Let's just put it simply, shall we? Feel free to share this photo and let's get the message out loud and clear.
This is a quote from the Institute for Responsible Technology:
"Gluten-related disorders are commonly accompanied by and possibly triggered by intestinal permeability, which is commonly referred to as “leaky gut.” Leaky gut occurs when gaps form between intestinal cells and large particles from the digestive tract enter the bloodstream, potentially triggering immune or allergic reactions. The Bt-toxin produced by genetically modified corn kills insects by punching holes in their digestive tracts, and a 2012 study confirmed that it punctures holes in human cells as well. Bt-toxin is present in every kernel of Bt corn, survives human digestion, and has been detected in the blood of 93% of pregnant women tested and 80% of their unborn fetuses. This “hole-punching toxin” may be a critical piece of the puzzle in understanding gluten-related disorders."
So if you don't want to risk having your intestines look like Swiss cheese please avoid non-organic corn products and let's get GMO's out of our food!
To Your Health!
Just as the nutrients in the soil must be properly prepared by microorganisms living around the rootlets of a great tree, so too must our body rely on gut bacteria for optimal health. Here I will attempt to describe this intricate system and how it functions both in balance and out of balance.
The small intestine is about 21 feet in length for the average adult but it's not a smooth tube on the inside. If you were to cut open a section it would look like a shag carpet on the inside. There are thousands of finger-like projections called villi. The cells lining these villi (called enterocytes) also have microscopic finger-like projections called microvilli. The folds, villi, and microvilli increase the surface area within the small intestine several times over so that if you were able to take an iron and flatten it all out it would cover the surface area of a tennis court. Within the small intestine, larger food particles are broken down by enzymes on the surface of the microvilli into smaller molecules which are able to go into the cells lining the intestinal wall and then through them into the bloodstream. Many of these microscopic particles such as glucose, peptides, amino acids, and fatty acids will be used as energy for the body. Other molecules such as vitamins and minerals from food will help support other mechanisms within the body.
There is a thin layer of mucus that protects the enterocytes lining the digestive tract. There are also billions of bacteria living within the digestive tract that helps to break down our food. Some forms of bacteria are beneficial and produce metabolites such as B-vitamins and Vitamin K as a waste product. Our body can utilize these metabolites and vitamins to keep us healthy. In this way we have a symbiotic relationship with these bacteria, which means a mutually beneficial relationship. But there are other organisms living within our digestive tracts that are opportunistic pathogens. They don't normally create much of a problem but can become disease producing if they are allowed to overgrow or multiply beyond a rate that the beneficial bacteria can compete. We also swallow pathogens on a regular basis but once again the beneficial bacteria act as a support to our immune system by keeping these competing organisms in check.
Due to multiple environmental factors including overuse of antibiotics, pesticides, prescription drugs, genetically modified foods, stress and poor dietary habits - the ratio of beneficial bacteria to pathogenic bacteria can become out of balance. Unlike beneficial bacteria, pathogenic forms do not create B-vitamins and helpful metabolites. Instead they secrete exotoxins, chemicals that are irritating and damaging to the cells lining the digestive tract. The body tries to protect itself by overproducing mucus which puts a physical barrier between the intestinal cells and the bacteria. However, it also puts a barrier between your food and the enzymes needed to complete their digestion. This is an ideal situation for the pathogenic bacteria as they are allowed to continue feeding and to continue producing their exotoxins. This begins the vicious cycle that can lead to gut dysbiosis: a gut system that is out of balance. Lactose intolerance, gas production, bloating, flatulence, heartburn, and burping may all be early signs of gut dysbiosis. Post nasal drip and constant congestion may also be a sign that your body is overproducing mucus to dilute exotoxins from the digestive tract.
As the bacteria continue to multiply and the exotoxins continue damaging cell health, the mucosal glands may not be able to keep up production, which can leave the enterocytes exposed. This is where damaging proteins such as gluten (more appropriately gliadin) can become a real problem as the body's immune response to gliadin causes the villi to flatten and destroys the tight junctions between the intestinal cells.
Leaky gut is the term most commonly used to describe this intestinal permeability. Now bacterial exotoxins and undigested proteins are able to leak through the gut wall into the surrounding capillaries. The body does not recognize these undigested proteins as food as so antibodies attach to them and mark them for destruction by white blood cells. The resulting cascade of immune response can result in symptoms such as rash, itching, sneezing, headache, fatigue, lethargy, etc. These signs of food sensitivity can also progress and become a food allergy. The immune system may also confuse some of these undigested proteins with our own body tissue in a process called molecular mimicry which may be a cause or contributing factor to auto-immune disorders such as Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn's disease, Sjogren syndrome, Lichen sclerosus, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Diabetes and more.
Everything that leaks through the intestinal wall goes to the liver. The liver's job is to convert the toxins and package them for removal from the body. Once the flow of toxins increases the liver becomes overwhelmed with its detoxification efforts. Toxins may spill back into the bloodstream causing further damage in other parts of the body. The kidneys, bladder, lungs and skin may be affected. Nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to the liver's inability to properly detoxify.
The key then to restoring health lies not in treating the symptoms with either herbs or pharmaceutical drugs but in addressing the underlying factor of gut dysbiosis. The GAPS Nutritional Protocol is designed to seal and heal the gut lining and balance out the microorganisms within the digestive tract. This allows the detoxification mechanisms within the body to return to optimal function and for the body to heal itself once nutrient absorption improves.
To find out more how the GAPS nutritional protocol can help restore your health please contact us to make an appointment.
To Your Health!
Although we have the ability to verify the constituents of an essential oil with a great deal of accuracy the essential oil industry is not regulated by any governing board that verifies for quality and purity. This makes it very easy for adulteration to occur at any stage of the process whether it is at the farm or at the bottling plant.
Most essential oils are made by collecting plant material (leaves, flowers, roots, bark, seeds, resin, etc.) and passing steam through the material which is then cooled. The cooled water then contains the volatile chemicals from the plant material which floats on top. Some essential oils are collected by putting the plant material directly in the water and then heating it, some are collected by dry heat, and still others (such as the citrus oils) are collected by cold pressing the material (rind). Plant material can also be subjected to chemical extraction process such as with hexane and ethanol but they would be considered an absolute and not an essential oil. Once collected, the essential oils are then drawn off and bottled. The chemical properties will vary slightly depending on the exact species of plant grown, the country of origin, and other variables such as weather and altitude.
Adulteration can occur at any stage during this process. Farmers can adulterate the product by including plant material that is not typically used to produce the essential oil such as the stems and leaves when the root is what is typically used. Oils are also adulterated by the addition of one or more essential oils that have similar chemical properties, color, or odor. A good example of this would be using de-mentholated cornmint oil in place of peppermint oil. This is commonly done when prices within the market fluctuate or certain oils become more scarce. Lemongrass essential oil is often exchanged for another essential oil called Litsea cubeba and vice versa depending on market pricing and which oil is cheaper at any one time. Oils can also be adulterated by adding synthetic chemicals or diluting with a carrier oil. All of these methods of adulteration would change the chemical constituents of the resulting oil and can be verified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis. Many independent labs exist that will verify whether or not what is put on the label matches what is in the bottle.
The quality of essential oils is important to anyone who is using them therapeutically. That is why it is important that the consumer (or the retailer) verifies that the essential oil supplier they use are not adulterating their oils. Essential oils should be clearly labeled with the latin genus and species name, the country of origin, the method of extraction and whether or not any carrier oils are used in the final product (which is often the case for blends that are to be used topically such as in massage). Even with this level of labeling it is not a bad idea to either request to see a GC/MS analysis of the oil or to send the oil yourself to an independent laboratory. Most general consumers will not do this but a retailer or health professional should consider it if they are recommending or selling the oils directly to consumers.
Proper labeling should also include any warnings or contraindications for use. Many essential oils, even if they are pure and unadulterated, can cause skin sensitization, photosensitivity, contact dermatitis, acute oral toxicity, cellular toxicity or other adverse reactions. The risks associated would depend greatly on the method of exposure (inhalation, oral or topical use), the susceptibility of the individual (age, stature, health status), and the amount of exposure and frequency of use (either accidentally or intentionally). Again, I want to emphasize that these potential risks exist for many essential oils regardless of the supplier. Adulteration always carries risks and the information presented on the label does not match what is in the bottle, but even 100% pure steam distilled oils carry with them some inherent risk due to the chemical composition of the plant material itself.
Be safe with essential oils. Know and trust your supplier or go the extra step and make sure using independent verification. And remember that even if your essential oil is pure and unadulterated it should be used with respect for what it is: concentrated chemical constituents from medicinal plant material.
To Your Health!
You may not realize it but there are hundreds of different ways to be sick and probably just as many ways to treat an illness using natural medicine. You could just walk into an herb shop or health food store and ask someone that works there what you should take for your cold/cough/flu etc. but you will probably receive one of three answers:
1. Whatever is most popular - Echinacea, elderberry syrup, vitamin C, Thieves, etc.
2. Whatever is most profitable for the business - what's on clearance, what was overstocked, etc.
3. Whatever comes into the store clerk's brain at that moment or what has worked for them.
If you want good results, none of these suggestions will be very helpful to you. Sure it might work - but it might not - and then you will have wasted your money and you will still feel terrible. To get the most out of your trip to the herb store you need to first find someone who has some experience or training in natural health. Don't automatically assume that the young person with the tattoos knows less than the gray-haired elder or vice versa. Anything goes in this business!
Once you find someone who knows their stuff you need to know how to describe your symptoms so they can find the right remedy for you. Chances are if you start describing your symptoms this way, you will very quickly find out whether or not the person you are speaking to knows anything anyway. So here are some quick tips for describing your illness to any naturopath, herbalist, homeopath, or general natural health practitioner. I've tried to keep these as easy to understand as possible for the average person by leaving out some of the common energetics we are taught in herbalism. I find it hard sometimes to figure out whether my symptoms are damp or deficient or dry and in excess so let's keep it simple.
Ways to Describe a Sore Throat
Dry – A dry throat feels better when you drink liquids. It can hurt to swallow but generally feels okay as long as there is food or liquid there. This kind of sore throat is common in the winter with the dry air. You may notice it is worse in the morning and gets better throughout the day.
Damaged – This is the sore throat that results after an illness has been going on a while. A runny nose or sinus infection is often the culprit. The eventual drainage and action of the immune system leaves you with damaged mucosa that needs to be repaired. Laryngitis is common with this type of sore throat.
Swollen – This is at the start or early stages of an illness where the tonsils or glands become so swollen with white blood cells trying to fight the infection that it hurts to swallow or talk because of the physical action.
Other important notes - Pay attention to where it feels bad. Up high in the back of the mouth? Down by your voice box? Can you point to exactly where it hurts?
Ways to Describe a Cough
Dry – This kind of cough produces no phlegm or mucus. It's the cough you get like a tickle in your throat that just doesn't want to go away. There's nothing to cough up but it's still there. Or maybe you can feel the congestion deep in your chest but nothing comes up.
Wet – Lots of phlegm and wet stuff with this kind of cough. The immune system is working overtime drowning you in mucus. You may even hear rattling in the chest as you breathe. This is a productive kind of cough that needs to get out but you feel like your ribs and diaphragm are bruised from all the coughing.
Other important signs – If you can cough something up, what color is it? Is it thick or thin? Does it hurt when you cough like something is tearing inside? Does the cough only come at night or first thing in the morning? Does it make a particular sound like a saw going through boards or like a barking seal? Does the coughing come in fits where it is hard to catch your breath? These are all important points to note.
For Sinus Infections and Colds
Again we can go with a simple wet or dry description but it can be helpful to note the consistency of the mucus too.
Dry – it hurts to breathe through your nose. Your sinuses are packed full of mucus but it all seems stuck up there because your nose isn't running at all. You can blow all you want on that tissue but it just makes a noise like a party favor and nothing comes out.
Wet – Your nose runs constantly. You've gone through multiple boxes of tissues and you can not believe how much snot can come out of your head.
Thin – Thin mucus is runny so you have to sniff constantly to keep it in there. It may even irritate your nose and upper lip making them red and sore.
Thick – Yellow or green viscous mucus that fills up the tissue. While many people associate this kind of mucus with an infection it is not always directly associated.
Infected – This is where the sinuses are so inflamed that your teeth hurt or your head feels like it's going to explode. There is a lot of pain and a general miserable feeling.
Other important things to note for any illness
Sudden onset or gradual onset – Did you wake up all of a sudden with the illness or has it been slowly coming on over several days. This is an important thing to note especially for fevers and will help determine the best homeopathic to use.
Intensity – Is it a mild annoyance or are you wishing someone would just cut off your head to make it go away?
What makes it better- Hot drinks, cold water, outside air, wrapping up in blankets, certain types of food, etc.
What makes it worse - Cold wind, humidity, bending over, laying down, etc.
Duration of illness – Have the same symptoms been affecting you for a week or have the symptoms changed and progressed over time? Did it start with a sore throat and runny nose and then turn into a cough and congestion? Were you really sick for awhile and now a few minor symptoms seem to linger?
Additional symptoms – Body aches, earache, sneezing, headache, watery eyes, chills, fever, digestive upset, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Hopefully this gives you some idea of what kinds of things it is important to mention to a natural health practitioner so they can determine what the best remedy is for you. Once you do find that perfect remedy though, remember that it works best for that particular condition. So you may not be able to use that yarrow and elderflower tea for your dry cough but the next time you feel flushed and feverish with body aches and a stuffy nose, you'll be ready.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.