What is Lurking Under Your House?

shutterstock_439738522One of my patients sent me a question about her home’s environment.  During earthquake retrofitting, she was informed that some dirt in front of the house had to be pushed back from the foundation. After the dirt was moved, she noticed strange odors inside her house. Her concern was this:  Was it microbes or mold? She wondered if she should keep the windows open.

I contacted Mary Cordaro, a Healthy Building and Indoor Air Consultant. She responded that my patient definitely should keep her windows closed to reduce the risk of additional complications. She indicated that besides mold, which is always naturally occurring in soil, there is also a possible serious pesticide issue present in an old crawl space. Mary continued, “if a house is old, it is likely that DDT or chlordane was applied around the inside of the foundation wall for termite prevention when the house was built. When old soil is disturbed, dust rises up into the house. Old houses have a lot of openings under the floors allowing both mold and pesticides into the room air. These old pesticides are persistent. They stick to dust in the soil as well as to house dust and surfaces inside the house.”

Imagine the dangers for young children and/or pets who live closer to the floor and have greater exposure.

If this is your situation, i.e. living in an old house where work is going to be done around the crawl space and foundation, there is remediation available. I recommend you seek a consultant before beginning the work so that you don’t endanger you or your family’s health from these toxic old chemicals.

My standard evaluation includes screening for exposure to mold or pesticides.  If this interests you, call my office for an appointment (310-289-8430).

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Aging Healthfully II


This is the second of a two part series about Aging Healthfully.  Find part one here.

Keeping Your Brain Young 

Mary brought in her mother-in-law, Jane, for evaluation. Jane was in her 80’s, had some dementia, never spoke, and sat motionless in her chair all day long. Her doctors had given up on her. My evaluation suggested Jane needed some nutritional support. I prescribed an all-in-one liquid supplement, extra essential fatty acids, and extra vitamin C. Within one week, Jane was happily pursuing the men in her senior care home. That was 3 years ago.  She is still taking the supplements and is still going strong.

What do our brains and nervous system need to stay young?

1) We need to keep inflammation to a minimum.healthy senior

Chronic inflammation affects all our organs and systems contributing to and causing major diseases, including dementia.  What causes inflammation?

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, you know your symptoms are from exposure to allergens. Anything might be an allergen.  We often think only of pollens and mold as allergens. Chemicals (i.e. perfume scent) and foods can also be allergens. Allergens produce irritation in the body. This ignites the immune system which includes a separate immune system in the brain. When the irritant aggravation continues for an extended time, the immune system stays very active. Some allergens affect specific organs. Chronic infection also can affect specific organs. The immune system senses these irritants and attacks to remove the irritant. Unfortunately, when the irritant is located in an organ, the immune system also attacks the organ and can damage it. The solution is to treat any latent infection and/or toxicity state (such as from heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium) as soon as possible.

2) Our food can cause inflammation.

The worst offender is sugar. Sugar initiates the release of insulin from the pancreas which aids in the breakdown and storage of sugar. When we eat too much sugar, occasionally or habitually, the pancreas is required to increase the output of insulin. At some point insulin becomes less effective. This is called insulin resistance which causes the body to put out even more insulin. Problem: Significant increases of insulin cause major inflammation. Insulin resistance is associated with increased average blood sugar as well as other ailments. When a body has reached the stage of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome can occur. This syndrome is denoted by high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure. In addition, high insulin levels are associated with damage to the kidneys, prostate enlargement, abdominal obesity, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, cancer, and a shortened life span. Solution:  Eliminate processed sugar from the diet, eat a balanced diet, and take supplements that assist the body’s management of carbohydrates and sugars (as in fruit).

Conclusion:   Reduce inflammation and increase your health and longevity potential.

For a customized evaluation of your health, contact my office:  310-289-8430.

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Lead in Your Plumbing?

The disastrous contaminated water situation in Flint, Michigan this year has alerted the populace across the country to the problem of lead contaminated water.  People were unaware of lead as a problem in the first place, unless you remember leaded paint and leaded gasoline.  Secondly, many of us have been unaware of how much lead is still used in our environment.  Why is lead such a problem?  There is no safe level for lead in the human body.  In children it can lower IQ levels, reduce hearing, affect kidneys, and contribute to poor performance in school.  In adults it can cause fatigue, abdominal pain, constipation and headaches to name just a few of the symptoms.

The February 14, 2011 edition of Mercola.com described how we get exposed to lead in our own homes. “The greatest amount of lead found in your home’s drinking water frequently comes from lead service lines, lead interior plumbing, or copper pipes connected with lead solder.”  Cities use chlorine to treat the municipal water.  The chlorine is corrosive causes the lead to leach off of the pipes in your home.

What to do about the lead that collects in your water overnight when you don’t run the tap?  Run the water for 30 seconds every morning before you use it.  Even the Los Angeles Unified School District requires the teachers every school morning to run the water in their classrooms for 30 seconds before anyone uses the water.

The other way to prevent lead in your water is to put in a good water filtration system with an NSA filter that removes 100% of the heavy metals in the water.  Such a system will also filter out “dangerous byproducts from chlorination, as well as bacteria and cysts that are naturally present in well water and can survive urban water treatment facilities” as mentioned in the Mercola article.

Ask your doctor for a blood lead level.  This does not reflect any lead stored in your bones but at least it will let you know how toxic you are at the present.

For further evaluation of your heavy metal (includes mercury, cadmium and aluminum), contact my office.

poison water



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Is your orange juice “enhanced?”

Unless you squeeze your own orange juice, the product you drink from a carton is neither shutterstock_105288938fresh nor just orange juice.  The companies that make non-organic orange juice that sits on a refrigerated shelf have a secret that we are not commonly aware of.  The orange juice would lose its flavor very quickly.  So the manufacturers of orange juice remove the flavor, the fiber, all of the oxygen, then freeze the liquid, and at the appropriate time add “flavor packs” back to the juice.  “Voila” – orange juice.

Commercial 100% Orange Juice Fraud: Toxic Perfume Flavor Packs Added” Another article is http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/ask-an-academic-orange-juice.

Alissa Hamilton is a fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the author of “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice

What is added back to the liquid is orange oil which has been processed to ensure the orange juice has a consistent flavor.   Ethyl butyrate is one of the chemicals found in high concentrations in the flavor packs added to to this “orange juice” because its odor is orange.

When my patients get sick with a cold, many of them tell me they start drinking lots of orange juice.  Long ago I was informed that vitamin C dissipates very quickly after an orange is cut or squeezed.  This information about the adulteration of orange juice, in order for it to be stored and still taste like orange juice, is an added reason  not to drink anything other than fresh.  In fact, I would recommend eating the orange instead.  That way you don’t take in so much concentrated sugar.  You also get the fiber and other nutrients available in the pulp.

If you want therapeutic levels of  vitamin C, I recommend purchasing it as tablet, capsule or liquid.

For further advice about what to take when you get sick, call my office at 310-289-8430.

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Home Pesticide Use Tied to Child Cancer Risk

shutterstock_132629654When we discover a bug in the kitchen (this story is not about computers) it is really easy to grab the “bug bomb” and zap it.  It seems to be that, as a society, we are very intolerant of bugs even though they outnumber us many fold.  Besides, all we have to do is run down to the local grocery store or hardware store and pick up the latest chemical to kill those offending critters.   However, the price we pay for doing this may be far greater than the few dollars we pay at the store.            shutterstock_82313764

The October 2015 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics reports a study of many research studies (known as a meta-analysis) about low dose use of pesticides and their effects on children. (RESIDENTIAL EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDE DURING CHILDHOOD AND CHILDHOOD CANCERS: A META-ANALYSIS).  Their conclusion?   “We found that childhood exposure to indoor but not outdoor residential insecticides was associated with a significant increase in risk of childhood leukemia…and childhood lymphomas.   A significant increase in risk of leukemia was also associated with herbicide exposure…” There was even some suggestion that pesticide or herbicide exposure could be associated with increased incidence of brain tumors.

I remember vividly working with families who had a child with leukemia or lymphoma.  At the time I was practicing child psychiatry and one of my specialties was working with families with sick children.  While we all attempted to keep a positive attitude, seeing a child suffering with a potentially terminal illness like these cancers is very stressful.  The families and the children themselves were courageous.  When the treatments were not successful, we all felt the loss.  Thank goodness childhood cancer is relatively rare.  What if we could prevent even this small amount?  What if we could keep the beauty and sparkle of childhood for more children?  What if a significant number of these cancers could be prevented by using integrative pest management instead of just “bombing” the bugs?

The basic policies of integrative pest management include exclusion, i.e. keeping the bugs out and not providing food for them through careful cleanliness and cleaning up food crumbs instead of leaving them as a meal for the critters.

If these methods are not enough, there are far less toxic compounds that can be used to keep bug population down.  One of the best is soap and water.  Additionally, we now have more products derived from essential oils that do not have the deleterious effect of the pesticides. There is also diatomaceous earth. For example, you can shake it onto the opening to an ant hill, along the trail of ants in your kitchen, and/or sprinkle it onto their entry point.  Note: it is only effective when dry.

Remember, the “-cide” part of the words pesticide or herbicide means the chemical “kills.” Pesticides and herbicides are more lethal than we realize.

Wishing a healthy 2016 to all.

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Endocrine Disruptor in Nail Polish Gets Absorbed By women’s bodies

There is Danger in those Beautiful Nails                  

Environmental Working Group, which provides valuable information about chemicals and their effects on our health, has noted a study done by Duke University that we women who put on nail polish need to note.

The chemical involved, TPFshutterstock_115405120 (1)P (short for triphenyl phosphate), was found in each of the volunteer subjects who applied nail polish.

So what, you say?  Here is what EWG says:  “These results are troubling because a growing body of scientific data from other studies indicates that TPHP causes endocrine disruption, meaning that it interferes with normal hormone functioning. In animal studies, it has caused reproductive and developmental irregularities.”

While it is unclear how many nail polishes contain the chemical, EWG notes that almost one-half of the nail polish products they have evaluated reported they contain THFP.

I have many women who complain of irregular periods.  I will now check each of them for the nail polish she wears.

Which polishes are ok?  EWG says on their website that they hope to let you know soon.

In the meantime, consider this chemical and all the other chemicals involved in wearing nail polish.  Consider wearing it only if you need to for work or for a most formal occasion.

If you use nail polish regularly, be sure you are eating a healthy diet and taking supplements that support your detoxification systems.  Of course, that is my standard recommendation.  Our environment has become so polluted we need to have our detoxifying abilities to be at their maximum.

User’s guide to cosmetic ingredient safety

Best wishes for a healthy holiday season and 2016.

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Pesticide Effects Seen Over Three Generations

Professor Michael Skinner at Washington State University has been researching the effects of pesticides for years.pesticide beware

Pesticide linked to 3 generations of disease describes his latest work. Methoxychlor was a pesticide introduced in 1948 after DDT was banned in this country.  Believing that it was safer than DDT, it was used widely in the 1970’s on “crops, ornamental plants, livestock and pets.”  However methoxychlor proved not to be safer.  In 2003 it was banned in the US because of its toxicity and effects on the endocrine system, especially the reproductive system.

In the experiment, pregnant rats were exposed to methoxychlor.  The incidence of kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity were seen down two more generations, ie even in the grandchildren of the rats who were exposed and with no further exposure.  The technical name for this is “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.”  In other words, environmental exposures in one generation can affect the health of offspring even two generations later.

What does this mean for us?  Dr. Skinner wonders if the exposures during the last 30 years of the last century could be related to the epidemic of obesity and other diseases we are now experiencing.

This story also validates the need for testing chemicals before they are released to the public.  This “precautionary principle”  could potentially save many lives if we were not to allow toxic chemicals to be released.  Presently, all of us are the guinea pigs or lab rats in this terrible experiment.  Thousands of chemicals have been released in the past few decades yet the vast majority have not been tested for their effects on humans, especially on children.

At the very least, this work suggests that the fewer pesticides one gets exposed to, the better. This means don’t use pesticides, especially on a regular basis.  Eat organic foods whenever available.  Use environmentally friendly soaps, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Contact my office if want to evaluate how pesticides might be affecting your health.

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