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Friday, July 27, 2012

30: Beating the Heat

During the recent heat wave, I found myself thinking of a friend’s husband. Last year he’d had a really bad go with sunstroke. I had given his wife a suggestion. Now I was wondering if he’d ever picked up on it, or if he was struggling again. So I gave him a call.

No, he said, he was having no problems at all, because, “I remember what you told my wife. I’ll never forget it.” He talked about the incident during planting season last spring. He was back in Saskatchewan on the old family farm, working underneath the cultivator in extreme heat, fully exposed to the intense sun, bare-headed in the close confines. Later he had the flu-like symptoms of heat exhaustion: “the runs,” head-achy, feverish. He drank water by the litre—it went right through him. He couldn’t eat—when he tried, it would come back up. He was terribly weak. The first two days, he struggled on; the next two, he couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t get out of bed for more than ten minutes at a time, and that was mainly to get to the bathroom again.

It was at the end of the fourth day that I happened to be talking to his wife, who told me all about it. “It’s because of loss of salt that comes with excessive perspiration,” I told her. “Then you can’t even retain the water you drink. He needs electrolytes. Tell him to take a half-teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of water.” When she talked to him that evening on the phone, she said “one teaspoon”; in his delirium, he translated “one tablespoon.” So into a glass of water went a heaping soupspoon of salt, and he choked it down. He managed to hang onto most of it, but not surprisingly, some came back up. Two hours later, he was feeling halfway back to his usual self. Amazingly, by morning he was 100%.

In retrospect he remembers that his 80-year-old Ukrainian grandmother, after a hot day of work in the garden, would stir a spoonful of salt into her tea instead of sugar. He, only six at the time, thought it was quite weird, but now it all makes sense to him.

* * *

One day at the Farmers’ Market, a friend, Joan, hurried up to my table and said excitedly, “I need to talk to you.” She sat down in the extra chair I keep there for lengthier conversations, and she told me her story. She had been to see a chiropractor in Medicine Hat who had put her on his “Total Body Modification” program, to address her many allergies. It included staying completely away from sugar (except natural sources) and drinking large amounts of water. She was instructed to be sure to get enough (unrefined) salt, that avoiding salt when drinking large amounts of water can be unsafe.

By the end of the first week on this program, she noticed that her ankles and calves were swelling. Edema has been a recurring problem for her, ever since having children (she has ten!), but normally it was sugar that triggered it. Because she hadn’t had sugar now for a week, she was surprised. And it wasn’t just her legs and feet, but even her arms were swollen—there was definitely a significant amount of water retention. She was also feeling extremely lethargic.

She prayed about it. What came to mind was something I had told her about a salt cleanse (See Blog #21). Now this is a cleanse that is normally used to clear the kidneys of bromine and other halides that are being forced out of the body by iodine supplementation. Because Joan had once mentioned that her naturopath had her on high doses of iodine, I had told her of this bromine overload that could occur, the symptoms, and what to do about them. None of these symptoms was present, and yet in prayer she was impressed that this was what she should do. So she did the salt cleanse, which involves ingesting three quarters of a teaspoon of Celtic sea salt and about two litres of water over the course of an hour.

Eight hours later, all the edema was gone—and she had her energy back! This had just happened the previous day, and she was pretty excited about it.

People who have trouble with edema usually find it is worse in hot weather. “Unrefined salt helps in regulating the levels of water in the body, thus maintaining the delicate balance that needs to exist between the cells and body fluids, while also helping to maintain the electrolyte balance.” (

While most doctors are prescribing diuretics and telling patients to avoid salt, this may well be another reason to grab your sea-salt grinder in hot weather.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

29: From My Readers — Part I

I ran into a fellow the other day who said he’d been reading my articles. Because he was suffering with some health issues, I asked him what he thought about what I’ve said in my column regarding iodine. He said he was a skeptic and preferred a more balanced approach.

It was not difficult to figure out what he was getting at. “I suppose,” I said, “that given how much I’ve talked about iodine, my readers might assume that that is the only supplement I take. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I take a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.” I went on to tell him that I intend, sometime soon, to write about all the other things I take, and I certainly do intend to; but I keep getting sideswiped by more interesting press on the subject of—you guessed it—iodine.

I’ve had a number of comments from readers on my blog recently, and I want to share some of these. A woman named Leila read my article “So You Think You Need Iodine – Part I” and commented as follows:

“Excellent article! I had some thoughts as I read it: Edmonton is also in a known goiter area."

She shares this link: (

Then she continues: "I live in Edmonton, and almost everyone I talk to seems to have a thyroid issue. I had surgery for a nodule several years ago. I started on a very low dose of iodine last summer, less than 0.5 mg/day, and ramped it up very slowly so as not to overwhelm my thyroid. I doubled the dose no oftener than once a month.... Because 2% Lugol’s has 2.5 mg/drop, which I thought would be too big a jump for me, I also bought Naka drops—it tastes terrible! I ended up back on kelp tabs although they’re not recommended at doses over 1 mg. I’m now using Lugol’s, and I have to say, it’s a whole lot easier to take—way less drops to get the right dose and no taste at all in OJ or other juice. My GP, when asked if I could get a urine test to measure my iodine levels, said ‘There’s iodine in salt so you’re getting enough.’ Sigh.”

Leila then asked me for information on where to get the iodine test done.

I checked out the link she included. It took me to an article published in 1960. The article is 100 pages long (and does not have a search function) so I only read a fraction of it, but it was really interesting. The most dramatic statistics I saw concerned Winnipeg, which at that time had a goitre rate of 50% in the general population, and the nearby towns of Birds Hill and Stonewall, in which a staggering 85% of children were sufferers. And this was 30 years after the government began adding iodine to salt.

A little closer to home is the following information:

“In Alberta ... a great deal of goitre [has been seen] in a strip of territory running due south from Edmonton to the northern border of the [US]. Places affected are: Leduc, Wetaskiwin, ...” and it goes on to list a string of cities further south. The same article tells me there is low iodine “in the neighbourhood of the Arrow Lakes,” where I lived for the first 18 years of my life. The Kamloops area, where I lived from age 20-25 is another deficient area, and now I’ve lived in this “goitre belt” south of Edmonton for almost 30 years. Not surprising, then, that I’ve turned out to be so thirsty for this element.

(Just to clarify: Goitre is an enlarged thyroid, which is generally caused by insufficient iodine in the diet. Therefore, a “goitre” area is synonymous with an “iodine deficient” area.)

Leila also commented on my article “Burzynski’s Battle,” about the doctor in Texas who has had such astonishing success in treating “untreatable” cancers and yet has been black-balled by the FDA and large pharmaceutical interests:

“Incredible!! Sounds very much like the story of Dr. David Derry in BC. He had an excellent record of treating thyroid patients and had patients visiting him from all over the world. An endocrinologist whose patient had left him and gotten better on Dr. Derry’s treatment complained to the BC College of Physicians & Surgeons; a hearing was scheduled and he was given a week to prepare for it. The evidence he presented was rejected and they removed his thyroid prescribing privileges. When he appealed the ban the following year, his license to practice medicine was suspended. He’s not currently listed as a member of the college on their website—crazy!”

Crazy indeed. With a treatment consisting of natural, desiccated thyroid and iodine, he must have enraged Big Fat Pharma, and that is a crime that does not go unpunished.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

28: An Argument for Organics

Several months ago, I received an email forward, a YouTube clip of a third-grade student presenting a science project. This eight- or nine-year-old girl had undertaken to grow sweet potato vines at home. Her project ended up morphing into something quite different—and quite sobering.

She told how she and her grandma had bought a sweet potato at a grocery store and tried to sprout it in a jar of water. In three weeks’ time, nothing had happened. They bought another, thinking there must be something wrong with the first. Again, nothing. They went back and talked to a man in the produce department. He said, “These will never grow vines. At the farms, they’re treated with a chemical called ‘Bud Nip.’” Instead he got her one from the organic section.

Over the period of a month, the new potato grew some “wimpy little vines.” Then the girl and her grandma went to an organic food market and bought yet another sweet potato. This one took off and quickly surpassed the growth of the second.

She googled Bud Nip. “They also spray it on blueberries,” she says, “carrots, onions, spinach, tomatoes, beets, and cranberries.”

Just for fun, I, too, bought a sweet potato at my local grocery store and another one from an organic outlet in Edmonton. The picture above shows what they looked like after sitting in water for two months. (Apparently my potato from the mainstream store was not quite as dead as the little girl’s first two efforts.)

And I, too, googled Bud Nip. It also goes by Chlorpropham and at least ten other names. Its regulatory status is such that products containing it must bear the signal word “Caution.” (Hello? Have you ever seen any such label in any produce department?) It is used for pre-emergent control of weeds in the various crops that the young girl mentions above and is also sprayed on, post-harvest, to prevent sprouting and to increase the shelf-life of root vegetables—plus legumes, seeds, and pretty much every kind of produce except for leafy things like spinach and lettuce. (Leafy stuff has its own chemical issues.) Chlorpropham penetrates through the entire vegetable, so washing it doesn’t help.

It is shown to be toxic to honey bees, which are crucial to the pollination of these crops, and to amphibians (like frogs) and other aquatic life.

Chlorpropham can cause irritation to the eyes or skin. Symptoms of acute toxicity in lab animals include listlessness, uncoordination, nose bleeds, protruding eyes, bloody tears, breathing difficulties, exhaustion, inability to urinate, high fevers, and death. Autopsies reveal permanent degenerative changes in the liver and kidneys, as well as congestion of the brain, lungs, and other organs. A farmer working with this chemical could be at risk for the degree of exposure that would constitute acute toxicity.

Chronic toxicity, a little bit over a long period of time (ie, from eating the produce), can lead to anything from retarded growth to cancer. This chemical can also cross a mother’s placenta into the developing fetus.

This is a pretty horrifying profile, and it’s just one of thousands of chemicals we’re unwittingly exposed to: just one good look at a single herbicide, never mind the myriad of other herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. The accompanying photograph alone is enough to make me want to eat organic. Did you know that most pesticides, herbicides, and nitrogen fertilizers used today are by-products of the petroleum industry? I don’t want to eat that stuff!

But what I have come to understand in the past year is that eating organic is not just about avoiding what’s in our food that isn’t meant to be there, it’s also about getting what should be there and generally isn’t. Chemical farming is a double-edged sword.

Through the knowledge of some of the local Hutterites and that of my own dear husband, I now understand that our soils are so damaged by chemicals that they have become simply an inert medium in which to grow crops artificially.

Healthy soil contains tiny microbes that break down organic matter and convert macro-minerals, micro-nutrients, and trace elements into an ionic form that can be taken up by plants. Chemically abused soils are dead: they no longer contain these vital, living organisms. Hence, the crops grown in these soils do not contain the many nutrients they were designed to give us. We hear a lot of talk today about our depleted soils, but the fact is, even if the minerals might still there, we’re not getting them. The people who eschew nutritional supplements, saying, “I get everything I need from my food!” are sadly mistaken.

Thanks to chemical fertilizers, our produce departments abound with lush-looking vegetables. But it’s an illusion, a deception. Besides being laced with who-knows-what chemicals, they are nutritionally impotent.