Friday, March 7, 2014

A Closer Look At Bentonite Clay

I gave a basic introduction to bentonite clay in Heavy Metals Part 4 - Options for Detoxifying Metals. Bentonite is a clay that is a great detoxifier because of 2 main qualities: adsorption and absorption. Additionally, it is a great option because of other qualities such as its mineral content. 

Adsorption. No, that's not a typo, it was a new word to me too. I'm no chemist, however, this is an important concept to understand as to why bentonite clay is effective. Adsorption occurs when the molecules of one substance attach to the surface of another substance. Or as Webster puts it, "to collect in condensed form on a surface."

Bentonite clay has a strong negative ionic charge, giving it amazing pulling power for things with a positive charge, such as heavy metals, free radicals, and most other toxins. The negative ions (bentonite clay) and positive ions (heavy metals) bond (adsorption). That's great right?  But here's the bad news, the bond isn't very strong. Which means it can pull apart, which means after being mobilized out of tissues, metals or other toxins could be left in the body to recirculate. Not good! That's where bentonite's next quality comes in...

Absorption. Again referring to my friend Webster, he says, "to suck up; to assimilate; to absorb and incorporate." Bentonite clay is highly absorptive (some types even more than others). Judy Phillips from LL Magnetic Clay states, 

"The clay utilized in our baths is a raw, sodium bentonite clay that is the most pulling, swelling clay you can get your hands on.  If you were to mix it with hot water, and it looks like it is completely hydrated, it isn't.  You could come back an hour later, and it would be completely solidified.  Add some more water and the same thing would happen." 

I can attest to that, there have been times I've been preparing clay for a bath by blending it with water and have gotten delayed by my children needing something, or, um, fighting about something (that's never happened to you, right?), when I've gotten back to my clay preparation the contents of the blender container have become a gelled mass. It has to be blended in small batches, doing more can result in the clay swelling up so much it gels up and doesn't flow down to the blades to be blended.

Bentonite's Magic
There you have it, the magic of bentonite is that once the adsorptive quality of the clay pulls the toxins to the clay molecule, the absorptive quality incorporates it inside its structure and holds it tightly. Not only does bentonite mobilize the toxins and metals out of the tissues, it essentially grabs them and doesn't let go.

Because of these two qualities, bentonite is incredibly versatile in its usefulness. It can be effective for pulling out heavy metals,   infection from sores, bee stings, radiation, viruses, etc.

Bentonite clay is also know for it's mineral content. This is great benefit for those who use it internally for general detoxification. For those who use it for heavy metal detoxification, it is a huge benefit. Other methods of heavy metal chelation pull a lot of essential minerals out of the body while it is pulling out the metals. Bentonite clay pulls a few beneficial minerals, but also delivers other beneficial minerals to the body. We just take some water with a liquid mineral supplement added or some coconut water after a clay bath to replenish lost minerals.

External vs. Internal Use
While in general bentonite is safe both externally and internally, it is important to know the differing attributes of different bentonite. There are over 200 types of bentonite clay and they are not all created equal. Some are better for internal use, others for external use. Some have more pulling power and some can be polluted. As stated above the sodium bentonite used in LL Magnetic Clay baths as tremendous swelling ability. While that is great for a bath, it's not so great if you take much internally. You could end up quite constipated. For internal use, calcium bentonite is the way to go, just make sure it's food grade. So do your due diligence when picking a clay.

 As with everything, there is a variety in quality, a good thing to check when looking at bentonite is to ask the supplier for the mineral and microbial content tests.

In our house, we call them mud baths and I find them oh so wonderfully relaxing. I can't think of a more pleasant way to detox!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Heavy Metals Part 4 - Options for Detoxing Metals

As you learned in Heavy Metals & Autism Part 1 - Signs & Symptoms, metals are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the body care products we spread on our skin. The likelihood of completely eliminating our exposure to them is, well, um...nil! So are we stuck with them in our brains and other tissues forever? Absolutely not, but it will take some extra help.

For kids like my Jordan, who have issues with his body being able to eliminate toxins on its own, additional help is absolutely essential. For others, who normally don't have an issue with eliminating toxins, metals deserve special consideration because they bind so tightly in the body, and can be there for decades continuing to accumulate, sometimes symptoms don't show up until later years with issues such as Alzheimers. Extra help is often needed to help pull them out and eliminate them.

There are several options for this process. The ones I'll discuss are: IV Chelation, oral chelation, bentonite clay, herbs, and zeolite.

IV Chelation involves a drip IV of a chelating agent such as EDTA. Obviously, this can only be administered by a doctor. It comes with risks and is often very difficult on the body.

Oral chelation involves taking a chelating agent such as DMSA. When doing this, there are a lot of considerations and many practitioners don't understand how to do it correctly without causing more harm than good (of course, that's true of IV chealtion as well, probably even more so).

Herbs. There are some herbs that help detox heavy metals. The most popularly marketed ones like cilantro and chlorella, among others, can mobilize metals, but don't do a good job "hanging on" to them all the way out of the body. If using them, it's best to combine them with other things to help make sure they get captured and taken all the way out of the body so they aren't left to recirculate and settle into another place.

Zeolites that are natural form from volcanic lava and salt water. They have a cage-like structure that allows them to hold or contain other molecules. They have a negative ionic charge, so they attract compounds with a positive charge and bind them. There are over 40 types of natural zeolites and hundreds of synthetic zeolites with a variety of molecular structures.

 There is a lot of misinformation out there about zeolites and a lot of true information about zeolites where zeolites were not used properly with negative consequences, like causing cancer or causing aluminum toxicity. All this to's important to know what you are getting if you buy zeolites.
Since zeolites naturally attract heavy metals and other toxic things; when found in nature, the cage-like structure is already filled with those toxic elements. They have to be cleaned out through a special process so they are ready to attract and hold any toxic elements that need to be detoxified from something. If that is not done, it can add to toxicity when taken internally, as happened with some cows that ended up with aluminum toxicity due to uncleaned or improperly cleaned zeolites in their feed. Also due to the crystalline structure, it can cause damage and even cancer if inhaled. 

I wouldn't let that scare you off from thinking about using zeolites entirely. When handled properly - micronized, cleaned, suspended in water they have proven incredibly effective at helping with all sorts of issues, including heavy metal toxicity, and being completely nontoxic.

I have never personally tried zeolites, since I came across other heavy metal detoxifiers that worked for us before I learned much about zeolite. However, if I needed to do it again, zeolites would be on my short list of things to try but only zeolite by Waiora in their product called Natural Cellular Defense.

Bentonite Clay. While other metal detox options focus on elimination pathways of the colon and urine, bentonite clay baths use the avenue of the skin, the largest elimination avenue of the body. But before we get into too much detail...what is bentonite clay? It is a clay that has a strong negative ionic charge, giving it amazing pulling power for things with a positive charge, such as heavy metals, free radicals, and most other toxins. The negative and positive ions bond and stay bonded. Basically, not only does bentonite mobilize the toxins and metals out of the tissues, it essentially grabs them and doesn't let go.There are more qualities of bentonite clay that make it a great detoxifier, but I'll save that for another post, as this one is getting plenty long. You can find it here A Closer Look At Bentonite Clay.

For detoxing baths, I've used LL Magnetic Clay. This clay is specifically chosen for it's incredible pulling and swelling qualities and they have package combinations with different herbs that help to mobilize or pull certain types of toxins.  I've been pleased with their products.


The Process of Detoxifying Metals

No matter which method is used for heavy metal detox there are a couple additional necessary factors.

Activated Charcoal
A "Capture". While pulling metals and even a couple days afterward, we ALWAYS had Jordan take activated charcoal internally before bed. Activated charcoal absorbs, well, everything. It's what we carried on the ambulance for poisonings when I worked as an EMT.  So metals that aren't held onto fully by the mobilizing or chelating agent, or are mobilized but not captured due to the chelating agent already being eliminated from the body are filtered by the liver and are directed toward the, um, exit, can be captured and escorted out rather than being reabsorbed and recirculated in the body.

Take a break. A pulse on/pulse off approach is needed with most of these methods in the short term, and with all of them in the long term. In the process of detoxifying metals, this usually starts with fairly short breaks of about a week or two and gradually extending, out to many months. This is for a few reasons:

1. Metals move from areas of high concentration to those with lower concentration, so as metals are pulled from the most available tissues, and those tissues become lower in metals, it will take a bit for metals in areas of high concentration to move into and refill those areas of lowered concentration to be ready to be detoxed again. At first, 10 days is usually sufficient for this to happen.

2. It takes a lot of resources - vitamins, minerals, energy, etc to detoxify and the body needs a break in order to reestablish necessary levels of those resources.

3. As metals leave the body the yeast that was bound to them is released and levels need to be brought back under control so they are not causing additional issues in the body. 

For Jordan, we just kept him on yeast killing herbs the entire time he was being detoxed from metals and in between.

4. The liver can become congested and may need to be cleaned out again. 

Remember, I am NOT a doctor and this is NOT medical advice. It's simply our experience and what I've learned along the way.

For more on heavy metals see:
Heavy Metals & Autism Part 1 - Signs & Symptoms
Heavy Metals Part 2 - Testing
Heavy Metals Part 3: 4 Critical Considerations BEFORE You Detox Heavy Metals

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Heavy Metals Part 3: 4 Critical Considerations Before You Detox Metals!

Once testing has been done and you are reasonably sure you are dealing with heavy metals, get them out ASAP, right? No! STOP! Do not pass go!  There are four critical things to consider and to deal with BEFORE detoxifying metals from the body or you can make matters worse!
  • address mineral and nutrient levels
  • check out the teeth
  • control any yeast issues (notice I don't say "eliminate" yeast issues)
  • make sure the elimination pathways of the body are open and working
  • cleanse the liver

Address mineral & nutrient levels

Mineral and nutrient deficiencies are present if a child is autistic. This is important when it comes time to think about detoxifying metals because the body will not detox metals as effectively while it is severely deficient in minerals and other nutrients. Also, depending on the method of detoxifying metals, it can also pull out minerals. For a child already deficient in minerals, pulling more minerals out of the body can be detrimental. Supplementing with trace minerals for a few or several months before beginning to detox metals can make a big difference in the process.

Check Out The Teeth

If amalgam "silver" fillings are present in the teeth, it can be a wise idea to have them removed. Amalgams are about 50% mercury and they can "leak". If you are going to choose to do something to pull metals out of the body, still having them in there while you are pulling metals could cause additional metals to be pulled out and into the body, creating additional toxicity. If you choose to remove them, don't just go to any dentist and get them taken out. Go to one specifically trained in SAFE amalgam removal where they have specialized equipment that allows you to breath without breathing in mercury vapor that is released during drilling, a rubber dam so no mercury can go down your throat, and other safety measures. 

Experts opinions are divided as to the wisdom of having them removed. One side says it's absolutely necessary, while the other side says, they have a limited life anyway, 12-15 years on average, so when they fall out or begin leaking and need to be replaced, just replace them with a resin filling at that time.

Control Yeast Issues

I say control yeast issues rather than eliminate yeast issues, because yeast and metals go together and until the metals are brought down to an acceptable level, yeast will be an issue in the body. (I'm speaking of pathogenic over growths of yeast, not the necessary beneficial acceptable levels of yeast our bodies need to be healthy.) Yeast binds to metal, so as metal is pulled out of the body, yeast will be "freed" up to set up camp elsewhere and wreck havoc, making the host (you or your child) miserable. If yeast levels aren't under control before starting to pull metal and even more yeast becomes present to cause harm, problems can be compounded.

Open the Body's Elimination Pathways

What in the world are elimination pathways? They are all the ways the body can excrete or get rid of junk. The body has four main elimination pathways: lungs, skin, bowels (liver), and urine (kidneys). If these pathways are blocked the junk stays IN the body, recirculates, and has to be stored somewhere. Now, apply that to doing a metal detox where you are pulling metals out of tissues where they have been stored...but they can't get out of the body. They get deposited somewhere else, causing worse problems than existed before the detox. Some type of fun sweaty movement is great to help the lungs and skin. Drinking plenty of PURE (filtered) water to help out the kidneys and making sure the bowels are moving at least once, preferably twice per day. If it does not empty frequently enough, the metals waiting for elimination will be reabsorbed in the large intestine and recirculated into the body. 

Cleanse the Liver

Metals and allergies nearly always point to a congested liver. The liver is a key player in being able to detox the metals toward the body's garbage chute once they've made it to the blood. If the liver is congested the metals won't be able to leave the body, but will recirculate, be deposited somewhere else within the body and once again, instead of improving health by detoxing metals, it compounds the health problems. 

I've used a variety of herbs and herbal preparations to do this for Jordan and myself.  A simple one or two week liver cleanse isn't exactly going to do the trick either, this could take several weeks. For Jordan, we had to cleanse, then rest and let his body reestablish balance, then cleanse some more, progressively being able to cleanse longer and deeper. These weren't long cycles for us - a day on a few days off and gradually extending and flipping that to a week or two on, a few days off.

For more on heavy metals see:
Heavy Metals & Autism Part 1 - Signs & Symptoms
Heavy Metals Part 2 - Testing

Monday, February 17, 2014

Heavy Metals Part 2 - Testing


Heavy Metals & Diseases

Autism isn't the only disorder associated with heavy metals. Alzheimer's, chronic fatigue, candidasis,  food allergies, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, neuromuscular disorders, tics, and a host of others can also have heavy metals as their cause or as a contributing factor. 

Heavy Metal Testing

There are three main types of heavy metal testing:
  • hair analysis
  • blood test
  • urine test & urine challenge test
Blood tests and urine tests are great for testing what is going on in the blood at that snapshot moment, but are not at all effective at testing what is in the tissues. The metals in the tissues are what matters in chronic or long-term issues because that is where metals that are not excreted or detoxified from the body lodge and cause interference in the normal functioning of the body and cell.

Hair analysis can reveal metals the body has been storing. It can also show levels of essential minerals. I believe this is an excellent tool. However, it does have limitations. In a study done comparing mercury levels in hair analysis samples of autistic children and non-autistic children, the autistic children's hair samples showed LESS mercury than the non-autistic children. Yet in challenge tests (which I'll explain in the next section), the mercury excreted by the autistic children were much higher than the amounts excreted by neurotypical children.
  *Jordan's hair analysis revealed he was extremely high in several metals, but his mercury level was not significantly high.

Urine challenge testing is done by the client/patient taking a chelating agent (substance that pulls metals out of the tissues) such as DMSA or DMPS while the urine is collected for 24 hours and is then tested for the levels of metals. This is a very accurate way to determine the level of metals in a body. It needs to be supervised by a doctor and is relatively expensive. 
 *I took a urine challenge test since my levels were likely reflective of Jordan's levels due to his age at the onset of symptoms. It revealed relatively high levels of mercury.

For more on metals:
Heavy Metals & Autism Part 1 - Signs & Symptoms
Heavy Metals Part 3: 4 Critical Considerations BEFORE You Detox!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Heavy Metals & Autism Part 1 - Signs & Symptoms

Heavy metals are getting more press these days, but it doesn't seem to be enough. They can cause a host of mysterious symptoms and confounding illnesses that will stump most doctors. 

Examples of heavy metals include: lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, arsenic, silver, nickel, tin, etc. Some are more toxic than others, a few even in the smallest amounts are poisonous.

Signs & Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity (not nearly exhaustive, just the ones that sound hauntingly familiar):

·   Psychiatric disturbances
o   Social deficits, shyness, social withdrawal
o   Repetitive, perseverative behaviors, obsessive-compulsive tendencies
o   Depression, mood swings, flat affect; impaired face recognition
o   Anxiety; irrational fears
o   Lack of eye contact
·   Speech & language deficits
o   Loss of speech, delayed language, failure to develop speech
o   Articulation problems
o   Speech comprehension deficits
o   Verbalizing and word retrieval problems; echolalia
·   Sensory abnormalities (sensory integration sound familiar     anyone???)
o   Abnormal sensation in mouth and extremities
o   Sound sensitivity; mild to profound hearing loss
o   Abnormal touch sensations; touch aversion
o   Over-sensitivity to light; blurred vision
·    Motor disorders
o   Flapping, circling, rocking, toe walking, unusual postures
o   Deficits in eye-hand coordination
o   Abnormal gait and posture, clumsiness
·    Cognitive impairments
o   Borderline intelligence, mental retardation
o   Poor concentration
o   Poor short term, verbal, and auditory memory
o   Poor visual and perceptual motor skills; impairment in simple reaction time
o   Deficits in understanding abstract ideas and symbolism
o   Difficulty carrying out complex commands
·     Unusual behaviors
o   Self-injurious behavior, e.g. head banging
o   ADHD traits
o   Agitation, unprovoked crying, grimacing, staring spells
o   Sleep difficulties
·      Physical disturbances
o   Hyper or hypotonia; abnormal reflexes; decreased muscle strength; incontinence; problems chewing or swallowing
o   Rashes, dermatitis, eczema, itching

o   Diarrhea; abdominal pain, constipation
o   Anorexia; nausea, vomiting, restricted diet, poor appetite
o   Lesions of ileum and colon; increased gut permeability 
Source: Changing the Course of Autism – Jepson, Bryan M.D.

  Does any of that sound familiar?

EPA report, “For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development…Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb.”
“…the EPA’s analysis reflects a new understanding among scientists in the US and Japan that umbilical cord blood has higher mercury concentrations than a mother’s blood…”
Source: Changing the Course of Autism – Jepson, Bryan M.D.

Common Sources of Heavy Metal Exposure

Water supply, pesticides, fish, vaccines, dyes, paint, canned fruit juices, artificial food colors, antacids, dental amalgam, cookware, cosmetics, deodorant, bleaching agents, treated wood (like decks, playgrounds), etc. 

Heavy metals can be consumed with food or beverages, inhaled or absorbed through the skin
For more on heavy metals, see 
Heavy Metals Part 2 - Testing
Heavy Metals Part 3: 4 Critical Consideration BEFORE You Detox!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beating Colds & Flu...Nature's Way (Part 2)

Elderberry is my first go-to for when I hear a sniffle or cough, but what if it's just not getting the job done and the cold or flu is worsening? What if I'm out of elderberries? What if we are traveling? What do I do then?

If you ask me what I do when my family (or I) get sick on 3 different days, you'll probably get 3 different answers, depending on what I've been reading lately or what happens to be in my cupboard at the time. There are probably hundreds of options, what I'm going to list aren't "the right" options, it's just a few options out of many, and are ones that I've used many times and have worked for us.

My Basic Strategy

1. Vitamin D3.  When the temperature drops or school starts and the boys are spending less time out in the sunshine, I start them on vitamin D3 at 2,000IU/day, just for prevention and other good health reasons.

2. Elderberry Syrup. At the first sniffle or cough, I start simmering a pot of elderberries. For the recipe see Beating Colds & Flu Nature's Way (Part 1).

3. Sugar. I eliminate the white stuff completely. It's rarely in our diet anyway, but when I hear a sniffle, cough, or more there are no exceptions made. Sugar depresses the immune system by half for several hours after consumption! Definitely unwanted when fighting a bug.

When 1, 2, &3 Just Aren't Enough

This is the part where if you ask me different days, you'll get different answers. I don't do all of these at the same time, I usually just pick one or two. These are in no particular order.

4. Garlic Oil. I like this, because it's easy to use, even on a baby. And if sickness hits while traveling, garlic and olive oil are available at just about every grocery store. Just rub some on my little guy's feet, cover with a sock sometimes (definitely during the day when he's running around. I can't say I love oily footprints across my floors - can you hear the voice of experience here), and he keeps right on sleeping. My boys can handle having it rubbed right on their chest too.
Or, if you are like my husband, just chew up a garlic clove and swallow.

5. Essential Oils. There are many essential oils that would be helpful, here are a few I've used.

Thyme oil has resided in my purse for the past year since I was flying to a week-long conference with a scratchy throat, no kitchen, fridge or health food store and had to make it through airline security. I leave it there now, as it's come in handy a few times. When needed, I just put a drop or two on my wrists every few hours (or on my boys' feet). While it's strong, it doesn't seem irritating to many people, making it ideal for using in public. It's also great as a disinfectant. I've been known to use it for cleaning from time to time and several commercially available natural cleaners & disinfectants are based on thyme oil.

Lemon or Lemongrass oil are both great at killing things and purifying the air. After a stay in the hospital where both my husband and I came home with MRSA,  on a second stay we diffused lemongrass in the hospital room on a return trip to avoid another bout with the nastiness. Lemongrass is great for killing MRSA and all the nurses commented how pleasant our room smelled. If there's sickness in the air (aka a couple family members are sick), I'll often diffuse this in our home to purify the air and decrease chances of it spreading, not to mention the therapeutic effects of just breathing it in for those already sick.

Eucalyptus oil is great at helping clear the sinuses. If stuffiness and congestion is the issue,  a drop on a shirt, a few drops in a vaporizer at night, or in a diffuser is often helpful.

Thieves oil by Young Living or a similar combination oil. Thieves is another oil great at disinfecting and killing all manner of bacteria and viruses. I've used this on feet during sickness, as a cleaning/disinfectant agent. I sent it with my husband to S. Sudan as his emergency sickness aid.

Benefits of using garlic oil or essential oils is that they can be rubbed on the body and do not have to be ingested, so if a child is too young to swollow capsules, is sleeping, or if vomiting is part of the sickness, it's a good option. On the flip side, if nausea is a major problem, the strong fragrances aren't always a good thing.

6. Herbs. I always keep a few on hand, sometimes in both capsule and liquid forms, just in case the elderberry just isn't enough and reinforcements are needed. A few of my favorites:

Echinacea/Golden Seal  - I love this combination. While elderberry is best at the very beginning of an illness, this is more helpful at later stages. It is antibiotic, antiviral and an immune stimulant. (The goldenseal part is not recommended for those who struggle with low blood sugar.)

Oregon Grape - is often a good choice for kids. It is not a direct antiviral or antibacterial but helps support the bronchials, immune and lymphatic systems. (Not recommended for those with high blood sugar issues.)

Olive Leaf - is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.

Yarrow -  is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.

Mullein - is a great supporter of the lungs. When congestion of the bronchials, croup, or asthma is the issue, Mullein is my first pick!

7. Onions - as a final note, onions once saved me from an ER trip in the middle of the night while I was fighting bronchitis and close to not being able to breathe anymore. I had tried everything I knew to try, as a last ditch effort, my husband sliced up some onions,  heated them in a skillet just a bit, wrapped them in in old T-shirt, put them on my chest with a hot water bottle on top. My breathing started easing, two hours later I started coughing gunk up and continued recovering from there. The house smelled like a bad restaurant for 3 days, but it worked!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beating Colds & Flu...Nature's Way

Sniff, sniff, cough, cough. It's that the first sniffle, 2nd cough, or hint of a tickle in the throat, I reach for the elderberries and make up some elderberry syrup. It's a great antiviral, antioxidant, and boosts and supports the immune system. Sometimes I don't wait for the sniffle, if we are headed somewhere public and a lot of sickness has been going around, I'll give my kids a spoonful or a sip before heading out.

I used to buy the syrup already made up, until I figured out I could order dried elderberries and make it myself, for pennies on the dollar. This year I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs for $10./pound (on special). With one pound, I can make about 4 quarts of syrup. Retail, it's about $15. for a 4 fl. oz. bottle. That would be $120. for 1 quart of syrup or $480. for the 4 quarts I can make out of my $10/pound berries (plus the cost of a little cinnamon and honey). I don't have the time to make a lot of my own stuff but the cost savings makes this one worth it to me!

Elderberry Syrup:
1/2 C. Dried Elderberries
2 C. Water
1 Cinnamon Stick
Add a bit of ginger and gloves to increase the effectiveness, if desired

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer until the liquid is reduced by 1/2 (about 30 minutes).
Strain with a fine mesh strainer.

Add honey (to desired sweetness) while warm and stir until dissolved.
Makes about 1 pint.

If we aren't currently fighting a bug and I have some made up, I'll let the boys have a tablespoon or sip everyday. If they are fighting something, I'll try to remember to give them some every hour or so.