Prions Detected in Eyes of Patients With Brain Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a fatal brain disorder that destroys brain cells, causing tiny holes in the brain. Symptoms of CJD are ataxia, or difficulty controlling body movements, abnormal gait and speech, and dementia. The disease is always fatal and has no cure.1

CJD is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These are a family of progressive neurodegenerative disorders affecting animals and humans. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, presents in much the same way as CJD.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulation in 2009 banning specific proteins in feed to prevent the spread of BSE.2 However, the regulation superficially addresses the issue. For instance, slaughterhouse waste products continue to be recycled into bone and blood meal as additives to livestock and pet foods.3

This increases the risk of livestock acquiring BSE as it has proven to be a foodborne-derived disease,4,5 and eating beef from cows with BSE triggers a variant of CJD.6

CJD is difficult to diagnose, as taking a brain biopsy to rule out a disease is impractical. The National Institutes of Health have recently published work from colleagues at the University of California San Diego and San Francisco who have measured the distribution and levels of prions in the eye.7

Prions in the Eyes May Indicate Brain Disease

Prions are abnormal forms of proteins collecting in brain tissue and causing cells to die. This leaves sponge-like holes in the brain. BSE and CJD are the result of a prion infection that is untreatable and always fatal.

Byron Caughey, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, collaborated with researchers from Nagasaki University and developed a method to test brain and spinal cord fluid for the presence of prions in an effort to improve diagnosis of CJD in a clinical setting.8

Dr. Christina J. Sigurdson, professor of pathology at UC San Diego and Davis was on the team, and commented on the problems associated with sporadic CJD (sCJD), a form appearing without known risk factors and accounting for nearly 85 percent of diagnosed cases:9,10

"Almost half of sCJD patients develop visual disturbances, and we know that the disease can be unknowingly transmitted through corneal graft transplantation. But distribution and levels of prions in the eye were unknown.

We've answered some of these questions. Our findings have implications for both estimating the risk of sCJD transmission and for development of diagnostic tests for prion diseases before symptoms become apparent."

The technique, called real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) is currently in use. More recently, Caughey and colleagues attempted to use the same technique to measure the distribution and level of prions in the eye. They recruited 11 people with known CJD and six with other types of fatal diseases to serve as controls. All agreed to donate their eyes for post-mortem analysis.

The researchers found evidence of prions throughout the eyes of the 11 people with CJD but not in the six control patients. This discovery suggests eye tissue may be another avenue for early diagnosis of CJD and raises the question of whether prions may be transmitted through a clinical eye procedure if the instruments or transplanted tissues have been contaminated. Caughey comments:11

"By testing various components of the eye with the RT-QuIC assay, we found that prions can collect throughout the eye — including the fluid inside the eye.

Our findings suggest that we may be able to develop methods of detecting prions in eye components even before symptoms develop, which may help prevent unwitting transmission of prions to others through contaminated medical instruments or through donor tissue."

Prion Diseases Are Transmissible Between Animals and Humans

Some prion diseases are transmissible between humans and animals. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a form of BSE affecting deer, elk and moose. Infected animals may take up to one year to develop symptoms including drastic weight-loss, stumbling and other neurological symptoms, often dying within three years.

The Quality Deer Management Association12 mapped out the number of hunters who killed whitetail deer in four Wisconsin counties with the highest incidence of CWD in the state. The organization believes hunters from 49 states killed deer in this Wisconsin CWD hotbed in the 2016-2017 deer season.

Of the 32,000 deer killed, 22,291 were tested, finding 17 percent positive. By extrapolating data, the researchers estimate approximately 5,000 of those untested were also positive.

Most deer with CWD appear healthy. Hunters transporting carcasses across state lines were breaking regulations in many states now banning the importation of specific animal parts to prevent CWD from entering their state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend testing all deer carcasses and waiting for the all-clear before you eat the venison. If the deer tests positive, it should be safely discarded.13

Previous research14 noted a close similarity between human and rodent prion proteins shown to be protease resistant and infective. The researchers hypothesized that since rats and mice are known to be susceptible to prion diseases, ingestion of infected parts, potentially droppings, could be a mode of transmission of BSE to humans, resulting in CJD.

Eating beef infected with mad cow — which, again, is very similar to CWD — is known to cause CJD in humans. Symptoms are similar to Alzheimer's and include staggering, memory loss, impaired vision, dementia and, ultimately, death. Between 2002 and 2015, the prevalence of CJD rose by 85 percent across the U.S. In 2015, there were 481 cases.15

The first case of CWD was recently diagnosed in reindeer in Norway, which researchers theorized may have occurred when bottled North American deer urine was transported for use as a lure. In an effort to eradicate the disease before it spread, an advisory panel for the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety recommended the entire herd be culled.16

Alzheimer’s Disease Is on a Spectrum of Transmissible Prion Diseases

The age at which Alzheimer's may be diagnosed has been falling. Where in past decades it was found almost exclusively in those over 65, today it may be diagnosed in people as young as 51.17

The spectrum of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and CJD. Since prions can be found in urine, feces, blood and other bodily fluids, the spread of these fluids may contribute to the spread of other prion disease mutations.

Alzheimer's disease is officially the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., although more recent data suggests it may be the third leading cause of death, right after heart disease and cancer.

As deaths from heart disease have declined nearly 11 percent from 2000 to 2015, deaths from Alzheimer's have increased 123 percent.18 Nearly 33 percent of seniors will die with some form of dementia, killing more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

The financial burden reaches $232 billion. According to the Alzheimer's Association19 an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s dementia, including nearly 200,000 under the age of 65.

These growing statistics may be related to both lifestyle factors and a potential infectious component. In one study,20 researchers found when mice were injected with tissue from a human who had Alzheimer's, the mouse began to exhibit changes characteristic of the disease.21

Dr. Claudio Soto, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School theorized these findings open the possibility some sporadic cases may arise from an infectious process.22

Sotto warned that even if the data was corroborated it would still be important to avoid well-known risk factors for Alzheimer's, since these may accelerate the disease or increase the risk in cases where there is an infectious origin.23

Autopsies Reveal a Potential Infectious Process

Subsequent research published in Nature24 showed data from autopsy studies where individuals who had died from CJD appeared to have contracted the disease decades earlier from contaminated growth hormone extracted from human cadavers. In addition, six also harbored amyloid pathology associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Molecular neuroscientist John Hardy of the University College London believed this was the first evidence of real-world transmission of amyloid pathology and that it is particularly concerning. The researchers also determined none of the individuals carried genetic material predisposing them to early onset Alzheimer's or any other neurodegenerative diseases.

They believe the most plausible explanation for the amyloid pathology was it had been transmitted by human growth hormone extracts contaminated with beta amyloid seeds as well as the CJD prions.

In another study,25 researchers performed autopsies on individuals who died of CJD, all of whom received surgical grafts of dura mater prepared from human cadavers contaminated with the prion protein known to cause CJD.

However, in addition to the damage from CJD, five of the seven brains displayed pathological signs associated with Alzheimer's disease, including plaques formed from beta amyloid protein. These individuals were 28 to 63 years old and considered unusually young to have these changes.

Data was compared against a set of 21 controls who had not received surgical grafts but died of sporadic CJD. They did not have the amyloid signature. The results of both studies are consistent, demonstrating the same pathology emerging after different medical procedures.26 

The scientists emphasized neither study demonstrates the disease is transmitted through normal contact, and they stress cadaver derived preparations are no longer used. This does have important clinical implications for the sterilization of surgical instruments, however, since beta amyloid proteins are very sticky and may not routinely be removed during standard sterilization procedures.

Eating Habits Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Unfortunately, misinformation and mismanagement may be contributing to a rising number of deaths from neurodegenerative diseases, which experts suggest may triple by 2050.27 While these numbers are large, they may not be accurate.

The Alzheimer's Association believes physicians in the U.S. only inform 45 percent about their diagnosis and this suppression of information is most likely at work in other countries as well.28 Lifestyle factors are also implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

One of the most striking studies29 on carbohydrates and brain health revealed a high-carbohydrate diet increased the risk of dementia by 89 percent, while high-fat diets lowered it by 44 percent.

Other studies have also strongly suggested Alzheimer's dementia is connected to insulin resistance30 and even mild elevations may be associated with an elevated risk of dementia.31 Diabetes and heart disease are known to elevate your risk, both of which are rooted in insulin resistance.

This interconnection between high-sugar diets and Alzheimer's was again highlighted in a longitudinal study32 in which over 5,000 individuals participated. Over a decade’s worth of data revealed the higher an individual's blood sugar was, the faster the rate of cognitive decline.

Increased blood sugar from consuming sugar and other carbohydrates can disrupt your brain function even when you're not diabetic or have other signs of dementia.

Using short- and long-term glucose markers, one study33 evaluated healthy, nondiabetic, nondemented seniors. Memory tests and brain imaging revealed the higher the blood glucose measured, the greater the compromise in memory and structure of the hippocampus. In yet another study,34 researchers found Type 2 diabetics lost more gray matter with age than expected, and had earlier onset of dementia than nondiabetics.

Lack of Sleep and Activity Also Increase Your Risk of Dementia

A lack of sleep has also been linked with beta-amyloid buildup found in Alzheimer's disease. Deep sleep is particularly important, as it is only during deep sleep that your brain’s glymphatic system is activated, allowing it to flush away cellular waste.35

Persistent patterns of poor sleep may actually be an early indicator of amyloid buildup causing a subtle brain change well before the disease develops. Guidelines suggest most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night and children and teens need even more.

Long periods of sitting also impact memory in middle-aged and older adults. Research data36 using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a group of 35 middle-aged and older adults found brain thinning in a region involved in the formation of new memory.

In addition to the MRIs, the participants assessed their physical activity level and average number of hours spent sitting. Comparing this data, the researchers found sitting for extended periods of time was closely associated with thinning in the medial temporal lobe of the brain.

Preventive Strategies

It is often believed dementia is a condition that can't be controlled, but there are many factors you can influence to greatly reduce your risk. It is important to address several factors and not focus on only one or two.

That said, improving your cardiovascular fitness is an excellent place to start, as I discuss in my previous article, "How to Decrease Your Risk for Dementia by 90 Percent." When combined with other approaches to resolve mitochondrial dysfunction, it can be highly effective in preventing cognitive decline.

Other strategies to help you reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease include eating a ketogenic diet, optimizing your vitamin D and omega-3 levels, eliminating gluten and processed foods, and intermittent fasting. See the lifestyle strategies I believe to be most helpful and important to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease in my previous article, "Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's Strengthens."

To learn more about Alzheimer’s and the tests that can help diagnose it early, see my interview with Dr. Dale Bredesen, author of "The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline."

The Wrong Cookware Can Decrease Manhood

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a man-made chemical used in the processing and producing of Teflon. Also called C8, the chemical was developed in the 1930s and brought into production in the 1940s.1 PFOA is one type of perfluorinated chemical (PFC), a large group of compounds used to reduce friction in nonstick cookware and make fabric stain and water resistant.2

In an effort to ensure their own financial success, DuPont, a manufacturer of C8, became a master of deception and manipulative public relation strategies. Although the company knew about the effects of PFOA on the environment and human health for decades, it repeatedly lied to federal and local regulators, consumers and even their own employees about its toxicity.3 

Nonstick cookware became enormously popular as it was convenient and easy to clean. The same is true for stain- and water-repellent clothing, carpets and fabrics, all treated with PFCs to achieve this result. Despite the convenience and popularity, I began warning about the health hazards of C8 over 15 years ago and as a result was threatened with legal action by DuPont.

Today, the evidence is clear and the dangers undeniable. In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, data reveals baby boys exposed to PFCs before birth experience a reduction in testosterone, resulting in smaller male organs.4

Teflon Pans Trigger Reduction in Size and Girth

In 2017, DuPont agreed to pay $670 million to settle 3,500 lawsuits in Ohio and West Virginia, brought by residents who believe they were poisoned by drinking water contaminated with PFOAs the company knowingly released into the surface water.5

In a continuing study of how the chemical has affected humans and wildlife, data was collected from 383 male high school students (average age 18) from Padua, Italy, including 212 who were exposed to high levels of PFCs in their drinking water. The area is known as having high levels of environmental PFC pollution due to runoff from a chemical factory and wastewater treatment plant.6

The researchers found young men who grew up in the area had penises 12.5 percent shorter and 6.3 percent thinner than men not exposed to high levels of PFC toxins. PFCs are found in everyday items, including fast food packaging, glues, cosmetics, cleaning products and insecticides.7

The chemicals enter the bloodstream and bind to testosterone receptors, thus reducing the levels of testosterone used by the body.8 The result is smaller penises, poor quality sperm and a shorter distance between the scrotum and anus — an external sign of lower fertility. Absorption can occur through the intestines from food, drinking water or inhalation. According to the researchers:9

“This study documents that PFCs have a substantial impact on human male health as they directly interfere with hormonal pathways potentially leading to male infertility.

We found that increased levels of PFCs in plasma and seminal fluid positively correlate with circulating testosterone and with a reduction of semen quality, testicular volume, penile length and AGD [anogenital distance].

Interestingly, the majority of the exposed male population showed a reduction in testicular volume, penile length and AGD, but not anthropometrics in males aged 18 to 19.

As the first report on water contamination of PFCs goes back to 1977, the magnitude of the problem is alarming as it affects an entire generation of young individuals, from 1978 onwards.”

What Are PFCs?

PFCs are fluorinated chemicals. The fluorine atoms create the nonstick slipperiness giving Teflon its unique qualities. During the legal process of suing DuPont, hundreds of internal documents were uncovered showing the company knew about the chemical's danger to the public and employees, likely as early as 1961.

Although this information has only recently reached the courts, over a decade ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined DuPont $16.5 million for withholding decades worth of information about health hazards. It was the largest fine the EPA had ever assessed, but it did not act as a deterrent and DuPont continued to manufacture and release C8 into the environment.

Two PFCs, PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are no longer manufactured in the U.S. but are found in products produced internationally and imported into the U.S. in consumer goods such as leather, textiles, paper, packaging and plastics.10 Contamination in the Veneto region in Italy where the featured study participants lived, is linked to industrial production.

The chemical plant in the area has been active since 1968, manufacturing herbicides and pharmaceuticals. In a comprehensive two-year study investigating the distribution and sources of PFC in the region, high concentrations of PFOA were found in rivers and samples of drinking water in the Padua and Verona areas.

This suggested to the researchers a common contamination source triggering levels remarkably higher than threshold limits recommended by the EPA and the German Drinking Water Commission. 11

PFCs Associated With a Number of Other Health Concerns

According to the EPA,12 PFOA and PFOS cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney and immunological problems in laboratory animals. The most consistent findings from human studies have been linked to an increase in cholesterol levels, low infant birth weight, cancer and thyroid hormone disruption.

Arlene Blum, a University of California chemist, and the executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, is the lead author of the Madrid Statement,13  signed by more than 200 scientists from 40 countries,14 which presents the scientific consensus on the harmful health effects of PFAS chemicals. The statement reveals:15

“Although some of the long-chain PFASs are being regulated or phased out, the most common replacements are short-chain PFASs with similar structures, or compounds with fluorinated segments joined by ether linkages.

While some shorter-chain fluorinated alternatives seem to be less bioaccumulative, they are still as environmentally persistent as long-chain substances or have persistent degradation products.

Thus, a switch to short-chain and other fluorinated alternatives may not reduce the amounts of PFASs in the environment. In addition, because some of the shorter-chain PFASs are less effective, larger quantities may be needed to provide the same performance."

Although older chemicals are no longer in production, as the statement points out shorter chain fluorinated alternatives are persistent, less effective and may require larger quantities to achieve the same result. The Madrid Statement also lists many of the documented health effects associated with long-chain PFASs, including:

Liver toxicity


High cholesterol


Liver malfunction

Ulcerative colitis

Neonatal toxicity and death

Tumors in multiple organ systems

Reduced birth weight and size

Testicular and kidney cancers

Reduced hormone levels

Delayed puberty

Decreased immune response to vaccines

Adverse neurobehavioral effects

Disruption of lipid metabolism, and the immune and endocrine system

DuPont Poisoned the World

For over 15 years, Rob Bilott, an environmental attorney and partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, has waged a legal battle against DuPont.16 His journey began on behalf of a West Virginia farmer who reluctantly sold 66 acres of land to DuPont in the early 1980s so the company could establish a landfill.

The tract of land sold to DuPont had a creek running through it leading into the area where the farmer grazed his cows. Not long after the sale, his cattle developed mysterious ailments and more than 150 head of cattle had died by the time the farmer, Wilbur Tennant, contacted Bilott.

In the initial lawsuit filed in 1999, DuPont commissioned a study of Tennant’s property with the help of the EPA. Three veterinarians were selected by DuPont and three were chosen by the EPA. The report found DuPont was not responsible for the cattle's health problems; rather, it was poor husbandry, poor nutrition and inadequate veterinary care.

During the ensuing protracted legal battle Bilott received more than 110,000 pages of material from DuPont relating to PFOA dating back nearly 50 years. The documentation demonstrated DuPont had known the chemical was damaging to the environment and human health.17

Once in possession of this information, Bilott contacted DuPont, which quickly settled with the Tennants, reducing public exposure of the information in court. However, it was only after he pursued another class-action lawsuit against DuPont, representing nearly 70,000 people in six water districts, that the EPA announced PFOA may pose a health risk to the general public.

The contamination problems were not limited to the Ohio and West Virginia areas as demonstrated by the Teflon report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG),18 which found PFOA in 94 water districts across the 27 states. The same report highlighted research demonstrating PFOA is dangerous at levels 1,300 times lower than previously recognized by the EPA.

PFOA is now found in over 99 percent of American blood samples, according to analysis for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),19 and environmentally as far as Sand Island Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean south of the Bering Sea.20 The chemical is ubiquitous and does not degrade. In fact, scientists expect C8 will remain well after all humans have perished.21  

Reduce Your Exposure to Damaging Hormone Disrupting Chemicals

It is clear the chemical industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself, and DuPont stands as a shining example of this. It can take decades before a chemical is publically recognized as dangerous, and then the company can simply switch over to another untested, unregulated chemical.

The Madrid Statement22 recommends avoiding any and all products containing or manufactured using PFASs, noting they include products that are stain-resistant, waterproof and nonstick. Helpful tips can also be found in the EWG's "Guide to Avoiding PFCS."23

Besides listing a number of sportswear brands known to use PFCs in their shoes and clothing, the guide also notes Apple admits the wristband of its new Apple Watch Sport model is made with PFCs. Other suggestions to help you avoid these dangerous chemicals include avoiding:

Items pretreated with stain-repellent — Opt out of such treatments when buying new furniture and carpets.

Water- and/or stain-repellent clothing — One tipoff clothing includes these chemicals is when the artificial fibers are described as "breathable." These are typically treated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a synthetic fluoropolymer.

Items treated with flame-retardant chemicals— These may include a wide variety of baby items, padded furniture, mattresses and pillows.24  Instead, opt for naturally less flammable materials such as leather, wool and cotton.

Fast food and carry out foods — These products are often contained in wrappers typically treated with PFCs.

Microwave popcorn — PFOA may not only present in the inner coating of the bag, it also may migrate to the oil from the packaging during heating. Instead, use "old-fashioned" stovetop popcorn.

Nonstick cookware and other treated kitchen utensils —  Healthier options include ceramic and enameled cast iron cookware, both of which are durable, easy to clean (even the toughest cooked-on foods can be wiped away after soaking it in warm water), and completely inert, which means they won't release any harmful chemicals into your home.

While some recommend using aluminum, stainless steel or copper cookware, I don't for the following reasons: Aluminum is a strongly suspected causal factor in Alzheimer's disease, and stainless steel has alloys containing nickel, chromium, molybdenum and carbon. For those with nickel allergies, this may be a particularly important consideration.

Copper cookware is also not recommended because most copper pans come lined with other metals, creating the same concerns noted above. (Copper cookware must be lined due to the possibility of copper poisoning.)

Oral-B Glide floss — Also avoid other personal care products containing PTFE or "fluoro" or "perfluoro" ingredients. The EWG has an excellent database called "Skin Deep"25 you can peruse to find healthier options.

Are Reported Milk Allergies Fake News Propagated by Formula Makers?

In the decade between 2006 and 2016, prescriptions in the U.K. for infant formula for babies with cow's milk allergy rose sixfold, resulting in a sevenfold increase in National Health Service spending on nondairy specialty formulas, yet there's no evidence that the true prevalence of the condition has increased.

So, what's going on? Why are pediatricians recommending nondairy formulas at such an increased rate if there's no need? According to a recent paper1 by Chris van Tulleken, Ph.D., honorary senior lecturer at University College London, the discrepancy appears to be driven by makers of infant formula.

"Allergy to cow's milk protein may be acting as a Trojan horse for the $50 billion (£40billion; €44billion) global formula industry to forge relationships with health care professionals in the U.K. and around the world," Tulleken writes.2

"Experts believe these relationships are harmful to the health of mothers and their children, creating a network of conflicted individuals and institutions that has wide ranging effects on research, policy and guidelines. Potential overdiagnosis of the allergy can also have negative effects on breastfeeding."

Milk Allergy Prevalence Has Remained Steady for Past Decade

I've written numerous articles about the influence of funding, and this appears to be a powerful example of what happens when you allow industry to pay for the creation of medical guidelines. According to Tulleken, there's no evidence showing that milk protein allergy has become more common. In fact, studies published in 20073 and 20164 reveal no significant rise in prevalence.

In 2007, research estimates of cow's milk protein allergy ranged from 2 to 7.5 percent. According to the authors, "Differences in diagnostic criteria and study design contribute to the wide range of prevalence estimates and underline the importance of an accurate diagnosis ..."

By 2016, incidence of cow's milk protein allergy was estimated to be between 5 and 7 percent in formula-fed babies, and 0.5 to 1 percent in breastfed babies.

At this time, the authors warned that widespread confusion about the differences between lactose intolerance and milk allergy among physicians was a problem that "could result in unnecessary dietary restriction."

As explained in this paper, "The currently accepted nomenclature is determined by the mechanism likely to be producing the symptoms, with cow's milk allergy being immune mediated and lactose intolerance not immune mediated. An infant with suspected IgE-mediated milk allergy will require testing for specific IgE to milk (skin prick test or blood tests)."

Guidelines Funded by Formula Makers Have Led to Overdiagnosis of Milk Allergy

According to Tulleken, overprescription of nondairy formula appears to be the result of industry funding the guidelines used to diagnose dairy allergy. He also warns that formula makers place undue emphasis on the need to stop breastfeeding as part of the diagnostic strategy.

Between 2007 and 2017, six milk allergy guidelines were published. On two occasions, the guidelines were directly funded by infant formula makers. The remaining four guidelines had contributing authors who had received funding from formula makers.

The end result is guidelines that are so vague they could apply to all children. For example, the symptoms listed in Allergy UK's guidelines5 are so broad and universal that milk allergy can easily be diagnosed in completely healthy babies.

As noted by Dr. Gary Marlowe, vice chair of City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group,6 "Virtually every single infant could potentially be diagnosed using these symptoms." Formula makers also influence prescribing behaviors through sponsored education.

While organizations responsible for educating patients and medical professionals about milk protein allergy appear independent, most in fact receive funding from formula makers. In the U.K., these include Allergy UK, the Allergy Academy and the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (a professional society of allergists). As reported by Inverse:7

"According to the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,8 published in 1981, companies that make milk substitutes are not supposed to directly educate mothers, create conflicts of interest or advertise through health systems.

But based on the information van Tulleken presents, it seems that infant formula manufacturers are finding ways to exert a strong influence on how doctors diagnose and treat patients.

'I obviously work within a high-tech medical system, but I see firsthand that we need to be really aware of the harm we can do and the immense influence industry has over our profession,' van Tulleken tells Inverse. 'No one is more vulnerable than a breastfeeding infant and their parent to industry exploitation' …

[S]ince the only way to confirm a non-IgE cow's milk protein allergy is for a baby to completely switch to a substitute before retesting their tolerance, the baby formula industry benefits from creating and sponsoring guidelines that are more generous in the use of milk substitutes.

In the service of these guidelines, the industry overstates the importance of stopping breastfeeding during this process.

'The basic research that provides the evidence that an infant can get a serious allergy through allergens in breastmilk is really, really weak,' says van Tulleken. 'We have a profusion of guidelines and educational programs for patients and doctors with so little investment in understanding the science of what is going on.'"

Many Formula Makers Violate International Code of Marketing

A February 2018 Save the Children report9 also reveals formula companies are directly violating WHO's international code of marketing by bribing health care workers with gifts and incentives to promote the use of formula. According to the report:

"Marketing activities of Nestlé, Danone, RB (Mead Johnson), Abbott, Kraft Heinz and FrieslandCampina routinely violate a World Health Organization code set up to stop aggressive marketing to new mums."

"The wide availability of industry funded online information promoting nonspecific symptoms potentially indicating cow's milk allergy as a diagnosis in exclusively breastfed infants" is of particular concern, Tulleken notes.

Women who avoid dairy to protect their nursing child run the risk of not being able to produce sufficient breast milk. According to Tulleken, "Although there is evidence that cow's milk and other food proteins can be transferred from mother to infant in breastmilk, the quantities transferred are likely to be too small to cause symptoms in most infants."

Worse, many will simply stop breastfeeding altogether and start using nondairy formula instead. These tactics have very real and potentially life-threatening health ramifications.

Save the Children notes that infant formula advertisements often include false health claims, and according to Tulleken, data suggests formula feeding may be responsible for the death of 16,000 infants each year in the Philippines alone.

According to Save the Children, 823,000 infant deaths could be prevented each year, worldwide, if babies were universally breastfed.

As of 2016, a mere 40 percent of infants under the age of 6 months were being exclusively breastfed, worldwide. Only 33 countries have breastfeeding rates higher than 50 percent, while 68 nations have rates below 50 percent.10

Women who want to breastfeed but are told they cannot also have an increased risk for postnatal depression, Natalie Shenker, Ph.D., cofounder of Hearts Milk Bank, says.11

A related concern is recommendations that include "top up feeds" with formula for exclusively breastfed infants. Chi Eziefula, senior lecturer in the department of global health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School told Tulleken, "By definition, exclusive breastfeeding does not include the use of formula for top-up feeds. Such wording creates a guideline-approved niche for the formula product that could interrupt breastfeeding."

There's a Coordinated Campaign Against Breastfeeding

Moms have, and still are, told there's "no difference" between bottle feeding and breastfeeding, yet nothing could be further from the truth. There is very little similarity between the two, from a nutritional perspective. Unfortunately, marketing materials have a way of giving mothers the false idea that formula may actually provide better nutrition.

Thanks to growing awareness of the science behind the "breast is best" slogan, breastfeeding rates in the U.S. have risen dramatically in recent decades, from a low of 24 percent in 1971 to 81 percent in 2016.12 However, this effective pro-breastfeeding slogan has now been usurped and turned into "fed is best"13 — meaning, as long as your baby is well-fed, it doesn't matter if it's breast milk or formula.

A bioethical argument published in the journal Pediatrics in 2016 even advises pediatricians it's time to stop referring to breastfeeding as something "natural."14 This trend suggests there's a coordinated effort underway to dissuade women from breastfeeding. Even more obvious evidence that such a campaign is being waged specifically in the U.S. occurred this past summer.

WHO has set a global goal to get 70 percent of infants exclusively breastfed for the first six months by 2030, and to achieve that, the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the WHO) introduced a nonbinding resolution this past spring to encourage breastfeeding around the world.

The resolution stressed that decades of research show breast milk is the healthiest choice, and urged governments to rein in inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. In a move that shocked the world, the U.S. delegates opposed the resolution, demanding that language calling on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding" be deleted.15

The American delegates even threatened countries with sanctions lest they reject the resolution.16 While witnesses at the assembly meeting claim they saw no evidence of formula makers trying to wield their influence, there's no denying they've spent a lot of money lobbying to protect their market share, which means minimizing the importance of breastfeeding.

According to a MapLight analysis,17 the three leading formula companies, Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Reckitt Benckiser, have spent $60.7 million lobbying lawmakers in the U.S. over the past decade.

Formula Feeding Linked to Increased Obesity Risk

Your child's gut microbiome can influence his or her immune response to a number of environmental pathogens as well as pharmaceutical drugs, including vaccinations. Research has also linked the variety and makeup of gut bacteria to specific health benefits and health conditions, including the elimination of chemical toxins, mental health,18 obesity,19 Types 1 and 2 diabetes20 and brain diseases.

One of the easiest ways to support or decimate your microbiome is through your diet, and research has found an association between feeding infants formula and a change in gut microbiome that encourages obesity.21 The study22 in question looked at how bacteria in an infant's digestive system affect the burning and storage of fat, and how the infant body uses energy.

More than 1,000 infants were included, and mothers reported the amount of breastfeeding, and the timing of when formula and solid foods were introduced. Stool samples collected from the infants at 3 to 4 months and again at 12 months were tested for a variety of gut bacteria.

By age 3 months, nearly half the women were exclusively breastfeeding their infants, 16 percent fed only formula and approximately 33 percent fed a combination of breastmilk and formula.23 Data from stool samples revealed:

  • The highest level of beneficial bacteria at 3 months and at 1 year was found in infants who were exclusively breastfed
  • Exclusively formula-fed infants had the least variety of bacteria and a proliferation of microbes more commonly found in older children and adults
  • Exclusively formula-fed infants had nearly double the risk of becoming overweight as compared to those who were exclusively breastfed
  • Those fed both breastmilk and formula had a lower risk than those exclusively formula-fed, but they still had a 60 percent greater risk of becoming overweight than exclusively breastfed babies

Lead author Meghan Azad, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, explained that breast milk contains complex sugars needed to feed specific types of bacteria, which in turn affects how a child's body burns and stores fat.24

In breastfed infants, the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium were introduced into the infant's gut helping to digest oligosaccharides present in the breastmilk. Once solid foods were introduced, microbiomes more closely resembling adult varieties began to grow. The study found when a more adult variety of gut microbiota was present at an earlier age, it was associated with an increased risk of obesity.25

That formula may increase a child's risk of obesity also makes perfect sense when you look at the list of ingredients. Infant formula can contain as much sugar as a can of soda, and this processed fructose has none of the benefits of the natural sugars found in breast milk. Instead, just like soda, it comes with a long list of adverse metabolic effects, raising your child's risk for obesity, diabetes26 and related health problems, both in the short and long term.27

Most formulas also contain a number of other questionable ingredients28 — including genetically modified organisms29 (GMOs), synthetic vitamins, inorganic minerals, excessive protein and harmful fats — while lacking vital immune-boosting nutrients found in breast milk.

Health Effects — Breastfeeding Versus Formula Feeding

Aside from benefiting your baby's gut microbiome and lowering his or her chances of obesity, breastfeeding has also been shown to confer many other health benefits to your baby, including:

Natural immunity — Breastfeeding initially provides passive immunity as antibodies from the mother are passed through breast milk to the infant. Researchers have also found breast milk has a unique capacity to stimulate the infant's immune system with long-term positive effects.30

Reduced risk of blindness in preemies — Retinopathy of prematurity causes blindness in 10 percent of severe cases occurring in premature infants. More than half of children born before 30 weeks' gestation are affected and the condition blinds 50,000 children worldwide.

An analysis suggests the incidence of severe disease, and thus blindness, could be reduced by 90 percent if all premature infants were fed breast milk.31 The researchers theorize the effect may be from the antioxidant and immune protective properties found in breast milk.

Reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome — In one study, breastfeeding reduced the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in children by 50 percent at all ages through infancy.32

Improved cognitive development — Babies breastfed for nine or more months exhibit greater cognitive development than those who have not been breastfed,33 and researchers found babies exclusively breastfed exhibit enhanced brain growth through age 2.34

Reduced allergies — In one study of over 1,200 mothers and babies, exclusive breastfeeding prevented the development of allergic diseases and asthma.35

Compared to breastfed babies, studies have shown bottle-fed babies have:36

  • A 14 times higher hospitalization rate
  • Double the risk of infant death
  • Fourfold higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome
  • More frequent and more severe upper respiratory infections and gastrointestinal problems
  • Higher rates of jaw misalignment and related problems, such as breathing problems, snoring, sleep apnea and speech impediments

Avoid Soy Formula at All Costs

While I typically refrain from using the word "never," I make an exception when it comes to soy infant formula. Never feed your child soy-based formula. The potential for harm is just too great. Unfortunately, soy formula is usually recommended when milk allergy or sensitivity is suspected, which makes the industry's influence all the more disturbing.

Soy infant formula accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. formula market,37 despite the lack of evidence to support its use. As noted in the British Journal of General Practice,38 babies diagnosed with milk allergy should not be given soy-based formula before the age of 6 months due to its estrogenic effects.

Indeed, soy milk and soy formula contain up to 4,500 times more plant estrogens than breast milk or cow's milk, and studies have shown serum estrogen levels are significantly higher in soy-fed babies. I believe giving your child soy at any point is simply too risky, so I would not recommend using it for 6-month and older babies either.

Soy formula — which provides an estrogen amount equivalent to three to five birth control pills per day39 — has been linked to a number of troubling side effects, including:40

Altered age of menarche in girls

Uterine fibroids, endometriosis and tumors

Disrupted thyroid function due to altered iodine uptake

Inhibited testosterone in infant boys, which may impede appropriate male development41

Disrupted reproductive function

Autoimmune diseases

According to the British Journal of General Practice,42 "There is also a risk of cross-reactivity: Up to 14 percent of those with IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy also react to soya and up to 60 percent of those with non-IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy." (The same paper also warns that rice milk is also not recommended for children younger than 4.5 years due to the risk of arsenic contamination.)

Healthy Options for Mothers Who Cannot Breastfeed

If you cannot breastfeed, your best bet is to make your own homemade infant formula using raw milk. In the video above, Sarah Pope discusses the differences between different kinds of milk, such as cow's milk and goat's milk, and why cow's milk is actually preferable. She then demonstrates how to make two different formulas, including a meat-based formula for infants with milk allergy.

Pope, who runs The Healthy Home Economist website, is a local Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) chapter leader for Tampa, Florida. If you're unsure of where to obtain organic, raw grass fed milk, visit Ideally, you'll want to make fresh formula every day. It can be safely frozen, though, so you could make a larger batch to last a few days.

Milk-Based Formula Recipe and Instructions

The following raw milk recipe will yield 36 ounces of formula. In her video,43 Pope also makes a number of substitute suggestions for various circumstances such as allergy to certain ingredients, indigestion or constipation. In the event a baby does better on raw goat milk, a modification of the ingredients44 is necessary to adjust for the nutritional differences.


1. Warm 1 7/8 cups of filtered water (to get this amount, measure out 2 cups of water and remove 2 tablespoons) over medium heat

2. Add 2 teaspoons of grass fed beef gelatin and 4 tablespoons of lactose to the water; occasionally stir until dissolved

3. Place 2 cups of raw organic whole cow's milk into a clean glass blender. Add remainder of ingredients to the blender:

1/4 cup of liquid homemade whey (for instructions, see Pope's video)

2 to 3 tablespoons of raw cream

1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

2 teaspoons Frontier Brand nutritional yeast flake

1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil (see important information about fermented cod liver oil below the meat-based formula recipe). You could substitute the cod liver oil with wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil

1 teaspoon expeller-pressed sunflower oil

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

4. Remove the pot of water from the stove. Add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and a 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil to the water to melt. Once melted, add the water mixture to the blender ingredients and blend for about three to five seconds

5. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk

A Note on Milk Proteins — A1 Versus A2 Milk

The next recipe Pope demonstrates is for a meat-based formula using liver, suitable for babies who cannot tolerate milk. Keep in mind that many symptoms of milk intolerance are caused by A1 casein, a type of lectin associated with leaky gut and autoimmune disorders.

Casein A2 is the normal protein in milk,45 present in sheep, goats, water buffalos and some Jersey cow's milk. Unfortunately, most cows today are casein A1 producers. The A1 protein is metabolized in your gut to make beta-casomorphin, which can attach to the beta cell of your pancreas and incite an autoimmune attack.46

Many who believe they're lactose intolerant are actually just responding to the casein A1 in the milk. So, before jumping to conclusions, you could try using raw milk obtained specifically from A2 producing Jersey cows to see if it makes a difference.

You'd have to talk to your farmer or raw milk provider to find out whether the cows are A1 or A2 producers. Holsteins are A1 producers and should be avoided. Using A2 milk would be a good idea even if your child does not show signs of milk intolerance, as the A1 casein can be a problematic lectin.

It can, however, be more difficult to find. That said, if you have a choice, I would suggest opting for A2 raw milk. The other alternative is goat's milk that only has A2 casein.

Meat-Based Formula for Infants With Milk Allergy

For a demonstration, see Pope's video above. Brand recommendations and other shopping tips can be found on WAPF's website, where these recipes are also listed. There you can also find other variations, including a formula using goat's milk, as well as instructions for making homemade whey.47

Pope also offers shopping recommendations on her website, noting Radiant Life Company sells many the ingredients necessary for milk-based formula.48 The following recipe will yield 36 ounces of formula.


1. Chop 2 ounces of organic grass fed beef or chicken liver into small pieces

2. Gently simmer the liver pieces in 3 3/4 cups homemade chicken or beef broth, until thoroughly cooked

3. Pour the liver broth into a clean glass blender. Blend for several seconds to liquefy the liver, then let cool. Once the liver broth has cooled, add the remaining ingredients:

5 tablespoons of lactose (if your child is allergic to lactose, substitute with glucose)

1/4 cup organic homemade liquid whey (if your child has intolerance to whey, you may leave it out)

1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis (a probiotic)

1/4 teaspoon acerola powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon expeller-pressed sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil and 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (please see caveats listed below). You could substitute the cod liver oil and butter oil with wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil instead

4. Blend for a few seconds on low speed, until well-mixed. Pour the blended ingredients into glass jars or glass baby bottles and refrigerate

5. Before feeding, warm the formula by placing the glass bottle in a pot of hot water. A baby bottle warmer can also be used. Never microwave infant formula, as this will destroy many valuable nutrients and enzymes and pose a burn risk

Important notes and caveats about these recipes: 

Fermented cod liver oil is a recommended ingredient in Pope's recipes, which may be dangerous for babies. Laboratory testing has revealed the product tends to be prone to rancidity, may contain added vegetable oils, and lack vitamin K2 and CoQ10.

The concentration of vitamins A and D can also vary significantly from one batch to another, as cod liver oil is not regulated or standardized.49 Unless you can verify the purity of the cod liver oil, I'd recommend using wild-caught Alaskan Salmon oil or krill oil instead.

The Weston A. Price Foundation's baby formula recipe suggests butter oil is optional, but Dr. Price himself recommended always pairing cod liver oil with butter oil, which contains vitamin K2 (MK-4). I recommend tweaking the recipe by making butter oil a requirement if you're using a certified pure fermented cod liver oil.

Nutrition Facts for Homemade Formula

According to WAPF, their homemade formulas provide the following amounts of critical nutrients per ounce:

Homemade formulas Chloride Choline Inositol Iodine Vitamin K1 Vitamin B5

Raw cow milk

12.02 mg

4.50 mg

1.31 mg

3.47 mcg

0.23 mcg

76.64 mcg

Raw goat milk


7.17 mg

1.31 mg

2.66 mcg

0.183 mcg

222.61 mcg

Meat based

3.81 mg

6.67 mg

1.75 mg

1.05 mcg

0.32 mcg

51.11 mcg

The following chart shows how the three homemade formulas compare in terms of other nutrients, and how they stack up against breast milk:

Breast Milk Cow's Milk Formula Goat Milk Formula Liver-Based Formula
















Total Fat





Saturated Fat





Mono Fat





Poly Fat





Omega-3 FA





Omega-6 FA










Vitamin A*




















Vitamin B6





Vitamin B12










Vitamin C





Vitamin D





Vitamin E***























































Judge Rules False Advertising Lawsuit Against Sanderson Poultry CAFO Will Proceed

There's overwhelming evidence showing that antibiotic use in livestock is driving the rise in antibiotic resistance, and many poultry producers — including Tyson Foods,1 Perdue2 and Pilgrim's Pride — have taken steps to curb antibiotic use in their live poultry production.

In recent years, a number of grocery and restaurant chains have also vowed to stop buying and selling chicken raised with antibiotics. Examples include Whole Foods Market, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Panera Bread and even McDonald's.

Six of the largest school districts in the U.S. (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County) have also switched to antibiotic-free chicken in their cafeterias.

In contrast, Sanderson Farms,3 the third-largest poultry producer in the U.S., has stood firm against the tide of calls to reduce antibiotic use, vowing to continue using the drugs in their chickens, going so far as to use it as a selling point,4,5 while simultaneously advertising their chicken as "100% Natural."

A lawsuit filed against the company last year, charging Sanderson Farms with false advertising, is now moving forward. At the same time, Sanderson has announced it will discontinue using antibiotics deemed important for human health for disease prevention purposes in their production — a radical change in stance that shows public pressure is paying off.

For Years, Sanderson Farms Has Refused to Yield to Call for Antibiotic-Free Chicken

Remarkably, Sanderson Farms' CEO Joe Sanderson Jr. has actually gone on record saying antibiotics don't cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that the shift away from antibiotics is nothing more than a marketing ploy to justify higher prices.6

Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, has also stated "There is not any credible science that leads us to believe we're causing antibiotic resistance in humans."7 In a 2016 press release, the company said:8

"While Sanderson Farms recognizes that antibiotic resistance is an issue that must be taken seriously, many industry experts agree the issue is related to the overuse and over-prescription of antibiotics in humans, and more closely linked to medical institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, rather than agricultural processes that have been in place for decades."

All of this despite ample amounts of research demonstrating the very real dangers of agricultural antibiotic use. Sanderson has also attempted to confuse people by pointing out that no commercially sold chicken — whether treated with antibiotics or not — will contain antibiotics by the time you buy it since the antibiotics must be stopped in time before slaughter to ensure the drugs are no longer in the animals' system.

However, this doesn't address the actual concerns about antibiotic use in chickens, because even if the antibiotics are no longer present in the meat, the resistant bacteria are present and they are the primary problem.

When animals are given antibiotics, it promotes drug resistance in the microbes found in and on the animal, and those drug-resistant bacteria can then be spread to those who handle or eat the tainted meat. This is true whether the chicken contains traces of antibiotics or not. So, while eating trace amounts of antibiotics is a concern,9 it's not the most significant one.

How Sanderson Defended Its Continued Use of Antibiotics

In 2015, Food Business News quoted a statement from Sanderson Farms that said:10 "[A]fter doing our homework, we do not plan to withdraw antibiotics from our program, and there are three main reasons.

1. Animal welfare — "We feel like we need to take care of the animals in our care … There's one thing that you cannot take care of if you don't use antibiotics and that is enteritis in the chicken... Particularly when there's no evidence whatsoever that using these antibiotics really does cause antibiotic resistant bacteria."

2. Sustainability and environmental responsibility — "It's going to take more chicken houses, more electricity, more water, more acres of corn and more acres of soybeans ... So you're going to have to grow these chickens longer and use all that to achieve the same market weight."

3. Food safety — "We have all been busting our behinds to reduce the microbiology loads, the microorganism loads, on these chickens coming to the plants. And everybody knows what happened in Europe when they took antibiotics away.

All those loads went up on the chicken. So you're talking food safety. You take antibiotics out, and you're going to have more campylobacter, more salmonella ..."

Sanderson's stance clearly flies in the face of science. If you cause antibiotic resistance to develop in the animals, you're inevitably causing it in humans. Recent research11 has even linked drug-resistant infections in more than 100 people to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in puppies given antibiotics prophylactically!

Lance Price, head of George Washington University's Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, called the findings "shocking," saying,12 "This is an important study that's shining a light on something that we need to spend more time on." According to the authors of the report:

"Outbreak isolates were resistant by antibiotic susceptibility testing to all antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter infections. This outbreak demonstrates that puppies can be a source of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans, warranting a closer look at antimicrobial use in the commercial dog industry."

Drug-Resistant Bacteria in and on Food Can Have Very Real Impact on Human Health

A 2015 mortality and morbidity report13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed just how difficult it's been to curb these pathogenic bacteria, with prevalence of some types of drug-resistant bacteria falling while others are taking over in their stead.

In 2014 alone, more than 19,540 Americans contracted confirmed drug-resistant infections from food, and 71 of them died as a result. A report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron estimates that by 2050 antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people; the annual global death toll reaching 10 million.14

In November 2017, a report15 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also revealed the number of Americans infected with multidrug-resistant Salmonella via contaminated food is on the rise, increasing from 9 percent in 2014 to 12 percent in 2015, and poultry is a primary source of these infections.

According to the FDA, the Salmonella was resistant to as many as four first-line antibiotics. So, for Sanderson to claim that antibiotic use in their poultry production has no bearing on human health is a shameful denial of scientific facts.

Tests Reveal Sanderson's 'All-Natural' Chicken Is Anything But

Adding insult to injury, Sanderson Farms advertises their chicken as 100 percent natural, its slogan being that the only thing in their chicken is chicken.16 However, last summer, tests conducted by the National Residue Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service revealed a number of questionable and potentially hazardous drugs in Sanderson's chicken, including but not limited to:

  • Ketamine (a hallucinogenic party drug)
  • Prednisone (a steroid)
  • Ketoprofen (an anti-inflammatory)
  • Penicillin (for which the residue regulatory limit is zero)
  • The synthetic growth hormone melengestrol acetate and the beta agonist ractopamine — two substances banned in poultry production

Sanderson Sued Over Their Use of '100% Natural' Claim

In response to these findings, Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit against Sanderson June 22, 2017, alleging the company's "100% Natural" claim is false and misleading, as testing reveals their chickens contain human and veterinary antibiotics, tranquilizers, growth hormones, steroids and pesticides.17

The plaintiffs seek "accounting of profits, injunctive relief, corrective advertising and attorney's fees." At the time, a representative for the Organic Consumers Association said,18 "Sanderson's advertising claims are egregiously misleading to consumers, and unfair to competitors. The organic and free­-range poultry sector would be growing much more rapidly if consumers knew the truth about Sanderson's products and false advertising."

Since its filing last year, the lawsuit has been dismissed twice. It turns out the third time was the charm. Meat + Poultry recently reported19 Sanderson's motion to dismiss the case, filed for the third time, was denied and the case will finally move forward. Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of Food and Agriculture at Friends of the Earth, commented on the judge's decision:20

"After years of misleading the public and denying the public health risks associated with overuse of antibiotics in animal production, we welcome the judges' decision to allow our lawsuit against Sanderson Farms to continue."

 Meat + Poultry further reports:21

"Sanderson argued that the plaintiffs' allegations were insufficient to support the litigation, and that the plaintiffs cannot challenge the company's '100% Natural' slogan without considering the full context of an advertisement in which the slogan is used.

But U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg disagreed, writing '… Review, to the contrary, is limited to the four corners of a specific webpage at issue. No authority suggests a reasonable consumer is expected to search a company's entire website (or certainly all of a company's statements across all forms of advertisements) to find all possible disclaimers.

This is not akin to disclaimers being adjacent to the challenged statements. Although the reasonable consumer standard demands that a plaintiff must show 'more than a mere possibility' that a challenged advertisement might conceivably mislead a few consumers … it does not ask they be private investigators as defendant appears to suggest.'

Writing about Sanderson's 'Bob and Dale' commercials, Seeborg wrote: 'By criticizing its competitor's advertising as misleading to consumers, Sanderson's commercial is likely to mislead reasonable consumers into believing that Sanderson products were no different than its competitors who never used antibiotics in their chicken production.

Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged Sanderson's actions are likely to mislead reasonable consumers to believe Sanderson's products are the same as competitors that never administer antibiotics during their production, for which a reasonable consumer is willing to pay a premium.'"

Years of Public Pressure on Sanderson Farms Are Paying Off

In May 2016, I urged you to pressure Sanderson Farms to come to its senses and join other major poultry producers in taking proactive steps to reduce its antibiotic use. Earlier this year, investors also started applying pressure, urging Sanderson Farms to reconsider their routine use of the drugs.

According to Reuters,22 a proposal to end the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention in chickens "received the support of 43 percent of votes cast at the company's annual meeting," held February 15, 2018. That's 13 percent higher than a similar proposal presented in 2017, when only 30 percent of investors voted to end the company's use of antibiotics.

It now seems all this pressure is finally starting to pay off. November 30, 2018, Sanderson announced23,24 it will discontinue two antibiotics deemed "medically important for humans for disease prevention" by March 1, 2019. The antibiotics in question are gentamicin (used in chicks) and virginiamycin (added to chicken feed).

According to Sanderson's press release,25 "The change follows the completion of an independent study the Company commissioned earlier this year on its antibiotics program for its live operations."

While the company-commissioned study "found no misuse of antibiotics at Sanderson Farms or other deficiencies in its program," the advisory board concluded that "[a] move by [Sanderson Farms] to a system where nonmedically important antibiotics . . . can be used for prevention, and medically important antibiotics can be used for treatment and control of disease, could represent a responsible compromise to better preserve efficacy of antibiotics important for human health, while also avoiding the adverse impacts … on chicken health and welfare."

For clarity, Sanderson will still use antibiotics to treat and control disease. It is not a blanket elimination of antibiotics from their production; they just won't use these two medically necessary antibiotics for the prevention of disease. Still, it's a small step in the right direction.

Rebecca Spector, west coast director at Center for Food Safety, commented on the judge's ruling to proceed with their lawsuit, and on Sanderson's decision to stop using medically important antibiotics:26

"We are pleased that this lawsuit can now move forward and believe that Sanderson Farms is taking a good first step toward eliminating the use of medically important antibiotic use in livestock production.

We hope Sanderson will utilize a third-party certifier to verify these production practices so that consumers can be assured that these chickens were raised without routine use of antibiotics."

Tell Sanderson What You Think of Their 100% Natural Claim

Sanderson Farms is the lone holdout for routine antibiotic use in poultry production. Considering they're the third largest poultry producer in the U.S., they can have a big impact on antibiotic-resistant disease and human health. While it's great news that the lawsuit against the company is moving forward, you can still push for change by contacting Joe Sanderson directly, to let him know that antibiotic-free does indeed matter.

You can use their online Contact Page to write them an email or, better yet, call them at 1-800-844-4030, or write a letter to:

Sanderson Farms
Attn: Joe Sanderson, CEO
PO Box 988
Laurel, MS 39441

Strategies to Protect Yourself and Limit Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

For years, experts have warned we may soon be at a point where virtually all antibiotics fail, and once that happens, it will be devastating to modern medicine. What can you do to minimize your risk? Three key recommendations that can help reduce your risk for antibiotic-resistant infections include:

  1. Avoiding antibiotics unless your infection is severe enough to warrant it
  2. Staying out of hospitals as much as possible — Treatment using medical scopes is particularly risky.27 Also remember that antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as cold or flu
  3. Buying only organic or biodynamic grass fed meats and animal products — Remember nearly all meat served in restaurants and on planes are raised in factory farms and therefore more prone to contamination with potentially drug-resistant bacteria

The following practical in-home suggestions will also reduce your risk:

1. Avoid antibacterial household products such as antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and wipes, as these promote antibiotic resistance by allowing the strongest bacteria to survive and thrive in your home.

2. Properly wash your hands with warm water and plain soap, to prevent the spread of bacteria — Be particularly mindful of washing your hands and kitchen surfaces after handling raw meats, as about half of all meat sold in American grocery stores is likely to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Avoid antibiotic soaps that typically have dangerous chemicals like triclosan.

3. Take commonsense precautions in the kitchen — Kitchens are notorious breeding grounds for disease-causing bacteria, courtesy of contaminated meat products, including antibiotic-resistant strains of E-coli. To avoid cross-contamination between foods in your kitchen, adhere to the following recommendations:

Use a designated cutting board, preferably wood, not plastic, for raw meat and poultry, and never use this board for other food preparation, such as cutting up vegetables. Color coding your cutting boards is a simple way to distinguish between them.

To sanitize your cutting board, use hot water and detergent. Simply wiping it off with a rag will not destroy the bacteria. Coconut oil can be used to clean, treat and sanitize your wooden cutting boards. It's loaded with lauric acid that has potent antimicrobial actions. The fats will also help condition the wood.

For an inexpensive, safe and effective kitchen counter and cutting board sanitizer, use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Keep each liquid in a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one, followed by the other, and wipe off.

All Civilizations Collapse if They Depend on This

A society that builds its foundations on annual agriculture cannot survive, according to Mark Shepard, CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and founder of New Forest Farm, a 106-acre perennial “agricultural savanna.” In the video above, Shepard speaks to organic farmers not only about his farm but also why annual agriculture is doomed from the start.

In short, annuals — which include the grain crops and soy that make up most U.S. farmland — are chemical intensive and enemies of diversity. Eventually, Shepard says, the destruction caused by this type of shortsighted farming, i.e., annual monocropping, will cause the civilization that depends on it to collapse.

What’s needed, instead, are perennial ecosystems that “redesign agriculture in nature’s image.” In other words, as stated by Forest Agriculture Nursery’s restoration philosophy:1

“Annual monocropping produces nearly all of the grain, meat, vegetables and processed foods consumed today. These practices require giant machinery, tilling and the application of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, resulting in the eradication of biodiversity, the erosion of topsoil, and contributes 30 percent of global carbon emissions — more than from any other source.

Despite the massive human efforts applied to farming, we are woefully short of the inherent resilience, stability, and outright beauty of natural ecosystems. We need look no further than native ecosystems for a template of how to move forward from the many woes of annual monocropping.”

What’s the Cost of Corn and Other Annual Crops?

There’s now so much corn grown in the U.S. that the Corn Belt (typically said to include corn grown across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and parts of Nebraska and Kansas) can be seen from space, courtesy of satellite chlorophyll-sensors.2 Rather than corn being grown as a food source for humans, the two major consumers of corn are industrial in nature: concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and ethanol.

The first part of the devastation comes in making room for the vast swatches of monocrops, as valuable prairies are often turned under as a result. Since the early 1800s, grasslands in North America have decreased by 79 percent — and in some areas by 99.9 percent.3

Carbon erosion from the land and into the water and air is one result of this turn toward industrial agriculture and annual monocrops. The removal of forests that not only can sustain, but also regenerate our soils and solidify this fragile carbon balance is a major part of the problem, but so, too, is industrial agriculture, including the removal of grasslands to plant more corn.

Previous estimates suggest that one-third of the surplus carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stems from poor land-management processes that contribute to the loss of carbon, as carbon dioxide, from farmlands.4

A 2017 study revealed “hotspots of soil carbon loss, often associated with major cropping regions and degraded grazing lands” in the U.S. and suggested that such regions should be “targets for soil carbon restoration efforts.”5 Specifically, while deforestation is said to have resulted in 127 billion tons of carbon lost from the soil, the study found industrial agriculture has led to losses of 121 billion tons.

Annuals Are Dependent on Chemicals, Machinery and Tilling

While contributing to the loss of carbon from the soil, monocrops also add a number of harmful elements to the environment, namely pesticides, fertilizers and harmful farming practices like tilling. These are things that must be added yearly in order for the system to survive, and therein lies the problem.

Agricultural chemicals are polluting waterways, leading to toxic algae and red tide, while tilling can destroy the integrity of the soil structure while encouraging runoff. It’s a system based on degradation, rather than restoration. In an interview with Ethical Foods, Shepard explained:6

“Modern agriculture exists today because the native, natural ecosystem has been intentionally destroyed, and the existing perennial vegetative cover wiped out by tillage or herbicides. Most of agriculture today also relies on large fields of a single species of plant like corn, beans or rice.

These monocropped annual plant systems are the most at-risk for catastrophic outbreaks of pests and diseases because there are no natural controls. The ecosystem is gone, and we are left with an ecological wasteland that continues to degrade over time.

Soil fertility declines catastrophically and plant fertility has to be imported from elsewhere. Annual agriculture, whenever it has been used to provide the staple diet of any culture, has always led to ecosystem collapse and eventually societal collapse.”

Annual monocrops destroy the soil and the surrounding ecosystems, whereas regenerative agriculture rebuilds it, increasing soil organic matter and leading to a number of beneficial outcomes. For instance, soil organic matter is 50 percent carbon, so by rebuilding soil you’re putting carbon into the ground.

The importance of carbon sequestration simply cannot be overstated. Not only will it reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) load in the atmosphere, but once sequestered in the soil, the carbon actively nourishes soil health and improves water retention. What’s more, restorative agriculture systems like the one Shepard designed are self-sustaining.

“In a restoration agriculture system, annual tillage eventually ceases,” Shepard told Ethical Foods.7 “You plant the system once and it’s there for 1,000 years. I’ve personally touched hazelnut bushes in Spain that were 1,400 years old and I’ve visited the chestnut tree in Sicily that is 4,000 years old. Their perennialism has paid back their cost of establishment many thousands of times over.”

Monocrops Contribute to the Eradication of Biodiversity

The very definition of monoculture is a system of agriculture with very little diversity. It defines the wide swatches of corn and soy being grown across the U.S. and worldwide. A whopping 35 percent of cereal and soy harvested globally is actually fed to animals being raised on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).8

Because of the vast amounts of annual crops being grown for CAFO animal feed, conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) found that 60 percent of global biodiversity loss is due to meat-based diets straining resources.9 As further revealed by Stop the Machine, a global campaign aimed at relegating CAFOs to museums,10 even wildlife are affected.

For instance, there are only 15,000 jaguars left in the wild. Half of them live in Brazil, where grasslands and rainforests are increasingly being converted into soy plantations. Most of the soy is being grown to feed CAFO animals. “Agricultural intensification,” including pesticide usage, year-round tillage and increased use of fertilizers, has also been named as a plausible cause for why insect populations are declining.11

“Annual monoculture farming erodes the soil and depletes its natural fertility, all while destroying wildlife habitat, wild pollinators, birds and beneficial insects,” Shepard continued to Ethical Foods.12 Monarch butterflies are but one example, numbers of which have decreased by 90 percent since 1996.13

As usage of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) has skyrocketed, milkweed, which is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs, has plummeted. In 2013, it was estimated that just 1 percent of the common milkweed present in 1999 remained in corn and soybean fields and, tragically, while milkweed is not harmed by many herbicides, it is easily killed by glyphosate.14

Why Perennial Ecosystems Are Better

Shepard’s farm is centered on perennial foods like fruits grown on trees, nuts (hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts) and berries. Not exactly a “farm” but rather a perennial agricultural ecosystem, the design combines brushland, woodlands and oak savannah, a type of grassland that also includes oak trees, to create the type of environment that might naturally occur.

“Overall, the land attempts to mimic the oak savanna biome. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food, fuel, medicines and beauty,” according to New Forest Farm’s website.15

Shepard describes it as a three-dimensional system that includes “a tree canopy layer, a smaller tree subdominant tree layer, shrubs, vines, canes, shade tolerant plants, ephemeral plants, fungi forage and livestock”16 all of which work together to naturally increase biodiversity and soil fertility. Grazing animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens, are also part of the system, helping with grass, pest and brush control.

“Whether you call it Permaculture, Agroforestry, Eco-Agriculture, Agroecology, or Restoration Agriculture … ,” Shepard’s Forest Agriculture Nursery explained, “By intentionally designing and planting perennial ecosystems, we remove carbon dioxide from the air, provide habitat for wildlife, produce food, prevent soil erosion, and begin the creation of ecologically sustainable human habitats.”17

Allen Williams, Ph.D., a sixth-generation farmer and chief ranching officer for Joyce Farms, a well-known “grass fed guru,” also uses regenerative farming with great success. Williams’ Joyce Farms describes some of its noted benefits and principles as such:18

Build Soil Health — By farming without harsh chemicals and tilling, regenerative agriculture allows microbes in the soil to thrive. These microbes are essential for preventing runoff and nourishing plant growth. “Soil doesn’t work without microbes,” they say, as soil should be alive, not dead. “Dead soil cannot hold carbon, so it is released into the atmosphere as CO2.”

Diverse Cover Crops and Plant Life — Planting a diverse variety of plants increases microbial populations and organic matter in the soil, while also covering and protecting the earth. “By introducing a diverse variety of plants to the soil, the microbial population in the soil becomes stronger. With soil life, ecosystems thrive,” they say.

No Till — Tilling destroys soil structure and reduces soil organic matter while increasing weeds and the release of CO2.

No Chemical Inputs — The use of chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides kill off beneficial species, like pollinators, and pollute waterways with chemical runoff. It’s also a relatively recent practice that traditionally was not part of farming.

“For hundreds of years chemicals were not needed or used in farming because, sensibly, chemical inputs aren’t needed when you are working with (not against) the systems Mother Nature already has in place,” Joyce Farms explains.

Livestock Integration — Rather than housing livestock separately from other animals and crops, livestock is integrated into a symbiotic, complementary system that mimics the way nature works.

“The way we do this at Joyce Farms is by mimicking the dense herds of grazing ruminants that used to roam across America, grazing and trampling plants into the soil. This trampling provides an armor of plant life for the soil and feeds the soil microbes.”

Support Local Perennial Crop Farmers

Shephard recommends that those living in urban or suburban environments get involved by trying to imitate nature in their backyard, and if that’s not possible supporting local perennial crop farmers and buying more perennial foods like nuts, berries and tree fruits.19

Similar to my own dietary advice, Shepard also recommends avoiding annual grains in favor of grass fed meats, eggs and dairy, along with vegetables. By centering your diet around these foods, you get a diet of nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body while supporting the sustainable regenerative agriculture practices that create them.

Study: Microplastics Were in the Gut of Every Sea Turtle Tested

Every year, anywhere from 5 million to 12 million tons of plastic debris enter waterways worldwide, which equates to an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic.1 While some of this plastic is in the form of large debris like plastic bottles, six-pack rings and bags, much of it is in the form of tiny particles known as microplastics, which are less than 5 millimeters (mm) in size.

Microplastics can come from direct or “primary” sources, such as microbeads used in cosmetics or fibers used in clothing. They can also be secondary microplastics, meaning they’re the result of larger plastic items that have disintegrated due to exposure to waves, salt water, ultraviolet radiation and physical abrasion against shorelines.

Microplastics do not, unfortunately, simply disappear into the water. Their prevalence and abundance has made them one of the worst polluters in the oceans, with a variety of marine life ingesting the particles, either by intention or happenstance.

Sea Turtles Are Ingesting Microplastics

Research published in Global Change Biology revealed that microplastics are ubiquitous in sea turtles.2 Every turtle tested, which included 102 turtles from all seven marine turtle species from three ocean basins (Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific), contained the plastics, at varying levels.

Most abundant were plastic microfibers (most often blue or black in color), but fragments and microbeads were also detected, albeit in lesser quantities. Microfibers come from many sources, including shedding from synthetic fabrics, wear from automotive tires and degradation of cigarette filters and fishing nets and ropes.

Once in the water, turtles may be exposed via contaminated sea water and sediments. In the latter case, many sea turtles are known to feed along the ocean bottom, stirring up and ingesting sediment along with their prey.

They may also be exposed directly via their dietary sources. Microplastics can bind to seaweed electrostatically, for instance, while sponges, another turtle delicacy, also ingest microplastics.

In all, more than 800 particles were found by the researchers,3 but because the featured study only tested a small sample of the turtles’ gut content residue, it’s believed that their findings represent only minimum exposure levels to plastics.

“The total number of synthetic particles within the whole gut is likely to be the order of 20 times higher,” the researchers explained. “This suggests that the total levels of ingestion per individual (whole gut) may be higher in marine turtles than large marine mammals.”4

While microplastics don’t pose a risk of internal blockage the way larger plastics do, it’s likely that they affect marine animals on a more subtle, put potentially equally harmful, level. Microplastics may act like sponges for contaminants including heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or pathogens, for instance, or could cause harm on a cellular or subcellular level, the study noted.

Sea Turtle Hatchlings Threatened by Microplastics

While the Global Change Biology study authors did not believe microplastics would pose as grave a risk to sea turtles as ingestion of larger plastic debris, this may not be the case for post-hatchling sea turtles.

“They’re pretty nondiscriminatory with what they’re eating at this life stage. They eat whatever floats past them,” Samantha Clark, a veterinary technician at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) in Juno Beach, Florida, said in a news release.5 Clark cowrote a study that involved 96 post-hatchling sea turtles collected from the Atlantic coastline in Florida.6

Forty-five of the turtles were able to be rehabilitated and released, but 52 of the turtles died, allowing the researchers to analyze their gastrointestinal tracts, most of which contained visible pieces of plastic. Microplastics, larger mesoparticle plastics and even smaller nanoparticles were found in the turtles, with polyethylene and polypropylene the most common types of plastic detected.

“[I]ngestion of micronizing plastic by post-hatchling sea turtles is likely a substantial risk to survival of these endangered and threatened species,” the study concluded, with study coauthor Dr. Charles Manire, director of research and rehabilitation at LMC, adding, “It’s not a question of if they have it, it’s how much they have.”

He told global conservation news service Mongabay, “Twenty-five years ago we would occasionally see a little bit of plastic in some of the smallest turtles,” said Manire. “Now, essentially, 100 percent of them have it … Sea turtles tell us the health of the ocean. The ocean tells us the health of the planet.”7

Filter Feeders Also at Risk

Other marine life, including filter-feeding sharks, rays and baleen whales, are also being negatively affected by microplastics. Animals like these may swallow thousands of cubic meters of water daily in order to capture enough plankton to survive, and with it they’re exposed to whatever else may be lurking in the water.

Not only do filter feeders live in some of the most polluted waters on the planet, but their numbers are already threatened. Half of the species of mobulid rays, along with two-thirds of filter-feeding shark species and more than one-quarter of baleen whale species are listed as threatened species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).8

“Emerging research on these flagship species highlights potential exposure to microplastic contamination and plastic-associated toxins,” according to a study in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.9 Study author Elitza Germanov, researcher at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, told

“Despite the growing research on microplastics in the marine environment, there are only few studies that examine the effects on large filter feeders. We are still trying to understand the magnitude of the issue.

It has become clear though that microplastic contamination has the potential to further reduce the population numbers of these species, many of which are long-lived and have few offspring throughout their lives."

Are You Eating ‘Plastic’ Fish?

The Center for Biological Diversity noted that fish in the North Pacific are known to ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic every year, and, in a study of fish markets in California and Indonesia, one-quarter of the fish were found to have plastics in their guts.11

Plastics and other man-made debris was also found in 33 percent of shellfish sampled.12 What this means is that when you sit down to a seafood dinner, you’re probably eating plastic.

Writing in the journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, researchers noted, “The potential for humans, as top predators, to consume microplastics as contaminants in seafood is very real, and its implications for health need to be considered.”13

The fact is, fish aren’t eating microplastic only by mistake. The particles develop a biological covering of algae and other organic materials while they’re floating in the ocean. And that film makes them smell like food to marine life.

Anchovies, for instance, use odors to forage, and the smell of microplastic entices the fish to eat. Study author Matthew Savoca, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Guardian:14

“When plastic floats at sea its surface gets colonized by algae within days or weeks, a process known as biofouling. Previous research has shown that this algae produces and emits DMS, an algal based compound that certain marine animals use to find food.

[The research shows] plastic may be more deceptive to fish than previously thought. If plastic both looks and smells like food, it is more difficult for animals like fish to distinguish it as not food.”

There’s Probably Plastic in Your Sea Salt and Bottled Water, Too

Microplastics, including microfibers, are seemingly everywhere. For instance, they were also found to be the predominant type of microplastic found in beer, tap water and sea salt samples.

“Based on consumer guidelines, our results indicate the average person ingests over 5,800 particles of synthetic debris from these three sources annually, with the largest contribution coming from tap water (88 percent),” according to researchers in PLOS One.15

Another study revealed the average person may swallow an estimated 68,415 plastic fibers every year just from contaminated dust landing on their plate during meals.16 This is a much larger source of exposure than plastics from seafood such as shellfish, those researchers noted, stating, “The risk of plastic ingestion via mussel consumption is minimal when compared to fiber exposure during a meal via dust fallout in a household.”17

Other sources of microplastics that you probably come across daily include sea salt, as 90 percent of sea salt sold worldwide contains plastic microparticles; it’s estimated that people consume nearly 2,000 such particles a year in their sea salt alone.18 More than 90 percent of popular bottled water brands sampled also contained microplastics, which in some cases may be coming from the packaging and bottling process itself.19

That being said, 94 percent of U.S. tap water samples were also found to contain plastic,20 with microfibers again representing a major part of the problem. Even sewage sludge, which is applied as a fertilizer in industrial agriculture, is loaded with microfibers,21 which were found to cause changes in the soil, including altering the bulk density, water-holding capacity and microbial activity.

Are You Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

The magnitude of plastic used worldwide daily is mind-boggling, but you can make a dent by becoming conscious of the plastic you’re using daily — and cut back where you can. Some steps are easy, like swapping plastic bags, bottles, straws, utensils and food containers for more durable, reusable options.

Other steps may take more thought, like reconsidering what types of clothes to buy. A synthetic jacket (such as a fleece) may release up to 2.7 grams (0.095 ounces) of microfibers with each washing (that’s up to 250,000 microfibers). On average, such a garment releases 1.7 grams of microfibers, although older jackets released fibers at twice the rate.22

So one thing you can do to curb plastics pollution is to wash your fleece and microfiber clothing less often, and when you do use a gentle cycle to reduce the number of fibers released. There are also products on the market that catch laundry fibers in your washing machine to help curb pollution.

Special coatings may also help to stop the loss of microfibers during washing, but the apparel industry has been slow to respond in taking steps to stop microfiber pollution.23 You can also consider what your clothing is made out of. In a comparison of acrylic, polyester and a polyester-cotton blend, acrylic was the worst, shedding microfibers up to four times faster than the polyester-cotton blend.24

Ultimately, however, plastic pollution needs to be curbed at its source. Rivers, being a major source of transport of plastic into oceans, should be a major focus of cleanup and prevention efforts. In fact, 95 percent of the riverborne plastic flowing into the ocean comes from just 10 rivers.25

Martin Wagner, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) department of biology, believes that focusing on removing plastic from the ocean is a shortsighted solution because in order to stop it in the long run, it has to be traced back to its source, which in most cases is land and the rivers that transport it.26

Can Drinking Okra Water Help Fight Diabetes?

According to research, extracts from okra could help offset damage done by oxidative stress and insulin resistance, and simultaneously improve your blood glucose levels. Those results were attained when scientists tested okra extracts on pregnant rats with induced gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

During the featured study on rats from 2015,1 scientists found okra extract exerted potential antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. The okra was also associated with reduced damage to pancreatic tissues. In a recent study,2 researchers concluded that okra may improve glucose homeostasis and β-cell (beta cells that produce, store and release insulin3) impairment in diabetes.

Okra, you may know, is a vegetable known as a favorite in the American south for dishes like Creole-style gumbo. The Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) plant, also known as Hibiscus esculentus (being related to the hibiscus plant, as well as cotton), is also called lady fingers because it produces several tapering, pentagon-shaped, fuzzy pods with pointed tips and lots of compartmentalized seeds.4

As an ancient, flowering plant with origins all over the world, okra has several more names: gombo, bamia or bamya in France; bhindi in India, quibombo in Spain and simply "bamies" in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It was probably brought to the Southern U.S. by slaves from West Africa, who often used it to thicken soups.5 In fact, this plant does require balmy temperatures to thrive.

The seedpods are the part of the plant with the most gastronomical interest. As Cooking Channel TV maintains, they can be barbecued, pickled, skewered and grilled, or sautéed. It doesn't have to be doused in canola or some other "vegetable" oil, coated with flour and deep-fried; you can use healthy ingredients:

"Gumbo is nothing without the okra that breaks down and helps thicken the stew … Okra is often paired with acidic flavors like lemon juice or tomatoes to balance out the earthy, woody flavors … Yankee Okra, or okra sautéed in olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper, thyme and basil, pairs the flavors you know and love with an ingredient that you will soon be familiarizing yourself with."6

Okra water is a form of this vegetable that has emerged recently, and it's gained more interest since it may improve your blood sugar levels. To make okra into a drink, the pods are soaked for several hours or overnight, during which time the skin and seeds will be absorbed into the liquid. Another way is to slice the pods thinly before soaking them, but the resulting beverage may be slightly bitter. Just remember the benefits!

Okra May Benefit Diabetes, Lower Blood Sugar Levels

According to the study,7 "Therapeutic Effect of Okra Extract on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Rats Induced by Streptozotocin," scientists divided 30 rats into three groups: those with GDM, an intervention group and a control group.

Once the model was established successfully, the study notes,8 200 mg of okra extract was given (orally) to the rats in the intervention group, while the other two groups received only the okra solution and water.

To be precise, it wasn't extracts from okra alone that scientists used, but an okra solution similar to that used in other studies. A study in 2011, for instance, tested okra's ability to prevent liver damage.9 Shade-dried okra pods were "coarsely powdered and macerated," then placed in 3 liters of 96 percent ethanol for 72 hours before being "suspended" in distilled water (which does not dissolve it) before being given to the rats.

At the conclusion, the study authors wrote that due at least in part to the antioxidant substances in okra, the rats' oxidative stress and insulin suppression was decreased, and along with it their blood glucose levels.

Previous studies have found similar results, including a 2005 study published in the journal Planta Medica,10 in which scientists purified a chemical called myricetin, an antioxidant flavonoid found in okra, and gave it to rats via IV. The result was that the rodents' muscles were more readily able to absorb glucose, which consequently lowered their blood sugar levels.

It appears okra may support the function of insulin and has even been deemed a potential adjuvant therapy for treating diabetes, whether consumed as a nutraceutical or vegetable.11

Diseases and Disorders Okra — in any Form — May Improve

A 2018 study12 asserts that okra could improve metabolic complications, and if it has a beneficial effect on the pancreas in rats, benefits may translate to humans, as well.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are the most common endocrine-based metabolic diseases, characterized by hyperglycemia and impaired insulin resistance. Causes are complex and often interrelated, and include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating high amounts of processed foods, which typically contain sugar, grains and unhealthy fats
  • Genetic predisposition

While okra alone may not cure diabetes, studies show there is evidence that it helps. Several beneficial nutrients in okra have a positive effect on several other problems, as well:13

  • Potassium — Helps optimize your nerve impulses, digestion, blood pressure, heart rhythm and pH balance
  • Vitamin B — While there are different types, in okra it's specifically B1, or thiamin, which imparts neurological benefits; B2, or riboflavin, which helps maintain sharp vision; and B6, aka pyridoxine, helps babies' brains develop properly and helps convert food to energy
  • Vitamin C — Can reduce both the duration and severity of the common cold14
  • Folic acid — Makes and repairs your DNA and produces red blood cells, and is important for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age as a deficiency can lead to birth defects, such as spina bifida15
  • Calcium — A mineral crucial for bone health, but vitamin D is also needed to help absorb it. Additionally, it plays a role in muscle contraction, blood clotting and cell membrane function

The Nutrient Compounds Behind Okra's Health Benefits

The featured study isn't the only one that's revealed remarkable health benefits of okra consumption. Research on okra may be in the early stages, but as it turns out, the relatively meager information already out there supports what other researchers have discovered in the past decade or so.

For instance, a study in 2011 highlights the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of okra peel and seed powder in diabetic rats.16 Okra seeds have also been used in Turkey for lowering blood sugar levels,17 which further casts this humble veggie in a very good light by listing the science behind many of its health benefits.

The peel is one of the most popular okra parts used to get the medicinal qualities from this little pod. It can be shredded using a lemon zester or grate, and one-half teaspoon is recommended as sufficient to get the desired benefits. Grinding the seeds after drying them is another method, and simply adding them to your smoothie or protein drink is another. Seeds can be purchased either from a health food store or ordered online.

Besides being rich in dietary fiber, which helps keep your system moving smoothly and efficiently and can both cut hunger cravings and keep you fuller longer, there are other key reasons why eating okra can help with any of the above.

Another study indicates that lowered recovery times after a workout and improved energy levels are a few of the benefits of eating okra. As it happens, okra has a particularly high set of nutrients that fight fatigue, one of them being the antioxidants. The seeds in particular contain polysaccharides, polyphenols and several flavonoids, all of which are important in your diet to battle fatigue. The study notes that:18

"Fatigue is becoming a more and more common symptom in normal humans with the increasing pace of modern life. Large community surveys have showed that more than half of the adult population complains about fatigue. Long-term accumulated or chronic fatigue not only lowers the quality of life, but also leads to chronic-fatigue syndrome and other organic illnesses."

Glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase also increased dramatically, but the study noted that the polyphenols in the seeds are about 24 times as much as those in the skins, but the content of polysaccharides in the seeds is much lower compared to the skins.

While okra consumption has been shown to block the absorption of the drug Metformin, prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels, you may want to talk to your doctor about the benefits of adding okra to your diet.

From the clinical evidence, the upshot may be that eating whole okra pod, prepared your favorite way, may contribute to a more active and consequently healthier lifestyle overall. And even if you're not a fan of using it in your cooking, simply making and drinking okra water can be beneficial too.

Weekly Health Quiz: Cholesterol and Life Expectancy

1 For optimal health and prevention of cardiovascular disease and neurological degeneration, you'll want to maintain the following ratio of omega-3 to omega-6:

  • 1-to-18
  • 1-to-3

    While omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect, the omega-6 found in seed oils tend to be proinflammatory. Maintaining a healthy 1-to-3 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is important, as chronic low-grade inflammation is a hallmark of most chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Learn more.

  • 1-to-6
  • 1-to-1

2 Which of the following is more likely to kill a person than being unvaccinated and contracting the childhood diseases rubella, mumps or rotavirus in childhood?

  • Slipping in the shower
  • A lightning strike
  • Choking on food
  • All of the above

    Before vaccines became available and were routinely used, the annual death toll in the U.S. from rubella was 17 to 24, rotavirus 20 to 30 and mumps 39 to 50. For comparison, each year 100 people die from being struck by lightning, 200 die from choking on food, 350 die from slip and fall accidents in the bath or shower. Learn more.

3 The most significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease is:

  • High total cholesterol
  • High LDL
  • High HDL
  • Insulin resistance

    The most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease are insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and the chronic inflammation associated with these conditions. Learn more.

4 The reduction in life expectancy in the U.S. over the past three years is primarily driven by rising rates of:

  • Drug overdoses and suicide

    The drop in life expectancy in the U.S. during 2015, 2016 and 2017 is being attributed to a combination of still-increasing drug overdoses — especially from fentanyl — and a 3.7 percent rise in suicides. Learn more.

  • Automobile accidents and gun violence
  • "Acts of God" such as hurricanes, fires and landslides
  • Climate-driven infectious diseases

5 Which of the following global health crises is the leading cause of disability and chronic illness worldwide?

  • Infectious diseases
  • Obesity

    Obesity has become a greater global health crisis than hunger, and is the leading cause of disability and chronic illness around the world. On average, people are plagued by obesity-related pain and illness during the last 14 years of life. Learn more.

  • Hunger
  • Back pain

6 The suspected cause behind the skyrocketing global rates of macular degeneration, a disease that was virtually nonexistent more than a century ago, is thought to be tied to:

  • Lack of sufficient beta-carotene intake
  • Family history and genetics
  • Increased consumption of processed food

    Given the reality macular degeneration has gone from being an extremely rare disorder more than a century ago to one that is found at increasingly alarming rates in developed countries around the world, Knobbe points to higher intakes of processed food — not aging or genetics — as the root cause. Learn more.

  • Overexposure to artificial lighting

7 The following diet has been scientifically shown to impede tumor growth and lower inflammation, significantly reducing your chances of developing cancer:

  • Atkins diet
  • DASH (low-salt) diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Ketogenic diet

    Ketogenic diets promote healthy mitochondrial function and respiration, reduce tumor vascularity and inflammation, and enhance tumor cell death. Learn more.

Protein in Royal Jelly Shows Promise in the Facilitation of Stem Cell Research

Aside from being vital pollinators, bees produce a number of products that benefit human health. Honey1 is an obvious one, but there are others as well, such as royal jelly, a nutritious substance secreted by nurse bees as exclusive nourishment for the queen of the hive.

Recent research2,3,4,5 by Stanford University scientists found royalactin (also known as major royal jelly protein 1, or MRJP1), a protein found in royal jelly responsible for the queen's massive growth, has the ability to keep embryonic stem cells pluripotent.

This initial finding could eventually lead to the development of drugs to boost stem cells in the human body, allowing for the regeneration of healthy tissue in damaged organs, be it your heart, eyes, skin or spinal cord.

They also identified a protein with similar qualities found in mammals, which they dubbed Regina — a nod to the queen bee for which royalactin is made — which like royalactin allows embryonic stem cells to maintain their naïve state. According to the authors:

"This reveals an important innate program for stem cell self-renewal with broad implications in understanding the molecular regulation of stem cell fate across species."

Researchers Discover Innate Program for Stem Cell Self-Renewal

Embryonic stem cells are the product of the initial meeting of egg and sperm. Three days after fertilization of the egg, an inner cell mass can be isolated, and these are the embryonic stem cells that, if left alone, will grow into a fetus.

Stem cells are pluripotential, meaning that they have the ability to turn into any and every type of tissue to form an entire being, be it animal or human. Adult stem cells, in contrast, are multipotential, meaning they only have the ability to form subsets of tissue.

The problem researchers have is that embryonic stem cells have a tendency to differentiate into mature tissue cells of various kinds when grown in the lab, and in order to use the stem cells for research and/or therapies, they must be kept in their "naïve" state long enough. As explained by New Atlas:6

"With the ability to differentiate into all kinds of cells that serve specialized functions, like muscle cells, red blood cells or brain cells, embryonic stem cells have incredible potential. But growing them in the laboratory is difficult, because their natural inclination is to quickly outgrow their pluripotent state and become something else.

To preserve that pluripotency, scientists must add special molecules to the culture that inhibit that behavior. Wang and his team found that by adding royalactin instead, they could stop the embryonic stem cells from differentiating just as well.

In fact, they found that they were able to maintain the cells in their embryonic state for up to 20 generations in culture without the need for inhibitors."

This was a complete surprise. Normally, scientists must use leukemia inhibitor factor to prevent the embryonic stem cells from differentiating when grown in culture. What they discovered is that royalactin performed the same function. The question is: How?

Royalactin-Like Protein in Mammals Inhibit Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation

Mammals do not produce the royalactin protein, yet the royalactin activated a network of genes known to code proteins that allow the embryonic stem cells to maintain their pluripotency. To find the answer, the researchers searched scientific databases to identify human proteins with structures similar to that of royalactin.

What they found was a protein known as NHL repeat-containing-3 protein or NHLRC3, produced during the development of the mammalian (including human) embryo. They then duplicated the mouse experiment using NHLRC3, which was found to trigger a similar gene network as royalactin.

The end result was the same — the embryonic stem cells maintained their pluripotency in culture. Kevin Wang, assistant professor of dermatology and lead author of the study, commented on the results, saying:7

"It's fascinating. Our experiments imply Regina is an important molecule governing pluripotency and the production of progenitor cells that give rise to the tissues of the embryo. We've connected something mythical to something real."

Next, Wang and his team will investigate whether Regina — the mammalian equivalent of royalactin — has the ability to affect cell regeneration and wound healing in adult animals. And, as reported by New Atlas:8

"It could be used as another way to keep embryonic stem cells pluripotent in the lab, and could one day lead to the development of synthetic versions that deliver stocks of stem cells in the human body.

[T]hose kinds of drugs could be used for all kinds of things, from generating healthy tissue for damaged hearts, degenerating eyes, injured spinal cords and severe burns."

What Is Royal Jelly and How Is It Made?

Royal jelly is a gelatinous, milky substance secreted by the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker honeybees between the sixth and twelfth days of their life,9 and is an essential food for the development of the queen bee. It's a complex substance containing proteins (12 to 15 percent), sugars (10 to 12 percent), fat lipids (3 to 7 percent), along with a variety of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.10

Compared with the short-lived and infertile worker bees, the queen bee, which is exclusively fed royal jelly, is characterized by her extended lifespan and her well-developed gonads. Therefore, royal jelly has been long-used as a supplement for nutrition, antiaging or infertility.

The larva selected to become queen is fed royal jelly exclusively, while the rest of the larva receive royal jelly along with pollen and honey. Research11,12 reveals this exclusive royal jelly diet activates certain genes in the queen bee, allowing her to grow much larger and become such a prolific egg layer. The honey and beebread fed to worker bee larvae contains p-coumaric acid, and it's the presence or absence of p-coumaric acid that determines the caste of the bee.

Larvae fed royal jelly to which p-coumaric acid had been added produced adults with reduced ovary development. "Thus, consuming royal jelly exclusively not only enriches the diet of the queen-destined larvae, but also may protect them from inhibitory effects of phytochemicals present in the honey and beebread fed to worker-destined larvae," the researchers explain.13

Health Benefits of Royal Jelly

Folklore in Europe and Asia has it that royal jelly is a powerful rejuvenator capable of boosting longevity and fertility. It's also been used to promote hair growth and minimize wrinkles. In Chinese medicine, royal jelly is revered as a substance that helps increase life expectancy, prevent disease and restore youth.

The fact that the protein Regina in mammals and humans appears to work like royalactin in royal jelly could possibly account for some of these benefits. Royal jelly also has antimicrobial benefits, courtesy of bee defensin-1, an antimicrobial peptide found in it. Because of components such as these, it's fair to assume that royal jelly is in fact beneficial for humans.

That said, the idea that consuming royal jelly might somehow affect your stem cells is probably taking things too far. There's no evidence of that — only that royalactin allows mammalian embryonic stem cells in an undifferentiated state in a lab environment.

Also keep in mind that it's difficult to ensure potency and quality of royal jelly products on the market. Toxicology tests suggest most if not all honeys, for example, are tainted with the herbicide glyphosate, and the bee population has taken a hit around the world due to various pesticide exposures. If the bees have toxins in them, it's feasible their royal jelly might be contaminated as well.

Still, the research was conducted by a very prestigious institution and published in a respectable journal, and they seem to believe there are possibilities here. Just realize that the focus is on Regina, the mammalian protein equivalent of royalactin, and not on royal jelly itself.

Health Benefits of Bee Propolis

Propolis is yet another bee product with health benefits, including immune-boosting properties and strengthening your body's defenses against bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing organisms.

Propolis is used by bees to close openings in their beehives, which is why it is also referred to as "bee glue." The materials are usually taken from leaves, bark, flower buds and other plant parts. These are then combined with bee saliva, wax and pollen, which are then adhered to the hive holes.

Studies suggest propolis also protects the bees from bacterial infections and possible external elements that may endanger the whole colony. In some cases, propolis may also be used to encase the carcasses of hive intruders to stop bacteria from spreading.14

Propolis has been used for years in folk medicine because of its proposed effect on various body systems, dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

In fact, Hippocrates notes that propolis is beneficial for promoting wound healing, both internal and external, while Pliny the Elder documents that propolis may be used to treat tumors, muscle pain and ulcers. This bee product was also documented in the Persian manuscripts as a remedy for various conditions, including eczema and rheumatism.15

Today, propolis is used in a wide variety of skin care products, including creams and extracts to promote wound healing and ease various types of infections. It is also available as a supplement, with people taking it on a regular basis to boost their immune system function.16

Another Bee Product, Propolis Has Flavonol With Health Benefits

Research also suggests a flavanol in propolis called galangin has anticancer effects on several cancers, including melanoma, hepatoma, leukemia and colon cancer.

In one such study,17 galangin was found to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in two types of colon cancer cells (HCT-15 and HT-29 specifically), and that the effect killed the cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. According to the authors:

"We also determined that galangin increased the activation of caspase-3 and -9, and release of apoptosis inducing factor from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm by Western blot analysis.

In addition, galangin induced human colon cancer cell death through the alteration of mitochondria membrane potential and dysfunction. These results suggest that galangin induces apoptosis of HCT-15 and HT-29 human colon cancer cells and may prove useful in the development of therapeutic agents for human colon cancer."

Galangin has also been shown to inhibit inflammation by regulating the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), PI3K/Akt and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPAR γ) signaling in activated microglia in the brain and thus should improve or prevent Alzheimer's.18 Additionally, galangin reduces insulin resistance by increasing the activity of hexokinase and pyruvate kinase, promoting glucose consumption and glycogen synthesis.19

Royal Jelly May Be Beneficial for Health, But Don't Expect Miracles

In summary, while royal jelly has a number of health benefits, it's premature to assume it can affect your stem cells directly. A number of studies done on royal jelly have focused on its potential effects on cancer, fertility and its role in testosterone production.

In one study,20 infertile men were given different dosages of royal jelly and honey to increase the production of testosterone. After three months, those given royal jelly had higher testosterone levels, improved sperm active motility and luteinizing hormone levels, thus showing the potential impact royal jelly can have on infertility in men.

In another study,21 royal jelly was found to reduce symptoms of mucositis in patients suffering from neck and head cancer. Mucositis refers to the inflammation of the digestive tract brought on by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients who were given royal jelly thrice a day showed a decreased occurrence of mucositis.

A recent study22 published in an obscure Chinese journal also suggests royal jelly has an antisenescence effect on human lung fibroblasts in cell cultures. Other studies have found royal jelly supplementation can improve menopausal symptoms23 and Type 2 diabetes outcomes.24,25

How to Identify a Quality Product

So, provided you can find a high-quality product (which can be expensive), it could be a valuable supplement in some instances. In terms of what to look for when shopping for a royal jelly product, here are a few pointers:

  • Fresh royal jelly is ideal if you can find it, but lyophilized royal jelly is also a good and more convenient option
  • To assess quality, look for 10-hydroxydecanoic acid (10-HDA) content. Most companies that care about quality will test their royal jelly for this. For fresh royal jelly the typical range is ~1.5 to 2.3 percent. For lyophilized royal jelly, it is ~4.5 to 6.6 percent
  • Look for organic royal jelly as it is less likely to contain antibiotics or be adulterated

Essential Oils — Highly Effective at Destroying Lyme Bacterium

Lab-based research conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health suggests various essential oils, including garlic, can effectively kill persistent forms of Lyme disease bacterium. While clinical trials are needed to validate the lab-based results, this is good news for anyone who had previously been relying on antibiotics alone to treat this life-threatening, tick-based disease.

Notably, 10 of the 35 essential oils tested showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing "persister" forms of Lyme disease bacterium.1

If you are struggling with Lyme disease, I encourage you to look beyond conventional treatment, which often focuses on the use of long-term antibiotics. You owe it to yourself to investigate essential oils and other natural solutions, which I highlight below.

Essential Oils Shown To Be Effective for Treating Lyme Disease

As presented in the featured video, a new study published in the journal Antibiotics2 suggests essential oils such as garlic and eucalyptus may be useful in treating Lyme disease.

Interested in the oils’ strong antibacterial properties and many other health benefits, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health conducted lab tests designed to treat Lyme bacterium with 35 essential oils.

Previously, lead study author Dr. Ying Zhang, professor in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology, and his colleagues identified five essential oils, including oregano, cinnamon bark and citronella, that have higher antipersister activity than the commonly used Lyme antibiotic drug daptomycin.3 Results of the current research revealed:4,5,6

  • Ten of the 35 essential oils that were tested showed "strong activity" against persister forms of Lyme disease bacterium
  • Essential oils derived from allspice berries, cinnamon bark, cumin seeds, eucalyptus, garlic cloves, myrrh trees and thyme leaves are among those found to effectively combat persister forms of Lyme disease
  • Five of these oils were effective against dormant forms of the Lyme bacterium in a concentration of only 1 part per 1,000
  • Essential oils from allspice berries, garlic, may chang trees, myrrh trees and spiked ginger lily not only eradicated all Lyme disease bacteria in seven days, but also prevented regrowth in 21 days

About the study outcomes, Zhang stated, "We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the 'persister' forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics. At this stage, these essential oils look very promising as candidate treatments for persistent Lyme infection, but ultimately we need properly designed clinical trials.”7

Given the study outcomes, essential oils are certainly worth consideration when it comes to addressing Lyme symptoms. Later in this article, I will share other natural remedies you may want to consider. For now, let’s take a closer look at what causes the disease and how it is most commonly contracted.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete — a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is primarily transmitted by deer ticks and black-legged ticks found in grassy and wooded areas throughout the U.S. and at least 60 other countries.8

Lyme is sometimes accompanied by a characteristic bullseye rash and may include flu-like symptoms such as: body aches, fatigue, fever, headaches and stiff or swollen joints.

As I have often mentioned, early treatment is vital because it may help you avoid future complications such as chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), cognitive defects, heart rhythm irregularities and neurological symptoms.

Quite often, Lyme disease can be complicated by factors such as coinfections, nutrient deficiencies and toxin overload.9 provides the following facts about the disease:10

  • Most people contract Lyme from the bite of an immature tick — and the bite is often so tiny and painless, you may not realize you’ve been bitten
  • An undisturbed tick can feed for several days; the longer it is attached to your body, the greater the chances it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream
  • Lyme, which is known as “The Great Imitator,” is very challenging to diagnose because its symptoms mimic conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis
  • Lyme disease can affect any organ of your body, including your brain and nervous system, muscles and joints and even your heart

Who Gets Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is no respecter of persons and one bite from a tick the size of a poppy seed may be the only thing separating you from this devastating illness. At least 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually.11

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease cases are mainly concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 American states accounting for more than 96 percent of the cases reported to the CDC.12

The people at greatest risk of picking up a Lyme-infected tick include children and older adults, as well as firefighters, park rangers and others who spend time in areas known to increase their exposure to ticks.13

Antibiotic Treatment for Lyme Disease Is Not Always Effective

In most cases, the first line of treatment for Lyme disease usually involves the administration of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime or doxycycline for two to four weeks. That said, antibiotics are not always effective. It’s also important to note that the overuse of these drugs contributes to antibiotic resistance, which is becoming an increasingly bigger issue worldwide.

A 2013 study suggested 36 percent of antibiotic-treated patients continued to suffer from fatigue six months after taking the medication, whereas 20 percent experienced ongoing joint or musculoskeletal pain and 45 percent dealt with persistent neurocognitive symptoms.14

This poorly understood condition that lingers after standard treatment has been completed is known as "persistent Lyme infection" or “post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLDS) syndrome.”15 While the cause of so-called persistent Lyme infection is unknown, experts have observed that the Lyme bacterium can enter a dormant stage in which its cells multiply very slowly or don’t divide at all.

As such, these so-called persister cells are known to be more resistant to antibiotics. About this aspect of Lyme disease, authors of the Johns Hopkins study stated:16

“We found that the variant persister forms such as round bodies, microcolonies and biofilms with increasing degree of persistence in vitro, cannot be killed by the current Lyme antibiotics or even persister drugs like daptomycin alone. [T]hey can only be killed by a combination of drugs that kill persisters and drugs that kill the growing forms.

These observations provide a possible explanation in support of persistent infection despite antibiotic treatment in vivo.

Although daptomycin has good antipersister activity, it is expensive and is an intravenous drug and difficult to administer and adopt in clinical setting, and it has limited penetration through blood brain barrier (BBB). Thus, there is interest to identify alternative drug candidates with high anti-persister activity.”

Natural Strategies to Fight Lyme Disease

As mentioned, conventional Lyme treatment usually focuses on antibiotics, which often stop short of addressing the underlying issues associated with the disease. Due to the damage it will do to your gut microbiome, I do not recommend long-term antibiotic use for Lyme.

The use of antibiotics also increases your risk of fungal or yeast infections. Moreover, antibiotics tax your natural immune function and increase your risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Rather than choose antibiotic therapy as your primary means of treating Lyme, you’d be wise to investigate the many natural alternatives first, or, at least use the natural remedies in concert with any recommended pharmaceutical medications. You may find the following nutritional supplements useful in addressing Lyme disease:

Andrographis and artemisinin — herbs that treat a Lyme coinfection called Babesia

Krill oil — this omega-3 powerhouse helps reduce inflammation and relieve Lyme symptoms

Astaxanthin — a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes toxins and relieves joint pain

Probiotics — promotes healthy gut flora and boosts your immunity

Cilantro — a natural chelator for heavy metals

Quercetin — an antioxidant known to reduce histamine, which is usually high in Lyme patients

CoQ10 — a potent antioxidant that alleviates muscle pain, boosts cardiac health and reduces brain fog

Resveratrol — this antioxidant helps with detoxification and may treat the common coinfection called Bartonella

Curcumin — the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which eliminates neurological toxins and helps reduce brain swelling

Serrapeptase helps dissolve biofilms

GABA and melatonin — two great sleep supplements that will help address insomnia, a common complaint of Lyme sufferers

Transfer factors — help boost your immune function

Grapefruit seed extract — known to kill bacteria, Candida and parasites and may help treat the Borrelia bacterium in cyst form

Whey protein concentrate — may be useful as a dietary supplement

Lumbrokinase Also Shown to Help Treat Lyme

Beyond the natural remedies mentioned above, lumbrokinase, a group of six proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes derived from earthworms, has been successfully paired with antimicrobial remedies for the treatment of Lyme disease.

Lumbrokinase is believed to effectively penetrate through thick clumps of gut bacteria known as biofilms, which are one of several factors involved with Lyme. When pathogenic bacteria hide within biofilms, they can feed and replicate out of the reach of your immune system.

As such, they remain strong and unaffected by any antimicrobial medications, including antibiotics and herbs, you may be taking. The fact lumbrokinase is helpful in breaking down fibrinogen is an important aspect of Lyme treatment because the pathogenic bacteria use fibrinogen, which they convert to fibrin, to strengthen their network.17

Researchers studying the effects of lumbrokinase18 say earthworms have been used for thousands of years within traditional medicine in Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. In these countries, dry earthworm powder taken orally has been shown to promote healthy blood circulation. 

Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, a functional, integrative and holistic medicine specialist from Thousand Oaks, California, and creator of the Lyme People website, suggests lumbrokinase, “appears to assist in dissolving the excess fibrin that covers and hides the bacteria, is involved in the regulation of blood clotting and also eliminates the abnormal proteins that are released as a result of the bacteria’s activity.”19

You May Want to Try Klinghardt Academy’s Lyme Treatment Protocol

My mentor Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, founder of the Klinghardt Academy in Woodinville, Washington, is one of the leading authorities on the treatment of Lyme disease. Having been used successfully to restore health to hundreds of patients, his Lyme disease treatment protocol is most definitely something you should check out, especially if you have been unable to get the help you need elsewhere.

Be Vigilant: Preventing Lyme Disease Is Your Best Option

Lyme disease is a complex, controversial and extremely challenging condition to treat, making prevention your safest and best option. Your first line of defense is to take precautions to avoid the ticks that transmit the disease. After all, no tick bites, no Lyme disease. Because the ticks can be as small as poppy seeds, you must be vigilant to safeguard yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Whatever you do, do not spray your body or your clothes with insect repellant containing N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. Because DEET is a known neurotoxin,20 I recommend avoiding all DEET-containing products. If you live or spend time in a high-risk area, you can protect yourself from tick bites by:21,22

  • Avoiding tick-infested areas such as densely wooded areas and always walk in the middle of trails to avoid brushing against tall grasses and other plant material that may house ticks
  • Looking for ticks on your body and hair immediately upon returning from a high-risk area and continuing to check your body, hair and bedding daily for several days afterward
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants, as well as closed shoes and a hat, when venturing into wooded areas
  • Checking your pets for ticks, which can latch onto collars and fur
  • Removing ticks properly and, if possible, keeping them alive; for detailed instructions on handling ticks, visit the tick removal page

Why Cancer Needs To Be Treated as a Metabolic Disease

In the featured podcast, Dr. Peter Attia interviews professor Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., recipient of our Game Changer Award in 2016 for his work on cancer as a metabolic disease, which is also the title of Seyfried's book1 on this topic. His work is also heavily featured in Travis Christofferson's excellent book, "Tripping Over the Truth: The Metabolic Theory of Cancer."

The actual podcast can be heard on Dr. Attia's site

Seyfried, in my view, is simply the best cancer biologist in the world. The featured interview2 goes into great technical detail that can be challenging for some, but if you're interested in understanding the mechanics of cancer, I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it in its entirety, especially toward the end.

Without a doubt, it is one of the finest detailed discussions about why cancer cells grow and how conventional medicine has it mostly wrong when it comes to treatment, especially radiation and chemo. Without a doubt, it is one of the best interviews Seyfried has ever done. Although Attia is a Harvard trained physician with oncology training, he frequently disagrees with Seyfried, who schools him in the basics.

I have listened to the entire interview twice and learned even more the second time. Now I have a fairly good background on this topic so if you are new to it and have a loved one who needs this information you may need to listen a few times. Toward the end of the interview Seyfried gets into some very important principles in cancer treatment, such as:

  • Being careful to avoid biopsies if at all possible as they are strongly related to allowing the cancer to metastasize.
  • Surgical therapy can be a useful intervention but it should be delayed as long as possible while the patient is on metabolic therapy so the tumor will shrink and allow the margins to be more well defined so it can be removed more easily.
  • Avoid radiation and chemotherapy at all costs as they typically impair the immune system that is ultimately responsible for resolving the tumor.
  • More than 1,600 people die from cancer every DAY in the U.S., but 8,100 die from cancer every day in China, where the problem is far worse. Remember these are deaths per day, not cancer diagnosis.
  • It is vital to understand that more people die from cancer treatment than the cancer itself.

Introduction to Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

The established dogma that cancer is a genetic disease currently rules everything, from the research that receives funding to the treatment you can expect from an oncologist. Indeed, this dogma is what fuels the entire cancer industry. Unfortunately, it's not leading to any significant breakthroughs in treatment, let alone prevention.

Seyfried and others have been able to advance the theory that cancer is primarily the result of defective energy metabolism in and damage to the cells' mitochondria. Simply put, genetic mutations are not the primary cause of cancer but are rather a downstream effect of the defective energy metabolism. As long as your mitochondria remain healthy and functional, your chances of developing cancer are actually slim.

According to Seyfried, while it's still poorly understood how a ketogenic diet works to subdue epileptic seizures, the mechanism of action on cancer cells is really clear, and is based on the pioneering findings of Dr. Otto Warburg, a classically trained biochemist who in 1931 received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme cytochrome C oxidase.3

Warburg's work shows how cells obtain energy from respiration, and how cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells (see section on Warburg Effect below).

Following in Warburg's footsteps, research by Seyfried and others show that cancer is primarily a metabolic disease involving disturbances in energy production through respiration and fermentation in the cells. Studies have actually shown that cancer is suppressed when the nucleus from a tumor cell is transferred to cytoplasm of normal cells with normal mitochondria.

What this tells us is that normal mitochondria suppress cancer growth, and in order for cancer cells to proliferate, you must have dysfunctional mitochondria.

Seyfried's research has shown that cancer growth and progression can be managed following a whole-body transition from fermentable metabolites, such as glucose and glutamine, to respiratory metabolites, primarily ketone bodies that are formed when you follow a ketogenic diet. This transition reduces tumor vascularity and inflammation while enhancing tumor cell death.

cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease

Source: Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

The Warburg Effect

Warburg discovered that even in the presence of oxygen, cancer cells derive energy from the ancient process of anaerobic fermentation (sometimes called glycolysis), which causes an overproduction of lactic acid. This is known as the Warburg Effect:

  • Aerobically, in the mitochondria
  • Anaerobically, in the cytoplasm, which generates lactic acid, a toxic byproduct in high concentrations

Aerobic respiration is far more efficient, capable of generating more than 30 times more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) than anaerobic energy generation. As explained in the featured interview, normal, healthy cells will produce very minimal amounts of lactic acid in the presence of oxygen. Cancer cells, on the other hand, behave very differently.

Cancer cells continue to produce massive amounts of lactic acid, even in a 100-percent oxygen environment, which caused Warburg to conclude that the primary cause of cancer is that the respiratory system of cancer cells is defective, causing the cells to revert from healthy aerobic energy generation to unhealthy anaerobic fermentation. You can read Warburg's 1956 paper4 "On the Origin of Cancer Cells" here.

Please note that respiratory system in this context does not refer to the lungs but rather to the processing of oxygen from the lungs in the electron transport chain of the mitochondria that ultimately passes the electrons from your food to oxygen to create water and ATP.

So, in a nutshell, what Warburg discovered is that cancer cells have dysfunctional mitochondria — hence the claim that cancer is a metabolic disease rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.

Different Types of Mitochondrial Abnormalities Are Found in Cancer Cells

One of the primary reasons why modern researchers have failed to realize that all cancer cells have impaired respiration is because they started researching cancer using cell cultures, and when you separate the cells from the tissue and grow it in a medium, it causes them to behave in ways they normally wouldn't when in the animal or human.

Hence many researchers have claimed that cancer cell respiration is normal, when in fact it is not. According to Seyfried, during in vitro or culture research, it looks like cancer cells consume a lot of oxygen, even when producing lactic acid, which creates confusion.

He does point out that while all cancer cells have defective mitochondria, how that defect came about will vary from one cancer to another. In some cancers, there's simply a lack of mitochondria, meaning the cell does not have enough organelles to generate energy through respiration and therefore falls back on fermentation as a source of energy production.

In other cancers, the cells appear to have plenty of mitochondria, but the organelles are structurally abnormal. As noted by Seyfried, "structure dictates function," so if the structure of the mitochondria is abnormal, its function will also be abnormal. However, all cancer cells use fermentation for energy production. Seyfried has not found a single cancer with normal respiration.

In order to grow and spread, cancer cells also need ample building blocks, which Seyfried says they get from the pentose phosphate pathway, the glycolytic pathway and from glutamine. "Between glucose and glutamine, you're getting all the building blocks you need for rapid cell division," he says.

Cancer Is Not a Gene-Driven Disease

Seyfried also stresses that in his research, no genetic abnormalities were found in cancer cells at all, which firmly disputes the genetic theory which postulates that cancer is driven by genetic mutations. Sadly, Attia is still convinced that the gene theory of cancer is true. It's quite sad that such a brilliant and innovative physician fails to appreciate the depth of beauty of Seyfried's work.

Overall, an estimated 5 percent of cancers are caused by germline mutations, such as BRCA1, an inherited genetic risk factor known to raise your risk for breast cancer, or BRCA2, which raises your risk for ovarian cancer.

But as noted by Seyfried, "They're not deterministic." A certain gene mutation may raise your risk, but it's no guarantee you will actually develop the cancer in question, and it is ultimately not the true cause if you do get cancer. An exception is if the mutation damages the mitochondria's respiratory system; then cancer is a very real possibility.

Warburg's Missing Link

The featured interview also delves into the details of mitochondrial substrate level phosphorylation (mSLP) — the missing link in Warburg's cancer theory. When mitochondria are damaged, causing them to revert to such an inefficient form of energy production, how is it that they have enough energy to massively reproduce and grow?

For years, Seyfried suspected glucose fermentation wasn't the whole story, and his research shows cancer cells can in fact ferment not only glucose but also glutamine, and the majority of the energy for cancer formation actually comes from the glutamine.

Glutamine is fermented via mSLP in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle — also known as the Krebs cycle — of the mitochondria. The TCA or Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes that form a key part of aerobic respiration. Seyfried explains:

"mSLP is the production of ATP when you move a phosphate group from an organic substrate onto an ADP molecule, so it's an ancient way of generating energy. In other words, it's an organic molecule that is an electron acceptor rather than oxygen …

You're moving phosphate groups from an organic substrate onto the ADP as the acceptor, and you can generate massive amounts of energy from this process which can replace the level of lost energy from the damaged mitochondria …

In the normal cell, you're making most of your ATP from oxidative phosphorylation, but in the cancer cell you're making most of it from mSLP inside the same organelle [i.e., the mitochondria]."

energy metabolism in normal cells

Source: Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

energy metabolism in cancer cells

Source: Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

Why Cancer Cells Don't Self-Destruct

Another question of import is "Why don't cancer cells die through the apoptotic mechanisms?" meaning the mechanism that triggers cellular suicide when the cell is damaged or malfunctioning. In short, because the mitochondria that actually controls that self-destruct "switch" is dysfunctional.

"The cell bypasses the normal control of life and death — apoptosis of the cell — because the very organelle that dictates that is [the mitochondria], is now defective," Seyfried says. As a consequence, the cell reverts back "to the way it existed before oxygen came into the atmosphere on the planet."

Healthy Mitochondrial Respiration Prevents Cancer Formation

The take-home message here is that as long as your mitochondrial respiration remains healthy, cancer will not develop. "That goes back to prevention," Seyfried says. "How do you prevent cancer? You prevent it by keeping your mitochondria healthy."

And how do you keep your mitochondria healthy? Primarily by avoiding toxic environmental factors and implementing healthy lifestyle strategies. This is in fact the sole focus of the metabolic mitochondrial therapy program detailed in my book "Fat for Fuel." Topping my list of strategies to optimize mitochondrial health — which you can learn more about in my book — are:

Cyclical nutritional ketosis — The divergence from our ancestral diet — this massive prevalence of processed, unnatural foods and excessive amounts of added sugars, net carbs and industrial fats — is responsible for a majority of the damage to your mitochondria.

High-carb, processed food diets prevent your body from efficiently burning fat as its primary fuel, and burning fats and ketones is far more efficient, inducing far less oxidative stress, than burning carbs. So, a foundational dietary strategy to optimize your mitochondrial health is to eat the right fuel. Once you become an efficient fat burner, you minimize the oxidative stress placed on your mitochondria, which is key.

Calorie restriction — Another extremely effective strategy for reducing mitochondrial free radical production is to limit the amount of fuel you feed your body. This is a noncontroversial position as calorie restriction has consistently shown many therapeutic benefits.

Meal timing — Meal timing is also important. Specifically, eating too late in the evening, when your body doesn't need the energy, is one of the worst things you can do to your mitochondria, as it creates a buildup of ATP that is not being used.

As a result, it's not being broken down into ADP, causing ATP synthase to shut down. At that point, the entire electron transport chain backs up, causing excessive amounts of free radicals to spill out and damage the mitochondrial DNA.5

Normalizing your iron level — Iron also plays an important role in mitochondrial function, and contrary to popular belief, excessive iron levels are far more prevalent than iron deficiency. Virtually all men over the age of 16 and post-menopausal women are at risk of high iron.

Menstruating women are protected since they lose blood, and hence iron, each month. While most people damage their mitochondria by eating a high-carb, low-fat diet and/or excessive protein, elevated iron levels can cause profound mitochondrial damage as well.

When you have high iron levels in your mitochondria, it enhances oxidation, creating high levels of damaging reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Fortunately, high iron is easy to address. Simply check your iron level with a serum ferritin test, and if your level is high, donate blood two or three times a year to maintain a healthy level.

An ideal iron ferritin level is between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Below 20 ng/mL is a deficiency state, and you definitely do not want to be above 60 or 80 ng/mL.

An important side note to this is that excess carbohydrates in particular, when eaten late at night, result in a backup of electrons, causing the production of superoxide. While not a pernicious free radical in and of itself, if you have high iron levels combined with high superoxide, it produces hydroxyl free radicals, which is one of the most harmful.

The chemical reaction that creates these hydroxyl free radicals is known as the Fenton reaction. While you certainly need enough iron, having too high an iron level can cause severe damage, and this is one way in which it does that.

Exercise — Exercise upregulates PGC-1 alpha and Nrf2 — genes that promote mitochondrial efficiency, helping them grow and divide so that you actually have more mitochondria.

In simple terms, by placing an increased energy demand on your cells through physical activity, free radicals signal that you need more mitochondria to meet the energy demand. As a result, your body adapts to your level of activity by creating more mitochondria and making them work more efficiently.

Interestingly, in his book "Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine," Dr. Lee Know, a naturopathic physician, explains how some people need more exercise to maintain mitochondrial health.6 When hydrogen ions flow back through ATP synthase, energy is created. But in some cases, and in certain tissues, such as in brown adipose tissue, this process can become uncoupled.

Instead of the hydrogen ions flowing back through ATP synthase, they flow through a different channel, creating heat rather than energy. A benefit of this is that it allows the electron transport chain to continue to operate even though you're not using up energy. The hydrogen gradient is being dissipated through the generation of heat instead.

If your genetic heritage stems from equatorial regions and/or if you have very dark skin, you will tend to have less brown fat, and hence less mitochondrial uncoupling, which raises your risk of chronic disease. To counteract this, you will need to exercise regularly. Also, be mindful of your vitamin D level, and consider cold thermogenesis (cryotherapy) to build brown and beige adipose tissue.

Nutritional supplements — The following nutrients and cofactors are also needed for mitochondrial enzymes to function properly:

  • CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced form)
  • L-Carnitine, which shuttles fatty acids to the mitochondria
  • D-ribose, which is raw material for the ATP molecule
  • Magnesium
  • Marine-based omega-3
  • All B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine and B6
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)

How Metabolic Therapy Can Improve Cancer Treatment

Seyfried is not alone in his strong belief in the metabolic origins of cancer. Dr. Abdul Slocum, a physician from Turkey, is already using this information in his clinical practice, where he treats many end-stage cancer patients. A significant number of his patients have pancreatic cancer, which has one of the worst prognoses of any cancer.

Over 90 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years. When they enter his clinic, patients are immediately placed on a ketogenic diet and remain on it throughout their treatment.

Remarkably, Slocum is able to save many of these "hopeless" patients. What's more, his treatment protocols are nontoxic. By harnessing your body's ability to fight the tumor naturally, through the implementation of nutritional ketosis and other strategies, any chemotherapy agents used can be applied in the lowest possible dose. Slocum's practice reveals the very real benefits of treating cancer as a metabolic disease.

Support Cutting Edge Metabolic Therapies That Address the True Cause of Cancer: Defective Mitochondria

Seyfried is conducting preclinical research at Boston College, exploring a cocktail of metabolic therapies in a metastatic mouse model, including the combination of:

Ketogenic diet

Glycolytic inhibitors

Oxygen therapy

Glutamine inhibitors

Exogenous ketones

Other metabolic targeting therapies

The goal of this advanced research is to develop a nontoxic diet/drug therapeutic cocktail that can resolve both primary tumor growth and secondary tumor metastatic lesions in a range of preclinical models of cancer. For more information, you can read through his team's paper,7 "Press-Pulse: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for the Metabolic Management of Cancer," published in 2017 in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

To further this project, Travis Christofferson founded the nonprofit Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies (formerly Single Cause Single Cure Foundation8). I encourage you to make a donation to this incredible research project, as the possibilities of it actually saving lives are far greater than most other cancer organizations, which exist solely to support the slash, poison and burn paradigm.

I am working with Christofferson to have Seyfried's metabolic therapies available for use as a primary intervention in a few cancer clinics and will have that information posted when they are available.

Importantly, while other organizations will take a large percentage of your donations for administrative expenses, 100 percent of donations to Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies will go to fund Seyfried's research. You can make a tax-deductible donation online or by mailing in a check:

  • Send a check of any amount made out to and mailed to The Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies, 3213 West Main Street #256, Rapid City, SD 57702
  • Donate online at Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies. You can make a one-time donation or set up recurring contributions.

An Introduction to High Blood Pressure

According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure affects more than 1.13 billion people worldwide.1 In fact, it’s currently one of the leading risk factors of global mortality, accounting for approximately 7.5 million deaths, which is almost 13 percent of all the total deaths around the world.2

It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, although China and India share the burden of having the most people with this disease.3 You may even be unknowingly suffering from it even though you feel perfectly well. But what exactly is this “silent killer”4 and how can it slowly destroy your well-being? In order for you to understand this illness better, let’s first define what blood pressure is and how your cardiovascular system works.

Understanding the Circulatory System and Blood Pressure

The cardiovascular system is made up of three major parts: the heart, blood and blood vessels, which include the arteries, capillaries and veins. As you know, the heart’s job is to pump blood throughout the circulatory system.5

In a systemic circulation, the oxygen-rich blood, which also carries nutrients, travels through an intricate network of arteries and capillaries and is delivered to different body parts. Meanwhile, in a pulmonary circulation, the oxygen-depleted blood, which also carries waste products like carbon dioxide from your body organs, is transported back to the heart through the veins.6

You may have noticed that arteries are more talked about when it comes to high blood pressure. That is because blood pressure refers to the force that the blood exerts on the artery walls as it’s pumped out of your heart to the rest of the body.7,8 High blood pressure, on the other hand, is a condition wherein the blood travels through the arteries with more force than normal.9

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body?

The first body parts that high blood pressure affects are your heart and arteries. Your arteries can tolerate the normal blood pressure that’s generated from the heart.10 However, chronic high blood pressure may cause small tears in the artery walls, where LDL cholesterol may collect and begin to clog these arteries.11

As this cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, your arteries become rigid, thicker and narrow, giving the blood less space to flow, which further increases your blood pressure levels.12 In order to compensate for the lower blood flow, your heart has to work harder, and this extra workload eventually puts you at risk of heart attack or heart failure.13

The effects of persistent high blood pressure are not just confined to the circulatory system, though. The organs that are connected to your blocked arteries will be robbed of their sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients, which may cause them to malfunction, or worse, lead to organ failure.14,15

Use These Pages to Help Beat High Blood Pressure

The damage that high blood pressure may do to your body starts small, but can progressively worsen over a long period of time if unaddressed.16 The good news is that you can lower your risk for this illness or prevent its life-threatening complications if you understand why it occurs in the first place and how you can control it.

Browse these pages for more information about high blood pressure, its common symptoms and causes, possible complications, diagnostic methods, and the recommended remedies and treatment options to keep your blood pressure levels within the normal range.


High Blood Pressure: Introduction

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure Range

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

High Blood Pressure Causes

High Blood Pressure Medications

High Blood Pressure Treatment

How to Control High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Remedies

High Blood Pressure Side Effects

High Blood Pressure Headache

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure Prevention

High Blood Pressure Diet

Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

Herbs for High Blood Pressure

Supplements for High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure FAQ

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What Is High Blood Pressure?

Try This Flavorful Paleo Cabbage Soup Recipe

When someone mentions cabbage soup,  the first thought that may pop in your head is the repetitive diet that was Charlie Bucket’s nightly dinner in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Of course, Charlie’s dreary fare was a far cry from this amazing cabbage soup recipe. There’s no reason for you not to enjoy a bowl — or maybe two!


This soup recipe has been around for a number of years, providing warmth and comfort during cold weather. Not only is it filling, but cabbage soup is bursting with a wide array of vitamins and minerals due to the nutrient-filled ingredients it uses. If you can’t wait to benefit from this delicious soup, here’s a slow cooker recipe from Paleohacks that combines only the highest quality of products:


Crock Pot Cabbage Soup


 2-3 free-range chicken breasts

 2 tablespoons coconut oil

 2 celery stalks, chopped

 3/4 cup carrots, chopped

 1/2 cup zucchini, peeled, deseeded and chopped

 3 garlic cloves, minced

 1 small yellow onion, diced

 1 teaspoon dried basil

 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 4 cups chicken broth

 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped



  1. Coat slow cooker with coconut oil and then add chicken.
  2. Add chopped celery, carrots, zucchini, garlic and onion. Next, add basil, oregano, salt, pepper and broth.
  3. Cook soup on high for approximately two hours and then remove bones from chicken and add chicken back to the pot. Add the chopped cabbage.
  4. Cook soup on high for an additional two hours before removing from the slow cooker. Enjoy!


Cabbage May Promote Skin, Bone and Muscle Health

Cabbages are a staple of vegetable aisles and farmers markets around the world. It’s nearly impossible to visit a store without seeing the huge pile of light green or purple cabbages, just waiting for you to choose one from their ranks.


Cabbages as a culinary delight have been around for thousands of years, with the Celts, Romans and Egyptians cultivating and benefiting from them. For Egyptians, cabbage was even regarded as the best of their wide selection of vegetables. They also used cabbages to ease a number of conditions, including gout, headaches and mushroom poisoning. [1]


This is all due to the numerous nutrients in cabbages. This vegetable is rich in vitamins K, C, B6 and B1, as well as iron and calcium, which are all essential for the smooth functioning of various body systems. Adding cabbage to your diet may:[2]


  • Help prevent inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Cabbage contains numerous types of antioxidants that may help mitigate chronic inflammation.


  • Assist in maintaining bone, skin and muscle health. The high levels of vitamin C in cabbage can help boost collagen production, a protein needed to maintain the flexibility and strength of bones, muscles and blood vessels.


  • Aid in digestion. Cabbage is a good source of insoluble fiber, the type that is not broken down in the intestines. It helps bulk up stools and normalize bowel movements.


  • Support cardiovascular health. Cabbage contains high levels of potassium, a mineral found to help regulate blood pressure by counteracting excess sodium found in the body. It also helps relax blood vessels and promote sodium excretion.


Protect Your Eyesight With Carrots

When you were a kid, there’s a high chance that you were urged by your parents to eat your carrots because they would keep your eyesight in tip-top shape. If you’re like most kids, you probably doubted your parents, thinking this was just a ploy to get you to finish the food on your plate.


The good news is that they were telling the truth: Carrots are actually pretty nutritious. They’re especially rich in beta-carotene and numerous antioxidants that are essential for the production of vitamin A. Vitamin A is especially important as it directly influences the health of the cornea. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in children.


Aside from protecting your eyes from deterioration, carrots offer other health benefits, which include the following:


  • May lower your risk of coronary heart disease. Studies show that adding carrots to your diet may help reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 32 percent.[3]


  • Reduce your risk of cancer. Carrots contain impressive amounts of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and polyacetylene, which are especially useful for cancer prevention and treatment. In fact, studies show that carrot juice may play a role in treating leukemia and other types of cancer.[4]


  • Support cellular and skin health. Carrots are filled with active components that help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Due to these, carrots can assist in protecting you from sun damage and aging.


Why Sipping Chicken Broth Is a Good Choice

One of the main ingredients of this cabbage soup recipe is chicken broth. Not only does it provide the well-loved flavor of chicken soup, but it also offers you numerous healing benefits. Chicken broth is loaded with cysteine, glucosamine, chondroitin and other components that help the body recover from sickness. Here are some of the benefits that you can get from bone broth:

  • Improved digestion. Bone broth has a hydrophilic colloid that helps attract fluids and digestive juices, which may help promote smooth digestion and metabolism.


  • Reduced inflammation. Chicken cartilage and bones contain glucosamine, sulphates and other components that can reduce inflammation and joint pain.


  • May help thin the mucus in the lungs. Bone broth contains high amounts of cysteine, an amino acid that makes the mucus in the lungs thinner, making it easier to expel. This is especially useful for people suffering from colds and other mild respiratory issues.


Just make sure that you’re using chicken broth made from the bones of organic free-range chickens to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals it’s supposed to contain.

When It Comes to Chicken, Pasture-Raised Organic Is the Way to Go

Most Americans love chicken. This is hardly breaking news.  Chicken is the protein of choice in countless recipes, and shows up on virtually every restaurant menu. But although chicken is loaded with impressive amounts of protein and nutrients, what matters most is the quality of the chicken you’re getting.


Unfortunately, most chicken producers have long since abandoned any pretense of providing the sustainably sourced and high quality food your body needs. Today, about 90 percent of poultry products available in the market come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). While CAFOs may be the norm in this day and age, it doesn’t mean that we should support this kind of inhumane way of raising animals.


If you’re eating CAFO chicken, there’s a chance that you’re being exposed to numerous toxins, including antibiotics and harmful chemicals. Trust me, you do not want this stuff in your body. For better quality food, make sure that you go for organic pasture-raised chickens. This not only ensures that you’re protected from toxins used in conventional farms, but you also get a product that’s more nutrient-dense. Pasture-raised chickens contain more vitamin A, omega-3 fats and beta-carotene than their CAFO counterparts.


Once you decide to try this recipe for you or your family, make sure that you get only the best quality products you can get your hands on. Some of them may be a bit pricey, but the extra dollars are worth it for you to get the complete array of nutrients you need to be getting from your food.

Is Macular Degeneration Preventable?

An intriguing presentation about the possible link between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and processed food consumption literally caught my eye. As presented in the featured video, ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Knobbe, founder and president of the Cure AMD Foundation, suggests the common assertion macular degeneration is caused by aging or genetics is a mistaken one.

Given the reality macular degeneration has gone from being an extremely rare disorder more than a century ago to one that is found at increasingly alarming rates in developed countries around the world, Knobbe points to higher intakes of processed food — not aging or genetics — as the root cause.

He presented his research findings at the 2018 Ancestral Health Symposium, held in Bozeman, Montana. Knobbe asserts the same people known to consume the most processed food not only develop AMD, but are also more likely to be affected by cancer, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO),1 macular degeneration results when the part of your retina called the macula becomes damaged, causing you to lose your central vision. If you have AMD, you cannot see fine details whether close or far, but your peripheral (side) vision remains normal.

The BrightFocus Foundation defines AMD as "an irreversible destruction of the macula, which leads to loss of the sharp, fine-detail, 'straight ahead' vision required for activities like reading, driving, recognizing faces and seeing the world in color."2

Knobbe notes your macula measures 6 millimeters (mm), or about one-fourth of an inch, across and accounts for the central 10 degrees of your vision. "Arguably, this is the most important 6 mm in our bodies," he asserts.3 About macular degeneration, the AAO says:4

  • It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years and older
  • About 80 percent of people with AMD have the dry form, which is characterized by the thinning of parts of your macula, as well as the growth of tiny clumps of protein called drusen, which causes you to slowly lose your central vision
  • Wet AMD is a less common but more serious form of vision loss because it causes new, abnormal blood vessels to grow under your retina, which may leak blood or other fluids that cause scarring of your macula
  • Wet AMD accelerates vision loss more quickly than dry AMD
  • Blurry vision may be the first sign of macular degeneration; regular visits to an ophthalmologist can help you identify early warning signs of the disease

Who Is Affected by Macular Degeneration?

AMD is no respecter of persons. A couple of well-known sufferers of the disease are legendary British actress Dame Judi Dench,5 83, and American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr,6 66, both of whom have spoken publicly of their vision problems.

Sadly, Dench and Barr are not outliers; they're just two of the estimated millions of people worldwide affected by this potentially devastating disease. According to Knobbe and experts at the BrightFocus Foundation, AMD is:7,8

  • The leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 65 who live in developed countries
  • A leading cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment worldwide — the number of people living with AMD is expected to reach 196 million worldwide by 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040
  • Known to affect as many as 11 million people in the U.S., this number is expected to double by 2050

Though Knobbe disagrees, the link between aging and macular degeneration is based on statistics suggesting your risk of contracting the disease increases from 2 percent for people ages 50 to 59 to nearly 30 percent for those age 75 or older.9

The Causes of Macular Degeneration

Traditional ophthalmology associates AMD to aging, hence the name "age-related macular degeneration," and more recently has also suggested genetics may be a contributing factor. The AAO claims you are also more likely to develop AMD if you are:10

Age 50 or older

Eating a diet high in unhealthy fats



Known to have a family history of AMD

A smoker

In contrast to conventional wisdom, Knobbe, as discussed in the featured video, believes man-made, processed foods are the primary culprit, although he leaves room for a possible genetic link, too.

His beliefs, which were sustained through a combination of investigative journalism, interviews and research, culminated in the 2016 publication of his book "Cure AMD — Ancestral Dietary Strategy to Prevent & Reverse Macular Degeneration."

In addition, a summary of Knobbe's work was published in the journal Medical Hypotheses in 2017.11 While the lifetime risk of contracting AMD was about zero in 1900, he says, by 1992, it was believed to affect 1 in 3 people over the age of 75.

Today, he claims 20,000 new cases of AMD are diagnosed worldwide every day. Based on his research, Knobbe states, "I believe, 100 percent, that this disease is caused by diet and diet alone. Now, no question, genetics play a role, but environment pulls the trigger. That 'environment' is our diet."

Processed Foods Implicated for Skyrocketing Rates of Macular Degeneration

Based on his research, Knobbe asserts the key to addressing the skyrocketing rates of AMD must focus on decreasing our intake of processed foods and returning to a so-called ancestral diet. This, he notes, may be our best means of preventing, and possibly treating, the disease.

Knobbe defines an ancestral diet as any eating program that existed on the planet prior to 1880, when the first processed foods — namely, refined white flour and polyunsaturated vegetable oils — were made available. Trans fats, he notes, were first introduced in 1911.

After noting the Western diet has more than 600,000 food items you can put on your plate today, Knobbe said, "When we break this down, what we know is 63 percent of these food items are made up of those refined, processed, nutrient-deficient foods in the form of added sugars, refined white flour, polyunsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats."

He calls the dependence on processed foods "the recipe for metabolic disaster and physical degeneration." Drawing from the work of the late Weston A. Price,12 Knobbe calls out the following problematic categories of processed food, which Price referred to as the "displacing foods of modern commerce":

Canned goods


Vegetable oils



White flour

Macular Degeneration: Another Disease of Western Civilization?

Given the increased use of these so-called modern foods during the past 140 years, Knobbe says it is no surprise higher intakes of them have been linked to what he calls "diseases of Western civilization."

On the list are well-known conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Knobbe says he had somewhat of an epiphany in 2013 when he posed this question to himself: "Could AMD be another 'disease of Western civilization'?"

After comparing the historical rates of incidence for AMD as it related to the increased availability and consumption of sugar and vegetable oils, Knobbe began to surmise AMD indeed may be linked to the increased consumption of processed food. "After just 30 years of consuming these processed foods, we are at epidemic proportions of chronic disease," he observes.

In Japan, since the 1970s the increased use of vegetable oils has spiked the incidence of AMD. Said Knobbe, "The rate of AMD [in Japan] was at 0.2 percent prevalence in 1970. By 2007, their prevalence was 11.4 percent. That's a 57fold increase in the prevalence of AMD in just 30 years. We can't possibly explain that with genetics and aging."

When comparing rates of AMD in Nigeria, Knobbe noted the availability for processed food in major metropolitan areas as a factor in the 3.2 percent rate of AMD incidence in cities. He contrasted that rate to AMD prevalence among Nigerians living in a rural area where there was no access to processed food. It was just 0.1 percent.

Poverty Linked to Vision Loss; AMD Not a Disease of Aging or Genetics

Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Knobbe observed links between poverty and chronic diseases such as the prevalence of severe vision loss, including AMD. Southern states had higher incidence of both poverty and severe vision loss. About the link between the two, Knobbe states:

"Why is poverty an issue? Because in [the U.S.] you can purchase about 2,000 calories worth of processed food for about $3.50. That same 2,000 calories coming from whole foods … costs you about $13 or more. It's a sad fact … but it's a reality."

If AMD is all about aging, we would expect to see that people in the south, where the highest rates of severe vision loss exist, have the longest life spans. However, the data do not bear that out, notes Knobbe.

Life expectancy in the south is actually lower than the national average, he says. "Where we have the greatest vision loss, including the most macular degeneration, we have the shortest lives. This is not consistent with the theory that macular degeneration is a disease of aging."

As such, he concludes, "Macular degeneration is not a disease of aging. It's not a disease of genetics. It is a disease of processed food consumption. And that results in more chronic, metabolic and degenerative disease, more macular degeneration and earlier death." On his Cure AMD Foundation website, Knobbe writes:13

"Every shred of evidence I can find supports the hypothesis that it is the 'displacing foods of modern commerce' that are the primary and proximate cause of AMD. The prevention of this disease — as well as the treatment — is to remove those elements from the diet, and consume only … our own native, traditional diets."

How to Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Most certainly, eating nutrient-dense foods is the best way to preserve your eyesight. Knobbe recommends a whole food diet as the best antidote to vision problems such as macular degeneration. While a change in diet cannot reverse an established case of AMD, it can be helpful as a preventive measure before the onset of the disease.

Knobbe suggests you eat a diet "rich in meats, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, some nuts and seeds, and perhaps critically, some 'sacred' foods of our ancestors, such as beef or chicken liver, fish eggs (roe) … or pastured butter."14 He adds, "My preference is to choose the wild or pastured versions of animal meats and eggs whenever possible, and organic versions of … fruits and vegetables."15

While I agree with most of Knobbe's recommendations, for optimal health you will want to limit your daily fructose consumption, including fructose from whole fruit, to 25 grams (g) or less if you are healthy. If you are dealing with a chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes, you'd be wise to further restrict your fructose intake to 15 g until your condition improves.

Beyond this, animal-based omega-3 fats help improve cell structure and protect your sight, while whole foods high in anthocyanins and bioflavonoids help protect your cells from free radical damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin, potent carotenoid antioxidants found in leafy greens like kale and spinach as well as organic, free-range egg yolks, are also known for their role in promoting healthy vision.

It is believed the presence of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in your macula blocks blue light from reaching the underlying structures in your retina. As such, they help reduce your risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration.16

Natural antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E also support your eyes, as does astaxanthin, which is found in certain marine plants and animals, including krill oil. Learn more about the foods your body needs to protect your vision in my previous article "Eat Right to Protect Your Eyesight."

Other Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

Beyond your diet, blocking blue light may help reduce your risk for macular degeneration, while also improving your sleep. Below are a few tips on how to limit your exposure to blue light:

  • Use blue-blocking glasses — Blocking blue light aids in regulating your internal body clock to control sleep patterns. Also, it reduces the negative effect high energy wavelengths have on your macula. I recommend you wear blue light-blocking glasses after 7 p.m. or when the sun sets.
  • Install blue-blocking software on your digital devices — If you are not a fan of wearing blue blockers, you might want to try Iris, a free software program that can automatically adjust your screen settings to reduce blue light. I have used Iris for many years and highly recommend it.
  • Replace LED lights with incandescent bulbs — Many of the LED lights sold today emit a large portion of aggressive blue light, which is why I advise you to use incandescent bulbs instead. To learn more about how to protect yourself, read my article "How LED Lighting May Compromise Your Health."
  • Sleep in total darkness — To achieve a deeper, more restorative sleep, you must protect your eyes from light at night. Using a sleep mask or room-darkening shades are two easy solutions, and be sure to keep electronic devices out of your sleeping area.

While the rates of macular degeneration continue to climb, you can take steps today to reduce your risk of this debilitating eye disease. As Knobbe suggests, eliminating processed food from your diet is among the best preventive measures against macular degeneration.

While conventional medicine may try to convince you AMD and other chronic illnesses are simply a factor of aging or genetics, two areas over which you have little control, the truth is, you are not helpless to affect positive change.

Based on his research, Knobbe concluded the term AMD is a misnomer. Rather than calling the loss of central vision "age-related macular degeneration," he asserts it would be more aptly named "diet-related macular degeneration" or "DMD."17 While aging is not something you can control, you most certainly have some measure of control over your diet and, therefore, your eye health, too.

Help Ease Anxiety With Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm, which is not to be confused with lemon trees or lemon fruit, has been used as far back as the Middle Ages, and perhaps earlier.1 Lemon balm has been shown to be helpful in combating stress and anxiety,2 boosting appetite and alleviating the pain and discomfort caused by indigestion.3 This herb was also steeped in wine to lift spirits and it was employed in treating wounds and venomous insect bites and stings.

Lemon balm is a common sight in many herb gardens because it attracts bees. Beyond its medicinal uses, lemon balm can also be used for cosmetics and furniture polish manufacturing. Beyond that, fresh lemon balm leaves can be steeped and dried to make lemon balm tea, an herbal beverage that can soothe your senses. Here's all you need to know about lemon balm tea.

What Is Lemon Balm Tea?

Leaves of the lemon balm plant (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, make a delicious herbal tea. Although lemon balm is native to Europe, it's now widely available and can be grown in home gardens, too. The plant can grow up to 2 feet high, or even higher if it's not well-maintained. During spring and summer, small, light-yellow flower clusters appear on lemon balm plants.4

If you're wondering why it's called lemon balm, it's because your fingers may smell like tart lemons when you rub the leaves together. Lemon balm leaves are shaped similarly to mint leaves. Deeply wrinkled, the leaves range in color from dark green to yellowish green, depending on the plant's soil and climate.5

Lemon Balm Tea's Uses and Health Benefits

According to The Heart Institute, the University of Michigan and journal articles, below are some of the most well-known benefits of lemon balm tea:6,7

Reduces inflammation — The anti-inflammatory compounds in lemon balm, which are available in the tea, help target conditions like arthritis, joint disorders and headaches.8

Alleviates digestive issues — Lemon balm tea supports healthy digestion and ensures proper absorption, making it potentially beneficial if you suffer from acid reflux, bloating, constipation, flatulence or indigestion.9

Strengthens your immune system — The antibacterial and antiseptic properties10 in kombucha, a fermented lemon balm tea, play a role in helping your body fight infections, cold and flu.11

Furthermore, lemon balm tea may assist in stimulating white blood cell production,12 while reducing your body's production of mucus and phlegm.13

Helps relieve menstrual cramps — As one of the oldest herbal remedies for menstrual cramps, lemon balm tea's analgesic, antispasmodic and sedative capabilities may aid in soothing painful periods,14 while toning down mood swings.

Enhances cognitive function — Lemon balm tea can be helpful for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease because it may help enhance cognitive function and improve memory. It can be particularly beneficial as an aromatherapy tool.15

The tea also is believed to deliver antioxidants that can inhibit plaque deposits along your body's neutral pathways.16

Combats the herpes virus — Research indicates lemon balm, in the form of a cream, essential oil or tea, has powerful effects on herpes cold sores and genital lesions due to the inhibiting activity of its polyphenol compounds against herpes virus activity.17,18

Promotes heart health — Lemon balm tea can be ideal for people suffering from hypertension because it's a natural sedative that assists in reducing blood pressure levels. In the long run, it may help decrease your risk for atherosclerosis, heart attacks and stroke.

If you are taking blood pressure medication, talk to your doctor before drinking lemon balm tea to avoid any potential negative interactions.

Soothes anxiety — Antioxidants and plant compounds in the tea contain anxiolytic properties that produce a nerve-soothing effect known to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.

Lemon Balm Tea Nutrition Facts: What's in It?

Some of the active compounds in lemon balm, which may be transferred onto the tea beverage, include tannins, flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, citronellal, eugenol and other polyphenolic compounds, as well as copper, manganese, zinc and various essential vitamins."19 As an herbal tea, lemon balm tea does not contain caffeine. This explains why it may be beneficial for calming frazzled nerves and soothing anxiety.

How to Make Fresh Lemon Balm Tea

Typically, lemon balm tea is made by steeping fresh plant cuttings in boiling water until the desired strength is attained — shorter steeping results in weaker tea, while longer steeping yields a stronger beverage. The tea can be consumed hot or cold. You can also make this beverage using dried lemon balm leaves, although the drying process may cause the leaves to lose some of their flavor. Below is a simple lemon balm tea recipe:20

Lemon Balm Tea Recipe


  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm leaves
  • Honey or stevia to sweeten (optional)


  1. Pour the boiling water over the dried lemon balm leaves.
  2. Infuse the mixture for up to 10 minutes and chill and drink afterward.

How to Store and Dry Lemon Balm for Making Tea

Fresh lemon balm leaves can be stored in plastic bags inside the refrigerator for a few days or you can freeze them. Dried lemon balm leaves stored in an airtight, glass container, in a dark and dry place, will have a shelf life of at least one year. The Herb Society of America21 notes that dry leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days too, or inside the freezer for a short time in a double layer of food storage plastic bags.

If you want to learn how to dry lemon balm for tea, there are multiple ways to do it. Overall, make sure the leaves aren't exposed to light or heat. Mother Earth Living22 suggests cutting around two-thirds of the way down the plant's stem. Then, hang lemon balm upside down in a small bunch, leaving a 1-inch diameter at the base. Place the herbs in a dark, dry place with good air circulation, and dry for two days, after which time they will turn black.23

Another way to dry lemon balm leaves, according to the Michigan State University Extension, is to take a small amount and hang them in paper bags with holes punched on the sides. Don't place a large amount of lemon balm in a bag, as a lack of air circulation may cause the leaves to become moldy. Use a rubber band to close the top of the bag and hang it in an area where there's enough air circulation. Once the leaves are dry, they'll fall to the bottom of the bag.24

Side Effects of Lemon Balm Tea

Side effects25 from drinking lemon balm tea are said to be rare, and there's limited research regarding lemon balm's side effects when used for an extended period of time. The best approach is to drink lemon balm tea occasionally until you are certain your body can tolerate it. Some adverse effects that may develop, include:

  • Stomach upset, nausea and vomiting — The potent active compounds in the tea may be responsible for these effects and they are only beneficial when the tea is consumed in moderation
  • Dizziness and drowsiness — These effects were seen in people who drank very strong lemon balm tea; should these side effects occur, stop drinking it

According to WebMD,26 oral intake of lemon balm leaves may also lead to side effects like increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and wheezing. Avoid drinking lemon balm tea if you're allergic to other plants of the mint family because it may increase your risk for an allergic reaction.

If you're undergoing a surgical procedure, do not drink lemon balm tea two weeks before it, because the tea's sedative nature may negatively interact with the anesthesia. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor about the safety of lemon balm tea. This tea can be safely consumed by children in small amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Lemon Balm Tea

Q: Where can you buy lemon balm tea?

A: You can buy organic lemon balm tea from well-known online retailers or from a local health food store. To ensure you'll get a product that will provide genuine health benefits, only buy organic brands from reputable companies. Better yet, you can grow lemon balm at home and craft your own tea. The Spruce provides instructions on how to propagate this herb indoors.27

Q: What are the health benefits of lemon balm tea?

A: Some of the health benefits of lemon balm tea include:

Soothing anxiety and depression

Reducing inflammatory conditions, such as infections, colds and flu

Relieving menstrual cramps

Alleviating stomach problems like acid reflux, bloating, constipation and indigestion

Combating herpes cold sores and genital lesions

Q: Can pregnant and breastfeeding women drink lemon balm tea?

A: While pregnant and breastfeeding women may be able to drink lemon balm tea in moderation, it's best to first talk to your doctor about your need for lemon balm tea and the amount of tea you plan to drink to ensure the safety of you and your baby.



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