Emotional Health Is Part of Your Overall Health

In this powerful TEDx Talk, psychologist Dr. Guy Winch explains why we need to tend to our emotional health as much as we do our oral and overall health:

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No Surprise: What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

teethAs if we needed more confirmation that what we eat affects our oral health, a new study in the Journal of Dentistry pounds the point home: In children and adolescents, tooth decay is greatly influenced by diet. And it’s the usual culprits at work: soft drinks, acidic foods, sweets, and fruit juice (a double-whammy of sugar and acid).

All those foods are deeply damaging to tooth enamel. Without that protective outer layer intact, the tissues within are vulnerable to infection, to decay. (Deficiencies in certain nutrients during tooth development can also impair tooth structure, making them more vulnerable to decay.)

Dairy, on the other hand, was found to have a more protective effect – as research has broadly and consistently shown.

Yet many teens actually think that products like sports drinks and other sugary, acidic foods are healthier choices. (Thank you, Marketeers!) And so they consume them. A lot. One 2010 study in Pediatrics, for instance, found that 28% of teens claimed to drink three or more sports drinks daily. That’s more than 100 grams of sugar a day just from the drinks alone – double the maximum WHO recommendation and far, far, far above the 3% of daily calories that’s the max for preventing caries.

A more recent study – this, in the BDJ – found that nearly 90% of teens consume sports drinks, with half drinking them at least twice a week.

The mere fact that sports drinks are frequently consumed socially amongst groups of adolescents does not bode well for their future health. It is fair to assume that the high levels of sugars and acids will not only contribute to an increase in dental caries and erosion but also to general health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, in frequent sports drinks consumers.

But it’s not just the Marketeers who may encourage outcomes like this. Kids’ perceptions of healthy or good food is greatly influenced by their parents’ food choices and methods of controlling behavior through food. As one study in Health Education Research put it some years ago,

a positive parental role model may be a better method for improving a child’s diet than attempts at dietary control.

Yet parents often find themselves directed toward snacks with hidden additives like sugars. Take a look at what’s typically handed out after a football game or at a school Fun Night. It’s pretty rare to find a parent who brings fresh fruit or vegetables and skips the sugary drink. (At sporting events, the kids should have already brought water, right?).

Yet there are plenty of healthy, real food options out there. Here are a couple of particularly helpful posts we’ve found to get your imagination going:

Image by Alena Navarros-Whyte, via Flickr

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Healthy Eating: Let’s Talk Instant Gratification

fresh produceMost of us are raised to eat around emotional situations. When we have something to celebrate, we go out, have a “nice dinner,” and raise our glass. When we mourn the loss of a loved one or celebrate the birth of a child – or when we get fired or accept a new position; when we end a relationship or start a new one – we recognize the event with food and drinks.

And let’s not even get started on the holidays. They can be all about indulgence.

Of course, after a night of indulgence, you may wake up and feel horrible, in all senses of the word. Your body feels heavy and bloated, energy levels are low, and you just feel slow.

The comfort and pleasure of instant gratification has given way to something that can feel more like withdrawal.

You may feel grumpy, short-tempered or heavy with feelings of regret, guilt, and even shame. Your conscience may start to bother you as you calculate the calories, carbs, and sugar you enjoyed.

But just as there can be negative emotional responses to unhealthy eating, there are positive emotional responses to healthy eating.

In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that those benefits come relatively quickly. Analyzing food diaries from more than 12,000 Australian adults, the authors found that

Increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being. They were up to 0.24 life-satisfaction points (for an increase of 8 portions a day), which is equal in size to the psychological gain of moving from unemployment to employment. Improvements occurred within 24 months.

For one real-life example of the effects of swapping out sugary, hyper-processed food for the real deal, check out the story of this guy who quit sugar and alcohol for just one month:

As ever, the best way to eat healthy food is to buy real food. There are no labels on raw fruits and vegetables.

Of course, sometimes the hardest part of eating healthier is letting yourself accept that fruit and vegetables actually taste good. Really good. There are more ways of preparing these foods than you might imagine – so many different cooking methods, seasoning options, and uses! If you don’t typically eat a lot of fresh food today, you may need to “trial and error” a bit before just *knowing* that you’re not going to like it. So throw some spinach in your lasagna. Try spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. Wrap that taco in a lettuce leaf. Sautee some onions and green peppers to add to your egg and cheese omelet.

For other easy ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables in your meals, browse these recipes to see just a few alternatives to our standard carb-filled plates. (There are plenty more out there!)

And instead of recognizing a colleague or family member with indulgent but not exactly healthful food, consider a different kind of treat. For instance, why not spend the money on an activity or gift card toward a fun way to spend time (movie tickets, art exhibit, escape rooms, or just a couple of hours of PTO)?

After all, there’s something else science shows: Experiences are more meaningful than things.

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Don’t Treat Illness – Restore the Body’s Coherence & Function Instead

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

melancholy expressionMany seem to think that health and disease are random things, matters of chance. How else can they explain how people can live under virtually the same conditions – same home, same foods, same water, same products, same air – yet have totally different health outcomes?

One person gets heart disease. One gets cancer. Another gets Alzheimer’s. Some may develop type 2 diabetes; some, arthritis or thyroid disease. Ad infinitum.

And most of us these days are sick. According to the CDC, about half of all American adults have at least one chronic health condition. One in four have at least two. Seven of the top 10 causes of death are chronic diseases. Just two of them – heart disease and cancer – led to nearly half of all deaths. Most health care spending – 86% – goes toward people with chronic medical conditions.

What accounts for so much sickness? Just the random luck of having parents who gave you bad genes? Or is it what happens to those genes over the course of a lifetime?

Our regular readers and longtime biological patients alike know that the answer is in epigenetics – the impact of environment on gene expression.

Mass Media & the Disease-ification of Symptoms

The human body is an amazing organism. Every cell, every organ, every ounce of fluid, every structure of our body is masterpiece of perfection.

Just think about that for a moment. Realize that your body is made up of about 37 trillion cells. The synchronicity of all those cells working together to maintain life is truly a wonder!

Health is largely a matter of giving those cells what they need to keep that beautiful synchronicity going. It takes things like an optimal, natural diet; pure water; clean air; sufficient rest and quality sleep – the essentials for replenishing and refurbishing our bodies on a daily basis. If we’re able to maintain such a healthy lifestyle, we’re doing all we can to enjoy a happy, disease-free life for as long as possible.

And it follows that in so far as we fall short – either through our own choices or through environmental exposures we have little control over – we will court illness in all its various manifestations. Yet the majority of medical researchers seem just as stumped about the causes of disease as they were more than 50 years ago, when I was taking general pathology at the University of Washington.

TV zombieOf course, part of the problem stems from the tendency to confuse symptoms with disease – as in, notoriously, all the drug ads we see in the media these days: Have to go to the bathroom a lot? You may suffer from this disease! Are your knees sore? You might have this disease! Ask your doctor….

No doubt, this “disease-ifying” of symptoms has much to do with our soaring rates of illness – not just in overdiagnosis but the effects of continually feeding ourselves drugs, synthetic chemicals our bodies were never designed to consume.

Yet consume, we do – in so far as we buy the messages we’re sold, whether through drug ads or corporate-influenced news or movies and other fictions written by people who have bought into popular ideology.

Directly or indirectly, mass media tells the public what to think about world issues and stories. It delivers an image of what the world “should be like,” which lingers in the subconscious. The more this view is endorsed by the majority, the more we may come to accept as “reality” ourselves.

A patient of mine, a former drug sales rep, once shared with me how so much of what we see in mainstream news today is what’s called “pre-produced news” from PR agencies and marketers. How many of those “breakthrough drug” and “medical miracle” stories are actually covert commercials for Big Pharma? Yet NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and the rest play them out like they’re actually real news.

Children especially absorb such media messages with ease. Recently, I read a story on a blog about a grade schooler who went with his mother to the pediatrician and asked, “Hey, can I have some Lunesta? There’s a pretty butterfly in the commercials!”

Direct-to-consumer marketing has certainly swollen the bottom line for the drug industry, or they never would have lobbied it into existence. So of course they’ll attack any challenge from functional, integrative, or complimentary medicine.

But we don’t have to buy what they’re selling – neither their drugs nor their broader, cultural message about what health is and isn’t. Just as we can accept the conventional wisdom, we can question and challenge it. And we should. It’s the only way progress is made. It’s the only way growth happens.

The Proper Understanding of Disease

Of course, biological medicine is one major challenge to the status quo. Based on Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg’s Theory of Homotoxicology, it holds that

each living organism is a dynamic flow system constantly adjusting to the surrounding environment and attempting to remain in a state of balance. We are constantly in contact with substances that influence our flow system. Substances that disturb this flow are toxins (homotoxin refers to toxins that affect the human organism.) When the body encounters homotoxins it attempts to eliminate them by activating the defense systems of the body. The symptoms associated with a disease are a manifestation of the body attempting to heal itself.

This view understands that disease never crops up all at once but evolves over time as the body responds to various influences. Epigenetics follows naturally from this concept.

(If you missed our last issue, you may want to read my previous article before continuing here, as well as our booklet “How Illness Happens,” for an intro to the biological terrain and the concept of pleomorphism.)

cellModern medicine dates back to the introduction of good quality, high power microscopes, as well as the formation of the theory – by German biologists Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann – that all plants and animals are composed of cells, each featuring a membrane, nucleus, and body.

The idea that illnesses are based on pathological changes in the cells was first proposed by German physiologist Johannes Mueller in the early 1850s. His student Rudolf Virchow expanded on this work. He explained that human diseases arise in the organs and tissues, and can be traced directly to abnormal life conditions in the body’s individual cells.

During the late 19th century, bacteriologists Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur and botanist Ferdinand Cohn performed pioneering research in microbiology from which came the concept of monomorphism: “bacteria appear in a constant growth form and cannot change.” It wasn’t long, though, before they were challenged by a trio of German researchers who insisted that the bacteria indeed showed variability. Microorganisms, they showed, can go through different stages of development and evolve into different forms throughout a single life cycle.

This concept of pleomorphismpleo meaning “many,” morphism indicating “changes” – was picked up next by Antoine Bechamp. In 1883, this chemist and biologist postulated that all animal and plant cells contained molecular granules – autonomous living elements he called “microzymes” [small ferments]. Under certain conditions, he said, these granules could evolve into other microorganisms.

Thus, in this understanding, viruses, bacteria, and fungi are nothing more than various developmental stages of a certain species of microbes. As such, they appeared as the indestructible transition between living and non-living matter.

Disease therefore had its origins inside the body, not outside, he deduced.

This was the idea that French physiologist Claude Bernard ran with in asserting that the idea that bacteria cannot change was “an enormous mistake.” “Le microbe c’est rien,” he wrote, “le terrain c’est tout” – “The microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything.” It’s the body’s attempts to self-regulate the terrain – the internal environment – that generate the symptoms that doctors then classify into diseases.

Gunther Enderlein & the Missing “Missing Link”

Gunther EnderleinThen there was Gunther Enderlein, the German zoologist and bacteriologist who used a darkfield microscope to view microorganisms in live blood. His main discovery came in 1916, when, working on typhus, he showed the presence of specific microbes at different evolutionary stages. He saw many tiny moving elements which joined with more highly organized bacteria. After this union, the elements were no longer visible.

He named these tiny organisms “spermits” and maintained that they lived in harmony with the body’s own cells, performing functions beneficial to health. They were the same thing Bechamp had called “microzymes,” and not independent organisms but microbes in various stages of transformation. That transformation happens when the body’s internal environment is polluted. Microbes transform from simple bacteria to complex fungi and viruses, which just add to the pollution.

The more compromised the environment, the more severe the illness.

Enderlein published his major work, Bakterien-Cyclogenie, in 1925. His arguments and proofs for pleomorphism have yet to be refuted.

Still, far too many researchers seem oblivious to this solid body of research. You see them searching for the missing link yet wind up grasping at straws. Perhaps nowhere is this more clear than in the field of immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is based on the promise of being able to use a body’s own immune system to attack cancer in the way it responds to other foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. The challenge has been that cancer is a trickier foe than others and has ways of putting the brakes on our immune system. Researchers are working on two different ways to get around this issue. One involves supercharging your immune cells to create “armies” that can attack cancer. The other involves what are known as “immune checkpoint blockade inhibitors,” which Parker describes as “retraining” the “troops” to be able to get around cancer’s defenses.

Yet there is bafflement over why it doesn’t work for everyone.

The treatments have worked wonders in some patients, especially those with melanoma, but have not worked or have even been toxic for others. Those patients who we thought were lucky because they respond well to immunotherapy aren’t actually lucky. There’s something about their genetic or biological makeup that determines how they react, and the institute is launching a series of studies to systematically look at all of the different factors that may play a role.

Similarly, in another Washington Post article:

Scientists don’t know why some patients benefit from immunotherapy and others don’t. In many trials, for example, less than a third of patients have had a positive response. Researchers think that proportion can be increased by combining these “checkpoint inhibitor” drugs — three have been approved by the government, with several more in development — or by adding conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Ah, yes, throw more drugs at it – force the body to react in preferred ways rather than stimulate its inherent healing mechanisms! That’s always the answer – at least when you neglect the work of Enderlein, Bernard, Reckeweg, and so many others; when you remain oblivious to the role of the extracellular matrix in Ground System Regulation.

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past…

Enderlein’s theories go far in explaining the genesis of diseases like cancer, as well as things like the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and why oral bacteria are linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.

Those disease manifestations are your cells’ response to environmental triggers. Your body naturally has within itself all the controlling mechanisms and potential necessary to produce unfriendly microforms and all the symptoms that initiate. They evolve because of an unfriendly, unphysiological, compromised terrain.

This is why, again, any true healing can only begin with improving the state of the terrain. Improve the terrain, and the body will return to proper function.

In 1952, Reckeweg wrote,

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of these illnesses gradually develops over a period of time and initially are not diagnosable….that chronic illnesses tend to develop in burdened tissues (terrain) and organs.

This is why treating the illness makes no sense. Rather, we focus on restoring coherence and proper function to the proper environment – to help the body unburden itself and heal.

To focus on illness is to lend proof to philosopher George Santayana’s famous aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The exception to the rule? Those who possess the attributes of critical thinking and complex reasoning in order to maximize their patients’ longevity and quality of life.

Melancholy image by Andrew Mason;
cell image by Kelvin Song, via Wikimedia Commons

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Guest Post: Should You Try an “Oil Pulling Mouthwash”?

Our thanks to the office of Houston biological dentist Dr. Bill Glaros for letting us share this recent post from their blog!
With a headline asking “Is Fluoride the New Mercury?” how could you not go see what it has to say, even if it’s on a site you never, ever visit – in this case, Vogue?

Is fluoride the new mercury? Neither belongs in the human body. Both are neurotoxins.

But that’s not what the article was about, and it’s not what made it interesting. Under the headline was a slideshow of “natural toothpaste alternatives,” which included, weirdly, a lot of mouthwashes – and mouthwash just can’t do the job that brushing and flossing are needed to do.

But that’s not the interesting part either.

No, what caught our attention was one product in particular – an “oil pulling mouthwash.” Instantly, we suspected that this was one of those products trying to piggyback on the popularity of something genuinely healthful, like “organic water,” to use perhaps the most notorious example.

coconut oilOil pulling, as we’ve noted before, is a practice that can really do wonders, especially for periodontal (gum) health and especially when done with coconut oil. And there’s good science backing it up – as well as demonstrating the antimicrobial qualities of coconut oil in particular. Clinically, we see that it works.

But it’s nothing like using a mouthwash. That’s something you swish around for a few seconds. Oil pulling is something you do for 15 minutes or so.

Mouthwash is largely about freshening breath. Oil pulling is about pulling out and spitting out oral pathogens and other toxins.

And mouthwash is liquid. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (well, maybe not in Texas on a summer day, but you get the idea). And the product we saw in that slideshow looked really liquidy.

So we hopped on over to the product website to see what’s actually in it.

First item in the ingredient list? Sesame oil. Liquid. Okay. That’s one of the traditional oil pulling oils.

fractionated coconut oilThen comes “MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil).” MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, or fatty acids. It’s part of coconut oil – a fraction – but not the whole oil. In fact, one of the most important compounds in coconut oil is precisely what gets fractioned out – the lauric acid.

Take that out, and the oil will remain liquid at room temperature. But you also take out what makes coconut oil so effective. It’s the source of its antimicrobial properties.

Interestingly, we found other “oil pulling mouthwashes” – such as this one – which emphasize Capric-Caprylic acid in the ingredients list. Well, that’s nice, and Capric acid may have some antimicrobial qualities, as well. Still, it seems to indicate a fractionated oil – one missing that important lauric acid.

And these products are expensive, too – $5 per ounce expensive, or $40 for an 8 ounce bottle! You can get a 16 ounce jar of good quality extra virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, for about $10 or less.

And you get coconut oil’s full power, too.

Learn more about coconut oil:


Previously on Know Thy Health

Coconut oil in spoon image by Paul Reis123, via Wikimedia Commons

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Mercury-Free Dentistry Week 2016: If You Have Amalgams…

mercuryIt’s Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, an annual campaign to raise consumer awareness of the problems caused by dentistry’s use of mercury to restore teeth and the possibility of a mercury-free future.

But while mercury is a problem, if you have amalgams, the solution isn’t just to go get the fillings removed. There’s a lot more to it than just that, as Dr. V explains…

The Only Thing that Matters Is Getting the Mercury Out, Right? (Not Quite)

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

We humans are natural pattern-seekers and storytellers. When something happens to us – especially if it’s unexpected or undesired – we instinctively use these traits to help us find the cause and meaning of our experience. As we discover patterns, we build an explanation – a “story” – that satisfies us and that we can believe in.

Perhaps you’ve been having health problems that conventional medicine has been unable to explain. Maybe you’ve even been told that, despite your symptoms, there’s nothing really wrong: “It’s all in your head.” Dissatisfied, you sought a story that made more sense. Your search led you to information about the systemic illnesses that can be caused by dental situations such as the presence of mercury amalgam fillings, root canals and cavitations. And perhaps you suspect that one or more of these is the cause of your persistent health problems. Nothing else has made sense; this does. And so you reasonably, rationally conclude that you should have the disturbances removed.

Before doing anything, though, it must be fully verified that one or more of these situations – the presence of mercury, root canals or cavitations – is the actual cause of your systemic health problems. The conscientious dentist will never assume that just because mercury fillings are present, they are generating illness throughout the body. Close clinical examination and extensive testing are needed. The body’s toxic load must be determined. All possible sources of the toxins must be considered. The extent of toxication and its effects on the biological terrain must be understood.

In short, a thorough diagnosis must be made and the source of illness, pinpointed.

Say you’re driving one day and your engine begins to chirp. You take your car to a mechanic and explain the noise. No doubt, you would be quite upset if the mechanic just went under the hood and replaced the alternator, no questions asked – even if you knew that 9 times out of 10, a faulty alternator is the cause of the sound you heard. You’d be especially upset if, despite this, the engine kept chirping.

In dentistry and medicine, too, it is vital that the actual cause and nature of the problem be fully understood. Only then can a proper solution be determined.

Let’s say that, having run all of the appropriate tests and conducted a thorough examination, your dentist concludes that mercury fillings are indeed the problem. Even then, the careful dentist won’t just start drilling and filling. He or she must be sure that the new restorative material is biocompatible: that it won’t cause a toxic or allergic reaction that can lead to further health problems. If you are sensitive to mercury and a dentist replaces it with a direct composite that contains a substance you’re also sensitive to, you may be somewhat better off than you were, but your immune system remains under siege.

Think again of the car with the chirping engine. Testing has determined that the problem is, in fact, a faulty alternator. But say the mechanic replaces it with an alternator built for a different kind of car – one built for a Chevy truck but not your Mazda sedan. Obviously, you car still wouldn’t run very well. More, it could wind up having many problems beyond the original one.

What you replace with is just as important as the replacement itself. Compatibility tests should always be performed prior to any restorative procedure. IgA mercury saliva and blood serum tests are standard. If you prove especially sensitive to mercury and other materials, electro-dermal testing is also recommended. It can verify and refine the results of the initial tests, helping you and your dentist find the best possible match.

If your systemic illness is due to dental situations, it’s likely that your immune system and biological terrain have been greatly compromised. Your body has probably taken quite a beating from the toxic load. (Remember: with dental materials, there’s no escape from exposure. The offending materials are in your mouth 24-7, 365 days a year.) So also before replacement, measures must be taken to improve and strengthen these systems so they will be able to more efficiently detoxify your body once the offending materials have been removed. Your body is a self-regulating system. It must be prepared for the process of self-healing. While the exact measures to be taken will depend completely upon your unique situation, they commonly include dietary/nutritional changes and adding supplements and homeopathics to your daily nutritional regimen.

Mercury, root canal or cavitation removal is almost always beneficial. However, it is not an instant cure. Detoxification and healing are processes. They require a thorough understanding of the current situation and all possible routes to recovery. Because of the relationship among the dental situation, energetic health and systemic health, all aspects must be considered and treated together. Quick removal largely ignores the systemic issue: only the dental aspect is addressed. Likewise, treating the bodily symptoms without considering the dental or energetic components means that you will be fighting the problem constantly, continually, never addressing the cause. Dealing with illness in an integrative, biological manner is more time-consuming and, in the short term, more expensive. But the final goal must always be to ensure long-term health and wellness – which is always less time consuming and cheaper in the long run.

For a full description of our mercury removal protocol, click here.

Learn more about mercury amalgam “silver” fillings
Learn more about the biological terrain & its impact on health/illness

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BPA, Dental Sealants, & Some Twisty Logic

It’s time for another round of Follow the Logic.

Last week, the ADA proclaimed that “BPA in dental sealants [is] safe.” The evidence? Research just published in the ADA Professional Product Review, which tested BPA release from 12 sealants used by dentists in the US.

The analysis indicated that the BPA release from dental sealants is very low — .09 nanograms. This amount is well below the limit proposed for a 6-year-old child (who weighs about 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1 million nanograms per day) and the European Food Safety Authority (80,000 nanograms per day).

That hypothetical child, said the ADA, “is exposed to more BPA from food; drinks; sunscreen, shampoo, body wash and other cosmetics; and air and thermal paper (such as cash register receipts) than from the amount that is in dental sealants.”

sealant on a toothSuffice it to say, it takes a mighty big leap to get from this to concluding that BPA from sealants is therefore safe.

It’s like saying, “Sure, some mercury vapor is released from amalgam fillings, but it’s a lot less than what you’d get from eating tuna; therefore, amalgam is safe.”

It just doesn’t follow.

It does confirm that BPA from sealants just adds to a child’s overall daily exposure to the chemical, even if by a fairly small amount. So if you’re opting for sealants, why not go with a BPA-free material instead? They are available, after all.

Meantime, the question remains: Is BPA safe? Scientists continue to explore its effects on the human body, as well as our environment, but the research to date suggests that it’s wise to limit exposure to this chemical (and other endocrine dirsruptors).

“There’s too much data consistent across studies…time and time again…to ignore it and suggest BPA has no effect on humans,” says Gail Prins, a physiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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