Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why eat organic foods?

Click on the link: Why eat organic foods?

more to come......

another site -

Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic. The solution? Focus on just those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones. Whenever possible, deploy your organic spending power to buy organic versions of the following foods (in no particular order). Can't find organic versions of these foods? In some cases, we've listed safer alternatives that contain similar valuable vitamins and minerals.

1. Meat. Contrary to a widely reported "fact," meat typically contains less pesticide residue than plant-based foods, according to Debra Edwards, the director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.

That said, raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease and pesticides to grow the grain fed to the animals. As the EPA puts it in an Ag 101 feature, "Antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones are organic compounds which are used in animal feeding operations and may pose risks if they enter the environment."

Consumers looking to avoid meats raised with these substances can seek out certified organic meat. To meet USDA standards, this meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics.

Publications as varied as the Wall Street Journal, in its 2007 When Buying Organic Makes Sense and When It Doesn’t, and Consumers Union, in its 2006 Tips on Buying Organics Without Breaking the Bank, recommend seeking out organic meats when possible.

2. Milk. Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in human breast milk, so it should come as no surprise that they have been found in dairy products. While any residues detected have been rare, and of low concentration, milk is of special concern because it is a staple of children's diets.

Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.

3. Coffee. Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the Fair Trade Certified Organic label on the coffee package or can; it will give you some assurance that chemicals and pesticides were not used on the plants. It will also mean that fair prices were paid for the end product in support of the farm and that farm workers are treated fairly.

4. Peaches. Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

5. Apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

6. Sweet bell peppers. Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed and victim to pesticides commonly used to keep them insect-free. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

7. Celery. Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: broccoli, radishes and onions.

8. Strawberries. If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and pineapples.

9. Lettuces. Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

10. Grapes. Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and raspberries.

11. Potatoes. America's popular spud ranks high for pesticide residue. It also gets the double whammy of fungicides added to the soil for growing. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

12. Tomatoes. A tomato's easily punctured skin is no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate it. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and asparagus.

If the cost of buying all organics isn't within your budget, fear not. Check out The Daily Green's top ten list of fruit and vegetables you don't need to buy organic, with tips for buying and how to clean, store and use them in delicious recipes.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Forum Etiquette

I am suppose to be writing my annual Christmas letter today, but instead I got caught up in a long email discussion on forum-based etiquette. This one poor old clueless lady got into an argument on a forum, and then starting posting people's personal email replies to her on the public forum. After a day of this, it got to be so bad that they had to take the forum off-line so noone could post. Thankfully, my friendly but not written for public consumption emails to her were not posted on the forum because it was already after they took the forum off-line - but she did try to post them!

*Disclaimer/update - Actually, the list was experiencing technical difficulties, so they did finally post. My emails were "friendly" and written with good intent, but they were not written for public consumption - in other words, when I wrote them, I did not write them to be read by important professional people who are members of this particular listserv. I am not going to post those particular emails on this blog, because I am truly embarrassed by them. This is definitely in my top ten of embarrassing moments. At least, it was not my fault that they were posted!

So here are my emails to her to try to explain why everyone was so upset. I am not including her emails or replies to me or even the forum, because I do not have permission to do so.

This is just one of those things that really "got my goat" so I was a bit long-winded in my reply.

So what do you think about it all? Leave a comment and let me know - am I right in all this?


Email #1

I just realized that all your email posts on your replies were actually personal emails to you, and not just emails to the entire list. In other words, you did not have permission of the author of those emails to post it in a public forum. In fact, I am a member of several "group/discussion" lists, and I have never seen a person post personal emails of other people on a forum. I think that if s/he did, the moderator would quickly remove him/her from the list. I think you are trampling on people's right to privacy when you post people's personal replies to you on a public forum without their permission. If they wanted their reply to you on a public forum, they would "reply all" instead of "reply sender". That is simply implied in the basics of forum discussion boards. I do believe that you have the right to send an offensive email to the moderator for review, but not to the entire forum. It would be like sending a letter in the mail to a friend, and then having the friend xerox copy it and send it to all her friends. A friend would never do that. It is just common courtesy not to do that to a stranger either. I believe that this is morally not right.

Sincerely, Melissa

Email #2

But the emails I sent you were not posts. I did not send them to the forum. They are not on record on the listserv. They are only on your gmail server. They are in your personal gmail box. No one would ask you for your personal email records. They are personal, not public. That is the whole point. I don't think you know enough about internet forum etiquette to be posting on a forum. Thankfully, I believe all the forum-based emails are now being filtered through the moderator because of you, and the moderator will not allow personal emails to be posted without the authors permission. If you belong to any other forum, for your own sake, please do not post people's personal emails to you on a public forum. You will be kicked off. People write completely differently in a private email than they do in a public one. Internet etiquette allows you to forward any offensive email to the moderator, and the moderator will then either intermediate or kick off the offensive party. But its still considered a private matter between you, the offensive party, and the moderator. Its not for the entire public forum. Basically, you will not be allowed to post people's personal emails to you. It is not considered good manners on a internet forum.

Email #3

I believe that when the subject line reads re:anything, it is for you to know what the subject is about, and is just a courtesy matter so you will know what the email is regarding. I do not believe that it connects itself to the post in any way.
Basically, private emails are not for public records. No one even knows how many private emails you received because of your posting. They do not show up anywhere in a public way, and no one will ask you for private emails regarding certain posts. They are in your gmail box, and there they will stay unless YOU put it out there on the forum. Noone else has access to them but you.
Regarding public officials, they seem to want the public business discussed in work emails to be made public. Not private friend emails from their home-based computer. Private emails to you, even if generated because of a post on a public forum, is in no way considered "public business". They are considered private, friend-based emails. Even if they are offensive.

As I have said before, when people email you privately, they are expecting/assuming/implying that those emails should stay private. I think that most people do not post other people's private emails under the assumption that it is just "not done" and that it would be rude and inconsiderate. It is one of those cultural things that everyone assumes that everyone else knows. I am replying to your email now, because I tend to be a helpful, librarian-type person. ;) I belong to around 10-15 forums, and I have never come across this problem. If I did, I would naturally email the moderator stating my outrage that the person was posting my private emails. I suspect that is what happened in this case. All the people that you posted their private emails to you probably went immediately to the moderator and complained. And now I suspect that the forum has been taken off-line in order for them to deal with this problem.

As far as the offensive email is concerned, I do believe that it was more offensive that you posted it so that everyone inadvertently read a cuss word when they were not expecting a cuss word on a public forum. I think the other emails to you were expressing their outrage that you would post a cuss word on a forum that was sent to you privately. That person who sent it to you definitely did not send it to a public forum. Only you sent it. So basically, you sent a cuss word to a public forum. No one else did this. Just you. Noone else had access to it except you. That is why they are all upset with YOU.

Basically, sometimes you will get very nasty emails sent to you privately that were generated by a topic on a public forum - even Christian ladies forums. :) The only correct thing to do is bring it to the moderator's attention, or work it out privately between yourselves. If you do not want to belong to a public forum that might possibly cause you to be sent offensive emails, then I suggest you unsubscribe, and just not belong to any public forum. It has happened to all of us, and is just the nature of the beast. You just move on, and make friendships (through both private emails and public posts) with all the nice people on the forum, and ignore all silly/ignorant people on the forum. I enjoy belonging to all my forums, and have made many "internet" friendships with people through the forums. But as I said before, I would never post a personal email to me from them on a public forum without their permission. Sometimes, I have actually asked their permission, ie. That is a great reply - I think it might benefit everybody - could I post your reply on the forum, or would you post the reply on the forum? - and then if I receive a reply back giving me permission, I would cut and paste the permission emails as well as the beneficial email to post on the forum, to show that I followed proper protocol, and that noone has the possibility of being embarrassed or getting their feelings hurt.

If for some reason you do want to reply to their email on the public forum, then you would just cut out their part, and only post your own reply in your own words.

This is a long email I know, but I just wanted to make sure you understood where everybody was probably coming from, and why they were so confused, upset and hurt by you posting their private emails to you on the forum. Especially those who did not send you an offensive email, but was just trying to be friendly, and you tried to post their/my emails to you on the forum.

I hope this helps you. Don't be surprised if other people email you saying the same thing. ;) I expect a lot of people will be expecting you to apologize for putting their private emails to you on a public forum. That's up to you, of course. What I've been trying to say in a really long-winded way is that most people would find that your crime of posting private emails that were not meant to be seen by the public was more offensive than someone writing to you with a cuss word. Just know that you have probably upset a lot of people, including me.


PS. I am posting my replies to you on my blog. I will not be posting your replies to me, because I have not received your permission to do so.

Email #4

I am sure all this will be cleared up when you speak with the moderator. I think we might be having a "generation gap" problem, because it flabbergasts me still, and others that I spoke to, that you would think it was ok to post personal emails on a forum without the author's permission. That is what it boils down to. Whether or not it was a public or private forum. No one of my generation -early 30s - would ever think that was ok, as we have grown up with the internet and all its social myriad of rules and regulations. They really should publish a book about the social rules of the internet, for those who do not know the internet very well. Or maybe there is one out there....I know I read an article about it once.

It is obvious that the moderator doesn't think its ok either, as the list is now off-line as they sort through all the emails pertaining to this matter. It doesn't matter whether people "like" you or not, it is simply not "done" to paste personal emails on any type of forum without the author's permission - sorta like copyright issues, if you want to look at it that way.

Oh well, I guess we will just have to disagree, and I highly doubt you will be let back on the forum if you can't follow the rules.
Please keep in mind that if you post personal emails on any type of forum in the future, you will probably be kicked off by the moderator, because people will not tolerate that type of behavior.
In other words, with the people that I have discussed this with, they believe what you did was a worse crime than those who sent the offensive emails. So you have exposed nothing but your own behavior.
Its been an interesting discussion, and I will probably continue to discuss the issue among my friends. You should discuss it among your friends, and see what they have to say.

Email #5:

I think that is the heart of the matter, that is where we completely disagree.
Private emails sent to you are not "open records". I do not know of anyone
except you who would think that they were. Those private emails are only in
your box, and in the author's email box. They are on no public server whatsoever.
Therefore, they are not open records. They only became open records when you
decided to try to post them to the forum. And then you discovered that caused complete chaos, so much so that they had to take the list off-line.
Once again, please discuss this matter with your colleagues, friends and
relatives. I think you will be surprised to find that most will agree
with my stance on the matter. I have yet to find anyone who agrees with
Anyway, thanks for replying. I have enjoyed our discussion. And I have
been a lot more candid with you this way than I would ever be on the list.

Email #6:

This listserv is provided through a publicly funded organization - you are correct there. So, e-mails sent to the list are technically open records - you are correct there. However, an e-mail send from my e-mail address to yours does not go to or through the forum/listserv.

It therefore has nothing whatsoever to do with the publicly funded organization except that I got your e-mail address from the list. I may be contacting you about a subject that is being discussed on the list, but I am contacting only you, not the list.

Only e-mails sent to the list/forum are public. Period. Anything else is a message from one individual to another. The e-mails you sent to the list to which people objected were originally sent to you - to a private address. Whether they were about the list or from people who are members of the list does not matter. They were not sent to the list and therefore are not public.

Here's how it works. Think of the discussion list like a group of people sitting at a big conference table. When you send a message or a reply to the list - it's like talking aloud to the entire group. Everyone can hear, anyone can reply.

Now, if I send an e-mail directly to you, I send it to your email, not to the list. It's as if, while sitting at the table, I passed you a note. This message only goes to you.

If you reply to the e-mail I sent you by sending it to the list - it's as though you opened the note, read it and then read it out loud to the whole table and responded out loud to the whole table as well.

Now, if I had wanted the whole table to hear what I was passing to you in a note, I would have spoken out loud. I sent you a private note because I wanted to have a private conversation. Otherwise, why not just send the message to the whole group?

The whole purpose of sending a direct e-mail to another person on the list and not to the whole list is to say something that is intended only for that person. This is a perfectly acceptable practice and goes on all the time. Private e-mails are not public records. They are a way for members of a list to have conversations between themselves without cluttering the conversation going on amongst everyone else with their own discussion.

Particularly, if you got a note from someone at the table and you were upset or offended by it, you would not interrupt everyone at the table to tell that person what you thought. The polite thing to do would be to indicate to that person that you wanted to go outside and have your conversation there. That's pretty much what you do by keeping a discussion only in private e-mails.You are preventing your one-on-one conversation from interfering with the group discussion.

The way you report an offensive e-mail is to send it to the moderator. The way you annoy everyone on the list is to send the offensive e-mail to the list. These are not Presidential records, nor are they open records. They are private communications by their very nature. Because they were not treated as such, now no one can post to the list. You've caused a great deal of trouble by not adhering to simple etiquette - which granted, you may not have understood - and you need to realize your mistake and change your behavior. If you continue on the way that you have, you will most likely not be welcome on any type of listserv, public or private, or any type of forum, public or private.
Forums and Listservs are wonderful tools for discussion, and I would hate for you to have to miss out.


Blog Rolls

Laura Williams' Musings: Rid Your Home of Fleas

Laura Williams' Musings: Rid Your Home of Fleas

Blog Contest LINKS

Wow, there are so many blog contests out there - and usually by women who have the most amazing websites or blogs. How do they find the time? Beautiful! So here are all the links to some amazing contests. God bless!

Lots of Blog contest LINKS:
(be sure to include my name on the entry form)



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Black Friday 2007

Ok, for me, Black Friday has always been one of my favorite shopping days of the year. I love the excitement of getting up early and shopping amidst the crowds. And no, I'm not being facetious or sarcastic, I really do love it. On Thanksgiving afternoon, while the boys watch football, my mom, my sister and I look through all the ads. This year, though, we are doing the three in one day (heartfelt sigh) Thanksgiving so I thought I would look up the ads early. So here are some of the more interesting Black Friday ads.

Black Friday Websites:

Best Buy Weblink

Best Buy is one of those where you have to be there before 7 or you will be in a really long line. I've only gone to Best Buy once (there were four items that I wanted, so it was worth it) and stood in line for an hour and a half. Which was actually sorta fun - I talked to all the other people in line! After noon, however, then there are no lines, and they often still have the non-doorbusters in stock. I think they also restock before evening - I have picked up an item there at 9 pm on Black Friday before.

Office Depot Weblink

I'm sorry, but Office Depot has been plagued the last few years with a really bad Thanksgiving ad, plus the rebate disease. This is most likely the reason why they are never busy on Thanksgiving - you can pop in and out quickly at this store. At least, I have for the last four years. There are a few deals on the back of the ad you might want to check out.

Office Max
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

This was a bit disappointing for me - last year they had a ton of stuff! And last year, they were cured of the rebate disease - but this year, it looks like they caught it again! A nice idea - DVD storage tower - $25. They also have the Galaxy audio storage tower for $40 - we got this two years ago to hold our cable box, Tivo, DVD player and VCR. Its wonderful!


I do like Target. :) I usually buy a blanket every Black Friday from Target for around $20 - you can never have too many blankets.


Hmmmm, this year they have a 4 Gb Flash Drive for $18 - the same one is at Best Buy (but their Black Friday special for it is $28) so that is a super deal. And a Notebook cooling fan for $10. Looks like it might be worth going to Staples this year......

So check out the Black Friday ads (some stuff you can even buy online). And tell me some of your great finds/buys!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Above Rubies Retreat

Add Image

Last weekend I went to an Above Rubies retreat in Arkansas. It was a beautiful time of the year, and I was able to take tons of pictures of autumn. As well as people pictures, of course!
A bit about the conference:
There were 79 ladies there, 59 of which had never been to an Above Rubies retreat.
One lady came all the way from Nigeria!
Others came from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and even Illinois! And of course, Arkansas!
We stayed at the 4H Conference Center in hotel-style rooms next to this gorgeous pond, surrounded by woods.
The meetings and fellowship times were wonderful and rewarding. Its always great to hear Nancy Campbell - she's a very dynamic speaker.
Her daughters, Pearl and Serene (of the christian band Considering Lily) sang along with Pearl's daughter Meadow (11) who has a pure, sweet voice.
They just came out with a lullaby album that is too precious for words.
Everything was beautiful, and incredibly relaxing to all the mothers.
I went for a long walk on Saturday afternoon, praying to the Lord, and taking lots of pictures.
I highly encourage you to participate next year, or find an Above Rubies retreat near you!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Steel Cut Oatmeal

So I was inspired by the following article to make Steel Cut Oatmeal. This means actually putting something on the stove and letting it cook for 30 minutes. For you fellow microwave aficionados out there, you know what I'm talking about. I probably then put too much brown sugar, maple syrup, and honey (yes, I have a sweet tooth) on it to be that healthy, but at least it was all organic. And it was very tasty - and the texture really was different! Next time, I'll put fruit in it instead of all that organic sugar. ;)
All I can say is if I can do it, so can you. Oh, and I bought the O Organic brand (bought at Tom Thumb) of Steel Cut Oats.

Breakfast for the Brain
By Evangeline Johnson
Primm Springs, TN

I've been thinking, its not the hand that rocks the cradle that rules that world, but it's the hand that rocks the mind that rules the world. So.....what did you feed your children's minds this morning?
What are you actually feeding their brains? No. I'm not talking about your little devotion. I am talking about your chocolate-covered, multi-dyed sugar-fortified, mineral-refined breakfast cereals. A poor breakfast!
Think of brains. Brains are more important than brawn. But even brawn doesn't do well on those cereals. And while I have the floor, don't skip breakfast. They say no breakfast is worse than a poor breakfast.
In order for the brain to function at its ultimate peak, it has to be nourished, comforted and energized. In this state, there is no telling what a brain can learn or accomplish. Brainpower can be increased! Intelligence released!
After years of breakfasts of yogurt and fruit, millet, rolled oats, smoothies or eggs, all of which are wonderful foods, we are presently settling our stomachs on a long forgotten meal - steel cut oats. No, not rolled oats, not oat groats, but steel-cut oats.
How do you prepare it?
Add three cups water to one cup steel oats and simmer for 30-45 minutes, adding more water as required to get the right consistency. Double the quantity if you have a large family. If you desire, add cultured butter for mineral assimilation and a tad of honey for taste. Serve with milk or cream (raw if possible). Oh yum. It is nutty. Flavorful. Chewy, yet soft. Not slimy like rolled oats. If you like, add two raw egg yolks (free-range, don't eat chemical eggs, thank you) at the end. This adds to mental development. Eggs are traditionally accepted as the ultimate brain power. It makes me want to have a chicken coop right now!
For the ultimate absorption of enzymes and minerals, soak the oats overnight with four tablespoons of whey, lemon juice or cider vinegar. This neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acids coat grains and inhibit the absorption of minerals.
Steel-cut Oats is one of the highest protein grains. It turns on metabolism, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Oats contribute to strength, endurance, energy, beauty and mental alertness. It is rich in B Vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and is one of the lowest grains in gluten.
You can purchase steel cut oats from the supermarket or purchase by bulk (far cheaper) from a food co-op. Check the internet.
Once a week I drive to the Amish and I buy my raw milk and cream for the week. Raw is the best as it contains the enzymes to break down milk protein.
Supplement your breakfast with a good quality fish oil every couple of days and watch the difference.
Pass me another bowl please!
your friend, Vangi

Mercury in Fish

To me, mercury is just not okay. Its bad enough that I have dental amalgams that contain mercury. Now, you can barely eat fish more than once a month (and I just love sushi). Here is a great article that finally tells all women, especially pregnant women, how dangerous fish is. And I've decided to just avoid tuna all together. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consider avoiding all fish, and just take purified fish oil supplements.

Fish Food: The Lowdown on Mercury

By: ePregnancy

FishFood_img1 Government recommendations for fish consumption could expose more than one in four expectant mothers -- 1 million women -- to enough mercury to put the health of their fetuses at risk, according to a new investigation released today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). The report examines widespread mercury contamination in fish species caught and sold commercially.

To protect public health the report recommends that pregnant women not eat any quantity of 13 types of fish, and strictly limit consumption of 10 others, including canned tuna. The report also asks government health authorities to test and track mercury levels in pregnant women -- and to expand education for pregnant women about the hazards of mercury and how they can reduce their exposure.

"The government's recommendations are not grounded in reality. For example, they say the average woman can safely eat the equivalent of 76 cans of tuna during her pregnancy. In the real world, eating more than about one can of tuna a month during pregnancy is risky," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's Research Director.

FishFood_img2"Women are faced with an unacceptable trade-off -- fish are a rich source of protein during pregnancy, but mercury pollution has made many types of fish a considerable health risk to their babies," said Jeremiah Baumann, environmental health advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "Our government agencies are not only failing to provide adequately protective warnings to expectant mothers, but are failing even to track human exposure to mercury and the developmental and learning problems that it causes."

Mercury is toxic to the developing fetal brain, and exposure in the womb can cause learning deficiencies and can delay mental development in children. A committee of the National Academy of Sciences recommended last year that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tighten its safety standards for mercury in fish.

The analysis released today accounts for the real differences among American women and their risks from mercury exposure, rather than relying on a hypothetical average. The information on mercury in people was combined with a one-of-a-kind EWG database on fish that contains 56,000 records of mercury test results in fish from seven different government sources. The EWG/PIRG report also reviews state governments' mercury advisories and finds that while some states are better than others, virtually none provides thorough protection for pregnant women.

Which Fish Is Safe to Eat?

The FDA advises pregnant women and women considering pregnancy to eat 12 ounces of fish per week and to entirely avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. However, this advice is based on calculations intended to protect a 150-pound man. Half of American women weigh less than that and a developing fetus is much more sensitive to the health impacts of mercury than a grown man.

What the FDA Says...
The FDA recommendation also does not account for the mercury already present in a woman's body before she becomes pregnant. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported 10% of American women of childbearing age -- some 7 million women -- already have mercury in their blood at levels that the National Academy of Sciences considers potentially unsafe for the developing fetus. The CDC's findings were issued two months after FDA's latest fish standards were announced.

Some groups are urging the EPA to crack down on the main culprit for mercury contamination, coal-burning power plants. Mercury emissions from these plants are currently completely unregulated. There is also no comprehensive program for tracking mercury exposure and related health conditions. Federal decision makers should require power plants to reduce their mercury pollution by 90% and ultimately move away from polluting sources of power altogether. In addition, a nationwide environmental health tracking network would be a critical step in assessing the impact of mercury contamination on human health.

  • Pregnant women, nursing mothers and all women of childbearing age, should not eat tuna steaks, sea bass, oysters from the Gulf Coast, marlin, halibut, pike, walleye, white croaker, and largemouth bass. These are in addition to FDA's recommendation to entirely avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
  • These women should eat no more than one meal per month combined of canned tuna, mahi-mahi, blue mussel, Eastern oyster, cod, pollock, salmon from the Great Lakes, blue crab from the Gulf of Mexico, wild channel catfish and lake whitefish.
  • The following fish are safer choices for avoiding mercury exposure: farmed trout or catfish, shrimp, fish sticks, flounder, wild Pacific salmon, croaker, haddock, and blue crab from the mid-Atlantic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Everyone knows at least three people with this condition, which makes sense, since 1 out of 4 people have it. Here are some websites and some help on the subject. If you have a blog or a forum or know a good website on IBS, please contact me or leave a comment.

Common general Natural help for IBS:

Peppermint Oil - you have to be careful with this stuff, though - most prefer drinking it in tea.
Peppermint Oil Fact Sheet

Probiotics - a really good acidolphilus. You might want to try several brands - there were a few that did not agree with me - I personally prefer the Garden of Life Probiotic - it seems to work well.

Partially Hydrolized Guar Gum - I don't know anything about this, but it was recommended

A Good Digestive/Enzyme help - a cheap one that worked for me was the generic brand at The Vitamin Shoppe, but others have recommended the Garden of Life brand.

Also, please be aware that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, splenda, saccharin) can trigger diarrhea, gas, and cramps, especially in IBS-prone people.

Eliminating sodas from your diet can greatly help with gas. Drink tea (especially with peppermint oil) instead. Ice-cold beverages on an empty stomach can trigger GI spasms, whereas the heat in hot teas is in and of itself a muscle relaxant.

Artichoke extract appears quite helpful in IBS. The evidence is provided by the results of several studies in patients with various digestive disorders including symptoms associated with IBS. Artichoke extract appears to be most helpful for abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, lack of appetite, and nausea. I would give the enteric-coated peppermint oil a try first, however. The dosage for artichoke extract is 300 to 600 mg three times daily. Cited

Omega-3 Factors - A true pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement. Take two capsules daily.

Thus far, research suggests that certain nutrients may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in certain individuals. These nutrients include turmeric, or curcumin, certain probiotics, and artichoke leaf extract.

Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome by using ginger - I have suffered from IBS for many years now and find that chewing on crystalized ginger after each meal is very helpful. Ginger is well known to treat a large number of illnesses.

Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome using coconut - Try and use as much coconut products in your meals and cooking as possible. Use coconut oil to fry or coconut cream in your curries or chew on raw coconut as a tasty healthy snack. The coconut will give you more fibre and help slow down the bowel.

Treat Irritable bowel syndrome using lemon and lime - When you have severe abdominal cramps cuased by irritable bowel syndrome simply squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime. Mix them together and drink. Do not add any sweetner!

Treat Irritable bowel syndrome using rice and peppermint - Bring to the boil 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice. Simmer on low untill the liquid becomes milky. Drain the liquid from the rice and add 10 drops of peppermint to the liquid. Drink a glass as symtoms appear

Slippery Elm is an herb used to assist with diarrhea. It normalizes the stools and soothes, coats and heals the entire digestive tract. Slippery Elm should be taken with lots of water.

Alfalfa or Chlorophyll are colon scrubbing herbs, which can help immensely with constipation problems. These also neutralize gas in the stomach and colon.

Cascara Sagrada is one of the strongest herbal laxatives. It promotes activity in the bowel muscles, so this could cause a bit of cramping, but it's not an irritant or a purgative.

Peppermint is an herb that works wonderfully for gas, bloating and stomach pains caused by indigestion. This herb will cause the gas to pass out of your body.

Garlic will also help expel gas from your system, and it has the added benefit of being able to help your colon rid itself of mucus and parasites which could be causing some of the IBS problems. Additionally garlic is an infection fighting herb, so if there are harmful bacteria in your colon causing the IBS, the garlic can help rid your body of them.

You may choose to buy some grapefruit seed extract from your local healthfood store instead. Grapefruit Seed Extract is available in capsules and in a liquid too. Studies have shown that this natural treatment helps minimize the symptoms that are associated with IBS. It treats diarrhea, constipation, gas, and cramps

What to eat:

“If you eat a lot of cooked protein, hydrogenated oils, concentrated sugars or other foods that are hard to digest, your colon can react—and not nicely,” says Dr. Klaper. He advises that those with IBS avoid meats, dairy products, greasy snack foods, spicy fare and sweets. At the first sign of a flare-up and during the time the colon is inflamed, build your meals around easy-to-digest foods such as rice, sweet potatoes, well-steamed green and yellow vegetables and bananas, he suggests. Then after the bowel inflammation subsides, he says, you can start adding new foods to your daily diet, one at a time every 48 hours. This way, he explains, you can watch for any ill effects of the new foods.

Local Naturapathic Doctors: I just found these on the web, don't know anything about them.

Sharon Rabb, Ph.D., ND, MPH, CNC
Dallas, TX
Phone: 214-353-0385
Email: drsrabb[at]
Areas of Emphasis: Chronic Disease Specialist, Cancer, Heart Problems, Arthritis, Diabetes, Aids, Weight Management, Aging Reversal, Eating disorders, Stress and Pain Management. Certified in Contact Reflex Analysis

Stacy Dunn, MSOM, ND
4230 Avondale Ave, ste 100
Dallas, Texas 75219

Phone: 214.520.8108 Fax: 214.520.9584
Email: stacydunn[at]
Areas of Emphasis: Acupuncture, Attention Deficit Disorder, Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Clinical Nutrition, Diabetes, Family Practice, Homeopathy, Neurological Diseases, Pain Management, Psychiatric Disorders, Women's Health

Websites that recommend Natural remedies to IBS:

Side Effects of Herbs for IBS:

Chat Rooms/Forums for support:

Excerpts from the websites listed above:

Probiotics are particularly effective when your gut is under assault from antibiotics, though they can also be helpful when taken for daily maintenance. Quite a few research studies have shown that probiotics can dramatically improve irritable bowel syndrome. The problem is that other studies have found that many retail brands of probiotics don't actually contain any live cultures at all, and are thus worthless. Though probiotic supplements are widely available at drug and health food stores, it can be difficult to know if the brand you're buying is high quality and really does contain live cultures. Probiotic supplements should be taken with food. Go Here

Calcium and Magnesium play critical and antagonistic roles in regulating muscle function. Together they provide the mechanism for muscle contraction and relaxation.

In terms of GI tract function, calcium has a constipating effect, whereas magnesium acts as a laxative. As a result, calcium supplements can be truly beneficial for people with diarrhea-predominant IBS, and magnesium supplements can work wonders for IBS-constipation. Remember that calcium can block iron absorption in the body and contribute to anemia, so women who take calcium supplements may want to take an iron supplement at a different time of day. Calcium and magnesium should both be taken with food.

To take a calcium/magnesium supplement that will keep your bowel function in balance, it's typically recommended to use a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, as many people absorb magnesium more easily than calcium. I wouldn't exceed the USRDA for calcium or magnesium, taken either singly or together, without an explicit recommendation from your physician.

Digestive Enzymes can be helpful when taken right before a meal, especially if there is more fat in that meal than is safe for IBS. Enzymes are available at all health food stores and may be of more benefit to older people, as natural digestive enzyme production declines with age.

For gassy foods such as beans, lentils, and many vegetables, there is Beano, a brand-name digestive enzyme. Beano contains the sugar-digesting enzyme that the body needs (and which some people lack) to digest the complex sugar raffinose. If you have trouble digesting raffinose the sugar will ferment in your colon, producing gas and intestinal distress. Beano breaks down raffinose into simple sugars that cause no GI discomfort. Beano is available at health food stores in either tablets or drops, and is simply taken at the beginning of a meal. There are no side effects unless you have a rare sensitivity or allergy, and the product can be used every day. Go Here

it's also important that the following diseases are excluded before you accept a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

Colon and carcinoid cancer
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis)
Bowel obstructions
Diverticulosis / Diverticulitis
Gallbladder Problems
Food allergies
Celiac (a genetic, autoimmune disorder resulting in gluten intolerance)
Bacterial infections
Intestinal parasites
Ovarian cancer

As a rule, all possible physical, structural, and infectious abnormalities of the GI tract need to be unquestionably eliminated before you agree to an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosis. This requires a physical examination, preferably by a board-certified gastroenterologist. The medical tests needed to rule out disorders other than IBS will depend upon your age, health history, family health background, and specific symptoms. Go Here

The problem is, it isn't a single food that causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. It's ANY food that is high in fat, insoluble fiber, caffeine, coffee (even decaf), carbonation, or alcohol. Why? Because all of these food categories are either GI stimulants or irritants, and can cause violent reactions of your gastrocolic reflex. This directly affects the muscles in your colon and can lead to pain, constipation AND diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

Some Causes of IBS: They speculate that it may arise as a result of stress or diet, with the symptoms of IBS usually beginning around age 20.1 Some believe that one major cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be heavy metal toxicity, particularly from mercury dental amalgams. Others suggest that IBS may occur from overuse of antibiotics, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies (particularly a lack of magnesium), and/or chronic fungal infection, such as Candida. IBS may also stem from hypercoagulability, or thick blood, a circulatory disorder that lowers the blood flow to the small and large intestines. Cited

Some Ideas for IBS:
  • Add healthy saturated fats such as organic extra virgin coconut oil to encourage healthy bowel movements. Read more about good fats and bad fats.
  • Add foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ground flax meal, wild-caught salmon, minimal-mercury albacore tuna, walnuts, fish oil, and sprouted walnuts.
  • Add nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods such as sprouted nuts and seeds to your diet.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day, rather than 3 large, heavy meals.
  • Increase your daily intake of purified water, especially in between meals.
  • Avoid drinking ice-cold water with meals. Ice-cold water slows down your digestion and lowers the amount of stomach acid (HCl), which is greatly needed to digest your food.
  • Stay away from over-the-counter laxatives. These contain chemicals and herbs (such as psyllium) that induce bowel movements quickly (and sometimes violently) by irritating your bowel. They can cause cramps and diarrhea and lead to laxative dependence, followed by worse problems with constipation.
  • Fiber – Maintain an adequate source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps you maintain regularity by combining with food to form a gel that adds bulk and keeps the muscles of the colon stretched and working. Foods high in soluble fiber include:
Irritable bowel syndrome diet
It's difficult to come up with a diet that would work in most people with irritable bowel syndrome. However, consider making some of the following diet changes: cut back on sugar, cut back on dairy products, especially milk, and consider eliminating certain foods.
People with irritable bowel syndrome have high levels of antibodies that indicate they are allergic to common foods like wheat, beef, pork, and lamb. The idea of food allergy as a cause is supported by studies that systematically eliminated certain dietary components and then reintroduced them to see how symptoms were affected. In one study, researchers compared levels of antibodies to common foods in 108 patients with irritable bowel syndrome and a comparison group of 43 unaffected "control" subjects. As well as the antibody measurements, the researchers also conducted skin prick testing to 16 common foods including milk, eggs, cheese, wheat, rice, potatoes, various meats, and soya beans. Antibody levels to wheat, beef, pork, lamb and soya beans were significantly higher in IBS patients, and tended to be higher for egg yolk and egg white. However, there was no significant correlation between symptom severity and frequency and antibody levels. Nonetheless, the researchers note that elevated levels of food-specific antibodies have been seen in asthma, which suggests there could be a similar process going on in irritable bowel syndrome. SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, July 2005. Cited

According to Dr. Natasha Turner, ND, Vice President of Natural Medicine- from a naturopathic viewpoint the symptoms of IBS may be related to five key areas:
1. Food allergies - The most common food allergies are wheat, dairy, citrus, soy, gluten (the protein in rye, wheat and oats), corn and soy. Avoid all of the previous mentioned foods for a period of time of about two to three weeks. Then re-introduce one new food every couple of days. See if symptoms return or there is a negative reaction when re-introducing a food. Alcohol, coffee, tea and smoking can also be stimulants to the bowel and should be avoided.
2. Deficiency of enzymes - Enzymes are present in saliva and are released from the pancreas to assist in breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Stomach acid works to help break down foods.
3. Improper bacterial balance - If you have taken antibiotics previously, tend to overeat carbohydrates or take corticosteroids, you may have yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract and need to kill off bad bacteria in order regain healthy bacterial levels in the digestive tract.
4. Stress - Anxiety, depression and stress tend to be associated with IBS. Feeling down may happen due to upsetting bowel symptoms, but may also suddenly occur and aggravate the problems. IBS symptoms may also increase stress because of fears that a person has a serious disease.
5. Irritation of the digestive tract wall - If there is an imbalance of any of the above listed items, the digestive tract walls may become irritated and very sensitive and need to be healed and soothed. Cited

Natural Home Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome can be treated by avoiding certain foods, by taking medications, and by making lifestyle changes. Home remedies from your kitchen are another way to treat IBS symptoms.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Oat bran. Increasing fiber is a cure for almost every intestinal ill, and oat bran is especially good for IBS because it's mild and usually colon-friendly. So use some every day: a bowl of oatmeal, oat bran bread, oatmeal cookies. But don't expect immediate results. It may take up to a month to get any IBS relief.
Home Remedies from the Sink
Water. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is important, especially if you have diarrhea or are increasing your fiber intake.
Home Remedies From the Fridge
Cabbage. Juice of the cabbage soothes the symptoms of intestinal ills. To turn this veggie into juice, simply wash and put through a juicer or blender. If these are not available to you, cook the cabbage in a very small amount of water -- just enough to keep it from scorching or burning -- until very mushy. Then pulverize with a fork or mixer.
Eating pears may help relieve IBS symptoms.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Eating pears may help
to relieve IBS symptoms.

Carrots. These little gems help prevent the symptoms of IBS as well as regulate diarrhea and constipation. Eat them raw, by themselves or in salads, or eat them cooked -- steamed and tossed with a little melted butter and brown sugar for a sweet treat. You can put raw carrots through the juicer, too. Since they're not a juicy veggie to begin with, add a little pure apricot nectar when you make carrot juice. Any way you eat a carrot is fine, just don't overcook them so much that you boil out all the goodness.
Lettuce. You can eat it raw to relieve symptoms of IBS, but it's especially helpful if lightly steamed. And when you're picking out your lettuce, go for the darker varieties. The darker the color, the more nutrients it contains.
Pears. Fresh, ripe, sweet pears are a nutritious fruit that also helps relieve the symptoms of IBS. Buy them when they're still hard and let them ripen at room temperature for a few days. Pure pear juice and dried pears are also helpful in treating this intestinal woe.
Yogurt. Yogurt with active cultures will supply your digestive tract with the helpful kind of bacteria, which can ease IBS symptoms. You can also try mixing 1 cup yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon psyllium husks (or psyllium bulk you can buy in any pharmacy) and eating the mixture one hour after meals.
Home Remedies From the Spice Rack
Fennel seeds. These can relieve the intestinal spasms associated with IBS. They may also aid in the elimination of fats from the digestive system, inhibiting the over-production of mucus in the intestine, which is a symptom of the ailment. Steep the seeds into a tea by adding 1/2 teaspoon fennel to 1 cup boiling water. Or add them to veggies such as carrots or cabbage, both of which soothe IBS symptoms. You can also sprinkle the seeds on salads or roast them and snack on them after a meal to reduce the symptoms of IBS and freshen your breath. To roast, spritz a baking sheet with olive oil, then cover with fennel seeds. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Flaxseed. Make a tea using 1 teaspoon flaxseed per cup of water, and drink at bedtime for relief of symptoms.
Peppermint. Several studies have shown that peppermint can reduce IBS symptoms, particularly when cramping and diarrhea are major problems. These studies have primarily involved capsules of peppermint essential oil (0.2 mL menthol) and have found that 1 capsule taken with each meal offers the best results. Steeped into a nice, relaxing tea, dried peppermint can relieve intestinal spasms. Use 1 heaping teaspoon dried peppermint, and steep in 1 cup boiling water for ten minutes. Peppermint can exacerbate heartburn, but there are no other side effects.
Irritable bowel syndrome need not be a condition that prevents you from leading a normal life. If you learn to manage IBS and try these home remedies, you can remain both pain-free and carefree. Cited

Fertility/Infertility Herbs and Vitamins - Article

Restoring Fertility With Vitamins And Herbs

by Jill E. Stansbury, N.D.

In one of life's ironies, every night, millions of men and women use
condoms, diaphragms and other contraceptives to avoid pregnancy.
Meanwhile, an estimated 10 percent of all couples who want a child
can't conceive. To them it feels tragic. Sadness and self-incriminations
can lead to discord in their marriages. Fortunately, simple nutritional
and botanical remedies can often restore fertility.

Infertility is defined as a lack of conception after one year of
unprotected intercourse. Hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies,
anatomic problems and various diseases are often to blame. Because it
takes two to make a baby, the reason for conception difficulties may
lie with the man, the woman or both.

The key to male fertility is large quantities of healthy sperm. A
medical evaluation relies primarily on a sperm analysis, whereby fresh
semen is examined for the quantity, form and motility of sperm. Sometimes
anatomical problems such as enlarged scrotal veins (varicocele) or
fluid accumulation in the scrotum (hydrocele) can impair sperm formation.
Correcting circulation to the testes with exercise, alternating hot and
cold sitzbaths or surgery may restore fertility.

Glandular diseases such as thyroid abnormalities and diabetes mellitus
can interfere with hormonal control of sperm production, while infections
of the prostate and epididymis (a tubular structure on top of each testis
into which secretions drain) can interfere with sperm production or block
the exit of sperm from the body. Treating both can resolve infertility.
Other infections, such as mumps orchitis (an inflammation of the testicles
following the mumps), can result in permanent infertility. Chromosomal
abnormalities associated with infertility are likewise not correctable.

Sometimes sperm can't do their job because the woman's immune system
creates antibodies to them.1 Examining the fluid in a woman's vagina
after intercourse can determine if immune rejection is causing the

When examinations fail to find an illness or anatomical defect to
explain an abnormal sperm count, nutritional and environmental factors
may be to blame. For example, exposing the testes to excessive heat
from jacuzzis, saunas or tight clothing can interfere with optimal
sperm production. General malnutrition, as well as specific nutrient
deficiencies, can also result in weak sperm.

To keep their groins cool, men should wear loose clothing and avoid
heat exposure, such as long soaks in hot tubs. To maintain optimal
nutrition, I recommend a diet that is rich in organic vegetables,
fresh fruits and whole grains, and low in animal products. Evidence
indicates that residues of the estrogens fed to cattle and poultry
can interfere with human hormones. Furthermore, pesticides, plastics
and other environmental pollutants can bind to estrogen receptors in
the body and depress both male and female fertility.2

I also recommend that men take a good multivitamin and make sure
they get sufficient amounts of nutrients specific for male reproductive
health, such as zinc, vitamin E and the amino acids arginine and taurine.

* Zinc:
Semen contains high concentrations of zinc. Supplementing the
diet with 30-60 mg zinc a day may improve sperm count and sexual
function.3,4 A good dietary source of zinc is pumpkin seeds, long
recommended as a fertility-enhancing food and a remedy for benign
prostate enlargement.5 Pumpkin seeds also are rich in two other
nutrients beneficial to male sexual functioning: the plant steroid
beta-sitosterol (which binds to the testosterone receptor) and
vitamin E.

* Vitamin E:
Formerly labeled the anti-sterility vitamin, vitamin E is
crucial to proper reproductive function in both men and women. In
fact, the chemical name for vitamin E, "tocopherol," originated from
the Greek words tokos, which means "offspring," and phero, which means
"to bear." One of the body's main antioxidant nutrients, vitamin E
protects hormones from oxidation. As vitamin E becomes less available
in processed foods and exposure to harmful oxidizing agents increases,
supplementation with 400-800 IU a day may improve fertility for some

* Amino acids:
Arginine has been shown to raise sperm counts and sperm motility.
The recommended dosage is 2-4 g a day.7,8 Taurine, another amino acid
that may enhance sperm production and motility, is supplemented at 2-4 g
a day.9

After a man adopts a healthy diet supplemented with the above nutrients,
he should have his sperm count rechecked in three to six months.

Sources Of Female Infertility
As with men, hormonal abnormalities can lead to infertility in women
and should be ruled out with blood tests. Uterine fibroids (benign
tumors of fibrous tissue), endometriosis (abnormal location of uterine
tissue in the pelvic cavity), ovarian cysts and infections of reproductive
organs can all impair fertility and are easily detected by a physician.

Lack of ovulation can also be a cause of infertiltiy. Lab tests can
document ovulation, but a woman can also determine ovulation by noting,
throughout the month, variations in her body temperature and vaginal
mucous. A woman's morning temperature usually increases half a degree
around the time of ovulation and remains high until the menstrual
period begins. Many medications and factors, such as excessive use
of alcohol, electric blankets and restless sleep, can disturb this
variation in body temperature. Prior to and after ovulation, when a
woman isn't fertile, cervical mucous tends to be thick and sticky.
At ovulation, the mucous becomes thinner, more watery and abundant.

Conditions that cause irregular menses or cycles without ovulation
can also lead to infertility. These may stem from ovarian and uterine
abnormalities. Women who are anemic may stop menstruating as their
bodies attempt to avoid the loss of blood. Treating anemia and its
underlying cause may restore fertility. Women who exercise vigorously
or who have extremely low body fat may be below a critical body weight
to sustain menstruation and pregnancy. Backing off the heavy exercise
and gaining a few pounds is sometimes all that's required to become

As with men, the objective is to diagnose and treat any illness or
imbalance that might secondarily cause infertility. In the absence of
an underlying cause, hormonal therapies can sometimes help correct
ovulation problems or irregular menses. Both pharmaceutical and botanical
treatments may restore the hormonal rhythms that control ovulation.

Clomiphene citrate is a commonly prescribed fertility drug. It stimulates
the brain to release luteinizing hormone, which causes egg maturation and
release from the ovary. The drug is taken for just a few days and then
stopped. A brief fertile period may follow. A drawback is that more than
one egg may be released, resulting in a multiple pregnancy. In addition,
nearly half of all pregnancies achieved in this way result in spontaneous
abortion.10 Perhaps the miscarriage rate is so high because such
medications only force ovulation without correcting underlying deficiencies
or hormonal abnormalities. Botanical medicines on the other hand, nourish
and support the female reproductive system to restore hormonal balance.

Herbs That Can Restore Fertility
Here are a few herbs, listed in order of importance, that are often
recommended by naturopathic doctors and herbalists to help restore female

* Chaste tree berry
(Vitex agnus-castus): This herb stimulates the release of luteinizing
hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland in the brain. This, in turn, promotes
ovulation. Chaste tree berry may restore normal periods in women with
amenorrhea (lack of menstrual periods).11

* Dong quai
(Angelica sinensis): Widely used for female complaints, including
menstrual irregularities and infertility, dong quai can tone a weak
uterus by promoting metabolism within the organ,12 regulating hormonal
control and improving the rhythm of the menstrual cycle.13

* Red clover blossoms
(Trifolium pratense): These beautiful little flowers are categorized
in many herbals as fertility promoters. Chemical analysis shows that the
herb is rich in coumestans and isoflavones, estrogenlike compounds that
may promote fertility, particularly in women who are deficient in

* Licorice
(Glycyrrhiza glabra): This plant contains hormonally active
compounds categorized as saponins.15 A Japanese study found
licorice-based medicines improved menstruation in women with infrequent
periods. The study also found that licorice helped women with elevated
testosterone and low estrogen levels, as commonly occurs in polycystic
ovary disease.16

* Siberian ginseng
(Eleutherococcus senticosus): This and other tonic botanicals
can improve fertility by enhancing overall health and vitality. Siberian
ginseng also acts on the brain to promote regulation of reproductive

Maintaining Pregnancy
Sometimes a woman's fertility problem lies not in conceiving, but in
maintaining pregnancy. For habitual spontaneous abortion, several
hormonal, nutritional and herbal therapies may help continue the
pregnancy. In addition, numerous botanical medicines can improve both
uterine tone and hormonal regulation. Here are a few:

* Black cohosh
(Cimicifuga racemosa): Like chaste tree berry, black cohosh
enhances pituitary secretion of luteinizing hormone with subsequent
ovarian stimulation.18,19 It contains isoflavone constituents, which
can bind to estrogen receptors in the body.20

* Blue cohosh
(Caulophyllum thalictroides): Sounding the same but of an
entirely different genus than black cohosh, blue cohosh is a uterine
tonic, meaning it can relax a hypersensitive uterus as well as increase
the muscular tone of a weak uterus. Early American herbals list blue
cohosh as a uterine botanical helpful in cases of infertility.21

* Motherwort
(Leonurus cardiaca): This feminine-sounding herb affects the
nervous, cardiac and female reproductive systems. It is indicated
for anxiety, tension and heart palpitations caused by heart weakness,
nervous disorders, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and other hormonal
imbalances. Motherwort is also a uterine tonic, useful for cramps and
as well as uterine weakness.22

* Wild yam
(Dioscorea villosa): Very popular in recent years, wild yam
contains plant hormones including the steroidal saponins diosgenin,
pregnenolone and botogenin.23 For several decades, the pharmaceutical
industry has used wild yam as a raw material in the synthesis of
pharmaceutical steroids such as progesterone, cortisone and prednisone.
In its crude form, wild yam has a weak hormonal activity in the body
that may help prevent habitual miscarriage due to hormonal insufficiency.

* Squaw vine
(Mitchella repens): Used by Native Americans as a fertility and
pregnancy tonic, squaw vine is a uterine tonic that increases uterine
circulation and reduces uterine congestion. It also improves uterine
tone, yet relaxes uterine spasm.24

* Crampbark
(Viburnum opulus) and black haw (V. Prunifolium): Both these herbs
are considered uterine sedatives and tonic plants that are helpful for
chronic miscarriage and uterine pain and cramps. Both are also used as
preparatory herbs to condition the uterus for pregnancy and childbirth.25

* Unicorn root
(Chamalerium luteum), also called blazing star: A uterine tonic,
unicorn root is especially useful for women who have a tendency toward
pelvic congestion, a condition typically experienced as a sensation of
heaviness. This herb may help prevent miscarriage and menstrual bleeding
due to uterine weakness.26

Some midwives and obstetricians recommend that women at risk for
spontaneous abortion use herbs such as those listed above for several
months prior to conception to improve uterine tone and hormonal
regulation. They should lower the dosage during the first trimester.
A formula used by early American physicians combined in equal parts
blue cohosh, crampbark, unicorn root and squaw vine. The recommended
dosage was 2-4 mL three times daily. Such herbs were also used during
the last trimester of pregnancy to facilitate an easy delivery and
rapid recovery, particularly in women with difficult or prolonged labors.

After a medical workup has ruled out serious diseases as the cause
of infertility, natural medicines can offer a great deal. Just paying
closer attention to the body's cycles can enhance a woman's fertility
awareness. For men and women, a nutritious diet supplemented with a
multivitamin and free of hormones and pesticides goes a long way toward
improving both reproductive and overall health. Botanical medicines
selected by a knowledgeable practitioner can further enhance hormonal
rhythms and general vitality. Just add romance and you have the
prescription for fertility.

1. Hargreave, T.B. "Incidence of serum agglutinating and immobilizing
sperm antibodies in infertile couples." Int J Fertil: 27-90, 1982.

2. Foye, W. Principles of Medicinal Chemistry, 3rd edition: 463.
Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger, 1989.

3. Skandhan, K.P., et al. "Serum electrolytes in normal and infertile
subjects. II. Zinc." Experentia, 34(11); 1476-77, 1978.

4. Netter, A., et al. "Effect of zinc administration on plasma
testosterone, dehydrotesterone, and sperm count." Arch Androl, 7: 69,

5. Weiss, R.F. Herbal Medication: 117, 121, 254. Beaconsfield, England:
Arcanum Press, 1988.

6. Haas, E. Staying Healthy with Nutrition: 101-2. Berkeley, CA:
Celestial Arts Publications, 1992.

7. Papp, G. et al. "The role of basic amino acids of seminal plasma
in fertility." Int Urol Nephrol, 15(2): 195-203, 1983.

8. Schachter, A., et al. "Treatment of oligospermia with the amino
acid arginine. " J Urology, 110 (3): 311-13, 1973.

9. Haas, E. op. cit., p. 47.

10. Krupp, C. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: 467-69.
Los Altos, CA, Lange Medical Publications, 1984.

11. Weiss, R.F., op. cit., p. 317.

12. Zhu, D. "Dong Quai," Am J Chinese Med, XV (3-4): 117-125, 1986.

13. Zhiping, H., et al. "Treating amenorrhea in vital energy-deficient
patients with Angelica sinensis." J Trad Chin Med, 6 (3): 187-190, 1986.

14. Duke, J. A. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs: 489. Boca Raton, FL:
CRC Press, 1985.

15. Leung, A. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food,
Drugs, and Cosmetics: 290-91. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980.

16. Yaginuma, T., et al. "Effect of traditional herbal medicine on
serum testosterone levels and induction of regular ovulation in
hyper-androgenic and oligomenorrheic women." Nippon Sank Fujinka
Gakkai Zasshi, 34(7):939-944, 1982.

17. Darymov, L.V. "On the gonadotrophic effect of Eleutherococcus
glycosides." Lek. Srd. Dalinego Vostoka,11:60-65, 1972.

18. Jarry, H., et al. "Studies on the endocrine effects of the contents
of Cimicifuga racemosa, 1: in vitro binding of compounds to estrogen
receptors." Planta Med., 1:46-9, 1985

19. Jarry, H., et al. "Studies on the endocrine effects of the contents
of Cimicifuga racemosa, 2: influence on the servum concentration of
pituitary hormone in ovarectomized rats." Planta Medica, 1:46-9, 1985.

20. Duker, E.M., et al. "Effects of extracts from Cimicifuga racemosa
on gonadotrophic release in menopausal women and ovarectomized rats."
Planta Medica, 57(5): 420-4, 1991.

21. Ellingwood, F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy,
11th edition: 593. Cincinnati, Ohio: Lloyd Brothers Publishing, 1919.

22. Felter, H.W. Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacognosy, and Therapeutics:
443. Cincinnati, OH: Lloyd Bros Publishing, 1922.

23. Mowrey, D. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine:
107-115 & 151-156. New Canaan, CT: Keats, 1986.

24. Felter, H.W., op. cit., p. 480.

25. Felter, H.W., op. cit., p. 694.

26. Felter, H.W., op. cit., p. 404.

Jill Stansbury, N.D., maintains a private practice in rural southwestern
Washington state where she specializes in botanical and natural therapies.
She heads the botanical medicine department at the National College of
Naturopathic Medicine in Portland and recently published a brief materia
medica, Herbs for Health and Healing.