As you know, our cats are normally firmly confined to their own pages of this blog, but an article on the Dr Mercola website persuaded me that Mushkin should be allowed out to meet a wider public…. Around a year ago, he was doing a great deal of grooming but because he is normally a very fastidious cat (of Far Eastern parentage we think, although via Battersea….) I did not initially pay much attention. However, when it continued I thought, rather guiltily, that I had not flea treated any of the cats for ages, indeed years, as I really dislike using chemical flea treatments unless I absolutely have to. So I treated him with some Frontline. Most of it went on the back of his neck as directed, with a few drops falling on the top of his head. Initially the excessive grooming appeared to diminish but then I noticed that his fur (which is particularly soft and silky) was falling out in the two places in which I had put the FrontLine….. Soon he had two little bald patches – and, the grooming was getting worse accompanied by lots of scratching. Soon he was scratching himself raw with red ulcers appearing all down his back and round his hind quarters….. A visit to the vet showed up nothing very much so, we changed diet and they gave him a Cortisone injection to see if it is would calm it down – which it did, but only for a week. The diet made no difference. I did ask the vet whether the FrontLine treatment could have caused the problems since they seemed to date from the treatment, but was told that the treatment was extremely unlikely to cause more than a very brief, local reactions. So more Cortisone pills but they only worked as long as he was taking them and long term steroid medication has as many unsavoury side effects for cats as for humans. Faced with allergy tests which could mount up to around up to over £1000 if we did the lot, I tracked down a homeopathic vet and took him there. The homeopathic treatment was certainly much more successful than the allopathic treatment had been and gradually the itching and hives calmed down and his fur started to regrow – in some areas of his back he had literally licked his fur off completely. However, he was obviously still not feeling at all himself as instead of buzzing around with his nose into everything as normal (another characteristic of oriental cats) he spent most of his time sleeping in as dark a corner as he could find. It has really taken another four or five months for him to slowly return to his old self, although he still does have small bald patches both on the back of his neck and on the top of his head. I had finally decided that maybe he had actually eaten some lilies (known to be toxic to cats) that I had had in a vase, as he does have a habit of eating flowers, and had poisoned himself – and thought no more of it except to be relieved that he had obviously recovered. Until our webmaster sent me a link to an article on the Dr Mercola site: Spot on flea and tick treatment: Never ever apply this to your cats… Can kill within hours! The article talked mainly about cat fatalities caused by the application of dog flea products but, although figures are now quite old, it quoted 44,000 reported incidents involving pets and flea treatment in 2008 (in the US) of which 600 were fatalities – an increase from 28,00 in the previous year (2007). Goodness knows what they are now! And….. ‘Adverse reactions for both dogs and cats were primarily skin, GI tract and nervous system related. Skin reactions included redness, itching, hair loss, sores and ulcers.’ Exactly what had happened to Mushkin. In 2010 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a free public webinar on the subject and they called for new labelling including much more stringent warnings about pet size – the majority of pets who had adverse reactions were small dogs and cats. However, very little appears to have changed in the US and, as far as I know, there are no warnings issued here at all. Certainly, when I bought my supplies, no one warned me against anything except not using it regularly!! Anyhow, for those of you with pets, you might wish to check into the Mercola site where he also gives some helpful suggestions for alternative, non chemical flea and tick treatments including essential oils (but check with an aromatherapist who works with animals to make sure they are appropriate), cedar oil which you can get formulated for pet pest control, diatomaceous earth and garlic….
Well, that, if you can get your head around it, is what the US International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is asking the FDA to let them do.
It is, apparently, all part of trying to combat obesity by improving the nutritional profile (in terms of calories and fat – both of which are now thought to be irrelevant in terms of obesity) of milk products by making them lower fat and lower calorie – but without putting off the children who are to consume them by declaring that they are low cal/low fat….
Amazingly, milk producers are already allowed to add sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup to milk products (milk, yogurts, cream, shakes, ice cream etc) without declaring them. But both sugar and HFCS deliver lots of calories so they want to trade them for sweeteners – aspartame, sucralose etc. But, current regulations say that you have to declare sweeteners on the pack – and doing so, they think, will put off child consumers. Hence their wish to add them without having to declare them. Then ‘consumers will be more easily able to identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavoured with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims’.…. Eeerrrr…….?
If you have the mental energy to try to work your way round this one you can, very bravely, read the proposal here, or you can read Dr Mercola’s take on it here (marginally more comprehensible). I have to say that I sympathise with the latter’s comment at the end of his article:
‘I’m not sure what’s more frustrating here, the fact that the USDA insists on using the flawed theory of calories as a measure of the “healthfulness” of school meals; their misguided insistence on fat free and low fat products to combat obesity; or their ignorant stance on artificial sweeteners.
When combined, what you end up with is a nutritional nightmare. How can anyone believe a fat free, hormone-laced pasteurized milk-like product from cows raised on genetically engineered corn, flavored with artificial flavors, colors and chemical sweeteners might actually do a growing body good?’
I never thought I would hear myself saying this but – I love coconut… For years I was haunted by the memory of those multi-coloured dessicated coconut fudge sweety things that I was forced to eat at parties as a child – and which brought me very close to disgracing myself by throwing up all over my party dress… I still cannot face dessicated (is the name not enough to put you off?) coconut with equanimity, but fresh coconut – now that is a very different matter.
And there is no doubt that coconut is the new wonder food. This year’s FreeFrom Food Awards were awash in new coconut products – coconut milk, yogurt, ice cream, coconut water, cold pressed coconut oils – and very good they all were too. Not that it is entirely surprising as, of course, all of the above make excellent substitutes for dairy milk, yogurt, ice cream and butter, especially as fresh, cold pressed coconut products are far more delicate in flavour than the coconut of one’s childhood memories. (To see just a few of them see this year’s winners and shortlisted products in the ‘Plant’ category of the awards.)
My especial favourite is cold pressed coconut oil. You can use this as a butter or spread substitute, although not everyone can immediately get their heads (or taste buds) around its very white colour, slightly ‘lardy’ texture and more definite coconut flavour. It did take me a little while but I am now a convert. However, far less work was needed to convince me of coconut oil’s virtue as a cooking oil.
Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is, unlike the polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as sunflower or corn oil, stable enough to withstand cooking heat. (Polyunsaturated fats and oils break down when subject to heat, which causes the oils to oxidise which is not a good idea.) Coconut oil is also very high in ‘virtuous’ lauric and capric acid. Both good health reasons for cooking with it. However, the added appeal is that it adds the most delicious flavour and silky texture to whatever you cook in it – be it just some sautéed vegetables or a slow cook casserole. Give it a whirl… If you want inspiration, nearly all of the more recent articles on our FreeFromRecipesMatters site use coconut oil.
However, while I am now convinced of the coconut’s virtue as a food, I had completely forgotten, until a post arrived from Dr Mercola this morning, that it is also used very widely in the Far East both as a skin and a hair treatment. Because it is so temperature sensitive, the oil reacts to the heat of your hands and is fantastic as a massage oil – for skin, for muscles – and for hair. According to the study quote by Dr Mercola, ‘coconut oil, being a triglyceride of lauric acid, has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft’ – unlike mineral oils and polyunsaturated oils which, because of their bulky structure due to the presence of double bonds, just sit on top of your hair! And, even better, while the coconut oil is nourishing your hair shafts, it will also dispose of any lice or nits who happen to be lurking there more effectively than any of those nasty chemical treatments…
And, if you need more…. A doctor in Florida has written at length about the success that she had in treating her husband’s advanced Alzheimer’s with coconut oil – or, more specifically, the ketones in coconut oil. Check here for a report from CBN News, here for Dr Newport’s original article or here to buy her book.
The full story of Jim and Donna Navarro’s unsuccessful struggle to get their four-year-old son, Thomas’ cancer treated by anything other than chemotherapy is now quite well known in the US and is told in a lengthy interview and on a documentary film, both available from the Dr Mercola site. To quote Dr Mercola’s ‘story at a glance’:
In the US, parents, shockingly can lose their children if they refuse conventional cancer therapy. Child Protective Services (CPS) are routinely called in to charge parents who want a ‘second opinion’ – perhaps to investigate alternative therapies, charging them with child abuse and neglect when refusing conventional treatment. [Read more…]
I recently came across a lengthy post on the Dr Mercola (never-use-3-words-if-333-will-do) site extolling the virtues of bidets. Bidets could, according to Dr M’s calculations, save 47,000 megawatts of electricity, 693 tons of chlorine, 1.3 billion gallons of water and 41 thousand trees each day in the US alone… Because that is, apparently, what is used each day to produce the toilet paper needed to wipe the bottoms of the US population.
This sounds like a wind up but in fact, as is often the case, beneath the huff and puff, Dr M is promoting sound sense. In many parts of the world, our habit of using paper to clean ourselves instead of washing after urination or defaecation is regarded as deeply unhygienic. In India or Sri Lanka, for example, un-westernised loos are fitted with a small hose with which to wash yourself.
As Dr M says:
When you hands are dirty, do you simply wipe them off and proceed with your regular activities?
When your clothes are soiled and need laundering, do you take a cloth to quickly wipe them clean?
When you have finished a high-octane workout and are dripping with sweat, do you simply use a cloth to clean your body?
No, you wash them – so why would you not also wash yourself after disposing of unwanted waste material?
Moreover, washing has other advantages – apart from saving the world:
• There is far less potential for contaminating your hands with urine or faecal material so, unless you can always be relied on to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, better all round hygiene.
• Water is a far gentler way of cleansing the skin than paper – very desirable if you have haemorrhoids or any other sort of inflammation or irritation around the anus resulting from diarrhoea, constipation, ulcerative colitis etc; cooling and soothing for sufferers from cystitis or similar urinary infections.
• It could reduce the need for, and use of, potentially irritating ‘hygiene sprays’
So, what does Dr M suggest? Well of course (we all have to live) he has a handy device which you can buy – the Mercola Soft Spray Bidet (spool to the bottom of the page) that will work in any loo, is a doddle to fit, does not need any electricity, has ‘an adjustable nozzle to support dual-hygienic cleaning’… and will only cost you $72! Which, given that the first loo I found on line with a built in ‘toilet-bidet’ was on offer at $2,435, seems a bit of a snitch.
However, if you don’t want to pay for Transatlantic postage, Hyundai (yes,I do mean Hyundai) offer basic toilet seat bidets (the ‘Bidush’ and the Bidanit’) for £34.79 and £41,83 including delivery, and a ‘travel bidet’ for £35.65.
The Green Office can offer you their ‘Feel Fresh Hi-3000 Toilet Seat Bidet Washlet’ for £299 + VAT or, if you really want to go plush, you could go for the Bio Bidet 1,000 Toilet Seat which will bring you in at £499. Alternatively, you could go to the real experts and import a toilet bidet from India – the Pragati Sales Corporation would be happy to help…
I wanted to encourage everyone, when they get their e-newsletter tomorrow, to read my article on lamp posts… Not really because I want you to read the article – although that would be nice of course – but because I want to stir you up to do some protesting…
In essence I am highlighting the fact that wifi is becoming so pervasive that it will very soon be impossible to avoid unless you choose to live in the most remote and uninhabited parts of the country. But while this poses major problems for those who, like me, are electrosensitive it is also subjecting the whole population to extraordinarily high levels of electrosmog with absolutely no evidence that this may not, in ten or twenty years time, result in far greater health problems than were ever caused by smoking, asbestos or obesity.
Wifi enthusiasts will point out that the evidence that it will cause major health problems simply does not exist – but that was what they said about smoking and asbestos – until it did. It is also what they said about GM (genetic modification) and mobile phones. Yet the evidence is mounting fast to suggest that GM is not as benign as it might appear and even the recent, deeply flawed Interphone Study admitted that excess mobile phone usage over a ten year period could cause cancer.
(Anyone interested in the GM debate might want to look at a round-up of research by Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, on the Dr Mercola site. Anyone who wants to discover for themselves what evidence of harm currently exists for excess use of man-made electromagnetic pulsed radiation should take a look at the Foods Matter ES section – and the many other sites ES-related sites which are linked from it.)
So what has happened to the precautionary principe here? Should we not be moving just a little slower and a little more carefully? Becoming interconnected is a wonderful thing – foodsmatter.com would not exist without the internet – and mobile telephony has brought untold benefits to the third world – whatever about enabling first world parents to keep in contact with their children! I am not for one moment suggesting that, even if it were possible which it is not, we should move backwards and abandon the airwaves as a means of communication. I am just suggesting that we take note of the warning signals and not entirely smother ourselves in radio waves before we understand what unintentional consequences this might have.
Which is why I want to encourage you all to protest…
Although concern about electrosmog is growing fast from the European Parliament to Fairfax town in California, the way to make to grow faster is to talk about it, complain about it, object to it, discuss it, harrass your MP, your MEP, your town councillor, the mayor of London – anyone who will listen! The power of the multinationals is massive but, when push comes to shove, if we won’t buy their products, they are ‘stuffed’… Remember what happened to the GM tomato paste – it died without issue because no one would buy it.
And before anyone says it – yes, I know that the big corp.s will not leave it there and will (and have in the case of GM) used all kinds other means to con us into buying the products they want to sell us and we do not want to buy. But, the ultimate power remains with the consumer – and the consumer should not forget that!!
So, please do read my article – not for the article’s sake, but for the links at the end to those to whom you can protest!!
However…. since I finished it…. I started to look into Boris’ promise to wifi-se London by 2012 – and found that 22 London boroughs are already signed up to this scheme… So more on that one to come.
And… I heard on the radio and subsequently read in the Daily Mail, that Starbucks (and L’Oreal) are adding to the pavement electrosmog by sending electronic vouchers to anyone passing their store who is on the GPS satellite system. The system has, apparently, created concerns about privacy (tracking people’s movements?) – but not about extra electrosmog.
If you wish to complain to Starbucks try this page : if you want to have a go at L’Oreal try +44 (0)20 8762 4000 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org