Premium Member

Natural Health California

Naturopathic Doctor

616 University Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301 phone: (650) 327-2053
Saturday, August 22, 2009
A dubious honor to be sure, but earlier this year (2009) neoprene was tapped by the American Contact Dermatitis Society as its "Allergen of the Year".  Contact dermatitis is just a fancy word for eczema which causes redness, scaling and itching of the skin.  In previous years, other chemicals or materials won this honor.  Including:
  • 2008 - Nickel
  • 2007 - Fragrance
  • 2006 - Commercial hair dye ingredient p-phenylenediamine
  • 2005 - Topical corticosteroids
  • 2004 - Cocamidopropyl betaine, a hair & skin-conditioning agent
Neoprene whose chemical name is listed as a "Mixed dialkyl thioureas (MDTU), a mixture of two thiourea chemicals from a class of chemicals used for rubber acceleration ".  Anyhow, the outcome is the product we know as neoprene.  Which is water resistant, temperature controlling and flexible which makes it a perfect material for things like computer sleeves, wet suits, athletic shoes, gloves and knee braces.  It is a derivative of rubber which, in the sensitive, will elicite redness, itching, scaling and sometimes blistering.  The chemicals particularly leaks out of the neoprene when there is sweating or water that gets between the neoprene and the sensitive individual.  

So those of you who suspect that you are allergic to your neoprene lined running shoes or wet-suits, it is best to avoid coming in contact with the substance.  A toxic reaction on the skin from the neoprene and your skin's interaction is another possible reason for the dermatitis like reaction, in addition to just an allergy.  In our office we use NAET or an allergy elimination technique to desensitize people from a neoprene or other chemical allergy.  However, if the dermatitis results from a toxic reaction on the skin, assisting the body's ability to detoxify is the best course of action.  To differentiate between just an allergic reaction and a toxic reaction to neoprene or other rubbers, one can tell that an allergic reaction is an isolated case and a toxic reaction can be generalized to a number of chemicals that can cause a host of physical ailments.  Toxicity symptoms can include joint pain, fibromyalgia, fatigue, headache, and brain fog to name just a few.  

Now that the American Contact Dermatitis Society has asknowledged the fact that MDTU and neoprene are highly allergenic to many people, the awareness helps all of us better understand that better living does not always come through chemistry.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
This is a short list of some food additives, their history and why they are in your foods.  When starting to get people to read ingredients and educating them on healthier diet choices, people are often confused by preservatives or flavor enhancers because of their chemical names.  Here are some to be careful of and to restrict from your diet.

Sodium Bisulfite
Certain toilet bowl cleaners are almost 50 percent sodium bisulfite, and most commercial wines also contain it. When dissolved in water-based liquids, sodium bisulfite releases sulfur gas that kills bacteria, yeasts, molds, and fungi. It also prevents oxidation, which protects wine from turning to vinegar.
This popular compound has a dubious past. It was banned from use on raw fruits and veggies by the FDA in the '80s following the deaths of 13 people who unknowingly consumed produce treated with toxic amounts of the preservative. Today, the FDA maintains that sulfites are generally safe. The Center for Science in the Public Interest however, warns asthmatics and others sensitive to sulfites to avoid it completely. It is now most commonly used in pet foods, potato chips and dried and pickled foods.
Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate is a seemingly innocuous powder added to biscuits, breads and rolls to make them rise. But there's a hitch: Potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals, and creates a cancer risk in humans. Usually, potassium bromate is completely dissipated by the baking process, but if too much is added or bread is not cooked for long enough at a high enough temperature, dangerous residual amounts remain.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer defines potassium bromate as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." Because it's difficult to control how a company uses the ingredient, almost all countries have banned it from use in food products. In the United States, however, the FDA has merely been asking bakers to voluntarily stop using it; some have not complied. The Center for Science in the Public Interest categorizes potassium bromate as an additive to avoid, defining it as "very poorly tested and not worth any risk." To avoid potassium bromate, also look for "bromated flour" on labels.
Tetrasodium Phosphorate
Tetrasodium phosphorate has the unglamorous distinction of being the common ingredient in multiple semi-gooey foods. The transparent crystals are used as an emulsifier, a buffering agent and a thickening agent in chicken nuggets, pudding, imitation crab and lobster, canned tuna and many soy-based faux meats. It is also an effective detergent and tartar control agent, which can be found in toothpaste, soap, and dental floss. Despite its unglamorous pedigree, tetrasodium phosphorate has not seen much controversy, though in high doses, it can be mildly toxic.
Sodium Nitrite
Nitrite, found in hot dogs, is positively unnerving: This crystalline powder is used to dye fabrics, manufacture rubber chemicals and to fix color in packaged meats. If consumed in high doses, it's toxic. It can also trigger migraines. If that's not enough to freak you out, how about this: According to a study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," people who ate processed meat were 50 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer. A study in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" found that those who ate the most processed meats had a 68 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate the least. The Center for Science in the Public Interest categorizes nitrate as an additive to avoid. If possible, stay away from packaged meats, or buy the nitrite-free varieties popping up in supermarkets across the country.
Methylparaben can be found in, among other things, lipstick, local anesthetic, salad dressings, dried meats, potato-based snacks and candy. Like most compounds in the paraben family, it's antimicrobial and is used most often as a preservative in foods, drinks and cosmetics. While multiple studies have reported that parabens are safe, a few more recent studies suggest a possible link between parabens -- including ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparabe -- to breast cancer. Industries that use parabens insist on their proven track record, while some public interest organizations believe that parabens require further study to definitively confirm their safety.
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
You may think you've sworn off monosodium glutamate, or MSG, but you're eating its equivalent in some brands of chicken noodle soup. That's because MSG -- that demonized flavor enhancer -- comes in many forms, and one of them is hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP).
HVP is a brown powder that is produced when cereals and legumes like corn, soy and wheat are boiled in hydrochloric acid and then neutralized with sodium hydroxide. The powder contains, among other things, glutamic acid, the sodium salt form of which is MSG. Food producers don't want to be associated with MSG -- the infamous bad boy of the ingredients world, believed to be linked to neurological problems and known to trigger severe allergic reactions and migraines -- but they do want to infuse their broths, stews, and meat and poultry products with its savory taste. Enter HVP, which sounds pretty healthy, with the words "vegetable" and "protein" in it.
 While it may not do harm to those who aren't sensitive to it, it's risky for those whose systems react badly to glutamates. To avoid unknowingly consuming glutamates, check labels (even of products marked "No MSG") for other sources of glutamate like autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed yeast extract.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
A recent study done at Harvard School of Public Health and published in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives links arsenic exposure to the development of gestational diabetes.  Over 500 women were tested and it was found that accumulated arsenic exposure increased a pregnant mom’s risk of developing diabetes almost 3 times over those who were not exposed.  This reinforces my recommendation to all of my patients who are thinking of getting pregnant.  To get checked for heavy metals and subsequently treated if you are high in heavy metals.  I started this practice early on in my career when I realized that the autistic children I was treating had accumulations of mercury and lead that I could not attribute to any other source other than from their moms during pregnancy and breast feeding.  Interestingly, mercury and lead can be transferred to an unborn child via cord blood and breast feeding.  Preventative medicine works the best when people actually start to think ahead about their plans for health care and family planning.  Few people realize that the heavy metals they are exposed to on a day to day basis can be avoided and reduced by taking some simple precautions.  Here are some pre-pregnancy tips.
  • Filtering your drinking and cooking water is a simple and relatively easy process to do.  An inexpensive reverse osmosis filter can significantly reduce your exposure to heavy metals like arsenic and other harmful chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in your water.
  • Stop all seafood and fish intake before you try to get pregnant.  In particular, tuna, swordfish, and shark of all kinds and farmed salmon.  This will reduce your current exposure to mercury and one dinner of swordfish or shark can take months to clear from your body, if at all.
  • Remove silver fillings and have them replaced by a biological dentist who knows how to properly remove a mercury filling without reexposing you to the mercury is another good idea before you try to get pregnant.  If the fillings are really old, it is better to leave the fillings in rather than to get them removed by a dentist that doesn’t know what they are doing.
  • Knowing how toxic your air and water are is important to help you figure out how concerned you should be before you plan to get pregnant.  Go to to check your county’s exposure.
  • Get tested for heavy metals.  A blood test is not sufficient for analyzing heavy metal accumulation over time.  A urine challenge with a chelating agent like DMSA is the best test for this.  Hair analysis also misses a great part of organic forms of mercury.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Many diabetics and people who are concerned about weight gain drink diet soda in order to keep their svelt figures.  However, it is increasingly a concern about the toxicity of NutraSweet on your body's cells.  We've all heard about formaldehyde and it's uses in embalming the dead.  Well, as it turns out NutraSweet aka Aspartame has increasingly been shown in research to turn into formaldehyde in the cell.  While in the cell, aspartame turns into formaldehyde and embalms the cell while damaging the DNA in the cell.  In further research, the early claims that the aspartame is easily eliminated by the body had been found to be "patently false" scientists finding that the aspartame turned formaldehyde is actually very difficult to eliminate from the body, hence building up in your cells leading to cellular damage.  

In the past few years we have heard more about how aspartame is an excitotoxin to the nervous system leading to headaches and ADD and hyperactive kids and adults.  But now we are learning just how toxic formaldehyde is to the body and how in recent studies there is a definite link between aspartame turned formaldehyde and the individual's risk of brain tumors, lymphoma and leukemia.  My work in environmental medicine and helping people detoxify from their environment has found that we are constantly being exposed to chemicals such as formaldehyde in places such as new furniture and clothing stores.  What none of us need is our body's producing our own internal source of formaldehyde.  

So buyer beware of the diet soda you are so addicted to.  Also, a number of Sugar-free products contain NutraSweet or aspartame including gums and diabetic foods.  Some good natural alternatives are things like Xylitol or maltitol (caution that too much of it during a day will lead to extreme diarrhea...something you only want to experience once in your life).  Stevia is a sweet tasting herb that can be added to drinks to sweeten the flavor.  Ultimately, reducing your own taste for sweet drinks is a huge benefit for your health.  Get used to drinking water or iced tea, plain.  As many of you see, there are many obese people drinking "diet" sodas leading to further cravings for sweets and carbs and leading to weight gain.  Increasing your protein intake during the day will balance your blood sugar and reduce your craving for sweets.  

Ultimately, I know, having helped hundreds of people with changing diets and bad habits that one of the most difficult habits to break is that diet soda habit.  It makes people crazy and very grumpy.  But it must be done for your own lifelong health.  All you parents out there, make sure you don't get your kids started on diet sodas.  It can end up being a life long addiction like cigarettes and smoking, difficult to break!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
This article I came across last month about a 10 year old girl who was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer.  This story is both shocking and frightening because of the possible health trend it describes. It brings to mind a big concern that I have been seeing in my practice over the years, early onset puberty.  Some girls I am seeing develop breast buds even as young as 7 or 8 and I've read about cases of some children developing early puberty signs as young as 3 years of age.  Just 20 years ago puberty was averaging around age 12 and 20 years before that even later than that.  Luckily, if I see the early signs of puberty in young girls I do a lot of educating the parents and use diet and herbs to try to head off the early puberty signs until later.  The goal is to push back puberty as much as possible to age 12.  Why does it matter?  Statistically, girls who go into puberty early will have an increase life-long of risk for hormonally related cancers and health concerns.  This includes increased risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, not to mention risk of fibrocystic breast disease, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.  These cancers and illnesses are to a great extent avoidable.  

There has been much talk about the breast cancer gene which, if positive, presents a very large risk of the woman developing breast cancer sometime during their life.  However, there is much one can do to alter genetic risk by making changes in your lifestyle and environment to reduce the severity or risk of onset of an illness.  Even without the breast cancer gene hanging out in your cells, a woman's risk of breast cancer is anywhere from 1 in 3 to 1 in 8 American women.  Not good odds.  Increasingly we are seeing "adult" diseases in children.  Including type 2 diabetes in obese children and a juvenile form of ALS (a degenerative, and deadly neurological disease) and now breast cancer.  

We need to look more closely at hormone disruptors and their large impact on increasing the breast cancer risk, being aware that plastics (like bisphenol A in baby bottles, plastic bottles and can lining), pesticides, heavy metals, phthlates and parabens in skin creams all add just a little bit to your overall risk for hormone disruption and increase your risk of hormonally related cancers.  Many synthetically formed chemicals affect how our hormones act and many can pretend they are human hormones, mimicking human hormone action.  

Fortunately, there is actually a lot parents can do to help prevent early onset of puberty in their children and also reducing the risk of hormonally related cancers for themselves.  Here are 5 quick tips:

1. Don't microwave food in plastic containers or with plastic wrap.  Remove the food and put onto a microwave safe dish or bowl.  The plastic contaminates the food with heating in microwave.

2. Avoid soy and soy containing foods.  This is particularly true of soy oils which are in MANY processed foods because they are a cheap ingredient.  Check in mayonnaise and prepackaged foods.  Soy is estrogenic and will act as a estrogen in your kid's bodies.  Fermented soy products are ok like miso, tempeh and naturally fermented soy sauce.

3. Avoid eating too much non-organically grown meats and chicken.  Or choose the ones that were grown without growth hormones.

4. KNOW what is in your beauty products.  MANY make-up, lotions, shampoos are extremely high in hormone disrupting chemicals.  If you aren't sure, check the Environmental Working Group's database "Skin Deep" which contains toxicity information on most commercial products.  

5. Eat the fruits and vegetables that are organically grown.  At the very least avoid the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables that have high concentrations of antioxidants are a must to counteract the some of the adverse effects of toxins and contaminants in food, air and water.  One concentrated fruit based elixir I use of chemical toxicity is called Liquid Life by Mitogenx, designed by one of my mentors.  Awareness that hormone disruptors affecting our children is the first step toward prevention.  We are seeing increasing feminization of our boys (aka man-boobs), a huge increase in prostate and breast cancer in adult males and females, respectively and early hormonally related cancers in our young girls.  Take a look around and educate yourself for your kid's sake, much of this is very preventable.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Having a meaningful existence is imperative to longevity and healthy living.  Here are some easy ways to add pep to your step and a few years to your life.  These are simple, easy to accomplish tasks that can add more joy and meaning to your life.  Kind reader, please add to this list by replying to this post and let others know what you do to add joy and fun into your life.

1. Find something or someone to love deeply.  This can be a pet, a project, a child, a someone, a hobby.  Finding something or someone that stimulates your passion for living is a great way to add vitality into your life.

2. Do whatever it takes to get great sleep.  This includes knowing that you are dreaming.  Good deep, restorative sleep requires REM sleep which lets your dream and remember that you have dreamed.  You do not need to remember your dreams, necessarily, but knowing that you dream is essential.  If you aren't able to remember your dreams, then you might be vitamin B6 deficient.  I recommend a supplement of vitamin b6 to help with this.  But try not to take it at night because it can keep you up.

3. Be your own best friend and find the meaning of a deep, rewarding friendship that is eternal.  Be comfortable with who you are, love where you are in life and try to be forgiving for your past mistakes.  Most people will find this very difficult but it is essential to peace and living the soulful life.

4. Forgive someone.  This may be an ex-fill-in-the-blank.  An ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-friend, ex-boss.  Someone who you have been holding a grudge toward and know that the anger, resentment that you harbor really inhibits you from living your life freely and with passion.  Do yourself the favor of letting that someone who you hate go for good.  Remember that forgiveness is not forgiving what they did but perhaps more of the why they might have done the deed.  Their insecurity, their disempowerment etc.  It frees you up to really life your life.

5. Find a creative outlet.  You may not be able to play the piano or paint but you might just be able to appreciate these creative spaces and find your own niche.  Creativity allows you to connect with that part of you who can be inspired and passionate.

Enjoy these recommendations and please let me know of other ways you personally live passionate life.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Yesterday, the US government declared a health emergency after confirming over 20 cases of Swine flu found in California and New York.  A few cases were also found in Kansas, Ohio and Texas so far.  I just sent an e-mail out to all of my patients to let them know what to do to reduce their risk of acquiring swine flu or any other flu.  Generally by this time of year, there are very few cases of colds and flus and our practice switches from viral and bacterial infections to allergies of spring.  However, this year, we are staying in Winter cold/flu prevention mode for much longer and I wanted to share with you typical treatment protocols that I use to prevent and treat colds and flus.

First off, I'd like to remind you of the common sense behaviors that reduce immune system function as well as increase likelihood of transmission of a cold or a flu.  Since this is a new strain of swine flu, last year's flu shot will not give you sufficient immunity so please do not be lulled into a false sense of security if you got last year's flu shot.  Here is my list of common sense behaviors to reduce risk of infection:

1) Avoid sodas, alcohol and sugar in your diet.  The amount of sugar in one 12 ounce soda can reduce your immune system's function by 90% in for up to 8 hours.  This does not include the sugar from your favorite desserts like cookies and cakes, sweet tea, fruit juice and energy drinks.  This is an easy way to help your immune system.

2) Make sure you get plenty of rest at the first onset of any sign of cold or fatigue.  If you listen to your body carefully, you can stave off a cold or a flu by getting lots of rest and avoiding #1 above.

3) Wash your hands with soap and water regularly and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose or coughing.  

4) Keep your stress low.  Minimize unnecessary stress on your body like too much partying, drinking, doing drugs or taking unnecessary drugs.  Emotional stress is included in this so peace is the key here.

5) Avoid unnecessary contact with common germ pools like airplanes, crowded public areas and hospitals if you can.  At the very least avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes after being in these places and wash your hands carefully and repeatedly.  Generally, I don't like to be an alarmist but we are talking about a very serious and very contagious flu that can become a world pandemic if we aren't careful.  In cases like this, it is more important to be careful than to be a hero.

There are a lot of homeopathic remedies that can be used as a preventatives for influenzas. They act on the energetic system that the body has and are extremely effective.  My favorite is Mucococcinum, a homeopathic remedy that you take once a week to prevent colds and flus.  I have cold/flu protocols that I have written for my patients and have sent out en masse.  If you are interested in my cold/flu protocol.  Drop me an e-mail and I will send it to you.  I have a child version and an adult version.  As you know, I firmly believe in prevention as the best medicine.  

For more information about the status of the swine flu, click here and here.  More later when I know more of what is going on...
Saturday, August 22, 2009
A recent study in April 2009, Anesthesiology Journal suggests that the use of anesthesia in children, especially very young children (under age 3) puts them at risk for being diagnosed with developmental disorders or learning disabilities as they get older.  This makes sense since children whose brains are still developing and are easily affected by assaults of chemicals or toxins that are in anesthetics.  This study is particularly of importance since anesthetics are being more liberally used in dentistry and out-patient testing procedures especially for children.  Many parents of autistic children in my practice will ask me about the safety of anesthesia and their kid's dental procedures.  Up until now, I've always said that they should weather the procedures just fine with some extra liver detox support to get the anesthetics out of the system more quickly.  However, in light of this new study, I will probably rethink allowing this for dental procedures unless the procedures are imperative. 

It seems that one use of anesthetics were fine and did not seem to have a long term impact on the brain of children and two uses increased the risk of developing a learning disability by 59%.  Three or more uses increased the risk by a whopping 2.6 times.  Obviously, the longer the child is under anesthesia, the more at risk they are for developing development disorders. 

This research was done on healthy children with no brain deficits or learning problems at the start of the study.  I am supposing that the risk for children who already have learning disabilities or developmental problems like autism or ADD/ADHD will find that their risk might go up exponentially or exacerbate their current situation.  As parents, it is important to take this into consideration prior to allowing your child to undergo procedures that require anesthesia.
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