An excellent and useful post from What Allergy – check it out. Fill in the gaps with Sarah Merson’s article from a couple of year’s ago on the FM site. If you suffer from ME/CFS, Interaction (the magazine of Action for ME) also had an excellent article a few months ago about ways that you could achieve a successful sex life despite the fatigue and pain which comes with the condition.
This report last week in Natural News, inevitably, caught my eye… They are, it appears, talking about the dreaded BPA (Bisphenol A), the focus of many environmental campaigns.
BPA has been known since the 1930s to be an endocrine disruptor. But, because it is so useful in a very wide range of applications (especially keeping plastics soft), controls on its use, especially in the US, continue to be very loose, despite mountains of research connecting it to cancer, disrupted sexual behaviour, obesity, neurological problems and thyroid malfunction. It is its use in products for babies and children (such as the teets on babies’ bottles) that is especially worrying as so little is really understood about its effect on their relatively small bodies and immature hormonal and immune systems of babies.
Anyhow, it appears that not only does BPA keep teets soft but it is an essential ingredient in making the paper, known as thermal paper, used in till receipts, lottery tickets, medical papers etc. It enables manufacturers to create a paper which, effectively, contains its own ink – far cheaper than having to apply ink to paper. However, since there is no requirement to list the ingredients of thermal paper, no one is aware that such apparently harmless everyday items could contain BPA.
The problem arises because the BPA does not stay in the paper but leaches out and rubs off onto what ever it touches – including dollar bills! To prove it, the Washington Toxics Coalition tested 22 dollar bills and found BPA in 21 of them! Although the WTC only tested dollar bills, thermal paper is used worldwide so there is no reason to assume that the leaching that goes on in your pocket or your wallet is restricted to the US.
The moral is, presumably, keep a separate ‘receipt’ wallet in your pocket in which you can corrall receipts and lottery tickets so that they only leach into each other.
If you want to learn more, check out the Washington Toxics Coalition where you can also support and/or donate to the campaign.
A Trivial Pursuit addendum.
In my first skim through of the piece I understood it to be the dollar bills themselves that contained the BPA so Googled sterling notes to see if they presented the same problem. I didn’t, hardly suprisingly, find anything relevant to BPA and bank notes but I did find this rivetting report from Spectroscopy Europe 1997:
The paper for Bank of England banknotes is made from cotton fibre and linen rag by a specialist paper manufacturer.
Electron microscopy has revealed that the fibres of Sterling banknotes provide an ideal medium for the entrapment of small crystals, such as those of cocaine. The fibres of a new note are tightly packed, but after a period of use become more open and are able to trap small particles…..
In a recent criminal proceeding a dust collection/analysis technique was used to establish the presence of heroin on a quantity of confiscated cash….. Subsequently, a bulk quantity of heroin was recovered which police believed to be related to the money seizure…… A conviction resulted.
I have been meditating, on and off, for years….
I am convinced that it is a really good thing to do. Reams of research suggest that regular meditation reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack and more or less every other degenerative condition, while my common sense suggests that 20 minutes twice a day of just sitting still doing nothing but thinking peaceful thoughts has to be a good thing.
The problem is that I find it really hard. Not the sitting still bit – that is fine – but the thinking the peaceful thoughts rather than planning the next ad campaign/awards session/article/dinner etc. Over the years (and I mean years) I have tried repeating different mantras, watching candle flames, deep breathing, listening to repetitive ‘ooom’ sounds. All work for the first few days, or even weeks and I think I have cracked it, but then gradually my attention wanders and the great feeling I did get when I managed to detach myself from my daily life evaporates into a pleasant rest between tasks.
So, when Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS contacted us a few months ago to ask if we could give some publicity to their new CD for the practice of Yoga Nidra, and then offered to send me a CD to try, I said yes as much to be polite as because I had much expectation of it being anything out of the ordinary. Well, I was wrong…
Yoga Nidra means ‘yogic sleep’ and to practice it all you need to do is lie on the floor and listen to a CD. In the Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS CD the practice is ‘led’ by Rebecca Allen (a yoga teacher of over 15 years standing) who ‘talks you through’ the meditation.
I do not want to describe the practice here (Rebecca’s article on the foodsmatter.com site does it far better than I could) as that is not the point of this blog. The point is that I am now well over a month into my practice and, far from my focus drifting away from the meditation (which uses an awareness journey around the parts of the body as its focus), I am becoming more and more involved in it. Not only do I actively look forward to it each day, but I feel extraordinarily rested and revived by it.
But this has grown upon me. The first time I followed the CD (as a job to be done since I had to review it) it was OK – no better or worse than many other such tapes that I have listened to over the years. I then left it for a day or two, but thought that, on one practice only, I could not give a fair review. So I followed the practice twice more – by which time Rebecca’s carefully measured gentle voice was really irritating me. But because I was now irritated by it, I felt that, again, I would not be giving a fair review so I should actually grit my teeth and do at least a full week’s practice before passing judgement. By the end of the week, I was hooked…
I do not do the practice every night – the more ‘advanced’ session takes around 45 minutes and not every evening allows one 45 minutes ‘off’ – but I probably manage five out of every seven days. And on the days that I do not manage it, I miss it. The combination of total physical stillness (an essential element of the practice is that your body remains totally still throughout) with Rebecca’s quiet instructions as to where to focus your attention (she suggests that you treat her voice as rope to to hang onto on your journey) has not only managed to keep my attention so far, but seems to be keeping it on a slightly deeper level each time I do the practice. I look forward to journeying further. Moreover, I absolutely understand how well the practice might work for anyone with limited energies such as the ME/CFS sufferers for whom Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS is trying to promote it.
If you are interested, do read Rebecca’s article which explains in much more depths what Yoga Nidra is about. Her CD is excellent value (from Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS) at £10 + £1.50 P&P – but if you get in quick, they are offering a 10% discount to foodmatter.com visitors from 13-23rd November – just email your order with your details to firstname.lastname@example.org putting ‘foodsmatter’ in the subject line.
In our line or work we hear all too many tales of ongoing medical problems for which neither conventional medics nor alternative therapists have been able find a solution, so it is particularly satisfying when a positive story comes our way. Which is partly why I am blogging the email below.
However, the main purpose is to broadcast the thyroid message a little further afield. An underactive thyroid is thought by some to be a significant element in ME and CFS but there is little agreement on what level of activity is actually ‘under’-active.
Some years ago, and to mark the publication Your Thyroid and how to keep it healthy, a revised edition of his controversial book, The Great Thyroid Scandal, we ran a short article about Dr Barry Durrant Peatfield, who believes that hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is seriously under-diagnosed and incorrectly treated. We also reported on a couple of readers’ experiences.
It was this article that our e-mailer had discovered on the foodsmatter.com site and had found so helpful:
I just want to thank Foods Matter for the article on thyroid problems which lead to me being able to contact Dr. Peatfield. I was feeling so very ill, I really didn’t think I would live till Christmas. But I saw Dr Peatfield last week and have started a course of treatment, this week, which I am sure, will give me my life back, I am beginning to feel stronger each day, already.
I had to wait over a month to get to see him, so he is very busy. What I liked about him, he is very relaxed and its not all about money, as you can phone him on a Wednesday and have a chat if you need to.
I was getting no help from my Dr, I wasn’t even able to get to see her!! So I decided to go privately. I paid £195 for a 15 minute session and wasn’t asked what my symptoms were, etc., I was just given beta blockers!!!!! to slow my heart down, while I tried to increase my dose of thyroxine. It slowed my heart down OK….. I ended up in A&E with a very slow pulse and, of course, it set me back even more.
I admire Dr Peatfield because he has the courage of his convictions and has stuck to what he thought was the right way to treat thyroid problems. Yet this consultant I saw who put me on beta blockers, is still allowed to practice.
For anyone who would like to contact Dr Peatfield, he does not use email but is to be found at The Peatfield Clinic of Nutrition, 16 Southview, Warlingham, Surrey CR6 9JE Tel/Fax: 01883 623125
8th December – a month later.
Another email has just arrived from the lady quoted above– as follows:
You asked in one of our emails, if I would let you know how my treatment with Dr Peatfield was going. I am only about 8 weeks into the treatment and already I feel so very much better, Dr Peatfield has given me back my life.
I was reading a thread just now on the Foods Matter forums about ME and how ME sufferers can benefit not only from an actual holiday (in an appropriately restful environment) but from taking a ‘virtual’ holiday or going on ‘retreat’.
Because ME for so many sufferers is synonymous with being anti-social, going away on retreat (or even ‘going on retreat’ at home if you are not able to travel) seems like a great idea as you can get the peace and quiet that you need but in a positive context (you have chosen to go and do this) rather than the usual negative one (you are being anti-social because you feel too ill/tired to be anything else.)
I actually do not know what connections have yet been made between ME and electrosensitivity but it occurred to me that trying to lower your electromagnetic load when you go on holiday (whether this is a proper holiday or an at-home retreat) could also be very helpful.
Dr Deitrich Klinghardt, who works with ME and MCS patients as well as those with electrical sensitivities, will not treat anyone until they have spent at least three months sleeping in a completely ‘clean’ electromagnetic environment eg not only no form of EM equipment (phones, wifi, computers etc) but not even any electricity. (This involves nothing more dramatic than having fuses with switches on them and turning them all off when you go to bed.) He believes that our atmosphere is so polluted with man-made pulsed electromagnetic radiation (which interferes with cellular communication within our bodies) that only if we get a full eight hours sleep in an environment completely free of EM pollution can our bodies have any chance of coping.
It is certainly possible that EM pollution plays a role in ME and CFS so trying to achieve an electric and electromagnetic free space in which to sleep – and possibly to holiday – could be very beneficial. As an ES sufferer, I certainly found that ten days in the Highlands of Scotland a very long way away from any electromagnetic radiation and with no electricity, was enormously beneficial. Both my sensitivity and my ‘recovery time’ after I had come too close to sources of EM radiation improved significantly – and remained better for nearly two months afterwards only dropping back to their previous levels after a morning spent at the Museum of London!
And if you are wondering what is wrong with the Museum of London – absolutely nothing (indeed their new London galleries are fantastic and I would strongly recommend anyone who is not electrosensitive to visit) but, if you are electrosensitive:
1. The museum is in the heart of the city of London which I have only just discovered has been fully wifi enabled via lamp posts and street furniture so that you can get a wifi connection anywhere in the city.
2. There are 66 mobile phone masts within a 500 metre radius of the museum.
3. A very large number of their really excellent displays are now interactive, many using wireless technology.
4. On the day we were there the museum was jammed with mid-teen schoolchildren, every one of whom appeared to be either talking on their phone or texting continually….
But, to go back to the ‘clean sleeping’. Given that our exposure to man-made pulsed electromagnetic radiation has increased many thousand fold over the last 30 years, aiming for a relatively ‘clean’ sleeping environment has to be good for everyone’s health. You do not necessarily need to go as far as turning off the electricity (although reading by candlelight is actually very romantic…) but ensuring that your bedroom is free of computers, mobile phones, mobile phone or any other chargers, hands free telephones, TVs (or if you have them ensure that they are turned right off) and, especially important, radio alarm clocks, can dramatically reduce your electromagnetic load while you are sleeping – and may help you sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning. Doesn’t cost anything to try!!
And… if you happen to have a child who has any kind of behavioural problems, it is certainly worth a try. The Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy, a US group which works with all kind of behavioural problems, had a number of reports of significant improvement when children are detached from sources of high EM radiation – see ‘Pulling the plug on the cordless phone‘.
A recent article in the New York Times described the rare, but worrying ‘sleep eating disorder’ â€“ when you not only sleep walk but sleep eat, raiding the fridge or freezer for anything it contains. And you can do it up to five times in a night! Like sleep walking, sleep eating is not thought to be connected to any psychiatric or mental disorder but can result not only in weight gain but in cuts from a knife used to cut up the food, bruising from bumping into fridge doors and dental problems from gnawing on frozen food. It is thought that sleep eating may be more common among those with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, but may be totally unrelated.
Drugs seem to be of only moderate help, not always solving the problem and often leaving sufferers feeling dopy the next day. The condition often seems to go hand in hand with restless leg syndrome â€“ a desperately frustrating condition in which you suffer from uncontrollable urges to move your legs when you try to go to sleep. Although drugs are often used to try to control restless legs, they seem of little help there either and one wonders whether an alternative approach might not work better. Certainly one sufferer I knew was advised by a Chinese medicine practitioner, treating her for something entirely different, to stop drinking tea as for her, it was a strong stimulant. As soon as she did, her restless legs syndrome disappeared.
Some hilarity has also been caused recently by the appearance of Orthorexia Nervosa, or a fixation about healthy eating. ‘We wish’ is the general response and mental health experts and ‘big pharma’ are accused of inventing another ‘syndrome’ for which they can pump us full of psychotropic drugs.
But ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’ or OCD is a very genuine, and very distressing, condition and people’s obsession can as easily be fixated on something intrinsically good (healthy eating) as bad something bad (there are rats living in your wardrobe). The National Centre for Eating Disorders sees orthorexia as a very similar condition to anorexia and blames modern society which, they feel, has ‘lost its way with food’ and so feels permanently anxious about its relationship with eating.
Here again, drug treatments appear to have little success – but genuine dietary manipulation often does. The US charity the Â Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy explores non-drug based, often nutritional, approaches to anxiety, autism, ADHD, depression, OCD, tics and Tourette syndrome, and reports on some amazing cases in which very serious conditions have been almost entirely resolved as a result of identifying food or chemical allergies and/or making nutritional interventions – five-year-old Cole’s eye tics for example.
The Association has an excellent newsletter, Latitudes, from which we often Â quote in Foods Matter. If anyone is interested in this area I would certainly suggest they took a look.