Monday, June 30, 2014

Tip of the Month: Keeping Bugs at Bay Without the Toxic Spray, From Environmental Defence

Now that the warm weather is here most of us have unwanted contact with insects. I am careful to advise those with gluten sensitivity to avoid all chemical exposures especially for those chemicals where you have control over the purchasing and use of them. You don't want to add to your already copious amounts of toxin exposures, from the air you breath, the clothes you wear, the food you eat (avoid the "dirty dozen plus" and commercially fed meat products) and the water you drink. I've heard the number of new chemicals in our environment over the last 100 years is 84,000.

I believe the person with gluten sensitivity (GS) is much more susceptible to toxic overload because, one is nutrient deficient especially sulphur, and the enzymes that take care of toxins need a full complement of nutrients. And the GS person probably has MTHFR enzymes that are greatly affected and poorly functioning, also adding to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Once you stop eating gluten (a toxin)  it is a challenge to reverse these two main conditions in the GS person but it is possible. And depending on your other genes and phenotype, illness due to aggravation by toxins shows up as any number of diseases, eventually. 

The other day I was horrified to see a fellow natural doctor pick up a bottle of a popular pesticide to spray on a less than a quarter sized new wasp hive at their front door. I was horrified, because I thought they would know that using pesticides increases their risk for Parkinson's and other severe long term health issues.

How do I deal with wasp nests? I have been using my vacuum cleaner to take care of wasp nests for decades and it always works. By using the long pipe, I don't even have to get close to the nest and risk a sting. You may have to "vacuum" a few times, but then they relocate and stop building in your sensitive area. 

I also use the vacuum cleaner if there is a fruit fly infestation. Usually in August.

From Environmental Defence-(the bolds are mine)

photo credit: Image by Flickr user uncoolbob

With temperatures getting warmer outside, are you starting to notice some unwanted guests inside your home? In this instance, I am referring to bugs.

Now, like most green-minded people, you appreciate the role bugs have in the environment. But, if you don't want them crawling around your house, what can you do? You can find pesticides for most common household invaders at your local store, but they are normally full of nasty chemicals (Report from the Ontario College of Family Practice)  which are harmful to you (Report from Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment), and the environment in general.

Instead of buying a bottle of the chemical stuff, there are a few steps you can take to keep your home bug free, without harming your health and the environment at the same time.

1. Ants

If you spot ants in your home, first remove anything that could attract them such as crumbs on the counter, or a sticky jar of honey in the cupboard. If that doesn’t do the trick, then place cucumber slices at points of entry. Cucumbers are known to repel ants. If that doesn’t work “spice things up” by sprinkling cayenne pepper, chili pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, mint, cloves or garlic where you've seen ants and along your home’s foundation.

2. Mosquitoes

Summer and mosquitoes – you normally can't have one without the other. But there are a few natural ways to keep them at bay. First of all, remove any standing water sources from your backyard and keep your eavestroughs clean. Consider adding mosquito repelling plants, such as lemon balm and marigolds, to your garden. You can also make your own homemade mosquito repellent with essential oils and vegetable oil or apple cider vinegar.

3. Cockroaches

Diatomaceous earth (only the natural) is a known safer alternative to eliminating cockroaches in your home. It can be sprinkled where cockroaches hangout – such as on counter tops and behind appliances. It won't harm humans, however, cockroaches that come into contact with diatomaceous earth normally die within 48 hours. When applying the material, avoid inhaling the dust; it’s not toxic to people, but inhaling it can irritate. If you just want to repel the cockroaches, try leaving small satchels of catnip where you've seen cockroach activity, or simmer the catnip to create a tea that can be sprayed around the house.

4. Flies

A fly buzzing around a room can be hard to ignore sometimes. Flies don't like basil, so having a few basil plants in your home is a good deterrent (and you can use the basil for cooking!). You can also make your own natural fly paper to capture flies by using corn syrup, sugar and brown paper bags.

By taking the above steps, you can make sure, in a toxic-free way, that bugs won't be bugging you inside this summer. Stay tuned for next month when we'll share tips to keep bugs off your body when you're outside! Also, be sure to sign up for our Toxic Nation newsletter to receive toxics news and toxic-eliminating tips all year long.

I hope these tips help to make your "toxic bug spray free" life easier. 

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Scientist- June issue- Complex layers of science, policy, and public opinion surround the things we eat and drink.

I've been enjoying The Scientist Magazine and would like to share the June issues editorial by 
Mary Beth Aberlin. The issue is about the food we eat and the science and the politics surrounding such. It starts with a funny quote/clip reflecting our current ironic situation about the confusion around what is healthy to eat. But don't miss the profile of Dr. Bruce Ames, who maybe the first scientist to write about the effects of diet on our gene expression, now called epigenetics.

In his very funny 1973 sci-fi film Sleeper, Woody Allen plays a health-food store owner who is revived after 200 years of cryopreservation. His request for a breakfast of “wheat germ, organic honey, and tiger’s milk”bewilders the doctors who supervised his thawing: “Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties,” says one doctor, to which the other queries, “You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or . . . hot fudge?” “Those were thought to be unhealthy—precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true,” explains the first medic.

Food provides organisms with the vital energy and nutrients they need to survive. But for humans, food is far more than simple sustenance. This issue of The Scientist peels back layers of complexity to report on the science that is revolutionizing nutrition and agriculture from the inside out. What we've uncovered is a cornucopia of technical progress in plant breeding spurred by advances in genomics and gene editing—advances that could feed many more people and counter climate-change threats to food crops.

In “Putting Up Resistance,” associate editor Kerry Grens documents crop scientists’ growing worries that a fungal attack on wheat plants could spread around the world, decimating a crop with insufficient defense mechanisms before breeders can develop a more resistant variety. She outlines the progress toward genetically engineering wheat plants and the factors that make bringing such products to market so difficult.

When it comes to producing genetically modified (GM) animals, the hurdles may be even higher, reports senior editor Jef Akst. In “Designer Livestock,” scientists describe how they have engineered pigs whose poop contains less of the phosphorus that drives algal growth fueled by farm runoff; salmon that grow nearly twice as fast and consume 25 percent less food; animal milk with antibacterial properties to stanch diarrhea; and meat enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.

Most researchers believe that if GM foods are ever to help relieve world hunger, improve poor diets, or fight diseases, the hope lies in precision gene-editing techniques, such as TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9, which can make tailored changes to an organism’s genome without the introduction of genetic material from a radically different species. Fine-tuning existing genes or adding genetic diversity from close relatives—such as the wild kin of today’s food crops, as discussed in an opinion article—may finally win over the general public. I hope so.

Forty years after Allen’s cynical quip, press releases from respected journals about new scientific findings echo the confusion about what’s good for you to eat. Recent studies report that coffee confers health benefits and that the antioxidant resveratrol—found in red wine, chocolate, and grapes, and long touted as healthful—provides none (really bad science, my bold). Dozens more appear each month. In a Thought Experiment Christopher Gardner and Michael Stanton address contradictions of this nature and discuss how to design nutrition studies to find clear, reliable answers.

The entire Notebook section is devoted to food-related subjects: controlling invasive Asian carp by putting them on the menu; using spoiled milk to produce eco-friendly textiles; brewing beers using barley that is devoid of a barf-inducing fungus; and detecting food pathogens with microcantilevers. And three recent scientific papers focus on how the bacteria that roundworms ingest affect their longevity; how green tea spurs DNA repair; and how neurons sense nutrients. In a Reading Frames essay, Robert Dudley explains primates’ relationship with alcohol.

Scientists profiled include octogenarian Bruce Ames (designer of the eponymous test) (a must read, very funny at the end, my bold), who describes his research on the importance of micronutrients, and Haley Oliver, who studies the spread of foodborne pathogens.

So strap on the feed bag. We've served up quite the smorgasbord!

Mary Beth Aberlin Editor-in-Chief

I've left the links in for your reading pleasure, although I have not read all of the articles. 
This issue is truly a gourmet smorgasbord. So delicious with food for thought.

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gluten Sensitivity: Frustrations and Joys, Life-saving Resources By and For Kids and Youth

I am very touched by Dr. Tom O'Bryan's most recent post. And I am putting it here in full because of it's importance to help lower the morbidity of gluten sensitivity in our children and youth, which is so high, it is tragic and a public health issue. 

Here are resources to encourage the children and youth who are challenged to stay on a gluten free or grain/ dairy free diet in a world full of peer pressure to eat things they shouldn't eat. And yet to stay at the top of your game, a gluten sensitive individual, whatever age has to never eat gluten.

Pay it forward!
Have you seen the movie, or heard the concept 'Pay it Forward'? It's an excellent feel-good movie that helps the world be a better place. I believe we all 'pay it forward' once in a while. Paying for the car behind you at the toll booth, putting a quarter in an expired meter for someone, slowing down enough when driving to let the car who wants to cut in front of you be on their way, basically doing a nice deed for someone else without being recognized for it. Just for the joy of making the world a better place.
This is one of those emails.
I need $5.22 and 10 minutes of your time--I promise you're going to help change the lives of thousands.
As those of you who attended the Gluten Summit will know, children diagnosed with celiac disease have been shown to have a threefold increased risk of long-term mortality (dying), with or without a gluten-free diet. This is primarily because of an increased risk of death from accidents, suicide, violence, cancer and cerebrovascular disease (See:
How can this happen on a gluten-free diet? Two reasons:
  • Firstly, nobody is "putting out the fire", the ongoing systemic inflammation which can impact the brain, leading to depression and behavioral changes. This is one of the primary messages of my life's work educating healthcare professionals and patients about gluten-related disorders: simply putting someone on a gluten-free diet is not enough, you must address the fire.
  • Secondly, we use food to bond with friends and family, to give and receive hospitality, and to celebrate special days. It's the same for kids and teenagers. Where do they have to go to congregate? Pizza parlors. Restaurants. Without very extensive support, knowledge, and training our gluten-free kids are at risk of becoming excluded and can even develop social phobias or depression--they don't want to go out because they think their friends will call them names, and this is what I would like to focus on today.
We need to be proactive in supporting our kids to lead healthy, sociable lives, and teaching them to make correct and confident food decisions on their own. I highly recommend that those of you with a gluten-free kid contact your local branch of the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG). (In Canada, contact your nearest Canadian Celiac Association or GAPS group) GIG runs mainstream camps with safe, gluten-free food options, allowing gluten-free kids to integrate 100% with the other kids. Separate kitchens prepare the food (so there is no cross-contamination), but one dining hall. Because GIG MAKES SURE to have expert chefs for their portion of food preparation, it's not long before ALL the kids want to eat the GF food because it's so good. THAT gives the kids the confidence and knowledge to know that, with a little work, their food, their lifestyle, is very cool for themselves and their peer group. GIG also offers the Digest This training program for kids of different ages, and day camps teaching children how to read labels and prepare meals. Please support this organization any way that you can. They are where the pedal hits the metal in education about gluten-related disorders.
Now, the $5.22.
There are three young people I want to tell you about and ask that you PAY IT FORWARD to them. These three young minds are courageous enough to write about being gluten sensitive and its frustrations and joys. Other kids read this and they feel validated, they see hope. There are dozens of emails I've read of such messages from other kids to these three. There's probably hundreds of such messages, I've seen a few dozen. And it grabs your heart to read the hope, the validation from one 12 year old to another saying, "Thank you. Yeah, kids in school can be really mean."
I'm going to ask you consider spending $5.22 and ordering the two ebooks listed below. These books are written by young people and your investment to support them will have a trickle-down effect to everyone they reach out to.
Lexi's Book
Gluten and Dairy – Who Needs Them? A Kid's Perspective, written by Lexi Kantor, author, blogger, gluten- and dairy-free kid. Lexi's ebook is available from Amazon for $3.23.
I interviewed Lexi about her work as part of the Gluten Summit. Listen now!
Lexi blogs here.
Erica's Book
A Teenager's Guide to Food Restrictions, written by Erica Brahan, who is also the author of the Edible Attitudes blog. Erica shares practical advice on navigating teenage life while following a special diet, and her eBook is available for $1.99.
Erica blogs here.
Sema Dibooglu
I also invite you to check out the blog "Eat Without Gluten: A Positive Outlook on the Gluten-Free Diet" by gluten-free guru Sema Dibooglu, which contains recipes and tips for delicious gluten-free living.
What do you think will happen if they receive 20,000 orders for their ebooks? Or, get thanked by 20,000 people for their efforts to make the world a better place for kids? Reach out to any or all of them to share your supportive words, perhaps a budding Pulitzer Prize winner will feel the wind beneath her wings!

For the sake of our kids, let's all make use of these excellent resources! Let's also show our local support groups and up-and-coming gluten-free bloggers and authors, who are there for us, how much we appreciate them!
And, don't forget to pay the toll for the car behind you. :-)
Thank you, and summer blessings,
Dr. Tom O'Bryan 

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Friday, June 20, 2014

Effective Treatments for Hypothyroid and Hyperthyroid, Common Problems with Gluten Sensitivity

There is a 12 times rate of autoimmune disease in persons with celiac disease (Dr. Farrell NEJM, 2002). And in my experience hypothyroidism is the most common autoimmune disorder in celiac patients. 

There are a number of issues with thyroid disease:

- how to test for it

-how to test for iodine

-what are the causes of hypothyroidism (hint- toxic exposure like gluten and environmental chemicals)

-what to do about it. 

Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Jonathan Wright MD, a pioneer in cutting edge medicine in this segment. The article on the subject covers most of the basics, and has good references for books, for those who want to know more. Here is an excerpt (My Bold):

Thyroid disease is one of the most common health problems we face today. From a practical standpoint, there are many ways to approach this issue. In this interview, Dr. Jonathan Wright, a pioneer in natural medicine, shares his protocols for addressing thyroid dysfunction.

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a very common problem, and there are many reasons for this, including drinking chlorinated and fluoridated water, and eating bromated flour (no flour is bromated in Canada).

Chlorine, fluoride, and bromine are all in the same family as iodine, and can displace iodine in your thyroid gland.

Secondly, many people simply aren't getting enough iodine in their diet to begin with. The amount you get from iodized salt is just barely enough to prevent you from getting a goiter.

A third principal cause of hypothyroidism is related to elevated reverse T3 levels. Interestingly, 95 percent of the time, those with elevated reverse T3 levels will see their levels revert back to normal after undergoing chelation with EDTA and DMPS, which draw out cadmium, lead, mercury, and other toxic metals. In essence, heavy metal toxicity can cause a functional form of hypothyroidism.

"It's very well-known that lead and cadmium interfere with testosterone production," Dr. Wright says. "What's not so well-known is that reverse T3 is stimulated by toxic metals, so up it goes.

In effect, we can have levels that are so high, they way outnumber the regular T3. You're functionally hypothyroid even if your TSHs and free T3s happen to be normal."

I can't emphasize enough the importance of removing all chemical exposures that you can. You have a lot of control as to what products and services you buy that are with the lowest amounts of chemicals: body care products, "The dirty 15" foods should be bought or grown as organic foods, water should be as pure as possible, dental care should be from a biological dentist, and your physical environment should have as few chemicals as possible (low VOC paints, oil your wood furniture with flax oil, not petroleum products, tame insect pests with diatomaceous earth and so on). 

There are many ways to get information on how to clean up your environment. Get the  toxic level information about your favourite products from . Go to the library and get books like "There is Lead in Your Lipstick", and so many more.

And ask your doctor to order reverse T3 tests to round out your thyroid assessment.

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Want to Lose Weight? Try Intermittent Fasting. It works! But watch the Zinc!

                                                                                                                                                          When I was on a trip recently, I ate fabulous food came home three pounds lighter and able to    fit my favourite pair of pants now. How did I do this? By in large, I ate well for two days and on the third I ate very little, like a salad, but had lots of water to drink. This is a form of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of ways, over a week, to have lower amounts of food. As a general rule, it involves cutting calories to 500 a day for women and 600 a day for men, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily.

There is so much to recommend intermittent fasting: normalizing of ghrelin and leptin and insulin. And the resulting many health benefits. 

Before you go on to read about the benefits, I want to mention one reservation I have with intermittent fasting, especially if you are not supplementing  with vitamins and minerals. There is a genetic condition called Pyroluria, where the person with this condition requires more zinc than is recommended for the general population. And most people with this condition don't even know it and are already zinc and B6 deficient. Cutting 1-2,000 calories a week could get you into big trouble if you aren't supplementing with zinc.

The zinc and B6 are required for the metabolism and removal of pyrroles. People with pyroluria need more zinc, sometimes up to 10 times more zinc, to remove the pyrroles. If pyrroles accumulate because of low zinc intake, or lower intake because of reducing total calories of food per week, even slightly, multiple metabolic processes break down. 

Because everyone is an individual, I can't predict what symptoms may develop, but some are very serious and include eating disorders, suicidation, mania, depression and other mental health problems, and rashes, liver stress, and more serious conditions. A serum zinc level does not appear to help me assess if someone is low in zinc as I believe, because zinc is the most common mineral used in enzymes and metabolic processes, the body will ration the zinc, have a steady state of zinc in the blood but won't let it be used as it should, but for the little it takes to just stay alive. 

Along with intermittent fasting, I suggest taking  an extra 10 mg of zinc more a day, or 70 mg a week. If you have some of the symptoms (or your family members have some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency) I would suggest you ask your doctor to test your level of zinc. 

Dr. Mercola has written a fine article on the subject of intermittent fasting detailing the multiple health benefits, and here is an excerpt: 

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is historically commonplace as it has been a part of spiritual practice for millennia. But modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including the following:
  -Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency:        of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to    its impact on your insulin sensitivity. While sugar is a source of energy for your body, it also        promotes insulin resistance when consumed in the amounts found in our modern processed      junk food diets. Insulin resistance, in turn, is a primary driver of chronic disease, from heart disease to cancer.

   Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence    primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.

  -Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"

  -Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production: Research has shown fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men, which plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. HGH is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss.

  -Lowering triglyceride levels and improving other biomarkers of disease.

  -Reducing oxidative stress: Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease

There's also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits themTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.

Dr. Michael Mosley a British author, journalist and documentary filmmaker, became so convinced of the health benefits of intermittent fasting he wrote a book on the subject, called The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting. Now I'll have to read it.

How ever you decide to lower your total weekly calories with intermittent fasting, ( I would recommend a grain free diet/protocol like GAPS as the best) you will have lasting benefits and feel better. And supplement with nutrients, especially zinc. 

To Your Health

Dr. Barbara

Friday, June 6, 2014

Methyl Folate for depression

A new research study showed that taking l-methylfolate 
 which is sometimes called folate with an anti-depressant, increased the rate of resolution of depression symptoms with no side effects. They showed that 15 mg of l-5 MTHF or folate a day worked. And how does folate work? Folate helps to make methyl groups, a biochemical entity, which in turn helps to make neurochemicals. If you are the person who has a genetic abnormality called MTHFR single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP's), you will require supplementation with folate ( also called l- 5-MTHF) because you can't get enough folate from food to help run your metabolism to the maximum. Which means you could become depressed. 

Also, two colleagues of mine, evaluated neurochemical status of a group of gluten sensitive people a few years back. Their verbal report to me was that all had low neurochemicals. Pervasive nutritional deficiencies and SNP's could account for this finding in gluten sensitive people. Heal the gut and provide nutrients and digestive enzymes and probiotics. 

Other illnesses  from MTHFR SNP's, that occur when a person is functionally dependent on more folate, and other B vitamins include:
heart disease
high homocysteine
thrombophilia or clotting easily
neurological disorders
psychiatric disorders
infertility, miscarriages, and loss of pregnancy
offspring with congenital abnormalities such as neural tube defects 
pain conditions

The incidence of methylation polymorphism for two common ones c677t and a1298c, in the general population is found to be around 30%. When I looked at the prevalence in a group of  74 people, all with at least one chronic illness,  I found the prevalence to be 76%. 
I use folate to reverse many symptoms and problems.

When people are not well, they can use more folate, balanced with B12. 
Woman of childbearing age should take folate to insure their future choices when it comes to having a family or not, and the health of their future child. 

Folate is safe, there is no known toxicity, and is effective. Avoid folic acid. 

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara