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The Beauty of Simplicity ~ An Interview with Kevin McDonald

Recently I travelled home to NZ for a family wedding. During my visit I was shopping at a health food shop and purchased a little book called “Learn to Listen”. I read the book and was fascinated with the content. When checking the author’s details I found that he lived just a few minutes from my parents’ home in Taranaki. I called to see if I could schedule a last minute interview on the morning of the wedding and the conversation below is the result of that meeting.

Kevin McDonald is a natural practitioner who uses copper dowsing rods to assist him with diagnoses and patient monitoring. His dowsing accuracy is legendary to the extent that one of the wedding guests had apparently called him in desperation after the loss of a purebred puppy. Kevin told them the exact location of the lost pup and they drove directly to that spot to find their hungry, frightened pet.  I found his book to be a breath of fresh air in the complex world of biochemistry and nutritional requirements. If his theories are correct, then anyone anywhere can adopt these principles and change their lives. Here is a brief quote from Kevin’s book that highlights his philosophy. We have been blessed with a fantastic vehicle to live in while we are on this earth. It is a very special, sacred vessel. Enjoy it and have fun with it but most of all give it respect and love. It is the only one you have. If it is looked after correctly it will give you many years of quality use, free of degeneration and pain and allow the spirit living within it to completely flourish to its full potential.  These concepts make sense to me and I am sure that they will resonate with many others. During this 4 hour interview Kevin generously checked out some of my recent health issues and I intend to adopt his recommended game plan. If you decide to take his advice and embrace any of these simple programs I would love to hear your reports as to their efficacy.

Graeme: I thoroughly enjoyed your book, “Learn to Listen”. It represents simple, achievable solutions that address the quagmire of confusion that many feel when confronted with multiple diagnostic and treatment options. What inspired you to write the book?

Kevin: Well, your response pretty much wraps up my rationale for writing this book. People are invariably confused and the most common response to confusion is to do nothing. I want people to take charge of their own health and to do this they need a simple game plan with clear guidelines. I have tested thousands of people over many years and retested many of them to chart their progress. In the process I feel that I have identified the root causes of some of the key health issues and I felt compelled to share that information. Getting started is not really that hard and if you can understand the reasons for your problems, and if the solution is achievable, then there is much more likelihood of meaningful change. I was also hopeful that the book might help to allay fear. In many cases it involves simple common sense. So many people hit the Internet to diagnose their issues and there is so much information available that it is hard to determine the relevance for them. Much of the information may be truthful but they need to work out what is relevant for them. The biggest disease on the planet is fear and it has become an integral part of conventional medicine. The doctors commonly use the fear statement, if you don’t. I try to determine the relevance so that we can treat root causes instead of symptoms.

Graeme: I felt that you delivered your message brilliantly but the book had the feel of a first time writer. There is a charming innocence about your style. Have you published much of your work before?

Kevin: No this is my first effort. English was my one weak link during my schooling so it was a daunting process. I started out by using a ghostwriter but soon discovered that I was rewriting everything anyway so I did it myself.

Graeme: Well done! It’s amazing what passion can drive; you may have discovered a new career path. New Zealand has a relatively clean, green reputation and one could assume that these rich volcanic soils would deliver nutrient-dense medicinal food to help sustain a particularly healthy population. However, New Zealand has the second highest rates of heart disease on the planet and I understand the cancer rates are right up there. What have you found in your work?

Kevin: Well, interestingly, New Zealand has the highest rates of colon cancer in the world and I suspect a link to the misuse of phosphate fertiliser. This country is the biggest user of super phosphate in the world and the nearest challenger is a distant second.

Graeme: I see that NZ has a very popular supplement based on an Australian formula called Percy’s Powders. Percy Weston was a Victorian farmer who noticed that the health of his livestock declined following the introduction of super phosphate on his farm. Family members were also affected by cancer and Percy reasoned that the oversupply of this most acidic of all minerals could have created the acidity where degenerative diseases like cancer can flourish. He developed a super alkalising mineral formula, which has proven very successful in both Australia and New Zealand. Incidentally, I noted in the book that you are not a big fan of chicken meat and I wondered if that was linked to the fact that chicken is ten times more acidifying than lamb (due to the level of phosphate fed to the caged birds in their short life span)

Kevin: Yes, this is partly the reason but there are other factors. The birds are pumped up with antibiotics and overfed to achieve the required weight within 38 days. I have found that when I measure this meat from an energetic perspective, it comes up really low. I feel that a key reason is the fact that these birds don’t see sunlight in their short life and sunlight is hugely important in the production of energized food. Chicken is extremely low quality meat. In my testing I find that a budget priced, supermarket sausage has roughly the same pitiful food value as chicken. There is this hype out there about the value of white meat vs. red meat when in fact pork and chicken are the worst meats you could consume. However, we should still factor in the importance of variety. We need small amounts of meat from time to time and the more variety the better. It’s about having fun and enjoying what you eat. Salami or bacon might have no food value at all but the value can come in the fun that you might gain from these flavours. If small amounts are involved, the pleasure involved will outweigh any negatives. We were meant to enjoy life.

Graeme: You have identified three root causes of illness including poor digestion, poor kidney function and poor liver function. How much of degenerative and infectious illness can be linked to the performance of this big three?

Kevin: Well it’s hard to put a figure on it but a large percentage of health problems is linked to the failure of these three systems. In my testing I find that more than half of my clients have kidneys that are under performing. 80% of people have livers that measure low and 95% of clients have less than optimum digestion. In NZ the most consumed drug is Losec, and this highlights the scale of digestion problems. Degenerative disease is largely linked to insufficient vitamins, minerals and nutrients within the cell to keep them vibrantly healthy. There is much more likelihood of problems in the face of stressors when the cell is lacking nutrition. Whether these stress sources are based on chemicals, genetic predisposition, lack of sleep, emotional issues or poor quality food, the undernourished cell is far more susceptible. It all comes back to the inability to get nutrients to the cell. For me there are four aspects to digestion:

1) The quality and quantity of food

2) How well do we absorb the nutrients from our food into our blood from the intestine and colon?

3) How well does the blood carry the nutrition around the body? this is all about circulation and blood quality 4) Then, once the food gets into that cell, how well does the cell use these nutrients? That is technically called metabolism. In your case it’s all about number two, it’s about digestion, and the liver is the root cause of your digestive issues.

Graeme: Until recently Zantac was the largest selling pharmaceutical drug on the world stage until the lipid lowering drugs took the pole position. A visit to an American chemist shop (or drug store as they call it) reveals a massive array of digestive remedies, which indicates the size of the problem.

Kevin: The best thing about Losec is that it works; it relieves symptoms and allows people to get on with their lives. However, this is also the worst thing about Losec because they have not addressed the root cause of the problem and are now less inclined to do so. I have found that probiotics can be great for relief of symptoms but we need something to switch on the digestive system to improve its efficiency. The answer is prebiotics, specialist stimulants, which feed and nurture your own gut organisms. Your beneficial biology shares the same DNA as every other cell in your body and when your own gut organisms break down your food, they break it down to be compatible with every other cell in your body. The introduced probiotics can also break the food down but they don’t make it fully compatible with your cells and if you stop taking them the old problems often resurface. You need to make your system breed more of your organisms and the product that achieves this most dramatically is made by an American MLM company called Usanna. They are not even aware of how good their product is as a kick-start to the digestive system. It is marketed as a blend of fibers to keep you regular and hence the name, Fibrogy. In actual fact, this blend contains protein extracts that have a profound effect upon beneficial organisms and I find that it is the best way to switch on the digestive system.

Graeme: You place a large emphasis upon keeping the body alkaline but you have a different take on the use of alkaline inputs. You suggest that these inputs can sometimes prove counterproductive that alkaline inputs can actually make the digestive tract more acidic. Can you please elaborate on this idea?

Kevin: Well, in your case, for example, we have determined that you are very acidic and the root cause of that acidity is a low liver. Most of your symptoms of indigestion are related to this fact. The popular approach is to throw every thing alkaline at this problem but this is often not the solution. The problem begins when the acidity in the stomach is not sufficiently neutralized due to an undersupply of bile from the liver. That acidity compromises the entire digestive tract, and eventually the entire system, and can be linked to all sorts of inflammatory issues, including the joint and tendon pain that you are experiencing. Lemon juice in hot water would be a good thing for you. The acidity of the citric acid, first thing in the morning, basically tells the stomach, I don’t have to make so much acid today. By contrast, people often drink alkaline water or take alkalizing powders to counteract their acidity and this sends the message to increase acid production. The liver is already not supplying enough bile to neutralise the existing acid so the end result is to worsen the situation. These alkaline inputs can be OK for short periods but can cause problems when consumed long term. The stomach is supposed to be acidic and will self balance if you over alkalise. However this still does not address why you are acidic in the first place and that comes back to the liver. The liver is not producing enough bile or perhaps there are some bile ducts blocked in either the liver or the gallbladder. The gallbladder is basically a bag that stores and delivers the bile produced by the liver.

Graeme: Do you think it is a good idea to do a liver/gallbladder cleanse with epsom salts and olive oil to remove any stones that may be blocking ducts?

Kevin: Sometimes the stones that are produced from this detox are actually created from the materials used. The more you use, the more stones appear. However, for some people this technique is legitimate. It can dislodge stones but it very rarely serves to turn on the liver. If you eat the right foods and take a couple of specific herbs the liver will usually detox itself.

Graeme: What are the right foods?

Kevin: Well the rule of thumb is to avoid eating anything with eyes. The liver loves plants and the more diversity the better. Find some natural, plant-based foods that you enjoy and eat them in good amounts. Eggs and dairy are usually okay even though they are animal based. Whole foods with no man made intervention are the simple secret. The best herb for the liver is ginger in the form of ginger tea.

Graeme: I notice that you suggest the addition of a few slices of fresh ginger root to a cup of boiling water and then leave it for ten minutes before drinking. I add ginger to many foods. Wouldn’t that be sufficient or does the tea offer something different?

Kevin: There is something about infusion that delivers the benefits more efficiently. I guess that is why herbal teas have been used by all cultures for centuries. When you cook the ginger, or even eat it raw for that matter, it doesn’t have the same effect. It doesn’t turn the liver on like the tea does. Even drinking pure ginger juice does not have the same benefits as the tea according to my testing. Something happens at that boiling point. You don’t want to boil it to pieces if you are making it in a pot. Just boil the water first and then add the herbs and boil for a few more minutes. Ginger juice can be a good cleanser but we are talking about turning on and that is the function of the tea. People assume that if you cleanse the three key systems, the liver, the kidney and digestion, that you will automatically turn them back on, but often that is not the case. If you can turn them on and then supply the right food, they cleanse themselves.

Graeme: You have mentioned ginger tea as one of your favourite tools to restart the liver. There were a couple of other herbs involved. What were they?

Kevin: Yes, I use dandelion root tincture and ginger for the kick start and then I find that there is a greater benefit when I introduce milk thistle, which is the most effective of the liver detox herbs. It’s important to use dandelion root rather than leaf for the liver. I use dandelion leaf tincture for the kidneys.

Graeme: Would it be a good idea to drink a coffee substitute based on dandelion root?

Kevin: Interestingly, I have never seen these drinks achieve the same response as the tinctures. Perhaps it relates to the level of processing involved. My treatments are not necessarily the best possible treatment available but they are simple, easily available, inexpensive treatment options that work. Anyone can walk out into the garden and change their health with these fresh herbs, or they can buy the dried version in any supermarket. The easier the solution, the more likely people will embrace the protocol. Many people are basically lazy. The three herbs for the liver usually do the job but there is also the emotional link that should be addressed. The liver is the main centre for emotional attachments and you may need to shed that excess baggage to achieve full recovery.

Graeme: Would the Emotional Freedom Technique, involving tapping on acupuncture points while repeating affirmations and statements of intent, be of benefit in clearing emotional attachments that are affecting liver health?

Kevin: Yes. You don’t even have to know the actual cause of the problem with these kinds of techniques. Sometimes it is sufficient to state that you wish to be free from all emotional attachments that are affecting the liver and this will neutralize those issues.

Graeme: You mentioned in the book that it is not just a matter of eating live foods but that we should try to improve our connection to that food. I am a big fan of the concept of gratitude in relation to food. In this context we lost a lot when we stopped saying grace at the dinner table. Both the production and consumption of food have traditionally been a sacred process but we have lost that reverence. Shoving a burger down your throat and slurping on your shake with your mobile phone up to your ear while you drive to your next appointment is not sacred appreciation of food! However, you are suggesting that it is more than just reclaiming gratitude and appreciation. You are including the concept of intent. Could you explain this further?

Kevin: Mind over matter is a big player when it comes to optimum utilization of your food. If food had a job description it would involve the chief role of keeping you healthy and disease free and there is a benefit in transmitting that to the food. Be grateful and thankful for it, but also gracefully request that it does its job and offers maximum wellness benefits. This connection this combination of gratitude and the polite, respectful expression of intent can hugely change the way that food affects your body. This is also important at the preparation stage. That is why homegrown food is the most powerful of all because it has been grown lovingly and it is therefore more likely to connect with your intent. I learnt the value of intent from a woman patient a few years ago. I had been dealing with her for some time with some pretty big health issues and we were slowly making progress. Suddenly, in the space of a month she showed dramatic improvement. When I analysed what she was doing differently, it was all about the food. Something was completely different about her food so I asked her what she had changed in her diet. To my amazement the only change involved the addition of a request that her food do its job really well to provide maximum health benefits. She had always said grace but now she added intent to her gratitude and it had a huge impact. I have found that it is important not to be too specific with this intent as you can limit the healing potential of good food. Don’t ask the food to heal your sore joints because there is a much wider range of benefits that the food may be able to offer. You always need to be careful about what you ask for.

Graeme: From a mind body perspective it was interesting to hear of the strong emotional link to liver health issues. I thought the heart was the emotional centre?

Kevin: The liver is the emotional centre of the body so when the liver is down we can be more easily affected by emotions. The other issue relates to emotional trauma. If that trauma is to become an attachment, it tends to favour the liver. In fact, in some cases this can be the main reason that the liver goes low in the first place. It is common to see liver problems begin 18 months to two years after a major emotional event like a marriage breakdown or the death of a loved one.

Graeme: I have friends and family who suffer problems with their thyroid or prostate glands. Can this have a liver connection?

Kevin: Acidity can often be linked to both glands. This highlights a fatal flaw in modern medicine in that the question Why? is so rarely asked. Why is your prostate inflamed? Why is your thyroid malfunctioning? It is extremely rare to find someone with a bad thyroid who has a perfect liver. PSA tests for the prostate are horribly inaccurate and this highlights the fact that the medical profession does not have all the answers.

Graeme: It’s a ludicrous situation that a strategy called watchful waiting is now more successful than the interventionist approach when it comes to the management of prostate problems. I do many prostate talks around the world and I have heard so many stories about biopsy core samples taken following PSA tests that have subsequently resulted in septicemia. In most cases there was no sign of cancer but the diagnostic test almost killed them!

Kevin: It is fear that drives the decision to over-react to the PSA data. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real and it is particularly prevalent in relation to cancer. Sometimes if you hear it enough and think about it enough, it can become real! The mind over matter thing can work both positively and negatively. It is not just the negative experiences that can affect your liver, positive thoughts are like fertiliser for your liver. That’s why laughter is so important.

Graeme: I was fascinated during a recent visit to Bali to note the locals meditating on the beach each morning with eyes closed and big wide smiles on their faces. A friend informed me that they were smiling on their livers. It sounds like something worth trying.

Kevin: That’s fascinating. We know the term shitty liver in relation to temperament but this other side of the equation has been ignored.

Graeme: What’s your opinion on the relative importance of supplementing according to what you have been able to monitor?

Kevin: There are three key things about supplementing and most of them cannot be easily monitored by the person taking the supplements. The first of these is; how good is the supplement? The second is, do I need this supplement?. The third is am I able to utilize this supplement? If you can answer those questions then supplementing can be very beneficial but most people can’t. Even when we look at food we need to be able to utilize that food. I see people on amazingly healthy diets who are literally starving because they are not utilising that food. It all comes back to digestion.

Graeme: You suggest in the book that, ideally, fresh, live food should comprise 80% of our diet but you are also concerned with the way we cook our food. In this context, you believe that microwaves are a destructive menace. I am familiar with the damning research that led to the banning of microwaves in the USSR, but you have a different take on this technology. Can you explain your objection to this device?

Kevin: It’s interesting because all people don’t respond the same to the consumption of microwaved food. Some people seem to be able to get away with it, while it can have a major impact on others. I guess it is a bit like the people who can get away with smoking throughout their lives without suffering the normal consequences. The bottom line though is that we should not be using microwave ovens to cook our food. There is no reason to take risks when there are other safe alternatives. You may have seen the study where plants were watered with water that had been previously boiled in a microwave and they died within a week.

Graeme: It seems that plants respond in much the same way as people. Follow-up research has revealed that not all plants respond that negatively. Some can handle the microwaved water better than others. People often think that they will be OK if they just use the device to defrost or warm food but a study published in Pediatrics magazine showed that the simple act of warming previously expressed breast milk to body temperature, was enough to destroy the antibodies, enzymes and protective compounds in the breast milk.

Kevin: We have got too used to evaluating food in terms of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and carbohydrates. It is the living part of the food that we lose in a microwave and this is a serious loss.

Graeme: I can use a radionics device to measure the General Vitality of a plate full of food and then microwave that food and monitor the difference. If the food started with a General Vitality of 350 it can fall as low as 60, following a few minutes in the microwave. Consuming this food will lower the vitality of the consumer every time!

Kevin: There are three main issues I have with microwaved food if people still insist on using the device. The number one issue is using the microwave to heat the baby’s bottle. Often the formula in the bottle is the only food that the baby is receiving so it will have a much bigger impact when that food is compromised. Number two involves the use of the microwave to make porridge. That is a popular practice in NZ and it is a mistake. If you are using a microwave to cook any food, you should always wait for a few minutes after cooking to allow the radiation that can remain in the cooked food to dissipate. Porridge has the capacity to store and retain this radiation for much longer than other foods. Not only do you achieve a nutritionally inferior porridge after microwaving but you are also consuming toxic radiation with your oats! Porridge holds microwave radiation better than any other food. In the morning, you have had nothing to eat for 12 hours and every morning the enzymes are treated to a minute, but significant, whack of radiation. This happens day after day after day and can compromise digestive enzymes. Any thing that is done regularly can be a problem. The other common one is to use the microwave to make coffee at the office. They zap it and rezap it to heat it up, and again they are consuming minute amounts of radiation that can, over time, have a negative effect. Some people just use their microwave to warm those grain-based heat packs. Unfortunately this should also be avoided as the radiation remains in the grain. It’s really not a big issue. Just get rid of your microwave!

Graeme: Your basic food guidelines include fresh, local, living, whole foods that you enjoy. Avoid anything with a label, a high GI, and eat small meals often. There is nothing too confrontational from a habit changing perspective. Was that intentional?

Kevin: No, it was not intentional. I think it’s great to change habits from time to time. I mentioned the importance of variety in food. I’m still puzzled why breakfast has become the meal with the least variety. If we ever needed to change habits it is here!

Graeme: It’s funny you should mention that because it is the hardest thing I have had to adjust to during this very restrictive diet. I have changed my diet to address my liver, my acidity and candida and it hasn’t been easy. Why do we feel we have to have cereal, juice, toast and coffee for this important first meal of the day? I feel strangely unsatisfied with anything else. When I’m in Asia, I struggle with the idea of curry or noodles for breakfast. It is something I need to work on.

Kevin: Yes, we are not so rigid about any other meal and I don’t know why that is.

Graeme: Part of the current dietary dogma is about reducing the size of the evening meal, as there is no calorie burning activity that follows this meal. You suggest that 60% of our energy is expended during the regenerative processes that occur during sleep. In this context, you suggest that the evening meal should supply the fuel for these processes. Can you expand upon this?

Kevin: A lot of that dogma is just about getting fat. It’s not food that makes you fat. Its systems in your body that make you fat and then the type and timing of your meals can influence those systems. Again it comes down to poor digestion. If, at the cellular level, your cells cannot get all of the nutrient they require from your food, and this has been a long-term issue, then the body tends to turn food into fat. It’s a way to store food that is essentially a survival mechanism. Carbohydrates are the easiest and simplest things to convert. Putting on weight is often a side effect of having an unhealthy system. We need to get the systems functioning better. Most of the repair work happens while we are sleeping and we need the nutritional support for this. There is an assumption that if you are overweight you are unhealthy and if you lose weight then you are more healthy, This is simply not true. Cancer is our number one killer and there is no correlation between this disease and bodyweight. However it is the type of carbs that are consumed that will be a key. Most people should reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates at any time of the day.

Graeme: It is clear that you see poor digestion as a huge issue. What is it that has compromised our digestion so dramatically?

Kevin: There are several things. The stomach wasn’t designed to deal with highly processed foods. These foods are nutrient depleted and they can contain a vast array of chemicals. Microwaving and associated enzyme damage can contribute. Simple over-consumption of food can reduce digestive efficiency as the digestive tract comes to expect a constant flow, so there is no urgent requirement for efficiency. Commercial orange juice is a big factor. It is so widely consumed these days and it is doing major damage. It is terribly acidic when it is drunk regularly throughout the day. Orange juice is much worse than any other fruit juice. Even a daily grapefruit can be acidifying due to the amount and regularity of the citric acid. We are consuming much more of these than the small amount of lemon juice we might have in the morning. A poison is often determined by its volume. The volume of these citrus juices can be the problem. So many foods have been altered, then the use of pharmaceutical and recreational drugs further compromises the stomach. Then of course we have the impact of emotional stress and its effect upon the liver, as we have discussed. Another issue relates to our approach to food consumption. In this time starved world, some people are now seeing food as an interruption. We need to relax to digest well. We need to chew well, as the mouth is the initiation of digestion. I feel that the stomach is under-emphasised in terms of its importance. People have colonics and do various cleanses but nothing changes long term if you have not addressed problems in the stomach. Poorly digested food and acidity will continue to compromise the rest of the system if the problem in the stomach remains.

Graeme: Cellular metabolism, or the efficiency of food utilization by cells is a major end goal in digestion. You suggest that many of us are compromised in this regard. Sage tea is apparently the solution. Can a simple herb tea really be this effective?

Kevin: It can. Most of the time 6 cups is enough and we are talking just two or three sage leaves per cup. Two cups a day for three days is all that is required. Sage should not be overused as it can affect endocrine balance. It can be used specifically to reduce the symptoms of menopause because of this hormonal effect. If there was a need for improved cellular metabolism then people will usually feel increased energy within 5 days. Incidentally, if any of these teas have been microwaved there will be no response. There is usually only one major reason why cellular metabolism gets low and that’s poor kidney function. Chemicals and toxins can sometimes be involved but not often. If you have poor kidney function you will have poor cellular metabolism!

Graeme: Cellular hydration is often more about kidney function than a lack of water. I understand that you see the correction of this function as being more important than forcing back 8 glasses of water a day, regardless of your relative thirst?

Kevin: It comes back to a widely held assumption that if you put X amount into your mouth then your body’s got it. It’s no different to food, you don’t necessarily utilize what you eat. Most people who are really thirsty and drink a lot are really dehydrated. These people will often remain dehydrated no matter how much they drink. Kidneys control hydration.

Graeme: It is often suggested that good quality water is the only acceptable way to hydrate. My parents rarely seem to drink water but they have several cups of tea a day. Will the tea serve to hydrate them sufficiently?

Kevin: I don’t mean to knock the pure water brigade. We should all be drinking good quality water but we have overdone it. The tea will hydrate although it would be better if it was a herbal tea, as standard tea is a diuretic. However, the most valuable fluid your cells will ever get, will come via a plant, not from a glass of water. You can pick up the equivalent of 5 or 6 glasses of water a day from your food if your diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. Realistically, the cleansing capacity of pristine water is a myth. People picture this crystal, pure water cleansing the cells, but most liquids are absorbed via the transverse colon. By the time they arrive at that point in the digestive tract they are anything but pure, clear water. There are a lot of Eastern practitioners that are suggesting that we are overdoing the water in the West. It’s true, we are putting too much pressure on the kidneys having to filter that much water.

Graeme: Brain health, blood pressure, cellular oxygenation, muscle integrity, skin health and lung performance are all intimately related to the kidneys and you suggest a simple solution from the home garden to address these issues. A tea made from parsley, rosemary and sage, consumed three times a day for no more than three days is your solution. Sorry for my incredulity, but could something this basic really be this effective?

Kevin: I’ve seen it work thousands of time. Kidney health is a huge issue in NZ. Five years ago the Department Of Health estimated that between 30% and 50% of patients who end up in intensive care have kidney issues and half of these will die because of this (although this may not be reflected on the death certificate).

Graeme: The parsley solution is interesting. My human health seminars are often attended by natural health practitioners and I love it when they choose to contribute. A couple of years ago a highly regarded, elderly German naturopath stood up during a discussion on high blood pressure. She stated that she recommended parsley tea, three times a day to all patients with high blood pressure and it was successful for over half of them. I thought she might be exaggerating until I read your book.

Kevin: The liver also contributes to high blood pressure but the kidneys are a very common reason. The kidneys are predominantly filters but there is no definitive medical test that thoroughly monitors their filtration capacity. You can measure filtration of a few things, but in many cases the medical profession is driving blind for want of a more definitive or more complete test. I find that parsley tea works remarkably well. Not in all cases, but in many. It is as simple as adding a few sprigs of fresh parsley to a cup of boiling water.

Graeme: Wouldn’t it work better if you chopped the parsley finely and boiled it for a few minutes in a pot?

Kevin: Yes it would but most people wouldn’t go to the trouble so I try to keep it simple.

Graeme: What’s wrong with the lazy bastards! Surely we haven’t reached that level of apathy. What else do you find effective to restore kidney function?

Kevin: Dandelion leaf tincture is the next best thing and nettle teas can also be really good. Cranberry is a good repair tool but it doesn’t turn the kidneys on. As I mentioned earlier, turning on and repairing are two quite different things. Parsley is a switch, as are most herbal supplements, but it is usually vitamins, minerals and amino acids that do the repair. There are not many other food items that are specific to the kidney. There are several that are for the blood and this, in turn will help the kidneys. Things like asparagus and beetroot are great for the blood.

Graeme: What’s the deal about rosemary in the three herb tea for the kidneys?

Kevin: Rosemary is about increasing hydration at the cellular level. The rosemary is great for stimulating some life into the renal glands so as to correct the hydration. The rosemary can be fresh or dried. It can be combined with the other herbs for three days and can be used once or twice a week after that, if desired.

Graeme: You view the liver as the centerpiece of holistic health. Why is this organ so profoundly important?

Kevin: Most cultures have seen the liver as the core of the human body. It is such a multi-function organ. It does many completely different jobs. Most of the organs are more specialized. The spirit, soul and emotion of a person are based in that general area as well. It is also unique in that you can remove a part of it and it can re-grow.

Graeme: You are the third natural health practitioner who has come up with the same diagnosis linking my acidity to poor liver function and yet I had a liver function test recently and there was no apparent problem.�  My doctor admitted that sometimes your liver has to be seriously ill before it even registers as a problem on this test. Are these tests a waste of time?

Kevin: Sometimes my test mirrors the conventional liver function test but just as often there is no relationship. One female client who measured very low on my test related a story that highlights the unreliability of these tests. She had recently had her gallbladder removed and the surgeon informed her that her liver was in a terrible state. In fact, he said it was the worst he had seen from a visual perspective. She subsequently requested tests from her GP and the liver function test showed no problems.

Graeme: You are also not too keen about gallbladder removal. What is the alternative strategy?

Kevin: Well it’s pretty much the same as the liver. Ginger tea, dandelion root extract and St Mary’s thistle. It’s far better to use these as a preventative because in my experience, by the time you are scheduled for gallbladder removal it is often too far gone to turn it around.

Graeme: What about coffee? It is often frowned upon as it is said to negatively affect the immune system. It is also said to be acidifying even though it is a rich source of the alkalizing mineral, potassium. Should I give up my beloved morning cup of coffee?

Kevin: I rarely see problems with coffee unless people are having several cups a day and even that varies from person to person. The delicious smell, the social nature of the drink and the other pleasures outweigh any of the negatives as long as you don’t overdo it. As I said, life is supposed to be fun!

Graeme: Type 2 diabetes has recently been termed the coming plague, as one in three American adults are now considered to be pre-diabetic. You claim that it is relatively easy to manage and prevent this disease. I read research recently where frequent cures were achieved with the consumption of raw food. How do we avoid this disease and can it be cured?

Kevin: Well it is about choice of foods and addressing digestion and liver. It is very rare to find someone with diabetes who has a good liver. Low GI foods, preferably raw, can work wonders when you also address your liver. Type 2 diabetes is the most lifestyle-determined of any of the degenerative illnesses and it can be cured. A low GI diet is the key to reducing both obesity and diabetes. You need to lose weight and become healthy at the same time. Many weight loss programs do not improve your health and may even have the reverse effect.

Graeme: I know that this is not covered in the book but I was wondering what your testing had revealed about vaccinations.

Kevin: Wow! That’s the million-dollar question. My main issue relates to the difficulty parents have in obtaining unbiased information. You are either a neglectful parent for not vaccinating or you are poisoning your children by going ahead. It is so hard for a parent to make a decision and I really feel for them. I’m not a fan of vaccinations particularly the newer ones like Swine Flu but if you decide to go ahead, at least make sure you have maximized the health of the child beforehand. Never get a sick deficient baby vaccinated. It is not worth the risk. I will stand up and say that I am anti-vaccination but I respect anyone’s personal decision. We have moved on so much in terms of understanding health that I question the validity of this strategy in many cases.

Graeme: I always stress that if you are not going to vaccinate you do need to take good care of the child’s nutrition to ensure good immune response. If you are feeding the child soft drink and donuts it may not be appropriate. The other issue is that it would be much better to wait a couple of years like the Japanese do. It would not be such an assault at that point.

Kevin: The problem is that it can be an assault at any age if you are not healthy. I witnessed this during the meningitis vaccination campaign five years ago in NZ. I saw so many teenagers hit the wall. From day one, kids developed chronic fatigue type symptoms.

Graeme: The book covered some herbal alternatives for both bacterial infections and viral infections. Ginger tea appears again. This is an amazing herb. Ginger contains shagaol, which has been shown to kill the cold virus at just 1 part per million. A tablespoon of grated ginger theoretically contains sufficient shagaol for this purpose. Ginger is also the single most alkalizing food. Have you found ginger effective against flu?

Kevin: I use both ginger and mullein tea as anti-virals and they both can be effective. I don’t find any basic difference, from a vibrational perspective, between the common flu and swine flu. I hate to generate fear on this issue, as there has been no shortage of fear mongering in relation to swine flu and the need to vaccinate. However, I do feel that viruses pose our biggest threat. They are so cunning and they can mutate and change. I see so many people affected by viruses. I am seeing increasing cases of a different type of virus that our immune systems cannot detect. They have a completely different vibration and the body does not know how to handle them. These viruses can potentially stay in the body for long periods.

Graeme: Some of the conventional viruses can also become long time residents. The herpes virus is a good example.

Kevin: Actually herpes doesn’t stay forever. Many times I see that long-term herpes infections are liver based. If you address the liver you can get rid of this virus. There is a difference between infection and ongoing sensitivity. It is common to see the body produce herpes symptoms when stressed, even though the virus itself no longer lives in the body. It is like some of the recent research on chemical sensitivity. Usually a person comes into serious contact with a chemical and then their body develops sensitivity to chemicals. This can develop to the point that they will exhibit symptoms when they see a neighbor spraying chemicals, even if the spray tank just contains water. Herpes symptoms can be related to an ongoing sensitivity and the virus may no longer be present.

Graeme: That’s interesting. You also have a solution for bacterial infections and it is particularly effective to counter bladder infections.

Kevin: Yes, and again this solution can be picked fresh from your garden, free of charge. I use chive tea with great success for a variety of bacterial problems. It involves a couple of tablespoons of chopped chives in a large cup of boiling water. Let it steep for at least ten minutes before drinking. The idea with these herbal teas is to use them three times a day for no more than three or four days.

 

Graeme: What is your opinion of the principle tool to fight heart disease the lipid lowering drugs? Twenty three billion dollars worth of these drugs were sold last year. Was that a good health investment?

Kevin: My biggest issue with heart disease is that they treat symptoms and they don’t get back to why you have heart disease. The most common primary cause links back to kidney and liver performance and/or poor circulation. Many people these days are concerned about the side effects of drugs, and rightly so, but I always try to impress two things. Firstly, the more healthy you are the less likely you are to be negatively affected by the drugs and, of course, the more healthy your body, the less likely you are to need the drugs. The first step is to use high doses of flax seed oil and other omega 3 sources to improve circulation.

Graeme: That is something else I was meaning to ask you. I am aware of the critical importance of the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. We should ideally have a 2 to 1 ratio between these fatty acids but in Australia that ratio is out to 20 to 1 and in the US it is 26 to 1. The problem with this imbalance relates to inflammation. The inflammatory cascade involves protein messengers that direct the initial inflammation response and this is followed by an anti- inflammatory healing response, which is directed by a different group of protein messengers. Omega 6 fatty acids are the building blocks for the inflammatory messengers and omega 3 acids build the messengers (prostaglandins) that trigger the healing. What happens when you have ten times more of the building blocks for the triggers of inflammation? Well, you have inflammatory issues and inflammation has been linked to every degenerative disease. There is a particularly powerful link to heart disease. Anyway, my question relates to your different emphasis on the reasons for omega 3 supplementation. You see it more as a pipe cleaner than a healing agent, with regards to heart disease.

Kevin: It does achieve that much needed anti-inflammatory effect perfectly but good doses of omega 3 are also a great tool to clean out any blocked blood vessels. It is the simplest way I know of to clear out plaque and fatty deposits. A good dose involves double the label rate for about three weeks. I prefer oil to capsules.

Graeme: Cod-liver oil is my favourite as it contains high omega 3s and luxury levels of vitamin A and vitamin D. The secret to avoiding the fish flavoured reflux that can put people off this oil, is to take your tablespoon with some lemon juice. Then there is no unpleasant taste and no reflux.

Kevin: I have also had good results with emu oil and flaxseed is great. The main problem I see with oil supplementation is about volume. People rarely take enough to do the job. A tablespoon of oil is equivalent to 5 or 6 capsules in volume. We need good volumes for three weeks to achieve the benefits we are seeking. A tablespoon morning and night is easier than taking 12 capsules a day. I recommend that oil and joint supplements be taken at double the dose for three weeks to get a good response. The label recommendations are usually more about maintenance and are not therapeutic rates. We should all be taking omega 3 oils on a daily basis. Back to the heart disease issue. I have often seen people remain on the drugs while they are addressing their health. When they return to the GP he will say that the drugs are doing a great job because everything is improving, so they had better stay on their medication. The fear thing kicks in with if you don’t, and people get confused. The best strategy is to buy your own blood pressure monitor so you can monitor your own progress. You can find out what lowers and raises your blood pressure. Parsley tea, ginger, dandelion root and leaf and omega 3 fatty acids will usually have a good impact on high blood pressure. If you want to get off the medication, then you can monitor yourself accurately to ensure that you no longer need the medication.

Graeme: I am noticing a major change in people as I travel around the world. There is a huge thirst for information and people seem much more open to all kinds of ideas. It could even be linked to the mind shift that has been forecast for this point in our history. Have you noticed anything similar?

Kevin: Yes I have. There is a change underway and I am seeing it in ordinary people. It’s not just the beads and jandals (thongs) brigade. I don’t buy into the doomsday predictions and conspiracy theories. I love to live in the now and accept that what will be, will be. It’s fascinating to observe this mind shift happening though.

Graeme: Thank you for being so generous with your time and sharing your findings. I am sure that the information you have offered will help a great many people.

Kevin: No problem, it’s been a pleasure.

 Article written by Graeme Sait with the help of Natural Practitioner Kevin McDonald

http://www.nutri-tech.com.au

Ask the expert – cold season, breastfeeding

Your health questions answered by Kerrie Marks BHSc (Comp Med) , Dipl Nutr, DBM – natural health practitioner specialising in herbal medicine and nutrition.

Q: I am currently recovering from a cold. When my symptoms started, I began taking Echinacea, and I   found my sniffles only lasted a couple of days! Can I continue taking Echinacea to prevent another cold? Maria, QLD. 

A: I’m glad the Echinacea was such a great help! However, a 1999 review of Echinacea’s use in upper respiratory tract infections suggested that the current evidence is stronger for supporting the use of Echinacea in acute treatment and quite modest for its use in prevention. I suggest you try Astragalus, a traditional Chinese herb that is useful in enhancing the body’s immune function during convalescence. It can be taken long-term over the winter months to build up your resistance and reduce the likelihood of catching a second bout of the cold or flu. But don’t throw away the Echinacea! Keep it and some vitamin C in the medicine cabinet for the family to take at the first signs of a cold.

Q: I know there are a few herbs that help boost breast milk production. Is one better than another? Chantelle, VIC. 

A: The main herbs used to boost breast milk production are Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek and Asparagus racemosa root. All are equally good in this regard, so your choice comes down to which of their other properties would be most beneficial. For example, Blessed Thistle is a gentle liver tonic that, due to its bitter action, may also stimulate the appetite of a baby who is a poor feeder. Fenugreek is an expectorant that can help relieve excess mucus and coughs, so might help if you have a cold or flu. Asparagus helps with minor menstrual irregularities and lightens bleeding, so may be the best choice if your period tends to be heavy or painful.

Article thanks to Herbs and Health Magazine Australia

Snack attack

It’s 3pm your stomach emits a violent growl that says, ‘what happened to lunch?’ Nutritionist Elizabeth Yarwood* explains why a quick fix fat-drenched morsel or brain-snapping sugary snack is not your best option.

According to a study by the Centre for Culinary Development (CCD), snacks are increasingly becoming time-savvy meal replacements, instead of the between-meal or after-work options they once were.

“Snacks are less and less the hunger soothing bridge between formal meals,” says CCD CEO Kimberley Egan. “They have become valuable gastronomical events in their own right.”
The good news is, snacking is now more acceptable than ever. The bad news? Some popular snack choices might actually be doing you more harm than good.

Research by Australian consumer magazine Choice has revealed only a handful of the hundreds of snack bars marketed as ‘healthy’ actually contain any real nutritional value. In fact, many were found to be loaded with high levels of sugar, salt and saturated fats, with one popular yoghurt and nut bar delivering even more kilojoules than a Mars Bar.

Further, most of the ‘fruit’ ingredients promoted in health bars come from a laboratory instead of an orchard, and so contain none of the beneficial nutrients found in real fruit.

For snacks to be a legitimate hunger bridge between meals, the CSIRO says they need to add to your daily nutritional requirements of fibre, calcium, vitamins or protein. It also suggests packaged options should be less than 600 kilojoules per serve.

SMART SNACKING:

SWAP THIS FOR THIS WHY
Potato chips Rice crackers

with low-fat

cheese

Potato chips have a high fat and salt content, plus loads

of artificial flavourings. Rice crackers are a low-fat

alternative and deliver energy-boosting protein when

combined with ricotta or cottage cheese

Jelly lollies or

boiled sweets

Trail mix with

dried fruit, seeds

and nuts

The massive sugar hit in lollies sends your blood sugar

through the roof, then crashing through the floor. The

natural sugars in dried fruit are a better choice, while

raw nuts and seeds add protein

Chocolate bar Fruit salad with a

dollop of low-fat

yoghurt

Fruit is naturally sweet, without being full of sugar and fat.

A spoonful of yoghurt adds calcium and protein

Muesli, nut or

‘health’ bars

Bowl of plain

popcorn, or

wholegrain

crispbread with

peanut butter

Many muesli or nut bars are full of sugar and fat, with

few nutritional benefits. A bowl of plain popcorn or

wholegrain crispbread is high in fibre and vitamins

Cinnamon

donut or slice

of cake

Fruit toast or

scone

A piece of fruit toast or a light fruit scone is much higher

in fibre and lower in saturated fat than a slice of cake

or fried donut – and still deliciously tasty

Ice cream or

ice block

Tub of yoghurt or

frozen yoghurt

Yoghurt contains calcium, protein and a lower glycaemic

index than ice cream

Cream biscuit Carrot and

celery sticks with

hommus, tzatziki

or avocado dip

Vegie sticks deliver vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates,

while low-fat dips contain essential fats, protein and

calcium. Cream biscuits contain no nutrients and loads

of sugar and fat

Can of soft

drink

Fresh fruit or

vegetable juice

Swapping the refined sugar in soft drinks with natural

vitamins and minerals of freshly squeezed juice still feels

just as sweet on the lips, but your teeth and bones will

thank you for it

*Elizabeth Yarwood is a degree qualified nutritionist who is passionate about using diet and nutrition to improve quality of life.

Improving your immunity defence systems

This year more than ever, we’re all keen to avoid catching colds and flu, Herbs & Health bring you the latest remedies.

You’re probably already taking care of your health by making sure to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet, tossing a couple of cloves of garlic in your stir-fries, and making sure you get enough sleep. If you’re not already, it’s also a good idea to take herbal medicines that naturally promote immunity and help your body fight viruses and other infectious organisms.

While you’re at it, think about herbs to support your nervous system too. Why the nervous system? Psychological stress and the way your body reacts to it are intimately related to your immunity.

In particular, your stress levels influence your likelihood of becoming sick when you’re exposed to viruses that cause colds and flu, and if you do get sick, they also contribute to the severity of your symptoms. This is illustrated by a clinical study in which researchers measured the stress levels of 394 people before exposing them to one of five respiratory viruses. Afterwards, tests showed that the likelihood of contracting the virus (as shown by antibody reactions in the bloodstream) increased according to how stressed the participants were; people who had low stress levels had a 74 per cent chance of being infected by the virus, while those who with high stress levels became infected 90 per cent of the time.

Bearing in mind that we don’t come down with a cold every time we encounter a virus, it’s perhaps even more important that in this study, once they were infected, people with high stress levels were also significantly more likely to develop cold symptoms than those with low stress levels. These results support those from another study, which found that people with higher levels of stress experience more severe flu symptoms (including increased mucus production) than people with less stress. During times of acute (short-term) stress, the immune system – like the body’s other defences against danger – tends to be activated, ready to swing into action.

Chronic stress (continuing for longer than a month) has the reverse effect, dampening the activity of key components of the immune system. It’s logical therefore that the types of stress that have the greatest impact on your resistance are those that persist over long periods (such as family difficulties, caring for a sick family member, ongoing work problems, or unemployment). And unfortunately, the longer the stressful situation continues, the more likely you are to get sick.

Herbs to support immunity

Herbalists and naturopaths traditionally take a holistic approach to building resistance to infection, combining herbs with three different actions: adaptogens, immune tonics and antimicrobials.

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to physical and/or emotional stress and return to a normal state of balance. Their use in strengthening immunity is validated by data showing that an individual’s resistance to respiratory infections like colds and flu is correlated with their levels of the stress hormone cortisol, one of the key markers of the body’s stress levels (and responsible for many of the physical symptoms we associate with ongoing stress).

Rhodiola: The herb Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) has only become available in Australia relatively recently, but has an extensive tradition of use in Europe. In clinical trials, it has been shown to relieve a range of stressrelated problems, including fatigue, anxiety, low mood and poor attention span. It has also been shown to reduce cortisol release in patients who are suffering stress burnout, so may be a particularly useful choice if you’re going through a stressful time and are keen to support your immune system while also boosting your energy levels and improving your ability to cope.

Withania: Like Rhodiola, the herb Withania is considered an adaptogen and has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine to help the body cope with stress. In animal studies, that stress-coping effect has also been shown to improve immune function, increasing the numbers of certain immune cells, and promoting the activity of others. More recently, Indian researchers measured the changes in key immune cells before and after healthy participants consumed two doses of Withania a day for four days, and demonstrated increased activation of the immune system. Research also suggests that, like Rhodiola, Withania may help to reduce plasma cortisol levels, and therefore may help to offset many of the negative effects of chronic stress, perhaps including reduced resistance to infection.

Immune tonics

Around the world, different herbs have traditionally been used to support the body’s defences and build resistance to infection. Many are taken at low doses as preventive remedies, and then increased to higher doses if infections take hold. In general, these herbs tend to be most effective when treatment is started as quickly as possible after the onset of symptoms.

Andrographis: Native to Asia, Andrographis has been traditionally used to rid the body of heat, as in fevers and to dispel toxins from the body. Laboratory studies indicating that the herb stimulates immune function via a number of different mechanisms are supported by clinical studies that show it can provide relief from many of the typical symptoms of colds, such as sore throats, runny nose, sinus pain, fatigue, fever, mucus production and headaches. When taken at the first sign of symptoms, it has also been shown to aid faster recovery from colds.

Echinacea: The North American herb Echinacea stimulates the immune system via a number of different mechanisms, many of which have been well documented. For example, it has been shown to promote phagocytosis (the process by which immune cells engulf and destroy invading organisms), and is also known to boost the numbers of key types of immune cells and stimulate the activity of others. Numerous studies also indicate that Echinacea is an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract infections, and as with Andrographis, the effects appear to be most pronounced when taken as quickly as possible after the symptoms appear.

Olive leaf: Echinacea and Andrographis are often taken in combination with olive leaf, an antioxidant-rich remedy that (amongst other uses) has traditionally been used to stimulate immunity and treat infections.

Cat’s Claw and Astragalus: Other herbs prescribed to boost immune function include the Amazonian vine Cat’s Claw, and the traditional Chinese medicine Astragalus. The traditional reputation of both these herbs is supported by laboratory studies confirming their immunomodulating activity.

Antimicrobials

Herbs that fight infection provide valuable support to immune and nervous system supporting remedies, and may help you over-come infection more quickly if you get sick.

Golden Seal: Golden Seal is traditionally indicated as a tonic for the mucous membranes (including those of the throat, nose and sinuses). Today, many herbalists consider it to be the most important of all antimicrobial remedies because the herb (and isolated alkaloids from it, especially berberine) has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and parasites, leading to its use in a wide range of infective conditions. In laboratory studies, Golden Seal also exhibits a number of immune-modulating activities.

Pau D’Arco: Fungal infections such as Candida are notoriously difficult to overcome, especially as the organisms involved have a tendency to develop resistance to the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat them. When treating fungal conditions with herbs, it pays to use a remedy that’s specifically indicated for the purpose. Probably the best choice is Pau D’Arco, a herbal medicine from South America, where it has traditionally been used to treat both bacterial and fungal infections (as well as for other health disorders) and has also demonstrated antifungal activity in laboratory studies. Pau D’Arco is available in both the traditional tea (decoction) form, and as an easy-to-swallow capsule.

Case Study

Susan had been suffering from recurrent thrush on a monthly basis when she first consulted a natural health practitioner. Further investigation revealed that she had been taking the oral contraceptive pill for years and averaged four courses a year of antibiotics for minor infections such as sinusitis and tonsillitis. She worked full time and was always on the go. Her diet was adequate but could be improved, particularly as she was rather partial to a regular glass or two of wine to relieve her stress.

Susan decided to discontinue the oral contraceptive pill and was prescribed a course of herbs to rebalance her hormone levels. Once her cycle was regular, it was time to address the issue of frequent thrush episodes. A fi nger prick blood test confirmed the presence of candida albicans. Her natural health practitioner began to treat this with the herb Pau D’Arco at 3,000 mg per day, and placed Susan on an anti-candida diet eliminating all foods containing yeast and sugar for a period of two weeks and gradually reintroducing some of these foods. Susan focused on a maintenance diet of foods which have minimal or low sugar content such as fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads and pastas. She also included probiotic supplements daily to help rebalance the micro-organisms in her gut.

As the candida symptoms improved Susan was treated with immune boosting herbs such as garlic and golden seal to boost her immune system and reduce the chances of her developing sinusitis or tonsillitis in the future. This eliminated the need to take antibiotics which made her body susceptible to candida in the first place.

Susan continues to follow the maintenance diet and drinks only the occasional glass of wine and says she feels much healthier and best of all has not experienced any thrush or sinusitis since.

Tips for controlling the spread of infection

1. Wash hands regularly – even when they aren’t visibly dirty – with soap and water or with an alcohol-based product that does not require water.

Always wash your hands:

  • after you’ve been to the toilet
  • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • after being in contact with someone who has a cold or flu
  • before touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • before preparing food and eating

2. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

When you cough or sneeze you should:

  • turn away from other people
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue
  • use disposable tissues rather than a handkerchief (which can store the virus)
  • put used tissues into the nearest bin

10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body

Feeling sluggish or out of sync? Having skin problems, aches and pains, or digestive problems? Straying from your healthier habits lately? It might be time for a detox.
Practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world — including ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health.
“The body has its own natural healing system,” says Peter Bennett, N.D., medical director of Helios Clinic in Victoria, B.C., and co-author with Stephen Barrie, N.D. and Sara Faye, of 7-Day Detox Miracle (Prima Health). “Detoxification enhances this system,” he explains.
 
How Does Detoxification Work?
Basically, detoxification means cleaning the blood. It does this mainly by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph and skin. However, when this system is compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered and every cell in the body is adversely affected.
A detox program can help the body’s natural cleaning process by:
1) Resting the organs through fasting;
2) Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body;
3) Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys and skin;
4) Improving circulation of the blood; and
5) Refuelling the body with healthy nutrients.
“Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of individual cells, the smallest units of human life,” says Bennett.
 
How Do You Know if You Need to Detoxify?
Bennett suggests that everyone should detox at least once a year. A short detoxifying program is generally safe; in fact, scientific studies show that a detox is beneficial for health. However, Bennett cautions against detoxifying for nursing mothers, children, and patients with chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis. Consult your health care practitioner if you have questions about whether detoxing is right for you.
Today, with more toxins in the environment than ever, “it’s critical to detox,” says Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D., the author of Detoxification (Healthy Healing Publications). Page recommends detoxing for symptoms such as unexplained fatigue, sluggish elimination, irritated skin, allergies or low-grade infections; bags under the eyes; a distended stomach even if the rest of your body is thin; menstrual difficulties; or mental confusion.
 
Where Do You Begin?
First, lighten up your toxin load. Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to your healing process.
Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.
Another deterrent to good health is stress, which triggers your body to release stress hormones into your system. While these hormones can provide the “adrenaline rush” to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. So it’s a good idea to detox stressful life situations along with detoxifying your body. Yoga and meditation are simple and effective ways to relieve stress by resetting your physical and mental reactions to the inevitable stress life will bring.
 
Which Detox Program is best for you?
There are many detoxification programs, depending on your individual needs. Many programs follow a 7-day schedule because, as Bennett explains, “it takes the body some time to clean the blood.” His program involves fasting on liquids for two days, followed by a carefully-planned five-day diet to allow the digestive system to rest. He also advises supplements, herbs, exercise, and practices such as dry-skin brushing and hydrotherapy to enhance circulation.
Page recommends a 3-7 day juice fast (drinking only fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water) as an effective way to release toxins.
Other popular detoxing programs include:
  • Cleansing supplement packages, which generally contain fibre, vitamins, herbs and minerals. There are several safe products on the market, with easy-to-follow instructions.
  • A routine of drinking only water one day each week — an ancient practice of many cultures.
10 Ways to Help Your Body Detoxify
After a detoxification program, you can cleanse your body daily through diet, supplements and lifestyle practices.
1. Eat plenty of fibre, including brown rice and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed are excellent detoxifying foods.
2. Cleanse and protect the liver by taking herbs such as dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle, and drinking green tea.
3. Take vitamin C, which helps the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
4. Drink at least 2 quarts of water daily.
5. Breathe deeply to allow oxygen to circulate more completely through your system.
6. Transform stress by emphasizing positive emotions.
7. Practice hydrotherapy by taking a very hot shower for five minutes, allowing the water to run on your back. Follow with cold water for 30 seconds. Do this three times, and then get into bed for 30 minutes.
8. Sweat in a sauna so your body can eliminate wastes through perspiration.
9. Dry-brush your skin or try detoxifying patches or  detox foot spas / foot baths to remove toxins through your pores. Special brushes are available at natural products stores.
10. What is the most important way to detoxify? “Exercise,” says Bennett. “Yoga or jump-roping are good. One hour every day.” Also try qigong, a martial-arts based exercise system that includes exercises specifically for detoxifying or cleansing, as well as many other exercises with specific health benefits.
Reference: Deborahann Smith

Food Additives and Preservatives that are KILLING you!

For centuries, people have enhanced their foods with various flavorings, preservatives, and dyes. But some ingredients on today’s food labels can be downright scary. Few foods reach today’s supermarkets free of additives – substances that do not occur naturally in a food but are added for various reasons. These include preservatives to prevent spoilage; emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating; thickeners; vitamins and minerals (either to replace nutrients lost in processing or to increase nutritional value); sweeteners (both natural and artificial), salt, flavorings to improve taste; and dyes to make everything from candies to soft drinks more visually appealing.

In all, North American food processors may use any of about 2,800 additives. Although many people question the safety of these additives, the fact is that their use is governed by stringent regulations. Authorities require extensive studies before an additive is allowed on the market. In spite of this, rare reactions to certain additives are possible. The appropriate use of additives, though, allows us to enjoy history’s safest and most abundant assortment of foods.

Some 10,000 substances make their way into food during growing, processing, and packaging; some of these accidental additives can pose more of a health threat than preservatives and other direct additives. Some foods, for example, contain traces of pesticides sprayed on crops or applied to the soil. Environmental pollutants in foods, such as PCBs, mercury, and lead, are harmful when ingested in large quantities.

Sometimes allergic reactions that are blamed on foods or intentional additives are actually triggered by an unintended one. For example, a person who has never had a food allergy may inexplicably develop a rash after drinking milk. The resulting small amounts of penicillin in the milk would not be harmful for most people, only to those who are allergic to the drug.

Reference: John A. Robert

Natural Treatment for Hair Loss

Read about hair loss, types and causes and how you can treat it with proper nutrition and natural tips.

Hair is very significant to the appearance for men and women. It is a normal process to shed 50-100 hairs daily, when shampooing and brushing the hair. For whatever reason if the hair loss is bigger and persists for long time, you should be worried and look for possible causes. Hair loss, occasional or chronic and the progressive thinning and ageing of the hair is a common male most cases the process is reversible, apart from cases of genetic tendency and serious illness. For a treatment to be successful it has to positively affect all the factors, which stimulate hair growth, to support, to restore and protect the hair from the root and along entire shaft.

Hereditary hair loss or Androgenetic Alopecia

Hair loss (androgenetic alopecia or hereditary hair loss) is caused primarily due to the impact that androgens have on the hair follicles. There is a genetic predisposition for this particular category of hair loss to take place which could also be expressed at a very young age. Not only is it the main cause of androgenetic alopecia as it accounts 50-70% of all cases, but it also responsible for 40-50% of all female hair loss. The main factor that affects hair loss is the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The hair follicles at the top of the head are particularly sensitive to the effect of this hormone. DHT shortens the hair growth cycle reducing the follicle size thus leading to shedding of hair.

In males, hair loss happens in following time frames that are interrupted by remission phases. The hair becomes more and more thin and short and is finally changed into indiscernible fuzz with distinct signs of balding especially at the top of the head. The sooner the hair loss begins, the faster the process becomes. In females, hair loss occurs in seasonal spurts and follows a slow process. The hair becomes thin and dull and fall out in a diffuse manner all over the top of the head at first broadening the parting. In succession a true alopecia is observed and it ceases just about 1 cm away from the hairline.

Other types of Hair loss

Non-hereditary hair loss occurs mostly in women and is predominately caused by hormonal disorders (pregnancy, menopause) by uncommonly stressful situations and overtiredness by “crazy” unhealthy diet or malnutrition (low vitamin, protein and trace mineral intake) by mechanical damage (repeated shampooing with “tough” shampoos, blow drying, excessive combing, hair bands) or chemical damage (hair coloring hair perms). Other factors that intensify the condition are the excessive sebum secretion, the intense dehydration of the scalp, UV radiation, pollution and environmental conditions (drought, wind). Finally there are cases of hair loss that are directly related to numerous conditions and the use of specific drugs. These cases are referred to as pathogenic hair loss and need the medical assist of a dermatologist.

Nutrition: Proper hair nourishment and invigoration

Your daily diet affects the healthy form and the quality of your hair. The everyday intake of nutrients that are implicated in the appropriate growth of the hair is requirement that must be met through our regular diet.

One of the key factors of hair loss is a diet rich in fat. The combination of a diet low in fat and the intake of food rich in protein (lecithin, wheat germ oil, brewer’s yeast), amino acids that are involved in the formation of hair’s keratin, minerals and trace elements that are involved in the development of hair (silica, zinc).

Hair loss natural treatment

Generally, anxiety, stress and extreme exhaustion are all factors that affect good health of the hair and their growth. Keep in mind that a healthy life style, resting, a good night’s sleep, stress management and regular eating habits can indisputably contribute to healthy hair growth.

Aromatherapy is one of the natural therapies that can also be beneficial to hair wellness. Shampoos and solution with the appropriate essential oils are used to combat safely baldness and promote hair regrowing. They have antibacterial, tonic and antiseptic attributes and aid good condition of scalp. Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Jojoba and Cedarwood oil are considered by dermatologists as the most effective essential oils that can naturally treat hair loss and improve hair health.

Related Read: What causes hair loss?

How To Stay Young! Go Natural

Which are the best habits and activities in order to preserve youth and wellbeing? Learn how you can expand your youth appearance naturally, with everyday tips.

Throughout history, human beings have always tried to slow down the process of getting old and conceal the signs of aging. Definitely, it would be lovely to stay young for the rest of our lives, to look strong and healthy. But, is this possible or just an infeasible dream?

New scientific researches and experiments have confirmed that with the advance of bio-technology and genetic science a healthy life that extends to 120 years is a high probability in this century. However the extension of life span would be reality only for the ones that could afford the high expenditure.

Unlike genetic methods and diseased organs replacements which cost a lot, there are many other methods that helps in improving and maintaining a good quality of life and concerned with diet habits and lifestyle activities. Here we will cover some useful and natural tips in order to look younger and stay healthy.

Nutrition habits

Probably one of the most useful strategies in order to fight the negative effects of aging is to have a proper diet. Try to avoid food that content 30% fat or higher. Eat olive oil and eliminate saturated fat (butter, bacon etc). Fat intake is associated with weight gain, which is a major cause to grow up sooner. Contrarily, eating raw fruits and vegetable contributes to slowing the aging process to some extent. Garlic, Avocado, Carrot, Citrus, Onion, Spinach are some of the best preservers of youth.

8 cups of water or other liquids

Frequent drinks of “good” water are very helpful and refreshing. “Good” water considered the filtered water full of magnesium, because it lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. Furthermore, fruit and vegetable juices and herbal teas can be used in order to satisfy the “8 cups” rule.

Keep Fit

Take as much exercise as you can. People who exercise regularly, not even improve their physical appearance and delay many of the outwards signs of old age, but their life can be prolonged. Swimming, running and yoga are excellent anti-ageing exercises.

Holistic Anti-Aging Treatments

According to holistic medicine gurus, body, spirit and mind balance have great impact on our state of health and wellness. They recommend alternative techniques in order to achieve wellbeing and delay the actual aging process. Holistic Massage, Oxygen Therapy (increased supply of oxygen to the lungs and therefore much more oxygen to the body tissues) and Aromatherapy (use of Essential Oils for healing and soothing purposes) are some of the alternative natural methods that can diminish the more visible signs of ageing and offer you a more youthful appearance.

Lifestyle tips

Balance your activities with the proper amount of rest and sleep. Stay calm and avoid stressful situations. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption and sun exposure are unwholesome habits that keep people from being healthy, looking younger and feeling healthier and more alive. Think positive. See the glass as half-full, not half-empty and live in an attitude of optimism, forgiveness and gratefulness.

Just remember that getting older does not mean you have to look like it. Go natural!

How to overcome Jet Lag

Q. I am looking for some product for jet-lag and to boost the immunity.

A. Your body has more than 100 circadian rhythms and each 24-hour cycle influences an aspect of your body’s function, including body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure and pain threshold. A circadian rhythm is roughly a 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of plants and animals, etc., and partly depends on external factors such as sunlight and temperature.

Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including humans. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.

Many travellers have experienced the condition known as jet lag, exhibiting symptoms of fatigue, disorientation and insomnia. When a person travels rapidly across multiple time zones, the circadian rhythms do not shift at the same rates or in a synchronized manner. This results in poor synchronicity among various body functions and rhythms, resulting in ”jet lag.”

Re-synchronization takes place over a number of days, depending upon the number of Trans-meridian time zones crossed, but generally takes place more quickly after travelling in a westward direction than in an eastward direction. Exposure to afternoon light after a westward flight speeds up re-synchronization and exposure to early morning sunlight speeds up re-synchronization after an eastward flight.

The time of departure and arrival do not have much influence on the circadian rhythms, but the amount of sleep you get while on the plane and directly after arrival does matter. If you sleep poorly on the flight, the sleep deprivation contributes strongly to the disorientation and fatigue associated with jet lag.

Because of the increased air pressure while travelling on board a pressurized aircraft, alcohol can have an adverse diuretic effect on your body. Coffee and tea also can have this effect to a smaller degree.

The pressurized air in the aircraft is already devoid of moisture, requiring your body to compensate for this lack, but with increased urination, the problem gets worse, causing extra dehydration.

Keep your food intake moderately light and drink plenty of water during the trip instead of alcohol, coffee, tea and carbonated fizzy drinks. Carbonated drinks can make you feel bloated and may also cause stomach upset. If you do feel bloated and uncomfortable Chamomile tea may benefit.

Some herbs that can help balance jet lag symptoms and boost the immune system are Ginseng, Reishi, Astragalus and Schizandra.

Ginseng in particular has been used in easing the effects of jet lag. Only a small shaving a day is necessary to boost the immune system, but increased dosage would be needed before and during travel.