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Monthly Archives: April 2012
gmo.mercola.com Internationally renowned natural health physician and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses an important topic regarding Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).
The World’s #1 Natural Health Website *** www.mercola.com Non-GMO Shopping Guide (download for free) mercola.fileburst.com Organic Food May Become a Thing of the Past (Article to read & print) articles.mercola.com ***Note from me: Mercola.com is a great website that you can get free downloads & subscribe to his newsletter which I find very informative. Disclaimer: I am no expert on this subject or even very well schooled in it. I am merely passing on info I have found via the internet. Hope you can find it useful & if one more person’s eyes is opened to this subject~then I have done my job. Thanks for stopping by.
By Dr. Mercola
Fiberglass, also known as fibrous glass or glass wool, is a man-made fiber used to insulate homes, furnace filters, pipes, appliances and more; it’s also used for sound control in airplanes and automobiles, and in certain curtains, roofing material and plastics.
As its name implies, the main substance in fiberglass is glass, which is finely spun to form a mass that resembles wool.
When working with or installing this material, the small fibers can be swallowed or inhaled, where they may remain in your lungs for long periods of time, potentially leading to health problems like cancer.
Since fiberglass first entered the market in the 1930s, it is now among the most widely used insulating materials in the world, which is why concerns that it may cause cancer need to be taken seriously.
U.S. Government Says Fiberglass is “Reasonably Anticipated” to Cause Cancer – Then Changes its Mind?
Animal studies have shown that certain glass fibers can cause tumors in animals’ lungs and other tissue sites, while cell studies have shown that certain fiberglass fibers may cause damage to DNA. Fiberglass was nominated as a top safety concern on the synthetic mineral fiber list for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) back in 1994. At that time, it was listed as “reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). However, in 2011, the updated NTP “Report on Carcinogens”i noted:ii
“Certain glass wool fibers (inhalable) are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens based on
- sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals of inhalable glass wool fibers as a class … and
- (2) evidence from studies of fiber properties which indicates that only certain fibers within this class — specifically, fibers that are biopersistent in the lung or tracheobronchial region — are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”
What is important about this wording is the term “certain glass wool fibers (inhalable),” which by definition excludes fiberglass from receiving a carcinogenic listing. NTP explains this by saying that fiberglass is less durable and therefore less likely to remain in your lungs when inhaled, as compared to other types of glass fibers used for “special purposes” like aircrafts:iii
“There are generally two categories of glass wool fibers that consumers might use: low-cost general-purpose fibers and premium special-purpose fibers. Most home and building insulation projects use general-purpose glass wool. Special-purpose glass fibers are used for applications, such as separating the negative and positive plates in a battery, and in high-efficiency air filters and aircraft, spacecraft, and acoustical insulation.
In general, insulation fibers are less durable and less biopersistent than special-purpose fibers, and may be less likely to cause cancer than the more durable, more persistent special-purpose fibers.”
Why Was Fiberglass Removed from the Cancer List?
By removing fiberglass from the “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer” list, OSHA doesn’t list it as a problem for workers, which means dangerous exposures may continue to occur, particularly in factories where fiberglass products are produced or worked with on a daily basis. One consumer group, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, is protesting the findings, pointing out that the formula the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NIH used to determine carcinogenicity diluted the results, making them look like fiberglass is safe when it really isn’t. Two problems they noted in a report to the EPA are as follows:iv
“NACAA recommends that EPA consider potential or allowable emissions, rather than actual emissions, as much as possible in evaluating residual risk. Since facility emissions could increase over time for a variety of reasons, and with them the associated impacts, the use of potential or allowable emissions is more appropriate. We believe an analysis based on actual emissions from a single point in time could underestimate the residual risk from a source category.
… In assessing the cancer risks related to the source category, EPA used long-term concentrations affecting the most highly exposed census block for each facility. This analysis dilutes the effect of sources’ emissions by estimating the impact at the centroid of the census block instead of at the property line or wherever the maximum exposed individual is.”
NACAA is calling on the government to re-examine the data in order to protect workers who may be handling this potentially carcinogenic substance on a daily basis. Richard Belzer, in his report on the problems with NTP’s Report on Carcinogens (RoC), also highlighted fiberglass as an example of the inaccuracies contained in the report. The agency’s listings are “not scientific determinations so much as policy decisions justified, where possible, by science,” he explains, continuing:v
“A recent example of delisting is glass wool (i.e., fiberglass), which the NTP listed as reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen in the seventh edition of the RoC (1994), apparently in response to a previous decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to list it as Group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans). After an extended industry research effort, IARC revised its classification downward to Group 3 (inadequate evidence in humans; limited evidence in experimental animals).
… In 2004, industry nominated glass wool for delisting from the RoC, and in 2011 NTP modified its substance profile in the 12th RoC to exclude varieties of glass wool that are not biopersistent in the lung … The path—from not being labeled, to being labeled as a possible human carcinogen, then reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, to once again not being labeled—extended over 20 years. Moreover, the NTP did not delist the substance so much as change its definition to exclude fiberglass.”
Is Fiberglass Safe to Use in Your Home?
This information is one of the reasons that I recently had all the blown in fiberglass insulation in my home’s attic removed and replaced with five inches of blown in foam to completely seal and insulate my attic. Not only did this remove the dangerous fiberglass, which invariably migrates down into the living space but it also closes off the attic space and makes the attic only about four degrees different than the temperature of the living space. Additionally it provides a fair measure of protection from winds as high as 140 mph.
Please understand that fiberglass is a serious issue and if you can it would be wise to consider replacing it in your attic as it’s likely that fiberglass, like so many other man-made synthetic materials, could contribute to health problems if your exposure is significant or recurring. That said, the most significant risk applies to those who live near a production facility or who work with it on a regular basis. Aside from the cancer risks, exposure to fiberglass is known to cause:
- Irritation to eyes, nose and throat
- Rash and itchiness
- Stomach irritation if fibers are swallowed
- Worsening of asthma and bronchitis
It is not clear at this time whether there is a significant risk to simply living in a home that contains fiberglass insulation, but the research suggests the substance is primarily problematic when stirred up into the air (such as during a remodeling project or upon initial installation).
One caveat, look for the newer formaldehyde-free fiberglass, as the conventional varieties contain this toxin, which can outgas into your home. If you work with fiberglass at all, be sure to wear appropriate protective equipment, including:
- Long-sleeved work clothes or disposable coveralls
- A respirator
- Safety glasses and gloves
- Open a window or a door to increase ventilation and reduce dust levels
- Use a shop vacuum after wetting the dust and fibers
Keep in mind, too, that there are many options for insulation other than fiberglass. The following green building products are safe, effective, and will not make your skin irritated and itchy the way conventional fiberglass often does. Plus, some are made from recycled materials or require far less energy to manufacture than fiberglass, making them a positive choice for the environment as well as your health. Options for natural, non-toxic insulation include products made from:
- Recycled blue jeans
- Recycled newspapers and paper products
- Cotton fiber
- Sheep’s wool
- i U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12th Report on Carcinogens, June 10, 2011
- ii National Toxicology Program Glass Wool Fibers Substance Profile
- iii National Toxicology Program Glass Wool Fibers Fact Sheet
- iv National Association of Clean Air Agencies January 31, 2012
- v The Report on Carcinogens, What Went Wrong and What Can be Done to Fix It January 18, 2012
This GMO poison is killing all of us. NONE of these companies will even eat it themselves. Look up Monsanto employees REQUIRE outside food vendors in thier own plants. Hmmmm……
By Dr. Mercola
Dr. James Oschman is an expert in the field of energy medicine, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biophysics and a PhD in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh.
As an author of a number of books, he is widely recognized as an authority in the biophysics of energy medicine. In this interview he discusses the practice of “earthing,” or grounding.
Every modern school of alternative medicine talks about “energy,” although they may use a variety of words to describe it. But what is this fundamental “energy” you keep hearing about?
As Dr. Oschman went about to investigate, he found there is very good science that can help demystify this nebulous term. He wrote a number of articles for a journal published by Churchill Livingstone on the subject, and after some encouragement from the publisher, those articles eventually resulted in two books: Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basisi, and Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performanceii.
Dr. Oschman was also introduced to earthing, or grounding, and his research in this area has turned up some very interesting and compelling information about how the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life. He has recently written the Foreword for a new book by Clinton Ober, Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra and M. Zucker, entitled Earthing: the most important health discovery ever?iii published in 2010 (Basic Health Publications, Inc., Laguna Beach, CA.).
If you’re like most people, you probably wear shoes with rubber or plastic soles for the better part of each day. Read on to learn why shoes might be one of the banes of modern existence.
The Emergence of “Earthing”
The concept of earthing, also known as grounding, was initially developed by Clint Ober. Stated in the simplest terms possible, earthing is simply walking barefoot; grounding your body to the Earth. Oschman was introduced to Ober via Jeff Spencer, the chiropractor for Lance Armstrong’s cycling team and an expert in treating professional athletes.
“When Clint described the earthing phenomenon to Jeff, Jeff immediately called me and had me fly out to California to meet Clint and talk about what kind of research could be done to find out what is going on,” Oschman explains.
“People have known for a long time that walking barefoot feels good. There are places in the world like Germany and Austria and Switzerland with communities where there is a tradition of getting up in the morning and going barefoot.”
My own introduction to the concept of earthing was also through Jeff Spencer, some five or six years ago. I found it very intriguing, although I initially approached it with some skepticism. As you will soon see, it’s a simple concept—to some it may appear too simple.
Fortunately, Dr. Oschman is now able to provide the scientific groundwork for understanding what actually occurs. In fact, his team has now published about a dozen papers on this topic.
What Happens to You When You Walk Barefoot?
Your skin in general is a very good conductor. You can connect any part of your skin to the Earth, but if you compare various parts there is one that is especially potent, and that’s right in the middle of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It’s a well-known point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians and essentially connects to every nook and cranny of your body. Interestingly, grounding—or rather the lack thereof—has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases.
How is this?
Well, Dr. Oschman’s research into grounding has led him to better understand inflammation. I’ve discussed before, chronic inflammation is a primary cause of virtually all disease, from diabetes to cancer. And by looking at what happens during grounding, the answer to why chronic inflammation is so prevalent, and what is needed to prevent it, is becoming better understood.
When you’re grounded there’s a transfer of free electrons from the Earth into your body. And these free electrons are probably the most potent antioxidants known to man.
These antioxidants are responsible for the clinical observations from grounding experiments, such as:
- Beneficial changes in heart rate
- Decreased skin resistance
- Decreased levels of inflammation
To better understand the science behind what happens during grounding and how it impacts the inflammatory response, Dr. Oschman begins by explaining what happens when you experience an injury.
“Even the slightest bump, if you bump the door, your immune system immediately responds by sending white blood cells (neutrophils) to the place of injury…
The neutrophils secrete a Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)… called free radicals, in what’s referred to as an oxidative burst… These are like Pac-Man. They are very important molecules that tear things apart. If bacteria have gotten through your skin, these free radicals will destroy the bacteria very quickly. If you have damaged cells, the free radicals will break them apart so that there is a space for healthy cells to move in and repair the tissues.
That’s known as the inflammatory response.
What we have discovered that is truly profound is this: we now understand why you get the inflammatory response, which has five characteristics: pain, redness, heat, loss of range of motion, and swelling. All of those are the five hallmarks of inflammation and it turns out that that doesn’t have to happen.
Inflammation, which in medicine is considered an important part of the healing process, is really an artifact caused by lack of electrons in your tissues. What happens is, the neutrophils deliver the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) to the site of injury, but in so doing, some of those free radicals can leak into the surrounding tissue and damage healthy tissue. That’s what creates the inflammatory response”.
Interestingly, grounding research has now discovered that if you place your feet on the ground after an injury (or on a grounded sheet, or place grounding patches on the balls of your feet), electrons will migrate into your body and spread through your tissues. Any free radicals that leak into the healthy tissue will immediately be electrically neutralized. This occurs because the electrons are negative, while the free radicals are positive, so they cancel each other out.
“So really what is happening with grounding or earthing is that you’re protecting your body from — I call it, collateral damage,” Dr. Oschman says. “Damage that was not intended to take place but does take place because we have disconnected ourselves from the Earth by putting rubber and plastic on the bottoms of our shoes.”
Earthing as an Anti-Aging Strategy
One of dominant theories on aging is the free radical theory, which is that aging occurs because of accumulative damage to your body caused by free radicals. You get free radicals when you have an injury or chronic inflammation, from breathing, and from the food you eat, among other things. While you don’t want to completely eliminate ALL free radicals, you do want to maintain a healthy balance of antioxidant electrons in your body to ensure the damage from free radicals doesn’t’ get out of hand.
Earthing can help accomplish this delicate balance. There are three kinds of sub-models of the aging process caused by free radicals.
- DNA damage and mutation due to free radical damage
- The mitochondrial theory. Mitochondria in every cell in your body carry out oxidative metabolism and a byproduct is free radicals. Eventually the mitochondria wear out or self-destruct due to excess free radicals
- The protein cross linking theory, which explains why you get wrinkles in your skin. The proteins stick to each other, reducing the efficiency of enzymes
“It looks to me, from my study of biophysics and cell biology, like the body is designed with a semi-conductive fabric that connects everything in the body, including inside of every cell,” Dr. Oschman says.
“I refer to this system as the living matrix. Those electrons that enter the bottom of your foot can move anywhere in your body. Any place where a free radical forms, there are electrons nearby that can neutralize that free radical and prevent any of those processes: mitochondrial damage, cross linking of proteins, and mutation or genetic damage.
So the whole fabric is basically an antioxidant defense system that is in every part of our body.
We have this material called ground substance which is part of the connective tissue. It goes everywhere in the body. It’s a gel material and it stores electrons. So that if you go barefoot, you will take in electrons and your body will store them, and they will be available at any point where you might have an injury, or any point where a free radical might form…”
How Grounding Affects Your Blood
Another very important discovery, and one of the most recent, is that grounding thins your blood, making it less viscous. This discovery can have a profound impact on cardiovascular disease, which is now the number one killer in the world. Virtually every aspect of cardiovascular disease has been correlated with elevated blood viscosity. Dr. Sinatra has been coaching Dr. Oschman’s team in how to measure blood viscosity using a method called zeta potential. It measures the potential on your red blood cells by determining how fast they migrate in an electrical field.
It turns out that when you ground to the earth, your zeta potential quickly rises, which means your red blood cells have more charge on their surface, which forces them apart from each other. This action causes your blood to thin and flow easier. It also causes your blood pressure to drop.
Another obvious implication of this is that by repelling each other, your red blood cells are less inclined to stick together and form a clot. Blood clots don’t have to be very big to form like a pulmonary embolus that would kill you instantly, so this is a significant benefit. Additionally, if your zeta potential is high, which grounding can facilitate, you not only decrease your heart disease risk but also your risk of multi-infarct dementias, where you start losing brain tissue due to micro-clotting in your brain.
The Best Surfaces for Grounding
Clearly, the simplest way to ground is to walk barefoot outside when safe to do so. But what about urban or city dwellers who are surrounded by asphalt and concrete? Can you ground on those? And what about natural surfaces—which ones are the most effective? There are indeed significant differences between various surfaces.
The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as sea water is a great conductor. Your body also contains mostly water, so it creates a good connection.
A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it’s covered with dew, which is what you’d find if you walk early in the morning. According to Dr. Oschman, concrete is a good conductor as long as it hasn’t been sealed. Painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood, and typical insulators like plastic or the soles of your shoes, will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.
Why Living in a High-Rise Could be Detrimental to Your Health
Additionally, there’s a major difference between standing outside in your bare feet and standing outside in shoes. And, how high up you are, off the surface of the Earth, without being grounded also matters. Why is this?
Dr. Oschman explains:
“The Earth’s surface is electrically charged and can push electrons up in your body. So from the top of your head to the Earth, there is a potential, which you don’t feel because it doesn’t cause any any particular current to flow, even though it can be a couple of hundred volts. If it did, it would give you a shock.
What happens is when the weather changes is that the potential can go up enormously. It can go from a hundred volts per meter to 10,000 volts per meter. That’s pre lightning. We’re talking about the potential that causes lightning to come to the earth. That voltage is well known and well understood…
This is the potential between the surface of the earth and the ionosphere, hundreds of miles up, which is very electrically active; charged by the solar wind, the charged particles that come from the sun. Those charged particles eventually reach the Earth by lightning and electrify the entire surface of the Earth so that anywhere you touch the Earth, there are electrons. They come originally from the sun, to the ionosphere, to the earth.
There is no lightning happening right here right now but somewhere there is lightning, a constant current flow from the ionosphere to the earth. Those are the electrons that your body needs for your immune system to function properly.”
What this means is that the higher up you are, separated from the surface of the Earth, the higher this potential would be, and the worse the implications for your health if you’re not grounded. For example, if you live on the 20th floor of a high-rise and you’re not grounded (using grounding technology, of course), the consequences to your health will be more significant than if you lived on the first floor. Likewise, when you wear rubber- or plastic-soled shoes, you are effectively shielding yourself from this beneficial influx of electrons from the Earth. For optimal immune function, you want these electrons to enter your body, so make sure you take your shoes off now and then!
Easy Ways to Incorporate Grounding Into Your Daily Life
Exercising barefoot outdoors is one of the most wonderful, inexpensive and powerful ways of incorporating earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain due to strenuous exercise.
- A Special Interview with Dr. James Oschman. Video transcript.
- i Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, Amazon.com, June 15, 2000: James L. Oschman.
- ii Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, Amazon.com, March 8, 2003: James L. Oschman.
- iii Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, Amazon.com, April 9, 2010: Clinton Ober, et al.
Visit Website printed on Youtube Video above for best supplements online at website "Etalaze DOT net" … zxetazx… …. … The clip of Holistic Lifestyle Coach (HLC 1), Jeff Figearo, has been broadcast with permission from Best BodyBuilding steroids. I get a lot of questions about eggs, so I thought it’d be appropriate to do a 2 part series talking about which eggs to buy, and then the ideal way to consume them. Google: images of "caged chickens" so you can see the poor conditions these chickens are being raised in. And know that when you buy conventional / commercially raised eggs you are supporting this. SUBSCRIBE to Dr. Mercola’s weekly emails and my video’s. mercola.com westonaprice.org ppnf.org Books: How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek Best BodyBuilding steroids Take Control of Your Health by Dr. Mercola Audio You Are What You Eat by Paul Chek Attaining Optimal Health in the 21st Century by David Getoff
Dr. Mercola on the Global take-over of Our FOOD & Fighting the Good Fight = LOVE NO GMOs NO Monsanto
By Dr. Mercola
Folk healers around the world have used castor oil to treat a wide variety of ailments.You are probably aware that castor oil is regarded by some as a remedy for constipation.
But you may not be aware of its reported use as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, or that it has been used topically to treat a variety of skin conditions, reduce pain, and stimulate your immune system.
Read on, because I’m about to explore the myth and mystery of this unusual oil, and of course, investigate what modern science has to say about it.
However, regardless of what some of the research has suggested, you should be very cautious when experimenting with castor oil since the science is sparse at best, and there are several known reports of unpleasant side effects experienced by some users.
History of the Castor Seed: Ricinus Communis
Castor oil comes from the castor seedi, Ricinus communis, which has a very unusual chemical composition.Castor oil is a triglyceride, comprised of fatty acids, 90 percent of which is ricinoleic acid.
This unique fatty acid is found in lower concentrations in a few other seeds and oils (0.27 percent in cottonseed oil and 0.03 percent in soybean oilii) and is thought to be responsible for castor oil’s unique healing properties.
The castor seed plant is native to India. Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. This association likely arose out of people’s reverence for the plant’s healing abilities.
It was later adopted for medicinal use in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and eventually in 17th Century Europe and the Americas. Castor oil is now widely used in industry. The stem of the plant is used in the textile industry, particularly in Russia, where castor oil is known as “Kastorka.” The oil has a very consistent viscosity and won’t freeze, which makes it ideal for lubricating equipment in severely cold climates.
Modern non-medicinal uses for castor oil include:
- Food additive and flavoring agent
- Mold inhibitor
- Ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics (lipstick, shampoo, soap, and others)
- Used in the manufacturing of plastics, rubbers, synthetic resins, fibers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, sealants, dyes, and leather treatments; the lubricants company Castrol took its name from castor oil
Castor oil was first used as an aircraft lubricant in World War I. So, castor oil has a number of handy industrial uses. But did you know that the castor seeds from which castor oil is made can be DEADLY?
Part of the Castor Seed Heals—But Another Part Kills!
The potent toxin riciniii is made from a protein in the castor seeds that, if ingested (orally, nasally, or injected), gets into the ribosomes of your cells where it prevents protein synthesis, which kills the cells. Ricin is made from the “mash” that is left over after processing castor seeds into oil. Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested, and much less than that if injected. Eating just 5 to 10 castor seeds would be fatal.
Once poisoned, there’s no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent. Even though such a toxic component is also derived from this seed, castor oil isn’t considered dangerous.
According to the International Journal of Toxicology’s Final Report on Castor Oiliv , you don’t have to worry about castor oil being contaminated by ricin, because ricin does not “partition” into the castor oil. Castor oil has been added to cosmetic products for many years, without incident. For example, castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil were reportedly used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively, in 2002.
The U.S. FDA gives castor oil a “thumbs up,” deeming it “generally regarded as safe and effective” for use as a stimulant laxative. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an acceptable daily castor oil intake of up to 0.7 mg/kg body weight. This amounts to, roughly, one tablespoon for adults and one teaspoon for children. Taking castor oil orally usually results in a “purging” of the digestive tract in about four to six hours.
According to the International Castor Oil Association v, castor oil studies in which people were dosed with castor oil at dietary concentrations as high as 10 percent for 90 days did not produce any ill effects.
In spite of the fact that U.S. FDA and the International Castor Oil Association have pronounced castor oil to be safe, if you are going to try it, as I’ve mentioned previously, proceed with extreme caution because a number of negative side effects have been reported.
Castor Oil is NOT without Side Effects
Castor Seed Plant
Castor oil’s main side effects fall into the categories of skin reactions and gastrointestinal upset, which isn’t terribly surprising given the agent’s actions on your intestinal wall.vi
Castor oil is broken down by your small intestine into ricinoleic acid, which acts as an irritant to your intestinal lining. This effect is what gives castor oil the ability to reverse constipation—but it’s also the reason that some people report digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal side effects. If you suffer from cramps, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, colitis, prolapses, or have recently undergone surgery, you should probably avoid castor oil due to these possible adverse reactions.
Although castor oil has been traditionally used to help stimulate labor in healthy pregnant women, there are widespread reports of nausea, including one study in 2001vii that found nausea to be almost universally experienced by these women.
A Home Remedy that’s Survived for Millennia
Adverse effects notwithstanding, Indians would traditionally boil seed kernels or hulls in milk and water, and then consume the brew to relieve arthritis, lower back pain, and sciatica. According to Williams’ articleviii, castor seed plants are widely used in India for all sorts of medical problems, including the following:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bladder and vaginal infections
Canary Islanders made poultices from the leaves of the castor plant to treat gynecological problems. Nursing mothers applied these poultices to their breasts to increase milk secretion and relieve inflammation of their mammary glands, and applied the poultice to their abdomens to promote normal menstruation. The topical absorption of castor oil is the basis for more modern “castor oil packs,” which I’ll be discussing later in detail.
Modern Medicinal Uses for Castor Oil
In general, the reported medicinal uses of castor oil fall into the following five general categories:
- Gastrointestinal remedy
- Antimicrobial (antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal)
- Labor stimulantix
- Anti-inflammatory and analgesic
- Immune system and lymphatic stimulant
The oil’s benefits can be derived by topical application, and it appears to be useful for a variety of skin conditions like keratosis, dermatosis, wound healing, acne, ringworm, warts and other skin infections, sebaceous cysts, itching, and even hair loss. Castor oil and ricinoleic acid also enhance the absorption of other agents across your skin.
And castor oil shows some promise in the treatment of cancer. According to the American Cancer Societyx :
“Oncologists now use castor oil as a vehicle for delivering some chemotherapy drugs to cancerous tumors. A special formula of castor oil called Cremophor EL is used as a carrier for paclitaxel, a drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer and other tumors. Unfortunately, the vehicle sometimes causes problems of its own, including allergic reactions. This has prompted a search for substitute carriers.”
They also report that early clinical trials suggest that ricin, when combined with an antibody to confine this poison to malignant cells, shrinks tumors in lymphoma patients. In fact, castor oil has been reportedly used to treat all of the following conditions listed below. While I certainly cannot attest to castor oil’s efficacy for all of these conditions (as there is not enough research to date), I list them here as a way to illustrate the wide array of possibilities.
|Multiple sclerosis||Parkinson’s Disease||Cerebral Palsy|
|Arthritis||Migraine and other headaches||Cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder)|
|Epilepsy||Liver ailments, including cirrhosis||Scleroderma|
|Appendicitis, colitis, and other intestinal problems||AIDS||Detoxification|
|Cancer||Eye irritation||Gynecological problems|
Studies Support Castor Oil’s Efficacy as an Antimicrobial, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immunostimulant
While castor oil has been thoroughly investigated for its industrial use, only a minimal amount of research has been directed toward its medicinal benefits. That said, the healing properties of castor oil appear to have survived countless generations of scrutiny.
I believe it has enough history behind it to at least warrant greater scientific exploration, and perhaps a little careful at-home experimentation on your own. Oftentimes, modern day scientific studies end up validating thousands of years of “folklore.” Castor oil studies are hard to track down, but I did find a few notable ones, which I have summarized in the table below.
Castor Oil May Promote Healing by Boosting Your Lymphatic System
One of the more compelling health benefits, if true, is castor oil’s support of your immune system. And this healing property does not require you ingest the oil, but only apply it externally.
The benefits of castor oil packs were popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce, and then later researched by primary care physician William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce’s work and the author of The Oil That Heals. McGarey reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are your immune system’s disease-fighting cells and are produced and stored mainly in your lymphatic tissuexvii (thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes). Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick.
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease.
This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.
Castor Oil Packs a Punch, Topically
Castor oil “packs” can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues. You would be wise to do a “patch test” prior to applying a castor oil pack to make sure you aren’t allergic to the oil.
There are several ways to use castor oil topically. You can simply rub castor oil onto an affected area of your skin. Or, you can affix a Band-Aide soaked in castor oil if only a very small area needs to be treated. For larger or more systemic applications, it can be used as massage oil, which is reported especially effective when applied along your spinal column, massaged along your lymphatic drainage pathways. But the coup de grace of castor oil therapy is the “castor oil pack.”
To make a castor oil pack, you will need the following supplies:
- High quality cold-pressed castor oil (see last section of this article)
- A hot water bottle or heating pad
- Plastic wrap, sheet of plastic, or plastic garbage bag
- Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel, or one piece large enough to cover the entire treatment area when folded in thirds
- One large old bath towel
Below are instructions for making and using a castor oil pack (courtesy of Daniel H. Chong, ND):
- Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver, or stack the three squares.
- Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature.
- Lie on your back with your feet elevated (using a pillow under your knees and feet works well), placing flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
- Cover everything with the old towel to insulate the heat. Take caution not to get the oil on whatever you are laying on, as it can stain. If necessary, cover that surface with something to protect it.
- Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes.
- When finished, remove the oil from your skin by washing with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart water, or just soap and water. (Be sure to wash the towel by itself, as the castor oil can make other clothes stink if washed together.)
- You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated. Store the pack in a large zip-lock bag or other plastic container in a convenient location, such as next to your bed. Replace the pack after it begins to change color.
- For maximum effectiveness, apply at least four consecutive days per week for one month. Patients who use the pack daily report the most benefits.
Be Cautious when Purchasing Castor Oil
As with everything else, you must be careful about your source of castor oil. Much of the oil currently sold in stores is derived from castor seeds that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, solvent-extracted (hexane is commonly used), deodorized, or otherwise chemically processed, which damages beneficial phytonutrients and may even contaminate the oil with toxic agents.
Again, let me emphasize, many of the health benefits of castor oil are more anecdotal than scientific, and side effects have been reported. As with anything new, proceed carefully so that you can minimize any unexpected reactions. I invite your comments about any experiences—positive or negative—related to your use of castor oil. I am always curious about your impressions and experience with natural remedies, and your feedback is welcome, as always.
- i UCC Biology Department
- ii Cyberlipid.org
- iii MedicineNet.com
- iv International Journal of Toxicology May 2007
- v International Castor Oil Association Inc
- viiCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001
- viiDr. David Williams November 28, 2011
- ixAust N Z J Obstet Gynecol. October 2009
- xAmerican Cancer Society
- xiInternational Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research February 11, 2011
- xiiComplimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice May 19, 2010
- xiiPhytother Res October 2009
- xiv UterineFibroids.com 1999
- xiv Mediators of Inflammation 2000
- xvi Int J Toxicol 2007
By Dr. Mercola
Recent research blaming sunlight exposure for the growing incidences of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has failed to consider crucial information that could turn the entire concept on its head, according to Dr. William Grant, an epidemiologist writing for the Vitamin D Council.
One important point the research missed was that sometimes sunscreen can actually increase your risk of melanoma, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.
There are other studies showing that chronic UV (ultraviolet) light exposure may actually reduce the risk of melanoma. Allow me to explain …
Are Rates of Melanoma Really Increasing?
The first point that needs to be addressed is whether melanoma cases are really on the rise. As Dr. Grant stated:
“Two recent papers blame increased ultraviolet (UV) exposure for the growing rates of melanoma in the UK. Not considered were other possible explanations for the rising rates of melanoma, including the use of sunscreen, especially at latitudes above 40º, and a combination of underdiagnosis in the past with over diagnosis more recently. [Melanoma mortality rates changed little in the U.S. between 1986 and 2001 while incidence rates more than doubled.”
Further research published in the British Journal of Dermatologyi shows that the sharp increase in melanoma rates over the last three decades may actually be "an artifact caused by diagnostic drift." Diagnostic drift, according to the study, refers to a hefty increase in disease that is being fueled by non-cancerous lesions.
During the study period from 1991 to 2004, there were nearly 4,000 cases of melanoma included in the report, with an annual increase of 9.39 to 13.91 cases per 100,000 per year. The researchers revealed that, rather than being fueled by increasing exposure to sunlight as is commonly suggested, the increased incidence was almost entirely due to non-cancerous lesions misleadingly classified as “stage 1 melanoma.” Even the distribution of the lesions reported did not correspond to the sites of lesions caused by sun exposure, leading researchers to conclude:
"These findings should lead to a reconsideration of the treatment of 'early' lesions, a search for better diagnostic methods to distinguish them from truly malignant melanomas, re-evaluation of the role of ultraviolet radiation and recommendations for protection from it, as well as the need for a new direction in the search for the cause of melanoma."
Sensible Sunlight is Protective Against Melanoma
Exposure to sunlight, particularly UVB, is protective against melanoma -- or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. As written in The Lancet:ii
"Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect."
A study in Medical Hypothesesiii suggested that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they're exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass. At the same time, these indoor workers, who get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers, are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D. The study even noted that indoor UV actually breaks down vitamin D3 formed after outdoor UVB exposure, which would therefore make vitamin D3 deficiency and melanoma risk even worse. A number of associations between sun exposure and melanoma can be found in the medical literature, such as:
- Occupational exposure, such as farmers and fishermen, and regular weekend sun exposure are associated with decreased risk of melanoma
- Sun exposure appears to protect against melanoma on skin sites not exposed to sun light, and melanoma occurring on skin with large UV exposure has the best prognosis
- Patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D have thinner melanoma and better survival prognosis than those with the lowest vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D Reduces Your Risk of Cancer
This is an important point, because if you are shunning the sun for fear of skin cancer, you are, ironically, missing out on one of the most potent natural cancer protections available. Vitamin D's protective effect against cancer works in multiple ways, including:
- Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
- Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
- Causing cells to become fully differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
- Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
A study by Dr. Grant found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths -- which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States -- could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D. As he stated in the featured article, the potential lives saved from optimizing vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed) far outweighs the reported number of melanoma deaths:
“In 2007, there were 988 male and 837 female deaths from melanoma in the UK, and a total 71,336 male and 65,458 female cancer deaths. Thus, melanoma accounted for 1.4% of male cancer deaths and 1.3% of female cancer deaths. Assuming a 15% reduction in all-cancer incidence and mortality rates with adequate solar UVB exposure would imply 20,500 reduced cancer deaths in 2007, which is 11 times the number of melanoma deaths.”
Similarly, in a review of the health effects of sun exposure, tanning beds and vitamin D, researchers again noted that the benefits of vitamin D production outweigh the potentially increased risk of melanoma:iv
“The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM [cutaneous malignant melanoma] risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure.”
Again, there’s compelling research showing that sun exposure will indeed protect you against melanoma, as a very low level of vitamin D is a major risk factor for this disease. This is, by the way, also a primary reason why using sunscreen every time you go outdoors may actually accelerate, rather than prevent, cancer.
How to Optimize Your Vitamin D While Minimizing Your Risk of Skin Damage
Sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels, because when you expose your skin to sunshine or a safe tanning bed, your skin synthesizes vitamin D3. I believe this is a very compelling reason to really make a concerted effort to get ALL your vitamin D requirements from exposure to sunshine, or by using a safe tanning bed. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. For more information, see my recent video below on how to know if you are getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
- i Br J Dermatol. 2009 Sep;161(3):630-4. Epub 2009 Jun 9.
- ii The Lancet, Volume 363, Issue 9410, Pages 728 – 730, 28 February 2004
- iii Medical Hypotheses Volume 72, Issue 4 , Pages 434-443, April 2009
- iv Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):711-5. Epub 2011 Oct 24.
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