Category Archives: california

PCBs Found in Fish Oil

A study was released this week that shows that many of the popular brands of fish oils have high amounts of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds. PCB’s, once widely used in the electricity industry, are very toxic and have been banned from use since 1979. But because they do not break down easily, they persist in our environment. They have been shown to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity.

I have long been educating my patients about fish oils – both the benefits of them as well as the risks of not buying good quality.

Some of the health benefits include helping hormonal issues, heart protection, improving blood pressure, skin problems, arthritis, ADD, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are very high in fish oils, are a very good anti-inflammatory. It’s one of my favorite supplements, for treating specific conditions, as well as prevention. As a midwife, all of my clients were taking fish oils throughout their pregnancy for the health benefits to the baby, particularly in neurological development.

But I always caution people. There are some supplements that you can get the cheapest thing you can find and it doesn’t matter. Fish oil is not one of them. I have worked closely with several companies so that I can be assured that they are doing all they can to make sure people are not getting harmful substances, such as PCBs, along with their beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Since the fish in our oceans are heavily contaminated with mercury, it is also important to make sure that you are taking a fish oil that doesn’t have that as well. And since omega-3 fatty acids are very fragile, and degrade quickly when exposed to heat or light, it is critical that they not have any products of rancidity. Taking a rancid fish oil would do more harm to the body than any positive health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

So how could you possibly know if your fish oil is safe? The results of the ten brands that were checked for PCBs can be found at www.fishoilsafety.com. But there are hundreds of brands of fish oils. And none of the ones that I most commonly recommend were in the study. But you can still arm yourself with information to make sure that you are not putting yourself at risk. The very best companies send their product to an outside lab for confirmation of its potency and purity. What they get back from this lab is called a “certificate of analysis.” Not all companies will provide this, and none of them actually have to. But the ones who have been conscious from the beginning about selling a high quality product have had it done all along. It is obviously more costly to have this level of testing in place. So you might pay more for their product. But it is absolutely worth it.

Top producers of fish oil capsules also do their own in-house testing of the crude product. A few years ago I had a conversation with one of the quality manufacturers about this, and he mentioned that they have refused large quantities before. He is certain that the fish oil that they refused didn’t just get thrown away. It was sold to a company with lower standards, who likely sells their product for less.

The two brands I trust the most are Nordic Naturals and Vital Nutrients, a professional supplement line. Due to California’s Proposition 65, it sounds like the testing for toxins in products will continue to expand, and I hope that we can all be assured that as we try to improve our health, we are not exposed to further environmental toxins.

Advertisements

Natural First Aid

My talk last week at Sky Hill Institute was a huge success. To keep the love going, I will blog this week on the contents of my home first aid kit.

The two things I use the most are undoubtedly homeopathic Arnica and All-Purpose Salve.

Arnica I carry with me everywhere. There is one in the tennis bag, my bike pack, my purse, and both of our cars. I don’t know if I am just a clutz, or if I’m just a huge believer. Giving Arnica immediately after any injury (or surgery) will dramatically spead healing.

There are other homeopathics for after particular injuries. But taking Arnica “no matter what” as quickly as possible is never a bad idea.

Keynotes for Arnica are:

  • any trauma
  • bruised feeling
  • the bed feels too hard
  • person injured says “I’m okay.”

One of my patients who recently feel directly on their tailbone was resistant to taking any homeopathic just after the fall. When she had been suffering for a while, she came in and I gave her one that is more specific to the falling directly on the coccyx. I truly believe that she would not have suffered as long if she’d taken Arnica immediately.

All Purpose Salve is a blend of herbs that is perfect for healing skin rashes and wounds. It seems as though we are forever dealing with some little cut, scrape or rash. The All Purpose Salve (made by Wise Woman herbals) combines herbs that not only reduce the itching and inflammation, but help to heal the skin. No antibiotic/petrochemical OTC ointment can claim that. (And I personally feel that putting antibiotic ointments, as well as using antibiotic soaps, just contributes to antibiotic resistance. You have an immune system! Don’t put that crap on little cuts and wounds!)

Some people have the idea that when you are hurt you need something more powerful than what nature has to offer. Quite the contrary – what nature has to offer is the most effective, as well as naturally safe.

Natural Allergy Relief

It’s still windy here in Petaluma. I keep thinking it is going to ease up. I know that many people are still really suffering from allergies. I want to give you a couple more ideas of how to help.

Vitamin C – good ol’ vitamin C helps allergies because it is a mast cell stabilizer. Mast cells are the ones that release the  histamines that are causing all of the symptoms…watery eyes, stuffed up sinuses, difficulty breathing, etc. Vitamin C is safe for most people. Get 500 mg 3-6 times/day. Just watch out for loose stools – that’s how you’ll know you’ve gotten too much.

Quercetin is another great mast cell stabilizer. It is a bioflavonoid, found in fruits and vegetables. In higher concentrations, like you will find in supplement form, can help decrease symtpoms. 250 mg three to four times/day should be good. Obviously, eating more fruits and vegetables will help as well.

The neti pot – nasal saline rinse – is also fantastic for decreasing congestion. I have seen the little sprays too – and if that helps you then great. I like the neti pot because it will get the saline deeper into your sinuses.

If you have chronic allergies, you may want to come in for a constitutional homeopathic remedy, or figure out if there is anything else underlying that is kicking up your immune system.

Happy Spring!

Ahhhh! The first days of spring. Feel the warmth, the movement of new plants, the freshness. We all feel a bit more motivated when the sun shines hotter and the days are longer.

Take advantage of the longer light to tend to yourself this spring. Sit outside and listen to the birds for 15 minutes at the end of the day. Breathe deeply. Drop your shoulders away from your ears. Tune out the news and demands of the day.

Find your local CSA or farmer’s market and get some good fresh greens and make a salad or some other fresh food for dinner.

Consider doing a detox or cleanse. Clean behind the sink. Smile when you are drying your hair.

Enjoy the spring!!!

Spring Detox is Here!

I have been preparing over the past few weeks for this spring’s group detox program at the Lucchesi community center in Petaluma. I am so excited. I have a new and improved guidebook, lots of free passes for health clubs, and interesting samples to try. We start tonight (Thursday, March 5) and meet for three consecutive Thursday evenings. (See my website http://www.DrThyr.com) for more information.

This afternoon we’ll make the Fruit Nut Spread from Lisa Allen’s inspired book Eaing Clean. It’s just too delicious! Hard to believe it is “legal” on the detox.

Most of all I am looking forward to doing the cleanse along with everyone else. Each time new things happen. New habits are created. Old ones that don’t serve me are tossed out.

Doing a cleanse with a group is always great fun for me. I love to teach people about toxic exposure. It renews my inspiration to start a detox center of my own.

Local organic sustainable produce

We (Geoffrey and I) went to the most wonderful place this weekend. It is called Green String Farm (www.greenstringfarm.com) and it is quite the find. If you live in the area of Petaluma, I strongly encourage you to visit.

Beautiful fall produce at Green String

Beautiful fall produce at Green String

The people are so friendly and helpful. Everything is pretty much $2/pound. You can just load up the scale with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, apples or whatever strikes your fancy.

I got a container of figs that are out of this world.

We also bought all of the roma  tomatoes they had and spent the rest of the weekend playing in my passion for the perfect marinara.

Not only is this place a delight for you, but it is also good for the planet. They go beyond the usual organic farming practices to make it the most sustainable and healthful farm they possibly can.

Their commitment to growing crops in a way that does not harm the planet is certainly laudable. Not to mention inspiring to us little backyard gardeners.

We found a place on the way home that farms dahlias. Not sure that they have the same ideals in terms of sustainability, but they sure are pretty.

The bounty on my counter!

The bounty on my counter!

I got home and couldn’t resist taking a photo of some of my winnings. I think I was a farmer or photographer in a past life. It just made me so happy to see all of this out on my counter.

Shopping like this is also inspiring to cook and eat healthfully. I use my mother’s “antique” pressure cooker to cook the beets. They are good with tahini sauce or just plain or in a salad.

The carrots went in the bottom of the pan that my hubby roasted a chicken in.

The tomatoes and garlic are happily canned in 6 pints of marinara. That is where the peppers ended up too, after we roasted them.

I think the artichokes are for dinner tomorrow. Perhaps as an accompaniment to fish.

And that little purple cabbage – isn’t it cute?? I will chop that for my veggie wrap sandwiches or for a veggie stir fry when G is at work.

Sunflowers at the market at Green String Farm.

Sunflowers at the market at Green String Farm.

Naturopathic Medicine Comes to Petaluma, California

Welcome to my blog. Thanks, Kelley, for getting me moving!

My husband and I just relocated from New Hampshire to Petaluma. My practice is now open. It is called Willowbend Natural Medicine.

As a naturopathic doctor I work to find and treat the cause of disease. I focus on women’s health issues, including infertility, menopausal issues, restless leg issues, depression and anxiety. A typical treatment plan will be individualized to suite your needs, and may include nutrition, lifestyle changes, supplements, herbs and homeopathy. Focus on the whole person is critical to the healing process.