Archive for July, 2015

Insomnia remedies

sleep puppy

A reader asked me for ideas about sleep and that reminded me I had never written a blog on that topic. We know that people who routinely get fewer than 7 hours sleep are subject to increase risk for a variety of unpleasant health issues, but sleeping pills may not be the best answer. Read the fine print on the package insert for sleep medications and you will see that there are potentially many very alarming side effects. There are some that are perhaps even more serious but that are not yet required to be in the warnings. In any case, sleep meds are not supposed to be used as a permanent solution. (We do not suffer from a deficiency of drugs.) Each person is different and means that there are many possible causes of sleeplessness. If you or someone you care about is looking for an answer, maybe there is a clue in the lists below.

Causes of sleeplessness and insomnia remedies:

  • Medications that list insomnia in the fine print about side effects. Perhaps your doctor can find one that doesn’t affect sleep.
  • Eating a heavy meal late at night may be fashionable, but it isn’t conducive to restful sleep.  The body’s resources are busy trying to deal with the meal instead of doing the repair and restoring that is necessary to starting fresh the next day. It is best to allow at least two or three hours after eating before donning the night cap.
  • Stimulating beverages or foods late in the day make it harder to relax.  Most of us would soon catch on if we were kept up by coffee with dinner, but we don’t always think of tea, iced tea, sodas like Mountain Dew, double fudge cake or some headache medicines as sources of caffeine. Also, caffeine can stay in the system up to 24 hours. Most likely it will stay longer when the liver and detox pathways are not performing well.
  • Not keeping the bedroom dark enough. Light wakes up our brains. The worst kind of light is from electronic screens such as the computer and phone. Television right before bed might not be the best idea either.
  • Being keyed up. Reading or meditating can help. For me, although it breaks the light rule, a few minutes of a talk show comedy monolog helps me tune out. Focus on breathing. There are a number of systems of for doing this. Here is one from Andrew Weil, MD. I occasionally need something to keep my attention off of my work, so I recite the states alphabetically in my head while I breathe with each one.  Anything may work that occupies your mind a bit but doesn’t stress…books of the bible, a vegetable for each letter, etc. If you are still keyed up, try the homeopathic Coffea Cruda which acts a bit like the opposite of caffeine.
  • Lack of a regular schedule. It is easier to alter a schedule by setting an alarm to get up earlier than it is to force yourself to go to sleep at a certain time.
  • An uncomfortable bed. Our sponsor, Naturepedic, has wonderfully comfortable beds, but also because they are organic, you won’t be breathing in chemicals all night.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. The most obvious deficiency might be calming magnesium (see below), but the B-vitamins are important to normal nerve function. Even the tiny powerhouses in our cells (mitochondria) must have energy if we are going to sleep well. So, we could probably draw a dotted line from any nutrient to sleep.
  • Friendly bacteria in our gut help with and respond to our circadian rhythms, so there’s another reason to take probiotics.
  • Hormone imbalances can be a factor. For example, hot flashes for menopausal women. There is a lot of natural help for that problem.
  • Exercise helps early in the day, but close to bedtime can rev us up.
  • Bad habits such as staying in bed struggling for sleep make us expect trouble. We don’t want the bed to conjure up visions of frustration.
  • Keeping the room too warm. If you don’t want to cool the whole house, is a window unit a possibility? Ceiling fan? Ideally, a warm bath followed by cool room.
  • Pain is certainly a cause, but I can’t cover natural solutions today. Likewise, adrenal burnout. (But, if you suspect adrenal fatigue, don’t take adrenal boosting combinations late in the day. Adrenal Fatigue For Dummies by Richard Snyder, DO is a good book on the subject. Here is an interview we did with him.

Other potential remedies. (Not everyone has the same need or reaction, so some experimentation might be in order.)

  • Take your magnesium at night with dinner or something like magnesium threonate even at bedtime (e.g. Brain Magnesium). There is also a topical magnesium that can be applied. Or, take an Epson salt bath.
  • Melatonin works for some people for sleep as well as jet lag. I only need it infrequently and get by with ½ mg. But some need 3, 5 or even 10 mg. When taken in too large a dose for the person’s chemistry, some people will metabolize it into something that actually excites the brain. So, it is best to start small and work up.
  • Herbal combinations with Valerian root are popular.
  • Think about puppies.

Find cancer early. Test treatments

toxic treatments

Find cancer early. Test treatments–good news. During last week’s radio show we visited with Jenny Hrbacek RN, author of Cancer Free! Are You Sure? and Gus Kotsanis, MD about the very early detection of cancer, its re-occurrence and integrative treatments. I highly recommend that everyone read Jenny’s book. It contains valuable information about all aspects of cancer including prevention, very early clues and how better to know what kind of treatment might be best. I asked her to be my first guest blogger this week to follow up with some bare-bones highlights on testing out of her book. Take it away, Jenny:

“As of 2015, during their lifetime, 50% of men and 40% of women will receive a cancer diagnosis. We can’t hide from cancer anymore. Even as a nurse, after my own diagnosis, I spent three years looking for answers. I found that we can indeed do better!

Early detection. It seems unbelievable that we are not utilizing the very best in early detection testing for cancer. I hope that you know that I am not talking about mammograms or PSA counts. We absolutely don’t have to wait for the lump or bump.  In my book, I describe about 27 different tests.  Some are specific to identifying certain cancers; some find malignancy early; and others detect conditions that can lead to cancer.  I explain each test; how to get it, how much it costs; the benefits, limitations and more.  Here are a few you might want to check into:  RGCC Oncocount, RGCC Oncostat, ONCOblot, CA Profile Plus, Red Drop, Nagalase, EarlyCDT, Cologuard, hCG, and an occult blood stool test. It can be tempting to put our heads in the sands of ignorance and just hope that we are okay, but let me just say that a  late stage diagnosis of cancer can be tragic and financially debilitating. I encourage everyone to insist on the very best testing available in order to find cancer very early when it’s much easier to stop and reverse—many times without toxic therapies.

Metastasis: During the show, we talked about circulating tumor cells (CTC’s). These cells are the key to early warning of spreading. We know that any tumor over 2 mm in size can shed these CTC’s into the blood stream. There is an FDA and insurance approved test for CTC’s called “Cell Search”. This is NOT an early detection test because the cancer must have already spread to other organs for this test to detect CTC’s. Therefore, it is used if a metastasis of breast, colon, or prostate cancer is already suspected by the doctor. I wanted to address this because I don’t want anyone to get the Cell Search CTC test and think that a “zero” CTC count means that they don’t have a cancer problem.  If you want to get a much more sensitive test of CTC’s, I suggest RGCC, Research Genetic Cancer Center in Greece.  There are many practitioners in the U.S. that use this test. Go to for more information. [Martie note: Click here to listen to an archived interview we did on this test with guests Dr. Kotsanis and Dr. Hammon.]

Treatment options: You have probably heard of people that did not respond to various treatments or as I put it, “failed therapy”. We don’t have to guess any more or use cookie cutter plans of treatment because sensitivity testing is available for both mainstream chemotherapeutic agents and for natural substances. I used a test called “Oncostat” which is also from RGCC. As an example, my testing showed that IV vitamin C was 65% effective for killing my CTC’s. I used that treatment for 6 months and it worked!  I was able to lower my CTC’s from 14.2 to 2.9. There are other companies that require a piece of the tumor for analysis to predict sensitivity levels. However, the RGCC test that I used only requires a blood sample and works with the living CTC’s. I also recommend the RGCC test because it can find these CTC’s before there is a tumor large enough to biopsy for a tissue sample. 

There is so much more that I would like to share.  I was really surprised to learn how many options exist. I’ve done the research and packaged up the information in my book.  I just pray that it gets into the hands of those that need the information…information that I wish that I had known about years ago!

Thank you to Martie and Dr. Kotsanis for inviting me to share this message. Wishing you abundant health, Jenny” 

Thank YOU, Jenny for your tremendous book and taking time to write this. 

Manganese excess

flood cracks
Wildfires routinely blacken already parched earth in the West. Meanwhile, floods often sweep homes from their soggy earth moorings in the East. And yet, on the average, the US probably has perfectly fine water levels. Unfortunately, the same misleading statistical analysis exists with health and nutrition. For example, too often dietary guidelines are set based on averages of masses of human beings who are, in the truest sense of the word, each unique.

Keeping various nutrients in balance and matching that to the individual’s need are critical to optimum health, but requires us to pay attention to what is going on with our bodies. Have you noticed that houseplant leaves can turn yellow with either too much water or too little? Similarly, people can suffer symptoms with too much of a nutrient that are similar to those they might experience with too little. We could talk about balance in any aspect of diet or supplementation, but micro-nutrients are the most overlooked. Vitamins are usually only a problem from too little intake rather than too much. So, I’ll skip that for now, but since we do need to keep a closer eye on minerals in supplement form, today I am going to focus on just one that we don’t usually consider.

MANGANESE (not to be confused with magnesium).

I was inspired to talk about this mineral because a retired physician that I greatly respect asked me about high levels found in his well water.

Function: Manganese is used in the activation of a great many important enzymes in the body, including one that you may have heard discussed as an anti-aging protector, Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD).

Sources:  This lengthy and authoritative article lists sources that include: Nuts, seeds, wheat germ, wheat bran, leafy green vegetables, beet tops, tea, and pineapple.

Recommended intake: There is controversy about the right intake amount. Some recommend a very low amount, but others say that under normal circumstances our absolute need is probably somewhere in the range of 3-6 mg per day. That is somewhat below the typical supplement amounts (5–20 mg) which have been shown to be safe. As I mentioned, each of us is unique, and poor digestion or one of the balance issues below might increase our need for the mineral.

Balance issues: Over-consumption of any single mineral such as calcium, iron, zinc and rarely perhaps even my beloved magnesium may interfere with manganese absorption and thereby create an artificial deficiency. On the flip side, it appears important to have sufficient magnesium intake for protection of the nervous system in case of manganese overload. Study. It may be that being short on magnesium is one reason that manganese and other metals accumulate.

Possibly linked to deficiency: Imbalances in minerals are most often sub-clinical. That means the signs are subtle and not likely caught in a routine office visit. The Natural Products Foundation Database rates the science on some of the potential manganese deficiency signs such as: Fatigue, Fertility Problems, Osteoporosis, Goiter, Blood Sugar Regulation Issues, Osgood-Schlatter Disease (zinc and vitamin B6 likely low too), Sprains, Seizures and Tardive Dyskinesia.

Signs of manganese excess: Toxicity is typically due to industrial or agricultural sources or toxic spills. Read more. Smoking is also a source of manganese. Excess manganese is thought to deplete that critical detoxification enzyme, glutathione that we discussed and can result in neurological problems such as Parkinson’s like symptoms. Migraine sufferers have been found to have much higher levels of manganese and other metals than those who do not.

Testing: Manganese is not routinely tested, but can be assayed by special request. That would not seem worth doing unless deficiency signs were present. Sometimes people show high levels of manganese from a hair mineral analysis, but that can be due to contamination from manganese contained in hair treatment products.

Safest plan: Unless instructed otherwise by a health professional, it is usually best to take most minerals in an expertly balanced combination supplement. Magnesium (not manganese) is a common exception to that rule because we need so much of it. We can supplement it separately. However, even in that case we don’t want to get carried away and cause imbalances elsewhere.

Bottom line: We need all of the minerals. Our chemistry today is still based on the healthy natural diet that our ancient ancestors ate before our modern food sources were so badly degraded. Our Health Library has many pages about a variety of supplements. (Click “Library” on the main menu.) This link is to a general supplement information page. Well, that was heavy stuff, so I’d like to end with this, funny video spoof on a healthy diet.

Vitamin D for memory–test results shocker

Pills as question on white isolated background. Medical concept.

As a follow-up to the discussion in last week’s program about supplement basics, I started out to just give one of the following tidbits. However, I found that the same researcher had reported several studies which were interesting and relevant.

  • Vitamin D deficiency predicts cognitive decline in older men and women. And here is the Vitamin D for memory–test results shocker -a study found that in mentally normal elderly subjects, vitamin D blood levels (25OHD) below 75 nmol/L were already predictive of global cognitive dysfunction after 4.4 years. STUDY   So much for the blood test forms that show anything over 30 as “normal”! This study doesn’t prove that supplements will help, but there are only two ways to raise blood levels and the other one is sunbathing.
  • Daily magnesium oxide supplementation (not even the best source) for 12 wks seemed to improve physical performance in healthy elderly women and suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance. STUDY   Given that magnesium is important for heart health, brain function, energy, regularity, immune function, bone health and many other aspects of health, the case is strong for supplementing this mineral.
  • A study of 286 healthy women older than 65 years of age concluded that the current RDAs are adequate for older women’s intake of B-2, vitamin B-6, and folic acid, but should be raised for vitamin B-12 and for vitamin C. STUDY   Moreover, studies like these are typically looking at adequate, not optimum levels which become apparent over time.
  • A 10-year follow-up of successfully aging elderly people found that multivitamin supplementation may be necessary, even in healthy individuals, to avoid subclinical malnutrition. STUDY  “Subclinical” means that it doesn’t show up in a visit to the doctor’s office, but then the vast majority of physicians are not trained to look for subtle signs of nutrient insufficiency.

I think it is clear that we are better off to just ignore the naysayers who claim that we get everything we need from food and that supplements are wasted money.

Chemical shortcake?

strawberry goo72

This holiday weekend perhaps you will indulge in a popular summer treat, strawberry shortcake. Actual strawberries supply fiber and a great many vitamins, minerals and plant anti-oxidants. These nutrients feed not only our own cells, but also our important gut microorganisms (probiotics). On the other hand, synthetic strawberry flavor, which is composed of 50+ chemicals* does not. I also have to wonder if anyone bothered to check whether or not isobutyl anthranilate, methyl naphthyl ketone and all the others individually or in this chemical soup actually damage our friendly microorganisms. So, no chemical shortcake please.

(By the way, if you can, buy organic strawberries because that is a food on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticide residues.)

We won’t be putting our berries on Blue Bell ice cream this year because it has been recalled due to contamination with the bacteria, Listeria. The best protection against the effects of whatever contaminated food will be in the next news alert (or against Aunt Jane’s potato salad that sat out too long) is to have good internal defenses. That means:

  1. Good strong stomach acid which is a first line defense against pathogens. (If you are taking acid-suppressing medications because of heartburn or acid reflux, please read this article.)
  2. Strong and diverse colonies of friendly bacteria to run interference at the next stage. That means supporting them with good food and probiotics. (I believe in Dr. Ohhira’s…in advance or even at the time a meal doesn’t feel right.)
  3. A healthy immune system. Since most of our immune system is in the gut, see #2 above. Vitamin D is also crucial for good immune function. You’ll likely acquire 10,000 IU naturally each day of the holiday weekend when you are out in the sun  (at least with sufficient exposed skin that isn’t slathered with sunscreen), but don’t forget to supplement the rest of the time.

Happy 4th of July.  Obviously, we will fly flags and pray for the troops around the world that keep us safe. But, I think we also should remember that our freedoms are not really free. We have to keep working to protect them by speaking up.

*Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognace essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate,  ethyl propionate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotroppin, hydroxyphrenyl, hydroxphreny-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum either, y-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

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