Chaga Tea: Benefits of This Unusual but Health-Boosting Beverage

Are you tired of drinking the same old tea over and over? Chaga mushroom tea may be a good option for you. Chaga tea has been used in Russia and other Baltic countries for hundreds of years to boost immunity and improve overall health.1 It is now gaining popularity in Western countries, as numerous studies are touting the nutritional components of chaga mushrooms. Continue reading this article to learn more about the impressive health benefits of chaga tea and how you can include it in your daily routine.

What Is Chaga Tea?

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a parasitic fungus commonly found in cold climates, typically in Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada.2 It is usually attached to birch trees, with the infection eventually killing the tree and the mushroom dying soon after.3

Trees infected with it develop a black growth on their bark reminiscent of charcoal, with a brown interior.4 Chaga mushrooms come irregularly shaped and cracked with a distinct cork-like texture. They typically grow within arms’ reach, making them easily accessible for harvest. However, in some instances the mushrooms may grow at heights of 10 to 30 feet.5

While chaga may look like something you wouldn’t want anywhere near you or your beloved trees, it is actually popular for its wide array of health benefits. Its high concentration of vitamins, minerals and nutrients paved the way for chaga to be lauded as a superfood.6

After numerous studies showed the benefits of chaga consumption, chaga product availability in the market increased. These products range from raw chaga mushroom chunks to chaga tea, skin cream, lip balm and joint rubs. However, brewing chaga tea may be the easiest way for you to benefit from this mushroom.

The Health Benefits of Chaga Tea

Before it became widely popular, chaga tea was already being widely utilized in Russia, Poland and other Baltic countries. It is valued for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and tumor-preventive properties.7 In addition to these uses, chaga tea may:

  • Boost immune function. In a 2011 animal study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, chaga extracts were found to influence the production of cytokines that regulate the production of antibodies in the body.8
  • Help regulate blood sugar. A 2017 animal study from Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy shows that the polysaccharides found in chaga may have antihyperglycemic properties due to its effect on the Akt/PKB signaling pathway.9    
  • Help keep inflammation at bay. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, mice were administered chaga extracts to test its effectivity on easing inflammation. Its effectiveness was linked to its effect on the inflammatory cytokines.10

Chaga Tea Nutrition Facts: Does It Contain Caffeine?

Chaga tea contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are essential to keeping the body at peak condition. It is rich in vitamin B2, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and a lot more.11

If you’re caffeine-sensitive or you’re trying to limit your caffeine intake, the good news is that chaga tea is caffeine-free. It’s also free of other stimulants like methylxanthines, including theophylline and theobromine. This makes it ideal for drinking in the morning and at evening.12

Here’s How You Can Brew Chaga Tea

When brewing your first batch of chaga tea, it’s important that you use wild chaga instead of the lab-grown kind. Also, note that you’ll achieve better extraction the more you crush the chaga mushrooms into powder. Brewing this type of tea yields an earthy and natural-tasting tea with hints of vanilla, due to the trace amounts of vanillin found in the mushroom.

To help you brew chaga tea, here’s a step-by-step guide from David Wolfe’s book “Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms:”13


  1. Fill a glass teapot with cold water. Put the ground chaga or chunks in the water.
  2. Allow the herbs to steep in cold water from a few minutes to an hour.
  3. After steeping, take the cold water up to a hot temperature slowly to about three-fourths of the temperature to a full boil. You can do this in 45 minutes to an hour. The slow rise in temperature will allow a better extraction of the chaga essences.
  4. Using a strainer, push the chaga chunks away from the surface of the tea. Dip a ladle in the area within the strainer to get the filtered tea. Enjoy!

How to Correctly Store Chaga Tea

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a region where you can get fresh chaga, you’d need to know how to correctly store the mushrooms. Fresh chaga is susceptible to mold, so any type of moisture can be extremely damaging to it. If you have fresh chaga on hand, make sure that your supply is completely dry before storage. Here’s how to store your fresh chaga correctly: 14

  1. After harvest, dry your fresh, wild chaga in direct sunlight for several days. Make sure that you bring the chaga in during the night and only bring it out during the daytime.
  2. If sun exposure is not possible, you have the option of using a dehydrator. Set the dehydrator at a temperature of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also use a stove for drying out the chaga mushrooms. Set it at 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you have to keep a close eye on the chaga to avoid burning.
  3. Once dry, break the chaga into golf-sized chunks with a mortar and pestle, or wrap the chaga in a small towel and carefully break with a hammer.
  4. Store the dry chaga chunks in airtight glass containers. Use the chaga as needed.

Note that if a white film develops on the outer bark, it can still be used, but do so immediately. Mildewed chaga should not be stored as this is not usually present in the mushrooms; rather, mildew develops due to improper storage.

Chaga Tea Side Effects and Contraindications

While chaga tea boasts of impressive health benefits, its consumption may amplify the symptoms of numerous conditions, which include:15

  • Autoimmune diseases. Chaga’s effect on immune function may prove to be problematic for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases. By making the immune system more active, chaga could magnify the symptoms that accompany these conditions.
  • Diabetes. Chaga may alter blood sugar levels, which could make it harder for diabetes patients to regulate and control blood glucose fluctuations.
  • Bleeding disorders. While it is unclear how chaga may affect blood clotting and bleeding, this tea should be avoided by patients suffering from bleeding disorders.

Boost Your Immune System With Chaga Tea

With its impressive nutrient and antioxidant load, chaga tea may just be the next big thing in health maintenance. Its ability to help strengthen the immune system and ease inflammation is enough reason to add this herbal tea to your routine. Just make sure you get chaga mushrooms from trustworthy sources so you can be entirely sure that you’ll be getting all the health benefits they have to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chaga Tea

Q: How much chaga tea should I drink?

A: Because of the varying tolerance that people may have for chaga tea, it’s best that you consult a health care professional to know the recommended amount.

Q: How long does chaga tea last?

A: When refrigerated, chaga tea may last for up to 14 days.16

Q: Where can I buy chaga tea?

A: There are numerous stores that sell different types of chaga mushrooms. You can get them in chunks or in powdered form. Some health stores also offer chaga teabags for an easier brewing experience. However, make sure that you’re getting chaga from reputable sources to guarantee that you’re getting only the highest quality possible.

Q: What does chaga tea taste like?

A: Chaga tea tastes earthy and a little bitter, but not unpleasant. It’s also said to have hints of vanilla, thanks to the trace amounts of vanillin in the mushroom. Note that the taste may vary depending on the quality of the chaga mushrooms.17

Dairy Debate: Should Nondairy Beverages Be Labeled as ‘Milk’?

By Dr. Mercola

The recall of more than 145,000 containers of almond milk suspected to be tainted with dairy milk has again stirred the debate about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines “milk.” The FDA and American dairy industry contend beverages sourced from plant materials such as almonds and coconuts do not meet the criteria necessary to be labeled as milk.

FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has gone on record saying, “Almonds don’t lactate,” citing federal regulations suggesting liquids sourced from lactating cows be the only beverages permitted to be referred to as milk.1 Given Gottlieb’s comment (and penchant for the obvious), you may enjoy the featured video, which takes a satirical look at “almond milking.”

While the recalled containers of vanilla Almond Breeze are important news given the potential danger posed to anyone with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, the bigger concern for American consumers relates to food labeling.

Is it really necessary to differentiate dairy milk from alternative milk-like beverages originating from almonds and other plant foods? After years of passively allowing nondairy beverages to be labeled as milk, why is the FDA finally acting to uphold its antiquated labeling rules?

Dairy-Tainted Almond Milk Recalled, Stirs Debate About Alternative ‘Milk’ Beverages

In early August 2018, HP Hood LLC voluntarily recalled more than 145,254 half-gallon refrigerated cartons of Vanilla Almond Breeze due to the possibility the product may contain cow’s milk, a known food allergen not listed on the label.

The affected containers feature a use-by date of September 2, and were shipped to retailers and wholesalers in 28 U.S. states.2,3

While the beverage is safe for anyone who can tolerate regular dairy products, the contaminated beverages pose a risk to consumers who have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. At least one allergic reaction has been reported to date.4 According to Time, the recall stirs the debate about the labeling of alternative “milk” beverages:5

“The dairy debacle comes in the midst of a debate over whether beverage makers can call nondairy products ‘milk,’ since the FDA’s current ‘identity standards’ for milk refer to lactating animals.

The FDA is in the process of deciding whether it will amend that definition or require companies to stop using the word ‘milk’ in reference to drinks made from soy, almonds, coconuts, oats and other common nondairy alternatives.”

Speaking at the POLITICO Pro Summit in July 2018, Gottlieb noted the FDA would be issuing a guidance document with respect to any forthcoming changes to its policies related to milk labeling.6 (The current policy, which has been revised multiple times, was put in place in 1977.7)

Changes are expected to be well-received by dairy groups, many of whom are struggling with falling prices and global oversupply.8 You may not realize milk has a standard definition designed to be enforced by the FDA. Given the reference to lactation, it’s clear nondairy alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk technically do not qualify as “milk.”

Although the FDA’s definition of milk fills an entire page, the first sentence disqualifies nondairy alternatives in plain language: “Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”9

Dairy Groups Unhappy About Plant Products Being Labeled as Milk

As you may imagine, dairy industry groups are not happy about what they perceive to be the misuse of product names such as “milk” when applied to nondairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk.

With respect to the FDA activity, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), a pro-dairy group established in 1916 that acts as a frontrunner for 27 major U.S. dairy cooperatives,10 asserts the FDA “must stop turning a blind eye toward violations of food labeling laws. It needs to use more enforcement and less discretion as dozens of brands flagrantly violate government requirements.”11

As mentioned in the video above, the NMPF and other industry groups have repeatedly urged federal regulators to enforce U.S. food labeling laws to restrict the use of dairy-related terms to products originating from farm animals.

Sorting out the labeling discrepancies is important to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of the authors of a farm bill introduced to Congress in 2017, in part because of the many challenges facing American dairy farmers, such as low milk prices, uncertainty in export markets and the impact of Canadian milk pricing.12 In a statement issued by the NMPF, Mulhern said:13

“After years of inaction in response to our complaints about these labeling violations, Gottlieb’s announcement the FDA is intending to act on this issue is very encouraging.

The marketing of nondairy imitators must comply with federal standards of identity, and consumers should not be misled these products have the same nutrition as real milk, yogurt, cheese and other actual dairy products.”

‘DAIRY PRIDE’ Bill Seeks to Ban the Use of Dairy-Related Terms for Nondairy Products

A bill dubbed the “DAIRY PRIDE Act,” which is actually an acronym for "Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk and Cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Every Day,"14 was introduced in both houses of Congress in January 2017 by Baldwin and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont. The bill, part of a much larger package of agriculture-related legislation, seeks to ban the use of terms such as “cheese,” “milk” and “yogurt” for nondairy products.15

Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, a state long known as America’s Dairyland, says using the term "milk" to describe plant-based foods amounts to mislabeling according to FDA rules. “Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy's good name for their own benefit which is against the law and must be enforced,” says Baldwin. “Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our dairy farmers.”16,17

Despite the bill gaining little traction in Congress, Baldwin and Mulhern continue to press Gottlieb and the FDA to issue new guidance to the industry and declare its intent to enforce labeling according to existing regulations.

According to ABC News, the FDA “will open a docket ‘very soon’ and solicit public comment to help develop a guidance document that would enforce the new standards.”18 They note the process may take a year or more and will most certainly face challenges from nondairy beverage producers and consumers alike.

Does the Mislabeling of Nondairy Products Amount to Consumer Fraud?

As a staunch defender of real dairy products, Mulhern has gone as far as suggesting the lack of FDA enforcement around alternative beverages such as almond, coconut and rice milk has resulted in “rampant consumer fraud” due to “the inferior nutrient content of these nondairy products.”19

Mulhern calls out the lack of protein in almond and rice milk, for example, noting regular dairy contains about 8 grams of naturally occurring protein per serving.20

The NMPF suggests there are “significant public health implications” due to the fact dairy alternatives, unlike real milk, vary widely in their nutritional profile, whereas real milk, with the exception of fat content, maintains a consistent nutritional package from brand to brand.21

While I would like to believe Mulhern is concerned about the welfare of the American public, as a representative of an industry group, it’s obvious his primary concerns revolve around advancing the interests of the dairy industry, especially as it relates to market growth and profits.

For that reason, I don’t buy what I perceive to be feigned concern by Mulhern, as expressed in an NMPF news release. He stated:22

“Consumers who purchase these imitations are not receiving the same level of nutrients found in cow’s milk, and that contributes to Americans falling short of the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet. The FDA must act on this matter or else see the further decline of proper nourishment of our children and families.”

The more likely reason for the NMPF’s concern relates to the bottom line: Dairy alternatives are siphoning off market share and profits once neatly controlled by the dairy industry. Given the growth expectations for nondairy products, it makes sense dairy groups are hoping for some help from the FDA to draw consumers back to their product.

A Renub Research study published in January 2018 suggests the alternative dairy market is on track to exceed $34 billion by 2024 due to increasing consumer preferences for casein- and lactose-free products.23,24 As you may imagine, every dollar spent on nondairy alternatives is perceived to be a takeaway from the dairy industry, which is still adjusting to the depth and breadth of the competition plant-based alternative products pose. As stated by PR Newswire, highlights of the Renub report suggest:25

  • Roughly two-thirds of adults worldwide are lactose-intolerant, and in Africa and Asia the figure is around 90 percent, underscoring the need for nondairy alternatives26
  • Following a dairy-free diet can be beneficial, and this lifestyle has become increasingly more popular worldwide
  • Demand for fortified dairy beverages and foods is expected to fuel continued growth of the dairy alternatives market
  • The potential danger of cross contamination and the higher cost of dairy alternatives are two factors that may negatively influence the growth of this segment

What Is the Best Milk for You?

The easiest way to determine the best milk for you is to listen to your body. If you feel ill after drinking dairy milk, chances are good you may suffer from lactose intolerance, a casein allergy or another type of dairy sensitivity. Rather than eat and drink illness on yourself, your best strategy is to simply avoid traditional dairy products.

Replacing milk and other dairy products with nondairy substitutes is a matter of personal choice. If you don’t miss drinking and eating milk-based products such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt and can obtain requisite nutrients from other foods, you can easily forgo nondairy alternatives.

However, if you cannot imagine life without eating certain types of foods — like ice cream or yogurt, for example — then by all means, find a substitute. Nondairy alternatives are especially helpful when you need milk-free options for use in recipes.

Keep in mind that many who believe they cannot drink regular cows’ milk actually do fine when drinking raw, organic grass fed milk, which is far easier on your digestive system. Raw, grass fed A2-only milk may be even more ideal.

Regardless of the type of “milk” and “milk-based” beverages and foods you choose, be sure you are consuming enough calcium, protein and other vital nutrients from dairy or nondairy sources. When choosing nondairy alternatives, particularly for consumption by children, be sure to read product labels and watch out for artificial ingredients and added sugar.

Due to the unique needs of their developing bodies, it is important to ensure your kids are getting the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, as well as sufficient amounts of high-quality fat and protein, on a daily basis.

Raw Milk: A Source of Superior Nutrition if You Can Tolerate Dairy

Nondairy alternatives aside for a moment, if you are able to tolerate milk, I highly recommend you drink raw milk from organic, grass fed cows. You are sure to enjoy the thick, creamy taste and the many beneficial nutrients raw milk provides, such as calcium, enzymes, omega-3s and probiotics.

The best raw, unpasteurized milk comes from healthy cows raised on open pasture where they are free from herbicides and other toxic chemicals known to negatively affect the quality and taste of the final product.

If you’re new to raw milk, you should note the appearance of grass fed organic milk is quite different from the milk you may have purchased from the grocery store. It usually has a yellowish color resulting from the carotenoids in the grass. It is one of the healthiest beverages around and far superior to the pasteurized variety. Most also agree it has a superior taste compared to pasteurized milk.

Final Thoughts from the Nation’s No. 1 ‘Health’ Agency

In the months ahead, the FDA has committed to addressing the “dairy versus nondairy” issue openly and thoroughly. The first public stakeholder meeting was held in July 2018.27 About the process, Gottlieb stated:28

“We will not be doing this in a vacuum. We’re going to have an active public process for reviewing our standard and how consumers understand the use of terms like ‘milk’ on both animal-derived and plant-based products.

We want to see if the nutritional characteristics and other differences between these products are well-understood by consumers when making dietary choices for themselves and their families.

We must better understand if consumers are being misled as a result of the way the term ‘milk’ is being applied and making less informed choices as a result.

At the FDA, we have a unique chance to empower individuals who are using nutrition to improve their health and the health of their families, and to leverage diet and nutrition as a tool for impacting the burden caused by chronic disease.”

The true test of the FDA’s commitment to the American public will only be seen in the action they take. If and when the FDA opens up the lines of communication for citizen input, I encourage you to share your opinions about nondairy alternatives. By speaking up and working together, we can continue to influence government agencies like the FDA.

Mercury-Free Dentists — Pioneers and Catalysts for 21st Century Health Care

By Dr. Mercola

We finish up this, our eighth, Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, with a documentary by Elizabeth Hong and Daniel Montoya. "Mercury Undercover" exposes the very real dangers of mercury toxicity, and its connection to amalgam fillings.

Amalgam, also called "silver fillings," is in fact a massive consumer fraud. By referring to the color of the compound rather than its content, consumers everywhere have been tricked into placing a known neurotoxin in their mouths.

Think about it: If your dentist said, "OK, I'm going to put a large mercury filling into this molar," you'd probably sit up and say, "Hey doc, maybe we should talk about this!"

Most people are aware that mercury is hazardous to health, but if they don't know that amalgam contains mercury, then they cannot object to it in the first place. And that's exactly how the dental industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) want it.

Most Americans Are Deceived by Inaccurate Term

In a report titled, "Measurably Misleading"1 Consumers for Dental Choice, led by Charlie Brown, former attorney general of West Virginia, reveals how the FDA and the dental industry have deceived you about amalgam.

A Zogby poll, commissioned by Consumers for Dental Choice, reveals that Americans are indeed fooled by the terms "silver fillings" and "amalgam."

Fifty-seven percent of Americans are unaware that amalgam is a mercury filling, and 23 percent believe amalgam is made of silver. Also, a mere 11 percent of people say their dentist ever told them that amalgam contains mercury.

The FDA is responsible for addressing consumer fraud that occurs in medicine and health. But when it comes to mercury fillings, the agency has refused to take corrective action. Not only that, it actually condones, not condemns, the marketing of amalgam as "silver fillings." Hence, the deception continues.

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Dental Mercury Fuels Chronic Inflammation in Your Body

Indisputable evidence exists that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor when you eat, drink hot liquids, brush your teeth, or otherwise stimulate your teeth.

As noted in a 2010 scientific review2 on mercury exposure and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury. Ideally, exposure should be zero, so any dentist insisting that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is really not acting in an ethical manner.

The mercury vapors released from the amalgam in your teeth readily pass through your cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system. Effects can be psychological, neurological, and/or immunological.

At above average doses, brain functions such as reaction time, judgment, and language can be impaired. At very high exposures, mercury can affect your ability to walk, speak, think, and see clearly.

One 2012 study3 evaluating the effects of mercury on cognition in otherwise healthy adults found that those with blood mercury levels below 5 µg/L had the best cognitive functions. Mild impairment was evident at blood mercury levels of 5 to 15 µg/L and above 15 µg/L, cognition was significantly impaired.

Mercury is also known to cause kidney damage, which is why it's so important to have your mercury fillings removed by a properly trained biological dentist. As explained by mercury expert Chris Shade, Ph.D., mercury can also displace other elements such as zinc and copper, by attaching to the receptors that would otherwise hold these essential minerals.

Overall, mercury has a very strong ability to dysregulate your entire system, which is part of the reason why mercury toxicity symptoms are so difficult to pin down. For example, I've written about one case in which a woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis came to realize she was actually suffering from mercury toxicity. She recovered after undergoing an appropriate detoxification protocol.

Putting an End to FDA's Concealment of Mercury

For decades, the FDA and American Dental Association (ADA) have successfully concealed the fact that amalgam is made of 50 percent mercury, and that there are health risks associated with mercury fillings. It's time for the truth to be acknowledged.

The Minamata treaty on mercury , thanks to an aggressive and strategic three-year campaign by Brown and his team, includes a mandate that every ratifying nation scale down amalgam use –- and start immediately. The United States ratified the Minamata Convention, which entered into legal force a year ago this week, on August 16, 2017.

The FDA's stance on amalgam is in direct violation of the Minamata Convention, as its amalgam rule advocates more mercury fillings for Americans, not less! Thus, Consumers for Dental Choice created a petition to FDA, signed onto so far by over 45,000 people.

Why Do Half of All American Dentists Still Use Mercury Amalgam?

When Consumers for Dental Choice was founded, only 3 percent of dentists were mercury-free. The organization has been instrumental in catalyzing change in the industry. Today, more than 50 percent of dentists in America have stopped using mercury filings. Unfortunately, we seem to have stalled out at around 50 percent of dentists who still insist on using amalgam.

"We think the pro-mercury dentists have stabilized because they won't learn anything new and the profits are so easy," Brown says.

Indeed, dentists make more money per chair per day when using mercury fillings. For factory-style dentistry, where the teeth represent dollar signs instead of part of a human being, dentists drill, fill and bill.

And of course, since amalgam damages tooth structure and cracks teeth, pro-mercury dentists continue to profit from amalgam long after its initial placement. The good news is that in virtually every community in America you can now find a mercury-free dentist, and I urge you to keep looking until you find one. You can use the seven links at the bottom of this page to help you find one.

"Never go to a dentist that uses mercury fillings on anybody; on the welfare child, on the young, on the old, on the black or white, or the Asian, or on anyone. Do not go to that dentist. Don't give them one dollar, one euro, one pound, one peso, or one Australian dollar. Go to a mercury-free dentist; the men and women who only put safe materials in everyone's mouth," Brown advises.

For Decades, the ADA Forbade Dentists to Reveal Truth About Amalgam

The ADA's longstanding effort to keep consumers uninformed is another factor that has kept the secret going for so long. The ADA owns two patents on amalgam: patent numbers 4,018,600 and 4,078,921.

The patents have now expired, but while they were in effect the ADA went to incredible lengths to wipe out mercury-free dentistry and quash dissent from the emerging critics of mercury-based dentistry. It went so far as to adopt a "rule of conduct" that actually prohibited dentists from discussing mercury with their patients:

"Based on available scientific data, the ADA has determined that the removal of amalgam restorations from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical."

Yes, the ADA said it is unethical for a dentist to tell the truth to his patients. This gag rule, enforced by state dental boards, clearly violated the First Amendment. It was finally undone by Consumers for Dental Choice, starting in 1998, and by dentists who boldly stepped forward over the years. Still, the effects linger.

Mercury Has No Place in 21st Century Dentistry

As noted in the Consumers for Dental Choice report "Measurably Misleading"4 a majority of consumers are not given even the most basic information about amalgam — the fact that it contains mercury. The central deception revolves around referring to mercury fillings as "silver" or "amalgam."

Still to this day, many dentists will not use the "M" word, mercury, in talking to their patients for fear of jeopardizing their license, thanks to the ADA's rule of conduct (above). For a long while now, mercury has been dentistry's greatest controversy and its great little secret.

Fortunately, dentists worldwide are now moving toward mercury-free dentistry. Indeed, it's time for dentists everywhere to "grab the bull by the horn" and tell their patients that amalgam is about 50 percent mercury. The word "silver filling" is a deception, and "amalgam" is an ambiguity.

Both terms need to be replaced with the truthful description of "mercury filling." Mercury-free dentistry is the future, but to get there, consumers need to be told the truth, and that means that dentists need to speak out and make their voices heard in their communities.

Bringing Mercury-Free Dentistry to the US

Working with talented environmental, consumer, and health leaders, Consumers for Dental Choice has launched mercury amalgam phase-out campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to complement the North American campaign. The world and American campaigns are synergistic, each helping feed the other. In the United States, efforts are also being redoubled, with a focus on forcing the FDA to uphold the promise made by the nation when it signed the Minamata treaty on mercury pollution.

It's quite simple really. The United States of America has made a promise to the international community to immediately begin reducing the use of amalgam.

Consumers for Dental Choice and its leader Charlie Brown continue their full-court-press campaign to bring mercury-free dentistry to the U.S. and worldwide. If you wish to stay informed, I encourage you to follow them on Facebook. You can also receive their announcements by joining their mailing list at

Three Ways You Can Help the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry

This is the week we can get Consumers for Dental Choice the funding it deserves to achieve these aims. I have found few NGOs as effective, and none as efficient, as Consumers for Dental Choice. Its small team has led the charge on six continents – including ours! So for the eighth year in a row, I will match the funds you give.

The goal is to raise $125,000. I’ve upped the ante 25 percent from last year’s cap of $100,000.  So, please, consider giving a generous donation, and all funds received will be matched by Natural Health Research Foundation, which I founded. There are three ways you can help Consumers for Dental Choice succeed:

1. Use only mercury-free dentists. If your dentist still offers amalgam as a choice, switch to one who will not put mercury in anyone's mouth. Also be sure to let your dentist know why you're leaving.

2. Join Consumers for Dental Choice's newsletter list on, or, or write to Charlie Brown at

3. Make a donation. I will match donations dollar for dollar. To succeed in the battle against the FDA, we need to reach that $125,000 goal.

If you prefer to mail your donation, please send your check to: Consumers for Dental Choice, 316 F Street, N.E., Suite 210, Washington, DC, 20002

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Here's How to Grow Horseradish

By Dr. Mercola

You can get a 6-ounce jar of extra hot, “feels like your hair is falling out” Atomic brand horseradish sauce on Amazon for $5.99. If you’re a horseradish lover, that might not be a problem, but can you imagine growing your own spicy horseradish roots to produce your own horseradish sauces, saving money and learning the tricks of this easy-to-propagate, fast-growing crop?

Horseradish tolerates nearly every climate, but generally requires full sun or part shade. Starting with “crowns” or roots acquired either by a generous gardening friend, the supermarket or nursery, these are best planted in the spring for harvesting in fall, winter and the following spring. For one household, three plants is usually all you need to rustle up some tantalizingly tasty heat for any number of dishes, or a simple spread for sandwiches.

Although it can be grown from seed, horseradish is usually propagated from a small root piece. With its botanical name Armoracia rusticana, horseradish roots may look a little like skinny parsnips or pale carrots with their tough, leathery skin. But one nick of your hoe on their brown skin reveals not just cream-colored flesh inside, but a nasal-burning sensation that tells you there’s something a little hotter going on.

Horseradish is usually made into a sauce that turns potatoes, sandwiches, eggs and roast beef — and that’s a very limited list — into a flavor sensation. Patricia Boudier, co-owner of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, featured in the above video, explains her own experience with the spicy root:

“I grew up eating horseradish. We put it in our potatoes, we grated it on sandwiches and we made a cream sauce out of it. And if you like a wasabi rush, you need to grow some horseradish.”

The unique essence of horseradish is a pleasant addition to kimchi, fermented mustard, flavorful summer rolls, sushi, and bread-and-butter pickles. Wasabi, however, is the Japanese version of a tasty heat in a thick green paste that many people crave, but few people are aware that much of the “wasabi” sold in the U.S. is actually horseradish. Morning Chores explains:

“True wasabi — as in the stuff made from the Wasabia Japonica root — is incredibly hard to find outside of Japan. The plant is also super picky about growing conditions. In fact, to grow it in most areas, you'd need to create the perfect artificial conditions and intensively care for plants for two years before harvesting.”1

The Key to the Kick: Two Healing Plant Chemicals

Preparing horseradish for your table isn’t much more difficult than shopping for it at the store, bringing it home and twisting off the lid. After harvesting it, simply peel the rough skin and grate the root straight up into whatever dish needs an extra punch of flavor. The key to the kick, it turns out, comes from powerful plant chemicals known as isothiocyanates.

Derived from the hydrolysis of glucosinolates, the sulfur-containing compounds found in horseradish (including glucosinate enzymes that are 10 times more powerful than those in broccoli2), are especially effective in fighting lung and esophageal cancers.3 These gastrointestinal and respiratory tract cancers can be diminished by these phytochemicals, according to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.4 As one study5 notes, isothiocyanates are effective against cancer in three different ways:

  1. They prevent carcinogens from activating
  2. They counteract the toxic effects of activated carcinogens
  3. They fast-track their removal from your body

The Linus Pauling Institute asserts that cruciferous vegetables such as horseradish contain a variety of glucosinolates, each of which forms a different isothiocyanate when hydrolyzed. That hydrolysis is catalyzed by a class of enzymes known as myrosinase (or β-thioglucosidase) which forms several breakdown compounds, including indoles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates.6

In addition, whether you eat them or are exposed to them in the environment, antioxidant sulforaphane increases enzymes in your liver that help destroy cancer-causing chemicals. It’s even been called one of the most powerful anticarcinogens found in food.7 Other areas the compounds in horseradish have been known to be effective against include skin blemishes, gallbladder problems, respiratory problems, headaches, asthma, sciatic nerve pain and more.

Horseradish to Eat for Fall and Winter Heat

Without adding a lot of adjectives, you could simply say growing horseradish is easy. The root is not only what you eat; it’s also what you plant, and they grow deep into the soil like a carrot. Here’s one tip that helps explain just how easy: If you don’t harvest the entire root, you’ll end up with another horseradish plant the following year, as it easily propagates on its own.

In fact, it’s so easy you may need to learn a few tricks to keep it from cropping up in flower beds next to it. Leaving a one-and-a-half-foot buffer zone between your horseradish and other plants may be wise; if the rhizomes start popping up in the buffer zone, dig them up and share them with heat-loving friends and neighbors, or start another plant bed.

While you can plant horseradish roots directly into the ground, to prevent the horseradish invasion and make harvesting easier as well, you can use large pots or half-size barrels that hold a minimum of 15 gallons.

Horseradish is very cold hardy; some sources says it grows best in gardening zones 4 through 7, which encompasses roughly the upper three-quarters of the U.S., but others maintain zones 3 and 9 work well, too. The good news is that if you’re looking for heat, horseradish thrives where hard freezes are common, as it forces the plants into dormancy. It also becomes more pungent where long, cool growing seasons are the norm, particularly in the fall. Mother Earth News offers a few more tips:

“Growing horseradish is easy in Zones 4 to 7, where established horseradish plants require little care… (It) grows best in moist, silty soils like those found in river bottomland, but enriched clay or sandy loam with a near neutral pH is acceptable. Situate horseradish roots diagonally in the soil, with the slanted end down and the flat end up.”8

That said, the above video features Boudier’s tips on growing horseradish in gardening Zone 8, which covers a wide horizontal band across the Southern U.S., generally from South Carolina through middle Texas to narrower bands upward to Washington state. This zone’s first frost date is December 1, the last frost date is April 1, and temperatures rarely dip below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Propagating Horseradish: Tips and Tricks

Because these roots have a tendency to dry out after being harvested, you may want to soak yours in water for a few hours before planting. Fill your pot (or garden plot) with a high-quality potting soil. Place a single root into one pot with the crown at the top (where the leaves will emerge) as horseradish becomes quite large. Cover the root with about 5 inches of soil, and while you don’t want them to get waterlogged, keep them watered well until the plants are about 1 foot high. Don’t worry; they grow incredibly fast.

Boudier also recommends adding a high phosphorus-low nitrogen fertilizer (too much nitrogen may produce more leaves than roots) or booster blend to your soil will help augment the root system, but your own compost tea is a recipe that’s inexpensive and simple to make. In fact, you can make a compost tea out of the horseradish itself. It’s useful as a preventive fungicide that you can spray on fruits and other plants to prevent or treat damaging and unsightly diseases. Off the Grid News reports:

“Horseradish is a potent substance, as anyone who has eaten it can tell you. That spicy flavor indicates a potent cleanser that is an excellent way to prevent fungal infections and particularly, brown rot in apple trees. Process 1 cup of horseradish roots in a blender or food processor and mix with 2 cups of water. Let it sit for 24 hours and strain out the roots. Dilute this liquid with 2 quarts of water.

It is best to use the spray in the early morning or in the evening. Do not spray when it is too hot, or it may burn your plant’s leaves. Before trying any spray, you would be wise to test it on one leaf first. Observe the leaf 24 hours later to see if there was an adverse reaction. Only spray the part of the plant that is diseased. Protect yourself while spraying. Some of the ingredients may be irritating to your eyes, nose, or skin.”9

When you look at different types of horseradish varieties, the first thing you’ll likely notice about the generally long, narrow leaves is that they can vary. Older strains can be as wide as 10 inches across, while “Bohemian” (smooth-leaf) varieties originating in Czechoslovakia, such as Maliner Kren (crinkly), are usually what’s used when the plant is grown commercially, and these leaves are narrower.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension10 explains that as horseradish plants grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall, they develop numerous leaves. Varieties can also be identified by the smoothness (i.e., the Big Top Western strain, created at the University of Illinois11), “frilliness,” or the crinkly texture (Common, Swiss and Sass varieties) of the leaves.

Similar to planting other herbs and vegetables, growing horseradish in the same place year after year can deplete the soil of beneficial organic matter and minerals. To remedy that, applying compost every fall is recommended. Beyond that, when you’re ready to harvest, be careful to remove all the roots when harvesting, snip off the green leaves, wash the soil off and place them in a baggie in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

Protecting Horseradish Naturally, and Why Growing Your Own Is Best

Like other plants, organically grown horseradish is not immune to disease and/or pests, but there are natural ways to both prevent most problems and solve them should they occur. Morning Chores12 and Off the Grid News13 tackle a few of the most common problems with growing crucifers, including horseradish, offering practical and natural ways to deal with each:

Imported cabbage moth larva — Watch for small white moths with tiny black dots on their wings, as they lay eggs that become this leaf-destroying pest. The best way to deal with these caterpillars is to pick them off by hand or place them in a bowl of soapy water.

Imported crucifer weevil — Metallic blue beetles with pointy faces produce larvae that bore into horseradish roots. You can use diatomaceous earth, which is a form of algae. It has sharp, microscopic edges that cut into insect bodies if ingested, destroying them from the inside out, but without being harmful to mammals.

White rust — This looks like white pustules on the plant, mostly due to being waterlogged or planted too closely together. Bacterial leaf spot starts as dark green spots that eventually turn brown. Sprayed liberally with a homemade fungicide made from horseradish itself may be an effective natural, DIY remedy:

“Process one cup of horseradish roots in a blender or food processor and mix with two cups of water. Let it sit for 24 hours and strain out the roots. Dilute this liquid with 2 quarts of water.”14

The ease of growing horseradish makes it more fun than a chore, but there are other factors that may make the prospect even more attractive. At the grocery store or supermarket, if you take a look at the labels of several commercially produced horseradish preparations, you may notice more than the root and a little water; in fact, you might find surprising — not to mention unwanted — ingredients.

For instance, according to the manufacturers’ labels, Rothschild’s15 contains soybean oil and corn syrup. So does Woebers Sandwich Pal.16 Heinz Premium17 has soybean oil, sugar and high fructose corn syrup in it, as does Inglehoffer Cream Style Horseradish,18 which also adds the preservative sodium benzoate, which one study reported to be “clastogenic, mutagenic and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes” and “significantly increased DNA damage.”19

Morrison’s Hot Horseradish Sauce contains titanium dioxide for color, but one study shows it induces both DNA damage and genetic instability.20

So how easy is it to grow horseradish, someone may wonder? Boudier’s answer is succinct as well as encouraging: “Make sure it’s free of weeds, water it when it dries out, let it grow all summer and harvest it after the first frost.”

Add Some Leeks to Your Life

By Dr. Mercola

If you've never tried leeks, you may be interested to include them in your fall garden this year. Actually, you can grow leeks year-round, but given their hardiness to cold, they make a great fall crop. If you live in an area with mild winters, you can even leave leeks in the ground during winter and harvest them in early spring. Now is the time to consider growing (and eating more) leeks.

Taking a Peek at Leeks, the Tall, Leafy Cousin of Garlic and Onions

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum porrum) are a member of the allium family vegetables, closely related to garlic, onions, scallions and shallots. Given their thick green sheaths and long floppy leaves, leeks stand out in the crowd. In fact, leeks grow 12 to 30 inches tall, 9 to 12 inches wide and 1 to 2 inches in diameter.1

Often considered to be a root vegetable, leeks don't typically form a bulb. When it's been blanched and kept tender, you'll find the bottom 6 inches of a leek's leaf sheath to be the most edible and enjoyable part of the plant. When preparing leeks for eating, you can compost the tough upper leaves or use them to make stock. Due to their cold hardiness, you can plant leeks year-round. As such, they were featured in my article titled Plan and Plant Your Fall Garden Now.

Leeks are biennial and will grow a flower stalk in the second year. That said, you'll want to harvest them in the first year. Only allow leeks to bloom if you are interested in saving seed; otherwise, treat them as an annual.

Though they were once rarely seen outside of potato-leek soup in the American food mainstream, leeks are growing in popularity. They have a long history of culinary use around the world, including northern Europe. Thought to originate in the Mediterranean and Central Asia, leeks also were cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks and popularized by the Romans.2

The subtle, mild flavor of leeks adds depth to a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews and stir-fries. Leeks can be enjoyed cooked or uncooked. They add antioxidants, beneficial fiber, bulk and as well as important vitamins and minerals to any meal.

Suggested Leek Varieties You May Want to Try

Mother Earth News suggests types of leeks you may want to try, based on your choice of growing season, as follows:3

  • Summer leeks: Lincoln, Kalima, King Richard, Rikor or Titan
  • Fall and early winter varieties: Falltime, Imperial, Tadorna or Varna
  • Winter-hardy types: American Flag, Blue Solaise, Giant Musselburgh, Siegfried or Winter Giant

In most U.S. regions, says Mother Earth News,4 the winter-hardy varieties will endure winter and resume growing in early spring when temperatures warm. If you plant winter-hardy leeks, be sure to mulch them well and harvest them in the spring before they flower and produce seed. If you wait to harvest them until late spring, chances are they will have turned woody. As such, to ensure the best flavor, harvest winter leeks between January and April.

How to Grow Leeks

When planning for leeks, be sure to plant them early in the growing season because most varieties take 120 to 150 days to mature. If you want them ready sooner, seek out one of the modern cultivars that have been bred to be ready in about 90 days. Below are tips from gardening experts on how to grow leeks:5,6


Leeks do well either direct-sown or as transplants. If you live in a cold climate, start seeds indoors, using a loose, well-aerated seed-starter mix, eight to 12 weeks before your last spring frost. Give them plenty of light. When outdoor temperatures remain above 40 degrees F, you can harden the plants off slowly during a period of seven to 14 days and then transplant them in your garden.

In warmer climates, you can start seeds indoors three to four weeks prior to your last spring frost and then transplant your seedlings outdoors for an early summer harvest. Another option is to direct-sow seeds in your garden in late summer for a winter through early spring harvest.

To avoid damage from diseases and pests known to linger in the soil, choose a planting site where onions, garlic and other alliums have not grown for several years. Check out the featured video above for two demonstrations on the best way to plant leeks in your garden.


Although they will tolerate somewhat alkaline soil, leeks thrive in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. To fuel the growth of their long leaves, you'll want a loose, rich soil with lots of organic matter. If desired, you can add a balanced fertilizer during the transplanting process.


Because leek leaves grow in the same direction, you can set your transplants out as close as 2 to 6 inches apart as long as you allow room for the leaves room to branch out into the spaces between rows.


Leeks thrive in full sun.

Pests and problems

In terms of pests, watch out for onion maggots, thrips and slugs, which may nibble leaves and stunt growth. Leaf rot or leek rust can be a problem in the case of damp weather, wet soil or poor air circulation, so be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings. Remove any infected plant material as soon as it appears.


Provide about 1 inch of water weekly. If desired, you can mulch the plants to help retain water, cool the soil and prevent weeds. By the way, weed control is vital to the success of your leeks because they don't like to compete with weeds for water and nutrients.


Although leeks are not heavy feeders, due to their long maturity, you may want to apply a side dressing of composted manure or a high-nitrogen fertilizer midseason. Alternately, you can apply fish emulsion fertilizer occasionally throughout the growing season to keep your leeks growing strong.

Two Tips to Ensure Your Success When Growing Leeks

Below are two tips provided by The Spruce to ensure your success when growing leeks:7

Blanching: Leek shafts are made tastier through a process called blanching, which blocks photosynthesis, thereby keeping the plants tender and sweet. You can blanch your leeks by planting them in a trench or mounding up soil or straw at the base of the plants as they grow. Another option is to place wide boards alongside your rows in the shape of an inverted "V" when your leeks reach a height of 8 inches. All of these methods block the sun's access to the plant, thereby creating a white sheath.

Grittiness: Due to the tight formation of their sheaths and close proximity to the soil, leeks are well-known for attracting grit. As the plant grows, soil can easily become trapped between the leaves. One way to keep them cleaner is to slip a cardboard tube, such as those used for paper towels and toilet paper, over young leek plants. Not only will the tube keep out the grit, but it will also disintegrate naturally.

Harvesting Leeks

Because leeks don't die back like onions, signaling their readiness, it's best to wait to harvest them until the base feels firm and solid and is at least 1 inch in diameter.8 The best way to harvest mature leeks is to dig them up with a gardening fork. When harvesting immature leeks, simply twist and pull them from the soil.

As mentioned, leeks are frost tolerant. If you live in a mild climate you can leave them in the ground all winter long. Because leeks will store better in the ground than in your refrigerator, harvest them in small batches and use them within a day or two.

Tasty Ways to Prepare and Enjoy Leeks

When preparing leeks for eating, the hardest part may be removing the mud and grit they've attracted while in the ground. Due to the blanching process, which may have involved trenching, your leeks might contain layer upon layer of dirt. An effective way to clean leeks is to start by cutting them in half lengthwise and rinsing them well. Another option is to soak them in cold water for several minutes and then rinse them afterward.

Taking extra time to wash your leeks well is important says Dani Lind, owner and operator of Rooted Spoon Culinary in Viroqua, Wisconsin. She states, "Really take care when cleaning leeks — there's nothing worse than biting into a mouth full of grit in an otherwise carefully prepared dish."9 Lind offers the following tasty suggestions for preparing and enjoying leeks:10

Add chopped leeks to soups; consider combining leeks with chicken, cream and potatoes

Blanch chopped leeks in boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften and then add them to salads

Cut leeks in half lengthwise and braise in water with aromatic herbs

Cut leeks lengthwise into quarters, blanch, brush with coconut oil and grill

Poach chopped leeks in an oven-safe casserole dish with wild-caught fish, lemon, white wine and dill

Roast chunks of leeks with beets, onions, potatoes, turnips and other fall vegetables

Sauté chopped leeks in coconut oil along with garlic, onions and your favorite herbs

Use whole or halved (lengthwise) leeks as a base for slow roasting large cuts of grass fed beef, chicken, lamb or pork

Nutrition Facts for Leeks

Leeks are a good source of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Due to the presence of folate, adequate intake of leeks during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in newborns. In addition, the B vitamins in leeks may support heart health by keeping your levels of homocysteine in balance, which is important because elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease, blood clots and stroke.

Leeks Nutrition Facts11

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
% Daily
Calories 61  
Calories from Fat 3  
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 g
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 20 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 14 g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2 g 7%
Sugar 4 g  
Protein 1 g  
Vitamin A33% Vitamin C 20%
Calcium6% Iron 12%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Eating Leeks May Help Protect You from Cancer and Heart Disease

Leeks are versatile, tasty and easy to prepare. If you are unfamiliar with them, I encourage you to give them a try. As with most vegetables, you may enjoy them more if you grow them in your own garden. Leeks have much to offer in the way of nutrition. Similar to garlic, the therapeutic effects of leeks centers around its sulfur-containing compounds like allicin.

Allicin is a well-known antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant agent. When digested, allicin produces sulfenic acid, a compound known for its fast action to neutralize free radicals. Leeks also contain kaempferol, a natural flavonoid found in broccoli, cabbage and kale.

Kaempferol has been shown to help your body resist cancer and other chronic diseases. As reported in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry:12

"Some epidemiological studies have found a positive association between the consumption of foods containing kaempferol and a reduced risk of developing several disorders such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Numerous preclinical studies have shown that kaempferol and some glycosides of kaempferol have a wide range of pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antiosteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic activities."

Kaempferol is also known to protect your blood vessel linings from damage, possibly by increasing production of nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels to dilate and relax.13 In a meta-analysis of 19 studies involving 543,220 subjects, researchers found consuming large amounts of allium vegetables, including leeks, may significantly reduce your risk of gastric cancer.14 Another study suggests the consumption of allium vegetables like leeks can protect against other types of cancer too:15

"Allium vegetables have been shown to have beneficial effects against several diseases, including cancer. Garlic, onions, leeks and chives have been reported to protect against stomach and colorectal cancers …

The protective effect appears to be related to the presence of organosulfur compounds and mainly allyl derivatives, which inhibit carcinogenesis in the forestomach, esophagus, colon, mammary gland and lung of experimental animals."

Fall is a great time to plant leeks. Given their many health benefits and culinary versatility, you're sure to enjoy growing leeks. If you're looking for one last reason to plant leeks, check out my Delectable Potato Leek Frittata With Dill and Creamy Mustard Dipping Sauce Recipe. Now is the time to add some leeks to your life!

Lobelia May Help in Respiratory Health and Muscle Relaxation

Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), or Indian tobacco, is a flowering herb that is named after the Belgian botanist, Matthias de l’Obel.1 It was formerly used as a substance to aid in smoking cessation, but has since been discontinued because of mixed results.

In a broader sense, lobelia can refer to a wide variety of flowering plants, with some botanists claiming that these varieties belong to a separate family, Lobeliaceae.2 One of the most common and popular variety of lobelias is the Lobelia inflata variety. Other varieties of lobelia plants include both Lobelia siphilitica and Lobelia cardinalis. These varieties normally can be distinguished from the Lobelia inflata through their flowers’ different colors.

Lobelia siphilitica is the most cultivated variety of this plant and is often called the “great blue lobelia” because of its vivid blue flowers, as opposed to the pale color of Lobelia inflata.3 Lobelia cardinalis is also much easier to differentiate because of the distinct bright red color of its flowers.4

Because of its dainty flowers, lobelia plants are usually planted in the garden or in window boxes to accentuate the ambience of the surroundings. However, its beauty sometimes leads to its nutritional components being overlooked.

Nutritional Benefits of Lobelia Inflata

Here are some of the benefits that you’ll likely receive when you start using lobelia therapeutically:

  • Respiratory stimulant and antispasmodic: Lobelia may help the bronchial tubes relax, stimulating breathing and loosening phlegm.5
  • Expectorant: Lobelia decreases the viscosity and promotes the excretion of mucus produced in the respiratory system. It works by triggering the cough reflex and is said to be more effective than other expectorants. It is commonly used to ease pneumonia and bronchitis.6
  • Muscle relaxant: In small doses, lobelia may help constricted areas in the body relax, promoting better blood circulation. It may also aid in easing stomach cramps and other body tensions.7

Scientific studies have also linked lobelia to seizure prevention and neuron protection in those with Parkinson’s disease. In a 2014 study published in the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, lobeline, an alkaloid from lobelia, was found to inhibit dopamine transportation by blocking DAT-mediated uptake. This helps protect dopaminergic neurons from toxins that may trigger neuron damage and death.8

In a 2012 study from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, mice were given isolated lobeline to measure the preventive effects the alkaloid has on pentylenetetrazol- and strychnine-induced seizures. The anticonvulsant properties of lobeline were found to be effective in increasing GABA, which helps offset seizures.9

How Do You Use Lobelia?

Applied externally, lobelia may help relax smooth muscles through its antispasmodic properties.10 It can also be added to your bathwater. For oral ingestion, lobelia can be dried and then brewed into tea.11 For best results, consult your physician to determine the appropriate dosage for you, so that you can avoid ingesting too little or too much of this herb.

Here’s How You Can Grow Your Own Lobelia

Lobelia is commonly planted in regions with low temperatures. But while they thrive well in cold climates, they are actually very sensitive to frost. Listed below is a step-by-step guide on how to successfully plant lobelia in your backyard either for ornamental or medicinal purposes:12

  1. Start indoors roughly 10 to 12 weeks prior to the last frost in your region. Spread the tiny seeds just on top of the soil and water thoroughly. Place them in a warm, well-lit area.
  2. The seedlings should pop up within a week or two, at which time you can begin thinning them out.
  3. After the danger of frost is gone and the plants are at least 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant them to your garden — spacing them about 4 to 6 inches apart.
  4. During hot and dry periods, water the plants frequently, especially if they are planted in containers.

Try This Recipe for This Muscle Relaxer Tea

Because of the strong effects of lobelia when taken in it’s pure form, some people choose to incorporate it into their various tea recipes. One such example is this recipe from Living Herbal Tea, which combines lobelia with other tea leaves:13

Muscle Relaxer Herbal Tea Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons sage
  • 2 tablespoons chamomile
  • 1 tablespoons peppermint
  • 1 pinch lobelia
  • Water


  1. Combine the herbs. Steep 1 tablespoon of the herb blend in 8 ounces (approximately one standard mug full) of boiled water for five to seven minutes. Steeping too long or in water that’s too hot will cause the blend to become bitter.
  2. Keep your cup covered while the tea steeps to make sure you don’t lose any of the flavor or healing properties.
  3. Allow the tea to cool to a safe and comfortable temperature. Sip and enjoy.

Watch Out for These Contraindications and Possible Side Effects of This Herb

Even though it has a variety of health benefits when taken in moderation, lobelia may actually be poisonous when ingested in large quantities. It’s also poisonous for pets and other animals, and should be removed from the vicinity where these pets reside to avoid them from being harmed.14 If you have pets, do not plant this herb in an area that’s accessible to them. Some of the side effects that you may experience when you ingest lobelia include the following:15

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors

Severe symptoms may arise if you overdose on lobelia. If you observe the following side effects, immediately seek the attention of a healthcare professional:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Convulsions

Lobelia should also be avoided when you suffer from the following conditions and diseases:

  • High blood pressure and heart disease: Lobelia is a vasomotor stimulant and may cause an increase in blood pressure. This may worsen the symptoms of high blood pressure and could even cause irreversible damage.16
  • Tobacco sensitivity: Lobelia contains lobeline, a substance that has the same effect of nicotine in the human body. This alkaloid contains about 5 to 20 percent of nicotine’s potency.17,18

Lobelia should not be used by people who suffer from liver or kidney disease, seizures or shortness of breath. Like other herbs and medications, lobelia should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women, as it may cause adverse effects.19

Anxiety May Be an Inherited Trait

By Dr. Mercola

Anxiety has exponentially risen in recent years. Not only do more than half of all American college students report anxiety,1,2 research3 also shows anxiety — characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear — is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the U.S. may be as high as 40 million, or about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, making it the most common mental illness in the nation.4,5

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don’t involve drugs. This is well worth remembering, as doctors are far more likely to prescribe opioids to patients who complain of anxiety than those who do not have any mental health issues.

Anxious and/or depressed patients also receive higher dosages. Remarkably, nearly 19 percent of Americans diagnosed with a mental health disorder use narcotic painkillers, compared to just 5 percent of those without a mental health disorder.6

Opioids are extremely addictive, and if you’re already struggling with anxiety, you may be at even greater risk of addiction and its potentially lethal consequences. What’s more, if you’re concurrently taking benzodiazepines such as Valium, Ativan, Klonopin or Xanax, which are widely prescribed for anxiety, your risk of lethal overdose increases fivefold.7,8,9

Anxiety May Be Inherited From Your Parents

While any number of issues can contribute to anxiety, from diet10 and toxic exposures to sociological conditions,11 recent research suggests you may also inherit a predisposition to anxiety from your parents.

According to this research,12,13 conducted on rhesus monkeys, connectivity between the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis — two brain regions involved in the processing of fear — can be passed from parents to their offspring.

Lead author Dr. Ned Kalin, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Newsweek:14

"We are continuing to discover the brain circuits that underlie human anxiety, especially the alterations in circuit function that underlie the early childhood risk to develop anxiety and depressive disorders.

In data from a species closely related to humans, these findings strongly point to alterations in human brain function that contribute to the level of an individual’s anxiety. Most importantly, these findings are highly relevant to children with pathological anxiety, and hold the promise to guide the development of new treatment approaches."

This inherited brain connectivity is nowhere near the complete story, though. The researchers stress that its contribution to the variance in anxiety measurements is small — probably around 4 percent or so. Still, it’s another part of the puzzle, and researchers hope the findings will eventually lead to better intervention strategies in high-risk children.

A Little-Known Contributor to Anxiety and Depression

Paralleling the rise in anxiety and other mental health disorders such as depression is the chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from cellphones and cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, smart meters and other Bluetooth devices, and research shows this exposure can have a direct influence on your mental health.

Thanks to the pioneering work of biochemist Martin Pall, Ph.D., we now know that voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are over 7 million times more sensitive to microwave radiation than the charged particles inside and outside our cells. This means that the safety standards for this exposure are off by a factor of 7 million.

When EMFs hit your VGCCs, nearly 1 million calcium ions per second are released into the cell, which then causes the cell to release excessive nitric oxide (NO). When NO is combined with superoxide, peroxynitrites are created, which in turn form dangerous hydroxyl free radicals that causes massive mitochondrial dysfunction.

The reason your mental health is so easily influenced by EMFs is because one of the organs with the greatest density of VGCCs is your brain. When the channels in the brain are activated, it causes a major disruption in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance that can radically increase the risk for not only anxiety and depression, but also autism and Alzheimer’s.

This research reveals the fatal flaw in the argument that microwave radiation is harmless because it cannot cause thermal damage. The way EMF exposure causes biological damage is by activating VGCCs in your cells, especially nerve cells that have a higher density of VGCCs, triggering a cascade effect that results in peroxynitrite being produced and causing oxidative damage. So, the lack of thermal influence is inconsequential.

Failure to realize this and take steps to minimize your exposure will not only damage your DNA and increase your risk of most chronic illness; it will also seriously impair your body’s ability to detoxify, and significantly impair your immune response to address the large variety of pathogenic infectious assaults.

The take-home message is this: If you or someone you love struggles with anxiety or depression, it would be wise to take whatever steps necessary to minimize your exposure to cellphones, portable phones, Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, wireless computers and tablets, especially exposures at night while you are sleeping. It would also be wise to address other sources of dirty electricity in your home.

How Stress Influences Anxiety

While genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events play a role in the development of anxiety disorders, stress is one of the most common triggers. Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but in some people the anxiety becomes overwhelming and difficult to cope with. The National Institute of Mental Health explains how your brain reacts to stress, and how the anxiety response is triggered:15

“Several parts of the brain are key actors in the production of fear and anxiety … scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders.

The amygdala … is believed to be a communications hub between the parts of the brain that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It can alert the rest of the brain that a threat is present and trigger a fear or anxiety response.

The emotional memories stored in the central part of the amygdala may play a role in anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears, such as fears of dogs, spiders or flying. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories.”

Aside from the hippocampus and amygdala, the thalamus is also involved in anxiety. The stria terminalis is a fibrous band that runs along the lateral margin of the thalamus, and all of these brain areas are involved in the generation and processing of fear and are well-established parts of the “anxiety circuitry” in your brain.16

As noted in the featured monkey study, connectivity between your amygdala and stria terminalis may be inherited from your parents, and if you have this predisposition, then stress may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Your Breathing Also Has Direct Influence on Anxiety

Your breathing is part of the stress response, and the way you breathe is intricately connected to your mental state. I’ve previously published interviews with Patrick McKeown, a leading expert on the Buteyko Breathing Method, where he explains how breathing affects your mind, body and health.

Here, I’ve chosen a video featuring Robert Litman, where he specifically addresses the relationship between breathing and anxiety. According to Buteyko, the founder of the method, anxiety is triggered by an imbalance between gases in your body, specifically the ratio between carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen.

In this video, Litman explains how your breathing affects the ratio of these gases, and demonstrates how you can literally breathe your way into a calmer state of mind.

A Buteyko breathing exercise that can help quell anxiety is summarized below. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate CO2, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state.

  • Take a small breath into your nose; a small breath out; hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath; and then release to resume breathing.
  • Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the sequence several more times: small breath in through your nose, small breath out; hold your breath for five seconds, then let go and breathe normally for 10 seconds.

McKeown has also written a book specifically aimed at the treatment of anxiety through optimal breathing, called “Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind — Featuring the Buteyko Breathing Method and Mindfulness,” which can be found on In addition to the book, also offers a one-hour online course and an audio version of the book, along with several free chapters18 and accompanying videos.19

Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist, has also written an excellent book called “Breathe.” In it, she details a program that can help improve your physical and mental health. You can learn more about her breathing program in this recent interview.

Other Common Contributing Factors

Aside from stress, improper breathing and excessive exposure to microwave radiation from wireless technology, a number of other situations and underlying issues can also contribute to anxiety. This includes but is not limited to the following, and addressing these issues may be what’s needed to resolve your anxiety disorder:

  • Food additives, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, GMOs and glyphosate. Food dyes of particular concern include Blue #1 and #2 food coloring; Green #3; Orange B; Red #3 and #40; Yellow #5 and #6; and the preservative sodium benzoate
  • Gut dysfunction caused by imbalanced microflora. This is often a result of eating too much sugar and junk food
  • Lack of magnesium, vitamin D,20 B vitamins and/or animal-based omega-3. Research has shown a 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3s21
  • Exposure to toxic mold and other toxins. Ask yourself if there’s any kind of pattern; do your symptoms improve when you spend time away from your home or office, for example?

EFT — A Potent Nondrug Treatment Alternative 

In addition to learning proper breathing, another potent treatment alternative that does not involve drugs is the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), one of the most well-established forms of energy psychology. Akin to acupuncture, EFT is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians.

By gently tapping on specific energy meridian points in your body and using verbal affirmations, you can reprogram how your body responds to stress, thereby lowering your anxiety.

Research confirms EFT can be a powerful intervention for stress and anxiety,22,23,24 in part because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.25

In the video above, EFT therapist Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for panic attacks and anxiety relief. For serious or complex issues, you may need a qualified EFT therapist to guide you through the process. That said, the more you tap, the more skilled you’ll become. You can also try acupuncture,26 which like EFT bridges the gap between your mind and body.

Other Nondrug Treatment Options

Considering the risks of psychiatric drugs, I would urge you to view them as a last resort rather than a first-line of treatment. In addition to the breathing exercises and EFT already mentioned, other far safer strategies to explore include:

Regular exercise and daily movement. In addition to the creation of new neurons, including those that release the calming neurotransmitter GABA, exercise boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress.

Many avid exercisers also feel a sense of euphoria after a workout, sometimes known as the "runner's high." It can be quite addictive, in a good way, once you experience just how good it feels to get your heart rate up and your body moving.

Mindfulness training and/or a spiritual practice. Research suggests psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, may be a game changer in the treatment for severe depression and anxiety, and the spiritual intensity of the experience appears to be a key component of the healing.

Magic mushrooms are illegal, so this is not a viable treatment as of yet, but it highlights the importance and relationship between having a spiritual foundation that can provide hope and meaning to your life.

Optimizing your gut microbiome. Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to a variety of psychological problems, including anxiety and depression. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain,27 which helps explain why mental health can be so intricately connected to your gut microbiome.28

For example, fermented foods have been shown to curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.29,30 To learn more about this, please see “Poor Diet, Lack of Sunshine and Spiritual Anemia — Three Potent Contributors to Depression and Anxiety.”

Lowering your sugar and processed food intake. Research shows your diet can have a profound effect on your mental health.31,32 Pay particular attention to nutritional imbalances known to contribute to mental health problems, such as lack of magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins and animal-based omega-3 such as anchovies, sardines, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and/or krill oil.

Studies33 have demonstrated that diets high in fresh produce and healthy fats significantly reduce and can help prevent depression. Conversely, diets high in refined carbs and processed foods are associated with and increased risk.34

Getting plenty of restorative sleep. Poor sleep is strongly associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety (including post-traumatic stress disorder). In fact, researchers have been unable to find a single psychiatric condition in which the subject's sleep is normal.

Being mindful of your exposure to EMFs and use of wireless technologies. At bare minimum, avoid keeping any of these gadgets next to you while sleeping

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They even offer CBT for young children these days.35 A number of universities offer Tao Connect36 to their students, but even if you’re not a student, there are free online programs available that you can use. Some examples include MoodGYM,37 e-couch,38 Learn to Live39 and CBT Online40

Nature therapy and listening to nature sounds. Spending more time in natural environments has been shown to lower anxiety. Nature sounds also have a distinct and powerful effect on your brain, lowering fight-or-flight instincts and activating your rest-and-digest autonomic nervous system.41,42,43

Nature sounds also produce higher rest-digest nervous system activity, which occurs when your body is in a relaxed state. Listening to nature sounds can also help you recover faster after a stressful event.

So, seek out parks, or create a natural sanctuary on your balcony, or indoors using plants and an environmental sound machine. YouTube also has a number of very long videos of natural sounds, such as the one featured above. You could simply turn it on and leave it on while you’re indoors.

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety can take a significant toll on your quality of life, so it’s well worth it to keep going until you find an effective long-term solution. You may need a combination of several interventions. As a general rule, you’d be wise to begin by addressing your diet, and then experiment with a variety of stress reduction techniques, several of which have been mentioned above.

Last but not least, don’t underestimate the value of social interactions — face-to-face, that is, not via social media, as the latter has actually been shown to trigger and worsen anxiety. In fact, “social media anxiety disorder” is now a recognized mental health condition similar to social anxiety disorder.44

According to Sarah Fader, CEO and founder of Stigma Fighters, about 30 percent of social media users spend more than 15 hours a week online, which significantly diminishes your ability to enjoy real life and can worsen feelings of loneliness and inferiority. So, if you’re in the habit of checking your phone several times an hour, consider a smartphone detox. This will also lessen your exposure to damaging microwaves, as discussed earlier.

10 Reasons to Support Mercury-Free Dentistry

By Dr. Mercola

It's Mercury Awareness Week — a time when I focus on how and why we, together, can end the use of dental amalgam, which has no role in 21st century dentistry. By now you likely know that amalgam dental fillings are 50 percent mercury — a toxic heavy metal that has no place in the human body. 

But do you know about all the many other problems caused by this outdated dental product? Next time a pro-mercury dentist tries to illogically claim that the mercury in their amalgam is perfectly safe, as the Boy Scouts motto goes, "Be Prepared."

Today I give you 10 more reasons to support mercury-free dentistry. The bottom line is no one should receive mercury fillings, despite what the pro-mercury dentists, insurance companies and the government bureaucrats say!

The campaign for mercury-free dentistry is led by an effective nonprofit group which spends its funds carefully and efficiently: Consumers for Dental Choice. I have worked closely for several years with its leader, Charlie Brown, and I continue to see the results we need. 

So, I now step up to match all donations received until August 20, 2018. This year, I've raised the match ceiling by 25 percent, from $100,000 to $125,000. With my match, here is a way for you to double your charity money!

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Checks can be mailed to: 

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Reason No. 1: Amalgam's Mercury Puts Children at Risk

Amalgam emits mercury vapor even after it is implanted into the body. This mercury is bioaccumulative and crosses the placenta to accumulate in fetuses, as well. Dental amalgam's mercury is a known health risk, especially for children, fetuses, nursing infants and people with impaired kidney function. 

Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concedes that the developing neurological systems of children and fetuses are more susceptible to "the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor," and that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for these populations.

Now Consumers for Dental Choice is working to make FDA take action to end amalgam use in children — a step the European Union (EU) has already taken. Via citizen petitions, coalition-building, workshops, international pressure and grassroots organizing, they will succeed! You can join in by signing Consumers for Dental Choice's online petition.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Reason No. 2: Amalgam Damages Your Teeth

Placing amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth matter. This removal weakens overall tooth structure, which increases the need for future dental work. On top of that, amalgam fillings — which expand and contract over time — crack teeth, once again creating the need for more dental work.

Consumers for Dental Choice is bringing to light this lesser known health consequence of amalgam, making sure that policymakers and patients know about it too.

Reason No. 3: Amalgam Pollutes the Environment

Amalgam pollutes 1) water via dental clinic releases and human waste; 2) air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration and respiration; and 3) land via landfills, burials and fertilizer. Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to its even more toxic form: methylmercury and becomes a major source of mercury in the fish people eat.

Dental mercury in the environment can cause brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Consumers for Dental Choice was instrumental in getting amalgam recognized as a significant environmental problem at the negotiations for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an environmental treaty that requires countries to reduce their amalgam use. 

In the meantime, Consumers teamed with environmental allies to successfully convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require separators in dental offices to catch amalgam's mercury before it enters the wastewater.

Reason No. 4: Amalgam Endangers Dental Professionals

Due to mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, studies have shown dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels. Few of these dental workers — mostly women of child-bearing age — are given protective garb or air masks to minimize their exposure to mercury; many are not aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure. 

As a result, dental workers have reported neurological problems, reproductive failures and birth defects caused by amalgam in the workplace. Consumers for Dental Choice has been raising awareness of the occupational hazards of mercury in the dental office by working with dental schools and professors, as well as supporting projects to measure the level of mercury in the air in dental clinics to demonstrate just how much mercury dental personnel are exposed to.

Reason No. 5: Amalgam Perpetuates Social Injustice

While middle class consumers opt for mercury-free filling materials, people in developing nations, low-income families, minorities, military personnel, prisoners, and people with disabilities are still subjected to amalgam. Dentists place almost 25 percent more mercury fillings in American Indian patients than in white patients.

In his testimony before Congress, former Virginia state NAACP president Emmitt Carlton described this injustice as "Choice for the rich, mercury for the poor." Consumers for Dental Choice's Medicaid campaign aims to right some of these social injustices by ensuring that even low-income patients have access to mercury-free fillings. 

For example, they are challenging Connecticut's Medicaid program that decreed "Medicaid will not pay for composite restorations in the [adult] molar teeth regardless of whether the [dental] practice markets itself as 'amalgam free'" and tells dentists, "If your office cannot provide amalgam services, please have your patients call the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership (CTDHP) … to locate a new dental home."

Here is your opportunity, with my matching funds, to double the impact of your dollars, and accelerate the end of mercury fillings:

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Reason No. 6: Amalgam Is Frequently Used Unethically  

Most dentists do not inform consumers that amalgam contains mercury. As a result, over 76 percent of consumers do not know that amalgam is mainly mercury, according to Zogby polls. Once informed of this fact, 77 percent of people said they did not want mercury fillings — and were even willing to pay more to avoid this unnecessary source of mercury exposure.

Consumers for Dental Choice has not only documented this problem with Zogby polls, but they have worked to secure and enforce the distribution of amalgam fact sheets in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, California and the city of Philadelphia.

Reason No. 7: Amalgam Is More Expensive

Taxpayers foot the bill for the environmental cleanup of amalgam and the medical care associated with mercury-related health problems. Meanwhile, the dentists who dump their mercury into our environment and our bodies are not held financially liable.

Consumers for Dental Choice documented the high environmental cost of amalgam in the economic report, "The Real Costs of Dental Mercury."1 After environmental costs are added up, each amalgam filling can cost up to $87 more than a comparable composite filling, and that does not even include the added health costs associated with mercury exposure and tooth damage.

Reason No. 8: Amalgam Gets Diverted to Illegal Gold Mining and Other Unlawful Uses

Amalgam is commonly shipped to developing countries labeled for dental use, but is then diverted to illegal use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Not only are the miners exposed to the risks of mercury poisoning, but the dental mercury they use to extract gold is released into the environment.

Consumers for Dental Choice works to raise awareness of these issues, especially in developing countries where illegal gold mining is more common. By teaming with environmental organizations on the ground in these countries, we are able to efficiently spread the word about this unintended — and still dangerous — use of amalgam.

Reason No. 9: Amalgam Holds Back Progress   

The continued use of amalgam keeps the price of mercury-free filling materials high by decreasing demand for these alternatives. As use of mercury-free materials increases, their price is expected to decrease even further.

Additionally, insurance companies that rely on amalgam as the standard filling hold back progress in dentistry by artificially driving demand away from mercury-free fillings. Consumers for Dental Choice is challenging insurance companies with its Demand Your Choice campaign, which urges consumers to speak out against insurance companies that take their money and then only cover mercury fillings.

Reason No. 10: Amalgam Has Been Surpassed by Alternatives

Mercury-free dental fillings have been developed and studied for over 50 years. As a result, a wide variety of alternatives to amalgam fillings are available today; the most popular mercury-free filling is composite.

As Consumers for Dental Choice explains to government officials, dentists and consumers worldwide, mercury-free dental fillings offer many advantages because in addition to not containing mercury, they are:

Environment-friendly: Composites and glass ionomers are mercury-free and there is no evidence of environmental toxicity.

Preserve teeth: The placement of mercury-free fillings allows for less tooth destruction, which preserves more natural tooth structure. Composites fillings can also strengthen and enhance biomechanical properties of the restored tooth. As a result, the tooth itself can survive longer.

Easier to repair: Composite fillings are easier to repair than amalgam, which can save you both tooth structure and money.

Durable: Recent studies show that properly placed composite fillings can last just as long as, or even longer than, amalgam fillings.

Prevent caries: Glass ionomers, used in atraumatic restorative treatment (ART), have proven valuable in certain clinical situations where they can be more accessible and less expensive than amalgam (for example, in communities without electricity).

User-friendly: All properly trained dentists can place mercury-free fillings in any tooth requiring a filling. If a dentist tells you he or she has to use amalgam because it is too hard to use a mercury-free filling in your tooth, find a more competent dentist!

How You Can Make a Difference

With so many reasons to end the use of amalgam, I urge you to contribute to Consumers for Dental Choice, the advocacy wing of the mercury-free dentistry movement. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at Please join me with every dollar you can. I promise you that I will double it! Thank you for supporting mercury-free dentistry.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Checks can be mailed to: 

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Protect Your Children and Yourself Now

Find a mercury-free dentist who recognizes the many problems with mercury fillings and provides non-mercury fillings today! The following organizations can help you find a mercury-free dentist in the U.S. and (in some cases) internationally:

Consumers for Dental Choice

Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS). Email or call (651) 644-4572 for information packet

Holistic Dental Association

Huggins Applied Healing

International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine (IABDM)

International Association of Mercury Safe Dentists (IAMSD)

Talk International

Too Many Ultra-Processed Calories and Wasted Food

By Dr. Mercola

The struggle with weight gain and obesity is a common and costly health issue, leading to an increase in risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Obesity affects more than one-third of adults and 17 percent of young people in the U.S.1 

Research has linked growing waistlines to a number of different sources, including processed and high-fructose foods, sodas and high-carbohydrate diets. Risks associated with belly fat in aging adults includes an elevated risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.2 

You may have noticed an increase in weight gain as you age, but research shows this has little to do with your metabolism and more with getting less active over time.3 With a reduction in activity combined with an increase of 250 to 300 more calories per day today than in the 1970s,4 it is not surprising the number of people struggling with excess weight has risen. 

An increasing caloric intake may be the result of the Push hypothesis,5 described by Kevin Hall, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as a combination of factors pushing calories into the food system and subsequently changing how much and what is eaten.

Unfortunately, Hall finds calories in the food supply increased between 500 to 800 calories per person, but half to two-thirds is going in the trash, contributing to food waste.6 This additional food waste may be causing as much environmental change as emissions from cars and manufacturing plants.7

Cheap, Convenience Foods Decidedly Contribute to Obesity Epidemic

Hall is a physicist who leads a team of neuroscientists, mathematicians and dietitians studying metabolism and weight. He believes while carbohydrates have likely contributed to the rise in obesity, the carbohydrate-insulin model has not completely explained how.

Although he acknowledges the inability to prove cause and effect, Hall believes an increase in crop yields and changes in subsidies to farmers during the Nixon administration generated a dramatic increase in the production of corn and soybeans.

Triggered by rising food prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered additional incentives to farmers to produce as much corn and soybeans as they could, which flooded the market with cheap commodity crops.8 A combination of reduced ingredient prices and the discovery of how to make stable, inexpensive and processed foods, created a new food supply and fast food chains.

To attract customers and compete with other restaurants, companies often add salt, sugar, fat and flavor chemicals to trigger your appetite. Unfortunately, it turns out additives and chemicals supplemented in processing kills off beneficial gut bacteria, which further exacerbates the problems created by a processed food diet.9

According to epidemiology professor Tim Spector, even eating a relatively small number of highly processed ingredients is toxic to your gut microbiome, which start to die off just days after a eating a fast food heavy diet, suggesting excess calories from fast food may not be the only factor to blame for rising weight.

Experts at the Medical Research Council have found most fast food is very dense in calories and you only need a small amount to bump up your caloric intake. Research professor Andrew Prentice, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine believes:10

“We all possess a weak innate ability to recognize food with high energy density. We tend to assess food intake by the size of the portion, yet a fast food meal contains many more calories than a similar-sized portion of a healthy meal.

Since the dawn of agriculture, the systems regulating human appetite have evolved for low energy diet still being consumed in rural areas of the developing world where obesity is almost nonexistent. Our bodies were never designed to cope with the very energy-dense foods consumed in the west and this is contributing to a major rise in obesity.”

Some Ultra-Processed Ice Cream Doesn’t Melt

Sometimes ultra-processed foods are not as obvious as you might think. For instance, a woman in Cincinnati discovered Walmart ice cream sandwiches did not fully melt despite being left out in 80-degree weather.11

After a small experiment done by the local news station, during which a Walmart Great Value Ice Cream Sandwich, Klondike Bar ice cream sandwich and a cup of Haagen-Dazs were left out in the sun for 30 minutes, Walmart attempted to offer an explanation for why the Haagen-Dazs ice cream melted completely but the Walmart sandwich melted the least.

Their representative explained the speed ice cream would melt is based on the ingredients, as cream generally melts at a slower rate. However, according to a study from The Ohio State University,12 it's the effects of stabilizers and emulsifiers that increase the resistance to melting. In fact, the more stabilizers present in the ice cream, the slower it melts.

If the addition of chemicals and additives to your summer treat is unappetizing, try making your own frozen treats by blending homemade yogurt and fresh fruit, and then freezing them in a Popsicle mold.

Fast Food Chains Create an Unhealthy Burden

The idea fast food is terrible for your health,13 the environment14 and for the majority of people who work for the industry15 is not new. Unfortunately, most fast food chains have engaged in creative public relations practices driving customers through their doors. Several popular chefs have gotten on board and proclaimed their love of cheap, mass-marketed foods.16

There is only conjecture for why chefs Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Marco Pierre White and Hugh Acheson are open about their love of McDonald's, Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out burgers. Price points at fast food restaurants make the choice almost a no-brainer for some, and the comforting consistency of the food creates an army of followers wherever these restaurants are found.

The reality is workers are often underpaid and the production of food relies on destructive farming practices, generates scores of waste and the actual food is undeniably unhealthy.17 Even the number of restaurants in a specific area may be toxic to your health.

A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association18 concluded an increased density of fast food restaurants increased the risk of mortality of residents from cardiovascular disease and stroke and the prevalence of diabetes.

Fast Food Chains Increase Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals

Foods sold in fast food restaurants also contribute to endocrine disruption and metabolic dysfunction. Meat, fish and cheese sold at fast food restaurants are often processed with nitrates and nitrites. These preservatives are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.

This includes hot dogs, pepperoni, salami and bacon. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics19 found eating just two strips of bacon a day increases your risk of colon cancer by 18 percent, noting that plant polyphenols could be substituted to process cured bacon, which would improve the quality, shelf life and safety of the finished product. 

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics20 (AAP) found plastic containers and bottles used to package food and water may be slowly poisoning the population. The AAP is now calling for parents to reduce the number of plastic products used, and to avoid microwaving your child’s food in plastic containers, as bisphenol is absorbed by the food and may decrease fertility, cause weight gain and interfere with the neurological development.

Phthalates are used to make plastic storage wrap and are also absorbed into the food, disrupting the endocrine system, causing weight gain and damage to your heart.21 Plastic containers break down chemically when they're reused or get too hot, such as in the microwave or dishwasher.

Artificial food coloring, oftentimes added to improve a food’s visual appeal, has the added disadvantage of exacerbating attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.22 Nine artificial food colors have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and their use in foods increased fivefold between 1950 and 2012. Published research23 finds some of these may be carcinogenic.

Food Waste Contributes to Climate Change

Project Drawdown24 gathered a diverse group of worldwide researchers to identify, research and model 100 existing solutions to address climate change. The scientists laid out a plan that may roll back global greenhouse gas emissions within 30 years, revealing the means and techniques needed are immediately at hand.

Drawdown states one-third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from the farm or factory to your plate, squandering a host of resources, including water, energy, labor, fertilizer and capital.25 Unfortunately, this generates greenhouse gases at virtually every stage, including methane when food lands in a landfill. In fact, food waste is responsible for nearly 8 percent of global emissions.

In other words, if food waste were a country, it would come in third after the U.S. and China, for its impact on the global environment.26 Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons and methane are produced between food production and your refrigerator.

In fact, Project Drawdown’s team found reducing food waste is one of the most important things individuals can do to improve global climate change, and cutting down on waste could have nearly the same impact over the next three decades as onshore wind turbines.

This equates to preventing more than 70 billion tons of greenhouse gases and represents one of the greatest potentials for companies, communities and individuals to contribute, while at the same time enabling more people to be fed and preserving threatened ecosystems.27 Just one example of waste are the discarded vegetables that don’t conform to grocery standards.

These include crooked or slightly blemished and not perfectly shaped vegetables.28 Food waste may occur when food is left in the field and unharvested, in the markets by consumers or, as in low-income countries, lost during post-harvest and processing stages due to poor infrastructure or a lack of sufficient storage.29

Your Efforts Make a Difference

Project Drawdown estimates food production will need to grow by 107 million tons annually to accommodate population growth. To achieve this level of production will require converting more than 1 billion acres of forest and grassland into farmland over the next 30 years.30

This alone will release 84 billion tons of carbon dioxide, with additional emissions produced across the supply chain from production to manufacturing and then to your refrigerator.

Project Drawdown also estimates enough food could be produced without converting any forests or grasslands by adopting other solutions, such as eating plant-rich diets, and implementing agricultural production changes such as agroforestry or the practice of combining grazing domesticated animals in a woodland area.31

You can participate and make a difference by reducing your family’s food waste. Purchase only what you intend to eat, and then eat what you purchased. It's easier to accomplish this goal when you make a menu before going to the grocery store. By following a list, you reduce the number of impulse purchases and have what's needed for your menu options during the week.

Embrace the idea of eating fruits and vegetables that may not be perfectly shaped. They still taste great and are just as nutritious. Store your leftovers in glass containers and use them before they spoil.

Use leftovers for lunch the next day. When you have enough leftovers, you may not even need to make dinner one night. While everyone may not be eating the same meal, you'll throw out less food, be less tempted to grab a bite at a fast food chain and lower your expenses.

Are These Perilous Chemicals in Your Food?

By Dr. Mercola

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a group of over 65,000 pediatricians in the U.S., are asking parents to limit their children's exposure to dangerous plastic chemicals known to leach into food from packaging, as well as chemical food additives, warning the chemicals may damage their children's health for years to come.1 Some of those chemicals include phthalates, nitrates and bisphenols.2

Results of past research led the World Health Organization (WHO) to study and then release a joint report with the United Nations Environment Program3 suggesting a ban on endocrine disrupting chemicals may be needed to protect the health of future generations. Their research followed past studies, but is one of the most comprehensive on endocrine disrupting chemicals to date.

The report highlights a wide variety of problems, including undescended testicles, breast, prostate and thyroid cancer, nervous system defects and the development of attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children with exposure to chemicals commonly found in plastics and food additives.4

Phthalates are widely used to make plastics more durable and flexible, such as in your shower curtains, food packaging and vinyl gloves. They are also found in household cleaners, cosmetics and personal care products.

While used to increase durability, they are not strongly bound to the product and leach out with heat and wear. In a policy statement, the AAP expressed concerns related to:5 

"[T]he use of colorings, flavorings and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives) as well as substances in food contact materials, including adhesives, guys, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic and other polymers which may contaminate food as part of packaging or manufacturing equipment …"

AAP Calls for Reduced Exposure to Chemicals

Today an alarming 10,000 chemicals are allowed to be added to food and food-contact materials in the U.S., either directly or indirectly. Many of these were grandfathered in for use by the federal government before the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

An estimated 1,000 of these are used under a "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) designation without U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The 1958 amendment was designed to provide specific guidelines for food additives requiring formal agency review and open rulemaking process for new chemicals.6  

Despite this framework, substantial gaps in data about potential health effects of food additives exist. In fact, an evaluation of nearly 4,000 additives intentionally added to food revealed 80 percent lacked enough information to determine how much could be safely eaten and only 6.7 percent had reproductive toxicology data.7

Chemicals added under GRAS are subject to approval by the FDA unless substances are generally recognized by "qualified experts as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use."8

However, the Academy does not believe this protects the safety of children and urges the government to revise the process, making it more transparent and mandating additional testing for toxicity before chemicals can be used in food.

Some of the recommendations may require congressional action as the FDA does not currently have the authority to review existing data or retest safety on food additives. Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an AAP Council on Environmental Health member and lead author of the policy statement, commented in a press release:9

"There are critical weaknesses in the current food additives regulatory process, which doesn't do enough to ensure all chemicals added to foods are safe enough to be part of a family's diet. As pediatricians, we're especially concerned about significant gaps in data about the health effects of many of these chemicals on infants and children."

Experts fear these chemicals have a range of side effects in humans, including metabolic dysfunction, thyroid and other endocrine disruption, impaired brain development, increasing risk of obesity, and decreased birth weight.10 Trasande believes the synthetic hormones disrupt how calories are processed and ultimately how they are converted, contributing to metabolic dysfunction.

Chemicals of Concern Likely in Your Food or Packaging

The AAP addresses some of the additives placed directly into foods, or indirect additives, including chemicals from plastics, dyes, paper products, glues and different types of coatings used in the processing and packaging of food. Trasande commented an annual estimated health care cost tied to these chemicals may be roughly $340 billion. He went on to say:11

"Chemicals that affect the endocrine system, for example, can have lasting effects on a child since hormones coordinate complex functions throughout the body. Even small disruptions at key moments during development can have lifelong consequences."

Those the AAP lists as having most concern based on research evidence include:12


Chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) are used to harden plastics and line metal cans. They act as endocrine disruptors, changing the timing of puberty, reducing fertility, increasing body fat and affecting the nervous and immune systems.13 Although BPA is banned in baby bottles and sippy cups, it continues to be used in a variety of readily available products.

With the rising concern associated with BPA, some companies are substituting other similar chemicals, which are not tested and whose structure is chemically similar to BPA, including BPS and BPF.14


These chemicals are used in the making of plastic and vinyl and in industrial food production to make the plastics more flexible. They affect male genital development,15 increase the risk of childhood obesity16 and contribute to cardiovascular disease. In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of some phthalates in child care products such as teething rings.

Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs)

These are used in grease-proofing paper and cardboard food packaging. The chemicals may reduce fertility, immunity and birth weight. PFCs may also affect your thyroid function, which is key to metabolism, digestion, brain development and bone strength.


This chemical is added to some dry food packaging to control static electricity and is known to disrupt thyroid function and early life brain development.

Nitrates and nitrites

Used to preserve food and enhance color in cured and processed meats, they can interfere with thyroid hormone production and the ability of your blood to deliver oxygen throughout the body. They've also been linked to gastrointestinal and nervous system cancers.

Artificial food colors

Commonly added to children's foods to make them more visually appealing, artificial food colors are associated with worsening attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) symptoms. A significant number of children who have cut out artificial coloring experience a reduction in symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

Children Suffer Greater Risk

Trasande, an expert in children's environmental health, believes children may be more susceptible due to their dose exposure. Relative to their body weight, children eat more food than adults pound-for-pound. Their organ systems are also susceptible to injury during early development, which means chronic exposure may trigger a permanent and lifelong problem.

Nearly every human physiological function has a basis in endocrine regulation, increasing the concern and potential danger of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals early in life. Unfortunately, as noted by Dr. Claire McCarthy, pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School,17 "because the exposure is small and gradual we don't even realize it's happening."

Although individuals can be exposed to the same amount of toxicant, the susceptibility will vary depending upon genetic background, sex, age, nutritional status and state of health.18 Data demonstrates even low levels of toxicants can cause harm in children, leading the scientific community to focus on the unique vulnerabilities of children as compared to adults.

According to WHO, more than 30 percent of worldwide diseases occurring in children are due to environmental factors.19 Since growth and development is a dynamic process, the nature and severity of a health effect depends on the developmental stage at exposure. So, it is easy to understand how chronic exposure to toxicants in the food supply may create lifelong health challenges.

Childhood Obesity a Growing Concern

Bisphenol and phthalates are often called "everywhere chemicals,"20 as many are found in most commonly used products and nearly 90 percent of individuals tested.21 The overall concern is these chemicals disrupt your hormonal balance and are linked to obesity.

In one study,22 scientists noted a significant rise in severe obesity in children ages 2 to 5. WHO23 calls childhood obesity "one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century [and] a problem which is global and steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries."

According to State of Obesity,24 91 percent of American children have poor diets and get less than half the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Nearly two-thirds consume sugary beverages every day and roughly 40 percent of high school students spend three or more hours a day on a digital device.

While the growing obesity rate in children is a complex issue and food choices25 and activity both play a role, exposure to environmental toxins affecting hormonal regulation cannot be ignored. The Endocrine Society, which specializes in diabetes, obesity, thyroid and other hormone systems, released a policy statement, saying:26

"In 2015, there is far more conclusive evidence about whether, when, and how EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) perturb endocrine systems, including in humans.

Thus, it is more necessary than ever to minimize further exposures, to identify new EDCs as they emerge, and to understand underlying mechanisms in order to develop methods to enable interventions in cases of EDC-associated disease. This is especially important because new chemicals may be released into the marketplace without appropriate safety testing."

The Endocrine Society also calls for more research into these chemicals and their effects, believing regulators should require testing for their effects on human hormones before approval.27

Another study focusing on the 2.1 percent of children ages 2 to 5 with severe obesity discovered most were from racial or ethnic minority groups, were nearly twice as likely to spend four or more hours a day in front of electronic screens and didn't appear to eat more calories than their normal weight peers.28

How You May Reduce Chemical Exposure

Considering all the potential sources of toxic chemicals, it's virtually impossible to avoid all of them, but that doesn't mean you have to sit silently by while corporations use your home, your water, your air, your food and your body as a convenient chemical dumping ground. Until change occurs on a global scale, you can significantly limit your exposure by keeping a number of key principles in mind.

Eat a diet focused on locally grown, fresh and ideally organic whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals, both in the food itself and the packaging. Wash fresh produce well, especially if it's not organically grown.

Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, or eat wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines.

Choose certified organic grass fed meats and dairy to reduce your exposure to hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Avoid milk and other dairy products containing genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.

Buy products in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans, as chemicals can leach out of plastics (and plastic can linings), into the contents; be aware even "BPA-free" plastics typically leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad.

Use glass baby bottles.

Replace your nonstick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

Look for Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic and GMO-free products. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses and more.

Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin readily absorbs contaminants. If your tap water is fluoridated, keep in mind that not all filter systems will filter out this toxic additive.

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, consider buying chemical-free varieties containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk and Kevlar, to avoid exposure to toxic flame retardants.

Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid PFCs.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame-retardant chemicals.

Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It's advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.

Switch to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG's Skin Deep database29 can help you find personal care products free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or install glass doors.

Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.

Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.

Between Pathogens and Chemical Contaminants, Chicken Is Best Avoided

By Dr. Mercola

While health agencies make a big stink about unsterilized foods such as raw organic milk, the food associated with the greatest number of foodborne illnesses is factory farmed chicken.

According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics,1 there were 5,760 reported foodborne outbreaks between 2009 and 2015, resulting in 100,939 illnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths. Of these, chicken was responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses — 3,114 illnesses in total (12 percent), followed by pork and seeded vegetables, each of which was responsible for 10 percent of illnesses. As noted by CBS News:2

"No other food, it turns out, is quite as problematic as chicken — the heart-healthy alternative to red meat. Though fish and dairy technically caused more "outbreaks," chicken sickened the most people …

'Chicken is a reservoir for salmonella,' explains Thomas Gremillion, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.

Though proper cooking can kill most salmonella strains, normal food preparation techniques — like using a sponge to clean up spills or rinsing your chicken in the sink — tend to spread the bug around your kitchen, he says. That can 'cross-contaminate' your sink, cutting boards and vegetables."

'This CDC report shows that government inspectors and industry need to do more to protect consumers from unsafe chicken,' says Gremillion.

'Rather than focusing on schemes to boost industry profits — such as eliminating slaughterhouse line speed limits — we should be talking about why the U.S. lags so far behind other countries on issues like addressing salmonella contamination in poultry, and what can be done to avoid some of these illnesses and the havoc they wreak on families.'

Chicken Is Notoriously Prone to Bacterial Contamination

Over the years, food testing has shown that chicken is particularly prone to contamination with dangerous pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Consumer report testing in 2007 found 80 percent of whole chicken broilers harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter,3 two of the leading causes of foodborne illness.

Retesting in 2010 revealed a modest improvement, with two-thirds being contaminated with these disease-causing bacteria. The improvement didn't last long though. Three years later, in 2013, Consumer Reports4 found potentially harmful bacteria on 97 percent of the chicken breasts tested, and half of them had at least one type of bacterium that was resistant to three or more antibiotics.

Salmonella contamination is of particular concern, as data suggests multidrug-resistant salmonella has become particularly prevalent. And raw chicken has become a notorious carrier of salmonella, campylobacter, clostridium perfringens and listeria bacteria.5 Contaminated chicken and turkey also cause the most deaths from food poisoning.6

Raw Chicken Should Be Sold With Health Warning

The same state of affairs is reported in other countries. In New Zealand, Michael Baker, a public health researcher and professor at University of Otago, is urging the implementation of a "tobacco-style" warning label on all raw chicken items, informing shoppers about the health risks involved.7 "It's the most hazardous thing you can take into your kitchen," he says.

Each year, an estimated 30,000 New Zealanders contract foodborne illness, 500 of whom require hospitalization. Half of these illnesses are related to the handling and consumption of chicken, and this despite the fact that New Zealand boasts some of the toughest regulatory standards in the world.

In recent food tests, 65 percent of chicken samples obtained from around New Zealand tested positive for campylobacter contamination, some of which were antibiotic resistant, even though the drugs in question are not actually used in the poultry industry. An investigation confirmed the resistance could not have been caused by industry practices, and the cause of the resistance remains unclear.

Vast Majority of Meats Are Contaminated With Dangerous Bacteria

Poultry is not the only food that can make you sick, though. For a number of years now, tests have revealed meats of all kinds are significant sources of drug-resistant bacteria, with factory farmed meats (whether poultry, pork or beef) having the highest levels of contamination.

According to a 2017 report by the CDC, 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is linked to consumption of contaminated foods, and tests have shown ground beef from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is three times more likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than organic grass fed beef.8

This really is no surprise, since overuse of antibiotics in livestock is the primary driver of antibiotic resistance, and CAFOs routinely use antibiotics, whereas organic grass fed standards do not permit their use.9

Most recently, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of food testing done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 reveals 83 percent of supermarket meats were contaminated with enterococcus faecalis, i.e., fecal bacteria, and a high percentage had antibiotic-resistant bacteria:10,11

  • 79 percent of ground turkey samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 87 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines, used in human medicine to treat bronchitis, pneumonia and UTIs; 73 percent of the salmonella found on ground turkey was antibiotic-resistant salmonella
  • 71 percent of pork chops were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 84 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines
  • 62 percent of ground beef samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 26 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines
  • 36 percent of chicken breasts, legs, thighs and wings were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 71 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines; 1 in 5 strains of salmonella was resistant to amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, which as a class is designated as "critically important" in human medicine. Amoxicillin is the No. 1 antibiotic prescribed to children in the U.S.

Industry Diversion Tactics

The routine use of antibiotics in CAFOs is a major, driving factor behind the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens that are now making our food supply riskier than ever. A recent article in The Guardian12 highlights tactics used by the drug and CAFO industries to muddy the water and confuse consumers about the health risks associated with agricultural antibiotics.

"Pharmaceutical and meat companies are using similar tactics to the cigarette industry, in an attempt to confuse consumers and hold off regulation, despite the fact that the rapidly growing risk of antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest health risks of our time," The Guardian reports.13

"In one Facebook ad entitled 'How to survive as a working mom,' a stressed woman has a baby on her lap and a phone under one ear. 'Breathe,' the advert says. 'Pour a glass of wine (if that's your thing). Prepare your family the chicken. Whether the label says 'no antibiotics' or not, the meat and milk you buy is free of harmful residues from antibiotics.'

The Enough Movement — the 'global community' behind this advert — promises to tell you the truth about food. But it's a PR campaign funded by Elanco, a multinational animal drugs company that sells antibiotics for use on livestock."

It's Not About Antibiotic Residues; It's About Drug-Resistant Pathogens

In a joint investigation, The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism concluded Elanco and other organizations with a vested interest in the poultry industry are devising advertising campaigns aimed at downplaying consumer concerns about the use of antibiotics. The ruse used by these players is that food safety inspection testing ensures there are no traces of antibiotics left in the food by the time it hits the store shelf.

But that's NOT the real issue. The problem is that antibiotics promote the development of drug-resistant bacteria in the animals, and those bacteria are still on the meat when you buy it. That's the primary danger — not that the meat might contain trace amounts of antibiotics. Ultimately, it's the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that kill. 

According to predictions, 10 million people worldwide will die from antibiotic-resistant diseases by 2050 lest swift action is taken to curb resistance — and that necessitates the elimination of unnecessary agricultural use of antibiotics.

A 2016 report14 commissioned by the U.K. government found that of 139 studies, 72 percent confirmed suspicions that consumption of antibiotic-treated foods is in fact causing antibiotic-resistant disease in humans. Only 5 percent failed to confirm such a link.

As noted by The Guardian, by "shifting the debate from resistance to residues," the Enough Movement aims to confuse consumers about this vital public health concern. Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest also commented on the ad campaign:15

"Ads like this are patronizing. Industry should be looking for ways to address valid consumer concerns. Instead, they're trying to brush us off like we're a bunch of hysterical women who just need a pat on the head and a good glass of wine to calm down."

Poultry Inspectors Sickened by Chicken Disinfectant

Pathogens that can make you seriously ill, or worse, are not the only thing making chicken potentially hazardous. A recent article in The Intercept16 recounts the story of Jessica Robertson, a former poultry plant inspector in Sanpete County, Utah, who became chronically ill from exposure to chemicals used to coat raw chicken.

Robertson is now speaking out in defense of other workers exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job. She began working as a part-time inspector at a turkey processing plant in 2002. As of 2008, she was working as a full-time consumer safety inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Then, in 2015, strange health problems began to surface. Her eyes would itch, and she'd have shortness of breath, frequent coughing and nose bleeds. Halfway through each workweek, she'd start losing her voice.

Another USDA inspector, Tina McClellan, told Robertson she struggled with frequent headaches, nausea and respiratory issues. Line workers at the processing plant were also becoming ill.

"Robertson believes that the source of the ailments were chemicals used at the plant — including a little-known chemical called peracetic acid, or PAA," The Intercept reports.17 "A colorless bleaching agent with a faintly vinegary odor, PAA has been used to sterilize medical instruments in hospitals.

In recent years, escalating quantities of it have also been used to remove bacteria from the carcasses of chickens and turkeys, despite concerns from industry watchdogs that breathing it may put workers at risk, especially when combined with chlorine and other chemical treatments."

Peracetic Acid Deteriorates Health by Accumulating in Organs

According to the Material Safety Data Sheet on PAA,18 the chemical "may be toxic to blood, kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes, heart, cardiovascular system, upper respiratory tract, skin, eyes, central nervous system, teeth. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated exposure … may produce general deterioration of health by an accumulation in one or many human organs."

Robertson's case isn't the first time the dangers of chemical exposure in poultry plants have come to light. In 2011, a New York state poultry plant inspector died from sudden uncontrolled bleeding in his lungs.

Both chlorine and PAA were used at the plant where he worked. Crazy enough, neither the FDA nor the USDA take the health of plant workers into account when assessing the safety of chemicals used in meat.

There's also no permissible exposure limit set for PAA by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Robertson and McClellan began filing hazardous conditions reports, which were forwarded to the USDA district office in Denver. Alas, no significant changes were implemented to protect workers.

May 2016, Robertson ended up being rushed to the emergency room, unable to breathe. Eventually, Roberson and McClellan were both diagnosed with work-related asthma, triggered by chemical exposure. As noted in the featured article:

"Their story is a reminder that, even as consumers have grown increasingly vigilant about buying meat that is naturally and humanely processed — a concern not lost on Norbest, which markets its turkey as 'ranch raised' with 'no added hormones or steroids' — the inhumane conditions endured by the people who work in America's slaughterhouses remain hidden from view."

Toxic Chemicals and Disease-Causing Bacteria Make Raw Chicken a Questionable Food

As noted by The Intercept, that same chemical, PAA, is on the chicken you buy — if bought in the U.S., that is. If you live in the EU, you will be relieved to learn these kinds of chemical baths are not permitted for chicken. Again, the chicken carcass is doused with PAA in an effort to reduce the bacterial load, yet chicken is still responsible for the greatest number of illnesses.

Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, the FDA also has not conducted any kind of testing to ascertain whether chicken meat sprayed with PAA is safe to eat. The agency is simply relying on assurances from the industry. Surveys suggest "the overwhelming majority of European consumers don't want to eat poultry bathed in chemicals."

Do American consumers care? I bet they would were they informed. Now you know, and can make a more educated decision for yourself and your family. I for one cannot with a clear conscience recommend buying raw chicken anymore. If you do opt for chicken, make sure it's a) organic and free-range, and b) cooked.

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

Aside from avoiding bringing raw chicken into your home, you can also limit your risk of antibiotic-resistant disease by focusing on:

Infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally. Avoiding sugars, processed foods and grains, promoting stress reduction and optimizing your sleep and vitamin D level are foundational for this. Adding in traditionally fermented and cultured foods is also important, as this will help optimize your microbiome.

Limiting your use of antibiotics. Any time your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, ask if it's absolutely necessary, and keep in mind that antibiotics do not work for viral infections. For example, antibiotics are typically unnecessary for most ear infections, and they do not work on the common cold or flu, both of which are caused by viruses.

Avoiding antibiotics in food by purchasing organic or biodynamic grass fed meats and animal products.

Avoiding 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.

Properly washing 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.

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
  • 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
  • Coconut oil can also 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

The European Union Versus US Food and Drug Administration — One Protects Consumers; the Other Ignores Them

By Dr. Mercola

For an entire week each year, I focus on the campaign to end dental amalgam. Those silver fillings are really mercury fillings, and their use in America and around the world needs to stop — for health reasons, for environmental reasons, for workplace safety reasons and for social justice reasons.

We have a united worldwide team, and we can win the campaign for mercury-free dentistry. I have worked closely with the leader of this campaign — Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice — and I have full confidence that we are on the path to victory.

If you check out my August 12 interview with Charlie, I think you'll agree we have a winning strategy and a winning team in place.

I believe so strongly in this campaign and its potential for full victory — the end of amalgam use worldwide — that I have stepped up to the table with a matching funds campaign. This week, through August 19, 2018, I match every dollar donated by you, your friends and everyone else, up to $125,000. Please join me with every dollar you can. I promise you that I will double it!

donate today

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

The European Union Bans Amalgam for Children

A sustained multiyear campaign led by Consumers for Dental Choice and its European NGO allies, joined by scholars and nonprofit groups across Europe, bore great fruit last year.

In a rule spearheaded by two outstanding members of the European Parliament, the honorable Stefan Eck of Germany and the honorable Michele Rivasi of France, the European Union adopted a ban that virtually stops any amalgam use for children under age 15, for pregnant women and for breastfeeding mothers.

This rule took effect July 1, 2018. I am so proud to say: The next generation of European children is safe from the ravages of mercury fillings!

The ban for children and some young women is the springboard to a wider circle; it's exactly how Norway and Sweden got to the final stage, by starting with the ban for children. So, the two answers to the question: "Why children first?" are (1) they are children, we should protect them first; and (2) it is the best strategy to the end game, which is a complete ban on amalgam for anybody, anywhere, any time!

Now the campaign leader in Europe's No. 1 economy, Germany, is coaxing the national insurance industry to a shift to paying for mercury-free fillings. When Germany moves, the rest of the European Union (EU) is likely to follow. The rule in Europe is part of a broad package of mercury reduction and elimination measures that are part of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

In an intense three-year campaign (2010 through 2013), the umbrella global alliance founded by Consumers for Dental Choice, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, succeeded in securing a strong amalgam plan in that treaty. The Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into legal force in 2017, triggering conferences of the parties to implement it worldwide.

Spurred Forward by Consumers for Dental Choice, the Europe Partial Ban Is Having Worldwide Impact

At the first Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention, held in Geneva last October, Brown challenged the world to equal or exceed the new amalgam policy of the EU, launching the "Make Dental Amalgam History" campaign.

Charlie concluded his speech with these words: "Your nation should end amalgam use for children, because the children of your nation are equally important to the children of Europe." The worldwide campaign to end amalgam for children — as a springboard to ending its use entirely — is now in high gear:

  • Consumers for Dental Choice's international arm, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, worked with the United Nations Environment to cosponsor a global workshop dedicated to discussing the end of amalgam use in "women, children and, through them, future generations." This highly successful workshop was held in Bangkok in May.
  • Consumers for Dental Choice's global team is pushing to end amalgam use in all children (as an effective intermediate step toward ending its use in everybody).
  • In April came the game changer here in America: the Chicago Declaration to End Dental Industry Mercury Use.1 Announced at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, over 50 nonprofit groups joined Consumers for Dental Choice to call for the U.S. to match the EU by ending amalgam use in children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in 2018, based on the precautionary principle, and to phase out its use, with time-limited specific exceptions, by 2020.

The Chicago Declaration is having a demonstrable impact in Washington too. Consumers for Dental Choice led the way to the Chicago Declaration. Now please do your part: Help Consumers for Dental Choice carry the message of the Chicago Declaration nationwide! And remember, I will match your donation dollar for dollar.

FDA Stays Asleep at the Switch

But one player still sits on the bench, seemingly asleep. Ignoring the radical changes in dentistry, ignoring the new policies restricting amalgam use around the world, ignoring the Minamata Convention, there sits the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Instead, FDA continues to stand by its policy of doing nothing to protect this most vulnerable population — or anyone else for that matter. No bans. No limits on use. No mercury warnings. No patient labeling.

FDA's dental amalgam rule acknowledges the risks, stating: "The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor." Yet the FDA has done nothing to protect these vulnerable populations.

FDA even admits there is no proof that amalgam is safe for these populations, stating: "Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of 6, including infants who are breastfed." Even so, FDA has done nothing.

In 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury — the global health and environment treaty — came into force with the U.S. as a party.

Not only does the Minamata Convention require parties to reduce their amalgam use, but it also urges them to consider vulnerable groups because of "the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children and, through them, future generations." Still, the FDA did nothing.

Consumers for Dental Choice Challenges FDA Again

In July, Consumers for Dental Choice launched a petition campaign to get FDA to act. It has garnered over 35,000 signatures and is still going. If you haven't done so, I encourage you to sign and share the petition now.

sign petition

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

First the Chicago Declaration, then the petition drive. The next step to get FDA to act is coming soon. FDA is important, yes, but not like it once was. Why?

Because Consumers for Dental Choice is end-running FDA by convincing dentists to shift to mercury-free dentistry, empowering consumers to insist on mercury-free dentistry, and working with our environmental allies like Mercury Policy Project to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to mandate environmental action by the pro-mercury dentists.

When Consumers for Dental Choice started, an iron triangle kept amalgam sacrosanct in dentistry. The American Dental Association called mercury-free dentistry unethical, and the 50 state dental boards enforced a gag rule to command silence by dentists who disagreed.

The FDA would not even classify amalgam, meaning there was no amalgam regulation, and hence no way to protest it. All that has changed. Consumers for Dental Choice defeated the gag rule, ending the role of dental boards in sustaining amalgam. Consumers for Dental Choice sued FDA, forcing it to classify amalgam, and made sure amalgam was covered in the Minamata Convention.

Go to a Mercury-Free Dentist

Insist on mercury-free dentistry, yes. But take it another step — don't go to a dentist who puts mercury fillings in any child or any person! Spend your time, spend your money, only with a mercury-free dentist. How do you find one? Here are several organizations with lists or information:

Consumers for Dental Choice

Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS). (offers a packet of information)

Holistic Dental Association

Huggins Applied Healing

International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine (IABDM)

International Association of Mercury Safe Dentists (IAMSD)

Talk International

The Organic Corporate Takeover

By Dr. Mercola

For many Americans, the organic label on a food represents a superior product, one that's free from pesticides and other agricultural chemicals and farmed using sustainable agricultural practices. Many would be surprised to learn, however, that in many cases organic companies are owned by multinational conglomerates, many of which produce nonorganic foods as well, using methods that are in direct contrast to the rules of organic.

Such discrepancies have become even more apparent when you look at trade groups like the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which says its mission is to promote and protect organic — and its members work together toward this end. "OTA members represent the huge diversity and the entire supply chain of today's organic industry — small and large organic farmers of all types, local and national organic processors, regional and countrywide organic distributors, mom-and-pop organic stores and organic retail chains," according to OTA.1

But hiding (in plain sight) among these wholesome ranks are corporate members that seemingly do not belong, like chemical giant BASF, one of the largest manufacturers of dicamba-based herbicide formulations and a major player in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and agricultural conglomerate Cargill, another GMO and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) giant. Cargill even goes so far as to praise the virtues of factory farming, stating, "CAFOs are effective and efficient, as well as being a more sustainable means of resource utilization."2

The apparent conflict between promoting organic standards while at the same time accepting members who blatantly ignore them for most of their products has led to tension among some OTA members, even causing one family-owned organic farm, Nature's Path, to depart the organization after nearly 20 years of involvement.

"Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness of our concern that the important role organic plays to support the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised," Arran Stephens, Nature's Path cofounder and CEO, told Living Maxwell.3

OTA Betrays Consumers by Supporting the DARK Act

Some of Nature's Path's discontent with OTA started in the 1990s. Stephens once served on OTA's board of directors but resigned when he felt the organization was not doing enough to combat GMOs. Indeed, in 2016, OTA seemingly sold out and supported H.R. 1599, a bill colloquially known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know). It revoked states' right to impose mandatory labeling of GMOs, making Vermont's state law for mandatory GMO labeling, which had taken effect July 1, 2016, null and void.

In its place, the federal law replaced clear GMO labeling with quick response (QR) codes which, when scanned with your smartphone will bring you to the company's website, where you may or may not find information about the presence of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

The companies that convinced the OTA to support the DARK Act and its current iteration are nonorganic junk food brands that happen to own organic brands. Their main concern is not protecting organics but, rather, exploiting the organic niche while continuing to peddle their GMO-laden wares. Dag Falck, the organic program manager for Nature's Path, served on OTA's board in 2016 but resigned due to their handling of the DARK Act. He told Living Maxwell:

"This was such an enormous issue that the entire membership should have been asked, but they weren't. As a board member and a member of the executive committee, I was never asked to take a vote on the issue of OTA supporting the mandatory federal labeling of GMOs. Instead, the OTA President and the Executive Director made the decision on their own, and we found out after the fact."4

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OTA Member BASF Continues to Devastate the Environment With Dicamba

In 2017, BASF released Engenia, a dicamba-based herbicide designed specifically for use with GE dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. That year, they announced a more than $270-million investment to expand production capacity for the herbicide in Texas; it was the company's largest investment ever in facilities for agricultural products.5 BASF's production and expansion of dicamba has no place in the organic movement, and this product is even mired in controversy among conventional farmers because the drift-prone formulations are damaging neighboring crops.

By November 2017, an estimated 3.6 million acres across the U.S. had been damaged by dicamba drift,6 as had trees in Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee. In response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed some restrictions on dicamba usage, making it more cumbersome for farmers. For instance, special training is required to apply the herbicide, and its application is prohibited when wind speeds are greater than 10 mph. Farmers are also asked to assess the risk that spraying could have on nearby crops, as well.

Despite this, reports of damage from dicamba drift have continued in 2018, including 25,000 acres of soybean damage in one area of Missouri alone. Some farmers feel they're being forced to buy GE dicamba-tolerant seeds, just so they can survive their neighbors' chemical sprays.7 The Center for Biological Diversity also estimated that dicamba is slated to be sprayed on more than 60 million acres of monarch butterfly habitat, even though it's toxic to milkweed, their only food.

"America's monarchs are already in serious trouble, and this will push them into absolute crisis," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center, in a news release. "It's appalling that the EPA approved this spraying without bothering to consider the permanent damage it will do to these butterflies and their migration routes."8

BASF Wants to Market Organic Mulch Made With GMOs

While turning a blind eye to the environmental destruction caused by dicamba, BASF is also attempting to get organic approval for a biodegradable mulch product being made by its biopolymers division. The mulch is made using GMOs as a "processing aid," which should automatically disqualify the product from organic certification, since GMOs are not allowed in organics.

However, BASF is claiming that the GMOs "do not survive the production process" and using that loophole to gain approval from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). According to Living Maxwell, NOSB board member David Mortensen, Ph.D., professor of weed and applied plant ecology at Penn State University, told the business development manager for BASF's biopolymers division:9

"I was coming back from the dicamba drift discussion, a closed-door discussion, where I heard multiple organic farmers say that they're on the verge of not being able to grow their crops because of dicamba drift, which is manufactured by BASF. I guess I'm trying to reconcile a corporate ethic that wants to sell a product for organic production on the one hand and is selling a product that's being used on about 50 million acres of cropland on the other hand. Could you just help me see the corporate ethic where there's consistency here?"

OTA Member Cargill Is Synonymous With CAFOs and GMOs

Nature's Path also cited OTA member Cargill as another reason to part ways with OTA. "Cargill is one of a handful of global players that are driving the factory farm model of food production. Cargill is also intimately involved in the production of cheap GMO soy that is one of the top feed sources for factory farmed livestock and fish," Patty Lovera, policy director for Food & Water Watch, told Living Maxwell.10

Cargill has also partnered with BASF to create GE canola seeds that produce plant-based omega-3, even though GE canola commonly contaminates organic farms. It's an unsettling irony that Cargill, a company that operates using CAFOs, GMOs and toxic pesticides, also sells organic sunflower and soybean oil, as though they're interested in organic farming.

Stephens, the Nature's Path executive, cited Cargill, BASF and other OTA members like Kellogg, General Mills and Smuckers as those who have spent millions of dollars to fight GMO labeling and transparency. Yet, when he complained about their OTA membership, specifically for BASF, he didn't receive a suitable response.11

OTA's Acceptance of Hydroponic 'Container Growing Systems' Is Highly Controversial

OTA and the hydroponic lobby, led by the Coalition for Sustainable Organics, are seeking to rewrite organic rules to include hydroponics, which are plants grown in a liquid medium without soil. However, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations require that your crop rotation plan maintains or improves soil organic matter.

Since hydroponics do not involve the use of soil, they do not qualify for organic certification, yet hydroponic operators have been certified organic by USDA accredited certification agencies, which is deceitful to the public. Hydroponics also use chemicals, which organic producers are barred from using. Worse, commercial hydroponic growers will rarely reveal the fertilizers they use.

Further, keep in mind that while growing food indoors does reduce the need for pesticides, it does not automatically mean hydroponic vegetables are pesticide-free. In addition, at least one study found hydroponically grown vegetables had lower levels of carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein than conventional vegetables.12

While OTA claims that they are not in favor of hydroponics, they support the allowance of container growing systems, which are those grown in mediums such as coconut fiber with liquid nutrients added. Companies such as Driscoll's and Wholesum Harvest, also OTA members, claim to use container growing systems, but many say they are actually one in the same as hydroponics because most of the nutrients are delivered via a liquid solution.13

Organic Factory Farms Become the Norm

Unfortunately, an organic label on your food is not necessarily enough to verify that it comes from a farm using humane, sustainable practices. In the dairy industry, for instance, some organic farms are passing off industrially produced milk as organic — and pocketing the increased profits while small family farms struggle to survive. Cows produce more milk, faster, when they're fed grain in the barn, as opposed to grazing on grass on pasture.

Industrialized organic dairies are capitalizing on this by skimping on grazing time, raising thousands of cows in veritable CAFOs, yet still gaining the USDA organic label that suggests a superior product. In fact, thousands of chickens could be raised in squalid conditions on a CAFO, yet still be labeled as organic.14 In April 2016, the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a proposed rule to amend organic livestock and poultry practices to provide for better animal welfare.

A final rule was published in January 2017, delayed multiple times until November and then finally withdrawn in May 2018.15 In short, some organic companies continue to operate as CAFOs, raising animals in confinement and producing sub-par "organics" that taint the entire system. If you want to know who really owns the organic brands you trust and love, check out the Cornucopia Institute's Who Owns Organic graphic16 — but be prepared, you're probably in for some surprises.

The Solution? Biodynamic Produce and AGA-Certified Beef and Dairy

There are many organic companies that are doing it right, raising "clean" meats and pesticide-free produce using traditional, chemical-free farming methods that support surrounding ecosystems and laws of nature. However, many are not, and it's not always easy to decipher the good guys from the bad. Biodynamic farming is a welcome alternative that goes beyond organic in some key ways.

Biodynamic farming is organic, regenerative farming, taking advantage of crop rotation, cover crops and so on, but it goes a step further, taking moon phases and planetary cycles into account when planting and harvesting, for example. Biodynamic farming also differs a bit in the way farmers are certified. While an organic farmer can section off as little as 10 percent of the farm for the growing of certified organic goods, in order to be certified as a biodynamic farmer, your entire farm must be biodynamic.

In addition to that, biodynamic certification also requires 10 percent of the land be dedicated to increasing biodiversity, such as forest, wetland or insectary. Not only does biodynamic farming provide superior crops both in volume and increased density of nutrients, but biodynamic farms are also completely self-sustaining.

For meat and dairy, because the USDA is not doing nearly enough to protect the integrity of its organic label, I encourage you to look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo, a high-quality grass fed standards and certification for American-grown grass fed meat and dairy.17

The standard allows for greater transparency and conformity18 and is intended to ensure the humane treatment of animals and meet consumer expectations about grass fed products, while being feasible for small farmers to achieve. An AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.19

You can further protect your family by consulting Cornucopia's organic dairy scorecard, which separates organic high-integrity dairy brands from what they call the "factory farm imposters." The Cornucopia Institute's Scrambled Eggs report and organic egg scorecard are also important resources, which rank 136 egg producers according to 28 organic criteria.

As demand for truly sustainable, high-quality food sources grow, it's becoming easier to find biodynamic and AGA-certified foods at local health food stores, farmers markets and food co-ops; however, if you can't find these, look for organic foods grown by small farmers you know and trust.

How Factory Farms Pump, Poison and Pollute the Earth

By Dr. Mercola

Up to 40 percent of drinking water worldwide comes from underground waterways that make up largely uncharted aquifer systems, some containing water that's tens of thousands of years old. When NASA published a study of global underground water reserves, they found 37 major aquifer systems — 21 of which were at risk of being depleted.1 The problem is especially pronounced in the U.S. southwest (among other regions in Asia and the Middle East), where it's not unusual for family wells to run dry.

Unless they can pay upward of $15,000 to $30,000 to have their wells deepened by hundreds of feet, they're left with faucets that often sputter out sand instead of fresh water. Where is all the water going? It's not the family's long showers or drinking habits that are too blame. Instead, industrial agriculture, drawn to states like Arizona because of its year-round growing season and lack of strict regulations, is using up most of it. According to The New York Times:2

"Local farmers had watched over the last decade and a half as waves of industrial farms arrived, tilling so much land that dust storms began darkening the sky. These enormous corporations were descending on the valley for the same reason homesteaders had a century ago: the year-round growing season and the lax regulation.

Compared with those for rivers and lakes, few laws govern the extraction of groundwater today. Aquifers across the globe are beginning to quietly dry up under the compounded strain of increased food production and a two-decade stretch that now includes the 10 warmest years in recorded history, sending farmers plumbing deeper for deposits of water … [A]griculture uses the bulk of [groundwater] … ; about 70 percent of water withdrawn from aquifers is consumed by this one industry."

Industrial Agriculture Engaging in 'Water Mining'

The term "water mining" has been coined to describe the industry practice of withdrawing water from aquifers at rates that exceed its replenishment. Even industrial farms in the Middle East, having pumped 20,000-year-old aquifers dry in a span of just 40 years, have tapped into Arizona water supplies, buying up 10,000 acres of land in order to grow alfalfa to feed Saudi Arabian cattle, The New York Times reported.3

Meanwhile, in Arizona's Sulphur Springs Valley, the amount of irrigated acres has grown from 40,000 to 100,000 in the last six decades. Among them are nut trees, including almonds and pecans, some of the most water-intensive crops there are. "To ensure a consistent supply of water from an aquifer already plummeting deeper every year, farmers often drill a well every 160 acres, each to a depth of at least 1,000 or 1,500 feet," according to The New York Times.

"One farming conglomerate, expanding from Minnesota, bought or drilled 293 wells, some pumping more than 2,000 gallons a minute. Suddenly, the very qualities of the valley that had nurtured generations of family agriculture — its cheap ground, its lack of groundwater regulation — seemed to threaten its existence."4 The largest user of water in the Valley, though, is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) raising 16,000 cows on 20,000 acres.

Plans to begin regulating groundwater usage, including proposed fees for usage, have been met with resistance from farmers, sometimes splitting up lifelong friends and leading to physical violence over those resisting the increased regulation. In 2018, Arizona's governor created a water-conservation committee to tackle the issue of groundwater security and reform, but in a step backward two additional groundwater bills were proposed that would lift regulations to allow for more than 30,000 homes to be developed.5

Industrial agriculture's strain on water supplies is one that stretches across the U.S., affecting Midwestern farmers as well. According to one study, nearly 70 percent of the water in the High Plains Aquifer System, which stretches across eight states, could be depleted in the next 50 years.6 According to the study, by 1960 farmers had already used up 3 percent of the aquifer's water and by 2010 that rose to 30 percent.

By 2060, it's estimated that another 39 percent of the water will be gone, and this is even taking anticipated irrigation technology improvements into account. While it's thought that farmers might be able to pump less water in the coming decades due to newer irrigation technology, corn crops and cattle CAFOs are expected to increase, which will likely negate any of the potential water savings.

Industrial Agriculture Poisoning the Planet

While draining aquifers and putting rural homeowners at risk of running out of water, industrial farms are also poisoning neighboring croplands due to dicamba drift. The toxic weedkiller, which is used along with genetically engineered (GE) dicamba-tolerant crops, damaged 3.6 million acres of crops in 2017,7 and the damage has continued in 2018, including 25,000 acres of soybean damage in one area of Missouri alone.

Now, however, dicamba drift is expanding to affect not only farmers but also homeowners, resort owners, state parks and organic specialty farms. Interviews conducted by DTN and agricultural news outlet The Progressive Farmer revealed dozens of non-soybean dicamba damages, leaving victims with little recourse.

"At the end of the day, most of the property owners interviewed face serious financial losses that they will never recover. Some wonder if they will ever be able to grow vegetables or trees in their patch of countryside again if dicamba-tolerant soybean acres and their accompanying dicamba use continues to swell."8 Meanwhile, state regulators are facing a backlog of related complaints, leading to delays and many investigations that have yet to be completed. Further, no one is willing to accept the blame for the toxic chemical's effects, including its makers.

"Even state investigations that find a pesticide applicator at fault can only fine the applicator — not compensate the victim," The Progressive Farmer explained. "Laboratories are still learning how to test for dicamba residue effectively, and at what levels. Unless an applicator was flagrantly off label, insurance companies maintain that they are not responsible when dicamba volatilizes and moves off-target. The companies who manufacture the new dicamba herbicides insist that volatility is rare and dicamba injury unusual."9

Dicamba maker Monsanto (which Bayer recently acquired), meanwhile, has continued to downplay the damage reports, sometimes blaming them on farmers' using the chemicals at wind speeds higher than outlined on the label, changes in wind speed or direction or on other factors entirely.

They have no plans to scale back usage of the environmentally devastating chemical, instead boasting that they intend to sell even more GE Xtend crops (and the XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology dicamba variety to go along with them) in 2019: "We went from 25 million acres in 2017 to a doubling of 50 million acres this year [2018] and expect that to continue to rise for 2019."10

CAFO Emissions Are Polluting the Globe

CAFO meat and dairy operations are among the world's top polluters, outpacing even multinational oil and gas corporations like Exxon, Shell and BP in greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to a report by international nonprofit GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).11 The world's five largest meat and dairy corporations alone create more greenhouse gas emissions than Exxon, Shell or BP each year.

What's more, the report found that most of the top 35 meat and dairy giants do not report their emissions and, if they do, may underreport them. In fact, only four of the companies provided credible emissions estimates. And while a handful of the companies do claim to be taking steps to curb the disastrous pollution, they're planning expansion efforts at the same time, largely contradicting any supposed progress. GRAIN reported:12

"Fourteen of the 35 companies have announced some form of emission reduction targets. Of these, only six have targets that include supply chain emissions, yet these emissions can account for up to 90 percent of total emissions. The six companies that do pledge cuts in supply chain emissions are simultaneously pushing for growth in production and exports, driving their overall emissions up regardless of their intention to reduce emissions per kilo of milk or meat produced."

Beyond greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, CAFOs are contributing to a number of other devastating environmental repercussions, including the following. A meta-analysis of 350 studies conducted by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) recommended a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems in order to solve these problems:13

  • Widespread degradation of land, water and ecosystems
  • Biodiversity losses
  • Persistent hunger and micronutrient deficiencies
  • A rapid rise in obesity and diet-related diseases
  • Livelihood stresses for farmers

The Truth About Factory Farms

In the infographic below, you can learn more about why CAFOs, i.e., factory farms, create problems with pollution, animal welfare and human health.

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Factory Farms Should Be Extinct

One of the lesser talked about travesties occurring due to CAFOs is a loss of biodiversity that's also affecting wildlife. The Guardian reported that 40 million hectares (nearly 100 million acres) of land have been slated for agricultural purposes over the last 10 years, particularly in Africa. Meanwhile, in the last four decades, wildlife populations globally have declined by 50 percent.14 There may not immediately appear to be a connection, but consider the following:15

  • Half of the remaining 15,000 wild jaguars in the world 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.
  • In Sumatra, lowland forests which Sumatran elephants depend on to live and survive, are being cleared out to plant palm plantations. A byproduct of this industry, palm kernels, is used to feed CAFO animals in Europe, making the palm industry more profitable and thus encouraging the clearing of more land.
  • In South Africa, native penguins are facing a food shortage, caused by commercial fisheries (CAFOs of the sea) catching massive quantities of fish. The fish are ground into fishmeal used to feed farm-raised salmon as well as CAFO chickens.

It's time for CAFOs and other forms of industrial agriculture to go extinct before the environmental devastation they're creating can no longer be reversed. You can help to prompt significant change in the agricultural industry by boycotting CAFO and GE products and instead purchasing grass fed foods grown only by local farmers who are using natural methods and soil-regenerative techniques, such as no-till, cover crops, composting and livestock integration.

Look for farmers markets, food co-ops and direct-from-the-farm sales in your area — these sustainable alternatives are growing rapidly across the U.S. and will offer you fresher, healthier food and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to drive permanent positive changes in food production for a better planet.

Ginger Is Great for Bad Breath

By Dr. Mercola

Whether you're an enthusiast of Asian and East Indian cuisine or enjoy experimenting with different herbs and spices in the kitchen, it's likely you're familiar with the warming essence of ginger. From stir-fries to salad dressings, the flavor and fragrance of ginger is versatile and distinct.

And like so many plants, ginger is renowned for both traditional and modern medicinal remedies. An attractive perennial herb that produces a sideways-growing rhizome underground, ginger is the common name for the plant known as Zingiber officinale.

Some ginger species (and there are roughly 1,600 of them) produce beautiful tropical flowers, and most thrive in warm humid climates. Turmeric and cardamom are considered members of the ginger family, according to Healthy Food Tribe, which discloses how to keep the nubbly roots fresh:

"There are many tricks for keeping ginger fresh for longer in your kitchen. One way is to keep the ginger root in the freezer until it is ready to use. This is probably the easiest way to keep ginger fresh for a very long time … You will often see pink pickled ginger in Japanese cuisine — it makes for a fantastic palate cleanser when eaten between each course, making the flavor of each new dish more distinctive from the last."1

You can use a dehydrator to make ginger powder, which can be used in both smoothies and stir fries. To get the most of its complex, flavorful nuances, add ginger at the beginning of your cooking as well as toward the end, and peel it as little as possible for a deeper flavor profile.

Organic powdered ginger is an excellent alternative to using portions of ginger root, and can last up to a year when refrigerated. A number of studies reveal ginger as legendary throughout the world for thousands of years, and in many different capacities.

WebMD notes that this spice can stimulate saliva flow, settle an upset stomach, relieve nausea and diarrhea and prevent gas. One of the latest findings scientists have discovered2 is the chemical component in ginger responsible for eliminating bad breath.

How 6-Gingerol and Citric Acid Affect Saliva

The compound 6-gingerol, which enhances the mechanism that enables gastrointestinal transport (the time it takes for food to leave your stomach and travel through your intestines3), is the same one that enables an enzyme in saliva to break down unpleasant odors. That's how scientists identified its ability to freshen your breath, as well as reduce disagreeable aftertastes.

Conversely, citric acid increases the sodium in saliva so salty foods won't taste so salty. Additional aspects of food components and the molecules dissolved in saliva were explored by a study team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, according to Prevent Disease, which notes:

"Many food components contribute directly to the characteristic taste of food and beverages by means of contributing their own particular taste, scent or spiciness. However, they also indirectly influence our sense of taste via other, still largely unknown biochemical mechanisms."4

A team from the chair of food chemistry and molecular sensory science, led by food chemist Thomas Hofmann, investigated this phenomenon in greater detail and found that 6-gingerol increases the enzyme sulfhydryl oxidase 1 in saliva 16 times over within a few seconds.

They also showed that citric acid influences your perception of taste. For instance, sour foods such as lemons stimulate your salivary glands while simultaneously and proportionally increasing the amount of minerals dissolved in your saliva. The sodium ion level in saliva rises by a factor of about 11 after it's stimulated by citric acid, which makes you less sensitive to the taste of salt. As Hoffman explains:

"Table salt is nothing other than sodium chloride, and sodium ions play a key role in the taste of salt. If saliva already contains higher concentrations of sodium ions, samples tasted must have a significantly higher salt content in order to taste comparatively salty."5

Hoffman believes more research is warranted to understand how molecules in food create taste and the biological interactions involving saliva. Driving his aim is to "satisfy the health and sensory needs of consumers."6 That's the thrust of a future project to develop a new scientific basis for food production. Meanwhile, TUM notes that the discovery of the 6-gingerol mechanism may provide a direction for the development of new oral hygiene products.

The Power of Ginger in Clinical Studies

Scientists also note ginger's ability to relieve motion sickness. While the cause of motion sickness is what Prevent Disease7 describes as "conflicting sensory signals going to the brain," there are several remedies for this bothersome condition. Ginger is all-natural and has myriad other valuable health benefits; plus, it's backed by ample evidence over many decades.

The Journal of Visualized Experiments published a study involving patients highly prone to motion sickness. Twenty minutes after study subjects were given two capsules of powdered ginger, an antinausea medication or a placebo, they were given a spin on a motorized chair for up to six minutes (or as long as they could handle it).

The results: Taking ginger delayed the onset of sickness about twice as long as the medication, and half the participants who took ginger lasted the full six minutes, compared with none of those given either the placebo or the medication. The authors noted:

"Motion sickness occurs because of a mismatch between actual and expected perceptions from different sensory systems, such as the vestibular and the visual system.

This mismatch leads to a series of vegetative symptoms like nausea, vertigo, sweating, or tiredness, but also to changes in gastric myoelectrical activity, and can be evoked in most healthy participants depending on the strength of the stimulus."8

As for anti-inflammatory effects achieved by using ginger, a blog in Arthritis Today9 suggests that because studies point to the rhizome for decreasing pain and inflammation, you might be wise to keep it in your spice cupboard as well as your medicine cabinet.

One of many little-known uses for ginger is for asthma, which is good news, as the medical mainstream's solution usually involves drugs, which can actually increase the severity of the condition. Further, a University of Miami study10 says it has the potential of replacing nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

Here, a placebo was placed up against ginger extracts in 247 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees. Those who received ginger reported a 40 percent reduction in pain and stiffness. Lead author Roy D. Altman said research indicates that gingerol affects certain inflammatory processes at the cellular level.

Ginger for Nausea and so Much More

As a therapeutic substance, ginger has been widely used in Chinese, Ayurvedic and other medical practices for any number of maladies, including arthritis, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, sore throat, indigestion, vomiting, cramps, constipation, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases and helminthiasis (parasite infestation).11

An indication that ginger is taken very seriously in the medical world is that it's been approved by Commission E, Germany's agency responsible for regulating herbal products.

One study notes the phenolic substances are collectively known as gingerols, but 6-gingerol is the major pharmacologically-active component. The 6-gingerol is extracted from ginger root using ethanol and other organic solvents. As noted in one study (and corroborated in many more):

"Due to its efficacy and regulation of multiple targets, as well as its safety for human use, 6-gingerol has received considerable interest as a potential therapeutic agent for the prevention and/or treatment of various diseases"12

Besides fighting inflammation and oxidation, the anticancer activities linked to 6-gingerol affects several biological processes, including apoptosis (programmed cell death), cell cycle regulation, cytotoxic activity and slowing angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels.

The National Cancer Institute explains that angiogenesis plays an important role in slowing cancer growth, as solid tumors need a blood supply to grow larger than a few millimeters in size.13

Also, in regard to the aspects of ginger for people with cancer, another study recognizes ginger as an antiemetic, or an antinausea remedy for morning sickness during pregnancy or stomach flu, but also for those undergoing chemotherapy, not to mention medications that may cause nausea and vomiting.

However, as noted by Medical News Today,14 one of the problems with antiemetic drugs is that other problems might emerge, such as:

Rapid heartbeat or palpitations

Muscle weakness, spasms or convulsions

Slurred speech

Worsening nausea and vomiting

Drowsiness that prevents driving

Psychological effects such as confusion or hallucination

Hearing loss

Ginger for Cancer and Cognitive Function

According to a study conducted in 2012, cisplatin is a platinum-based drug used for patients undergoing cancer treatment, but earlier studies have shown it to have numerous side effects. Gingerol, (as well as genistein, an antioxidant isoflavone in animal cells and plants) have demonstrated antigenotoxic and antimutagenic potential in cultured human lymphocytes.

There are three things of note in this study: 1) Gingerol is a proven antioxidant; 2) Gingerol can help prevent reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage by scavenging free radicals produced by genotoxic (DNA-altering) agents; and 3) Gingerol has greater potential to improve genotoxicity than genistein. It's also important to note that in regard to chemotherapy:

"Chemotherapy leads to the complication of secondary cancers. Antioxidants in diet could protect patients undergoing chemotherapy as shown by studies where antioxidants were combined with chemotherapeutic drugs that increased growth-inhibition of chemotherapeutic agents on cancers.

Cancer cells and normal cells are different, which helps antioxidant complementary therapy protect the normal tissues from damage due to chemotherapeutic agents without compromising therapeutic effectiveness."15

Ginger has also been shown to have positive effects on cognitive function, especially in healthy middle-aged women.16 Researchers started with the premise that middle-aged women "usually develop some form of cognitive impairment" in such areas as attention, calculation and immediate recall," but that oxidative stress exacerbates it.

Ginger is also known for exerting positive effects in serum lipid levels, inflammation and arthritis, with a tradition of enhanced memory. In their conclusion, the scientists wrote that ginger "clearly demonstrates that Zingiber officinale may enhance both the attention and cognitive processing in middle-aged women," and "the improvement of cognitive function was observed in all attention and cognitive processing domains."

Ginger: Suggested Forms, Including Grated for Pain Relief

While ginger is a safe food, in rare cases, high doses may cause mild upset stomach, diarrhea, sleepiness, restlessness or heartburn. Taking ginger with food typically alleviates such problems. It may also interact with medications such as anesthesia, anticoagulants and analgesics, possibly leading to poor wound healing, sun sensitivity, irregular heartbeat, bleeding and prolonged sedation.

Among all the forms of ginger available, including tinctures, ginger tea, powders, oils, capsules and foods made from the root, capsules with "super-critical extraction" are what Roberta Lee, vice chair of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center recommends because it results in the purest ginger and will provide the greatest effect.

Lee also suggests taking 100 to 200 milligrams of ginger daily for four to six weeks before increasing the dosage.

Since ginger has been proven effective for easing muscle pain caused by exercise, researchers of a study published in the Journal of Pain suggested trying a bit of grated ginger root in your food, such as salads or stir-fries, or a few teaspoons of it in a pot steeped with very hot water for five minutes for a soothing brew. The study noted that when ginger is heated, it exerts hypoalgesic effects — helping to alleviate pain 23 to 25 percent better than placebo.17



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