|Issue #52 - January 2007|
As of Friday October 6, 2006, my website www.foroptimalhealth.com, is up and running.
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: On this page you will find some of the more common items from Emerson. This allows you to conveniently order from my website. If one of the products that you use is not listed here let me know and I will add it. You can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
Here you will find all 52 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
This is a community calendar open to all of you. Please use it to post events and special dates that you would like to share. You will also find the dates that I am out of town as well as my classes and lectures.
Recently I found myself explaining how homeopathic remedies are made so I thought it would be good to reiterate the basics. I include under pharmacy all the aspects involved in the preparation of homeopathic medicines.
To start, it's important to understand where homeopathic medicines come from. Most remedies are made from the major Kingdoms of the natural world-Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral. Everything from relatively inert substances like club moss to innately reactive substances like Phosphorous. When Dr. Samuel Hahnemann created the science of homeopathy in the first half of the 19th century many of the medicines in use were toxic substances like Mercury. Hahnemann recognized the medicinal potential integral to such poisonous materials and sought a way to enhance the healing effects while canceling and negating any deadly effects. Similarly, a method was needed that would evoke the dormant healing properties inherent to inert substances such as oyster shell or cuttlefish ink. Hahnemann's genius created the homeopathic pharmaceutical process, which solved these seemingly insurmountable problems simultaneously.
To address the issue of toxicity Hahnemann diluted his remedy preparations. To awaken the latent healing properties of a substance he created the succussion process. The combination of serial dilution and succussion is the hallmark of homeopathic pharmacy. For the first time extremely poisonous substances such as snake venoms, spider venoms, Mercury, Arsenic, etc., could be safely utilized as medicine. Understanding the 3 potency scales of homeopathic pharmacy shows us how this can be done.
Homeopathic medicines start from a solution of standardized chemical strength. The first potency scale developed by Hahnemann and the one still most commonly found is the centesimal scale (C potency). To make a centesimal potency one part of this solution is added to 99 parts of the diluent (water and alcohol) and the dilution is thoroughly succussed (vigorously agitated by striking the container against a firm surface). This is called the 1C potency because it is a 1:100 dilution of the original solution (C for centesimal). Then 1 part of the 1C potency is added to 99 parts of diluent. Again the solution is succussed. This new dilution is the 2C potency because it has been prepared by a 1:100 dilution performed 2 times. The strength of the 2C potency is 1/10,000 of the original solution (1/100 of 1/100). Further potencies go up from there-3C from 2C, 4C from 3C, etc. A 200C potency means this process has occurred 200 times, a 1M potency means that this process has occurred one thousand times.
The X or decimal potency is prepared in a similar manner except a dilution factor of 1:10 applies. In other words, one part of the original material is diluted in 10 parts diluent and then succussed to make the 1X potency. Then 1 part of the 1X potency is added to 10 parts diluent and succussed to make the 2X potency, and so on.
There is a third homeopathic potency referred to as the LM potency (also Q potency) or 50 millesimal potency. The LM potency starts from a 3C potency of a particular remedy. One part of a 3C potency is dissolved in 99 parts of diluent and then 500 milk sugar pellets about the size of a poppy seed are moistened by this solution. Each one of these pellets is now an LM1 potency of that particular remedy.
Why is any of this important? What difference does it make which potency is used? In my experience, and that of many other homeopaths, potency and dose are critical in determining the response to a homeopathic remedy. If the potency is too strong or the dose is too large the vitality of the individual is 'pushed' too hard and pushes back with more symptoms-the headache gets worse or the sleep is disrupted. If the correct potency is used based on the assessment of the individual's Vital Force this effect is minimized. The LM potency was specifically developed by Samuel Hahnemann to be his most 'perfect method'. His goal was to bring about a rapid, gentle, and permanent restoration of health. I use mostly C and LM potencies in my practice. For those of you that have wondered where those really tiny pellets came from, now you know!
The C and X potencies can be made utilizing a variety of different sized pellets. From those smaller than poppy seed-sized granules that the LMs are always made from to pellets the size of large BBs. If prepared properly, each pellet dosed with the solution of a particular potency is equal to 1 dry dose. 500 poppy seed-sized granules of a LM potency therefore represent 500 dry doses. That's why you can ignore the instructions on the tube of Oscillococcinum that say take the whole tube as 1 dose. Each one of those tubes contains at least 100 doses. Imagine that, 100 flu doses for less than $10. That's cost effectiveness in medicine!
FOOD LABELS-BEEF Part 3
"Discover How Your Beef Is Really Raised", by Michael Pollan, New York Times, March 31, 2002. This is the third part of Michael Pollan's article on how beef is raised. If you missed Parts 1&2 you'll find them in Naturopathic News #50 and #51 respectively, on my website http://www.foroptimalhealth.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=4
What keeps a feedlot animal healthy -- or healthy enough -- are antibiotics. Rumensin inhibits gas production in the rumen, helping to prevent bloat; tylosin reduces the incidence of liver infection. Most of the antibiotics sold in America end up in animal feed -- a practice that, it is now generally acknowledged, leads directly to the evolution of new antibiotic-resistant ''superbugs.''
In the debate over the use of antibiotics in agriculture, a distinction is usually made between clinical and nonclinical uses. Public-health advocates don't object to treating sick animals with antibiotics; they just don't want to see the drugs lose their efficacy because factory farms are feeding them to healthy animals to promote growth.
But the use of antibiotics in feedlot cattle confounds this distinction. Here the drugs are plainly being used to treat sick animals, yet the animals probably wouldn't be sick if not for what we feed them.
I asked Metzen what would happen if antibiotics were banned from cattle feed. ''We just couldn't feed them as hard,'' he said. ''Or we'd have a higher death loss.'' (Less than 3 percent of cattle die on the feedlot.) The price of beef would rise, he said, since the whole system would have to slow down. ''Hell, if you gave them lots of grass and space,'' he concluded dryly, ''I wouldn't have a job.''
Before heading over to Pen 43 for my reunion with No. 534, I stopped by the shed where recent arrivals receive their hormone implants. The calves are funneled into a chute, herded along by a ranch hand wielding an electric prod, then clutched in a restrainer just long enough for another hand to inject a slow-release pellet of Revlar, a synthetic estrogen, in the back of the ear.
The Blairs' pen had not yet been implanted, and I was still struggling with the decision of whether to forgo what is virtually a universal practice in the cattle industry in the United States. (It has been banned in the European Union.)
American regulators permit hormone implants on the grounds that no risk to human health has been proved, even though measurable hormone residues do turn up in the meat we eat. These contribute to the buildup of estrogenic compounds in the environment, which some scientists believe may explain falling sperm counts and premature maturation in girls.
Recent studies have also found elevated levels of synthetic growth hormones in feedlot wastes; these persistent chemicals eventually wind up in the waterways downstream of feedlots, where scientists have found fish exhibiting abnormal sex characteristics.
The F.D.A. is opening an inquiry into the problem, but for now, implanting hormones in beef cattle is legal and financially irresistible: an implant costs $1.50 and adds between 40 and 50 pounds to the weight of a steer at slaughter, for a return of at least $25. That could easily make the difference between profit and loss on my investment in No. 534. Thinking like a parent, I like the idea of feeding my son hamburgers free of synthetic hormones. But thinking like a cattleman, there was really no decision to make.
I asked Rich Blair what he thought. ''I'd love to give up hormones,'' he said. ''If the consumer said, 'We don't want hormones,' we'd stop in a second. The cattle could get along better without them. But the market signal's not there, and as long as my competitor's doing it, I've got to do it, too.''
Around lunchtime, Metzen and I finally arrived at No. 534's pen. My first impression was that my steer had landed himself a decent piece of real estate. The pen is far enough from the feed mill to be fairly quiet, and it has a water view -- of what I initially thought was a reservoir, until I noticed the brown scum.
The pen itself is surprisingly spacious, slightly bigger than a basketball court, with a concrete feed bunk out front and a freshwater trough in the back. I climbed over the railing and joined the 90 steers, which, en masse, retreated a few steps, then paused.
I had on the same carrot-colored sweater I'd worn to the ranch in South Dakota, hoping to jog my steer's memory. Way off in the back, I spotted him -- those three white blazes. As I gingerly stepped toward him, the quietly shuffling mass of black cowhide between us parted, and there No. 534 and I stood, staring dumbly at each other.
Glint of recognition? None whatsoever. I told myself not to take it personally. No. 534 had been bred for his marbling, after all, not his intellect.
I don't know enough about the emotional life of cows to say with any confidence if No. 534 was miserable, bored or melancholy, but I would not say he looked happy. I noticed that his eyes looked a little bloodshot. Some animals are irritated by the fecal dust that floats in the feedlot air; maybe that explained the sullen gaze with which he fixed me.
Unhappy or not, though, No. 534 had clearly been eating well. My animal had put on a couple hundred pounds since we'd last met, and he looked it: thicker across the shoulders and round as a barrel through the middle. He carried himself more like a steer now than a calf, even though he was still less than a year old. Metzen complimented me on his size and conformation. ''That's a handsome looking beef you've got there.''
Staring at No. 534, I could picture the white lines of the butcher's chart dissecting his black hide: rump roast, flank steak, standing rib, brisket. One way of looking at No. 534 -- the industrial way -- was as an efficient machine for turning feed corn into beef.
Every day between now and his slaughter date in June, No. 534 will convert 32 pounds of feed (25 of them corn) into another three and a half pounds of flesh. Poky is indeed a factory, transforming cheap raw materials into a less-cheap finished product, as fast as bovinely possible.
Yet the factory metaphor obscures as much as it reveals about the creature that stood before me. For this steer was not a machine in a factory but an animal in a web of relationships that link him to certain other animals, plants and microbes, as well as to the earth. And one of those other animals is us.
The unnaturally rich diet of corn that has compromised No. 534's health is fattening his flesh in a way that in turn may compromise the health of the humans who will eat him. The antibiotics he's consuming with his corn were at that very moment selecting, in his gut and wherever else in the environment they wind up, for bacteria that could someday infect us and resist the drugs we depend on. We inhabit the same microbial ecosystem as the animals we eat, and whatever happens to it also happens to us.
I thought about the deep pile of manure that No. 534 and I were standing in. We don't know much about the hormones in it -- where they will end up or what they might do once they get there -- but we do know something about the bacteria. One particularly lethal bug most probably resided in the manure beneath my feet.
Escherichia coli 0157 is a relatively new strain of a common intestinal bacteria (it was first isolated in the 1980's) that is common in feedlot cattle, more than half of whom carry it in their guts. Ingesting as few as 10 of these microbes can cause a fatal infection.
Most of the microbes that reside in the gut of a cow and find their way into our food get killed off by the acids in our stomachs, since they originally adapted to live in a neutral-pH environment. But the digestive tract of the modern feedlot cow is closer in acidity to our own, and in this new, manmade environment acid-resistant strains of E. coli have developed that can survive our stomach acids -- and go on to kill us.
By acidifying a cow's gut with corn, we have broken down one of our food chain's barriers to infection. Yet this process can be reversed: James Russell, a U.S.D.A. microbiologist, has discovered that switching a cow's diet from corn to hay in the final days before slaughter reduces the population of E. coli 0157 in its manure by as much as 70 percent. Such a change, however, is considered wildly impractical by the cattle industry.
So much comes back to corn, this cheap feed that turns out in so many ways to be not cheap at all. While I stood in No. 534's pen, a dump truck pulled up alongside the feed bunk and released a golden stream of feed.
The animals stepped up to the bunk for their lunch. The $1.60 a day I'm paying for three giant meals is a bargain only by the narrowest of calculations. It doesn't take into account, for example, the cost to the public health of antibiotic resistance or food poisoning by E. coli or all the environmental costs associated with industrial corn.
For if you follow the corn from this bunk back to the fields where it grows, you will find an 80-million-acre monoculture that consumes more chemical herbicide and fertilizer than any other crop.
Keep going and you can trace the nitrogen runoff from that crop all the way down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, where it has created (if that is the right word) a 12,000-square-mile ''dead zone.''
But you can go farther still, and follow the fertilizer needed to grow that corn all the way to the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. No. 534 started life as part of a food chain that derived all its energy from the sun; now that corn constitutes such an important link in his food chain, he is the product of an industrial system powered by fossil fuel.
(And in turn, defended by the military -- another uncounted cost of ''cheap'' food.) I asked David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy, if it might be possible to calculate precisely how much oil it will take to grow my steer to slaughter weight.
Assuming No. 534 continues to eat 25 pounds of corn a day and reaches a weight of 1,250 pounds, he will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil. We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.
Sometime in June, No. 534 will be ready for slaughter. Though only 14 months old, my steer will weigh more than 1,200 pounds and will move with the lumbering deliberateness of the obese. One morning, a cattle trailer from the National Beef plant in Liberal, Kan., will pull in to Poky Feeders, drop a ramp and load No. 534 along with 35 of his pen mates.
The 100-mile trip south to Liberal is a straight shot on Route 83, a two-lane highway on which most of the traffic consists of speeding tractor-trailers carrying either cattle or corn. The National Beef plant is a sprawling gray-and-white complex in a neighborhood of trailer homes and tiny houses a notch up from shanty.
These are, presumably, the homes of the Mexican and Asian immigrants who make up a large portion of the plant's work force. The meat business has made southwestern Kansas an unexpectedly diverse corner of the country.
A few hours after their arrival in the holding pens outside the factory, a plant worker will open a gate and herd No. 534 and his pen mates into an alley that makes a couple of turns before narrowing down to a single-file chute. The chute becomes a ramp that leads the animals up to a second-story platform and then disappears through a blue door.
That door is as close to the kill floor as the plant managers were prepared to let me go. I could see whatever I wanted to farther on -- the cold room where carcasses are graded, the food-safety lab, the fabrication room where the carcasses are broken down into cuts -- on the condition that I didn't take pictures or talk to employees. But the stunning, bleeding and evisceration process was off limits to a journalist, even a cattleman-journalist like myself.
Stay tuned for Part 4 in the February 2007 issue of Naturopathic News, #53.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Michael Pollan receives my vote for writing the best food-related book in 2006, "The Omnivore's Dilemma". If you haven't yet read this book I highly recommend it. It is an excellent portrayal of what we choose to eat and how that food is produced.
THE ''DIRTY DOZEN''
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has produced a new wallet-size Shoppers' Guide listing the 12 fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with pesticides (the "Dirty Dozen"), as well as those that generally contain the lowest amount of pesticides (the "Cleanest 12"). The information is based on nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the USDA and FDA.
Since the last EWG Guide was issued in 2003, there have been several revisions to the list. Carrots have been removed from the most contaminated list, but lettuce has been added.
Similarly, cauliflower is no longer listed as one of the cleanest vegetables, but cabbage is now one of those "clean" 12.
An analysis by the EWG estimated that consumers could reduce their exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent merely by avoiding foods on their "Dirty Dozen" list. A few members of that list include:
* Sweet bell peppers
Conversely, the "Cleanest 12," according to the EWG, expose you to less than two pesticides per day, a huge difference from the 15 pesticides per day you'd be exposed to with the fruits and vegetables on the "Dirty Dozen" list. Among the cleanest fruits and vegetables you can buy at your grocery store:
Environmental Working Group October 4, 2006
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I'm glad to see that the EWG has upgraded their list of the twelve most toxic fruit and vegetables. In addition to suggesting that one consume less of the commercial version of these fruits and veggies they should have taken it one step further. An adamant recommendation to consume only certified organic products, as a means to reduce pesticide exposure, would have sent a much stronger message.
GINKGO BILOBA NOT DRUGS
An Italian study has shown that Ginkgo biloba works just as well as Aricept (donepezil) in treating mild or moderate Alzheimer's-related dementia.
In this study, 76 mild-to-moderate dementia patients received a placebo, Ginkgo, or Aricept for six months, followed by a four-week course of a placebo to exclude those reactions.
Based on test scores to determine the severity of dementia afterward, scientists agreed both Ginkgo biloba and Aricept work just as effectively to slow down the damage.
European Journal of Neurology September 2006; 13(9): 981-985
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: In the last 10 years there have been other studies demonstrating the effectiveness of quality Ginkgo biloba preparations in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's. Given that Aricept can cause symptoms like dizziness, incontinence, heart palpitations, uncontrolled movements, vomiting, and unusual bleeding, why would you take it when the alternative is so much safer? Aricept also costs a minimum of $160 for a 1 month supply. Some of the best Ginkgo in the world-Ginkgo-D Egb, can be had for $35 for a 1 month supply, 78% cheaper. Is it any wonder that the conventional health care system is going broke?
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 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