditches, paint buckets, tin cans, paper cups or other trash, trash containers, infrequently used yard equipment, plant containers, bird baths, broken toys, pet water bowls, and holes in tree stumps. Mosquitoes are also attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also because it increases the humidity around your body.

2. Natural repellents for the body

Natural oils can effectively repel mosquitoes, but they require more frequent reapplication (at least every 2 hours) and higher concentrations than DEET. Because of the differences between types of mosquitoes, products that contain multiple repellents tend to be more effective than those containing a single ingredient.

The following are plant oils that are often found in combination in natural repellents. They can be found at Whole Foods or other health foods stores: citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, clove, geranium, garlic, pine, basil, thyme.

You can try different combinations of the plant oils to see what is best for you. One of my favorites is peppermint oil because of its fresh smell and tingly sensation, and I mix it with lemongrass oil for added effectiveness. Most of these oils will sting when applied to sensitive areas of the body, so avoid the eye, mucous membranes, cuts and scrapes, and genital areas.

Natural oils in this concentrated form are very strong and should not be applied directly (that could become very expensive). I add a few drops of the plant oils to pure coconut oil – it’s also a great skin moisturizer – and then apply the mixture to the skin. You need to make sure the coconut oil is the deodorized kind, used for cooking, or the sweet smell of coconut may attract the mosquitoes.

3. Natural repellents for the yard Garlic is a great weapon for all sorts of lawn pests. Roast several cloves of garlic and blend with a little oil (a few teaspoons), or mince several fresh cloves and let stand in oil for 24 hours. Add this to 2 cups of water mixed with one-half teaspoon of natural liquid detergent. Spray this mixture over your yard. The smell will dissipate quickly. Repeat every two weeks.

Another good idea is a plant “barrier” around play areas. Choose your mix from the following insect-unfriendly flowers and herbs: marigolds, geraniums, rosemary, catnip, peppermint, spearmint, daisies, verbena, basil, thyme, garlic, allspice, cedar, and lemongrass.


The mixture of coconut oil and natural oils provides no sunscreen protection, but I use it at dusk, which seems to be the only time we need it around our house. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in direct sunlight and need an insect repellent as well, use an unscented natural sunscreen (no OMC – octyl methoxycinnamate, TEA ñ triethanolamine, or Benzophenone) and add the natural oils to protect you, or you can purchase a sunscreen and bug repellent like Kidís Herbal Armour with SPF 15 and Oils of Citronella, Peppermint, Cedar, Lemongrass, and Geranium ñ great product but quite pricey.

Remember though, that moderate sunshine is beneficial to your health as it provides vitamin D. Some children can only take about 10 to 15 minutes at a time before burning or acquiring sun damage. Others can go longer. If you are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, it is crucial to find a very natural sunscreen (check Whole Foods or other health food stores), because most drugstore products have ingredients like those listed above that actually act as chemical absorbers and can be more damaging to the skin than overexposure to the sun itself.

Stocking a natural medicine cabinet for the entire family

I have thought of writing this article for at least a year, but always felt I needed to do more research and prepare a comprehensive list to be sure I wouldn’t omit some important items. Somehow I never could find the time to do this and have finally decided to just write it from memory. I’ll probably be forgetting one thing or the other, and I will write updates down the road whenever I think of something I missed.

I have also not provided references in this section because of time constraints and also because my intention is to make this a practical guide rather than a scientific discussion. I have learned much of what is contained in this section from a variety of sources and it would be hard for me to retrace each one of them. Certainly Jonathan Wright, MD has taught me many “tricks of the trade.” In my opinion, he is the ultimate expert on nutritional medicine. For more information on Dr. Wright and his work visit www.tahoma-clinic.com and www.wrightnewsletter.com

Although I believe that all of the products and procedures described in this section are effective, results may vary from person to person due to the many variables that make each one of us unique. It should be obvious that this section is only meant to supply a list of natural products that can be of use in a medicine cabinet, not to advise anyone on any cures.

All of these products are available to my patients through my office. For others, I have included information to assist in locating similar products at health food stores or on the web.

Vitamin C
Your daily supplement plan may already include some vitamin C. Leading experts, including Dr. Wright, hold that everyone should take a vitamin C supplement on a daily basis. Unlike other mammals, humans are not able to produce vitamin C in their bodies, and our average intake has fallen sharply due to soil depletion and other factors.

It also makes sense to have vitamin C in the medicine cabinet for special needs. The most desirable type of vitamin C for this purpose is pure buffered ascorbic acid. Look for a product that contains calcium, magnes ium and potassium as buffering agents, but no other ingredients.

Higher-than-normal doses of vitamin C can be taken for short periods of time to help your body fight viruses. For this purpose, higher doses definitely perform better than lower ones. A dose of 10 to 50 grams a day is safe for adults and proportionately less should be used in children. Too much vitamin C causes diarrhea and taking as much as you tolerate without loose stools is a useful dosing guideline.

If you or your child has a tendency to become ill in the winter months you may consider increasing your intake to an intermediate level, 2 to 5 grams per day in adults or children, for the entire cold and flu season.

Another good use for buffered ascorbic acid is to do a so-called vitamin C flush, an excellent procedure to help clear your body of a wide range of toxins. This flush is safe and should be done regularly if you or your child have chronic health problems, especially affecting your immune system (like allergies) or auto-immune disease.

A vitamin C flush involves taking 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin C every 15 minutes until you experience a strong purging effect (not just loose stools). Keep track of how much vitamin C it took you to get there. You should be able to take 75% of this total on a daily basis without unpleasant side effects, although our need for vitamin C fluctuates over time and this amount will require periodic adjustments.

Even though the vitamin C flush is a safe procedure, there is a minor risk of side effects and it is best to do it under professional supervision – especially if you are not in good health.

Xylitol nasal wash
The only nasal wash containing xylitol that I know is one called Xlear that is now widely available at health food stores or on the Internet. It is a simple saline nasal wash containing a natural sugar, xylitol. Xylitol has the benefit of making membranes inside the nose and throat “slippery” to bacteria so that they become unable to attach and grow in the area.

This may sound like a joke to the skeptical reader, and I also had trouble believing it at first, but it really works. Several months ago I wrote an article on this product. If you missed it, you can read it by going to the Newsletters page on my website and click “Allergies” in the topics column, then scrolling down to the second article.

Xlear can be used three times a day or more if you or your child have allergies and/or have a tendency to get sinus or ear, nose and throat infections. Use it throughout the allergy season, or whenever infections are more likely – for example, when everyone else at your child’s school is fighting something. It can also be used to combat an infection and can be combined with medications, but it far more effective as a preventative measure.

Grapefruit seed extract
This product is one of the least expensive and most useful ones to keep in your home. It is a natural antiseptic and antifungal that can be used for almost anything, from truly disinfecting fruits and vegetables to cleaning kitchen counters. It can also be taken internally (if properly diluted) and is very helpful to prevent and kill parasites, yeast and intestinal bacteria

It can also be used when traveling to Mexico or other parts of the world to prevent traveler’s diarrhea and almost every intestinal parasite.

As with any product, when using grapefruit seed extract be sure you follow directions on the label. I emphasize this because I know of a lady who used it by mistake as eye drops for her dog with disastrous consequences.

It usually comes in a liquid or in capsules, but can also be found in nasal sprays and ear drops. In many cases, combining grapefruit seed extract nasal spray with Xlear nasal wash has helped resolve chronic sinus infections, including some that did not respond to standard antibiotic treatment.

Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver is unquestionably the strongest natural “antibiotic” available. Unlike antibiotics, it does not favor yeast overgrowth and it kills yeast as well as bacteria. Even though it is a very effective product and I have been a witness to this many times, colloidal silver is simply not as strong as antibiotics and it may or may not work depending on the severity of each case. In some instances colloidal silver is best used in combination with other products like Xlear or grapefruit seed extract for optimal results.

Most colloidal silver on the market is simply too weak to do much of anything and this has led people to think that this product is useless. Unfortunately this type of problem is common in the field of nutritional supplements and results primarily from greed in an unregulated industry.

When shopping for colloidal silver look for a product that is potent enough and is made of very small silver particles, otherwise it will not work. A minimum standard should be 500 parts per million (PPM) and a guaranteed particle size no larger than 0.001 microns.

There has been some discussion regarding the safety of this product and it should be noted that silver is a heavy metal that can become toxic if taken in large quantities. In reality, silver is only mildly toxic – especially when compared to metals like mercury or lead – and silver toxicity has not been linked with problems like ADHD or autism.

As with everything else, potential benefits and risks should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and compared to those of alternatives, especially considering that silver can help control yeast at the same time as bacteria. In any case I do not recommend using this product for longer than one to two consecutive weeks.

Mannose is very similar to xylitol. It looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and actually is a natural sugar. It could be used as a sweetener if it wasn’t so expensive. Unlike sugar, mannose cannot be digested but is absorbed and eventually finds its way out of the body unchanged through the kidneys and the bladder.

In doing so, this natural sugar has the amazing ability to clear most urinary tract infections. It is still a mystery to me how it actually works. The accepted explanation is that it makes the walls of the bladder slippery and bacteria simply slide off and end up in the toilet.

I am not sure whether this is really accurate, but the fact is that mannose works and often does so in a matter of two or three days. Not only this, but people who tend to get repeated bladder infections can take as little as a teaspoon every day and never suffer another recurrence.

We used to think that mannose only worked if E. coli was responsible for the infection. Even in this case it would be quite impressive since E. coli causes an estimated 80% of all bladder infections, but we are now finding that it also sometimes works when different bacteria are involved. Certain reports suggest that it can even help a condition called interstitial cystitis that isn’t even supposed to be caused by bacteria at all.

Most people know that Echinacea is a strong immune system enhancer but there are many false beliefs surrounding this herb, among them that it cannot be taken regularly over time and that children should not take it.

None of this is true. Echinacea is safe for adults and children and can be used on a daily basis over long periods of time, if needed, without losing its effectiveness. I recommend always keeping some on hand. Take it at a first sign of a cold or flu; if you a re particularly vulnerable you can take it for the entire season.

The efficacy of this herb varies tremendously depending on the part of the plant used, the manufacturing process, the species and the quality of the raw material. As an example it is a well-known fact that only the roots work, but the leaves are cheaper and widely used in health food store products.

Look for an extract containing only the roots of the species Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea. The strongest extracts have an alcohol base, although water extracts may also present similar benefits (this point is controversial at the present time).

Some parents might be uncomfortable giving herbs in an alcohol base to their children. My opinion is that the amount of alcohol is so minute that it is completely safe even for very small children. Such tiny amounts of alcohol are present in many foods and can also be made in the body in the process of normal digestion.

Because allergies to Echinacea are not uncommon, I recommend that you try taking it and letting you child take it to make sure it is well tolerated before you actually need it.

DMSO is a liquid with very particular characteristics. I think it belongs in every natural medicine cabinet for two primary reasons: 1) it can be used as a topical anti-inflammatory and 2) it is absorbed through the skin and can be used to carry vitamins and other substances with it.

Apparently DMSO has been also used internally with beneficial effects, especially for arthritis and allergies. In my opinion the extremely unpleasant odor and taste make this use impractical. However, a different form of this same molecule, called MSM, can be swallowed in capsules or powder and has been shown to have the same benefits.

DMSO has a controversial history, although I believe that most of the controversy has now been resolved. To read more about DMSO, studies on it, uses and history go to www.dmso.org

The DMSO you buy should be labeled US pharmaceutical grade (usually 99.9% pure). It can be found at some health food stores or from the Internet.

Use it topically for arthritis, sprains or muscle aches. Make sure to only apply it with clean hands on clean skin, otherwise it may carry impurities with it through the skin. Other uses of DMSO are discussed below.

Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil is an essential oil with topical antibiotic and antifungal actions. It can be used for most skin infections, toenail fungus, ringworm, diaper rash, etc. but should never be taken internally.

In the case of toenail fungus the infection is rooted deep down in the nail bed. The only way Tea Tree oil can kill the fungus is if it can find a way through the superficial layers of the nail. To achieve this mix it in equal parts with DMSO and apply it to affected nails twice a day.

Digestive enzymes
In addition to the primary use of enzymes, which is to help digestion, they can also be used topically to treat insect bites. Use enzymes containing the pineapple enzyme bromelain or pancreatin. Open a capsule and mix the contents with water to make a paste, then apply to the red swollen insect bite area as needed.

SSKI is a saturated solution of iodine that usually supplies 50 mg of this mineral per drop. It can be obtained by prescription or over the counter, although it may take some searching to find it.

SSKI can be used internally for many therapeutic purposes, but this should only be done under expert supervision because high doses of iodine can block the thyroid in some people. It also has many other uses described below.

SSKI has antibiotic and antifungal actions similar to those of Tea Tree oil. Use it as an alternative or find the one that works better in your case. Tea Tree oil has a pungent odor and may burn the skin slightly. SSKI has a bright yellow color that might permanently stain clothes although it’s safe once it’s dry.

SSKI is also effective for herpes, especially if applied to the affected area several times a day early in the outbreak. Mix it in equal parts with DMSO and apply to the area several times a day. Use this same mixture of SSKI and DMSO to dissolve sebaceous cysts, applying it twice a day for several weeks.

Any scar, thickened area of skin or a condition known as Dupuytren’s contracture will improve with a mixture of DMSO, SSKI and vitamin E applied to the area twice a day. It will take several months to see a difference but patience pays off.

Finally, when soaking raw beans, add a few drops SSKI to the water and leave overnight. The SSKI helps inactivate chemicals in beans that make them difficult to digest. After soaking, drain the beans and rinse them before you cook them. Eating those beans may just become more pleasant!