Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No 'Sweet Dreams' For You? Read On...

The night is dark and silent...well, except for your slightly snoring husband lying next to you, a big undefined lump curled under the covers. Although the pillow-top mattress is brand new, you're finding it hard to get comfortable. The illuminated green numbers on your alarm clock tick continuously forward, mocking you with their rapid march toward dawn.

"If only I could sleep!" you think to yourself. "I might as well be downstairs watching TV and getting the kid's school lunches packed. Speaking of the kids...Sara has a doctor's appointment tomorrow at noon. I hope the school doesn't give me trouble for taking her out for another appointment. Sam has his big social studies test tomorrow. I hope he's prepared. We certainly went over the material enough. I also need to do some grocery shopping...need to balance the checkbook before I can do that though. Oh shoot! Did I subtract my last purchase at Target? I don't think I did. GREAT! I think I might be overdrawn. Maybe I should go check right now. I also need to pee and get a drink of water so I'll just get up and do a few things...maybe that will wear me out and I can get a couple hours of sleep before the alarm goes off."

Sound familiar? As parents, working or stay-at-home, I suspect we've all suffered insomnia at some point during our lives. I know I have. And truly, is there anything worse than having a mind which just won't shut down or a body causing physical discomfort while trying to get some much needed rest? It's not really surprising sleep issues are such a common complaint among adults...and yes, among autistic children as well. These days, parents are juggling fifty (or more) balls...and they're all up in the air just waiting to cascade down on us at any moment. It's a true cause for stress and anxiety. With autistic children, insomnia seems more a result of severe digestive issues.

Insomnia is simply lack of sleep on a regular basis.

Chronic insomnia can also be the result of an underlying health condition such as depression, menopause, lung disease, certain heart conditions, digestive issues/food allergies, sleep apnea, or even diabetes. So please check with your naturopath, homeopath, or medical doctor before simply assuming the lack of appropriate sleep is caused by stress or anxiety.

As always, do your research before putting anything in your body. This includes both pharmaceutical and herbal, holistic type remedies.

Natural Sleep Aids

1. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by our bodies in the pineal gland
which is located at the center of our brains. Darkness causes our
brains to produce this hormone which usually causes a sleepy, lethargic feeling
to occur. Any light at all can cause a disruption of always
keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Melatonin regulates our bodies
circadian rhythms, also known as our wake/sleep cycles over each 24 hour

There are two types of melatonin...natural and synthetic. From my
research, it appears most choose the synthetic time release capsules as they
more closely resemble the molecular make-up of melanin, without the risk of
animal parts which could possible carry disease or viruses.


Funny how pharmaceutical manufacturers are worried about animal parts and the
potential for disease transmission in melatonin...yet they put chicken embryos
and monkey blood & tissue in vaccinations.


Melatonin should be taken 20 to 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Dosage
recommendations suggest starting at 1 mg and increasing 0.5 mg every night until
sustainable, restful sleep is obtained. However, if you feel hungover in
the've taken too much and should decrease your dosage by 0.5 mg
until that groggy morning feeling subsides. The average dose for adults (and some
kids too), is 3 to 5 mg, although I've heard of people taking as much as
20 mg with no residual effects.

No real side effects have been reported other than slow reaction time and
lethargy. This is my top choice for a natural sleep aid, as our bodies
already naturally produce this hormone. Not only does it aid with sleep,
it's also an antioxidant, an anti-depressant, an immune booster, and a
dietary supplement. If you find it's not working for you, I suggest
increasing your dosage. Like with any sleep aid, DO NOT take if you plan
on driving or operating heavy machinery.

You can find melatonin at any local health food store. It can also be found at Kirkman Labs. Or has many options available as well.

2. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian root is a plant indigenous to Europe and Asia. It's been used
since the time of the ancient Greek and Roman empires for maladies such
as sleeping problems, digestive complaints, nervousness, trembling, tension
headaches and heart palpitations.

I know of several people who use this in combination with melatonin.
Valerian works by increasing the body's supply of gamma aminobutyric acid
(GABA), a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. One huge benefit
of Valerian is the lack of 'hangovers' or feelings of grogginess the following

Some side effects include headache, vivid dreams, dizziness, itchiness, and
upset stomach. Also, if you have a known history of liver issues, this
supplement is not for you, as it's metabolized in the liver.

Adults may use the following amounts of valerian to relieve insomnia by
taking it 30 to 45 minutes prior to bedtime:

  • 2–3 g dried root in tea, up to several times daily
  • 1/4–1/2 tsp (1–3 mL) valerian tincture, up to several times daily
  • 1/4 tsp (1–2 mL) fluid extract
  • 150–300 mg valerian extract, standardized to contain0.8% valerenic acid

It may take one to two weeks of regular use before the herbal preparation
takes effect.

When giving valerian to children, recommended adult dosages should be
adjusted in proportion to the child's weight. Most dosages of herbal products
are calculated for an adult weighing 150 lb (70 kg). A child weighing 75 lb (35
kg) should therefore receive 1/2 the adult dose.

Again, this can be found at your local health food store or at iherb.

3. Tryptophan

Think back to Thanksgiving day. Remember eating that huge turkey-filled
meal and then feeling a desire to do nothing but curl up on the couch and

Thank you...tryptophan.

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin plays a
role in sleep induction and it relies on tryptophan to aid in its
formation. While you can get tryptophan in supplement form at iherb, you can also
find this amino acid in various foods, as well. Foods like turkey, milk,
beans, nuts, cheese and eggs are full of tryptophan. You can also boost
serotonin levels in the brain by eating foods high in carbohydrates.

Dosage recommendations for insomnia are 1000 to 2500 mg daily.

4. 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan)

5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which is used to
boost serotonin levels in the body. 5-HTP is also the precursor of melatonin,
which regulates sleep cycles.

5-HTP has been shown to aid with insomnia, depression, anxiety, appetite
control, and pain issues and is about five times more potent than regular

Dosage is up to 100 mg daily.

5. Diet

Foods To Avoid, according to Holistic

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Spicy foods
  • Cola
  • Chocolate
  • Stimulant drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Additives
  • Preservatives
  • Non-organic foods containing pesticides.
  • Canned foods or any source of toxicity or heavy metals.
  • Sugar and foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. These raise
    blood-sugar levels and can cause a burst of energy that disturbs sleep.
  • Foods that are likely to cause gas, heartburn, or indigestion, such as fatty
    or spicy foods, garlic-flavored foods, beans, cucumbers, and peanuts.
  • Foods such as meat that are high in protein can inhibit sleep by blocking
    the synthesis of serotonin, making us feel more alert.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG), often found in Chinese food. This causes a
    stimulant reaction in some people.
  • Avoid cigarettes and tobacco. While smoking may seem to have a calming
    effect, nicotine is actually a neurostimulant and can cause sleep

Foods to eat, according to Holistic

  • Chlorophyll-rich foods, such as leafy, green. vegetables, steamed or
  • Microalgae, such as chlorella and spirulina.
  • Oyster shell can be purchased in health food stores and taken as a
    nutritional supplement.
  • Whole grains: Whole wheat, brown rice, and oats have a calming and soothing
    effect on the nervous system and the mind (unless, of course, you're on the
    gluten free diet...then this is a huge no-no).
  • Carbohydrates also boost serotonin, which promotes better sleep.
  • Mushrooms (all types)
  • Fruit, especially mulberries and lemons, which calm the mind.
  • Seeds--jujube seeds are used to calm the spirit and support the heart. Chia
    seeds also have a sedative effect.
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Magnesium rich foods

Diet plays a very important role in the quality and quantity of sleep,
as you can tell, as well as our overall health.

6. Some other suggestions

  • Relaxation techniques such as yoga, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Aromatherapy--lavender, in particular, has sedative qualities.
  • Light--make sure you get adequate amounts of light in the morning and afternoon to help set your circadian rhythm.
  • Music--gentle, slow music is another remedy that can help to improve sleep without medication. Music has been found to improve sleep quality, decrease nightly wakenings, lengthen sleep time, and increase satisfaction with sleep.
  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise
  • Chamomile, hops, passionflower, lemon balm, and ashwagandha are other herbs that are often used for insomnia. Some people may find benefit from simply having a cup of chamomile tea one to two hours before going to bed. Chamomile can reduce anxiety, calm the digestive system, and relieve muscle tension.

My recommendation is to use a few of these suggestions in combination for a healthy, restful night's sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fluoride: The Myth

To this day, I feel sick when I think of Parker's toddler years and the many things I did wrong as a new parent. Aside from blindly vaccinating when I should have instead been researching, my other big regret is giving my son fluoride tablets. We were told Parker really needed these 'magic pills' to prevent tooth decay, due to his love of sugary juice drinks. When I asked his pediatrician for the prescription, he never questioned me, just wrote the script with no warnings or words of advice at all.

I unknowingly gave my son ANOTHER toxic substance for nearly two years. Fluoride.

At this point, I know you're probably thinking, "Oh come on, Bridgett. It's fluoride....the stuff keeping our teeth healthy. It's in our toothpaste, our drinking can't be dangerous."

Unfortunately, it is...dangerous, that is.

Let me start by saying, fluoride is a by-product of copper, aluminum, and iron manufacturing. Yes, that's right. A by-product. A pollutant. In other words, it's disposable waste. Historically, the industries spent huge amounts of money on its disposal...that is until the 1950's when the aluminum companies somehow managed to convince our government this toxic by-product prevented tooth decay. Lo and behold, this resulted in our water supply being infiltrated with fluoride and pediatrician's prescribing fluoride drops to all their patients...even newborns.

But does fluoride actually prevent tooth decay?

The answer is a resounding, "No!"

In the mid-80's, 39,000 school children in 84 areas around the U.S. were studied and the results showed no statistical difference in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated cities. Indeed, 97% of European countries do not have fluoridated water. These countries refuse to fill the water supplies of their citizens with fluoride because they feel health decisions should be personal and not mandated by the government. What a concept! And yet the people living in Europe have teeth just as healthy, if not healthier, than ours. In fact, there is no increase in cavity production once fluoridation has stopped.

As recently as November 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) advised parents not to give their babies fluoridated water. Babies exposed to fluoride are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis - a permanent tooth defect caused by fluoride damaging the cells which form the teeth. There is also evidence fluoride may damage the developing brain, causing learning deficits and other problems.

Just a few points to consider according to Selwyn Johnston, an Australian advocate for fluoride free water:

  • Fluoride is a known toxin.
  • Fluoride is described by its manufacturers' safety data as a 'hazardous waste'. It is illegal to dump at sea.
  • Fluoride consumption by human beings increases the general cancer death rate.
  • Fluoride exposure disrupts the synthesis of collagen and leads to the breakdown of collagen in bone, tendon, muscle, skin, cartilage, lungs, kidney and trachea.
  • Fluoride inhibits antibody formation in the blood.
  • Fluorides have a disruptive effect on various tissues in the body.
  • Fluoride confuses the immune system and causes it to attack the body's own tissues, and increases the tumor growth rate in cancer prone individuals.
  • Fluoride kills red blood cells and damages gastric mucosa, resulting in the symptoms of 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome'.
  • Fluorides are medically categorized as protoplasmic poisons, which is why they are used to kill rodents.
  • Fluoride is a cumulative poison… we excrete about half what we ingest. The rest is stored, mainly in the bones, where it increases the density but changes the internal architecture of the bone. This makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture.

Did you catch that little tidbit about it being used in rodent poison? Specifically, rats and cockroaches. Lovely.

It's also one of the ingredients in Prozac and nerve gas. Yes, nerve gas. Even lovlier.

In review, let us look what exactly I did to my beautiful son, Parker.

I injected him with multiple vaccinations over a 24 month period. Vaccinations which contained thimerosal, aluminum, components of antifreeze, MSG, formaldehyde, and various other highly toxic substances. I then gave him fluoride tablets for another two years. Fluoride has been shown to increase absorption of aluminum in the brain. It's also stored in the body, as we only excrete about half of what we ingest. My son has a detoxification malfunction, as do many other children. And we wonder why our children are so sick? Environmentally, the United States is in very poor shape.

So what can you do?

  1. Buy fluoride free toothpastes. We use Epic Dental, a fluoride-free, xylitol based toothpaste. I also use their mouthwash, mints, and gum. Another fluoride-free toothpaste is Tom's of Maine. My kids hated the Tom's toothpaste and refused to use it...the Epic toothpaste has a nice minty flavor.
  2. Avoid the bottled water which includes a fluoride additive.
  3. If you live in a city with a fluoridated water supply, do not drink from the tap unless you've added a fluoride filter. Or, at the very least, limit your tap water intake.
  4. Write to your city government and voice your concerns about the safety of your fluoridated water supply.
  5. Refuse all fluoride treatments at your dentist's office. This may not be as difficult as you predict. More and more dentists are recognizing the validity of recent studies confirming the dangers of fluoride and its very limited benefits.

One final thought. My daughter has had no fluoride at all...her teeth are sparkling white and look beautiful. My son, who's been overdosed on fluoride, has stains on his teeth and they look pretty bad. Just a personal comparison...

In conclusion, fluoride is not something your body needs. Fluoride deficiency doesn't exist. Indeed, the stuff is just plain bad.

For more information, you can visit the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).

There is also an excellent book on the topic: The Fluoride Deception

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Brief Update

Hello, friends.
I haven't forgotten this blog. I've simply been debating my next topic of discussion. Not to mention these entries take quite a few hours to write, not including research time...and I've just been so busy of late.

I'm going to try and write and entry tomorrow (unless my parents visit), in which case I'll write on Monday instead.

Thank you for your patience.

I do hope you've received some valuable information from this blog so far.

If you have any recommendations or topic requests, please don't hesitate to throw them my way.

Many thanks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Yeast: The 'Gift' That Keeps Giving

I still remember waking up that first night, our house bathed in darkness, and hearing my son giggling hysterically from his bedroom across the hall.

"What could he be laughing about when there's nothing to see?"

The first few times it happened, I was amused. The giggling would usually wake both Doug and me. We'd look at each other and grin in appreciation that our son was so happy he could find amusement in utter darkness.

"Maybe he had a funny dream," I'd say to Doug.

"Maybe he's just thinking about something funny that happened today," Doug replied.

It seemed the laughing would come in cycles. He'd laugh for several nights in a row, big guttural laughs--not his usual baby giggles, and then it would stop. As the months passed, I eventually noticed a connection between the giggling and Parker's stomach being severely distended. This quirky night time laughter went on for several years.

Despite noticing the relevant symptoms, nothing clicked for me until I joined the TACA Yahoo forum last summer. One of the first posts I read referred to the 'yeast giggle' and how it often came at inappropriate times. I immediately responded to the post, asking for clarification and describing Parker's midnight escapades.

"He has yeast."

"You're dealing with yeast."

"Start him on the yeast protocol."

Every response I received was a variation of those statements.

From a previous post, you're probably aware I first started Parker on gut healing supplements. Once I was convinced his gut had improved I started the yeast protocol.

Before I get into the meat of this entry, let me clarify a common misconception...our guts are supposed to be inhabited by beneficial bacteria and yeast, NOT pathogenic strains. The problem is, according to the Yeast Infection Advisor:

Yeast infection and fungi in Americans has been estimated by the experts to
be present in 85% of the population and goes largely undiagnosed, especially in
men and children.

This all too common infection is American women caused them to spend over a
half a billion dollars for treatment of this fungus in 2002 alone. Most of
this was spent on over the counter medications which generally are effective as
a temporary solution.

Now I know most of you are probably thinking, "It's a yeast infection. Buy some Monistat and get over it." Indeed, I'm not referring to vaginal yeast infections...they're just a minor symptom of a bigger issue--systemic yeast (candida). As usual, if a woman has a vaginal yeast infection she'll go to a gynecologist, get a prescription for for an anti-fungal cream, and treat the problem superficially. Just another example of medicine today...treating the symptoms instead of the causes.

Most people are completely unaware a fungal infection exists in their bodies. The fungus typically starts growing in the intestinal tract and if left untreated, spreads to other organs in the body. This primes the body for various diseases, including cancer.

What Causes Pathogenic Yeast Overgrowth?

  • Antibiotic overuse
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Birth control pills (hormones)
  • Foods (beef and dairy due to the antibiotics injected into cows prior to slaughter & grains which are stored in silos growing mold for months prior to use)
  • A compromised immune system
  • Environmental toxins (mercury, aluminum, lead, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Predisposition issues such as: trauma, endocrine problems, indwelling catheters, steroid therapy, drug dependency, diabetes, etc.

Symptoms of Pathogenic Yeast Overgrowth:

  • Chapped and dry flaky skin
  • Poor appetite
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Stiff shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Frequent intestinal gas
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic hives
  • Suicidal depression
  • Autism
  • Worsening premenstrual syndrome
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Muscle fatigue and pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Bladder infections
  • Recurring vaginitis
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Short attention span
  • Memory loss
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Respiratory problems
  • Learning difficulties
  • Chronic allergies
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Blurred vision
  • Sinus and ear problems
  • Symptoms of multiple sclerosis
  • Acne and hormonal imbalances
  • An excessive craving for sugars and carbohydrates (These foods feed the yeast and aid in their growth and reproduction.)

Symptoms of Pathogenic Yeast Overgrowth in Autistic Children:

  • Spinning obsessively
  • Hand flapping
  • Red ring around the anus or a bad diaper rash
  • Jumping/bouncing on the furniture
  • Headstands
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Hyperactivity
  • Playing with genitals obsessively
  • Drooling/spit bubbles
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Bloated, gassy bellies
  • Bed wetting

A pretty impressive group of symptoms, yes? Yet somehow conventional medicine overlooks yeast every time. You'll rarely find a doctor who says, "Oh, let's treat you for yeast. I bet that's the problem." Just's been estimated that 85% of Americans have yeast issues. Do the math--the bulk of Americans are being medically misdiagnosed, much to their detriment. Pathogenic yeast strains can be deadly.

Pathogenesis = Disease Producing

If you suspect you have a yeast issue and would like to know definitively, take this: Yeast Infection Questionnaire

Upon researching candida, I grew to suspect many of my family members had yeast issues...not just Parker. I decided to try the treatment on myself first as I'd heard it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience. As yeast dies, it emits a toxin which can cause 'flu-like symptoms.'

Yup. I can vouch for that statement.

I had already begun adding aloe juice to my drinks. It's a natural yeast fighter and very soothing to the gut. I recommend Lily of the Desert (whole leaf or fillet) OR George's. The aloe 'bitters' have been removed from the two of these and both are virtually tasteless. I personally prefer the George's as it's completely unidentifiable in drinks, even water. It's clear and completely tasteless. The Lily brand has a brownish tint and although the taste is subtle, it's definitely noticeable. Both brands can be found at your local health food stores. Step 1, complete.

Next, I started a three-day regimen of Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) capsules to 'jump start' yeast control. S. boulardii is a non-colonizing, non-pathogenic 'friendly' yeast. I took one capsule per day for three days. On days 4 and 5, I had die off of the 'bad' yeasts and bacteria which the S. boulardii had displaced. I felt as if I had a stomach virus. My symptoms included joint aches, diarrhea, gassiness and bloating. There were white specks in my stool and urine, a.k.a. the dead yeast. I know this is probably more information than many of you want to know, but if you decide to treat for yeast you need to know what to expect. Many people, including both my children, have big, fluffy, light colored stools. That's also a sign of yeast die-off.

To minimize the symptoms of the die-off, I took activated charcoal capsules. This is the same thing given in hospitals to treat a drug overdose. It essentially absorbs everything in it's path and pulls it from your system. Remember how I said the dying yeast emits toxins? Well, the charcoal soaks it right up and rids it from your body. It works amazingly well. Step 2, complete.

Immediately following my 3-day S. boulardii regimen, I started probiotic therapy twice daily. Probiotics are simply the beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Since I had just cleared out much of the bad goop from my system, I had to replace it with the good. Probiotics are incredibly important, especially if you've been on antibiotic therapy. Although there are many probiotic options, my family rotates between these three choices from Kirkman Labs.

Super Pro Bio

Pro Bio Gold

Pro Bio Defense

With probiotics, it's important to remember we MUST keep replenishing those good gut strains daily until our guts are healed/stabilized enough to maintain the good populations on their own. The keys to controlling pathogenic gut strains are restoration of gut pH, repair and re-establishment of gut wall integrity, re-establishment of mucosal protection and normal antibody response. Step 3, complete.

Digestive enzymes are also incredibly effective in helping destroy yeast. Candida has a cell wall composed of cellulose and hemicellulose. The very same materials that make up the outside of plants and allow them to stand upright. The enzymes are able to effectively dissolve this wall, killing the yeast.

To read my entry on digestive enzymes, click here.

There are a couple enzymes designed specifically to kill yeast.



Step 4, complete.

Biotin has been found to effectively suppress the growth of yeast. Biotin is a member of the B-complex family and is needed in amino and essential fatty acid formation. We all take a high-potency dose of 5,000 mg daily for anti-yeast maintenance. As an added bonus, biotin has been found to cause hair and nail growth. We get our biotin from Step 5, complete.

Next up (and yes, we take all the things I've listed thus far), is grapefruit seed extract. Although this stuff tastes absolutely horrendous, it's an excellent anti-yeast agent. In fact, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is known as Liquid Gold for it's many therapeutic uses. This stuff is so potent, you can only add 1 drop per ounce of fluid. I even use a GSE/water combo in a spray bottle to clean my counters and stove.

This is the brand you want: Nutribiotic

It's the best I've found. One bottle of this will last you for months and months. I usually take one drop each morning and one drop each evening, added in juice. Step 6, complete.

I also use Yeast-Aid from Kirkman Labs which was formulated to support the immune system and control yeast levels in the body. Step 7, complete.

A few other supplemental options are garlic, oil of oregano, and coconut oil. All are natural yeast fighters.

The thing about yeast...there can be several pathogenic strains in one individual. While S. boulardii might kill one strain, it may not kill the other three. This is why it's so important to use a multi-supplement approach when killing yeast. Yeast propagate in a cycle and are actually clones--even one cell remaining can become a population within days given the right conditions.

As for diet, you'll want to limit sugars and carbohydrates (breads, pastas, donuts, etc.), as these are foods which feed yeast and aid in their growth and reproduction. Step 8, complete.

Every member of my immediate family has now been treated for yeast. Autumn very recently had a re-growth as evidenced by her 'Buddha' belly and her increased need for sweets. We're currently re-treating her. As for the rest of us, life is good. We all feel so much healthier having our systems cleared of candida. Oh, by the way, did I mention I lost 7 pounds during my yeast die-off phase?

Yet another reason to delete the yeast...getting rid of some extra poundage. :o)