|Issue #114 - March 2012|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #114. It's my mission to help you find optimal solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter please send me an email and let me know. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.
2012 NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE LECTURE SERIES
Free 1 hour lectures
March 2012 Natural Approach to Mosquito and Tick Bites
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Please RSVP by email to insure your place. Seating is limited.
THE BUGS ARE COMING
With the mild, warm winter we're having I am very concerned that we will see a lot of problems with insect pests this year, especially mosquitoes and ticks. Already some of my patients are pulling ticks off their dogs. And we're starting to see those flying beetles that look like lady bugs (way earlier than usual). With this nice weather we’ll be outside more and the bugs will be looking for their free lunch. And we’re trying to stop them.
The attractant level of individuals is based on a complex interaction of many chemical and visual signals. Because something works for one person or against one type of bug, doesn't necessarily mean it will for others. A bug repellent's efficacy depends on which bug species is biting, heat and humidity levels, and the age, sex, level of activity, and bug susceptibility of the human user.
According to preliminary studies, 85% of a person's susceptibility to mosquito bites is genetic. Body chemistry plays a role. Female mosquitoes (the bloodsuckers) target those who produce excess amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid, and people with high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin (unrelated to cholesterol levels but maybe related to use of these drugs). They're lured by a combination of scent, water vapor, and the warm carbon dioxide expelled during breathing and emitted from skin. When a person pants from exertion, the CO2 and lactic acid pouring from sweat glands is irresistible to a mosquito, which needs blood to develop fertile eggs. Resist going on a swatting rampage when insects hover. Such movements can double the number of mosquitoes you attract. Also, mosquitoes seem drawn to dark rather than light-colored clothing.
You can avoid most mosquito assaults by staying inside around dawn and dusk, which is when they are most active. If you must be out during those times, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants, hats and socks. Mosquitoes are also thicker in shrubby areas and near standing water.
Extra facts to know about mosquitoes:
* Female mosquitoes use blood to nourish their eggs prior to laying, imbibing about 5 millionths of a liter per "feeding."
* Mosquitoes can be attracted to you by your body heat from as far as 25-35 meters away.
* Mosquitoes seem to be attracted to women, and to people drinking beer.
* In one study, a full moon increased mosquito activity 500%.
In North America, young deer ticks (Lyme disease carriers) prefer to feed during the warmer months when people tend to spend more time outdoors. Most cases of Lyme disease occur during the months of May, June, and July, when young ticks are most active. They are very small and difficult to detect. Adult ticks feed in the fall and are generally easier to spot and remove.
Adult female ticks lay eggs in the fall. The eggs that survive winter hatch in the spring. Tiny six-legged larval ticks work their way to the tips of ground vegetation. There they wait, sometimes for months, and "quest" for a small mammal, usually a deer mouse.
The larval tick holds onto the grass with its rear legs and with its outstretched front legs waits for a mouse to wander by. When it hitches a ride, it quickly attaches to a thin piece of skin for its first blood meal.
The larva then drops to the ground and molts into an eight-legged nymph stage and waits for its next host, usually a medium-sized mammal, such as a raccoon or fox. After hitching another ride and enjoying another blood meal, the nymph drops off and molts into the eight-legged adult tick.
The adult then waits for a deer or human to wander by. This host provides the blood that enables female ticks to manufacture up to 4,000 eggs. After depositing the eggs on the ground, the female dies.
Fortunately, most eggs do not usually survive the winter, and most immature ticks fail to find all three required hosts, so they starve. Enough, however, survive to make life miserable for humans and dogs.
The black-legged or deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) carries the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease. It is smaller than the more familiar dog tick. The bacterium circulates harmlessly in the blood of deer and other mammals and can be transmitted to humans after an adult deer tick acquires it in a blood meal from a deer or an earlier host.
Tick bites frequently occur on the upper parts of the body, especially on the head, neck, and under the armpit, as well as the lower legs. Ticks can settle and feed in moist areas such as around the groin, navel, and behind the knees. They also prefer to bite in unexposed areas (out of direct sunlight). So if you like to traipse through the woods, visual inspections (and prompt tick removal) can be helpful in the prevention of disease.
If you find an attached tick use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If the mouth parts break off, remove them with the tweezers. Then clean the area with rubbing alcohol and soap and water. Only 40% of tick bites produce the classic bull's eye rash of Lyme disease. So no rash from a tick bite is a good sign but it's not definitive.
Carbon dioxide (from your expired breath) will attract ticks to you. Some ticks can recognize chemical cues left behind by passing animals or humans on plants, and may wait patiently on or near these areas to ambush their prospective host. Some studies indicate that ticks are also attracted to squalene, which is an abundant, naturally occurring skin secretion found in humans and mammals.
In US studies researchers found that certain human behaviors were riskier than others for tick encounters. People most at risk were those who just sat on logs, followed by those out gathering wood, sitting against trees, walking, and sitting on leaf litter.
Depending on the age of the tick and the person bitten, ticks may spend up to 24 hours on your body before they even begin to feed, but may need only 8 hours before disease may be transmitted. Infection is transmitted faster by adult ticks. Contrary to what you may have heard, only 40% of people bitten by ticks carrying Lyme disease develop the classic bulls-eye rash.
Keep in mind that ticks are attracted to light-colored clothing. Some entomologists advise people to wear light colors to make ticks more visible to you, in which case, they can be spotted and removed easier. My suggestion is to wear dark clothing to reduce your exposure, and follow some of the other recommendations given below.
To lessen your exposure to ticks:
* Wear long pants and tuck cuffs into socks.
* Wear a hat and closed-toe shoes.
* Do a daily tick patrol for ticks on your body.
* Check pets frequently for ticks.
* Build fences to keep deer from your yard.
* Stay on the trail if you are hiking in the forest.
* Reduce tick habitat by removing leaf litter and woodpiles, mowing grass, and clearing brush.
* Wear dark clothing (ticks are attracted to white and light colors).
Forests, lawns, areas with leaf litter or shrub cover, and watered areas all tend to be tick habitat. Ticks that transmit Lyme disease prefer moist, humid conditions, and are sensitive to dehydration. Homes built near the forest edge are especially prone to having increased numbers of ticks in the area. If you live close to the woods, creating a barrier several feet wide of wood chips, mulch, or gravel between your grass and the woods, may offer increased protection against tick bites.
Young ticks are often found in leaf litter, and can also be found concentrated near stone walls and on hollow, fallen logs. These places provide nesting areas for mice and other small rodents that ticks feed upon. Adult ticks seem to prefer tall grasses. Keeping your backyard mowed and free of debris will greatly reduce their numbers.
If you play golf, you may want to know that deer ticks are often present in large numbers in the surrounding woods adjacent to fairways. They are much less common on fairways due to the closely mowed grasses there. In forests, ticks tend to be more numerous when their hosts (such as deer) are also more abundant.
In studies in New York, human exposure to ticks that transmit Lyme disease was found to be related to the abundance of white-footed mice in the area. Since these mice primarily feed on acorns, acorn abundance helped to increase the number of mice. Cats have fewer ticks than dogs due to their more efficient grooming habits.
Birds are the primary predators of ticks; however, ants, spiders, beetles, mites, and some mice also feed on them. There are also minute wasps that parasitize and kill ticks. Chickens like to eat ticks as well, so this is another reason to raise your own chickens and eat the eggs.
I happen to mention to some friends of mine that I was writing about mosquito and tick prevention. The first question I he asked was, "Do I recommend DEET"?
The most widely used insect repellents are those containing DEET. A 1999 EPA publication acknowledges potential serious side effects from the use of DEET, including rare toxic reactions following intensely treated skin application in some children causing behavioral disorder, movement problems, rapid loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, seizures, and paralysis.
DEET has also been found to cause:
* Problems controlling muscle movement, memory, concentration and learning
* Eye and skin irritation
* Weakness and fatigue
* Muscle pain, joint pain, and tremors
* Shortness of breath
According to physician, Dr. Marion Moses, "DEET is very toxic to the brain and nervous system, (can cause) slurred speech, tremor, convulsions, coma," and "death in children from absorption through skin when...applied repeatedly, or in high concentrations." "Headaches, restlessness, irritability, crying spells in children and other changes in behavior may result from mild poisoning.”
DEET can dissolve nylon and plastic, is highly flammable, has caused rashes, eye and sinus irritation, headaches, insomnia, and confusion in sensitive people, and is dangerous if absorbed into the bloodstream (through open wounds).
So, no, I don't recommend DEET. Just know that if you use natural alternatives you may have to try more than one to find one that works for you. And most natural alternatives need to be applied more frequently.
Another harmful chemical found in bug repellents is permethrin. Permethrin is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family, all of which are neurotoxins. The EPA has labeled this chemical carcinogenic. It causes lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities.
Permethrin is also damaging to the environment, and it is particularly toxic to bees and aquatic life. Permethrin is highly toxic to cats. Even a few drops can be lethal to your feline companion. If you see "for dogs only" on the label, it probably contains permethrin.
If you’re looking for some natural repellents here are a few to try.
One of the best ways to decrease the amount of mosquito bites you get is to break up any standing water. This means bird baths, rain gutters, fountains, ponds, flowerpot trays, and anywhere water may gather. Besides it being the early sound of Spring, I love the peepers at our pond because I know the mature frogs will eat a lot of mosquitoes.
Planting marigolds around your yard works great as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes without using chemical insecticides.
Lemon grass, a staple of Thai cooking, can be bought at Asian groceries, easily rooted and grown as a tropical plant, for wintering indoors. Rubbing a cut stalk vigorously, releasing its wonderfully perfumed oil, repels well for four to five hours. Other plant extracts mosquitoes avoid are fennel, shrub verbena, lavender, witch hazel, tansy, peppermint, basil, lemon balm, lemon oregano, lemon geranium, rosemary, sassafras and eucalyptus.
For 30 years or more I’ve recommended eating more brewer’s yeast and garlic to repel mosquitoes. This seems to work really well for some people and it’s been shown that higher amounts of Vitamin B12 in your body act as a repellent. We also know that vitamin B1 exuding from your pores is also a repellent.
Lemon eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus citriodora) has been shown to be nearly as effective as DEET. You can find it n many sprays and lotions. It can cause skin reactions and may not be safe for children under 3 years of age. Citronella is an essential oil found in many natural repellents. Mosquitoes don’t like its smell and are repelled by it.
When you’ve been bitten and are scratching away find some plantain leaves. Chew them up and place over the mosquito bite. This can be very effective to stop the itching.
Before applying leaves, sprays, or lotions to skin, "patch test" yourself for allergic reactions by applying some repeatedly on your inner forearm for a day or so; if there's no irritating skin reaction, such as redness, itching or swelling, or other adverse response, it should be safe to use.
A safe, non-toxic mosquito and tick repellent recommended by naturopathic doctors is BiteBlocker http://www.homs.com/biteblocker%C2%AE.html
This product comes in lotion, spray, or bracelet form and works well as a repellent.
Over the last year I became aware of vitamin B1 patches being marketed as useful against mosquitoes and even ticks. There are several out there but the 1st one I saw was
I haven't use them yet but they fit my experience of recommending brewer's yeast for all these years and seeing it be effective (brewer's yeast is a concentrated source of vitamin B1.)
Special Treatment Concerns
If you're already a tick magnet and end up with several tick bites every year there are some things to be aware of. First, if you're taking a homeopathic medicine take it as far away in time from your insect repellent as you can. Most of the natural insect repellents have essential oils in them and essential oils may antidote the benefit you're getting from your homeopathic medicine. Second, if you want to use a homeopathic medicine to help prevent getting sick after a tick bite email me directly and I'll respond with my recommendations specifically for you. Do not randomly follow some internet or store advice for yourself or your family in this regard. Most dispensing such advice have no training to be doing so.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
If you have a favorite safe, non-toxic mosquito or tick repellent that you've used please share it with the rest of us. Go to my Facebook page and put it in the comment area under the announcement for this month's newsletter. Let's help each other out and have a fun, healthy season.
HERE COMES THE SUN
My eBook, "Here Comes The Sun: Preventing Chronic Disease With Vitamin D", is now available for purchase.
The best way to order my book is to mail a check (made out to Dr. Pais) for $9.95 to my office address below. Drop me an email saying your "check is in the mail" and I will immediately email you my book.
I would appreciate any comments or feedback once you've finished reading it. Enjoy!
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 343 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn’t one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
Newsletter: Here you will find all 113 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News”.
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update periodically. Check out my latest post, “No Deaths From Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Or Herbs”.
Come join my fan page at www.facebook.com/NaturalDoc
Help me bring information, news, and stories about natural medicine to the Facebook community.
For those of you who don’t know, Facebook is a social networking website. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, and school or college.
Facebook pages help you discover new artists, businesses, and communities as well as those you already love. On my fan page www.facebook.com/NaturalDoc I post discussions that you can join in with and relay breaking health news related to disease prevention, clinical nutrition, and ways to make you healthier.
I’m looking forward to exploring this community with you. See you there!
LET ME HELP YOU MAKE WISE SUPPLEMENT CHOICES
As is often the case, a recent new patient asked if I would review their choice and use of supplements and herbs. Why does this happen so often? For many, taking a vitamin or herb is their introduction to natural medicine. Their desire to be healthier drives them to take supplements and herbs. The death, pain, discomfort, and side effects experienced with over the counter and prescription drugs compels people to look elsewhere. It’s very different with supplements and herbs which, when used correctly, have an incredibly low risk of harm.
Some people take this to an extreme and take every supplement or herb that someone tells them is ‘good for them’. It might be a clerk, an internet ‘expert’ source, or a friend who is marketing the latest or greatest fad. Most of these individuals or companies have no professional training or experience in the medical use of the supplements or herbs that they’re selling. The people they’re selling to come into my office with 5, 10, 15, or more supplements that they’re taking. Sometimes it’s been so long since they started taking them that they don’t remember why they’re doing it. When I ask, they can’t tell me what, if anything, a particular product is doing for them. Yet, they can be quite fearful of stopping any of these items, as if their health would careen off a precipice without them.
Why do I think my approach is any different? Partly, it’s because of my background. I’ve literally been working with nutritional supplements since 1974. That’s 36 years assessing the quality and effectiveness of supplements. Beginning in 1980 I started working with Western and Chinese herbs. The quality of herbs used and how they’re combined together has the greatest effect on the efficacy of the final product. Because I’ve grown, identified, harvested, and produced medicinal herbal products I recognize a good formula when I see one.
Licensed naturopaths like me receive the most extensive academic and clinical training in the use of nutritional supplements and herbal medicines of any professional in the United States. Nothing can substitute for such hands on experience, especially when you see, and are responsible for, the results of your treatments. Very different from the clerk in the store, or coworker who’s part of a MLM scheme.
What I’m offering to is easy access to this experience and training. Both for you and your family. If you have questions about the supplements or herbs you are taking, or are thinking about taking, now is the time to ask. Send me an email with the brand and name of the product you’re taking. Let me know that you want to bring the bottles in at your next visit, so I can see what you’re taking. Start a discussion on my Facebook fan page. Either way I’ll give you honest feedback about what I think is good, or what isn’t. We’ll fine tune what you’re taking to maximize effect and eliminate waste.
Let me hear from you and we’ll get started.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D TEST WITH ZRT LABORATORY
It just happened again the other day. A patient sent me a copy of the Vitamin D test she just had done. With frustrating results. The wrong test was done. After all these years, and all the information available, MDs and laboratories still order the wrong test. What a waste of money and time.
For a long time I looked for a home Vitamin D test. One that would be simple, easy, and accurate to do on your own. I finally found one. ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton OR. ZRT emphasizes research and technological innovation.
Until now, venipuncture blood serum has been the standard medium for testing Vitamin D. ZRT has developed and refined Vitamin D testing in blood spots. A few drops of blood from a quick and nearly painless nick of the finger, placed on a filter paper to dry are all that is needed. The total 25 (OH) Vitamin D is then determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This method has been shown to be as accurate as the assay standard.
Ordering A Vitamin D Test
ZRT allows anyone to order a Vitamin D test kit for $95 plus shipping and have it sent to their home. ZRT will let me prepay for kits and send them to my office for $55 each, plus $8 shipping. I am charging $65 per kit for patients to cover the total.
If you are interested in getting a Vitamin D test done through my office please prepay so I can order you a kit. Then you can either pick it up at my office or have it shipped to your home. Once you’ve taken the sample and sent it back to ZRT it’s only a matter of time before your results are sent back to me. I can even look at them online before the mail arrives.
If your doctor has refused to order a Vitamin D test or worse, ordered the wrong one, this is the fastest, least expensive, most accurate way to do it ourselves. Once we know what your Vitamin D levels are, the next step is making sure that you achieve optimum levels for prevention of disease and maintenance of health.
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It’s a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That’s it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you’ve thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP
580 E. 3rd. St.
Williamsport PA 17701