Tag Archives: environment

Food Allergy Resurgance

I recently read an article that researchers believe that food allergies in children have increased in the past two decades by nearly 20%. i was happy to see that someone is catching on to what I see in my practice as one of the leading causes of childhood illness. If we can take the theory that most, if not all, illness and disease is based on inflammation, as we are now doing more and more for heart disease and diabetes, we can see that food allergies contribute to childhood health problems too. The illnesses that children show up with are asthma, eczema, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and generally poor immune function. Not to mention a host of behavioral problems, from just being difficult to things like ADD/ADHD and autism. (I want to be careful not to suggest that autism is caused by food allergies, although it may be. What I am saying is that food allergies contribute to worsening of nearly every symptoms a child may present with, including autism.)

For me, the question is not whether or not more children have food allergies. The question is why and what can we do to change it.

This requires looking openly and honestly and what we have been doing over the past 50-75 years that has changed our ability to utilize the food we eat to just nourish our bodies, rather than kick up our immune system. I have given this a good deal of thought, and while there is no good research that I know of on the subject, here are the contributing pieces in my theory. The basic premise is that we have caused damage to our digestive tracts. Factors include:

  • Vaccinations
  • Toxic chemicals in our foods (pesticides, herbicides)
  • Toxic chemicals in our environment in general
  • Processed foods
  • Decreased nutrients in our food supply
  • Antibiotic overuse
  • Chemicals in medications in general
  • Chlorinated water
  • Decreased production of digestive enzymes due to a variety of factors
  • Decreased digestive function due to use of medications (antacids as “band aids” for stomach problems is a huge culprit)

What can we do now?

Demand that our food supply is free of dangerous chemicals. (This will take some effort as we are up against big money lobbying in Washington from the factory farm chemical and seed manufacturers.)

Buy organic whenever we can.

Take control of your health care. Don’t buy into the fact that when you have acid indigestion that you need soem chemical that decreases your stomach acid. Seek care that enables you to find and treat the cause.

Detoxify twice/year.

Eat whole foods rather than processed (nutrient-less) foods.

I frequently remind my patients that every cell of their body – including all of the skin, muscles, neurotransmitters, hormones, and blood are fueld and kept alive and healthy by what we put in our mouths. So if you are eating donuts and popcorn rather than a large organic salad of dark, leafy greens, your body’s cells are at a disadvantage in our world.

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Regenerative Design Institute – easy on the planet

Imagine solid outdoor furniture not made with petro-chemicals or non-renewable resources.

Imagine solid outdoor furniture not made with petro-chemicals or non-renewable resources.

I had the most wonderful opportunity of touring the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, California a couple of weeks ago. James Stark, one of the co-founders gave us the tour around the place. The RDI is like a dream come true for me. The concepts that they have working on their land are what I want for my practice and whole healing center. But that is down the road for me. For now, enjoy the offerings at RDI.

Green is the new black, they say. It’s cool and good marketing and all that. RDI is like the root of the green. It’s why and how and seeing it all come together. Not just buying recycled $120 handbags. RDI helps us to think about how we can truly affect change in our planet. And in ourselves.

One of the classes that they offer helps students to track wild animals and learn about their habits and habitats. And in that process, they nearly always learn about their own natural habitat. What in their world needs to be back to basics…back to the earth.

Most interesting is how the space is laid out with great care and planning. It is designed, not just plopped together, hodge podge. Why put the chicken coup under the orchard? Keeps the weeds and grasses down around the trees and fertilizes them at the same time. Not to mention keeping little rodents out.

As we walked along viewing the organic gardens (herbs close to the house – you need them regularly for cooking; squash and apples further away up the hill – you will only harvest them a couple of times) James quizzed us on why they would want both goats and lemon trees. We were all trying to name some clever biodynamic rational. “Lemon cheesecake,” he grins. That is all you need. The juice of the lemon will curdle the goat milk and it is sweet enough that you just put those things together and you have a fabulous desert. It’s not like they are roughing it!

James Stark explains how the natural filtration system works to purify water.

James Stark explains how the natural filtration system works to purify water.

Inspiring. That is what I came away with. One story James told was about when there were going to have 150 guests for a week. The water system only produces about 450 gallons of drinkable water/day. He knew it was impossible. He had extra water brought in. But at the beginning of the week he asked all of the guests to act as though the water is gold. The most precious resource. By the end of the week they had not touched the extra water that had been delivered. We can change our habits and our consciousness. It has lead me to remember what it is like to live during a drought. How long is long enough for a shower? Why is the water running in the sink when we are preparing vegetables? Do we really have to flush after every pee?? I have paid more attention. Adjusted. And haven’t suffered in the slightest. I can’t wait to see my water bill.

It isn’t really about just saving money – although right now isn’t that nice?? But James mentioned and I have heard it before, that the next world battles will not be over oil, but water.

For me, it just feels better not to waste. Even “waste-water.” RDI has a grey water catchment pond

Grey-water is purified and oxygenated by plants and fish to be re-used for irrigation.

Grey-water is purified and oxygenated by plants and fish to be re-used for irrigation.

that takes most of the water that comes through the drains (kitchen sink, shower, etc.) and utilizes natural methods to purify the water. There are particular local plants in the pond, as well as fish, that are miraculous in their ability to clean toxins out of water.  It can then be used for irrigation for the gardens. They are certainly not using harmful chemicals in their sinks or showers, but who needs to be doing that anyway? It’s not good for you either! If it would kill a fish, you might want to consider not putting it on your skin.

What a concept – beautiful, functional and ecological. I think they may be onto something.

Sculpted roof brings cutting-edge style to natural building.

Sculpted roof brings cutting-edge style to natural building.

Up the hill a bit are some of the newer natural buildings. They are testing various methods for creating structures. And some are better for certain environments than others. What they might need in New Hampshire to get through the winter might be somewhat different from here. But what James and his colleagues are working on, are creating a variety of structures and seeing what works and helping people who come there to learn figure out what is going to work for them.

Being at the Regenerative Design Center is amazing and inspiring. As we stood by these beautiful, natural creations, many of us were a bit awestruck by what they have accomplished. Sensing this, James continued to impress me by quoting Mother Theresa: “You need not do great things, but small things with great heart.” We can all go forth and do what makes us feel good for ourselves, our brothers and sisters and our planet. Not necessarily to be oh-so amazing, but to

Recycled bottles add light and interest to this clay structure.

Recycled bottles add light and interest to this clay structure.

tranform lives with love and compassion. And yes, with eyes open to what we are doing to our stressed-out little planet.

You can tour the Regenerative Design Institute – they offer tours to the public every couple of months. Check out their website for more information about classes and other offerings. If you can make it, it is truly worth your time. See http://www.regenerativedesign.org.

Healthcare Future is Bright

I spent this past weekend in San Diego at board meetings for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org).  Meetings, by their very nature, drive me a little crazy. I just get antsy. Even the most riveting of meetings. I should remember to take my knitting.

I have to say, since was appointed and subsequently re-elected, I have been blessed to spend several weekends each year with some of the most brilliant, large-minded, compassionate people in the naturopathic profession.

We have moved to the governance model of leadership, therefore we struggle at times with our transition. But overall it will serve the AANP and the profession much better. Instead of doing staff work, we are now engaged in thinking and visioning and looking to the future. I am so excited to say that I feel the future is very bright for naturopathic medicine.

As people struggle in our current healthcare system, naturopathic medicine offers what is missing – compassionate and effective care, along with prevention at a price we can afford.

I have also taken on the job of the convention chair, so be listening for our upcoming call for abstracts. The 2009 conference will be held in Tacoma, WA and the theme is “Physician, Heal thy Planet.” Naturopathic medicine is a perfect blend with environmentalism. We are very excited about how this will shape up.