Stuff, Stuff & More Stuff

In case you missed it, Ikea’s head of sustainability recently got some attention when he noted that we seem to have hit the era of “peak stuff.”

“If we look at a global basis, in the West we probably hit peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings,” Howard said, joking, “It doesn’t sound quite so threatening.”

Peak stuff? Here’s how one writer has described it:

Peak stuff is the concept that, as consumers, there is only so much we can buy and stuff in our homes at any given time. The acquisition of stuff, has been a strong driver of retail trends for the last 40 years. For a long time there seemed to be no end to our desire to have stuff in our lives. As new technologies and changing fashion trends took hold of us year after year, we kept buying more and more, stuff. Then the great recession came and many people were forced to do with less stuff. About that same time, the combining of many devices into one changed the retail landscape as much as malls did when they first came out. These two factors have created conditions where our level of peak stuff in places like the US, Canada and the UK, have actually gone down. We just don’t need as much stuff anymore.

Of course, one might be tempted to add – okay, we are tempted to add the phenomenon of conscious consumption into that mix, as well. With climate change a reality, more people are deliberately choosing to do more with less; to recycle, freecycle, repurpose; to barter and share instead of always buying more, more, more.

But we digress…

Point is: Yes, the world is full of more stuff than we need. We fully agree.

Yet this particular stuff is kind of nifty:

toothbrush holders

Of course, it requires even more stuff – namely, a 3D printer and a bunch of plastic – the last thing our planet needs. (As the author of a recent study showing how plastic has radically altered our environment put it, “If all the plastic made in the last few decades was clingfilm, there would be enough to put a layer around the whole Earth.”)

Fortunately, it’s not exactly the stuffness of this stuff that makes it nifty. It’s the design – how it stores a toothbrush individually, completely away from others. Most of the toothbrush holders you see are designed to hold several brushes – not the best storing method, as bacteria and other microbes can be transferred whenever the brushes touch.

Storing your brush upright in open air, away from others is one smart way to help keep your toothbrush hygienic. Here are some other things you can do – along with a look at why you need to do them.

And yes, there are some single brush holders out there, such as this and thisif you want yet more stuff, that is.

You may already have a fine enough one right there in your kitchen cupboard:

drinking glass

Just one brush per glass. You’re golden.

Glass image by D Sharon Pruitt, via Flickr

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Why Is It Called “Biological” Dentistry Anyway?

You often hear “holistic dentistry,” “integrative dentistry” and “biological dentistry” used interchangeably. They’re not actually the same thing. Biological dentistry is holistic and integrative, but in and of themselves, neither holistic nor integrated is biological.

For the why, you have to go back to when the term was originally coined – back in the mid-1980s. And it starts with the professional development of our own Dr. V and his late colleague Dr. Ed Arana.

They had first met at a study club in 1970, and occasionally met for several years after, until Dr. V left the study club to pursue his growing interest in energy medicine, acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Little did he know that Arana was developing these same interests – until they ran into each other at the 1984 East Meets West Conference at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Honolulu

Reinhold VollThis meeting featured Dr. Reinhold Voll demonstrating his groundbreaking method of electroacupuncture, and this inspired the two dentists to learn more about it. They next enrolled in a series on the Fundamentals of Electroacupuncture According to Voll (EAV), taught by German naturopath Andreas Marx and designed by Walter Sturm, founder of the Occidental Institute, the key North American organization devoted to the study and practice of German Biological Medicine.

Hans Heinrich ReckewegProperly understood, German Biological Medicine is rooted in the work of Hans Heinrich Reckeweg, the Father of Homotoxicology. In the mid-20th century, Reckeweg showed how illness is progressive. He demonstrated that any illness develops predictably across six stages. He also showed that the process can be reversed. Homeopathic treatment, better nutrition and other measures can open the channels of elimination. This helps the body to detoxify and the terrain to return to a state of health.

Unlike conventional Western medicine, German Biological Medicine is not “disease treatment” but a method of stimulating the body’s own self-regulating abilities, its innate ability to heal.

This is what Dr. V and Dr. Arana wanted to know more about: How to apply these principles in the practice of dentistry. They began to talk about ways of bringing the leading German researchers over to the states to teach them. They talked about building a network of other dentists interested in this same approach.

Walter Sturm provided critical help in planning the organization they dreamed of. He encouraged the two dentists. He suggested the best dental researchers to bring over and which German Medicine journals they should subscribe to once they had secured a good translator.

And he suggested that since what they were doing was a parallel of German Biological Medicine, why not call it “biological dentistry”? All agreed that the name made sense. And shortly thereafter, the American Academy of Biological Dentistry was born.

The organization continues today as the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine.

So by definition, biological dentistry follows the philosophy and approach of German Biological Medicine in dealing with any particular dental barriers to optimal health. Dental situations are viewed in the context of a person’s total toxic burden. The state of the patient’s biological terrain must be addressed. After all, the terrain – the extracellular matrix – is what guides the body’s self-regulating abilities.

If the terrain is ignored, long-term healing after amalgam removal, root canal extraction or cavitation clean-out will happen only by sheer luck.

The terrain, as they say, is everything. And nurturing its health is key to biological medicine and dentistry.

Learn more about the terrain and biological medicine:

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Modern Chronic Illness, a Cumulative Condition

man looking at rain through windowMany of the patients we see come to us with longstanding health problems they suspect are related to things like root canal teeth, mercury amalgam fillings and cavitations. But while such dental factors may indeed be playing a role, they’re seldom – if ever – the sole cause of distress.

As Dr. V reviews each person’s health history, he typically sees a pattern of physical, emotional and energetic traumas throughout their life, sometimes starting quite early. We can see how the current illness progressed over a very long time, evolving from minor complaints to full-blown, disabling conditions. The dental factors play one role – sometimes a major, triggering one – but ultimately, it’s the accumulation of insults to body, mind and spirit that pollute and disorder the terrain so much as to interfere with the normal, healthy functioning of the body. The body is – as ever – trying to maintain homeostasis, but increasingly there are obstacles. Function becomes dysfunction.

Modern chronic illness is a cumulative condition. It’s the interplay of all manner of toxic exposures, injuries and insults that manifest in disease.

Consider diet: Eating a burger and fries from a fast food joint once in a while probably isn’t going to do much damage. Eat it every day, and health problems pile up fairly quickly. Add to that a lack of physical activity, and the problems compound. Add pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to “manage” symptoms such as high blood pressure, elevated lipids, arthritis or other pain and the like, and you create further chaos – and even more when more drugs are given to treat the “side effects” of the original medications. And the whole time, you’re living in a highly polluted environment, breathing, consuming and absorbing thousands of synthetic chemicals and their residues…

Is it just diet that’s the problem? No, it’s the whole complex.

Context, as they say, is everything. And interactions – everything. Rubbing alcohol on its own is safe to use. So is bleach. Mix them together and you get chloroform.

Which brings us to a really interesting and welcome study that was published a while back in Carcinogenesis. As reported by the New Zealand Herald this past summer,

The startling findings from a task force of around 174 scientists from 28 countries, published today tackles long-standing concerns that there are links between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer.

From the thousands of chemicals to which people are routinely exposed, the scientists selected 85 prototypic chemicals that were not considered to be carcinogenic to humans, and they reviewed their effects against a long list of mechanisms that are important for cancer development.

They found 50 of those chemicals supported key cancer-related mechanisms at levels which humans are regularly exposed.

The findings supported the idea that chemicals may be capable of acting in concert with one another to cause cancer, even though low-level exposures to these chemicals individually might not be carcinogenic.

It was the first time the issue has ever been considered by interdisciplinary teams that could fully interpret the full spectrum of cancer biology and incorporate what is now known about low-dose chemical effects.

“Since so many chemicals that are unavoidable in the environment can produce low-dose effects that are directly related to carcinogenesis, the way we’ve been testing chemicals, one at a time, is really quite out of date,” said study lead author William Goodson III, a senior scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

This is a great reminder of why looking at the big picture matters so much – likewise, regular detox and healthy life choices. While there are some things that can be a drag on our health that we can do little to avoid, taking the best care of ourselves that we can provides a good and necessary counterbalance, helping our bodies be more resilient in the face of potential harms.

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The Entertainment Value of…Root Canals?

Apparently there was some to-do last week over some Clay Aiken dissing the American Idol judges in a series of tweets.

Now, none of us here watch the show. None of us are sad that it’s in its last season.

Yet one tweet did catch our attention:

Clay Aiken tweet

He’s watched root canals?* He has so little to do – or such a keen but apparently unheralded interest in dentistry – that he watches stuff like this?:

J-Lo, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban can’t collectively be that bad now, can they? The thought is almost enough to make us want to watch at least one episode to find out.


Anyhow, for more reasons why root canal therapy is the antithesis of entertaining, check out our article “What You Need to Know About Root Canals & Dental Implants” over on our main office site. It includes a list of links to other resources so you can learn even more about the potential long-term impact of root canal therapy on overall health and well-being.

And if you want a more up-close and personal look at how a root canal is done, check out this and this, both of which are made a little entertaining by some editing and music. But still: root canals.

Note: In fairness, he might well have meant something more along the lines of “had root canals” or even “seen root canals.” Even so…

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Our Outer Environment, Our Inner Environment

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

From Biosis #49, Winter 2015

Last time, we looked at the current state of dentistry, where what has evolved is largely unfit to support the whole body health and wellness of individuals. We also looked at some evolutionary paths the industry failed to follow, much to the detriment of patients everywhere.

But just because the mainstream veered off those paths doesn’t mean that every dentist went with them. Some stayed the course to what’s now known as biological dental medicine.

In biological dentistry, everything begins with the extracellular matrix, or biological terrain. Its regulation – or dysregulation – is what determines whether and how a person will react to mercury amalgam fillings, root canal teeth, devitalized teeth and implants.

We often describe the terrain briefly as the body’s internal environment. So to understand and appreciate how this “ground system regulation” works in our bodies, let’s first take some time to explore how it works in the environment in which we live.

Welcome to the “New Normal”

In a widely syndicated opinion piece earlier this year, William deBuys described our current drought – now in its fourth year – as “a living diorama of how the future is going to look across much of the United States as climate change sets in.” Yes, periodic droughts are common here in California, but

Even so, climate change remains a potent factor in the present disaster. According to the state’s Climate Change Center, California is on average about 1.7 degrees hotter than a century ago, and its rate of warming is expected to triple in the century ahead. The kicker is that hotter means much drier because as temperature creeps up, evaporation gallops. As a result, the droughts of the future will be effectively more destructive than those of the past.

California shore during droughtThe impact of climate change on the drought – and thus, conditions in our local environment – was laid out in a paper published this past August in Geophysical Research Letters. Analyzing the historical data, the authors found that while “natural variability” is the main player in the drought, “global warming has increased the likelihood of ‘extreme California droughts.’”

More, they said that within 50 years, drought will be the rule, not the exception. According to the journal’s editor Noah Diffenbaugh, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment,

If this drought was a one-off event, we could get through it and get on to the next times…. But the research shows this is not the case. We are in the new normal, which means we will have more droughts than we did before.

Importantly, this work echoes earlier studies such as this one in Science Advances. According to its authors – affiliated with NASA and Columbia and Cornell universities –

The mean state of draught in the late 21st century over Central Plains and Southwest will likely exceed even the most severe megadraught periods of the Medieval era in both high and moderate emissions scenarios, representing an unprecedented fundamental shift with respect to the last millennium.

“This,” adds deBuys in the full version of his essay,

is now expected to happen even if greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lowered in the decades to come. The impact of such droughts, [the authors] conclude, will exceed the bounds of anything known in the history of the continent or in its scientifically reconstructed pre-history.

And this is just one aspect of our radically altered environment.

Consider what’s happening here in the Central Valley as more and more water is pumped out from underground aquifers, largely for use in agriculture: land subsidence – a fancy term for the soil collapsing as water is taken out of it. Simply, the ground sinks.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, although subsidence isn’t a new problem, it’s “returned with a vengeance” as our drought has worsened. A report by NASA for our state Department of Water Resources showed

significant rates of subsidence in recent times. A spot near Corcoran, in the Tulare basin, sank 13 inches in one recent eight-month period. Researchers found a stretch near the California Aqueduct, the key highway of the State Water Project, that sank 8 inches in four months last year.

The problem isn’t limited to the San Joaquin Valley; a spot near Arbuckle in Colusa County sank 5 inches during the last half of 2014, according to the NASA report.

At the same time, agribusiness continues to encourage the use of synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers. After all, they do increase yields. However, they also generate air and water pollution, even as such intensive farming also depletes the soil of nutrients. Scientific research has linked nitrate exposure to thyroid damage, birth defects and “a litany” of other health issues.

That’s bad enough, yet there’s also the matter of nitrous oxide emissions from fertilized fields, which contribute to the greenhouse effect – a major driver of climate change. Speaking at a 2014 conference, Dr. William Howarth, a UC Davis professor of biogeochemistry, noted that nitrous oxides are estimated to be 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Further, as the Modesto Bee reported,

Howarth said that while agriculture is a major emitter, the problem would be far worse if farmland were developed into homes where people use energy and fertilizer much more intensively.

“If you save an acre of farmland from urbanization, you can reduce greenhouse emissions by 70 times,” he said.

So it’s not just the farmers. It’s also the rampant paving over of our land. And all of it starts to reveal a terrible – indeed, deadly – cycle: Our actions alter our environment. We adapt to those changes. Those adaptations have consequences. Our environment is changed even more.

And life forms – plants, animals, us – that evolved to thrive in the natural environment fare less and less well.

“When I was last in Beijing, China recently,” said one of the authors of a recent study on Chinese air quality, “pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes. It’s as if every man, women and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour.”

The Acid(ification) Test

The effect of climate change isn’t exclusive to dry land either. As described in a San Francisco Chronicle report on falling oyster stocks,

Ocean acidification, is the caustic cousin of climate change, and it shifts the chemistry of ocean water, making it harder for oysters to grow. That’s because about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing pH levels to plummet and making the water more acidic. The more pollution in the air, the more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs.

The hostile conditions stunt the growth of oysters in the larval stage, making it difficult to build their fragile calcium carbonate shells. If acidification doesn’t kill them outright, an increased susceptibility to disease and predators often will. The stress also weakens many small oysters, so it takes them longer to reach reproductive age.

coral reefSuffice it to say, oysters are far from the only life forms affected. A toxin-generating algae bloom in the Pacific – the result of rising ocean temperatures – has been devastating. The toxin

has accumulated in fish, shellfish and mussels and poisoned the marine mammals, birds and other creatures that eat them. When it is sufficiently dense, it attacks the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, and can cause memory loss, tremors and convulsions.

The plumes, which one researcher called “toxic plankton soup,” have killed harbor porpoises, fur seals, sea otters and sea lions. Although whales don’t seem to be dying in large numbers, researchers in Monterey Bay have reported strange behavior by humpbacks and other whales.

Then there’s the effect of all the pollution we add to the aquatic environment. A study published earlier this fall found that “about a quarter of fish samples from markets in Indonesia and fresh off the boat in California are filled with plastic and debris such as clothing fibers.”

While other research has found plastics in the bellies of popular dinner-plate items such as tuna and swordfish, this is the first study to link marine plastic ingestion directly to fish sold for human consumption.

* * *

Scientists found plastics and synthetic fibers in more than 25 percent of the fish bought in from off coastal California—including oysters, Pacific anchovies, chinook salmon, striped bass, and other dinner-plate mainstays. Researchers found plastic trash in six of 11 Indonesian fish species tested and eight of 12 species examined in the U.S.

Back here on land, meanwhile, four years of drought has taken a huge toll on residents of the San Joaquin Valley – physically and mentally – as “wells run out and despair sets in.”

Physicians say they’ve treated more children and adults struggling to breathe as dust from plowed-over farm fields and wildfires penetrate nostrils and lungs. Mental health counselors report that they’re hearing from more residents suffering anxiety and depression, fearing that the drought will cost them their homes, farms and livelihoods. Calls are up sharply at a local suicide prevention hotline.

Must this be “the new normal,” as well?

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics
are always so certain of themselves,
but wiser people so full of doubts.
– Bertrand Russell

So what about the other side of this analogy I’m making – namely, how the body’s “internal environment” affects the health of the whole? That’s the stuff of our next installment, where we’ll look at some recent cases we’ve dealt with that clearly illustrate the fact that as goes the terrain, so goes every cell and organism it connects.

Images by bluesbby & US Fish &
Wildlife Service
, via Flickr

To subscribe to Biosis, our quarterly health and wellness newsletter, visit our main office website and use the sidebar form.

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Feeding Your Brain

By JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin

Originally published November 2012,Biosis #38; edited

You know the holiday season is here when the line at the post office starts getting longer. And slower. It’s enough to make anyone a little less than cheerful, I guess, especially as our schedules get tighter and our to-do lists, longer as we prepare for our annual celebrations.

Yet when I was there the other day and the clerk asked how I was doing, even I was surprised by my answer: “Super good and getting better!” Everybody got a smile on their face – including me, suddenly feeling a lot perkier and positive!

reading bookOur self-talk is important! Most of us wouldn’t think of going a day without feeding our bodies with nourishing food. Why in the world would we not take time to feed our minds with nourishing thoughts?

I like to take some time each morning to read a bit of inspiration or motivation – like the “Ziglarisms” (sayings by motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar) I’d been re-reading the day I went to the post office, which had obviously fueled my reply to the clerk.

I don’t always remember to do this, though – especially during hectic, stressful times like the end of year. Didn’t I just finish putting away Christmas decorations a few weeks ago? And now it’s time to put them up again? Already?! Through the whirlwind of it all, I often hear my mom’s voice in my own: “We need to get organized!”

Of course, this whole year has been eventful, busy and challenging. During such times, nourishing the mind is even more important. It gives us strength, perspective and drive to keep on doing what needs to get done, from everyday tasks and obligations to preparing for the holidays.

We all have certain things that can help us get into a positive state of mind – the Bible or other sacred texts, affirmations, special music… Why not take some time each morning to indulge in what lifts you up, gets you jazzed, empowers you?

My wish for you is a wonderful holiday season and positive excitement as you go forward into a brand new year!

happy holidays

Images by Cauldron Graphix
& zizzybaloobah, via Flickr

All of us here at Dr. Verigin’s office hope you have marvelous, joy-filled and happy holiday season!

We’ll be back to our regular posting schedule on Wednesday, January 6.

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Further Adventures in Caffeination

Didn’t caffeinating everything jump the shark a few years ago?


Yes. Caffeinated toothpaste.

Each dose is said to contain the equivalent jolt of an 8 ounce cup of coffee. The concept is that it gives you your buzz quicker since the caffeine can be absorbed directly through the soft tissues of the mouth.

And on the plus side, it would seem to contain no fluoride. If it did, the product would be classified as a drug. But according to a recent press release, the FDA has it as a cosmetic.

So there’s that.

But mostly…another caffeinated product? And another kind of toothpaste? Really?

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