This feature is merely one seeker’s attempt to share what seem to him the most valuable contemporary insights, innovations and discoveries that promise to restore humanity’s original radiance. The author takes responsibility for the views expressed, whose value, in the end, must be empirically tested by each individual, without reliance upon anyone else’s authority. Only in this way can each of us hope to create a way of life that truly expresses our natural uniqueness.
RADIANT – YES. . . BUT INFLAMED – NEVER!Helping our over-eager defense-systems to Chill Out
* * *
“Inflammare – Latin: “to set on fire.”
WE’RE NOT AS COOL AS WE THINK WE ARE. . .
As a culture, we’re at risk of spontaneous combustion – both physiologically and psychologically; we’re hot-under-the-collar, on high alert and prone to reach flash-point at merest provocation.
True, this does harbor threats to our well-being – but none quite so inimical as those that our bodies ignite through misguided efforts to attack its perceived attackers.
More often than not, this instinctual logic backfires badly, making us into living battlegrounds even long after the perceived invaders have fled the scene. And, unwilling to risk defeat, our systems refuse to give up the fight – and become locked into unrelenting strife with demons of their own making.
When this strategy fails, strangely, we find ourselves perishing in the struggle to survive.
We need, more than anything else now, a gentle, cooling rain to quench these many self-kindled wildfires before they spread beyond our ability to easily manage.
As may be suspected, mainstream medicine remains helpless – not to mention injurious – in providing such relief, but not so more broad-minded seekers – alternative and complementary physicians, naturopaths, botanic healers and the keepers of native traditions.
Within and amongst their rich and varied wisdoms is a wealth of healing waters, cloudbursts full of refreshment, ours for the implementing. It is my hope that this feature will offer a bouquet of potent, promising and non-injurious life-practices which can effectively bring balm to the cellular holocaust modern living has inflicted upon us.
THE DISEASE PROCESS DE-CODED
All roads to illness seem to be pointing to a single phenomenon – inflammation. This familiar process of irritation, swelling and pain is the common pivot of such unlikely bedfellows as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and most auto-immune disorders – in other words, upwards of 90% of all catastrophic illness in the United States.
Inflammation has become the complementary-medicine catchword of our time, and just about everyone is hot (no pun intended) on the trail to crack the secret of just what it is and how it’s triggered.
Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet, offers a simple and understandable insight into the why and wherefore of helpful – as well as harmful – “heat-up”:
“Inflammation is your body's response to stress - whether from your diet, lifestyle or environment. Think of what happens when you catch a cold. You may experience inflammation in the form of a fever as your body heats up to eradicate the effects of the invading virus. This kind of inflammation is good, but the modern epidemic of chronic, low-grade inflammation destroys the balance in your body. When your body's systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and disease.”
There’s much evidence to support Body Ecology director Donna Gates’ belief that, “. . .one of the main causes of inflammation is low-grade bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the bloodstream and organs like the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.”
A glimpse at Wikipedia’s exigesis on the anatomy of inflammation reveals a vast and complex landscape of processes and mediators which implement, fuel and sustain both acute and chronic inflammation – a landscape whose territory quickly becomes bewildering, at least to the biochemically uninitiated.
Even so, physicians have traditionally had a terrible time tracking down the causes of inflammatory conditions – pointing to viruses, bacterial infections, free radical damage, trauma, arthritis and a host of other conditions. The question is: is inflammation the horse or the cart?
The welcome short answer on the practical level is – it doesn’t really matter; when inflammation is present, health isn’t, and when biochemical balance is restored, inflammation is nowhere to be seen.
Let’s take a glimpse at the two major disease categories that are presently responsible for two thirds of all deaths – cardiovascular disease and cancer:
GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
This revealing body of insights, straight from the mainstream database of the American Heart Association website:
“C-reactive protein (CRP) is one of the acute phase proteins that increase during systemic inflammation. . . Scientific studies have found that the higher the hs-CRP levels, the higher the risk of having a heart attack. In fact, the risk for heart attack in people in the upper third of hs-CRP levels has been determined to be twice that of those whose hs-CRP level is in the lower third.” (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4648)
And, as to the offending causes of the inflammatory fires:
“The major injurious factors that promote atherogenesis (artery blockage) — cigarette smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), atherogenic lipoproteins (plaque-forming fat-proteins), and hyperglycemia (high blood triglycerides) — are well established. These risk factors give rise to a variety of noxious stimuli that cause the release of chemicals and the activation of cells involved in the inflammatory process. These events are thought to contribute not only to the formation of plaque but may also contribute to its disruption resulting in the formation of a blood clot. Thus, virtually every step in atherogenesis is believed to involve substances involved in the inflammatory response and cells that are characteristic of inflammation. (Author’s italics).
THE CANCER-INFLAMMATION CONNECTION
And from the Journal of Inflammation (http://www.journalinflammation.com/content/1/1/3):
“Tumor(s) have been linked with inflammation since 1863, when Rudolf Virchow discovered leucocytes in neoplastic tissues and made the first connection between inflammation and cancer. Since then, chronic inflammation has been identified as a risk factor for cancer and even as a means to prognose/diagnose cancer at the onset of the disease. Examples of such association include the Human papiloma virus (HPV) and cancer, including cervical, cancers of the esophagus and larynx, Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection and gastric adenocarcinoma. . .” Not to overdo it, but the basic idea is clear – inflammation and cancer – just like inflammation and heart disease – are very familiar bedfellows.
SOLVING THE SUPER-COMPLICATED WITH THE SUPER-SIMPLE
Still, with all this in the research database, the scientific picture of the inflammation phenomenon is, ultimately, untenable; not because it is factually incorrect or flawed, but simply because the data is too fragmented to be usable.
Finally, there is the inevitable solution at which, seemingly, all contemporary institutional research, irrespective of its promise, invariably arrives: prescription drugs. Indeed, what other answer can possibly emerge from investigators who spend the majority of their lives in laboratories, synthesizing chemicals?
But, not to despair; as with most health wisdoms, the answer is to stay simple – and, perhaps most importantly – to view ourselves not as a mere bundle of disembodied life-processes as studied in isolated fragments in laboratory settings – but as whole, organic human beings.
It’s also helpful – not to mention deeply encouraging – to realize that these thousands of component-parts and processes within us have been crafted into a seamlessly beautiful symmetry by the master architect of life. As my favorite composer, Maurice Ravel used to counsel, “Complex – yes, but never complicated.”
In the end – however complex their inner anatomy and function – both art and life must finally arrive at a natural simplicity in their expression. This is why, despite their relatively primitive lifestyles and environments, many of the cultures studied by Weston Price flourished as magnificently as they did: they enjoyed a deep and intuitive understanding of life principles. With virtually no cognitive knowledge at all to speak of, they could insure the wholeness of their lives because they took care to live within the ancient matrix that Nature had provided for centuries.
So, what are some of the most critical “switches” we can throw to de-fuse inflammation?
NOT STRESSING OUT OVER STRESS
We all know only too well that unrelieved stress can undermine just about everything good in us, and up the ante for everything that harms us – specifically, the all-critical cortisol levels of the adrenals. Still, truly healthy people do very well under stress of all kinds, and are able to surf over its spiky waves to get where they want to go and do what they love to do.
When a consistent degree of biological balance establishes itself within us, we find ourselves handling stresses much more skillfully – even relishing our encounters with them as positive challenges.
SLEEP – THE ULTIMATE DE-STRESSOR
While this is the subject of another article, very briefly, undoubtedly the single most indispensable essential in shoring oneself up against stresses of any and all kinds is to give our body the unhampered opportunity to rest and repair itself – two vital processes which only occur during sleep and deep relaxation. Indeed, sleep should come with a capital S – because its benefits are so rich, its rewards so underrated– a cost free psycho-physical healing intensive, each night of our lives. Even though our over-wired culture has decimated the tradition, sleep before or by 10 p.m. does indeed possess mysterious, almost magical powers of restoration – but it takes a clear, consistent act of choice, day by day, night by night, to take advantage of this golden opportunity.
Likewise, a mid-day or mid-afternoon rest for 20 or 30 minutes – it does not have to be sleep – will recharge our batteries so that the second half of the day can have all the crispness and potency of the first half, without fatigue or burn-out.
A rested body is the foundation for healing; yet the active sources of inflammation need to be addressed directly:
THE UNSUSPECTED PORTAL TO ILLNESS
All infection equals inflammation. And the root cause and single most dangerous source of inflammation is internal infections of our own making: biologically-generated toxins from chronic oral toxicity from subliminal tooth and gum infections, and cavitations -- infected healed-over spaces from extracted teeth. These actively pollute the vital organ systems and tissues, and account for almost every pathology one cares to mention, including the big two, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Yes, we should do our level best to steer clear of environmental toxins from air, water, and food; these are, by contrast, superficial when compared to endogenous (internally-generated) toxins.
Many people now know how critically important it is to remove all mercury-based amalgams from the mouth – a highly absorptive region of the body only millimeters from the brain and spinal cord – home of the central nervous system, and core of our psycho-spiritual functioning. Mercury remains the single most lethal substance to human life and function.
Even major media medical pundits are espousing the fact that anywhere from 2 to 6 and ½ bonus years of life can be expected from a lifestyle that insures good oral hygiene through – first and foremost, flossing, and secondly, brushing.
Bill Henderson, author of several books on healing cancer, comments, "I have worked with hundreds of people who have struggled with all kinds of conventional and alternative treatment. Nothing seems to work to heal them. When these people finally wake up to the above and get their mouths cleaned up, they get well in weeks -- not months. Almost everyone (85-90% of the people I work with) has root canal-filled teeth. One lady had 13 of `em. They are ALWAYS related to the cancer. No exceptions."
And Dr. Thomas Levy, an expert on dental toxicity, confirms this critical finding. He describes how he had done a study with holistic dentist Dr. Hal Huggins from 1994 to 2000 in which they removed over 5,000 root canal-filled teeth, each of which was taken to the lab and tested. The verdict? “Every one of them had toxins coming out of it more toxic than botulism." Most tellingly, thermograms revealed that the inflamed root canal teeth were seen to lie upon the exact same meridian as the corresponding tumor in the breast, colon, or other organ.
And, looking back to the good doctor, Weston Price, we find the same stunning research revelations: when Price extracted diseased teeth from his patients and implanted them in the tissues of experimental animals, each of those test subjects was soon afflicted with major pathology.
Without a healthy mouth, teeth and gums, even our most heroic efforts toward health and healing are fated to fail as the mini-cesspools from the oral cavity continually leak and leech into the lymph, blood, tissues and vital organs, non-stop, day and night… a recipe for endless inflammation.
The issue of oral-dental hygiene is so critical that it is impossible to overemphasize it; indeed, all other issues and approaches to health and healing must take a back seat to it, bar none.
Recommended is Dr. Levy’s The Roots of Disease: Connecting Dentistry & Medicine, written with Robert Kulacz, D.D.S.; Foreword by James Earl Jones.
THE MIRACULOUS ELECTRON – THE UNIVERSAL HEALER
In a recent lecture as guest speaker at the 35th Annual Tree of Life Cancer Prevention Conference, Dr. Levy sums up – in almost primal way – the rock bottom line on the biochemistry of health and illness with the following chart:
Electron Flow and DiseaseAs if to drive home his stunningly simple premise, he reiterates:
- High flow, health; low flow, disease; no flow, death
- Chronic electron suppliers: nutrients
- Chronic electron depleters: toxins
- Virtually all toxic and most diseased states can be readily addressed by this model
“In a nutshell, the integrity of health in the body is related to – and directly relies upon – electron flow; high electron flow is virtually equivalent to health, low electron flow – a wide range of different diseases depending upon what tissue or cellular site is affected the most, and ultimately, when you’re not having electron flow any more, you’re dead. . . all chronic degenerative disease, all infectious diseases ultimately induce their negative effects, their symptomatology, their ultimate degrading effects in the tissues through pro-oxidant mechanisms. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re being poisoned with mercury, poisoned with pesticides, if you have a chlostrydium infection and you’re getting the toxins and infectious process there, ultimately the negative effects and symptomatology is being mediated by pro-oxidation, which means – electron robbery – the taking of electrons out of your tissues. And the more complete and the more rapid this electron theft is, the sicker you are and the more symptomatic you are. Conversely, the more that you can supply a fresh flow of electrons in large number and large rate of flow, the more quickly you’ll become less symptomatic, or, depending upon the process of the disease, asymptomatic, and depending on how far things have extended, even conceivably with some chronic degenerative diseases, a reversal of the disease process, and on rare occasions, that horrible word – cure.
As I mentioned, all toxins cause oxidative damage – at least 100 percent of the over 100 toxins that are researched in the literature; and to this end, high doses of intravenous vitamin C, or other elegantly applied forms of vitamin C – will neutralize botulism, snakebite, organo-phosphate insecticides, all the different heavy metals. To the best of my knowledge there’s no need for anything known as an antidote – other than vitamin C. Similarly, all infectious diseases ultimately inflict most of their damage via oxidative damage – increased free radicals. Whenever you hear pro-oxidant, increased free radicals – all of these things can be quenched by a large enough supply of electrons.”
Serendipitously, last month’s Secrets of a Radiant Life focused upon the profound potentials of grounding – or Earthing – ourselves to the virtually infinite electron-field of planet earth as a virtually free and limitless way of restoring our lifelong impoverishment of electrons.
EARTH – THE ULTIMATE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
The recent book Earthing: the Greatest Health Discovery? by earthing pioneer Clint Ober, cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, and Martin Zucker (available on the Radiant Life website), offers a wealth of proof that inflammatory syndromes of many kinds respond readily to re-connecting ourselves to the earth field, both while active and while sleeping. Blood microscopy documentation reveals dramatic beneficial changes in dissolving blood-clumping with just 40 minutes of grounding. When clumped – or aggregated – our blood cannot pass through the finer arterial networks, nor deliver its life-giving hemoglobin to the cells, creating micro-inflammation throughout the body. With its virtually limitless pool of available electrons, earthing may well possess the greatest power to clear inflammation from the human system.
HERE COMES THE SUN
Along with healthy doses of earth energy, inflammation is set to rest – seemingly paradoxically – by direct sun exposure on a daily basis, via vitamin D mediation. The best times are from sunrise until 11 a.m., and from 3 p.m. to sundown.
Our friend Donna Gates provides the following list of the top anti-inflammatory foods: 1) Fermented foods and liquids, such as unpasteurized sauerkraut, raw-cultured vegetables now widely available in the United States, or your own home-made, 2) broccoli, 3) hemp oil (there are differing opinions about this amongst contemporary researchers) 4) Wild-caught salmon & other fatty fish, 5) Tart cherries (10 times more powerful than aspirin against inflammation), 6) Soaked walnuts, 7) Onions & garlic, 8) Pineapple 9) Spinach 10) berries
AVOIDING THESE POSSIBLE PYROMANIACS
1. Overcooked foods (these cause leucocytosis – an immediate emergency immune response via the white blood cells)
2. Junk foods, fast foods, processed foods (especially meats)
4. Trans fats
5. Allergenic foods, i.e., nightshades, if suspected (white potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce)
6. Unfermented soy products (tofu & soy milk)
7. All canola oil, even excessive olive oil
8. Excessive consumption of even whole grains
9. Legumes, nuts & seeds which have not had their enzyme inhibitors de-activated through sprouting or pre-soaking
Keeping it simple, then – my money stays on a handful of always-available, never-prohibitively-costly, botanicals which possess age-old power to neutralize inflammation – as well as a few seminal supplements.
It is more than worth plowing through the medicalese of the following journal abstract in order to glean the key insight that the inflammation causing transcriptase factor, kappaB, can be effectively inactivated by potent phytochemicals from readily available herbs and spices.
Suppression of the nuclear factor-kappaB activation pathway by spice-derived phytochemicals: reasoning for seasoning.GINGER – A ONE-HERB PHARMACEUTICAL FACTORY
Aggarwal BB, Shishodia S.
Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Box 143, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The activation of nuclear transcription factor kappaB has now been linked with a variety of inflammatory diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis, septic shock, and AIDS. Extensive research in the last few years has shown that the pathway that activates this transcription factor can be interrupted by phytochemicals derived from spices such as turmeric (curcumin), red pepper (capsaicin), cloves (eugenol), ginger (gingerol), cumin, anise, and fennel (anethol), basil and rosemary (ursolic acid), garlic (diallyl sulfide, S-allylmercaptocysteine, ajoene), and pomegranate (ellagic acid). (Author’s italics) For the first time, therefore, research provides "reasoning for seasoning."
If I could, I would reproduce huge and impressive chunks of herbal researcher Paul Schulick’s seminal book Ginger, Common Spice & Wonder Drug – for its detailed bio-chemical breakdown of this rhizome’s incredible power to extinguish inflammatory syndromes in the body.
Ah – just a brief excerpt will have to do:
“How the more than four hundred taste, fragrance, nutrient and synergist constituents of ginger interact to create its profound therapeutic benefits is an exercise in endless complexity. . . One of ginger’s most pronounced observed effects is its ability to counter inflammation. . . At least three principal actions including 1) antioxidant, 2) enzyme and 3) eicosanoid (hormonal) balance are at work. As a powerful antioxidant, with more than 12 constituents superior to vitamin E, ginger helps neutralize free radicals which are widely recognized as participating or being responsible for the inflammatory process. . .”
How to implement it? Quite easily – and deliciously; just begin skinning and grating the fresh root into salad dressings, sauces, toppings, blends of all kinds, and notice the freshness and tang! I often juice an inch-long piece of ginger into a vegetable or fruit juice – the latter being especially tasty.
Treating it as a pharmaceutical-strength botanical, if I don’t have time to include ginger in a meal of some kind, I will just combine it into a matrix of honey and take it straight. If I’m particularly rushed I’ll dump a (table) spoonful (yikes!) of organic ginger powder (available everywhere) into a kefir or goat milk smoothie with a raw egg or two, and within literally 20 seconds, have an anti-inflammatory superfood cocktail.
For those with time and patience at their disposal, I would highly recommend making ginger syrup by juicing a quantity of root to produce, perhaps, 8 or 16 ounces of juice, then mix that with organic honey to have on hand whenever desired, or even to travel with.
I simply can’t say enough about the magic inherent in this amazing root.
And, not to be outdone, ginger’s first cousin, turmeric has, if anything, an even loftier dossier with regard to inflammation-busting.
A rich ochre counterpart of its tan cousin, turmeric is virtually tearing up the web with its miraculous healing properties, not the least of which is purported to offer major protection against Alzheimer’s Disease (UCLA/VA study, reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease) – now thought to be a condition produced by inflammatory brain lesions – in those populations for whom it is a staple condiment, such as India.
Turmeric is the major player in the mix of spices and herbs which comprise the classic Indian curries, and has a somewhat bitter, earthy flavor with a certain savory tang; the major component responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties is circumin.
Critical, however, to remember is that turmeric’s magical properties are only liberated in a matrix of oil, so it is imperative that it first be mixed with olive, sesame – or my favorite – organic coconut – oil before being taken. It does not have to be sautéed or cooked, but merely blended.
Being highly pigmented, turmeric blesses anyone and anything within its radius with its token gold stain, so an efficient way to handle this splashy herb is to make a substantial quantity of turmeric-oil blend in a glass or porcelain crock or jar, to be kept on hand for use in meals or for a spoonful taken straight – medicine style – when desired.
A recent interview with Dr. Keith Scott, a physician in Cape Town, South Africa, has brought to light much cutting-edge information about the potent healing power of spices, particularly rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory factors, and far exceeding that of almost all other natural sources. While the interview, as well as his own books on the subject, contain a wealth of valuable information, the pearl of particular value in light of our mention here of the unique powers of turmeric is that Dr. Scott has discovered that there is, between many of the spices, a dramatically increased synergistic effect when taken in tandem, and that the taking of turmeric in combination with black pepper (raw and organic) increases the potency of anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric by 1000% -- a tenfold increase in healing power. Thank you, Dr. Scott!
OTHER POWERFUL FIRE-EXTINGUISHERS
Many other botanicals qualify, the next in line being fresh-harvested aloe vera gel or juice. A one-herb miracle for virtually everything that ails us.
More potent even than turmeric is the active constituent which delivers its anti-inflammatory punch – circumin, which, by contrast to turmeric itself, may be thought of as a pharmaceutical-grade natural anti-inflammatory. Not cheap, but powerful, to be sure.
Another highly respected antioxidant and anti-inflammatory is quercetin, a phyto-chemical found in such foods as the skin of red onions and red apples, also available as a supplement, somewhat costly.
THE VERY ESSENTIAL ESSENTIALS ABOUT ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Dr. Udo Erasmus, Ph.D., has focused much of his professional career on the primacy of EFA’s – Essential Fatty Acids -- emphasizing the role they play in preventing and reducing inflammation through their ability to make hormone-like eicosanoids that regulate immune and inflammatory responses. Omega 3s in particular have anti-inflammatory effects that can slow autoimmune damage.
“I believe that inflammation is at the core of nearly everything that goes wrong in the body, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. We know that Omega 3’s decrease inflammation.”
Erasmus believes ”proteins are the juice, fats are the insulators, not just of nerves, but of cells and membranes” . . .and that “Protein reactions lead to inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disease. Essential fatty acids seem to help to prevent the proteins from becoming hyperactive -- and therefore triggering these various immune reactions.”
But there is, even in the world of EFA proponents – ranging from Erasmus to Dr. Mary Enig and others – a distinct difference of opinion about the kind of EFA’s to be used—whether they would best be those naturally metabolized by the body from parent essential seed oils, or end-product EFA’s as derived from fish and fish liver oils.
This past month I happened to have conversations with two very savvy, mature women – intensive, pro-active health-seekers, both, who – each without knowledge of the other – came to the same frustratingly late discovery that, too long unsuspected, nightshade foods were responsible for the chronic inflammatory health problems they were experiencing.
Both were nearly fit to be tied – why hadn’t anyone clued them in? Why wasn’t this more widely known? Why had they had to find out the hard way?
The truth is – it’s a jungle out there – you can’t totally rely on anybody or any thing . . . except your own enlightened experiment and exploration. It’s labor intensive, but it’s all we’ve got – it’s the price of being born in a biologically unique body – ours.
Dr. Weston Price and his followers have long held the use of cod liver oil as a source of EFA’s and Vitamins A and D in high esteem. Yet it must be said, it is a regimen that does not work for everyone across the board.
Reasons for these anomalies may be many and subtle: foods and substances beneficial in one season may be quite the opposite in another. There is a rhythm and a wisdom to natural nutrition, and there is no doubt seasonal and regional factors that are critical here: who naturally craves a cool, juicy salad in the midst of a chilling and stressful Nordic winter? And who, in a humid, sweltering summer setting, truly hungers after a thick slab of even wild-caught salmon, or farm-raised bison steak?
While the documented benefits appear to offer a nearly compelling case –in the end, we are the ones who must finally decide how any given substance or regimen is impacting us.
While space does not permit, it would be wise for any reader convinced of the importance of having non-toxic, bio-available EFA’s in his or her system to personally research such issues as dosage/overdosage levels, freshness, toxicity, rancidity, and seasonal/regional need.
The subject of inflammation is a big one – and books upon books could be written about it, but on a day-to-day basis, inflammation need not be the bogeyman it has become. If you implement even a few of the extremely potent practices mentioned here, you should begin noticing a palpable difference in your health.