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ReCODE: The Reversal of Cognitive Decline


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. While prevalence is rapidly increasing, the good news is you actually have a great deal of control over this devastating disease.

Dr. Dale Bredesen, director of neurodegenerative disease research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, and author of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline,” has identified a number of molecular mechanisms at work in this disease, and has created a novel program to treat and reverse it.

Originally known as the MEND (Metabolic Enhancement of Neurodegeneration) Protocol, the program is now called ReCODE (Reversal of Cognitive Decline).1

“You hear things that sound like hyperbole when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, but unfortunately, they’re not,” Bredesen says. “It’s currently costing the United States over $220 billion annually. It is a trillion-dollar global health problem. It was the sixth leading cause of death … Now, it has become the third leading cause of death in the United States. This is something that’s set to bankrupt Medicare.

It strikes about 15 percent of the population, so it’s incredibly common. In fact, you have the pathophysiology of the disease for about 20 years before the diagnosis is made. Many of us are walking around with early Alzheimer’s without realizing it. It’s a huge problem on the rise, and there hasn’t been any sort of a monotherapeutic approach that has worked for this terrible illness.”

Why Functional Medicine Is the Ideal Treatment Approach

Projections estimate Alzheimer’s will affect about half of the senior population in the next generation. Genetic predisposition does play a role. An estimated 75 million Americans have the single allele for Apolipoprotein E epsilon 4 (ApoE4). Those who are ApoE4 positive have a 30 percent lifetime risk of developing the disease. Approximately 7 million have two copies of the gene, which puts them at a 50 percent lifetime risk.

That said, even if you have one or two copies of this gene, you can still prevent Alzheimer’s from developing. But you do need to be proactive. One of the disease mechanisms Bredesen’s team discovered involve amyloid precursor protein (APP) and dependence receptors, first identified in 1993. Bredesen explains:

“These are receptors that actually create states of dependence on trophic factors [and] hormones … If they don’t get the appropriate factors, they induce programmed cell death. They induce neurite withdrawal [editor’s note: a neurite refers to a projection from the neuron’s cell body] and things like that. The surprise was that APP actually looks like a dependence receptor. We started looking at this further [and found] … that APP actually is an integrator.

In other words, it’s not just waiting for one molecule. It is summoning many different things. Whether it is going to give you the signals that indicate you should … make synapses and keep memories, or the opposite … forget [and] activate programmed cell death, depends on a whole set of signals.

These include estradiol, progesterone, pregnenolone, free T3, NF-?B and inflammation. We realized this is what the epidemiologists have been telling us. This is, in fact, what functional medicine does.

If you look at the molecules involved, you can’t escape the conclusion that a functional medicine approach is an optimal approach. This in no way says that you shouldn’t develop drugs as well, but you want to test the drugs on a background of the appropriate program.

We tell patients, ‘Imagine you have 36 holes in your roof — because we initially identified 36 different mechanisms involved — if you patch one hole, that’s not going to help you much. You want to patch all the holes.’ Now, a drug typically patches one hole … [but you need to] patch the other 35 as well.”

Not All Alzheimer’s Is the Same

In his research, Bredesen determined there are several subtypes of Alzheimer’s. Two of them are actually not an illness, per se. They are strategic programming downsides of the synaptic density based on a mismatch of a number of different inputs, but essentially not illnesses. If you implement Bredesen’s recommendations, you can reverse those problems. Bredesen explains:

“You can think about it the way you need to think about osteoporosis. You’ve got osteoblastic activity. You’ve got osteoclastic activity. It’s an imbalance in those two over your life that leads to osteoporosis. What we’re seeing [in these subtypes of Alzheimer’s] is no different. We realize this is synaptoporosis. There is synaptoblastic activity, and there are dozens of signals that feed into synaptoblastic activity [and there’s synaptoclastic activity].”

For clarification, your brain’s ability to speak, learn and make decisions requires connections between brain cells. You have some 100 billion neurons in your brain, and each neuron has, on average, nearly 10,000 connections, called synapses. These synapses are critical for cognitive functions such as memory storage and decision making.

When you get Alzheimer’s, you initially lose the function of the synapse, and ultimately the structure of the synapse. Eventually, the brain cells themselves start to die. This process is what causes the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s. To function properly, the synaptoblastic and synaptoclastic activity in your brain needs to be balanced.

“What we discovered is that everybody with Alzheimer’s is on the wrong side of the balance. In other words, their synaptoblastic activity is too low, and/or their synaptoclastic activity is too high. We want to go after all of those different things. Now, when we then started to measure these, we realized that you’ve got to measure things that aren’t measured in clinical practice. This has been the big problem.

People say that Alzheimer’s disease is mysterious; there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s because they have not looked at these larger datasets. This is part of the new medicine … We now argue that you can, for the first time, both prevent and reverse cognitive decline. Actually, we published the first paper that showed reversal of cognitive decline.2,3 The bottom line is we need to look at larger datasets. When you do that, you can see very clearly … that there are subtypes.”

Alzheimer’s Subtypes

While these classifications have not become widely accepted yet, Bredesen has published two papers on Alzheimer’s subtypes, based on metabolic profiling.4 These include:

1. Type 1, inflammatory (“hot”) Alzheimer’s: Patients present predominantly inflammatory symptoms. They have high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, reflecting a chronic inflammatory state. When the NF-?B part of inflammation is activated, it also alters gene transcription. Two of the genes turned “on” are beta-secretase and gamma-secretase, the latter of which cleaves APP, thereby promoting synaptoclastic processes.

2. Type 1.5, glycotoxic (sugar-toxic, “sweet”), a mixed subtype: This is an in-between subtype that involves both inflammation and atrophy processes, due to insulin resistance and glucose-induced inflammation.

3. Type 2, atrophic or “cold” Alzheimer’s: This is classified as patients presenting an atrophic response. While a completely different mechanism from inflammation, it produces the same end result — it pushes APP in the direction of creating amyloid plaques and Alzheimer’s cell signaling.

When you withdraw nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), estradiol, testosterone or vitamin D — any compound that provides atrophic support — your brain responds by blocking synaptogenesis. As a result, your ability to retain and learn new things is reduced.   

4. Type 3, toxic (“vile”) Alzheimer’s: These are patients with toxic exposures. Many will have chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) markers, even though most do not fit the official criteria for CIRS. “They act like CIRS patients (in their labs, not necessarily symptoms) with dementia,” Bredesen explains.

They will typically have high transforming growth factor beta and complement component 4 A; low melanocyte-stimulating hormone; high matrix metallopeptidase-9; human leukocyte antigen-antigen D related qs (associated with bio toxin sensitivity), yet they rarely have the pulmonary complaints, rashes, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue typically associated with CIRS. “When you treat those, then they get better. Without treating them, they continue to decline,” Bredesen says.  

What About Genetic Influence?

As for the genetic component, Bredesen notes:

“With respect to genetics and Alzheimer’s, about 95 percent of cases of Alzheimer’s are not so-called “familial” Alzheimer’s disease. Those are relatively uncommon. Actually, mutations in APP itself are very rare causing Alzheimer’s. They tend to be very clearly clustered in families. They come on early.

However, about two-thirds of the people who have Alzheimer’s do have one or two copies of ApoE4. In that case, the genetics of risk for Alzheimer’s is very important. The ApoE4 increases your risk for type 1. It increases your risk for type 2. But it actually seems to decrease your risk for type 3, the toxin-associated [subtype], which is very interesting because … ApoE4 [has been found to be] protective with respect to parasite-associated dementia …

In fact, ApoE4 is protective for certain things. It is a more pro-inflammatory state, so very good for dealing with things like microbes. Not so good for aging, thus a case of what’s called antagonistic pleiotropy … It gives you advantages when you are young, but it is a liability with respect to chronic illness when you are older.”

If You’re ApoE4 Positive, Fasting Is Strongly Indicated to Avoid Alzheimer’s

Interestingly, ApoE4 is actually a rather useful gene, as it helps your body survive famine. Granted, lack of food is a rare situation in most developed nations — most suffer health problems from an overabundance of food — but as soon as I heard this, I suspected having this gene could be a strong clinical indication that you absolutely need to do intermittent fasting or longer fasts on a regular basis in order to avoid Alzheimer’s. Bredesen confirms my suspicion, saying:

“This is absolutely the case. I think it’s a very interesting point. ApoE is such a remarkably interesting gene … [It’s] is a fat-carrying molecule … What does that have to do with Alzheimer’s disease? Why do you start with ApoE4 and end up with Alzheimer’s? We started looking at this. It turned out, surprisingly, that ApoE actually enters the nucleus. It binds to the promoters of 1,700 different genes. It literally reprograms your cell toward a more inflammatory state.

In fact, if you look at the groups of genes, you couldn’t tell a better story about Alzheimer’s. It binds to things related to neurotrophic support … ApoE has a big impact … The ApoE4 was the primordial gene that appeared between 5 and 7 million years ago … For 96 percent of all of evolution of hominids, we’ve all been ApoE4 double positive … ApoE3 appeared 220,000 years ago. ApoE2 appeared 80,000 years ago.

Interestingly, ApoE4 prepares you to change niches. When we moved from in-the-trees arboreal ancestors to walking on the savannah, stepping on dung, puncturing our feet, eating raw meat filled with microbes, we needed a pro-inflammatory gene. In fact, if you look at the genes that are different between simians and hominids, a surprising number of these are pro-inflammatory.

It also allows you to eat fat, absorb it better and go longer without eating. If you take people who are ApoE4-positive and -negative and starve them, the ones who are negative will tend to die earlier. Therefore, it’s not that it’s better or worse. It’s different.

It gives you some advantages. It gives you some disadvantages. Therefore, you can learn to live your life slightly differently that is of advantage to you. My argument is that if you do the right things, Alzheimer’s disease should be a very rare illness …”

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Is at the Heart of Alzheimer’s

Bredesen has identified more than four dozen variables that can have a significant influence on Alzheimer’s, but at the heart of it all is mitochondrial dysfunction. This makes logical sense when you consider that your mitochondria are instrumental in producing the energy currency in your body, and without energy, nothing will work properly.

Your mitochondria are also where a majority of free radicals are generated, so when your lifestyle choices produce higher amounts of free radicals, dysfunctions in mitochondria are to be expected. The accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA are also a primary driver of age-related decline.

“One of the biggest surprises we found is that if you look at why APP is making these amyloids, it’s actually changing the synaptoclastic side. The very amyloid that we have vilified and tried to get rid of turns out to be a protective response to three fundamentally different classes of insults. These go along with the subtypes of Alzheimer’s.

If you’ve got inflammation going on, you are making the amyloid because … it is a very effective endogenous antimicrobial. If you are decreasing your trophic factor support … you are downsizing a network. As mentioned earlier, in that case, it’s not really a disease …

[It’s] a falling apart of the system. You’re making amyloid because you’re fighting microbes, because you’re under assault and you’re inflamed, because you are decreased in your trophic support (insulin resistance, and so on) or because [you’re toxic].

Guess what amyloid does beautifully? It binds toxins like metals, mercury and copper. It’s very clear you’re making [amyloid] to protect yourself. It’s all well and good if you want to remove it, but make sure to remove the inducer of it before you remove it. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk.”

Why Drug Treatments Aren’t the Answer

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, the evidence suggests that holding out for a drug treatment would be foolish, as it’s unlikely to work very well, and here’s why:

“The hope is that we would use a specific drug and test drugs to see if we can prevent it. Here’s the problem: APP is like a CEO essentially. It’s looking at all the inputs from both sides, the pro and the con. It’s deciding, ‘Are we going to be able to make more memories? Are we going to have a positive synaptic plasticity? Are we going to be synaptoblastic or are we synaptoclastic?’

Now, in the few families that have this [familial presenilin 1 mutation], they are pushed towards the synaptoclastic side from the beginning. That is not representative of what over 95 percent of us have. We are pushed there appropriately because we ate the wrong foods, we stayed up too late and we abused ourselves with stress; we were exposed to toxins; we lived a Western lifestyle; our hormones decreased. Those are the things that drive our APP to produce the synaptoclastic side.

In those presemilin1 cases and in the APP mutations, it is not the same mechanism. Unfortunately, the mouse models that we all work with are like familial Alzheimer’s, not like the sporadic Alzheimer’s, which is the vast majority [of real-life cases]. This is not to say that the drug cannot work. Let’s hope for the best. But again, I would argue that you want to address the various things that are contributing to an appropriate response of your APP, which we ultimately call Alzheimer’s disease …

The critical piece here is … to say … ‘Let’s look at all of the contributors to your cognitive decline.’ We know ahead of time that because of the cognitive decline, you have this change. If it’s what we call Alzheimer’s, you, by definition, have a change in your APP signaling with the occurrence of this amyloid. Let’s look at all the things that contribute to that.”

ReCODE

While ReCODE looks at all of the contributing factors, restoring mitochondrial function is a cornerstone of successful Alzheimer’s treatment. One of the most powerful ways to optimize mitochondrial function is pulsed or cyclical ketosis, which is the main focus of my book, “Fat for Fuel.”

Not surprisingly, Bredesen’s ReCODE Protocol makes use of nutritional ketosis, and he’s starting to familiarize himself with cyclical ketosis as well. Typically, patients are asked to get a ketone meter, and to maintain a mildly ketogenic state of 0.5 to 4 millimolar betahydroxybutyrate.

The ReCODE protocol evaluates 150 different variables, including biochemistry, genetics and historical imaging, to determine which factors are most likely driving the disease. You can get more details on these variables by reading Bredesen’s outstanding new book, “The End of Alzheimer’s,” which was just released this week. An algorithm then generates a percentage for each subtype. While most patients have a dominant type, other subtypes typically contribute to the disease.

From this, they then devise a personalized treatment protocol. For example, if you have insulin resistance, which many do, you want to improve your insulin sensitivity. If you have inflammation, then you’ll work on removing the source of the pro-inflammatory effect.

Oftentimes you’ll need to eliminate toxins and/or address leaky gut or a suboptimal gut microbiome. Interestingly, they also place great focus on the rhinosinal microbiome, the microbes residing in your nose and sinuses. According to Bredesen, your rhinosinal microbiome can have a significant influence on this disease. Many Alzheimer’s patients have elevated levels of a number of different pathogens, especially oral bacteria, such as P. gingivalis and Herpes simplex virus-1.

“There’s a tremendous amount you can do,” Bredesen says. “We recommend that everybody over the age of 45 get what we call a “cognoscopy” … It’s very simple. You’re going to look at these different things in your blood. You’re going to look at your genetics … Then get on the appropriate program for prevention. If you’ve already started to be symptomatic, get on an appropriate program for reversal. The earlier, the better.”

Following is a list of suggested screening tests.

Alzheimer’s Screening Tests

Test Recommended range

Test: Ferritin

Recommended range: 40 to 60 ng/mL

Test: GGT

Recommended range: Less than 16 U/L for men and less than 9 U/L for women

Test: 25-hydroxy vitamin D

Recommended range: 40 to 60 ng/mL

You can get test here

Test: High-sensitivity CRP

Recommended range: Less than 0.9 mg/L (the lower the better)

Test: Fasting Insulin

Recommended range: Less than 4.5 mg/dL (the lower the better)

Test: Omega-3 index and omega 6:3 ratio

Recommended range: Omega-3 index should be above 8 percent and your omega 6-to-3 ratio between 0.5 and 3.0

You can get the omega-3 index test here

Test: TNF alpha

Recommended range: Less than 6.0

Test: TSH

Recommended range: Less than 2.0 microunits/mL

Test: Free T3

Recommended range: 3.2-4.2 pg/mL

Test: Reverse T3

Recommended range: Less than 20 ng/mL

Test: Free T4

Recommended range: 1.3-1.8 ng/mL

Test: Serum copper and zinc ratio

Recommended range: 0.8-1.2

Test: Serum selenium

Recommended range: 110-150 ng/mL

Test: Glutathione

Recommended range: 5.0-5.5 ?m

Test: Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol)

Recommended range: 12-20 mcg/mL

Test: Body mass index (which you can calculate yourself)

Recommended range: 18-25

Test: ApoE4 (DNA test)

Recommended range: See how many alleles you have: 0, 1 or 2

Test: Vitamin B12

Recommended range: 500-1,500

Test: Hemoglobin A1c

Recommended range: Less than 5.5 (the lower the better)

Test: Homocysteine

Recommended range: 4.4-10.8 mcmol/L

Core Treatment Strategies

Bredesen recommends mild ketosis and a mostly plant-based diet to all his patients. The specific diet recommended in his protocol is called KetoFlex 12/3, which involves a daily fasting period of 12 hours. For ApoE4-positive patients, 14 to 16 hours of fasting instead of the minimum 12 is recommended.

He also recommends exercise, to increase BDNF; stress reduction; optimizing your sleep, which is critical for cognitive function, and nutritional support. Important nutrients include animal-based omega-3, magnesium, vitamin D and fiber. All of these nutrients need to be optimized.

“I always tell patients, ‘We’re going to treat you now like a competitive athlete’ … We want to optimize these things. When you do that, the effects are absolutely striking. I’ve seen people go back to work. One person said, ‘I’ve allowed myself to talk to my grandchildren, once again, about the future, because I had to stop doing that.’

One person went from third percentile to the 84th percentile on his cognitive testing. Another person increased hippocampal volume dramatically. These are unprecedented effects, because we are addressing the specific items that are actually causing the cognitive decline.”

He’s also following Michael Hamblin’s work on photobiomodulation, which uses near-infrared light and red light between 660 and 830 nanometers for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Lew Lim has developed a device called the Vielight, which employs light emitting diodes at these frequencies. Alzheimer’s patients using the device for 20 minutes a day report remarkably positive results.

Bredesen also agrees that electromagnetic exposures from wireless technologies are a crucial component that needs to be addressed, as this type of radiation activates the voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in your cells, and the greatest density of VGCCs are in your brain, the pacemaker of your heart and male testes. It is my belief that excessive microwave exposure and glyphosate, which disrupts the blood brain barrier, are two of the most significant factors contributing to Alzheimer’s.

More Information

To learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of “The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline,” which details all the different evaluations recommended in his ReCODE Protocol. As noted by Bredesen:

“The hope is that when we all work together, we can make a major impact and reduce [Alzheimer’s prevalence]. As I said, it should be a rare illness. That is the truth. It should be a rare illness if we do the right things … We are in the middle of a revolution. This is a major change in medicine. We are now looking at how the human organism actually works. We are now able, for the first time, to do essentially what Jonathan Wright calls human biochemistry.

Drugs may or may not turn out to have their place. But the bottom line is we need to understand what’s causing the problem … We are now dying of complex illnesses, like cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. This is a real revolution in the way that we think.

My fervent hope is that we will see more of this in medical schools and in our universities — starting to look at what is actually driving these illnesses, instead of the old-fashioned approach of ‘Let’s write them a prescription.’”


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How to Grow Dandelion Greens


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Dandelion greens are nutritious, delicious and versatile. They can be added to salads, soups and stews or sautéed and served as a side dish. What you may have only thought of as a pesky weed in your yard is actually a flowering herb with significant health benefits.

The dandelion plant belongs to the largest plant family — the Asteraceae or sunflower family — which includes more than 22,000 species, such as daisies and thistles. The dandelion alone has more than 100 different species, all of which are beneficial to your health.1 In fact, every part of the dandelion can be used, from the roots to the leaves and flowers.

You probably know how difficult they are to eradicate from your yard. When you mow them each week, the plant accommodates and grows a shorter stalk.2 Dandelions have become masters of survival, which is likely what makes them such successful weeds. However, while you may not want them growing in your yard, there are benefits to growing your own patch of dandelions and harvesting the greens for your table.

History of the Dandelion Herb

The dandelion has been embraced across cultures and centuries, but has now been branded suburban enemy No 1. An estimated 80 million pounds of chemicals are poured on yards across the U.S. to eradicate the little flowering herbs, but year after year these hardy plants return. Before the invention of lawns, however, gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for more dandelions.

The name of the plant originated from the French who called it “dent de lion” or tooth of the lion, as the jagged edges of the leaves are suggestive of a lion’s tooth.3 Although it is native to Europe and Asia, it has been carried around the world and is probably one of the most recognizable plants worldwide. It is believed the European settlers found the plant so useful they purposefully brought the dandelion with them to the New World.

The official botanical name for the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale. The pollen from the dandelion doesn’t cause allergic reactions as the grains are too large. However, the sap from the plant may cause a common contact dermatitis resulting in swelling and itching.4

The plant is known to grow just about anywhere, but loves direct sunlight. As the flower matures it forms a familiar white puff of seeds that can float as far as 100 miles in the wind before settling into the soil and seeding yet another plot of land.5 Some outdoorsmen claim the dandelion helps them predict the weather. After the flower has gone to seed, if rain is coming the head reportedly will cover the seeds to protect the seed ball until the threat of rain has passed.6

Plant Your Dandelion Crop in the Spring

If you are planting your own dandelion crop, it is probably best to plant them furthest from your neighbor’s yard and remove the heads before they seed. You can grow a full crop in your backyard using an inexpensive hot house that allows sun in and keeps the seeds from spreading. Even with such precautions, seed can still leave the hothouse on your clothing or on the sole of you shoes, so you’ll still want to remove the heads before the seed ball forms.

When you are starting a crop, the first seeds can be sown outside approximately four to six weeks before the last frost.7 Once they have sprouted, which takes seven to 10 days,8 you’ll want to thin them so they are 6 to 8 inches apart, allowing for full growth of the greens and plenty of room for the tap root. You can choose from a variety of different dandelion plants to meet your particular needs. The Clio produces upright greens that are easy to harvest and the Ameliore is a French strain with broader leaves and a milder flavor.9

The root of the dandelion routinely goes 18 inches deep into the soil and is an excellent way of keeping the soil from compacting.10 The root is sturdy and often has little hairy rootlets that may remain in the ground when you harvest your plants and regrow a new plant.11 Although the plants are incredibly resilient to poor conditions, the quality of nutrition you receive from the greens will depend on the quality of the soil the herb grows in.

Dandelions thrive in full sun, but will grow in partial shade. Use soil that drains well and compost the soil in the fall to encourage a strong spring crop. You can harvest the leaves and flowers throughout the summer months. The roots are best harvested during frost-free fall months.12 Before harvesting the leaves, cover the plants with a dark opaque cloth so the leaves blanch, reducing the bitterness of the greens.13

The blossoms should be harvested when they are young and tender, just as they have bloomed. Putting them in a bowl of cold water will prevent them from closing before you eat them.14

Dandelions will grow problem free. You won’t have to treat for pests or change planting location unless they are planted in full shade. Dandelions may also be grown in container gardens, which makes covering them to blanch the leaves, or cutting the flower when they go to seed, much easier than if they are planted in your herb garden. Containers can also be set up high to reduce the potential for back pain as you are bending to care for the plants and prevent them from seeding your lawn or your neighbor’s yard.

Dandelions Have Significant Health Benefits

Small birds eat the seeds of the dandelion; pigs, goats and rabbits eat the flowers and the nectar is food for the honey bee.15 But, beyond a food source for wildlife, the dandelion holds an amazing amount of health benefits for you as well. There are uses in your kitchen from the root to the flower, and health benefits to each part of the plant as well. Some studies have demonstrated the greens help produce antibodies to cancer.16

Dandelion greens are high in calcium, iron and potassium.17 They are also rich in vitamins C, A, K,18 thiamine and riboflavin,19 and surprisingly rank ahead of both broccoli and spinach in nutritional value. A full cup of chopped greens is a low 24 calories, packing more nutrition in a serving than some of the vegetables you routinely grow in your garden each year.

The vitamins and minerals provided in your dandelion greens help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, support your immune system and the development of strong bones and teeth. Practitioners of folk medicine have been using dandelion root and leaves for centuries to prevent and treat several health conditions. The root of the plant increases the flow of bile that may help reduce gallstones, liver congestion and inflammation and jaundice.20

The plant has a second name, “pis-en-lit,” (wet the bed) — a name that refers to the diuretic effect of its greens.21 When eaten before bed, they may require you make several trips to the bathroom during the night. Some find the leaves to have a mild laxative effect that aids in movement through your digestive tract.22 Traditionally, the root of the dandelion has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, as it has mild anti-inflammatory effects.

Time of harvest affects the properties of the root. Fall harvest has the greatest health benefits and produces an opaque extract with higher levels of inulin and levulin, starch-like substances that may help balance your blood sugar.23 Spring and summer harvest of the root produces a less bitter product, but with less potent health benefits.

The herb has been used by Native Americans to help heartburn and upset stomach and the Chinese have used it to improve breast milk flow and reduce inflammation in the breast during lactation.24 The Europeans used dandelion greens to help relieve fever, boils, diarrhea and diabetes. As a precautionary note, dandelions may make the side effects of lithium worse, and may increase your risk of bleeding if you are taking a blood thinner.25

Dandelions Propagate Profusely

Dandelions growing in the center of your yard can be harvested and eaten as long as your yard is chemical free and your neighbors don’t spray. Even if your neighbors use chemical pellets to treat the yard, the chemicals migrate to the edges of your yard, so don’t harvest and eat the dandelions within 10 feet of your neighbor’s yard.

You may end up with dandelions in your own yard in places where you don’t want them growing. There are several ways to remove them without resorting to chemicals. Even the pellets you sprinkle across your lawn to control weeds contribute to the damage done to wildlife in your area and groundwater pollution that affects the quality of drinking water. Over 5 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually across the world.26 These chemicals affect both plant life and the birds and wildlife that feed on the vegetation.

In most instances the chemicals are fat soluble. This means there is significant biomagnification as the chemicals remain in the insect and animal bodies and accumulate up the food chain. A conservative estimate is that 672 million birds are exposed to pesticides in the U.S. annually and 10 percent of those, or 67 million, are killed outright from ingesting the chemicals.27 The extent of the damage done long term to the bird population is difficult to estimate.

Birds exposed to chemicals also suffer “sublethal” effects that include thinning egg shells that break under the weight of the incubating adult, hormone disruption, impaired immune systems and a lack of appetite.28 Each of these consequences severely impairs the ability of the bird to reproduce, migrate and survive.

Birds may be particularly vulnerable as they can both mistake the pesticide pellets for seed and eat insects that are also laden with chemicals, doubling the load of pesticides they ingest.

Children are also more vulnerable than adults as they absorb more chemicals for their size relative to adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of the toxins in their bodies. A report by Environmental and Human Health Inc. found children exposed to pesticides had a higher incidence of childhood leukemia, soft tissue sarcomas and brain cancers.29

Some assume these chemicals are safe for use as they are sold over-the-counter, but while the Environmental Protection Agency classifies four of the more common lawn chemicals as having insufficient data to assess the impact on the development of cancer in humans, all are associated with the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S., non-Hodgkin lymphoma.30

These chemicals don’t disappear after a couple of days either. They are incorporated into the leaves of the grass eaten by insects and your pet dog. They seep into the groundwater in your neighborhood, which affects the water that eventually reaches your tap. Residue is tracked indoors on the bottom of your shoes where it accumulates in the dust in your home.

Get Rid of Your Lawn Dandelions Naturally

There are several ways to keep your lawn clear of dandelions without resorting to toxic chemicals. Dandelions thrive in direct sunlight so when the grass grows 3 to 4 inches tall it helps to reduce the growth of the plant. The plant won’t flower until all the leaves have formed and only if there is sufficient sunlight and moisture.31 In the short time-lapsed video above you can watch one dandelion go from flower to seed ball in two days.

You can kill the plant, and therefore not worry about the tap root producing another plant, by spraying a mixture of white vinegar, water and salt directly on the plant. This will kill the surrounding plants as well, so use a direct spray and be careful where you aim it.

Your third option is to pull the plants from the ground, being careful to pull up the tap root from the end as any root you leave will produce another plant. Work in your yard when the ground is moist, such as after a deep watering or a long slow rain. Mother Earth News recommends three different weeders designed specifically for dandelions to help you remain chemical free.32

Each of the weeding options allow you to work standing up to reduce strain on your lower back and knees. The prices range between $20 and $30. Using a combination of all three strategies — length of grass, spraying individual plants with vinegar and salt and pulling individual plants — may help you keep a lawn free of dandelions and even address other types of weeds. Remember to address the plant before it goes to seed, as once the seeds begin to spread, all control is lost.

Use the Leaves, Roots and Flowers in Recipes at Home

In this short video, a chef from the Martha Steward test kitchen demonstrates making a chick pea and dandelion salad using fresh from the garden vegetables. Using the greens in a salad is just one way to use the plant — there are many more:33,34

? Roots can be dried, ground and brewed like coffee

? Dandelion wine made from the flowers

? Flowers fried in butter

? Dry the roots, roast a 300 degrees F and grind; add to hot chocolate

? Mix greens in potato salad or egg salad

? Sautéed like spinach and added to eggs, served as a side dish or in a quiche

? Cold pickling in a salt brine; heat may destroy the delicate leaves

? Kimchi made with dandelion greens

? Flowers mixed with apple peel or orange zest and made into jam

? Roots chopped fine and stir fried

? Dandelion pumpkin seed pesto

? Dandelion blossom cookies


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Skyrocketing Male Infertility May Threaten Mankind’s Survival


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Human fertility is in a downward spiral, scientists warn and modern life — with its technological and chemical “progress” — is likely to blame. Female infertility tends to get the most attention, but in this case, it’s male infertility that has made headlines, as recent research shows sperm concentration and quality has dramatically declined in recent decades.1,2,3,4,5

According to the first of two recently published papers,6 a meta-analysis of 185 studies and the largest of its kind, sperm counts around the world declined by more than 50 percent, to 47 million sperm per milliliter (mL), between 1973 and 2013, and continue to dwindle.

The most significant declines were found in samples from men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, where many had sperm concentrations below 40 million/mL. (Men suspected of infertility, such as those attending IVF clinics, were excluded from the study.) Overall, men in these countries had a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count (sperm concentration multiplied by the total volume of an ejaculate).

Male Infertility Rates Warn of Impending Human Extinction

According to the World Health Organization, 40 million sperm per mL is considered the cutoff point at which a man will have trouble fertilizing an egg, which means half of the men in most developed nations are near or at the point of being infertile. South American, Asian and African men had no noticeable decline, although this discrepancy could be due to the smaller sample sizes obtained from those countries.

As noted by Frederick vom Saal, professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, who was not involved in the study, these findings are a wake-up call and a warning that “we are in a death spiral of infertility in men.” Indeed, lead author Dr. Hagai Levine, who called the results “profound” and “shocking,”7 worries that human extinction is a very real possibility, should the trend continue unabated.8

Danish researcher and pediatrician Dr. Niels Skakkebæk, who in 1992 published a paper9 showing male fertility declined between 1940 and 1990, also commented on the findings, saying:

“These two new papers add significantly to existing literature on adverse trends in male reproductive health problems … Here in Denmark, there is an epidemic of infertility. More than 20 percent of Danish men do not father children. Most worryingly [in Denmark] is that semen quality is in general so poor that an average young Danish man has much fewer sperm than men had a couple of generations ago, and more than 90 percent of their sperm are abnormal.”

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Wreak Havoc on Men’s Reproductive Ability

The second paper,10 published in PLOS Genetics, suggests endocrine disrupting chemicals are to blame for the dramatic decline in reproductive health among men.11 It found that exposing male mice to ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic sex hormone found in birth control pills, causes developmental problems in the reproductive tract, thereby lowering sperm counts.

While men do not use birth control pills, they’re exposed to them nonetheless through contaminated water and other sources. Men are also exposed to a number of other endocrine disrupting chemicals in their day-to-day lives,12 thanks to the pernicious use of endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics, personal care products, herbicides such as glyphosate13 (which is a very common contaminant in non-organic foods) and more.

The study also confirmed that the effects of environmental estrogens have generational effects. Males are successively becoming increasingly more sterile with each passing generation. As reported by Environmental Health News:14

“They observed adverse effects starting in the first generation of mouse lineages where each generation was exposed for a brief period shortly after birth. The impacts worsened in the second generation compared to the first, and by the third generation the scientists were finding animals that could not produce sperm at all.

This latter condition was not seen in the first two generations exposed. Details of the experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical.”

Testicular cancer is also on the rise, as are congenital malformations of the penis, and these problems have also been linked to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Experiments on fathead minnows show endocrine disrupters turn the fish into a sterile intersex species, meaning they have both male and female reproductive systems yet are incapable of reproducing.15

While women are also adversely affected by these kinds of chemicals, men are disproportionally affected due to the way the male reproductive system develops in utero. At the outset, male and female fetuses are fairly identical. Sex hormones are what drive the differentiation between the sexes. Alas, when synthetic chemicals that mimic these all-important hormones enter into the mix, it confuses the process and interferes with the biological process of turning the fetus into a male.

Corruption and Lies Threaten Human Health and Survival

The Unites States permits more than 84,000 chemicals to be used in household products, cosmetics, food and food packaging, and a majority of these have never been tested for safety. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 85 percent of new chemical applications include no testing whatsoever.

What’s worse, the chemical industry has a long history of lying about the safety of their wares, and its powerful lobby has allowed the industry to saturate the world in extremely dangerous chemicals with little or no oversight.

As revealed by Grant David Gillham,16 a political consultant who ran Citizens for Fire Safety, the American Chemistry Council17 (the chemical industry’s trade group) flat out lied when it said it had no involvement with Citizens for Fire Safety. The group was in fact created with the specific aim of defending the use of flame retardants in furniture — despite the fact that they don’t work and are profoundly toxic — to protect the industry’s interests.

Everything an expectant mother takes into her body can potentially get passed along to her developing child, and scientific evidence strongly suggests exposure to chemicals is contributing to cancer, reproductive abnormalities, early puberty18,19,20 and a host of other endocrine, neurological and metabolic problems.

In a 2005 study,21 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the U.S. Tests detected a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame retardants, PCBs and even DDT. As noted in a 2009 scientific statement from the Endocrine Society:22

“The evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals is strong, and there is mounting evidence for effects on other endocrine systems, including thyroid, neuroendocrine, obesity and metabolism, and insulin and glucose homeostasis …

Effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals may be transmitted to further generations through germline epigenetic modifications or from continued exposure of offspring to the environmental insult.”

Hormone Disrupting Chemicals — The Dirty Dozen

As mentioned, endocrine disrupting chemicals specifically alter the normal function of your hormones.23 A hormone’s job is to interact with the cells in your body, sending signals that instruct them to perform certain tasks, and endocrine disrupting chemicals interfere with this communication process. In 2013, the EWG24 identified 12 of the most troublesome hormone wreckers.

Surprisingly, along with some very well-known endocrine disruptors,25,26 the review also identified several you might not normally associate with hormone disruption, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. The EWG’s “dirty dozen” list for the 12 worst endocrine disruptors are outlined in the following table.

I’ve written about many of these in prior articles, so for more information about any particular one, please follow the links. For a list of some of the most common sources of these hormone wreckers, please see “10 Sources of Endocrine Disruptors and How to Avoid Them.”

? Bisphenol-A (BPA)

? Dioxin

? Atrazine

? Phthalates

? Perchlorate

? Fire retardants27

? Lead

? Mercury

? Arsenic

? Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

? Organophosphate pesticides28

? Glycol ethers

Other Root Causes of Infertility

While endocrine disrupting chemicals are high on the list of contributing factors, they’re not the only ones. Other variables that can affect a man’s reproductive ability include:

  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures
  • Nutritional deficiencies and/or food intolerances
  • Stress
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Obesity and/or inactivity

These subtle but critical factors synergistically interact to impact the quality of a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm, affecting a couple’s ability to conceive and the health of the embryo. For example, while a gluten intolerance alone cannot cause infertility, the resulting gut inflammation can affect your nutrient absorption and lead to deficiencies in nutrients you need for optimal sperm, egg and hormone production and a healthy pregnancy.

In terms of diet, certain nutrients are also more important than others when it comes to fertility. Animal-based omega-3 fats and vitamin D are two vital components that can have a significant impact. Both are also crucial during pregnancy to protect the health of both mother and child.

Optimizing your vitamin D could be one of the most important things a woman could possibly do in pregnancy, as research clearly shows that achieving a vitamin D serum level of at least 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) reduces the risk of premature birth by 60 percent. It also helps protect against a number or pregnancy complications, as well as autism spectrum disorder and Type 1 diabetes in the child.  

Microwave Exposure Is Decimating Male Reproductive Health

I personally believe this may be the most significant factor for the observed decrease in male sperm count. You may not recall this, but it was well known in World War II that radar operators could easily create sterility by exposing the groin to radar waves. Radar is microwave radiation and was the precursor to cellphones that use similar frequencies.

In May 2011, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified radiofrequency EMF — such as the radiation from cellphones — a class 2B carcinogen, meaning it is possibly carcinogenic to humans.29 Research also suggests microwave radiation may play a significant role in male reproductive health.

While evaluating studies showing you can radically reduce biological microwave damage using calcium channel blockers, Dr. Martin Pall discovered a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies.30

Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs). It turns out these VGCCs are activated by microwaves, and when that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released.

This massive excess of intracellular calcium then stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. Not only does peroxynitrites cause oxidative damage, they also create hydroxyl free radicals — the most destructive free radicals known to man.

Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease.

The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes. (A man’s testicles are also more vulnerable to EMFs for the fact that they’re on the outside of the body. Women’s eggs, on the other hand, are somewhat protected and shielded from EMFs due to them being further inside the body.31)

What this research tells us is that excessive microwave exposure can be a direct contributor to conditions such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility.32 Indeed, other studies have linked low-level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure from cellphones to an 8 percent reduction in sperm motility and a 9 percent reduction in sperm viability.33,34

Wi-Fi equipped laptop computers have also been linked to decreased sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation after just four hours of use!35 So, if you care about your reproductive health, avoid carrying your cellphone in your pockets or on your hip, and avoid using portable computers and tablets on your lap.

Strategies to Treat Infertility and Boost Fertility Naturally

Considering there are many factors contributing to male infertility, any comprehensive list of recommendations is bound to be a long one. That said, following are a number of common sense suggestions that will address the root causes of infertility. For more detailed information on treating infertility naturally, including specific information on all fertility nutrients, fertility diet, what to avoid and the influence of stress and sleep on fertility, check out Iva Keene’s home study fertility program, “The Natural Fertility Prescription.”36

? Minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals

Exposure to environmental toxins, both in utero and neonatally, may dramatically affect adult fertility. Compounds that can alter hormone function and result in adverse reproductive health effects include but are not limited to heavy metals; endocrine disruptors; phthalates (associated with testicular toxicity and hormonal disruption even at low levels); VCH chemicals used in rubber tires, plastics and pesticides; PAHs released from cigarettes, car fumes and road tar; pesticides and herbicides; formaldehyde; bisphenols found in plastic products; organic solvents; dry-cleaning chemicals and paint fumes.

For a list of suggestions on how to minimize your exposure to these kinds of toxins, please see “Your Body’s Chemical Burden.”


>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

? Avoid drinking unfiltered tap water

Our waterways are constantly being polluted by industrial waste and byproducts, pharmaceutical drugs (such as birth control pills and other hormone therapies), pesticides and commercial cleaning products. Heavy metals are the most common of the reproductive toxins reaching our water supply through industrial waste, jet fuel exhaust residue and a variety of other sources.

? Eat an optimal fertility diet

An optimal fertility diet is about what to avoid as much as it is about what to include. Eat REAL food, ideally organic, to avoid pesticide residues, and locally grown. Processed and packaged foods are a common source not only of pesticides but also chemicals such as bisphenol-A and phthalates.

Key elements are good-quality protein sources (organic and grass fed when it comes to animal products) and healthy fats.

Avoid factory farmed animal products, harmful trans fats and processed vegetable oils. Also avoid unfermented soy products, as soybeans contain phytoestrogens that act on hormones. For an added boost, consider adding more of the following “sperm-enhancing” foods:37 organic pastured eggs, spinach, bananas, dark chocolate, asparagus, broccoli, pomegranates, walnuts, garlic and all zinc-rich foods (as zinc plays a key role in sperm development).

? Avoid common allergens

An overactive immune system is more likely to attack its own body cells, and the link between food intolerances and anti-sperm antibodies is well established. The two most widely spread food intolerances are gluten and dairy. Factory farmed milk can also be a source of estrogen that can harm a man’s fertility. Hormones found in factory farmed cows’ milk include:

  • Prolactin
  • Somatostatin
  • Melatonin
  • Oxytocin
  • Growth hormone
  • Luteinizing releasing hormone
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone
  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Insulin
  • Corticosteroids and many more

? Minimize microwave exposure

Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body while it is on, and avoid using laptops and tablets on your lap. More generally, it would also be wise to limit your total exposure by turning your Wi-Fi off at night, and make your bedroom an EMF-free zone.

? Get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Some STDs can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not be aware you have them as there are no obvious symptoms. One such STD is a chlamydia infection. In men, chlamydia can lead to sperm abnormalities including sperm antibodies.

In women, it can lead to scarring, blocked tubes and miscarriage. Most STDs are easy to treat, so it pays for both partners to have an STD check. There is no point in only one partner going for a test as the other partner can reinfect them again.

? Avoid coffee, smoking and alcohol

While organic black coffee has a number of health benefits, fertility does not appear to be one of them. On the contrary, studies suggest it decreases fertility. In one study, men who drank three or more caffeinated beverages per day during the conception phase raised their partner’s risk of miscarriage by more than 70 percent.38

Alcohol is also harmful to both eggs and sperm, and increases the risk of miscarriage. Needless to say, smoking and recreational drugs also have an adverse effect on fertility, reducing the size of your testes and lowering your sperm count.

? Get regular exercise

According to recent research, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week can help boost men’s sperm count. And, to maintain healthy swimmers, you need to stay active —  within a month of quitting exercise, sperm count starts to wane again.39 That said, be aware that bicycling may have an adverse effect on your sperm. In one study, men who routinely cycled 300 kilometers per week ended up having fertility problems.40

? Normalize your weight

Obesity contributes to infertility, so normalizing your weight can help improve your sperm quality and quantity. For guidance, please review my free nutrition plan.

? Limit hot baths and saunas

While hot baths and saunas have a myriad of health benefits, the heat can take a toll on sperm. In one three-year-long study, 5 of 11 men who quit taking hot baths were able to raise their sperm count by nearly 500 percent. So, limiting hot baths and saunas for a few months may be helpful during the conception phase. I do a far-infrared sauna nearly every day, but I put a small freezer block of ice next to my groin to keep the temperature low.

? Combat stress

From making sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of sleep and exercising regularly to incorporating a tool like the Emotional Freedom Techniques or taking up yoga or meditation, there are many ways to address stress. Try a few different things and stick to whatever works.

? Clean up your home environment 

Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm. Look for products made by companies that are Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic and GMO-free.

This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, furniture, mattresses and others.

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, consider buying flame retardant-free varieties, containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk and Kevlar. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame retardant chemicals.

Also switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database41 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.


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