SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 23, 2017

NAKED CHEMIST knows “skin”

This is one more example of my bad choices in post titles!   “Can acne-psoriasis-eczema, etc., be fixed?”   So I’m fixin’ it!  Jan

(The answer to the question is YES, we CAN fix our skin!)

How we hurt our skin trying to fix it,

because we’ve been mis-informed!

So,  how and why do we hurt our skin, when all we do is try to fix it, make it feel better,  look better.  Is it why we end up doing it more significant in the end.  No easy answer here;  most of us have struggled with one or more of those epidural problems.  Mine started in my teens. Had acne like so many others and we did what almost everyone does; ask the druggist or doctor.  One receives names of potions to buy OTC.  Can move from there to ‘stronger’ cleansers  > then to scrubs or beads, etc.  And finally it’s just your genes.*   Trouble with that is Mother (she of amazing beauty and intellect, had perfect skin, hair and nails), never had anything like that and was at a loss.  For reasons that I will never understand, she admired doctors and valued them to be something like agents of God – to be listened to and respected.  Tho I’m so grateful for her gene-pool. . .I’m grateful I didn’t inherit that one.  

Anyway, I went on to endure teenage acne well into my 40’s.  After a life time of  routine, normal doctoring, now in my upper 80’s I am finally understanding that Ive been  afflicted with Hormonal imbalances since my teens.  So sad.  But now i get it. . .the how’s and why’s, resulting from  one of our modern technologies — online research,  not from one of my personal care doctors.   But that would be up for discussion  another day.  For the moment, it’s the SKIN I want to speak of.  

It is not my purview to explain this subject which I regard as enormous, vital and weighty;  but also – easy to grasp without requisite background. . just given in simple terms, logically to ensure comprehension.  But I have been blessed to find one of the best minds among us today who enjoys a somewhat elevated prestige factor which has sprung from her accomplishments in the field,  scientifically based, and having a unique ability to resolve variable skin problems  for those who come to her clinic or are referred by physicians  and delivering the goods.  Further, she seems to have quite a following online as she dispenses knowledge (not easily come by), generously sharing the results of her study and practice.   She is NAKED CHEMIST’s  Samantha Miller.  (go ahead – put it in the browser and connect with her blog,  ya won’t be sorry)

Following, you will find  her “UNDERSTANDING THE ACID MANTLE.”   but there are so many other links;   she treats each of the multiple components individually so that we aren’t forced to figure out what one has to do with the other.  She makes the links and leads you to new understanding so that we can claim BACK our beautiful, healthy functioning skin, which then is able to fully do what it was designed to do.  It is totally linked to our health, aside from allowing us to reflect the beauty with which nature has endowed us. Dermatologists often send their patients to Samantha because of her way of educating and assisting others to achieve their skin’s goals  by explaining  what this is really all about.        J

 

N A K E D     C H E M I S T

Understanding the Acid Mantle

by Samantha Miller | Oct 27, 2014 | Products | 33 comments

The best foundation you can wear. . . . . Is glowing healthy skin

Is sensitive skin a concern?

Or is your skin dry, red, inflamed or itchy?

Then chances are your acid mantle is out of whack.

This protective acid mantle is also referred to as the hydro-lipid film.

It’s a protective slightly acidic film, that sits on the skins surface, acting as the interface between you and the world.

  • In the 1920’s, Macrhionini and Schade identified the acidity of the skin, which they called the acid mantle. They also found that this mantle discouraged the growth of fungi and bacteria; It wasn’t until much later that it was discovered that chronic alkalisation can knock this acid mantle out of balance, which can lead to inflammation, dermatitis and atopic skin diseases.

If you’re still finding the term acid mantle a little technical, let me try to help by giving you another scenario.

Have you ever washed your face with soap or an astringent cleanser, and experienced sensitivity or a tight, dry feeling?

That was your acid mantle being stripped and knocked out of balance.

As far as skin structure goes, I have to admit it’s pretty cool.

It’s a unique micro-flora that’s made up of strange secretions which cover the entire surface of your skin.

  • The oily secretions originate in the sebaceous glands
  • The water phase is from perspiration in the sweat glands, which exhibit a powerful bactericidal effect
  • Secretions also come from our natural moisturizing factor

All of which helps to keep your skin gorgeous and healthy.

ANATOMY OF YOUR ACID MANTLE

Your skin’s acid mantle is made up of the following:

  • Water
  • Lactic acid
  • Urocanic acid
  • Fatty acids
  • Pyrrolidine carboxylic acid
  • Eccrine glands which secrete amino acids

These friendly secretions, help with the the metabolism of your skin.

  • They protect against environmental assaults
  • They secrete enzymes, that break down excess sebum in the skin
  • They prevent bad bacteria and viruses from entering the blood stream
  • They keep your skin soft and supple, so it stays free from cracks and abrasions
  • They boost the immune system, which produces antigens close to the skins surface; these antigens retard the growth of bad bacteria, known as pathogens

Sadly like all things in life, there are always going to be things that upset the status quo and the acid mantle is no exception.

Our world is full of different environments, some of which unfortunately have an adverse effect on our skin.

Dust, sun damage, pollutants, central heating, air conditioning, harsh treatments and astringent products all contribute towards stress in the skin, which breaks down our cells natural defence mechanisms.

Our skin’s barrier function gets knocked out of balance, and the inter-cellular lipids between our cell walls, designed to keep this barrier intact break down, creating dry skin conditions.

Lastly, the following which is part of the NAKED CHEMIST (its a huge site, with excellent comments as well),  really got me thinking. In the early teens  referred to previously, I remember Mother relating one of her stories (she had a million of them) about one of her elder relatives who had been some kind of spectacular beauty – used her own urine on her skin.  Sounded off-putting to me, but hey! Decades later while in the shower – it came to mind. . . and I tried it – (who doesn’t always pee in the shower?)  Didn’t hurt or stink or anything, but the shower rinsed it away.  So I learned nothing.  Now, having absorbed the following segment, I was deeply interested. If its true, and my Gawd – FREE. . .why the hell not?  Have written recently about the Tallow Balm I make  (and love). . .its soothing and  healing. but it isn’t moisturizing.  Apparently, my “Acid Mantle’ is deeply hurt and having a problem.  So following the advise from one of the commenters, I gathered a supply and am using it. It was suggested to spray on the skin > then, apply your cream or whatever.   I swear, its working.  Hands are happier now. And keep your little supply in frig as its 100% pure – no preservatives in it)

UREA IN SKIN CARE

http://thenakedchemist.com/what-is-urea-and-its-benefits-in-skincare/?v=7516fd43adaa

January 21, 2017

Your States are calling the Shots!

so Fight like Hell and say NO

While we have been  embroiled sweating the small stuff (and there’s so much of it), . . . really BIG stuff has been going on around us and behind closed doors, for some time.  Not that we hadn’t noticed — — there’s just so much one can adequately do. From day one of Kasich’s term in office – ( a seeming nice man, well spoken, intelligent) I began noticing many changes — all to the detriment of the struggling working class.   In lock step, with total control, he and his legislature began cutting back on every thing which was in place to benefit common folk, like schools, health clinics, libraries; squashed the fine consumer’s council out of business with cuts to financing designed to do just that.  Drug pushers were a top priority, then the educational system – destroyed and replaced by Charter Schools with whom arrangements/contracts were put into place without even the least oversight.   With feeble attempts at seeking justice, these much touted  operators took the assets which they had demanded and fled, after the so-called failures.

Clinics were closed down,  public health issues are scandalous.  Too many Ohio babies don’t make it to age one, but the black babies have double the mortality rate.  The gerrymandering which has been done since before I even got here in ’94 — is so much worse now, I fear it will go on into  perpetuity.  So yes, there’s a lot to ponder.   Any of this can just be called ‘political’  ramblings.  But I see it as needs of real people, not being met – even with the law to back it up. .  e.g. Roe vs Wade – settled law, abortions ARE legal.   I get that Republicans  have sensitive, emotional – ethical standards, but it doesn’t seem to bother those standards as people are made to suffer in order for them to sleep better at nights.  Justice wan’t designed just for the affluent or fortunate,  but for every one of us.    All of this is important.  No question.  

But for me, “above and behind” every issue which can be named, stands HEALTH.  And one’s right to health and to be fully capable of protecting it.   We are not slaves or unthinking idiots . . .we are free,  born with rights which are being eroded.  No person should be mandated to allow vaccines to enter his body if he does not choose to allow it.  The vaccine issue is so corrupt    (no – not going into that again/check it out – everything is out there or here).  There has NEVER been proof that these hundreds of vaccines are safe.    But life itself is mirroring back to us how health standards have changed since the advent of these multiple vaccines became ‘standard procedure’. Autism – rare 50 or more years ago,  is rampant now along with other neurological disorders and learning disabilities.  

But instead of  addressing the issues raised by millions of families whose children have been injured and killed from all this – – insulting degradation has been hurled at them to denounce those parents and families whose lives have been ruined as rabble-rousers and simply, uninformed.    This is cruel, unjust — the act of bullies.  

The diminished state of health is due to more that just vaccines, to be sure.   It’s the highly organized medical system which is so profit driven that they haven’t practiced “good medicine” for decades now.  Most physicians are symptom manipulators  with  no time or inclination to ‘heal’ by seeking causation in order to remedy illness with proper guidance.  Hence, it is ’cause unknown.’  This affirms how lacking Medical schools are.   There are so many bright minds out there who DO  go on to learn of the many resources which have always been available to us.  It was in the original plans, including all those plants and herbs and clean, sparkling water.  We need hormonal balance,  plenty of enzymes and minerals and vitamins.  But we don’t need laboratory-made chemicals in our body for they are toxic to us and further burden an already suffering, weakened organism. The body heals itself when it receives what it needs.  

Our country needs to put medicine on an even keel by granting equal privilege to doctors who heal with herbs of the field and other specialties which we generally term  “alternative.” Can we even imagine what this could do to the American financial budget?   We’d save billions right off the bat.  Big PhRMA would get its comeuppance and most doctors would have to make some changes if they  want to stay alive.  Ya just can’t say that most illnesses are “idiopathic” and keep getting away with it.   And then, there’s the stuff about the food, our choices – right? Starts there.  

Forgive the ‘soapbox” my friends (you knew how much I try to simplify, but I keep getting carried away)  This post was started to advise you of serious stuff going on in most of the states.  Because I do subscribe (FREE) to NVIC, I get these emails and this one I wanted to share with you.   If this matters to you – SPEAK UP and tell your elected congressmen and senators.  And if it doesn’t matter to you – what are you doing on my blog?        Jan

Dear NVIC Advocacy Team Members,

We are only about one week into legislative sessions across the country and so much is happening.   If you live in one of the following states, there are already vaccine bills filed that can affect your rights if they pass:

        AR, IN, KY, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OR, PA, TX, and VA.

This week there are hearings in IN and MO.

PLEASE LOG IN TO http://NVICAdvocacy.org for more information and check back often!  Please understand that we are analyzing bills and updating the NVIC Advocacy Portal multiple times a day and this information changes daily.  Use this resource to find out what is going on in your state and what you can do to help!   Here is a breakdown of the bills filed that we are tracking as of 1/17/17.

EXEMPTIONS and INFORMED CONSENT

Restricting Vaccine Exemptions    MN, NY, TX

Eliminating Vaccine Exemptions   AR, NY, OK, PA

Required School Exemption Disclosure   VA

Expand Vaccine Exemptions  NJ, NY

Add to Who Can Sign Medical Exemptions  TX

Prohibit Docs from Throwing Exempting Patients out  TX

Forced Detention and Treatment on Suspicion of Vaccine Preventable Disease  NY

Expand Vaccine Informed Consent   OR, TX

MANDATES

Adding New Vaccine Mandates  IN, KY, MO, NJ, NY,  OR,  VA

Restricting Vaccine Mandates  NH,  NJ

Prevents Vaccine Mandates for Adults  MS

VACCINE TRACKING AND REPORTING

Eliminate OPT-IN Consent for Vaccine Tracking  TX

Expand Vaccine Tracking   NY, TX

 VACCINES

Prohibit Certain Ingredients in Vaccines   MO

Required Vaccine Promotion/Marketing  NE,  TX

Pharmacists Administer Even More Vaccines   MT,  NY

 Sincerely,

NVIC Advocacy Team
National Vaccine Information Center
http://NVIC.org and http://NVICAdvocacy.org

https://nvicadvocacy.org/members/Members/ContactUs.aspx

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) works diligently to prepare and disseminate our legislative advocacy action alerts and supporting materials.  We request that organizations and members of the public forward our alerts in their original form to assure consistent and accurate messaging and effective action. Please acknowledge NVIC as originators of this work when forwarding to members of the public and like-minded organizations. To receive alerts immediately, register  at http://NVICAdvocacy.org, a website dedicated to this sole purpose and provided as a free public service by NVIC. 

Make A Difference, support NVIC. NVIC is a certified 501(c)3 Charity.

January 19, 2017

GOODBYE COLO

                     Goodbye, Colo

Colo at her 60th birthday party, courtesy of Columbus Zoo
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that 2016 took away many of the best celebrities that we have.  Well, now it’s half-a-month into 2017, and we’ve already lost two of the most famous zoo-and-aquarium celebrities of our times.  Earlier this year, of course, we had the death of Tilikum, the infamous orca from SeaWorld.  Today (17th),  Columbus Zoo announced the passing of Colo, the world’s first captive-born gorilla.  She was 60 years old when she passed away in her sleep.

Colo was rejected by her mother and was hand-raised by keepers.  At the age of two, she was introduced to her future mate, Bongo, with whom she had three children.  Having never gained first-hand parenting experience, Colo never raised her own children… but she did help raise her grandchildren.  By the time of her death, she was a great, great grandmother, with two dozen some descendants.  Some went to zoos around the country, but many remained with her in Columbus.

What makes Colo’s passing truly remarkable is its testament to the changes in zoo animal welfare over the years.  Prior to Colo’s birth in 1956, gorillas had never been bred in captivity, and it hadn’t been the long ago when they were considered virtually impossible to keep alive in the first place.  Today, there are hundreds of gorillas in zoos around the world – virtually all of them zoo-borns – making them one of the most sustainable, most genetically-secure zoo populations.  We no longer worry about getting them to eat, or watch them fade away from depression and disease.  We now have large, vibrant family groups, and one of our greatest medical challenges is maintaining geriatric gorillas in good cardiac health; one of our main demographic challenges is managing young bachelor males.

Colo’s passing doubtlessly has left a huge hole in the hearts of her many keepers and admirers.  It’s been touching, however, to see the community rally around them with support and fond memories of a great, great grandmother of an ape.

Cordray’s job protects ALL

This is a story which it would behoove all to be aware of as it deeply concerns any of us in so many ways.  This agency since it’s beginning has saved Billions for the American public; was inspired by Elizabeth Warren and it has been a blessing.  We cannot afford to loose this, either as individuals or as a country. . . if we desire fairness and justice.            Jan

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at the Treasury in Washington.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Mild-mannered, lawyerly and with a genius for trivia, Richard Cordray is not the sort of guy you picture at the center of Washington’s bitter partisan wars over regulation and consumer safeguards.   But there he is, a 57-year-old Buckeye who friends say prefers his hometown diner to a fancy political reception, testifying in hearing after hearing on Capitol Hill about the agency he leads, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans would like to do away with it — and with him, arguing that the agency should be led by a commission rather than one person.

And with a Republican sweep of Congress and the White House, they may get some or all of what they wish.

Mr. Cordray, a reluctant Washingtonian who has commuted here for six years from Grove City, Ohio, where his wife and twin children live, is the first director of the consumer watchdog agency, which was created in 2010 after Wall Street’s meltdown. By aggressively deploying his small army of workers — he has 1,600 of them — Mr. Cordray has turned the fledgling agency into one of Washington’s most powerful and pugnacious regulators.

And, according to Mr. Cordray, he and his team have barely scratched the surface of combating consumer abuse.   “We overcame momentous challenges — just building an agency from scratch, let alone one that deals with such a large sector of the economy,” Mr. Cordray said in an interview at his agency’s office here. “I’m satisfied with the progress we have made, but I’m not satisfied in the sense that there’s a lot more progress to be made. There’s still a lot to be done.”

But his future and the agency’s are uncertain. Democrats in Ohio are encouraging Mr. Cordray to run for governor in 2018, which would require him to quit his job in Washington fairly soon, rather than when his term ends in mid-2018. Champions of the agency are imploring him to stay, arguing that if he leaves, the agency is likely to be defanged, its powers to help consumers sapped.

Opponents of the bureau just won a big legal victory: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said last month that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was unconstitutional, and that the president should have the power to fire its director at will.

The agency is challenging the decision — which was made in a lawsuit brought by the mortgage lender PHH Corporation that contests the consumer bureau’s authority to fine it — and that has temporarily stopped the decision from taking effect. But the ruling has kept alive questions about whether too much power is concentrated in Mr. Cordray’s job, and whether the agency should be dismantled or restructured.

Mr. Cordray, who also battled on behalf of consumers in his previous jobs as Ohio’s attorney general and, before that, its treasurer, is praised in some circles as enormously effective, wielding the bureau’s power to restructure some industries and terrify others.   The bureau has “helped save countless people across the country from abusive financial practices,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.’s senior vice president for advocacy and policy.

Even the regulator’s frequent foes — including Alan S. Kaplinsky, a partner at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia, who says the agency often overreaches — acknowledge its impact.  “I’ve been practicing law in this area for well over 40 years, and there’s nothing that compares to it,” Mr. Kaplinsky said. “Every company in the consumer financial services market has felt the effects.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has nearly replaced the Better Business Bureau as the first stop for dissatisfied customers seeking redress. It has handled more than a million complaints, many of which it has helped resolve.

Mr. Cordray said that as attorney general of Ohio, he had a front-row seat to the suffering that people endured during the last financial collapse. He was elected to the office in 2008 — the peak of the mortgage crisis.   “I had seen the foreclosure crisis up close,” Mr. Cordray said. “I had seen all the struggles people had with student loans. These were all things we wanted to prioritize.”

He has traversed socioeconomic levels. In his youth, he worked for minimum wage, $2.30 an hour, at McDonald’s. Later, he attended Oxford University as a Marshall scholar, headed the law review at the University of Chicago Law School, and was a clerk for two Supreme Court justices, Byron R. White, a Democratic nominee, and Anthony M. Kennedy, a Republican one. He is a five-time “Jeopardy” champion.

Mr. Cordray said workers at the bureau were often drawn there because they felt the pain of the consumers they tried to help.   “Many people here, if you ask them why they came, they’ll give you one or more personal stories” of hardship at the hands of rapacious companies, he said, adding that workers at the bureau had learned how to speak publicly and effectively about “how these issues affect people’s lives. I think we’ve gotten more and more systematic about doing that,” he said, especially with consumers’ stories submitted to the agency’s complaint portal.

He added, “We’re also taking a lot of guidance from what we see in the pattern of consumer complaints.” Debt collection complaints always top the list, which helped shape proposed rules that the agency outlined in July.

Ralph Liberatoscioli of Mineola, N.Y., turned to the agency this year during a wrangle with Citibank over rewards points he said his wife was owed on her checking account. After several months of fruitlessly working through layers of customer service representatives, he gave up on talks with the bank and filed a consumer bureau complaint on his wife’s behalf.

Within a week, Citibank sent an apology letter and credited her account with the disputed points.   “They have clout, and the banks recognize that,” Mr. Liberatoscioli said.

From the day the bureau opened its doors, it faced unrelenting criticism and a succession of legal challenges from the companies it regulates and from Republican lawmakers. The Republican Party platform adopted this year calls the bureau a “rogue agency” that should be abolished or, at a minimum, sharply curtailed.

“Other than the president, the director of the C.F.P.B. is the single most powerful official in the entire United States government, at least when measured in terms of unilateral power,” Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in the District of Columbia appeals court decision in October.

The bureau was set up at the behest of Elizabeth Warren, at the time a fiery consumer advocate gaining national prominence. As a White House adviser, she hired Mr. Cordray as the agency’s enforcement chief during the bureau’s early days, and recommended him to President Obama as its director.

When Congress created the new consumer watchdog, it granted most of Ms. Warren’s wish list: The Dodd-Frank Act, the sweeping 2010 bill that increased regulation of Wall Street, established the bureau and built in strong safeguards to shield it from outside influences. The agency’s budget is not subject to congressional appropriations, and its director, who serves a five-year term, cannot be fired by the president.

Because the appeals court’s ruling is delayed until the challenge process plays out, Mr. Cordray still cannot be quickly removed from office by the president.

Nor would it be easy or quick for the Trump administration to dismantle or weaken the bureau — and, after all the attention Wells Fargo stirred up, it might be politically unpopular.

But Donald J. Trump’s election revived calls from critics of the bureau to eliminate Mr. Cordray’s position and replace the agency’s leadership with a five-member, bipartisan commission. The critics say the move would temper the bureau’s more radical impulses; supporters say it would hamstring the agency and prevent it from doing virtually anything.

Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas and the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced legislation in September along those lines, called the Financial Choice Act. If Congress wants to act immediately to curb the consumer bureau, that bill could become a blueprint.

“There has been a fairly constant dialogue with the Trump transition team about the Choice Act,” Mr. Hensarling said recently.

For now, the main obstacle for Republicans who want to gut the bureau, or steer it in a very different direction, is Mr. Cordray, whose term runs through July 2018.

He took office in the shadow of Ms. Warren, but his fans and critics say — or complain — that he has proved to be every bit as fierce in carving out the agency’s turf and using its regulatory and enforcement powers.

“They don’t fine-tune,” said Craig Nazzaro, a lawyer in Atlanta who specializes in consumer-finance law and represents debt collectors. “They take a sledgehammer to the existing rules and redefine industry standards.”

The housing crisis dominated the bureau’s early days. When Congress created the new overseer, it also dictated its first priority: making mortgages safer. The deadline was tight. If the bureau did not introduce new rules within 18 months, a congressionally mandated set of lending guidelines would automatically take effect.

The bureau made it with one day to spare.

It banned some practices that had fueled the crisis, like home loans with low teaser rates or no documentation of the borrower’s income, and steered lenders toward “qualified” loans with a stricter set of safeguards, including checks to ensure that customers could afford to repay what they borrowed.

After much grumbling — and many dire forecasts that the new rules would limit credit and harm consumers — mortgage lenders adjusted. They made nearly 3.7 million loans last year for home purchases, the highest number since 2007, according to government data.

“It seems like the financial services industry has figured out how to adapt to this new regulatory regime,” said David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who studied the effects of the bureau’s rule-making. “We’ve moved from the fox-in-the-henhouse market in the early 2000s, where you could get away with nearly anything, to this new model, where someone is looking over your shoulder.”

But issuing new rules, one of the consumer bureau’s most significant powers, is a grinding process that typically takes years. The mortgage regulations are the only major ones the bureau has completed. In many other areas it wants to change — including payday lending, debt collection, required arbitration and overdraft fees — proposed new rules are still inching their way through the development pipeline.

So the bureau has relied heavily in the last few years on one of its other powers: enforcement. By suing and fining companies when they stray out of bounds, the agency has been able to reshape the playing field years before any new regulations are completed.

“Their method is to regulate through enforcement,” Mr. Kaplinsky said, echoing a common criticism of the bureau’s approach. “They’ve entered into more than 150 separate consent orders touching literally every kind of consumer finance product, and Director Cordray has indicated to the industry that you’d better read the consent orders and follow them — even if you’re not a party.”

Ask Mr. Cordray about that charge, and he grins a little.   “What that really boils down to is a criticism that we’re enforcing the law too vigorously,” he said.Whether the consumer bureau is enforcing the law or using stealth maneuvers to expand it is a source of fierce debate, and Mr. Cordray is regularly called on the carpet on Capitol Hill to defend his agency’s actions. He has testified before Congress 27 times.

Ms. Warren said she was delighted with what the bureau had achieved under Mr. Cordray’s leadership.

“The C.F.P.B. has exceeded my highest expectations,” she said in an interview. “There’s a lot of tools lying around at various regulatory agencies that never get used. But the bureau is using all of its tools, and is out there making a difference.”

Asked if trying to police the entire field of consumer finance is like trying to boil the ocean, Mr. Cordray grinned again. “Get a big enough boiler, and you can do it,” he said.

January 9, 2017

GOOD BONES “official poem of 2016”

How could I NOT share this poem with you?

Found it today, and no choice, had to take a minute or two to share with all.. . .I LOVE IT!    Everything about it.   See what you think.   Jan

SO TO SPEAK

Bexley poet Maggie Smith still amazed by acclaim for ‘official poem of 2016,’ ‘Good Bones’

 
KISMET VISUALS & CO.
Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” went viral following a shooting at an Orlando nightclub.
Maggie Smith enters 2017 still a little dazed at seeing one of her creations dubbed the “official poem of 2016.”“Good Bones” inspired celebrity tweets and a musical performance. People bought frameable copies as Christmas gifts. And she just received word that it will figure into the plot of a prime-time TV drama.“It’s like, how is this my life?” said Smith, 40, who has been writing poetry long enough to know that poems rarely go viral.Smith, who lives in Bexley with her husband and two children,scratched out “Good Bones” while sitting in a Starbucks.

It was published online by the literary journal Waxwing during a bad week in June: three days after a gunman killed 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub and a day before British politician Jo Cox was assassinated.

Something about a poem that begins “Life is short, though I keep this from my children” resonated with people. What parent hasn’t struggled to explain ugly events without scaring the innocence out of their kids?

Smith, who grew up in Westerville and has a master’s degree in fine arts from Ohio State University, said she didn’t set out to create what Public Radio International dubbed the official poem of 2016. (For one thing, she wrote it in 2015.)

“It was more a general-anxiety poem” that could have described any bad year, she said.

And she is clear-eyed about why, beyond its own merit, the poem found a large audience: The coincidental timing of publication during a tragic week, the fact that the short poem lends itself to social-media screen-grabs, and the election result that gave it new life.

(Web traffic spiked after Donald Trump’s election on Nov. 8, said Smith, who calls herself a “loudmouth Democrat.”)

When I interviewed her a few days ago, Smith had just received word that “Madam Secretary”, a CBS show that airs on Sunday nights, plans to have a character read an excerpt from “Good Bones” during an episode later this season. (She doesn’t know the date yet.)

The dramatic presentation won’t be a first for the poem: A group in India performed “Good Bones” with music and dance accompaniment this year. It has also inspired admiring tweets from actresses Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing.

Despite all the attention, Smith said the poem hasn’t changed her life. She still works as a freelance editor because poetry doesn’t pay the bills. And she’s still a busy mother who tries her best to explain the world’s joys and sorrows to a daughter, 8, and a son, 4.

Her daughter, she said, doesn’t seem to have internalized her mother’s anxiety about global events and doesn’t quite get all the fuss over a poem.

“She just rolls her eyes at me.”

THE POEM

Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real s***hole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

 

jblundo@dispatch.com
@joeblundo

January 7, 2017

ETHICS – lives IF we stay alert

Alertness needed to survive “One Party Government”

which promotes Authoritarian Rule

The link below from some of my favorite people (Bill Moyers, etal) reveals the details of such an issue as alluded to in this title. For reasons of self-preservation, I am and may remain unable to manage (without self-injury), such discussion . . . for it throws me into despair.  This is because I care too deeply, loose perspective and so on.  But I can’t mull on it or give any of it much time. . .who knows how much time one has left?    Still do sign petitions for issues I’m in favor of. . you know support the noble principles our government was founded on,  .  .  justice for ALL, . . citizen’s rights, etc. .  .  support what I can.  It seems many are just beginning to have their eyes opened to what is actually going on and the coming jolts may be painful to deal with.    But there isn’t much logic to grieving for the delusions now, . . it’s gonna take whatever we can muster to just be able to stay alert enough to avert a disastrous attempt as each emerges.    As soon as Americans remember that we are in this boat together – ALL OF US, there is nothing we can’t overcome.                

We’ve already seen how PROTEST Stopped the Predators in the link which follows, so please give that a look see.

http://billmoyers.com/story/protest-stopped-predators-will-back/

Last nite as I watched MSNBC’s  Rachel Maddow show @ 9:00 p.m. she delivered a shocker on the “Russian Hacking” with her accustomed “real low-down” on why it was done – – what the actual cause was for all the flack thrown at Hillary. . .and it is an eye-opener.  She said it was posted online (on the 6th) in it’s entirety for free;  that it was only five pages long and we could go and DL it for ourselves.. Near 5:00 p.m. on 7th, and I can’t find it. . . but she showed it, discussed it, read (kinda) from it  – – so it’s there.  Either I misunderstood or am now too damned dumb to figure stuff out, I dunno.  If your TV service allows you to see prior episodes, go check it out.     . . .just sayin’,          Jan

January 3, 2017

Balm 4 skin, yours, mine and baby’s

TALLOW  SKIN  BALM

Best, cheapest,easy/quick & Organic

Tallow was used by most civilizations to care for skin before industrialized cosmetics became known.  This was a natural thing to do and most beneficial — it was agreed by all.  And ‘Reason never contradicts Science.’  That was all news to me prior to discovering  the tallow line of balms made by VINTAGE TRADITIONS (found online).  Nothing is safer than this tallow for a baby, or feels better for chapped, rough hands, or sinks in more beautifully onto the skin, easing many problems, even for acned skin.  You have to see it, try it to believe it.  I’ve bought it for years, even copying down their instructions to those who wanted to make it themselves, perhaps  using different essential oils of choice. . . . not cheap, but so worth it.  100% organic and must be made from grass-fed cows or sheep

By now, any who come here know that I love the DIY thing.  Not just because I’m too cheap to buy stuff, . .livin on Social Security takes all one’s super-powers to balance stuff so you don’t feel a sense of “lack” but instead actually take great pleasure in – – and feel really good about. This is one. Over the years I have been heavy on sharing such efforts.   Many just put up with it, but some others have got a bit of the bug too. It’s fun and in this case. . . . a real big money saver.    Gonna tell you how in just a minimum of time, you too, can make this exquisite, great feeling balm that smells good, goes on easily, not greasy and seems to sink in beautifully. So this is nothing new, comes down to us from our ancient ancestors.  

When I called the new, organic Butcher and Grocer, I was amazed to learn his  grass-fed suet which is not ‘rendered’ was a mere $2.99 pound.  Done.  I’m doin’ it!  Already have essential oils and great extra-virgin Olive Oil.   First, the grass-fed suet from the butcher which isn’t rendered, NEEDS TO BE RENDERED:  This is a matter of heating the FAT tissue (suet) which is solid and waxy SLOWLY, until it melts leaving the pure oils to melt away from the rest of the tissue.  The oils are the Tallow.  There is so much nutrient in tallow — and as with all organic food, the less heat – the better, (so as not to destroy the natural, benevolent mineral – enzyme base.  So of course, there are a few ways to render this fat, but I like what VINTAGE TRADITION said is their preferred way (they do multiple pounds at once) is to cut up the suet into smallish pieces , place into a colander or steamer pan  > place this into a larger pan in oven with low heat maybe 200 F.  Can stir it around now and then til all seems separated and has dripped through to pan underneath.  Next filter through a cheesecloth to remove any particles.  

At this point you can either jar the tallow (if you’re making a larger amount) and store it;  keeps well at room temp  – –  or proceed to make your Tallow Balm.   At Vintage Traditions, they use 1 part EVOO to 8 or 9 parts tallow.  Tallow has a waxy consistency – (still used for candle making),  Once the oils are combined, add your choice of EO (essential oils) such as Lavender, Sandalwood, Rose, etc.   > place in refrigerator to allow to solidify so that it becomes extra smooth rather than leaving out at room temp. to set..

What you’ll need:   (depending on how ‘solid’ you want it)

           1/2 C  (about 8-9) T Grass-fed beef tallow

           2 T  Extra-virgin Olive Oil organic  (EVOO)

           few drops of essential oils – your choice  

1)  want tallow slightly warmed (no more than 120 F) til melted.  Add EVOO and EO’s  

2) Mix all together well,  put in jars, label . .  > put frig to set.   Will keep well @ room temperature for long time.

(As an aside, tho I haven’t figured this out, I think the left-over solids could be, perhaps dried further or even pan fried a bit to add to our pet’s food.  All that fat and minerals could do lovely things to the cat or dogs coat – not so sure cats would cotton to this, but hey – worth a try.)  

 

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The Weston A Price Foundation  has a terrific article on this subject and I quote from it below with a paragraph or so from their own research,.  .  .  so, enjoy:       Jan

A HEALTHY AND EFFECTIVE SKIN CARE OPTION

In light of the many harmful ingredients in most skin care products (see sidebar below and opposite), it is difficult to find many skin care products on the market that can definitely be considered a healthy and effective option. Therefore, we should take a look at the traditional wisdom on skin care and then see if modern science supports the ancestral knowledge.

As we have already seen, our ancestors overwhelmingly used tallow for skin care. For example, a book of “recipes” for all facets of life, written by Dr. A.W. Chase, MD in 1866, lists ten formulations of salve, eight of which contain tallow, in addition to other natural ingredients.17 This same medical doctor quotes the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal of his day on using pure tallow for a “very common and very painful affliction,” an ingrown toenail. Even though this use is a very specific one, it is included here as being a strong testimonial on the healing power of tallow: “

The patient on whom I tried this plan was a young lady who had been unable to put on a shoe for several months, and decidedly the worst I have ever seen. The edge of the nail was deeply undermined, the granulations formed a high ridge, partly covered with skin; and pus constantly oozed from the root of the nail. The whole toe was swollen and extremely painful and tender. . . . I put a very small piece of tallow in a spoon, heated it. . . and poured it on. . . . The effect was almost magical. Pain and tenderness were at once relieved, and in a few days the granulations were all gone, the diseased parts dry. . . and the edge of the nail exposed so as to admit of being pared away without any inconvenience. The cure was complete, and the trouble never returned. I have tried the plan repeatedly since, with the same satisfactory results. . . . A repetition in some cases might be necessary, although I have never met with a case that did not yield to one application. It has now been proven, in many other cases, to be effectual, accomplishing in one minute, without pain, all that can be effected by the painful application of nitrate of silver for several weeks.”18

Another piece of evidence to the traditional use of tallow in skin care is an antique one-ounce tin of “McQueen’s Pure Mutton Tallow,” manufactured by G.F. Baker in Nunnelly, Tennessee “since 1895,” which includes the following words on the bottom of the tin: “Valuable as a family remedy for chapped and rough skin caused by exposure to inclement weather. Excellent as a skin cleanser and also used as a foundation for various medical ointments.”

December 27, 2016

The life “Well Lived”

Carrie Fisher, gone from us

The world mourns, is stunned, . . .  far too soon.  Her passing is almost torrential . .  .  hard to accept.  For she gave us so much,  so many possibilities  through her entertainment in the movies, her books and her musical talent.  The Princess of Star Wars. . .  .  with all the different ways to think, be  and see.  

Her accomplishments were almost beyond ordinary ability to comprehend . . .acting, writing, music with philanthropic pursuits also thrown in.  She was so deeply admired and LOVED by all.   That she was a “one-of-a-kind” is overly simplistic,  but true.  She blessed all by her mere existence.  How do we deal with that?    

She ‘knew’ love, passion and pain and torment in degrees we can only imagine.   It didn’t destroy her.  She explored her depths and heights undoubtedly. . . and she grew and expanded through it all.  She leaves behind who she has been while recording for us her journey and desires.   They were good.   We are blessed.  We honor who she was and what she gave to the world.                

But is there more we might be gliding over and not noticing?   Being Carrie Fisher wasn’t a “walk-in-the-park” easy. She applied her energies fully, deeply and consistently.   It happens that who she was — the life she was born into was a very public one. The limelight quite naturally and frequently shone on her. . . so all she endured. . .became known.  It was what she did with what she had which so endeared her to everyone.          

It may be that some of us are prone to shrink back as we can’t help but notice how mundane our own lives seem to be if we are  careless enough to ‘compare’ what we have – live, with someone such as Carrie.  By this, of course – I mean that such comparison will generally prove futile,  sometimes, bitterly destructive, for one will appear to be found lacking.  This is NOT  a good thing.  Any of us are capable or even prone to this (kinda by default), but it can be pitiful if it strips away the courage to act, do and be by dooming the effort to achieve and follow natural urges (desires). . .lest we fail and not measure up and so on.   We, all of us are worth so much more than that!   The urge, the effort borne of desire – – they are our flavor, and why we go on.  

So honor, love and miss this lovely lady, but she will go on and BE whatever she chooses – – down the road.

Below is a rather “wordy”  Abraham to mull over                                                              Jan

 

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We like to explain that only a part of the Consciousness that is really who-you-are is focused into the physical personality that you believe is you, so that you can then begin to consciously consider the larger part of you, who continues to remain Non-Physically focused.

Once you remember that you are a physical extension of Source Energy, you can then begin to consider, and consciously tend to, your alignment with your larger, Eternal, Non-Physical counterpart.

As you made the decision to focus into this physical time-space reality, you understood it to be a spectacular arena of balance and variety and perfect contrast.

You understood that there is no competition for resources, but only opportunities to give birth to your own ideas—and you understood that once an idea has been given birth, the means with which to fulfill it will follow.

And now here you are, an extension of Source Energy—focused in the environment of perfect contrast and balance, just as you have intended—exploring, deciding, preferring, creating, and becoming.

—Abraham

Excerpted from: Getting into the Vortex Guided Meditation CD and User Guide on November 01, 2010

Our Love,

Esther (and Abraham and Jerry)             Today, 12-27-16, we learn that  CARIE FISHER has moved on with her journey. .  .   .

December 26, 2016

Health odds – back-then and now

 Malnourishment or Toxins do us in

Some of us have been around long enough to have witnessed some of the differences.  Born in ’29,. . . (please, the depression wasn’t my fault). . I was reared during the “depression” years when life was very hard for most.  Mother never stressed that part to me.   She filled me with stories of her  very different life, born on a farm.  She strove for quality  over quantity.   She didn’t speak of  ‘lack,’  but infused our lives with what we had and made the most of it by emphasizing the fun of stuff, and in other ways;  teaching me  ‘first things – first’,  ‘doing it right the first time’, and celebrating anything and everything we could.  She too, had an innate sense of beauty;  if we had lived in a shack, she would have made it beautiful.  Don’t know if I was just that kind of kid or it was because she was just that kind of mother – – but I would have done anything in the world for her just to please her.  It was like that.  My life was good, but it wasn’t  for most adults, I’ve heard.  

FDR put people back to work,  built an infrastructure and an economy – almost a modern miracle.  Then the rumblings of war abroad.  Of course it was a great hardship, costly; there were shortages of meats and shoes (I really noticed that as a pre-teen),  stuff was rationed during world war 2.  But the people!. . .the people were a mish-mosh of everything back then just as they are now.  But the common bond of being American was evident.  People were generous, more willing to understand the next one.  Not saints mind you– there were all the usual differences of color and ethnicity and petty prejudice. . . but a bond of our common purpose seemed to be more meaningful then.  

We had not become chemicalized in the thirties or forties, therefore all food was ‘organic’ the way it was meant to be. . .wholesome,  nutrient- dense.  The soil it came from was teeming with natural life, rich and fertile.  There was no autism,  weird allergies and food sensitivities and I never heard of Alzheimer’s. People went to doctors when  something got broken or hurt to get bandaged back up.  Doctors were affordable and meds were  generally closer to nature – they helped, didn’t further make you sick.   The doctor – patient relationships were trusting, kind and beneficial to both  It worked..

So different now;  few but the wealthy and the indigent among us can avail the medical community, for it has become almost unrecognizably different.  It is a reflection of the changes which currently rule brought about by the elevation of the worship of materialism (money-greed), corporate domination and the political power structure which allows it.  Medicine and BIG PhRMA rules have pervaded almost everything including infringing our individual rights  and freedoms (which are constitutionally guaranteed),  through mandatory “health dictates” on inoculations, vaccinations, etc.   Citizens are being forced to submit to these rules or face NOT having their children allowed in school;  their doctors refusing to care for their little ones unless they are vaccinated!  All this continues even though huge majorities are rebelling and refusing to submit and go along to get along.  When devastation follows with increasing numbers of autistic children,  help is not forthcoming or acknowledged and no one is liable.  Families are ruined; life is unfair. . .but hey, those corporations are on a roll.   Keep making  so much money, it is beyond all reason.  They are killing us, maiming our little ones because they know how to play the Washington games.   The on-going saga of ever-increasing pharmaceutical pricing is beyond insanity.  I say ‘get rid of them all’ and go back to teaching doctors how to BE doctors again.  

Natural, plant-based and herbal medicine is CHEAP and “it works.”    But doctors are conditioned  (thru their educational training)  by BIG PhRMA, who sets the agenda, etc.  This is why Pharmaceuticals are the dominant answer to anything which might take one to a physician.  Because pharma is chemical in nature,  made in laboratories,  —  it is not recognized   by the body  (or body friendly) and this  results in some degree, to adverse body reaction or so-called side effects. It is ‘stuff’ the body endeavors to rid itself of.  People have come to accept this as if that is all there is. Most do not realize that pharmaceuticals generally don’t help much as they, by and large,  just manipulate the symptoms – – do not cure anything.  To heal, (a function of the body, for it is alway the body which does the healing),  one must address the cause which essentially is either a deficiency (lack of nutrient),  or some kind of toxin which now permeates our modern world.   What this means to the body is that it must fight off this foreign invader. . . and so, reacts, which in itself is a further burden to the body.  

In the 21st century, few can escape the onslaught of toxic chemicals. . . no matter how careful one might be in food choices and preparation.  Much vigilance is needed,  so ultimately, the burden remains upon us individually to do the best we can in this regard.  Takes awareness,  becoming informed and much diligence.  My regular readers know that I am caring for my own 6 chronic diseases on my own, not  having seen a doctor in over 6 years or so. Doing Okay (for  87) Alzheimer’s, arthritis, hypertension, heart issues, COPD and thyroid,  w/no OTC or PhRMA.   All are now under fair control and some not even noticeable these days.  The need to cope w/Alzheimers which had so crushed me to a pitiful state was the impetus which got me on this roll of self-help  and I’m so glad I did.  My brain is doing maybe better than some of my other parts as of now.   

Doctors are no longer the trusted care-givers of old who sought cause areas and natural, body recognizable solutions.   Now they have become little more than shills for the BIG PhRMA cartels who rake in billions.  When the patient sees his doctor with complaints of illness or woes, the physician responds with symptom-supervision by means of the prescription pad.  it may be that doctors don’t understand enough about the body to be able to connect the dots and find cause areas, which most generally can be treated with changes in diet or nutritional deficiencies which then effect some, one or all of the hormonal systems which in time, if left untreated, will rob the body of any chance to expect a normal life back again.   And this is much more than just a double whammy, because, it isn’t just that pharmaceuticals are laboratory-constructs — it also that we are being injured by corporate and governmental greed with regard to our very food with genetic modification (GMO’s), farmed fish,  cruel raising of our food animals with un-natural feed which is unhealthy for them. . . which makes them unhealthy for us, since we eat them.  Not to mention the deprived soils, which unless they are “organic” farms, have nothing to brag about.  Those who can’t afford to see a doctor, generally, also can’t afford to eat organic.  So the masses are existing on nutrition-less  rather than nutrient-dense food — and when ill, get toxic chemicals called medicine. . . which compounds the problems.  

Here and there I refer to doctors in general terms as if they all are in the same club, or think the same way. . .do the same type of routine — just prescription writing.  This is a fault and it is careless and over-simplification.  I admire doctors who serve with their heart,  brain and intelligence.  So many get into the practice of medicine  to help – – that’s  a given.  I will say however, the state of health and medical care in United States of America is deplorable and has been since before Obama.  Our president tried desperately to do right by us – sought single payer system which I was for, but as all know – he was shot down on almost everything he tried to do.  There are many, many physicians who becoming dissatisfied with their practice, chose to study further, then enter into more holistic, natural methods which in fact – truly helps people.   Allopaths are NOT the only answer.  My latest find who literally blows me away is not even an MD, but is a chiropractor who has been in business over 25 years and teaching Nutritional medicine in hospitals, medical schools as well as maintaining his practice.  Have never come across someone who DOES connect the dots like he does and is helping people all over youtube, in lectures, books and online. His name is Dr Eric Berg.  If ya wanna learn how to help yourself, . . .check him out.

So, along with the addition of Chemical companies like Monsanto etal, who are doing a great job of poisoning the soil itself and all the plants growing on our lands with the huge assortment of life-robbing elements;  between these and the multi thousands of other chemicals used in our clothing, cosmetics,  cans and other containers;  in our water systems,  infusions in the air we breathe. . . . we are faced with a bombardment from  chemicals on every front.  It is a wonder that we are surviving as well as we are.   Our species is remarkable, strong and perfectly designed.  We are the highest form of intelligence on the planet.  But what individual deliberately burns his own house (planet) down?   It is long past time that we once again put our good minds to work for our own survival.  Somehow,  our people are going to have to deal with all these various issues collectively, intelligently. . . for the good of all,  which is to say, there must be dialogue, scientifically based with the intention to preserve what we know is correct and reasoned on facts.  This is not political.  This is survival.  In China and some other places, masks must be worn to walk or be outside.  That’s no way to treat our planet.  Like someone we all once loved said some years back. . . .” can’t we all just get  along? ”         Jan

December 15, 2016

Chemicals, toxins and our ‘daily bread’

World keeps expanding, we grow and learn. . all goes on

I first learned of the Shaman Alberto Villoldo and his recent book  “ONE SPIRIT MEDICINE” last year when I heard his lecture on fracking the brain, (or re-building it). . you can imagine why!  It is a beautiful and amazing reading.  Recommend it.   Hope I will always be open to the new, beautiful and useful, for this enables whatever joyful experience which lies ahead.  Am receiving his lovely ongoing communications  and wanted to share something from the recent one.  His manner is  non-accusatory. . .just lays out what he sees which allow us to make own connections.That’s first. . .

. .  .  then following is an idea I’m crazy about: the worlds greatest bread. . from Dr Eric Berg (the man of a thousand videos, easy-speak advice, holistic low-down of our actual causes of what ails us and a Questionnaire (104 Q’s) one can take and receive an answer back quickly showing the nature of probable causation.  I’m still workin’ on the massive amount of info  which is all kinda new to me. ..not the pieces and parts — just never saw them in this light before.    Instead of dwelling on COPD, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Heart disease and Hypertension and Thyroid,.. .Im being shown there are organic, hormonal problems based generally on deficits leading to over working certain organs which then compromise other organs, systems and since they are all connected through cohesive exchange and inter-dependence. . .it becomes clear;  ya can’t just throw some iodine at the thyroid gland – – what compromised it in the first place? So I’m working my tail off to assist my five above referred to diseases, but  my problems seem to center around CORTISOL, ESTROGEN and my ADRENALS.  Boy do I have a lot of re-thinking to do.  S’ probably why so many millions of us are mis-diagnosed and treated for stuff. . .and don’t get better.  And sometimes told – it’s all in our head or maybe hypochondriacal.  Anyway, can find more at drberg.com or go to Dr Berg on youtube.

Hey

Are you ready for this? This is the most amazing recipe…if you like bread. It’s  fricken delicious and there is NO wheat,  No gluten, NO bad stuff and has the texture of sour dough bread.

Check this out,

https://www.drberg.com/blog/adrenal/the-healthiest-bread-in-the-world

Enjoy!!!

Dr. Berg

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2016 DEC 06 -TOXINS AND THE GUT-BRAIN

The gut-brain is a superhighway with many lanes where information is continuously flowing between the brain in the head and the brain in the belly. Mental and emotional stress triggers physical responses that affect the gut, while disturbances in the microbiome – the colony of microorganisms in the gut – affect the functioning and health of the brain.

Every day, toxins inside and outside the body damage our gut-brain. They come from the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Our bodies contain over 600 varieties of microbes that come from the outside world, outnumbering by ten to one the cells that are strictly native to us. Small wonder so many of us have digestive and immune disorders: our bodies are overwhelmed by the toxic load we’ve placed on them.

Our ancestors were largely protected from these challenges. For hundreds of thousands of years, the earth was able to accommodate changes brought about by human intervention. That changed, however, as we started to mine natural products like lead and mercury, and introduce them into our homes – and bodies – through everyday products like paint, bathtubs, light bulbs, lead pipes, and dental fillings, and more recently through contaminated fish and seafood. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, and both lead and mercury have been implicated in developmental problems like learning disabilities and ADHD. Metals like lead and mercury are stored in body fat, and nearly 60 percent of the brain is made up of fat.

In the last century or so, we’ve released thousands upon thousands of man-made chemicals into the environment. Data on how these chemicals affect us are scarce: of the 82,000 chemicals approved for use in the United States, only a quarter have been tested for their effect on humans.

The havoc we’ve created with man-made chemicals reverberates throughout the food chain. But it may be matched by another, even more insidious threat in the foods we eat every day. Much of the toxic overload in our guts comes from genetically modified foods. In most cases, we don’t even realize toxins are on the menu. Scientists are increasingly altering the DNA of foods and food crops to create products that will last longer, be more resistant to disease and pests, and look and taste better.

In addition to genetic engineering, we’re faced with new diseases caused by widespread reliance on a grain-based diet. One of the problems is that the wheat we’re eating is not the same wheat people ate even 75 years ago. The post–World War II green revolution introduced a high-yield dwarf wheat containing 20 times more gluten (a protein that gives dough its elasticity) than the old European strains, thereby altering the composition of the bread we’re consuming. The dramatic increase in celiac disease – a debilitating autoimmune disorder in which ingesting gluten damages the gut – is likely related to this major change in our diets.

The harsh truth is that we have all become gluten intolerant to a surprising degree because the human digestive system hasn’t evolved to function well on a grain-based diet. Grains have become toxic to many of us, and our grain-rich diets are damaging the gut-brain.

But the deadliest toxin found in nearly every kitchen in America is sugar. The typical American adult consumes 150 pounds of added sugar a year. Processed foods are sources of much of this amount. Even foods we don’t think of as sweet – like catsup, peanut butter, and yogurt – often contain sugar or substitutes like aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and high fructose corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to type 2 diabetes.

Food cravings – particularly for sugary junk foods – can be traced to the gut-brain. You may think you’re gorging on chocolate cake or tortilla chips because you love the taste, but the real reason is that the yeast, fungi, and bad bacteria in your gut thrive on sugar, and to get their fix they bring on cravings. Sugary foods and carbohydrates stimulate the same centers in the brain that are stimulated by drugs like heroin and cocaine by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which triggers a pleasure response.

Sugar in all forms (except honey) reduces levels of BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a hormone that triggers the growth of new neurons and stem cells in the brain, repairing crucial brain structures. It is even thought that the connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s is attributable to the typical Western diet. Inadequate BDNF production is also associated with depression.

While it’s virtually impossible to avoid environmental toxins, we can try to avoid GMOs by shopping our local farmer’s market. Detoxifying from sugar and gluten requires cutting out fruit juices, fruits with high sugar content, root vegetables and all processed grains. If this seems unnecessarily strict, note that the minimum daily requirement of processed carbohydrates is zero.

Learn more about detoxing and healthy eating in my book, One Spirit Medicine.

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