Archive for Health & Nutrition

Essential Oil Allergy

Essential oils (EOs) are exploding in popularity!  Nearly every household has at least a few of them lying around and there is a quickly growing presence of us ‘lovers of all things aromatic’ diligently working on expanding our collections as quickly as our budget will allow while sharing the good news of aromatherapy everywhere we go!  The delightful scents and medicinal properties of essential oils pique the interest of many who want to remediate ailments using natural means.  What could be more perfect than these readily available delightfully-scented volatile oils?

The healing properties of essential oils are well-known. Yet the potency of these natural plant oils is often underestimated. There is important information available to learn about the safety of these oils and how to lower the risk of sensitization for ourselves and others while continuing to enjoy of these delightfully aromatic oils for years to come.

The following chart is designed to help us visualize the vast quantity of plant material involved in the production of essential oils. For instance, the oil of Rose Otto, Rosa damascena, takes two pounds of rose petals just to make just one drop! Two pounds of petals takes anywhere from 30 to 50 rose blossoms to manufacture!1 One 16-ounce pint of Rose Otto essential oil demands between 144,000 to 240,000 blossoms or 10,000 pounds of these precious petals!

The concentration of phytochemicals in a mere drop of any essential oil should receive a healthy dose of respect. Dilution with a carrier oil serves a crucial purpose in reducing the risk of applying neat (undiluted) essential oils. A quick look at the chart below reveals how radically a 2% dilution reduces the potency (although not necessarily the effectivity) of the herb.

A single drop of the concentrated essential oil of Rose Otto is the chemical equivalent of between 30 and 50 blossoms. However, one drop of a standard two percent dilution of Rose Otto will only have the chemical equivalent of one blossom at most.

More is not always better, especially when it comes to essential oils. What is best is getting just what our bodies need. No more and no less.

We live in a toxic world. Many folks, whether they realize it or not are struggling with toxicity. As wonderful as essential oils are, they are can add to the burden. Too much of anything can create or exacerbate a tox-‘sick’ state of being.

“Toxicity, or ‘the degree to which a substance can damage the body’ is dependent upon dose and does not require a substance to be formally labeled as a toxin; ‘even water can lead to water intoxication when taken in too high a dose’ (‘Toxicity’, 2015). Toxicity can be caused by a single very high exposure, or by long-term exposure, but the net effect is that the body’s detoxification systems are overwhelmed.”2

Development of an
Essential Oil Sensitivity

Typically, immune responses are caused by large protein molecules such as those found in foreign invaders or infectious agents. It is a commonly held fallacy that essential oils cannot cause allergic reactions because they do not contain proteins. While correct in that essential oils do not have proteins, the fallacy is dangerously incorrect because essential oils do cause allergic reactions. Here is why.

Haptens are very tiny, low molecular weight molecules that may bind to larger molecules such as proteins and other things like pharmaceutical drugs. In the case of essential oils, they bind to Langerhans cells which are specialized cells integral to the skin’s immune system. By themselves, haptens cannot cause an immune response, however, once they are attached to a larger carrier molecule, the carrier/hapten molecule (now called an adduct) migrates into the lymphatic system.

“Langerhans cells (LC) are members of the dendritic cells family, residing in the basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis and in the epithelia of the respiratory, digestive and urogenital tracts. They specialize in antigen presentation and belong to the skin immune system (SIS). LC acquire antigens in peripheral tissues, transport them to regional lymph nodes, present to naive T cells and initiate adaptive immune response.”3

Once the Langerhan cells present these adducts to the T-cells, the T-cells mount a quick immune response against these viruses, bacteria, invaders, or other toxins such as the essential oil hapten/adducts.

Foreign proteins and any protein with a hapten attached are called antigens. They are quickly recognized by the T-cells. This recognition process is done when “T-cells probe the surface of other cells, examining materials scooped from inside the cell and presented by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on the surface of the cells.”4

After T-cells have probed an antigen, they can then recognize it and are able to rapidly multiply a large number of identical cells (clones) with the same antigen receptor as the original. Thereby, mounting an immune defense on behalf of the body.

Urushiol, the toxin in poison ivy is a common example of a hapten. Urushiol is absorbed into the skin and within the skin, oxidizes and attaches to the skin’s own proteins which forms the antigen. From there it is found by the T-cell, probed until recognized, then T-cells multiply in the lymph node and from there urushiol causes an immune reaction b(in this case on the skin) because of the body’s ability to recognize it in all subsequent exposures.

Although first exposure by which an essential oil has not yet been identified by the body as an antigen does not result in an allergic reaction. It is possible that subsequent exposures will. This process is called sensitization and the reaction that comes from it is called hypersensitivity.

“Once sensitization occurs, you will have a lifelong reaction to the allergic agent,’ Dr. Palm says. ‘Additionally, future exposures to the allergy-causing essential oil will cause more severe skin reactions.’ Those who fall within the ‘atopic triad’—or those with atopic dermatitis, eczema, seasonal allergies, and asthma—are much more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis. Women are also more prone to these reactions than men, she says, due to an underlying hormonal cause, ‘which is likely a contributing factor to this difference.”5

The Dose Makes The Poison

Paracelsus

Paracelsus, a pioneer of the Renaissance “medical revolution”, said that ‘the dose makes the poison’ (toxin). When the body is overwhelmed by a substance it seeks to preserve itself. Allergic reactions should be considered warning signs.

Herbalism considers the essential oil to be more concentrated than the tincture (generally an alcohol-based extract). Yet the essential oil does not contain all of the constituents of the tincture. This means that an essential oil will not have all of the balancing phytochemicals of the whole plant.

What essential oils do contain are only the molecules with the lightest weight that can transfer during the distillation process. Whenever the chemicals of plants are reduced through processing, certain balancing factors found in the whole range of phytochemicals are altered. This results in an increased risk of side-effects.

There is no getting away from it. In the search for natural remedies, even essential oils break down into… chemicals. When applied in their very concentrated form, the body at some point can be expected to identify the substance as a toxin and react to it. While it is desirable to foster heath, this is not always the case.

Lower the Risk
of an Allergic Reaction

> Use only oils that are suitable for different life stages
Young children and the elderly tend to be more sensitive, therefore, certain essential oils are not suitable. Also, due to hormonal fluctuations and the development of the child in utero and while an infant, those who are pregnant and lactating are advised to use only those oils deemed safe and in a safe manner during those times.

> Use proper dilutions of essential oils
The stronger the “dilution” the higher the risk. The highest risk occurring with neat (undiluted) topical applications and ingestion. Recommended dilution percentages will vary according to the potency of the essential oil.

> Vary your essential oil choices
Using essential oils (even when diluted) every day for weeks and months on end could trigger an allergic reaction. It is best to change the oils on a regular basis or even discontinue use for a period of time. Listen to your body.

> Frequent daily applications multiply total daily exposure
The following visuals demonstrate that frequent applications of essential oils quickly and exponentially increase the amount of plant chemicals to meet or exceed what is found in a single drop of neat Rose Otto essential oil.

This is shared simply to draw attention to the fact that many repeated applications of any essential oil have the potential to overwhelm the body. People seldom use only four drops of diluted 2% essential oils topically as in this example. There is also a therapeutic benefit to spacing out the applications. Small diluted doses add up.

Massage therapists using essential oil blends on their clients have an increased potential for an adverse reaction. Moderation is key to continued enjoyment of the many benefits of essential oils.

One might think that a delicate essential oil such as Rose Otto carries less potency than Cinnamon Bark or Clove (both known to be strong oils that are likely to cause skin irritation) but this is not true. While Rose Otto is not as irritating, it is plenty “potent” as is Lavender or the Chamomiles, etc. The constituents of essential oils vary, so their respective benefits differ.

> Parts add up
Many oils share some of the same chemical constituents. When using blends and making dilutions, one should take into consideration the increased amounts or select oils with different components that offer the desired effect.

One chemical, a monoterpene called 1,8-cineol, Cineole or Eucalyptol can be found in the essential oils of basil, eucalyptus, melaleuca (tea tree), peppermint, rosemary and sage. At high levels, this monoterpene has been found to be toxic. 1,8-cineol makes up a whopping 80% of eucalyptus and about 44% of rosemary essential oils. It is significantly less in the other plant species listed.

While it is perfectly fine to blend these oils, be sure to utilize the other risk limiting factors such as dilution, frequency of use, etc.

> More is not the answer
Not everyone will have their condition(s) remediated by using certain essential oils or blends. The complexity of our bodies is beyond simply replacing the pharmaceutical “red pill or blue pill” with a natural remedy such as an essential oil.

In this instance it can be beneficial to seek out a natural health professional able to assist with the necessary lifestyle changes, systemic support and corrections. There are a number of these professionals fluent in the application of aromatherapy as well as other healing modalities.

> It is not recommended to ingest essential oils.
You will find many different opinions on this topic and undoubtedly form your own, but keep in mind that foods containing essential oils do so only in very minute amounts. Even one drop of an essential oil can be too strong. In addition to potential allergic reactions, ingested essential oils can interfere with medications.

While ingestion may be professionally endorsed under certain circumstances, it has potential to increase the risk of hypersensitivity and is generally not recommended. Do not consume orally, apply topically, and diffuse all the same time. This is more likely to overwhelm the body.

The Tennessee Poison Center noted the number of toxic essential oil exposures doubled between 2011 and 2015.6

> Certain essential oils are more likely to elicit an allergic response:

Photo-irritation (photo-sensitivity) may occur with the use of citrus oils such as: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. Additionally, citrus oils are not well-tolerated while bathing because the skin’s pores become larger, allowing more of the essential oils into the skin.

Contact dermatitis is most likely to be caused by: balsam of Peru, cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, jasmine absolute, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, sandalwood, tea tree, and ylang-ylang, etc.

It is also possible to be allergic to the carrier oil in which an essential oil is diluted. However, “very few adverse reactions are caused by impurities in an essential oil. Even if they are there, they are usually not present in sufficient concentration to cause a safety risk, and even impurities are not necessarily toxic. Almost all adverse reactions can be explained by the natural constituents present in an essential oil. Oregano oil is a potential skin irritant because of its 70-80% content of carvacrol, which is an irritant. Cinnamon bark oil is a potential allergen because it consists of 65-80% cinnamaldehyde – a known allergen. Bergamot oil is phototoxic because it contains 0.3% of bergapten, a potent photosensitizer. And, even the “purest” essential oil may be prone to oxidation that further increases the risk of adverse reaction.”7

If you think you may be experiencing an allergic reaction, simply STOP!!! Stop using all essential oils. Do not even diffuse them. Do not try to correct a potential allergy to an essential oil with the use of another essential oil.

Essential oils are a wonderful gift. Use them prudently and expect to reap the can benefits for years to come.

3 Reasons to Love Dandelion

Everyone knows what a dandelion is! The very young discover its stunning bright yellow flowers as they begin to explore their outdoor worlds. Its flowers are often gifted. The bouquet of the ‘littles’ presented to young mothers and grandmothers – and often without stems. Yet not everyone knows the absolute gold mine that dwells within this passionately loved… and sometimes equally despised humble plant.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a herbaceous perennial which “has a basal rosette of pinnately lobed leaves and a hollow stalk that supports a single head with many small, yellow, strap-shaped flowers (the tiny flowers collectively appear to be a single, large flower). The small seed-like fruits are born on a common receptacle and are tipped by an elongate, narrow beak, to which are attached an array of white bristles, which aid in wind dispersal. The leaves and flower stalks yield a white latex when bruised.”1

Dandelion is the low-growing cousin of the sunflower family. It is native to both Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but has now spread (by wind, bird, or settler) to every temperate climate. It prefers to grow in grassy locations and cultivated ground. Basically, wherever people are, dandelions are. This is perfect, because whether one knows it or not, we… need… dandelion.

WE… NEED… DANDELION!

Dandelion Improves the Soil!

More than the occasional dandelion is a sign of poor, deteriorated soil conditions. Dandelion prefers full sun and is tolerant of poor growing conditions. Its taproot can grow from six to 18 inches deep. This helps to break up compacted soil by drilling down into the earth, which both aerates and also draws minerals up into the topsoil where its shallow-rooted plant neighbors can benefit. In this way, dandelion conditions and prepares the soil, making it easier for other more delicate plant species to take hold and receive the nutrients they require.

Gardeners gain additional benefits by cultivating dandelion in their gardens as it attracts pollinating insects and also releases ethylene gas which assists fruit in ripening.

Who would have thought? All this from the lowly dandelion. A mighty tool designed to bring healing and restoration to the earth’s soil.

Dandelion is Nutritious Food!

One of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, dandelion is a critical food source for pollinators, especially honey bees.

Dandelion is also an important source of food for herbivores such as deer and rabbits. Likewise, a variety farm animals actively seek out dandelion. They instinctively know that after a long winter their bodies need the powerhouse nutritional ‘superfood’ that this unassuming herb so generously provides.

HORSE FLOWER

paardebloem

In the Netherlands, the common name for dandelion is “paardebloem”, which when translated means “horse flower”. The name “horse-flower first appeared in 1906 as a general accepted name in the book “Dutch plant names” of Henry Heukels. The name probably originated because of the fact that horses (also rabbits and pigs) love to eat the leaves of this plant and that it was commonly used as feed. Sometimes it was even named ‘horse-lettuce’.”2

Any horse pasture will soon find itself cleared of dandelion’s little yellow disks as equines actively seek them out. After a long winter and the nutritionally-depleted stored hay of late spring just before first cutting is ready, dandelion greens serve to cleanse the blood of all who will partake.

The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful face.

~ Walt Whitman ~

However, dandelion is not only for animals. Back in the day, in the late winter before it was time to plant spring gardens, common folk knew to forage for the early-producing greens such as dandelion.

The modern newbie forager can heave a sigh of relief that dandelion has no poisonous look-alikes. So there is no reason to hold back. Dandelion is one amazing herb that everyone can confidently get their hands on!

As a young girl, I remember my mother digging dandelions in the early spring to remove them from our yard. She saved the green leaves and prepared them for dinner. At our house, we ate them just one way. Mom would pan fry some bacon, then add the dandelion greens to the pan until they were well wilted. Then she would serve them with a little apple cider vinegar.

NOTE: Never consume dandelions that are growing near or have been contaminated with lawn fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or any other chemicals.

THE WHOLE PLANT IS EDIBLE!

Buds (unopened flowers) – Salads, stir fry, etc.

Flowers – Snack, salads, wine. Try your hand at mixing the yellow petals into softened butter with a touch of added honey for a delicious treat on bread and muffins! 

Leaves – Salads (the youngest leaves are always the sweetest). When they become more bitter: sauté, add to soups, use as a pot herb, casseroles, mix with other greens in pesto, etc. The greens can also be used as a spinach substitute in any recipe. 

Dandelion leaves are delicious and rich in nutrients. The raw leaves contain vitamins: A, thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), folate (B-9), C, E, K, and the minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium.

HINT: To reduce the bitter taste of the older leaves either cook them like a potherb in one change of water and/or add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Crowns (The part between the root and the leaves.) – Can be sautéed or fried.

Roots – As a root vegetable process the dandelion root in a similar manner to a mature beet which has a thick outer layer.  Steam for 2 minutes, put in cool water, then easily peel the outer skin of off the taproot as it is bitter. Next, place the cleaned roots in a pan of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.  It is delicious served with butter with a taste similar to a parsnip.

The root of the dandelion contains one of the best sources of inulin (a plant fiber) which is considered a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Inulin also provides a feeling of fullness and clears the body of cholesterol.

To make a coffee-like beverage dandelion root can be roasted and ground, then used as a tea.

To prepare the root for roasting, thoroughly wash and dry them then chop them into small bits.  Next, spread the root thinly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at 250–300 degrees.  Stir every 15 minutes to roast evenly.  The roasting process will likely take anywhere from one and a half to two hours to be complete.  During this time the color will develop into a rich brown and the roasted roots will give off a fragrant aroma.

When done, cool and store the root in a glass container.  Use a coffee grinder, Vitamix, or blender to grind up the roasted dandelion into grounds and add to coffee, or make a tea.

Roasted dandelion root is enjoyable in combination with other herbs such as chicory root, cacao, ginger, vanilla, or cinnamon to name a few. Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy:

Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~

  • 1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
  • 1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon

In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.

Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)

Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage. Steep longer – 10 to 15 minutes or steep the first tea a second time to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.

Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.

“Coffee people” and “non-coffee” people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.

Dandelion leaves and roots do not have the same nutrient composition. The nutrient analysis below will reveal some of the major differences. The data provided is in 100 grams of dandelion leaf or root, respectively. Where information is blank no data was provided.

Dandelion is a Valuable Medicinal!

English Name: Dandelion
Binomial Name: Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteracae (Compositae)
Parts Used: Root, Leaf
Herbal Actions: Diuretic, hepatic, cholagogue, anti-rheumatic, laxative, tonic, bitter

THE LEAF & ROOT HAVE DIFFERENT HERBAL ACTIONS!

Hand coloured print, plate 1 of Dens Leonis in A Curious Herbal, 1737 by Elizabeth Blackwell

Indications – LEAF: As a diuretic, dandelion leaf is preferable to the root. “Dandelion leaf is a powerful diuretic, with an action comparable to that of the drug furosemide. The usual effect of a drug that stimulated kidney function is loss of vital potassium from the body, which can aggravate any cardiovascular problem that may be present. Dandelion leaf, however, is not only an effective diuretic, but also one of the best natural sources of potassium. It is thus an ideally balanced remedy that may be used safely whenever diuretic action is needed, even for water retention related heart problems. Overall, this herb is a most valuable general tonic and perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and liver tonic.”3

Indications – ROOT: Dandelion root (not the leaf) should be selected for conditions associated with:

> Liver and gallbladder such as inflammation, congestion, chronic jaundice, and high cholesterol.

> Autointoxication which occurs when “the waste products of metabolism, decomposed matter from the intestine, or the products of dead and infected tissue, as in gangrene” are not properly eliminated from the body.4

> Aphthous ulcers canker sore-type ulcers commonly located in the mouth, genitals, or intestines.

> Digestive disturbances like loss of appetite, chronic gastritis, constipation, or diarrhea.

> Used topically for skin disorders (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and boils) the milky white latex “sap” is alkaline which may help curb itching skin and eczema. In addition, its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties may reduce acne-causing bacteria and other skin infections. The latex appears to speed the healing of scars and the red inflammation caused by acne.  Dandelion sap also seems to work very well with sensitive skin, although for those allergic to plants in the Asteracae family, dandelion would be contraindicated.

> Diabetes may be helped by stimulating insulin sensitivity as well as insulin production by the pancreas which aids in controlling blood sugar levels.

> Certain Autoimmune conditions and blood disorders such as rheumatism and anemia.

NOTE: When using herbs medicinally, always be sure they are organic or responsibly wildcrafted. Wildcrafted herbs should be gathered in areas distant from chemical spraying or ‘drift’ that occurs from conventional crop pesticide use.

Have you ever gardened with, eaten, or used dandelion medicinally? Have you tried one of these suggestions above as a result of reading this post? Tell us your experience in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!

References:

  1. Ancestral Plants: A Primative Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants of the Northeast – Volume 1 by Arthur Haines p.184
  2. 2
  3. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman p.587
  4. 4

Antibiotic Resistant Microbes

Before antibiotics, it is estimated that 50 percent of people died from infections. Now, after 75 years of use, statistics reveal that every year at least 2.8 million people are hospitalized with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, which according to 2019 statistics result in at least 48,700 deaths in the United States alone.1 It is worth mentioning 5 percent of hospital patients (about 2 million) who are admitted for routine procedures become infected at some point during their stay.

How’d We Get Here?

Discovered by Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, by the mid 1940’s, penicillin, a mold-derived antibiotic became available for commercial use. “In 1945 the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to Alexander Fleming and Howard Florey for their discovery of the antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum.”2

Escherichia coli

The threat of microbial resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing each year with devastating effects. These “superbugs” are outracing the drug industry’s ability to keep up with the need. While it may take a human 20 years to reproduce offspring, a bacterium such as E. coli can replicate every twenty minutes!

We’ve Known About this for
Nearly 100 Years!

Bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, should not come as a surprise. In his book Herbal Antibiotics, Steven Harrod Buhner writes “Dr. Fleming noted as early as 1929 in the British Journal of Experimental Biology that numerous bacteria were already resistant to the drug he had discovered, and by 1945 he warned in a New York Times interview that improper use of penicillin would inevitably lead to the development of resistant bacteria.”

How Does It Happen?

Bacterial cell division depicting daughter cells receiving both a copy of the chromosome and a copy of a plasmid. Public Domain

Antibiotic resistance occurs because bacteria are able to share genetic material just by being in close proximity to one another.  The genetic material is communicated very quickly in little packages called plasmids.

The word antibiotic when broken down simply means anti ‘against’ and biotic ‘life’. At its core an antibiotic’s design is to function ‘against life’. Its use is intended to kill off certain problematic bacteria. However, antibiotics annihilate most microbes in their path. Microbes have the ability to adapt to hostile elements such as antibiotics while remaining in their environment. What a statement to resiliency in life.

Fluoroquinolones…

It is alarming how many bacterial species are still becoming resistant to the group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones (‘fluoro’ because they contain fluoride) that can cause very debilitating side-effects.

Ciprofloxacin Molecule

One example, Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is a lab-derived chemical structure used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Cipro’s “superpower” is that it can destroy anthrax bacillus anthracis bacteria as well as eliminate many other varieties of bacteria (including the helpful ones) because it targets an enzyme essential for DNA transactions that is common to all bacteria.

Intent to keep ahead of the rapidly mutating bacteria, pharmaceutical companies have modified the chemical structure of fluoroquinolones but have been mostly unsuccessful. The Merck Manual states “Many newer fluoroquinolones have been withdrawn from the US market because of toxicity; they include trovafloxacin (because of severe hepatic toxicity), gatifloxacin (because of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia), grepafloxacin (because of cardiac toxicity), temafloxacin (because of acute renal failure, hepatotoxicity, hemolytic anemia, coagulopathy, and hypoglycemia), and lomefloxacin, sparfloxacin, and enoxacin.”3

Conventional Medicine…

The most well-known use of antibiotics occurs as a medicine when a person suffering from a microbial infection visits a hospital or doctor. “A national survey of antibiotic use done by CDC’s Emerging Infections Programs identified key opportunities to reduce inappropriate use. This study found that two out of three antibiotics in hospitals are given for three conditions: pneumonia, urinary tract infections (including bladder and kidney infections), and skin infections.”4

In another study done in 2016, “CDC experts found that overall rates of antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals did not change from 2006-2012. More than half of patients received at least one antibiotic during their hospital stay.  However, there were significant changes in the types of antibiotics prescribed with the most powerful antibiotics being used more often than others.”5

Due to the overuse of antibiotics the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes looms large in the healthcare industry. The following three-page document linked to the image below is offered for your convenience. The data has been provided by the CDC.

Click the image to view, download, or print the full PDF.

Digging Deeper

The antibiotic discovered by Alexander Fleming was derived from the mold Penicillium chrysogenum. This mold naturally produces the antibiotic with the familiar name, penicillin. Industrially produced by fermentation, penicillin is known to have a high therapeutic index that does not negatively effect human cells.

The modern production of antibiotics now occurs in a lab by one of two methods. The first, semi-synthetic production includes natural fermentation plus laboratory involvement of adding an amino group (NH2) to the R group of penicillin. One result from this production method is the well-known antibiotic named ampicillin.

The second ‘synthetic’ method of antibiotic production occurs solely in a lab. There are no natural antibiotic substances used. The quinalone class of antibiotics are made in this way.

The overuse (misuse) of antibiotics in medicine, is considered a primary cause of antibiotic resistance, however, it is only one of three major routes of exposure. Another that deserves a serious look are the animal husbandry practices that affect our meat supply.

Factory Farmed Animals…

Public Domain

Antibiotics added to animal feed have been used in farming to cause animals to grow bigger and faster by converting the same amount of feed into muscle more quickly.

They are also used to counter the stress that animals are placed under when expected to grow in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The constant stress of these conditions breaks down the animal’s immune system making it more prone to disease that ultimately will require antibiotics.

Antibiotics fed to animals affects the bacteria in their body as well. Antibiotic-resistant microbes lodge in their bones and meat and cause imbalances in gut microbes, just as with humans.

When people ingest antibiotic-resistant bacteria
via improperly cooked meat and become ill,
they may not respond favorably to antibiotic treatment.

Antibiotic-resistant microbes can enter the human or animal microbiome orally, via injection, or through inhaled by aerosolization. What is especially disturbing is that antibiotic resistant organisms are finding their way into the remotest areas of the earth. While three percent of wild penguins have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, close to 50 percent of captive penguins in Antarctica have been identified with it.

“In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 6, 2002, researchers found links that strongly suggested that the people who developed Cipro-resistant bacteria had acquired them by eating pork that were contaminated with salmonella. The report concluded that salmonella resistant to the antibiotic fluoroquine can be spread from swine to humans, and, therefore, the use of fluoroquinolones in food animals should be prohibited.”6

“Another New England Journal of Medicine study from Oct. 18, 2001, found that 20 percent of ground meat obtained in supermarkets contained salmonella. Of that 20 percent that was contaminated with salmonella, 84 percent was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic.”6

Australian scientist Michelle Power states, “about three-quarters of the antibiotics that humans take are actually excreted, ending up in wastewater systems. Places where antibiotics are manufactured are also potential avenues for escape of antibiotics. And then there are the times when animals are taken into care, or raised in captivity and exposed to humans, and then released into the wild. ‘We are seeing a variation in the prevalence [of antibiotic-resistant bacteria] across different wildlife species but why that is the case, we are not sure”.7

Still there is another mode of exposure that is equally as significant yet has been largely ignored. Antibiotics have been routinely used for decades to control bacterial and fungal diseases in plants.

Agricultural Crops…

In a study published in CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, Dr. Philip Taylor and his researchers “found that 11 antibiotics (often blended together) are being recommended on crops grown in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim countries…

There is considerable attention paid to the medical and veterinary use of antibiotics, but there is a paucity of data on their use in global crop production. The only well-documented use of antibiotics on crops is that on top fruit in the U.S. These data appear to indicate that the use of antibiotics in crop production is more extensive than most of the literature would suggest.”8

Vegetables grown in unfertilized soil were equally shown
to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance
determinants that naturally occur in soils. 9, 10

Not only are these crop-sprayed antibiotics that are making their way into the food supply of people and animals, the earth’s waterways are being contaminated through runoff and the microbiome of the soil is being disrupted throughout the world.

The Root of the Problem

The isolation of plant constituents separate out a natural chemical that can be patented and manufactured or synthesized in a laboratory to create a product with more problems than it generally solves. These ‘problems’ are called as side-effects. However, in the case of antibiotics there are also effects on bacteria, fungus, or even enzymes whose response has been changed due to frequent and excessive antibiotic exposure.

How “Antibiotic” Herbs Can Help

An herbal remedy generally consists of one or more plants and the entirety of their chemical makeup. These chemicals are uniquely designed to work in unique synergistic combinations as both an offense and a defense that the plant needs to flourish in its life-cycle.

Over 5,000 distinct plant constituents (the chemical parts of plants) have been identified to date, however, there are thousands more that have yet to be identified. A single plant can have anywhere from 200 to 3,000 constituents! The complexity is simply mind-boggling.

How this natural synergistic combination of plant chemicals work, is unique to each herb and multiplied exponentially when various herbs are used together. The mechanisms of how this works is a wonderful mystery that is only just beginning to become unraveled.

Smart Herbs!

The action of herbs is not antibiotic (against life) in the truest sense of the word. Herbs are considered anti-microbial in a much broader sense as they may affect bacterium, fungi, and even protozoa yet do not destroy those organisms beneficial to the body and its vitality. Perhaps they could better be thought of as “smart herbs”. How they differentiate is amazing, but unknown.

Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis

A study published in the May 2015 Global Advances in Health and Medicine Journal offered 104 patients with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) their choice of either four weeks of antibiotic (rifaximin) or herbal therapy.

The herbs used in the herbal therapy were a proprietary mix of Oregano Origanum vulgare, Wormwood Artemisia absinthium, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Goldthread Coptis chinensis root, Indian Barberry Berberis aristata root extract, Horsetail Equisetum arvense L., Thyme Thymus vulgaris, and Olive Olea europaea.

Horsetail
Equisetum arvense L.

The results were encouraging as the research found that “Herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin for resolution of SIBO by LBT. Herbals also appear to be as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for SIBO rescue therapy for rifaximin non-responders.”11 ‘Rescue therapy’ is the term used in this study when the first 4-week course of rifaximin did not resolve the patient’s SIBO and the patient then chose the four-week herbal therapy.

Antimicrobial herbs have properties which are active against two or more groups of pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc. There are many herbs with antimicrobial properties. The following is a short list of herbs with demonstrated antimicrobial actions. There are many more that have not been included.

  • Acacia spp., Acacia 12 13
  • Achillea spp., Yarrow 14 15
  • Agrimonia eupatoria, Agrimony 16
  • Allium sativum, Garlic 17 18 19
  • Aloe vera, Aloe 20 21
  • Arctostaphylos ua-ursi, Uva-ursi 22 23
  • Cryptolepsis sanguinolenta, Cryptolepsis 24 25
  • Curcuma longa, Turmeric 26
  • Cymbopogon citrates, Lemongrass 26
  • Echinacea spp., Echinacea 27 28
  • Eucalyptus spp., Eucalyptus 29 30
  • Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal 31 32
  • Hypericum alpestre, St. John’s Wort 16
  • Juniperus spp., Juniper 33 34
  • Mahonia spp., Oregon Grape 35 36
  • Melaleuca alternifolia, Tea Tree 37 38
  • Origanum vulgare, Oil of Oregano 15
  • Tinctura propolisi, Propolis 41 42
  • Rumex obtusifolius, Bitterdock or Broad-leaved Dock 16
  • Salvia Spp., Sage 39 40
  • Sanguisorba officinalis, Great Burnet 16
  • Usnea spp., Usnea 43 44
  • Withania somnifera, Indian Ginseng 20, 26
  • Zingiber officinale, Ginger Root 26

Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Good Boundaries Make Great Clients!

Building a natural health business can be a fun and rewarding experience. It also has potential to present difficulties that every entrepreneur has to work through. While some business owners seem to have an uncanny knack for building a business, others struggle.

Having difficulty doesn’t mean that you are not cut out for this type of thing, it only means that additional knowledge and skills are required to benefit your business – and most importantly YOU!

What is it that those with a ‘knack’ know? They know how to effectively use boundaries to accomplish their goals.

Signs that boundaries are needed.

Are you exhausted from working through the many expectations of others? Do you ever feel taken advantage of? Do others frequently ask for unsolicited freebies? Do constant interruptions decrease your productivity? Are “friend”-clients inclined to expect special treatment and favors? Are you frequently asked that ‘quick question’ that requires uncompensated research, but you do it even if you don’t have the time?

If any of these apply, you might consider the need to set boundaries. While all of these things may be a part of running a natural health business (and more), it is healthy to set your own priorities and not allow pressures inflicted from outside to ‘drive’ you. In simple terms, busy-ness does not equate with success.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

~ Brene’ Brown

For some professionals the need for boundaries may present as resentment or anger. The feeling of having one’s stomach ‘tied up in a knot’ at the request of or thought of a person may also reveal a lack of healthy boundaries.  Feeling consistently overwhelmed or weary, or perhaps the realization that one has been taken advantage of or too often taken for granted may be yet another sign. When pushed to wits end the otherwise happy professional might even surprise themselves with that short or cutting remark that just jumped out of their mouth. Unfortunately, it may not have occurred to them that a lack of boundaries was causing their suffering and negative feelings or that there was a remedy.

Setting Boundaries is Healthy for You!

A person who sets boundaries is a person who cares for and respects themselves.  A person who is willing to set boundaries for themselves is a person who desires to nurture themselves with self-care and self-respect.  Believe it or not, setting healthy boundaries is a primary area that the natural health professional takes care of themselves!

Also, do not be quick to harshly judge those negative feelings you may have.  Negative emotions are merely an indicator that something is amiss in a similar manner as the fuel gauge on a car indicates whether the tank is full or empty. Now that you recognize healthy boundaries are in order you can do something about it!

Don’t become discouraged should the concept of boundary-setting have you in tears.  Given some time and opportunity it is very possible to become proficient in this area. Setting healthy boundaries is a wonderful way to practice self-love and personal growth is ultimately empowering and energizing.  If this is you, take courage. YOU CAN do this! Read on to learn how.

“Compassionate people ask for what they need.  They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it.  They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

~ Brene’ Brown

Setting Boundaries is Healthy for Others!

For many natural health professionals, learning and practicing the skills required to create good boundaries necessitates taking a sobering inventory of themselves.  This is beneficial not only for ones-self, but also for one’s clientele.

Without boundaries, there is chaos, chaos causes stress which when prolonged results in the weakening the body.  In other words, your health will benefit from your learning to set good, healthy boundaries for yourself. Our clients, like us, benefit from applying similar techniques in their work and personal lives.  Boundary-setting tools are a great resource to have in one’s professional arsenal.

The following poem is a work of art crafted by the well-known American poet, Robert Frost.  Especially noteworthy is the relationship and understanding that is developed in the process of boundary-setting.

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

If you would like to listen to an MP3 recording of this poem click on the link.  ->  Mending Wall by Robert Frost

How to Get Started Setting Boundaries

The place to begin is by delaying the urge to automatically say “yes” whenever a request is made.  As author/researcher Brene’ Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, states:  “The moment someone asks you to do something you don’t have the time or inclination to do is fraught with vulnerability. “Yes!” often seems like the easiest way out. But it comes at a price: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “Sure!” in my squeaky, I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this voice, only to spend hours, even months, feeling angry and resentful. For women, there’s a myth that we’re supposed to do it all (and do it perfectly). Saying no cues a chorus of inner shame gremlins: “Who do you think you are?” “You’re not a very caring [mother/wife/friend/colleague].”1

“No!” is a complete sentence!

Next, practice saying the word “No” with confidence! If you have difficulty speaking it out with confidence, practice! Say No! with enthusiasm until the confidence surfaces, then practice again. Say No! in front of the mirror. Say No! in the car. Practice until it becomes a habit. And remember, “No!” is a complete sentence!  Practicing your boundaries in everyday life is key to setting effective boundaries in your business.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.”

~ Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet an American investor and business tycoon said “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.” Isn’t that what every two-year-old child says? They are learning to set effective boundaries for themselves. A skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.

It is possible to use boundary-setting techniques to manipulate others/ This behavior ought to be rejected by the natural health professional. Manipulative boundaries are often extremely rigid and unyielding. They may be intended to make the boundary-maker feel safe or avoid anything that could possible go awry, but the downside is that manipulative boundaries actually exclusive. They serve to keep people ‘out’ instead of inviting them ‘in’-to a mutually-beneficial and rewarding relationship.

The 3 ‘C’s of Boundary-Making

What kind of boundaries should a natural health professional have? A good place to begin is by thinking about those areas in your business that would be benefited by a clearly-defined boundary. Undoubtedly, you will think of more than is listed here. Here are some examples to get you going:

Boundaries of Natural Health Professionals

  • Dates and times you are available (office, store, clinic hours)
  • ‘No show’ appointments. (Fee for cancellations?)
  • Being on time for their appointment. (How will tardiness be handled?)
  • When is payment due?
  • Preferred or acceptable, methods of payment.
  • How do you prefer to be contacted? (Email, text, phone call, etc.)
  • Client adherence to your professional recommendations, etc. (Definitely in the client’s best interest.)

After listing the boundaries you have decided upon and how you would like to handle each one, you will want to move on to the first ‘C’ of Boundary-Making.

Successful Boundaries Must Be Clear

Clear boundaries clarify expectations and set people up to succeed.  For boundaries to be respected and adhered to, clear communication is the key.

The best place to start when setting boundaries verbally is to “own’ it. This is an important step to establishing your authority and can be accomplished by making “I” statements. “I” statements are a simple way to get started. Practice the ones below and add any others that suit you. State them with confidence as with saying “No!”

“I don’t have the bandwidth for that.”
“I would be happy to answer your questions. My next available appointment is on Tuesday.
“I need time for myself outside of business hours.”
“I am not available before 10 a.m.”
“I can’t take that on.”

When offering an “I” statement, do not add further explanation as this muddles the message which will weaken the authority you would like to convey. Keep your boundary statements short and to the point.

Repetition along with enthusiasm will help build your confidence. If you have a friend with which you can practice, have them encourage you to be assertive. That is even better.

Successful Boundaries Must Be Communicated

It is a mistake to assume that others automatically know your boundaries. There are various ways to set boundaries with signs, in contracts, in policies, as well as verbally.

As was mentioned earlier, contracts, and policies and procedures are types of boundaries.  It is recommended to write out these things for the sake of clarity with your client.  However, not everything can be forethought and written.  Relationships are messy like that.  This is why we need to practice verbalizing limits.

Here is one example:  Last minute client cancellations or no-shows are costly in business.  Remember, your policies (boundaries) should be stated when the appointment is made, written where your clients can see them, and/or forwarded to them with intake paperwork.

At times it will be necessary to enforce this boundary. Practice the following statement until it can easily roll off of your tongue.

Boundary statement: “I am happy to cancel and reschedule your appointment. There is a $___ cancellation fee when less than a 48-hour notice is given.”

Obviously, we wouldn’t charge a cancellation fee every time a client cancels for any reason. After all, sometimes there are legitimate emergencies. However, being prepared for those times you have to use a boundary will help to keep you on your toes when you need it .

Successful Boundaries Must Be Consistent

Consistency is a bit more difficult in the beginning than after one has been setting boundaries for awhile. It is wise to expect some resistance when first using boundaries as with any good wall or fence there will be “fence testers”. Sometimes these are people who are genuinely surprised that there has been a change. These people generally will adapt and respect you all the more.

Another type of “fence tester’ is the manipulative or ‘toxic’ person. When you come across these as any reasonable and rational person would, just take a deep breath, relax, and calmly stick to your guns for “this too shall pass.”

“You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours.”

~ Bryant McGill

Being habitual about consistently enforcing your boundaries shows that you respect your decision-making. Waffling demonstrates uncertainty and by doing so you undermine your own authority making it more difficult to hold your ground next time.

Take a moment and reflect back to the Mending Wall. Remember the place where the hunters passed through left a gaping hole in the stone fence? Their action made the boundary inconsistent. Inconsistency requires more effort to repair than the effort required in routine maintenance.

And that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Making your business a safe, joy-filled, and profitable venture… for YOU!

Good Boundaries Make Great Clients!

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Chia ~ Salvia Hispanica

Chia (Salvia Hispanica L.)

Chia is a herbaceous annual that is part of the lamiaceae plant family and native to Guatemala and the central and southern parts of Mexico. Plants in this family contain very aromatic essential oils in all of their parts. Other well-known plants found in the lamiaceae family are mint, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage.

Chia (Salvia hispanica) grows in well-drained clay or sandy soils with a lot of sun. Its beautiful flowers are bee and pollinator friendly, but chia does not tolerate frost. It should be harvested immediately after the first killing frost.

There are multiple varieties of chia such as Chan (Hyptis suaveolens) which is also sometimes called ‘Chia’. Unlike Salvia hispanica, Chan is high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids and not in the Omega-3s. Golden Chia (Salvia columariae Benth) produces seed that is used just like Salvia hispanica. Salvia miltiorrhiza, a “chia” that is native to China and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine is called red sage, Dan Shen, and Shen so. The root is used for medicinal purposes as a blood mover, traditionally in the form of a tea. » Read more

Food Allergy or Intolerance?

Are food ‘allergies’ or a food ‘intolerance’ the same thing? Keep reading to find out what the differences and the similarities look like in a topic that often results in confusion.  Let us begin with the hypersensitivity, commonly known as a food intolerance.

The Food Intolerance…

The outstanding characteristic of a basic food intolerance is difficulty with digestion, although it may exist for a variety of reasons.  For instance, a dairy-based lactose intolerance is common throughout the world affecting up to 70 percent of people.[1]  This is the result of the lack of a specific enzyme called lactase which is not produced in the small intestine of certain people.  Without the enzyme lactase, the body simply cannot digest milk sugars which are the carbohydrates called “lactose”.

The milk sugar molecules (lactose) remain too large without the proper enzymatic function, therefore the small intestine cannot absorb it and these particles remain in the GI tract.  Due to this increased transit time, the gut microbes work to ferment the milk sugars.  Lactose reaches the colon still in the process of fermenting, and produces gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen.  These are what cause the pain and discomfort of bloating which can further produce nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children. » Read more

Essential Oils & Water Don’t Mix

While it is common in the “world of aromatherapy” to be encouraged to simply add essential oils to a bath, to a foot bath, or to a compress with only water, you may want to think twice. Let’s discuss why…

Oil & Water… DO. NOT. MIX!

Pure, unadulterated, and undiluted essential oils are ‘hydrophobic’.

Pure, unadulterated, and undiluted essential oils will not disperse in water. Why? Because they are ‘hydrophobic’. In other words, they do not blend with or disperse in water.

Most essential oils are lighter than water and will float on top. There are also certain essential oils that are more dense than water, a few examples being vetiver, cinnamon, and clove. These essential oils will sink to the bottom. Regardless of where the essential oils lie, they will not disperse into the water. By separating to the top or the bottom, they will then adhere to whatever passes through the water like skin, or a cloth that then gets applied to the face, arms, or sensitive parts.

When adding essential oils to water special consideration should be given to children, pregnant women, and the elderly as their skin is much more sensitive than the typical adult.

Essential oils can be especially damaging to mucosal areas of the body and if inadvertently splashed into the eyes. Citrus oils which are relatively mild topically, may become an irritant when used for bathing. » Read more

Sleep Much? (Part II)

Welcome back! In “Sleep Much (Part I)” we learned that many of our ancestors slept in a biphasic manner consisting of two sleep periods each evening with a quiet awake time in between, especially during the winter season. Some cultures that sleep in a biphasic fashion take a siesta or mid afternoon nap, especially in the hot summertime mid-afternoons. Young children, the elderly, and some by personal preference may take a short nap in the afternoon. It is interesting to note that there remains a billion people in the earth who still practice biphasic sleep.

Myth or Not?

Are humans fundamentally different from all the other animals because our sleep has been consolidated into one continuous nocturnal session?  If one considers how other mammals such as dogs, cats, chimpanzees, horses, etc., sleep (which are actually poly-phasic in their sleeping patterns), man may not be so unique after all. In the annals of history well-known people such as Nikola Tesla, Leonardo DaVinci, Salvador Dali, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Winston Churchill have been recorded as having practiced polyphasic sleep.

The industrial revolution of the the late 18th and the late 19th centuries caused biphasic sleeping to lose popularity. Natural gas-powered street lamps increased in prevalence, especially in the cities. The first homes “wired” for artificial light were actually “plumbed” with gas pipes to gas-powered lanterns. Electricity was soon discovered, the modern light bulb was invented …and the artificial light pierced the darkness. » Read more

Sleep Much? (Part I)

There is no more restorative agent than sleep.  While one sleeps protein synthesis occurs.  This is crucial because protein synthesis is the activity that lays the foundation for the proper functioning of all the cells in the body.  During protein synthesis tissues are healed and physical and mental processes are restored.  There is also an emotional healing component and perceptual learning occurs while one is asleep.  Perceptual learning is the ability to discern the meaning of what we encounter through our senses of touch, taste, see, hear, or smell.  If any of these processes are short-circuited, then the whole person suffers as the body is not able to heal or restore itself.

An Interesting Sleep Study…

In 1987, Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist from the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study using 15 men imitating the light exposure in the midst of the dead of winter in middle latitudes and its effect on sleep patterns.  Various indicators were monitored throughout each night such as temperature, hormones, brain waves, etc.  For comparison another set of measurements was taken later on when the men slept for only 7 to 8 hours as is more common today.

The results of the first study was amazing.  “As the study volunteers adjusted to their artificial circumstances, their sleep patterns relaxed into distinct phases. The men slept only about an hour more than normal, but the slumber was spread over about a 12-hour period. They slept for about four to five hours early on, and another four to five hours or so toward morning, the two sleep bouts separated by several hours of quiet, distinctly nonanxious wakefulness in the middle of the night. The early evening sleep was primarily deep, slow-wave sleep and the morning episode consisted largely of REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep characterized by vivid dreams. The wakeful period, brain wave measurements indicated, resembled a state of meditation.” [1]  The total hours equaling approximately nine hours per night.  Up until as little as one hundred years ago our ancestors slept nearly nine hours per night, just as the men in this study with all the external stimulation minimized.

Imagine the bliss of a full nine hours of sleep each night for even one week!

It’s Prolactin, More or Less

When people are sleeping with no artificial light at all they generally sleep twice every night.  Called biphasic or bi-modal sleep, they go to bed around 8 p.m. and wake up around midnight, then sleep again from about 2 a.m. until daybreak.  The hours in between first sleep and second sleep reveal a surge of prolactin that modern-day monophasic sleepers never experience.

In biphasic sleep between the first and second sleeps a higher level of prolactin is a secreted than when people sleep in one full “sleep” from evening until morning.  As we know it, prolactin is that hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates breast development and lactation in women.  It is also necessary in males and non-lactating females at low levels to produce a feeling of sexual satisfaction.  In birds, prolactin is the hormone that causes them to go broody and contentedly sit on their eggs for extended periods of time.  It is this same hormone that also that produces the feeling of peace and contentedness in the wake phase between first and second sleep in biphasic sleep.

In Dr. Wehr’s study it was found that the men’s prolactin release was linked to the onset of darkness.  During the long 14-hour nights, prolactin doubled shortly before sleep and remained high for the whole first sleep, wake, and then second sleep phases.  However, once men returned to a modern eight-hour nightly sleep, the prolactin released stayed the same, but here is the clincher, it was restricted to that shortened time frame.  Instead of 12 to 14 hours of increased prolactin each night, men are now getting at best eight hours, but likely much less.

This raises questions.  One of them being, how does a minimum of six hours less prolactin release per night affect male physiology overall?  Researchers know that men with prolactin deficiency often struggle with impotence and depression.  WebMD states, “The research, published in the August 2003 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that ED is common among older men and sexual function sharply decreases after age 50.”[2]  Perhaps this is a hidden contributing factor to erectile dysfunction (ED) that ought to be explored.

It is interesting to note that the people in these studies feel so awake during the daytime that they say they have never experienced true wakefulness before in their lives.

Back in the Day…

Sleep prior to the 1600s included biphasic sleeping, a practice that most would be unfamiliar with today.  This type of sleep described in literature as ‘first sleep’ and ‘second sleep was still a common occurrence with country folk or “laborers” as late as the 19th century.  As the range of night, especially in the winter season could be as much as 12 hours in duration, people would commonly sleep for three or four hours and then wake for two or three hours, and later return to sleep until daybreak. 

Those hours in the middle of the night were used for many reflective tasks such as prayer and meditation, reading, and studying, and sometimes other mundane tasks such as tending the fire, sewing, or chopping wood.  Yet typically, this time was primarily one of reflection or socialization.  If one was out and about and a neighbor had candlelight emanating from their dwelling that would signal someone was awake and ready for a bit of a social visit!

Illuminate the Night

In the preindustrial era until the industrial revolution, biphasic sleeping continued in rural areas while, towns and cities were having natural gas lanterns installed as street lights and even as a method of illuminating the interior of homes and industry.

This was readily accepted, especially by the wealthy, as lighting was useful to discourage theft as well as to provide opportunity for people to move about after dark.

In those early days of in-home lighting aristocrats continued to sleep in biphasic fashion, however, they began to go to sleep later, wake briefly, and then awake from second sleep much later, well into the morning.

A doctor from the 1500s explained the reason why the working class conceived more children than city dwellers was “that they typically had sex after their first sleep.” [3]   While there is something to be said for romance, it makes sense that many women, especially busy mothers, might enjoy three or four hours of recuperative sleep before intimacy.  The first phase of sleep is an extremely important restorative phase of sleep.  We will discuss this in more detail later.

Historian A. Roger Ekirch found that “references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th century. This is thought to have started in the upper classes in Northern Europe and filtered down to the rest of Western society over the next 200 years.  Interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where accounts of split sleep start to disappear.”[4]  As people began to deny their natural biological rhythms to stay up into the evening, they became more fatigued upon awaking. 

Although a number of early experimenters contributed to the invention of the incandescent light bulb, Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison developed a better design and Edison had the funds to commercialize the product.  It was not long before he introduced the incandescent light bulb in New York City in 1882.

In May 1936, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”.  For the most part, this rural electrification was accomplished in the 1950s, yet even before that cities and towns were electrified.  Street lights and urban homes already had the luxury of illuminating the night, causing the body’s biorhythms which had been embraced since the dawn of mankind to be ignored.

Work More, Sleep Less

World War II (1939-1945) called many women to the workforce.  They were needed in these jobs to replace the men who had joined the military.  Where before the war began most women fulfilled a culturally-accepted role of homemaker and child-raiser, now a full-time job beyond their full day’s work was not only encouraged, it became expected.

A famous cultural icon of this era was “Rosie the Riveter.”  Rosie the Riveter stood for the many women who took factory jobs building aircraft, producing ammunition, and other supplies in support of the war effort.  Long work hours added to family life also served to increase their daily stress.

Once having entered the workforce, many women continued to work after the war efforts ceased.  The additional income helped the family to afford luxuries or “extras” that soon became necessities such as cars, store-bought food (because they no longer had the time nor the energy to garden.)  Unfortunately, for the working mother, with the hours demanded by both job and family and the changing societal beliefs about sleep, the only place that could ‘give’ was her precious time for sleep.

Play More, Sleep Even Less

The 1950s saw the dawning of the age of technology.  As the days continued to be filled with work and increased stress, people sought entertainment to help them relax.  By the 1960s about 45 million homes had televisions across the United States and TV viewing grew to more than five hours per day.  From there, video games, personal home computers, smart phones, and a host of electronic gadgets occupied free time and unfortunately time that might be better spent sleeping.

The following chart will help to visualize the stark reality of the changes occurring not only in the United States but in other countries as well.  Life was getting increasingly difficult and stress had become an everyday word.

The year 1910 was used as a baseline as the amount of sleep that people got then was likely what was common throughout antiquity.  1942 is another marker when it was found that the average amount of sleep was reduced by an hour per night.  By 1960, another hour was lost reducing the average amount of sleep each night by two hours from 1910!  This translates into a loss of more than half-a-day of sleep each week.  If this doesn’t blow your mind, at just seven hours of sleep per night, an entire month of sleep is lost each year! 

Only two hours of missed sleep from the nightly average of nine experienced 100 years ago is the equivalent of an entire month of 24/7 sleep lost each year! 

Sleep Debt

A condition called “sleep debt” is created when the amount of sleep a person needs increases because they have not gotten enough in previous days.  While people may think they can get away with having less sleep, this is not entirely true.  What generally happens is that they become used to performing their daily routine in a deficit mode.  The greater sleep debt that is incurred, the less the person is able to identify it.

Fortunately, the body is faithful to give warning signs when it does not receive enough sleep.  Feelings of excessive sleepiness, yawning, irritability, and daytime fatigue drive people to consume caffeinated beverages to get through their day.  These beverages are often counterproductive, making it even more difficult to fall asleep at night.

Microsleep, where one dozes off for a few seconds to a couple of minutes without noticing is another indication of being sleep-deprived.  The EEG test results of sleep-deprived rats, reflect that certain parts of the brain fall asleep while others stay awake.   Researchers to do not fully understand the mechanisms behind this.

Types of Sleep Deprivation

Full sleep debt is when a person is awake for a minimum of 24 hours.  This is not as rare as it might seem.  Think of any college campus when reports are due and exams are looming or a stressed working mother when her child is sick and she stays up all night and goes to work the next day, or computer programmers propping themselves up with coffee and energy drinks until an employer’s deadline is met.

Partial sleep deprivation is what most people experience at a more chronic level when sleep is not adequate for an extended period of time such as several days or weeks.  One study found that “the results of those who slept for six hours each night for a period of 10 days were similar to those who are completely sleep deprived for one day.”[5]  It can be caused by not enough hours of sleep, disrupted sleep, or physical conditions like sleep apnea.

Sleep disruption can occur because of sickness, pain, or the use of pharmaceuticals such as alpha-blockers, beta blockers, corticosteriods, diuretics, SSRI antidepressants, medications containing alcohol/caffeine/nicotine, sedating antihistamines ACE inhibitors, ARBs, Cholinesterase inhibitors, H1 antagonists, glucosamine/chondroitin, and statins, Theophylline (an asthma med), and higher doses of thyroid hormone, as well as over-the-counter painkillers.[6]

Alcohol has been shown to disturb the second half of sleep by increasing wakefulness after its initial effect of sedation, even when consumed up to six hours before bedtime.  “However, alcohol consumed within an hour of bedtime appears to disrupt the second half of the sleep period. The subject may sleep fitfully during the second half of sleep, awakening from dreams and returning to sleep with difficulty. With continued consumption just before bedtime, alcohol’s sleep-inducing effect may decrease, while its disruptive effects continue or increase.”[7]

While most adults require from seven to nine hours of sleep each night, about one third of the population gets less than six hours per night.

Can’t Sleep?

Insomnia, or disrupted sleep is something that was almost never recorded in the history books two hundred years ago but has become commonplace in our modern culture.   Insomnia includes having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep.  Acute insomnia is considered brief.  It comes on with stressors such as getting bad news, anticipating a stressful event (good or bad) such as a test at school, financial stress, work stress, relationship stress, etc.

Among adults, “15 to 20 percent have a short-term insomnia disorder which lasts less than three months, 10 percent have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.”[8]

The Four Stages of Sleep

Stage 1 – Lasts only about 5 – 10 minutes.  Theta waves are produced by the brain as the body transitions from wakefulness to sleep.

Stage 2 – Lasts about 20 minutes.  Body temperature begins to decrease and the heart slows down.  Most sleep is spent in this stage.

Stage 3 – SWS (Slow Wave Sleep) – This is deep sleep where slow delta brain waves occur and the deepest sleep happens.  During this stage muscles relax and blood pressure and breathing rate drops.  This is also the stage where sleepwalking tends to occur.  This relaxation helps to ensure the blood is circulating properly and that there are proper levels of blood glucose.

Stage 4 – Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or paradoxical sleep.  “REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs due to increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become immobilized.”[9]

When sleep deprivation occurs, it is primarily of REM sleep and generally results in cognitive issues.  REM sleep is believed to affect healthy moods, learning, and memory storage.  During REM signals are sent from different areas of the brain to the body.  Migraines may be triggered or increased due to increased expression of “the proteins p38, PKA, and P2X3, which are known to play an important role in initiating and sustaining chronic pain.”[10]

“Researchers performed a study in order to determine the effect REM sleep deprivation has on the way a person responds to a stressful event. They applied mild electric shocks to participants while they slept and studied how their brains reacted. According to the results, the people who spent more time in REM sleep showed a lower level of brain activity related to fear than those who spent less time in deep sleep. The researchers believe that if a person is getting enough REM sleep, they might be less susceptible to suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a fearful event.”[11]

“It is important to realize that sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, and 3. After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.”[12]

You Decide

While monophasic sleep is what most of us have known and practice, it is a relatively recent happening within the past two hundred years or so.  Although there are many other factors that affect health we would be wise to consider the necessity of sleep in a culture that operates on the lack thereof. Sleep is the very thing the body needs to replenish and restore itself.  Might it be presumptuous to entertain the thought that we have somehow “evolved” and no longer need those nine hours of nightly sleep that many of our ancestors received? That is likely.

Is biphasic sleeping preferable to a seven to nine hour monophasic sleep model?  Perhaps.  Then again, perhaps not.  There is even a polyphasic sleep model for those whose interest is piqued, those who ‘wake up’ at the subject of sleep.

Each person is a unique individual who needs a certain amount of sleep to maintain good health. Chronic health conditions require even more sleep for the body to restore itself.  Although it sounds good on paper, dis-‘ease’ can be caused by sleep deprivation because a solid seven hours may not be enough. The industrialized society is programmed to work around productivity-based paradigms and do not base their work upon the biological rhythms of the individual. While it may not be feasible to adapt to a biphasic sleep modality, even if that were the answer, there is much the individual can do to maximize the sleep structure to which they adhere.

Some may heave a great sigh of relief with the new understanding that waking briefly in the quiet of the night can be a normal part of the sleep cycle and not always an indicator of dreaded insomnia. Forearmed with knowledge, these peaceful moments can be enjoyed by leaving the bed for a brief time of prayer, meditation, or reading using dim, non-stimulating light, then to return to bed again as they begin to tire once more.

Are there lessons to be learned in looking backward to a simpler time when folks were more connected to their surroundings? In the comments below, share your observations whether biphasic sleeping might be a valuable health-promoting tool, or maybe not so much…  We would love to hear your thoughts on the value of sleep.

Stay Tuned…

In Part II of ‘Sleep Much? we will take a deeper look at the devastating effects of sleep debt on the psyche and physiology, discover techniques to make falling asleep easier, and discuss natural remedies and healthy habits for getting a much-needed restorative, enjoyable sleep!

References:

1   Modern Life Suppresses An Ancient Body Rhythm

2   Erectile Dysfunction Common With Age

3   Your Ancestors Didn’t Sleep Like You

4   Humans Used to Sleep in Two Shifts, And Maybe We Should Do It Again

5   Sleep Debt: Signs, Symptoms & Treatments

6   10 Types of Meds That Can Cause Insomnia

7   National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Alert No. 41 July 1998

8   Insomnia Awareness Day facts and stats

9,12   The 4 Stages of Sleep (NREM and REM Sleep Cycles)

10 REM sleep deprivation plays a role in chronic migraine

11 REM Sleep: Why is it so important for food health by Dr. Amy Lee

It’s All About That Spin…

Proteins, next to water, make up the greatest part of the weight of the body. They are what provide the “framework” to every living cell. The proteins themselves are made up of chains of even smaller structures called amino acids which are connected by what are known as peptide bonds.

When peptide bonds are formed between two amino acid molecules, two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen is lost. This removes a molecule of water from the structure that is commonly written as H20. Therefore the process of peptide bond formation is accomplished by dehydration.

The process of the digestion of proteins begin in the mouth with chewing called ‘mastication’ and the release of saliva which contains the enzymes amylase and lipase which further break down the food. Once swallowed the food passes to the stomach through the esophagus. In the stomach the chemical process of digestion continues with hydrocloric acid which deactivates amylase but continues to allow lipase to work breaking down fats. In the stomach pepsinogen, a pro-enzyme, converts to pepsin which then can break down proteins into smaller units called polypeptides and amino acids. Depending upon the type of food and an individual’s metabolism, generally takes around four hours for the stomach to empty.

As the chyme moves into the small intestine, the pancreas releases amylase and lipase (the pancreatic form), trypsin and chymotrypsin to continue breaking down proteins. Additionally, there are four sugar enzymes (sucrase, lactase, maltase, and dextrinase) released which are secreted by cells that line the small intestine.

Therefore as a result of the activity of protease enzymes, large chains of amino acids found in protein molecules are broken down into even smaller chains of amino acids that can easily pass through the micro-villi of the small intestine (along with other nutrients) and into the bloodstream.

Once released into the bloodstream, amino acids are rebuilt or ‘biosynthesized’ into the specific types of proteins required for the building and repairing of tissue and to “develop into enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, and blood.’ [3] Each redesigned amino acid is crafted to meet a unique “fit.” These newly-created proteins cannot be used for a different application. For example, a protein designed to replace tissue in the eye cannot also be used in the heart as heart tissue is not identical to eye tissue and would require a different protein.

DNA – Deoxyribonucleic Acid

“Proteins form the structural basis of chromosomes, through which genetic information is passed from parents to offspring. The genetic ‘code’ contained in each cell’s DNA is actually information for how to make that cell’s proteins.”1

“In the human body, protein substances make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, many vital body fluids, and are essential for the growth of bones. The enzymes and hormones that catalyze and regulate all bodily processes are proteins. Proteins help to regulate the body’s water balance and maintain the proper internal pH. They assist in the exchange of nutrients between the intercellular fluids and the tissues, blood, and lymph.”2

There are over 20 distinct amino acids with the human body having the ability to produce only half of them. The 10 amino acids the body does not produce are called “Essential Amino Acids.” This is because they must be obtained through the food we eat. The body does not store amino acids so they must be ingested daily. The essential amino acids are: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

This work of the body is absolutely amazing. I mean, who’da thunk it? Having a body that makes its own individualized building blocks from those large protein molecules in the hamburger or hummus that we have the pleasure of eating. Absolutely ingenious.

A Body That Cannot Repair Itself

Amino acid deficiencies are common. There are many ways that this delicate system can become impaired. If even one of the essential amino acid building blocks is not available, the entire protein synthesis in the body is hindered. This deficiency can lead to a disruption in integral proteins negatively affecting the whole body.

“The main reason for amino acid deficiencies is either low protein consumption, poor digestion, or the use of antacid medication, as protein requires adequate stomach acid to be broken down into the amino acids.” [3]

Signs of Deficiency…

Amino acids are the base organic matter used by the body to create serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and endorphins. These are all chemicals called neurotransmitters that create those good feelings of peace, contentment, and happiness in the brain. They are known for stabilizing mood.

“Low levels of amino acids lead to low levels of neurotansmitters. It’s that simple!” [3]

So what does it look like when one’s mood is “off” because of an amino acid deficiency?

Mental & Emotional Health

Sometimes an amino acid deficiency can present as pervasive negativity, agitation, mood swings, tension, irritability, insomnia, obsession and worry, low motivation/energy, types of depression such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or bipolar, or other major depressive disorders and mania. Schizophrenia and the anxiety-like symptoms of schizophrenia may be a result of amino acid deficiency as well.

For many people, anxiety reveals itself in everyday stress, or high stress situations, panic attacks, controlling behaviors, feeling frequently overwhelmed, perfectionism, or perhaps even being someone who seems to be driven to exhaustion. Crying too easily or frequently finding onesself feeling emotionally ‘hurt’, seeking to escape with drugs and/or alcohol, sugar and/or carbs, impulsive or aggressive behavior are more symptoms that tend to be magnified with amino acid deficiency.

The good news is that the person or some unknown entity may not be the root of the problem. Their body may simply be having some very real health challenges due to an amino acid deficiency. If it is a lack of neurotransmitter-building amino acids, the condition may be helped with proper nutrition which affords the body those necessary building blocks.

Musculoskeletal System

Amino acid deficiencies may be the root of some of the following symptoms which affect the musculoskeletal system. Arthritis, ataxia (lack of muscle control or coordination), impaired bone (fragile bones), insufficient cartilage repair, impaired collagen formation, muscle fatigue, slow post exercise recovery, and stunted physical growth.

Integumentary System

The skin, hair, and nails may express amino acid deficiencies through decreased tissue repair and growth, the graying of hair, skin rashes, alopecia (excessive hair loss), and poor wound healing (especially that of burns and infections.)

Cardiovascular System

The heart and circulatory system can reveal a deficiency of amino acids through atherosclerosis, cold hands and feet, elevated cholesterol, low blood pressure, and poor blood vessel functioning.

Nervous System

The nervous system (which includes the brain and teeth) is affected by amino acid deficiency in many ways. Insufficiency may present as: bloodshot eyes, cataract formation, corneal vascularization, dementia, dental caries, diabetic complications that affect the eye as well as nerve cell damage, headaches, migraines, lack of ability to focus, becoming hyper-stimulated, poor memory and memory loss, motion sickness, nerve deafness, narcolepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and stunted intellectual growth.

Gastrointestinal System

There are a number of ways the gastrointestinal system including the liver make known they are facing a lack of amino acids. Some of these are: appetite loss, nausea, and dizziness. Other symptoms are constipation, decreased immune function, a fatty liver unable to process fats, impaired fat burning, lack of gastric acid secretion which may cause indigestion, and obesity.

Immune System

  Amino acid deficiency affects the immune system by not being able to support the liver in its role in detoxification which can cause an accumulation of heavy metals. Other ways the immune system is affected by insufficient amino acid availability is by not being able to help prevent AIDS. Amino acid deficiency could also be causative for some allergies and other symptoms of an ineffective immune function such as anemia, chronic fatigue, fatigue (in general), lowered red and white blood cell production, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Endocrine System

  Some may be surprised at all the functions of the endocrine system and its chemical messenger hormones. Amino acid insufficiency here can look like delayed sexual maturity, diminished insulin production, high blood sugar, hypothyroidism, an inflamed pancreas, lack of sexual arousal, male sterility and low sperm count, menstrual cramping, mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Urinary System

Kidney stones may occur as a result of amino acid deficiency.

All of Life has its Own Spin

From a physics perspective, the intelligent design of the RNA and DNA of all living organisms (plant and animal) require amino acids which under polarized light reflect a spin to the left (also called left-handed spin).  These are known as L-amino acids.

Optics – The branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light

The Greek word ‘levoratatory’ is symbolized by the letter “L” which identifies the molecule as appearing to spin to the left when polarized light shines upon it. Conversely, “D” is the word ‘dextrorotatory’ meaning the molecule appears to spin or turn on a right rotation with the application of polarized light. Therefore, in scientific language the left hand would be written ‘L-hand’ and the right hand written ‘D-hand.’ We will look more in depth at the significance of the spin in a moment.

Not everything has a left-hand spin. Some molecules spin to the right. For instance, sugars have the opposite spin of amino acids. They spin to the right and are recognized as “D-sugars.”

Chiral is a term that is used to describe an object whose mirror image cannot be identically superimposed upon itself.  For instance, your left and right hands are mirror images of each other when placed palm sides together.  If you set one on top of the other facing the same direction, they will always appear in reverse order.  (Notice how the thumbs point in opposite directions when one hand lays on top of the other).  This is called “chiral.”  In both chemistry and physics, the term chiral indicates mirror images that are not superimposable.

Public Domain

Therefore, we have learned that, molecules which cannot be superimposed on their mirror images are called chiral. Either one of a pair of optical isomers is called an enantiomer. For example, if a hand were a molecule, each hand as it cannot be superimposed upon the other but is a mirror image, would be considered enantiomer.

Images that are superimposable are those that fit in the exact same space as the other. Therefore, you could lay the two molecules on top of each other and only see that one shape. Molecularly, these items look the same from the front or the back and are also spatially the same.  In other words, one would be an exact “fit” in place of the other.  These are called achiral.  Either molecule could be placed in the space of the other with the exact same superimposition.  There is no right or left “handedness” with achirial objects or molecules such as we see with chiral.

This becomes a bit more complex when considering achiral objects or molecules from the three dimensional (3-D) perspective.  Let us consider the following:

“Starter”
by Willdre
CC BY-SA 3.0

An automobile mechanic determines a certain part no longer works and needs to be replaced, the starter for instance.  When one starter goes bad, it is replaced with another that is the same size, fits exactly in the same place, and has the same function as the one that was removed.

If a mechanic tried to replace a starter with a spark plug the car would simply not be repaired. Everyone knows that it would be ridiculous to replace one part with another of a different size and/or function as the original.

What does this mean for me?

The same is true with the nutrients required by our bodies, especially amino acids, the topic we are discussing at present. Proteins that we consume in natural, unprocessed forms from plants and animals are always made from the L- form of amino acids. The fit our bodies perfectly. Isn’t it marvelous at how nature provides just what a body needs?

Nature Provides Just What the Body Needs!

Foods naturally high in amino acids are: eggs (which have the highest percentage of essential amino acids), game, chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, wild-caught salmon, tuna, cod, and surprise… quinoa!

In general, plant-sources have less of the essential amino acids than animal sources, however, a varied diet can offer additional nutritional component combinations along with the amino acids. Plant foods with higher amounts of beneficial amino acids are: buckwheat, seaweed, spirulina, pumpkin, peas and pea protein, lentils, whole grain rice, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, watercress, turnip greens, hummus (chick peas) mushrooms, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, kidney beans, figs, broccoli, olives, avocados, raisins, dates, apples, chia seeds, blueberries, and bananas

Racemism – the state of being optically inactive

We have learned that chiral amino acid molecules spin to the left a certain number of degrees. Additionally its mirror (not superimposable) molecules spin to the right an equal number of degrees. An equal mixture of left-handed and right-handed molecules (or D-50% and L-50%) is called a racemic mixture and has no rotation. In other words, an equal raceme is optically inactive. “In general, most biochemical reactions are stereoselective, meaning only one stereoisomer will produce the intended product while the other simply does not participate or can cause side-effects. ” [7]

“…or can cause side-effects” Huh? What?

Well over a hundred years ago it was known that the racemization of naturally-formed molecules was, in fact, a sign that they were dying.

“The phenomenon of autoracemization is of interest in connection with the question of permanency of optically active substances. Let us consider a pure organic substance such as dextrorotatory bromo-succinic ester. When it is kept for some time in a closed flask at ordinary temperatures, it undergoes spontaneous intramolecular rearrangement and a gradual decrease of the optical rotation results; in other words, it racemizes. Several examples may be cited to illustrate this remarkable fact…Might we not speak of ‘dying molecules’ much as we speak of ‘dead catalysts’?… The effect of these reactions is, as we may express it, a complete turning ‘inside out’ of the molecule.”[8]

1895, Dr. Paul Walden

It’s all About That Spin, ‘Bout That Spin, …No Trouble”

Getting our nutrition from food whenever possible is always best. With the exception of phenylalanine (utilized as a mixture, i.e. DL- ) all other amino acids are considered more suitable (the state is called “free-form” which is immediately bioabsorbable meaning it does not require digestion) in the human body. As Dr. Richard J. Thiel states, “Amino acids are also useless if not toxic when present in synthetic forms. Only left-handed (laevo-) amino acids can be assimilated. All synthetic aminos are racemic.”[9]

Of course, it is not only amino acids that are affected by spin. Synthetic “Vitamin D sold as “Viosterol” and “Vigantol” is well established. It causes blood in the urine very quickly in children, by its destructive action to the kidneys. Deaths have been reported from the ordinary dosages used to “protect” from rickets.” [10] Here is another worth considering:

“Pantothenic Acid is a vitamin now commercially available only in synthetic form. Probably this is the reason for its effect of causing loss of sex function, particularly in females. This castrating action has been found both in test animals and in patients receiving the “vitamin” according to unpublished reports…” [11] Does this sound like nutrition to you?

There is much more to be concerned about with the use of synthetic supplements. All synthetics are reduced to a single molecule, while real food vitamins are always available in complexes that include many other nutritional components that boost nutrition and bioavailability in the human body. Science has yet to study or publicly disclose this information should it be available.

The “spin” is important just as the complexes and other factors are in real food that the body was designed to eat. On no death certificate ever was the reason for death given as “pharmaceuticals or supplements ingested with the wrong spin.” Although that has indeed occurred. Keep this in mind while seeking answers for yourselves and your clients.

This is a complex topic with many implications. We look forward to your thoughts and comments.

NOTE: The biochemistry of amino acids and their work in the body is significantly more complex than we have had time to discuss here. However the intent of this short description was to provide the reader a basic outline highlighting the importance of amino acids in relationship to nature and the human body as a whole. Hereby laying a foundation which conveys the potential for negative consequences when the natural spin of polarized light is not taken into consideration during synthetic supplementation.

References & Resources:

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