New! - A Healthy Living Newsletter
patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market.
And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice!
While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people
who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're
Don't laugh. This is actually a thoughtful book - but maybe not for the reasons that the authors intended. Sydney and Soma are medical anthropologists studying the effects of the introduction of western medicine to the people of Fuji, when Soma, recently pregnant, develops a breast lump. That, and the women in Fuji's amazement that western women daily wear something pretty uncomfortable is the impetus for the interviews of roughly 2000 women from 10 different cities in the U.S. - and this book.
Singer and Grismaijer base their conclusion that there may be a link between breast cancer and bras on two things: breast physiology and their questionnaire. Let's start with the breast. Bras, especially if they leave a red mark, constrict the skin beneath them. We can see large busted women complain of loss of sensation in their arms not realizing that their nerves are being compressed at the shoulder where their bra strap goes. Compression of the nerves can lead to decreased sensation (tingling and numbness) farther down the arm. The authors state that bras constrict the lymphatic glands in the breast. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. Two of its many functions are to remove toxins and to house white blood cells used to fight disease, when needed. If the lymphatic glands in the breast are severely constricted it may allow toxins to build up in the breast area - hence breast cancer.
To test their theory, Singer and Grismaijer interviewed women and found the following conclusions. Women with breast cancer wore their bras longer each day, (some even while sleeping), had more red pressure marks (compression indication) when taking the bra off in the evening and breast-fed less. From their survey they came up with the following conclusions. There is a 19-fold protection against breast cancer by wearing a bra for less than 12 hours daily. A woman who wears a bra over 12 hours daily, but not to sleep, has a 24-fold greater chance of developing breast cancer. And women who wear their bras all the time, including during sleep, have a 113-fold increase risk in breast cancer incidence.
Let's put this into perspective. This is one study, which makes it inconclusive. It takes several studies with similar results to take this theory seriously. But before you take a sigh of relief and think back to the bra-burning days, these authors may be onto something. Is it sensible to wear some garment 12+ hours a day that is uncomfortable. "But my bra is comfortable, I don't even notice that it's on", you may say. Tonight when you take off your bra, see what you do almost reflexively. You will rub the red strips of skin that the straps or the underwire have left. I urge my female readers to try going without a bra for the weekend. Monday morning you will notice a difference.
Every once and awhile, a great book comes out; everyone raves; and then the book fades away. Excitotoxins is one of those books. Published in 1995, it links chemical additives in our foods to adverse effects in our brains potentially leading to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig disease (ALS), as well as autism, teenage behavioral problems and to plain old short-term memory loss. Dr. Blaylock, a neurosurgeon, painstakingly discusses study after study. And that is the problem. Unless you have a reasonably strong physiology background, you'll get tired of referring to the medical dictionary - and stop reading the book. Which means, you will miss out on a lot of important information. So, here is the gist of what Blaylock is saying.
It all started with World War II. The Allied soldiers soon found out that the Japanese soldiers' field rations tasted great, while their own required sufficient hunger to get down. After the war, the American food industry learned that the secret ingredient to the great tasting field rations was MSG (mono-sodium glutamate). And they went wild. They added it to baby food (it was taken out in 1969 after sufficient pressure), frozen foods, packaged foods, in short, to all but fresh foods. For that, they sold bottles of MSG to housewives directly. But what we didn't find out until later was that MSG or glutamate eaten in excess stimulates and rewires the brain in a potentially harmful way - especially in the womb and in developing children.
Glutamate, along with about 70 others including aspartame (Nutrasweet), are labeled excitotoxins. Excitotoxins stimulate the brain. One of these, Nutrasweet, can be found on the labels of many diet products, but glutamate (MSG) is harder to find. Definite sources of glutamate are hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, gelatin and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. It may also, but not always, be found in textured protein, carrageenan or vegetable gum, seasonings or spices, flavorings or natural flavorings, (including chicken, beef, pork, and smoke flavorings), bouillon, broth or stock, barley malt, malt extract, malt flavoring, whey protein, whey protein isolate or concentrate, soy protein, soy protein isolate or concentrate, and soy sauce or extract.
Blaylock emphasized the excitotoxins insidious nature. It can take years before the brain is unable to compensate for the steady barrage of stimulation. By then, it may be too late to reverse. Excess excitotoxins during pregnancy may rewire the child's brain leading to autism, learning disorders, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in the teenage years. Excessive excitotoxins in the adult can lead to damage in the hippocampus (the short-term memory area of the brain.)
Is there any hope for the Teriyaki-addicted folks? Absolutely. Think antioxidants and magnesium. Vitamins A, E, and C and magnesium decrease the negative impact of the MSG. But for you aspartame (Nutrasweet®) users, Blaylock only recommends stopping. Sugar is less harmful for you. And I certainly agree with him.
Did your dad get
Alzheimer's from MSG - probably not. But it may have contributed. This
book clearly demonstrates that there is too much scientific evidence
supporting Blaylock's negative view of MSG and Nutrasweet®) to ignore.
And why take the chance. But where does that bring us? Back to the kitchen.
Cook from scratch instead of using processed foods.. It's cheaper and
healthier. And if anyone you know has an early stage neurodegenerative
disease like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, find someone who is very patient
or has a science background to read this book. It just might help slow
down the degeneration in their condition.
Sometimes, a patient with asthma comes into my office - and I don't know where to start. He or she may have a poor diet, food allergies, a wood stove, toxic work or home environment, many pets, drink tap water, not exercise, an unhappy childhood, and is currently in an unloving relationship. It's hard not to overwhelm them with all the possibilities and ways to eliminate the asthma. Fortunately, now, thanks to Ivker and Nelson, all I have to do is hand him or her this book, Asthma Survival.
Asthma Survival is the ultimate how-to book on eliminating asthma. Just in our children alone, the U.S. national asthma rate increase has gone from 1 in 45 in 1980 to 1 in 13 in 1998. In adults, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates the rate at 6.4% of the U.S. population or 17.3 million people. Asthma is a serious problem that is not showing signs of slowing down.
The book, written by a conventional-doctor-gone-holistic, starts off with defining the condition and the conventional drugs. He explains that conventional medicine tries to manage, not cure the asthma, while holistic natural medicine tries to eliminate the asthma. (Legally, we are not allowed to use the word "cure".) He believes that asthma may be caused by overuse of antibiotics, allergies, air pollution and/or unresolved negative relationships. At this point you may say "No way! Asthma is not all in my head!" Keep an open mind (no pun intended). Ivker refers to many medical studies supporting the mind-body connection. And I have seen plenty of asthma cases in my own practice, in which there was a certain amount of suppression - an inability to "breath" on one's own.
After the medical overview, Ivker walks you through all the possibilities of treatments: air filters, air ionizers, organic diet, fasting, vitamins, minerals, herbs, allergy testing, stool testing, detoxifying plants for your office or home, vacuum cleaners, meditation, exercise Well, you get my point.
What makes this
book extremely useful is its thoroughness. The reader can determine
which factors may be causing or triggering his or her asthma. The bad
thing about this book is how expensive all these treatment options are.
Ivker doesn't keep things simple. Also, because of his conventional
training, he has a more limited view of herbs and homeopathics than
a naturopath would. There are other ways to successfully treat asthma
without bankrupting the patient. So, if you have asthma and are frustrated
with knowing that you will have to take your short term inhaler and
your long term pill or inhaler forever; Asthma Survival is a wonderful
starting place to understand the disease and non-conventional treatment
Next month, I will
explain standardized herbs and how what you think you are getting is
not necessarily what you are getting.
Now for a more realistic
piece of advice. Yes, I heard the groans. The second best way is to
buy a good quality (see my herb tip to understand what this means) immune
support product. Astragulus is a wonderful long-term immune tonic that
is good for everyone. If you have weak lungs, then find an immune support
with Reishi and Shitake mushrooms. If your immune system is weakened
by stress (and worry), look for a product with Eleuthrococcus (Siberian
Ginseng) and/or Glycerrhiza (Licorice). Avoid Glycerrhiza if you have
high blood pressure. Take the herbs for 1 month. Hopefully you'll fend
off the post-Thanksgiving colds and flus.
Copyright 2009 NaturopathyOnline.com