Dog wellness advice on the chat today is with regards to lead poisoning in dogs. Lead toxicity or lead poisoning is medically known as Plumbism, and refers to poisoning due to ingestion or inhalation of products containing lead. When lead based paint is on the walls its fine, but when it is disturbed, causing dust and chips of paint to fall to the ground, this is where the problem starts. Dogs especially will ingest pieces of paint – particularly puppies. The dust from the moving and scraping of the paint settles in the pet’s fur and between his toes as well as is inhaled through his nose. This is one of the more common causes of lead poisoning in dogs, when a home is renovated or newly painted.

Paint produced prior to 1977 contained high levels of lead and some companies today are still using this paint on children and pet products. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission checks the safety of all toys for humans and enforces a federal standard for lead in paint for children’s toys, there is not an organization that regularly tests animal toys nor is there a standard for lead in pet toys. So pet owners need to be vigilant in ensuring their pets are out of harms way when renovating their home. However it isn’t just paint that can cause lead poisoning in dogs or other pets.

Lead poisoning or lead toxicity can come from the following;

  1. Paint, or the disturbance of paint
  2. Lead weights
  3. Lead pellets
  4. Household items such as drapery weights, linoleum, rug padding, and foil from the tops of wine bottles
  5. Automotive parts such as batteries, wheel weights, leaded gasoline and discarded oil from cars using leaded gasoline
  6. Construction materials such as solder, putty and caulking
  7. Plumbing and roofing materials

Puppies are more likely to ingest materials containing lead because of their chewing, playful nature and their need to get into just about everything.

Dogs are more likely than cats to eat lead containing objects and younger animals absorb larger amounts of lead than older animals. In pregnant animals the babies are affected because lead crosses the placenta and is excreted in the mother’s milk, causing the fetus to be effected.

Lead poisoning in dogs can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. It can cause anemia and seizures, and suppress the immune system. Basically if your dog or pet has lead poisoning he is very sick and definitely requires immediate urgent medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Muscle tremors
  • In coordination
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Behavior changes
  • Mental “dullness” (not alert)
  • Increased thirst and urinations
  • Shortness of breath

Intolerance for exercise

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pet, contact your vet immediately.

In order for the vet to properly diagnose your dog he may perform a series of exams such as diagnostic tests, which would include a complete blood count, Serum biochemistry tests to check the liver and kidney function and assess the extent of systemic injury from the lead. Another test would be a blood lead concentration test to determine the amount of lead concentration in your dog’s body. Pumping of the stomach and enemas are performed to remove any remaining lead. Surgery may be needed for removal of any object in the stomach. Fluids are administered intravenously to correct dehydration and facilitate urinary excretion of lead. Diazepam Phenobarbital or Pentobarbital are administered to control seizures.

So as you can see, if your dog, God forbid were to get lead poisoning, you are talking about a very involved, sad, uncomfortable, stressful, and costly vet visit. Not to mention the recovery time and medications your dog might be on for a while, as well as frequent follow up visits.

Home Care

Pet natural health care is extremely common and used by pet owners around the world with very successful results, particularly when it comes to common pet illnesses. However in this case there is no natural or home care for lead poisoning in dogs. Seek veterinary care promptly if you suspect your dog has ingested lead-containing materials or shows any of the above signs.

Once you take your pet home from the vet it is vital that you administer medications exactly as directed by your vet and monitor your pet daily. Note down any symptoms that become worse or any new symptoms you notice. Immediately discuss these changes with your vet.

Prevention

Dog wellness means dog owner awareness and a huge part of preventing lead poisoning in dogs is awareness. Being aware of items or chemicals around your home and yard that contain lead and making sure they are out of your dogs reach – keeping in mind any special skills your dog may have either in his breed or owner taught. If you can remove all sources of lead from your home and garden this would be the best way of prevention. Keep your dog away from any renovation that might be going on in your home, and away from discarded materials. Keep your dog away from your garage if you know you are storing lead containing materials. It is also important to make sure dog toys and bowls are lead free. Never underestimate your dog. Assuming your dog won’t get into things because he is behaved, out of the puppy stages, or simply isn’t bothered could cost you to have a very sick dog. Don’t take any chances and keep any toxic materials well away from your dogs reach – at all times.

Pet Trivia: An African wolf dog known as the Basenji is the only dog in the world that cannot bark.

“All herbs are safe; it is okay that I am on medicine from my doctor and still take these supplements.”

These are statements that one may hear if they question the safety of herbs or herbal therapy. However, all herbs and herbal therapies may not be completely safe for everyone. So, before someone delves into those theories, perhaps it is best to understand what herbal medicine is.

So, What Is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is not just going to the pantry and shaking out some oregano and declaring you cured. Actually, it is based on ancient forms of healing. Our ancestors used what was found out in nature to heal and to prevent ailments. Native Americans truly believed and still believe that all we need in life, Mother Earth will provide; meaning, there is no need to take synthetic pills to cure. However, it is interesting that some synthetic drugs have been based on aspects of nature.

Herbal Examples

Not all herbs are created equally. Some herbs are not for human consumption. At least not the way they are presented in nature. Perhaps some of these have hidden properties, but they have not been discovered yet. It may be that they are only to be combined with certain properties to make them safe. That is one of the funny things about nature; you must never underestimate it and the powers that have yet to be uncovered. Some herbs are merely for spicing up that stew or to make your house smell better. However, some may truly have medicinal properties. A few examples of these herbs would be:

Garlic – Garlic has been used in many Italian dishes, but it has shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Peppermint – Not only useful as a breath freshener but it also helps reduce nausea and flatulence.

Ginger root – Also helps with nausea, especially during morning sickness

Oats & Oat Straw – These wonder herbs are full of calcium and magnesium so they help relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin

Safety Concerns

Once upon a time, there was a thought that it was time to come up with standards for practical medicine and drugs. This was instilled to protect the general public from fraudulent drugs and doctors and hopefully protect them from further illness or even worse, death. It was not uncommon for a traveling “doctor” to come rolling into town with the new elixir that would cure everything from baldness to the intestinal disorder. However, many were later found to be nothing more than watered-down whiskey or a combination of herbs and extracts. These standards are met during the production of modern medical medicines, but are different when it comes to herbal medicines.

The standardization of dosage and purity is not mandated in the United States. It is remarkable that products made with herbs to the same specifications may still be different because of the result of biochemical variations in the plant. Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that may have lethal effects in humans. A couple of examples would be poison hemlock and nightshade; this is why these herbs are not available on the market. A couple of other cases of negative herb use include liver failure due to black cohosh and chronic licorice ingestion, which has led to major potassium depletion.

Humans Could Be The Ones To Blame For

Once again, this could be a case that we are our own worst enemy. Some humans tend to jump into things without doing the research beforehand, and there are cases with herbal medicine that seem to follow suit. Some patients will be taking medicine prescribed by their doctor that will lower blood pressure but then read an article that claims that a certain herb has been proven to do the same. They think it would be great to double up with both before consulting their doctor or herbalist and ingest both. This can result in dangerously low blood pressure, which can be just as harmful as high blood pressure. It is known that some herbs and certain fruits interrupt with the cytochrome, which is vital in drug metabolism.

There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Herbal medicine seems to become more and more popular with not only followers of alternative medicine but also with those who want to enhance their present lifestyle. Herbal medicine continues to prove safe and effective under proper use, and could be even more so if patients can bridge the gap between their modern medical practitioner and their desire to understand and hopefully benefit from herbal medicine.

Natural Health is alternative health care medicine for our bodies, our planet, and our relationships.

The term “natural health” seems to be thrown around with abandon at everything, describing a mixture of philosophies, products, ideas, and opinions. It can be as varied as “taking walks in fresh unpolluted air, to eating organic foods, and countless other definitions in between. A slippery eel that slithers out between our grasping fingers, the concept of natural health does not give us anything firm to hold on to, no framework that is useful for guiding life choices.

This is unfortunate for a concept this important.

After years of researching and experimenting with lifestyle choices and activities that would keep me healthy and off of the surgeon’s table, I have come to understand that natural health goes beyond mushy meanings and has some very practical uses in our society.

First, as a society, we do not take personal responsibility for our own health. We depend on doctors, who depend on the prescription pad, or surgery to “heal” us. While I am certain that advances in medicine have leapt forward over the last century – particularly for accidents and trauma – we can do personal work that can keep us healthy, minimize synthetic drug use, and save ourselves time and money. We just need to decide to do it.

Secondly we need to understand that our bodies are small biochemical factories that run on subtle energies and electromagnetic fields. It is this energy flow through the body that keeps us alive and healthy. Eastern cultures have understood this relationship of energy and health for centuries. The Chinese word for life energy is “Chi”, in Japan, it is “Ki”, in India it is “Prana”. There is also a nice tie-in with spirituality in these ideas, if you choose to pursue that.

Western medicine is more and more understanding these ideas and how they relate to healing. To stay at our best health we need to pay attention to building the strength of our life energy

Next, we need to take care of the planet….. the ball of matter on which we all are passengers through space and time. A clear eyed look around at our environment will show that we have stress fractures in how we grow our food, and how we treat our oceans, rivers, and lakes, and the air that we breathe. If we want to preserve it, and keep it healthy, we must all do even little things that respect our planet, and environment.

Finally, there is the matter of relationships with other people, other cultures, other governments, other races. The world is far too tribal and contentious and that leads to stress and conflict – some of which are wars that chew up lives and money. We need to actively seek harmony with others, and not conflict.

All of this together makes an expanded, more useful definition of natural health. Using these practices creates a true alternative health care medicine for our body, mind and planet. The 4 Natural Health Practices give us a simple framework for living life naturally, and a definition that helps get past all the hype in the marketplace regarding natural health.

They are not necessarily actionable by themselves, but if we adopt the spirit of them into our consciousness, it will help us to make better life decisions and we will be inspired to learn the details of how we can do each one of them well.

The 4 Natural Health Practices

Strengthening Life Energy

Putting the right things in the mind and body

Harmonizing – with others and the environment

Exercising the mind and body

Did you know that in the UK alone, this winter 39 people have died from the flu. 36 of them were infected with the H1N1 Swine Flu virus and the other 3 had influenza B, according to the Health Protection Agency.

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The number of people being infected and dying from the flu is rising and so far we’ve had the worst weather in the last 150 years.

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While thousands flood to their local GP and thousands more stock up on over the counter flu and cold remedies, there’s one question I’d like to ask you

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With the current global health crisis in mind, would you prefer to be injected with a potentially debilitating vaccine that hasn’t been rigorously tested and isn’t 100% proven to even work, PLUS it could make you even more sick than catching the bug, or just eating a few more vegetables?

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People are going to try and overcomplicate this situation in order to get more vaccination sales and keep us under the illusion that we NEED drugs and harmful chemicals to keep us healthy, but the reality is that your body, the one you are sitting in right now, has the amazing ability of healing, rebalancing and protecting itself to a large degree if it’s given the right tools and fuels to do so.

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The live active and easily absorbed nutrients you can get in fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for example, can help to boost your body’s own defences, so you are less likely to catch anything, but if you do, your body is better equipped to fight it off more quickly

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Here are my 4 top tips for staying safe and doing your bit this winter and beyond

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1. Catch it, Bin it, Kill it – This campaign run by the government had the right idea, even if they were using it to further push vaccinations. They recommended that the best way to stop the disease spreading it to

Catch it – Keep tissues with you to sneeze or cough into instead of letting them spray all over the place.
Bin in – The bugs can live on tissues for hours after you’ve used them so binning them straight way is safest and finally
Kill it – Your hands can spread the germs to every surface you touch so washing them asap a good idea.

2. Be responsible – If you or your children do get sick, for goodness sake keep it to yourselves. There is no good in you sending them to school or you going into work so you can spread it round to everyone else. Bugs get passed around in schools like wild fire and wouldn’t you feel terrible if your child caused others to catch the bug too. Most employers would prefer you stay home if you are genuinely ill rather than come in and pass it on to your colleagues.

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3. Get some rest – now that you have taken the day off work, get some rest, as much as you can, give your body the chance to fight off the bug and build up your own energy reserves.

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4. Re Fuel – Now is the time to make sure you are eating clean whole foods that are right for your body so you can get the most energy and nutrients from them. Once you find out your metabolic type, you can quickly adapt your diet to meet your bodies specific needs. If you can juice feast on organic vegetable juices, drink soups and stews and get a good supply of herbal teas (Echinacea, chamomile, nettle and Elderflower are good choice) too, this would also be good

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If you are recommended a vaccination or antibiotics, I’d SERIOUSLY advise you research the effects and dangers of these two before taking them. In my humble opinion, there is very little that your body, natural remedies, detox and diet change can’t remedy, as opposed to the myriad of problems antibiotics and vaccinations can cause.

Take care and stay healthy.

It just worried me sick. It ate through me like a cancer. It cut me like a knife. It’s killing me. These are expressions we use that hint at the mind/body connection. Have you ever wondered if there really is any basis for these sayings? Can our thoughts and feelings actually influence our health? Can the death of a spouse, unemployment or other environmental situations cause problems for your immune system?

Usually when people make such a statement they are experiencing some kind of stress or emotional aggravation. Heightened emotional states — especially the kind which we do not want to experience — and it create a perfect breeding ground for illness.

It is difficult at times to look at emotions and say, “What are emotions and how do they work?” You could look at emotions like energy in motion-twirling and swirling around. Our emotions are energy, and they are always in motion. We all know that our bodies are made up of molecules, and molecules are made up of atoms, and atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons and they all twirl around each other in a wonderful dance.

Emotions operate on various levels. They have a physical, psychological, and spiritual aspect. Emotions bridge thoughts, feelings, and actions and let us know how things are going in our lives. When our emotions are positive and free flowing (i.e., allowing emotions to be felt and expressed without resistance), we raise the movement within the cells of our bodies and the cellular aspect of the body becomes more fluid and free flowing. When our emotions are negative, the cells in our body slow down and create a vacuum for illness and disease.

Human beings are the only creatures on earth that can change their biology by what they think or feel. According to research, exposure to stressful life experiences has been associated with changes in the immune system. Viral and bacterial infections, auto-immune diseases, cancer, heart disease, and HIV-related illness have all been linked to immune system changes associated with stressful events and psychological responses.

For example, immunological changes have been observed in response to major life change events such as a marital separation, the death of a loved one, caring for a sick spouse, people who suffer from chronic stress, and being unemployed. In a series of studies done over the past ten years, the relationship between psychological stress and illness has been linked together. People with chronic stress are prone to acute infectious respiratory illness, heart and liver disease, chronic headaches, Irritable Bowel syndrome, back- aches, and joint problems. In fact, in a recent study done at UCLA, studies showed that 90% of illness had an emotional root.

Experts have noticed that illness has many positive rewards. Ever notice when someone becomes sick they receive cards, flowers and gifts. Often people who are ill will gain praises from family and loved ones. In fact, sickness gives us permission to do things that we would not do otherwise. It makes it easier to say no to unwelcome people, burdens, and job demands in our lives. Being sick, or not feeling good allows us to take time to rest, stay in bed, meditate, reflect, and gives us permission to relax. It also gives us permission to be loved because we attain a great amount of emotional support when we are sick.

Most research thus far is showing that the immune system and the mind are indeed connected. People really can be worried sick, or can psychologically be “eaten up” like a cancer. The medical field and psychology field can join together integrating both practices to ensure the best possible care.

More and more research is being published in the medical journals about the impact of inflammation on the body. Most of us know that inflammation is about redness, swelling, heat and pain, usually after we have been cut or had an infection. What most of us don’t know is that inflammation is not always obvious. It can quietly smolder in the body for years before making itself obvious by way of cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

I was talking about this with my medical practitioner a few weeks back. He looked at me in disbelief, as if I was treading on some of his favorite ideas. He was the doctor and therefore he must be right and I as the patient must be wrong. Sadly, he was just not up with his ongoing professional development – though to be fair there are just so many medical journals out there it just isn’t possible to be up to date in everything.

So what is this new information? It is an idea that has been around since the Romans, and quite possibly earlier. However it is only now that the research is catching up with the concept. An in-depth look at inflammation was the focus of a specialized medical journal Current Opinion in Pharmacology (2009) and there were a nice simple few sentences for ordinary people amongst the discussion about the pathways that only a few could understand.

The core idea is that inflammation is activated by tobacco, stress, some foods, obesity, alcohol, infections and environmental toxins. This makes it much simpler for all of us. We don’t need to know the detail – our body knows how to do that without our minds knowing anything about it.

So we need to give up smoking, avoid sugar, many grains, grain fed meat and any foods that contribute to obesity, reduce our overall levels of stress (physical, emotional, social, work), avoid truck and car fumes and other poisons where possible and make sure our hormones are functioning properly. This is really important as, for example, a low functioning thyroid means that we can’t turn beta-carotene into Vitamin A. A Vitamin A deficiency means not only that we can suffer from night blindness, but also that our skin and the linings of our lungs and gut don’t keep out the viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause infections or the toxins that might get into our bodies and need to be contained and removed.

Our bodies give a great feedback system to many of us in the community. If our waists keep getting bigger or our arthritis gives us trouble or we keep getting infections then we know immediately that we have an inflammation and immune system problem.

We CAN take charge of our lives and not leave it until we get sick, have a heart attack or be challenged with cancer or diabetes. We can take “feeling ill” or a large waist as an early warning symptom and choose to do something about it now.

As a person with a strong early warning system (that is I have lots of inflammatory symptoms), I used to get annoyed by people who were thin, who smoked, worked hard in high stress jobs and seemed to be fine. But the medical papers I have been reading reminded me that they might not be fine. These people can appear to be coping well, but under all of this appearance can be a smoldering inflammation, an immune system that is ripe for a heart attack or a cancer. Remember that some people stay completely well until all of a sudden they are hit with one of the big health problems.

We need then to take some pre-emptive action. We need to add some more brightly colored vegetables, especially the broccoli and onion families, get some regular exercise, learn to relax, get some sun for vitamin D and stop smoking if you are a smoker. This will improve your odds of avoiding one of the big diseases.

We live in a world made of particles of energy. Everything carries it’s own energy frequency. We all learned that in grade school or high school science if we were paying attention, but many of us do not take that knowledge into the everyday world with us to understand what it means to our lives and our health.

Muscle Testing or Energy Testing as it is sometimes called, can be a valuable diagnostic tool to assess whether a substance is something your body needs or tolerates. What muscles testing does, if used correctly, is measures the flow of energy through your meridians usually in conjunction with a substance we are testing to see if our energy continues to flow freely in the presence of that substance. Energy testing was first commonly used in the field of Applied Kinesiology and called Muscle Testing which is the term most commonly used. The term Energy Testing is really more accurate since you are testing the energy flow in the body and using the muscles to test it.

Energy testing is truly a combination of art and science and will take time to become proficient and gain the sensitivity needed to ensure you are not influencing the outcome with preconceived ideas or desires. It is best done using a partner but can be done alone. I recommend becoming proficient working with a partner before trying it yourself. The insight and sensitivity you will develop working with someone else will be worth any shyness you may have about working with a friend. Energy testing is easy to learn but requires skill that will develop through use to know it is not being used inaccurately or irresponsibly.

To begin energy testing:

  • Maintain a beginner’s mind and try not to predict, hope for, or think about the outcome of the test. Doing so will influence the results.
  • Focus your intention on having valid test results.
  • Have the person to be tested hold either arm straight down at the side of their body. The elbow is straight the thumb just touches the side of the leg and the fingers point down.
  • The tester, using an open hand slipped between the arm and body of the person to be tested says something like ” do not let me pull your arm away from your body” and with an open hand exerts a steady outward pressure on the arm for a couple of seconds.

The arm will either stay firm with a little movement and bounce right back when the pressure is removed or the arm will move very easily away from the body. The point is not to try to overpower the other person but simply to measure the resistance.

If the person who is tested shows the muscle to be weak, strengthen the appropriate points by:

  • Thumping on your breast bone a couple inches below your collarbones for 15 seconds.
  • Tap on your K-27 acupuncture points by finding your collarbones and then slide your fingers to the middle where there is a bump, drop down an inch and out an inch. There may be an indent or some soreness. Use the tops of 2 or more fingers and tap for about 30 seconds. -Tap on your spleen neurolymphatic points. Find these points by moving your hands directly in line with your nipples below your breasts and down one more rib. Tap as with the K-27 points above. Again, these points may be sensitive.
  • Test again. The arm resistance should now be firm.
  • From this strong place you can now test various items by having the person to be tested touch or hold them to their stomach with the free hand while being tested. They will test strong if the item is good for them or needed by them and weak if it is not. You can ensure more accurate results by disguising the item so the person being tested does not know what they are being tested for or take even more external influence out of the test by having a third person help who is the only one who knows what the substances are.

By learning to energy test you can have a valuable biofeedback resource available to you any time and anywhere to help make well-informed decisions about the things you put in and on your body for greater natural health.

For a more thorough discussion of energy testing please refer to Donna Eden’s wonderful book Energy Medicine.

The topic of the day is health care reform and the Congress is trying to make the president’s wish a reality. Some ask if it can be done in the short time he’s set forth, some wonder if it can be done at all and still others don’t believe an entire overhaul is necessary.

Our health care system is now too expensive for many thus roughly 20 million voluntarily opt out. Healthy young adults, entrepreneurs who want their monies allocated toward their business projects until they start seeing their ROIs, and career people in between jobs will all put their health care aside purposely for a time.

During these opt-out times this group may visit their local health food store and stock up on supplements, teas and tinctures and be willing to bear these costs out of pocket as a preventive and wellness measure. Many will even choose to keep this habit after they find the benefits outweigh the initial cost shock.

Let’s ask some questions and hopefully answer honestly.

Will natural health be addressed in health care reform? What if our health insurance allocated X dollars a year toward the purchase of natural supplements such as arnica cream for sore muscles, various tinctures like white willow bark, a natural analgesic from which aspirin was derived, or herbs like Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) for allergies which has been found to block both histamine and leukotrienes and relieves nasal allergy symptoms without walking around like a zombie?

Would this give the individual more control over their health? Would the insurance companies do it even though the pharmaceutical industry can’t make money on natural products? If the people want this piece added to in their insurance and are willing to pay for it, shouldn’t it be offered? It’s now a consumer driven world; the customer decides what they want and market needs to keep up.

If employees can set aside tax free dollars for medical expenses, why can’t these monies be put toward the purchase of natural supplements or naturopathic doctor visits if that’s the route one wishes to take? If our society was encouraged to take more control over our own health, wouldn’t it lower health care costs in general?

If the insurance companies can choose not to pay for certain life saving procedures, shouldn’t they then pay for alternative solutions if sought by the patient? Since we are paying them a monthly premium, shouldn’t we be assisted in finding the solutions we need regardless of where those solutions are found? Shouldn’t all choices be on the table at all times?

The insured in this great country of ours have been conditioned to the following habit: We become ill, we see an allopathic doctor, get some pills, consume them over a period of 10 days or so and get well most of the time.

How are we being treated? With synthetic medications that are designed to ease or eliminate symptoms and do not address the cause of the illness. This kind of treatment surely guarantees return business when the cause is not sought and cured. Add to this, the long list of side effects that accompany some synthetic drugs with many producing symptoms warranting the use of yet another synthetic drug.

There is obviously a place for traditional medicine when necessary, but it’s not the way some choose to go when they have the occasional sniffle or ache and pain. These are the people who won’t ask their doctor about a drug they’ve seen on TV, because they don’t wish to slide down that slippery slope.

Next target – food. What are we eating that is contributing to our poor health? Has anyone looked at the relationship of our altered state food consumption to our obesity and illness rates?

With the fillers in our food today, and the way they “ripen” our fruits and veggies with gases instead of naturally on the vine as intended, are we lucky if we even get a small percentage of nutrition? Many believe the result here is illness and dis – ease.

So, when will our food be addressed? Natural health is all about eating and living naturally with locally grown, organic choices being the best whenever possible. Yes, they cost more, and it takes an extra trip at times to find these goodies, but if it’s health we’re seeking, it’s worth the trip when we can do it.

It’s all about making the decision to develop new habits. A few trips to the local organic grocer will show its benefits right away in the better tasting and better for you fruits and veggies. The meats from grass fed animals and healthier eggs contain no chemicals. When we’re getting more nourishment from the food we eat, can we expect to eat less?

To defer cost and take more control over what you eat, a home garden is a great choice if you have some time to invest and if not, a single container growing your fruit or veggie of choice is the answer. Keeping it pesticide free can ensure its optimal taste and nutrition level, as well as keep you in good conscious knowing that you’re not adding these toxic chemicals to the ground water supplies.

Of course, during summers like the one we’re having this year in the Northeast, it’s great if you happen to own a greenhouse. A small south facing structure can easily be constructed from simple materials and provide you with a bounty, regardless of the rain.

If we were building up our immune systems by regularly drinking nourishing teas and herbal infusions, can we assume that our health would generally improve? It certainly can’t hurt, after all, teas and herbs were meant for the service of man and the more we learn about them, the more we concede to their intricate work throughout the body and all of its systems in ways we are still studying.

Can we eliminate some of our physical ailments by reducing our excess weight? What if we all took up walking for 20 minutes three times a week and drinking a cup of tea a day? Simplistic? Perhaps, but it’s a start toward taking control over our health and body as well as choosing to live on purpose.

The best natural health is a lifelong journey that begins with the development of a new habit, and all that takes is the first step, and then another, followed by another…

Dear Health-Minded Readers,

Many times my patients will tell me that they have problems sleeping – they either have trouble getting to sleep or they have problems staying asleep. Not surprising, generally around our late 40’s – 50’s we start to become deficient in melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns. As we near age 60, melatonin stores decrease even further.

However, as I explain to my patients, the good news about melatonin is that recent research has shown that it may do much more than just help us get to sleep. It may guard against migraine, Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. It may even help cancer patients live longer. Making sure your melatonin stores are sufficient then is not only beneficial to your sleep but to your brain and immune system in general.

There are several ways we can remedy a melatonin deficiency and get our sleep and health back on the right track. First, let me explain more to you about the important role melatonin plays in your health.

MELATONIN AND YOUR HEALTH

Melatonin truly is one of the miracle hormones that the human body produces and has multiple benefits. It is a major antioxidant that goes after 2 of the most dangerous free radicals, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals that can cause poor health.

Melatonin perhaps is best known, though, for its ability to help us get to sleep and relieving jet lag as it regulates the body’s internal time clock. Melatonin doesn’t stop there, though; it also has these other health benefits:

1. Neurological diseases: Alzheimer patients are almost always low in melatonin. Supplementation with it helps the increasing agitation syndrome called “sundowning” that can accompany Alzheimers. It helps Parkinson disease patients with movement and coordination as well as helps them sleep less restlessly. Prevents brain damage and fatal outcomes from strokes.

2. Heart protective: Melatonin helps normalize cholesterol levels and lowers blood pressure.

3. Fights cancer: Melatonin affects a number of cancers, breast, liver, lung, prostate, and brain metastases from other body location tumors. It also seems to counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy such as anemia, heart damage, mouth sores, and fatigue.

4. Psychological ally: Melatonin can help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which are aggravated by lack of

5. Boosts Sex Drive: Melatonin is produced by your pineal gland, the same gland that regulates your sex hormones. If melatonin stores are low, most likely so are your sex hormones. Research has shown that supplementation with melatonin restores an interest in

SYMPTOMS OF MELATONIN DEFICIENCY

Fixing a melatonin deficiency is rather easy. How do you know if you’re melatonin deficient? Most people age 50 and over will be somewhat, or greatly, deficient, in melatonin, the same as we can become deficient in other hormones like estrogen, testosterone as we get older. Younger persons are unlikely to be deficient in melatonin unless they have certain other health conditions that may herald deficiency (see below) and its usage.

The most common symptom of a melatonin deficiency is sleep disturbance, trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, light sleep, lack of dreaming, daytime fatigue. However, some other signs and symptoms that may reveal possible melatonin deficiency can also include:

Breast cancer

Prostate cancer

PMS and other menstrual disorders

Cataracts

High blood pressure

Heart rhythm disorders, heart attack

Your doctor can do a blood, urine, or saliva melatonin test to determine your deficiency.

INCREASING MELATONIN STORES/PRECAUTIONS

Supplementing with melatonin is relatively simple once you’ve determined that you are deficient in it. To remedy sleep disturbances, and boost general health, the common dose of melatonin to start is 1 mg up to 3 mg. Higher levels of supplementation, which can be done to augment treatment for other disease states, should only be done under a doctor’s supervision. Do let your doctor and/or pharmacist know that you are supplementing with melatonin, or eating foods that contain melatonin, especially if you take prescription medication to prevent interactions or affect the efficiency of your medication. Do not take with alcohol or sedative-type medications.

As noted above, there are also foods, which contain melatonin which you want to consider to prevent over-supplementation. Red tart cherries, especially Montmorency type, have significant levels of melatonin in them. Other foods contain tryptophan which raises serotonin levels and then convert into melatonin. These include milk, turkey, peanuts and chicken.

As I advise my patients, melatonin is a wonderful hormone that does miraculous things in the human body. However, I also caution my patients that it is a substance that needs to be used carefully to gain the most health benefit and prevent side effects of over-supplementation.

Stay Well,

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Origins of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, or more fittingly named “aroma-medicine”, seeks to treat or prevent diseases using potent, aromatic essential oils. Since ancient times, aromatherapy has been used for prevention as well as cure. Hippocrates himself thought that aromatic baths and massage were a way to remain healthy. Today, aromatherapy and its holistic approach is one of the fastest growing therapies in the world.

Wellness Approach Using Aromatherapy

The approach to realign the body is mostly through inhalation, direct contact absorption and to a lesser degree ingestion of the essential oil either as a dilute or for some mild oils undiluted. With inhalation, the oils are thought to penetrate the bloodstream via lungs to activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied to the skin (usually in a carrier oil), they activate thermal receptors and kill pathogens (such as bacteria and fungi). If taken orally, essential oils are thought to activate the immune system.

Research in Science Studies

In western culture, validation of medical therapies comes through empirical research. Rising popularity of aromatherapy with main-stream society has prompted researchers to take a closer look at this ancient therapy. Although still largely unproven by a wide breadth of research, preliminary studies, both in vitro and clinical, show positive effects using this medicinal therapy.

Depression: At the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2009), researchers published a review of the effectiveness of aromatherapy to decrease depression and symptoms of depression arising from various types of chronic medical conditions. Continued use of aromatherapy for depression was supported with further controlled studies recommended.

 

Dementia: The standard treatment for dementia in conventional medicine is to use neuroleptics or antipsychotic drugs. In elderly people such drugs are poorly tolerated, especially for patients with severe dementia. Researchers from the Wolfson Research Center, UK (2002) conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled study on using aromatherapy (combined with the antipsychotic) as a treatment for agitation in people with severe dementia. After 4 weeks of treatment, results indicated that there was a 35% improvement in agitation and that the active treatment (using Melissa officinalis) was well-tolerated by the patients. Researchers support further studies to investigate using aromatherapy as an adjunct or alternative to conventional treatments.

Anxiety: Laboratory results (using animals) indicate statistically significant differences when aromatherapy was applied. Clinical trials are few. Yet, one joint review by the University of Newcastle and Northumbria, United Kingdom (2006), looked at the pharmacology of essential oils and found evidence that essential oils exert measurable psychological effects in humans. Researchers concluded that aromatherapy provides a potentially effective treatment for a range of psychiatric disorders, especially since the side effects are minimal (if non-existent) compared to conventional psychotropic drugs.

Travel Excitement in Pets: Response to therapeutic treatments administered to animals is often much quicker than in humans. At the Queen’s University of Belfast Canine Behavior Center (2006), researchers looked at the effects of aromatherapy (diffused lavender essential oil) to manage travel excitement in dogs. Researchers found that dogs spent significantly more time at rest than moving around and recommended the use of aromatherapy as a practical alternative to expensive and sometimes adverse responses of traditional treatments.

Concluding Thoughts

Recent science studies indicate that aromatherapy is effective for conditions such as anxiety, depression and boosting cellular immune functions. In many of the studies reviewed, scientists are suggesting further research (rather than dismissing) for possible uses of essential oils as an alternative or complement to conventional medical practices. What has been used for centuries might soon find its place amongst hospitals and medical offices world-wide. The evolution of plant phytochemicals over millennia has served in the preservation of their species. It is likely that such chemicals will be soon sought after on a larger scale for human survival as well.