I’m on My Way—Environmental Toxins Beware!

By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

I’m on my way! Tomorrow,  I’ll be heading to Arizona to learn from top Functional Medicine Doctors about all the ways this toxic world is affecting us and what to do about it!, For example did you know about our arsenic-ridden chicken (from growth hormones which have been voluntarily removed, but not banned) produce, baby food, and rice! It’s a scary world when our juice and baby food is riddled with metal!

According to WebMD:

Ten percent of store-bought apple and grape juice samples have more arsenic — and 25% have more lead — than the Environmental Protection Agency allows in bottled water, a Consumer Reports study finds.

Those total arsenic levels are well below the FDA’s current “level of concern” that prompts further tests. But the consumer advocacy group says the federal agency should be more worried.

A Consumer Reports poll shows that over a third of kids age 5 years and younger drink more apple juice (over 6 ounces or one juice box a day) than pediatricians recommend. Children are more sensitive to arsenic poisoning than are adults. And a lot of them drink at least 16 ounces a day, potentially exposing them to high levels of arsenic.

Moreover, a scientific survey commissioned by Consumer Reports — using CDC survey data — found that people who reported drinking apple juice or grape juice have about 20% higher levels of arsenic in the urine than those who didn’t drink juice.

“We’re concerned about the potential risks of exposure to these toxins, especially for children who are particularly vulnerable because of their small body size and the amount of juice they regularly consume,” Urvashi Rangan, PhD, director of safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, says in a news release.

Arsenic has been used as a poison since ancient times. Just a postage-stamp size bit of inorganic arsenic is lethal.

But tiny amounts consumed over time can be deadly, too. Arsenic has been linked to bladder, lung, and skin cancer. It increases a person’s risk of heart disease, immune deficiency, and diabetes.

Here is advice from Consumer Reports for reducing arsenic risk:

  • Test your water if you get it from a well or spring. Municipal water systems already test water for arsenic.
  • Limit how much juice your kids drink. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says infants under the age of 6 months should not drink fruit juice at all. Up to age 6, kids should drink less than 4 to 6 ounces a day. And those over age 6 should drink no more than 8 to 12 ounces of juice a day.
  • Consider organic chicken. Organic chicken is never given feed laced with arsenic, a common poultry practice. However, organic standards for juice and other foods isn’t so clear, as organic fruits may come from orchards with arsenic in the soil.
  • Get tested. If you’re worried, ask your doctor to test you or your child for arsenic.

The Consumer Reports report on arsenic in juice was published online on Nov. 30 and will appear in the January issue of the magazine.

Diseases and Environmental Connection

I’ve written before on our toxic world and the importance of cleansing. I’ve also provided some general and individualized support recommendations. With this world getting more toxic, I feel it’s time to get even more in-depth training and look at how genetic differences affect people’s symptoms from various environmental impacts. That’s why I study Naturopathic and Functional Medicine, which looks at the individual and how to support an increasingly sensitive population.

This issue is impacting even conventional medicine. More and more studies are showing how the environment impact affects disease processes, especially in the immune compromised. A recent report in Medscape discussed how air pollution was linked to a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Nov 11 – Air pollution, especially sulfur dioxide, may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Boston researchers said this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

“Some cardiovascular disease is associated with increased inflammatory markers and oxidative stress from air pollution, and respiratory exposures to silica and cigarettes are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, so it seemed logical to look at rheumatoid arthritis and links to air pollution because the disease is characterized by such a large level of inflammation,” Dr. Jaime Hart told Reuters Health.

Collaborating with researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Dr. Hart and colleagues from Harvard Medical School studied 1,330 incident RA cases and 2,235 controls. The data came from the Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) study and from the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study (NHS).

Why Functional Medicine?

I study it b/c it’s the solution and the cure for modern medicine paradox. According to Dr. Mercola:

From blood pressure guidelines to mental illness definitions and dozens of other physical ailments, modern medicine’s bottom line for only treating symptoms is to expand the indications for the drug pipeline. And that’s not just in the United States. For most of the world, the definition of health “care” has become interchangeable with drug interventions. I put the word “care” in quotations to indicate this is modern medicine’s definition, not mine.

I’ll explain my personal definition of health care later in this article, but for the standard paradigm, it’s apparent it means not only lowering the minimum acceptable parameters for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, but creating new “diseases” to be “treated.” The result is that more people than ever are now on drugs for preventable chronic conditions. Unfortunately, all these drugs haven’t made us healthier. Instead, we just keep spending more money, with 75 percent of every health care dollar going to chronic disease treatment.

In 2008 alone, Americans spent $2.3 trillion on this type of health “care” – three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and more than eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980.

In other parts of the world, 36 million people die every year due to chronic diseases – which health officials predict will cost $47 trillion a year by 2030. The numbers are so staggering that the United Nations has formed a special committee just to address strategies for addressing chronic disease. The committees met several times, most recently in New York City, where they declared war on salt, junk food, and tobacco as their first move toward reigning in health care costs.

In her book, “Death by Modern Medicine,” Dr. Carolyn Dean talks about how, for well over a century, the definition of health care has been pills-and-drugs. It’s a deliberately schemed and manipulated paradigm that’s been packaged and sold through:

  • The insurance industry’s (including Medicare’s and Medicaid’s) methodology for payment, which doesn’t recognize nutritional care or proven naturopathic approaches to health care
  • Direct-to-Consumer advertising
  • Influencing physicians and other health care providers through gifts, honoraria for speaking engagements, and financial support for training programs, which is simply another form of advertising
  • Intense lobbying by PhRMA and individual drug makers such as Merck and Pfizer

Health Insurance is actually sickness insurance?  Correct? Have you ever thought about that?  The average coverage cost for a single person is just over $4300 per year…around $350 per month How much to you invest each month in your vitality?  Have you ever thought about that?

Dr. Hyman explains why treating just symptoms in modern medicine and not looking at the cause is hurting our pocketbooks and health:

ONE OF EVERY TWO of you have a deadly disease that’s making you fat sick and will kill you and 90% of you don’t even know you have it.

Most medicine today is based on clear-cut, on-or-off, yes-or-no diagnoses that often miss the underlying causes and more subtle manifestations of illness. Most conventional doctors are taught that you have a disease or you don’t; you have diabetes or you don’t. There are no gray areas.

Practicing medicine this way is extremely misguided because it misses one of the most fundamental laws of physiology, biology, and disease: The continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Anywhere along that continuum, we can intervene and reverse the process. The sooner we address it, the better.

For example, when it comes to diabesity most doctors just follow blood sugar, which actually rises very late in the disease process. If your blood sugar is 90 or 110, you don’t have diabetes.

We need physicians that will treat the person, not just the diagnosis, whether with pills or herbs.

The problem with Cookbook Medicine

Trying to treat yourself with Dr. Google is akin to treating your flat tire with a doughnut or cooking a stew with pieces of the recipes but not knowing basic cooking techinques. We have seen the negative press in the media about vitamins, although most are related to poor studies with selection bias, part of the reason is that people are treating themselves with sub-standardized supplements and without knowledge of their full effects. Dr. Amen’s blog echoes a caution on self-prescribing natural medicine:

All too often this same approach is used in seeking solutions to health related matters. People consult the internet or other similar means to search for cookbook-like recipes to heal what ails them.

So how in the world does the stew as metaphor apply to seeking help for problems of the mind and brain?  What have we learned from the stew incident that will help us with understanding the process of seeking help with mind/brain related problems? It is not simply what do the scans say and what do I need to take to get better.  The process of arriving at a conclusion about treatment recommendations is a complex outcome of the integration of several factors.  There is the medical history, possible medical tests, and questionnaires, the SPECT scans and interview with the psychiatrist, who armed with the information gained from those means, may be helped to focus his inquiry more specifically.  The psychiatrist then processes these inputs (in his own prefrontal cortex among other brain systems) to eventually arrive at an effective treatment plan that is specific to the unique issues of the person seeking help.  This specific treatment plan borne of the integration of the elements noted above, in interaction with the physician’s experience, including the interactive process with the person has as a goal to generate target specific interventions for supplements, vitamins and medications when necessary, as well as life style changes and recommendation for healthy food choices and exercising.  It is holistic and aims, in fact requires the pro-active involvement of the participant, and may include other health care professionals.

The countdown had begun, it’s time to revolutionize our healthcare system, not by changing insurance, but changing how we think about our health. Prioritizing our pocketbook for wellness as well as car repairs, groceries, travel, and haircuts and not based on copayments is what will aid everyone in achieving wellness. When the first thought in someone’s mind is how to get better, not how to get diagnosed, we are on our way!

Note: This doesn’t mean that health care should just be for the rich, but it does mean it should be a priority for all!


DeNoon. Arsenic in Apple, Grape, Juice. Webmd.com. November 30, 2011. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20111130/arsenic-in-apple-grape-juice?ecd=wnl_hrt_120611 Scary, scary world, right?

Fran Lowry. Air Pollution May Affect Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis. From Reuters Health Information. Medscape News Today. November 11, 2011. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/753432?src=nl_topic

Mercola, J. The Number Cause of Accidental Death in the US-Are you at Risk? November 24, 2011. Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/24/modern-medicine-disease-treatments.aspx?e_cid=20111124_DNL_art_1

Source: Licata, Bob. Finding the Recipe of Treatment Success. Dr. Amen’s Blog. November 15, 2011.

Source: Hyman, M. 50% of Americans Suffer from this Silent Killer. drhyman.com. November 26, 2011. http://drhyman.com/fifty-percent-of-americans-suffer-from-silent-killer-7915/?utm_source=Publicaster&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drhyman%20newsletter%20issue%20#43&utm_content=Read+more

7minute video: Death by Medicine by Mercola. November 26, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K7_e_4AOsFo&noredirect=1

Be sure to check out my informational blog on Saratoga.com which includes:

  1. Naturopathic Philosophy Highlight Fun Facts:
    1. Are Antibiotics Making Us Fat?
    2. Green Tea and Cholesterol
    3. CoQ10 and Brain Function with Statin Use
  2. Happenings:
    1. Upcoming Essential Oils Workshops with Terry Quigley and Lori Mershon at the Healing Garden. Contact Terry at 518-831-9469
    2. I’ll be in Arizona from December 8th-December 13th learning about Biotransformation and Detoxification! I will not be available for emails/phone at this time, but look forward to sharing with you all at that time. Emma will still be available for scheduling, general inquiries and will be handling all calls, faxes and emails.
    3. PATIENTS: Please review follow ups and cancellation policy below:

Cancellation Policy: Due to the administrative work, training, work, and time Dr. LoBisco puts into individualized treatment plans between visits, patients are subject to a $25 cancellation fee for missed appointments or cancellations the day prior to the appointment. Patients who give no notification of cancellation of appointments or less than 24 hours will be billed via PayPal the cost of the full assessment. Please note that it if one wishes to stay moving forward, regular assessment is critical and follow ups are generally re-scheduled within 3-4 weeks with adequate notice.

***It is not recommended that one stay stagnant in a protocol. Instead, the focus should be on continued progress and attaining adequate feedback as your body heals. Integrative medicine works best through continued support and keeping the body healthy; therefore, follow ups are essential for attaining treatment goals. Follow ups are intended to continue to support your body as it heals by (1) discussing the blocks to implementing lifestyle changes, (2) updating  your nutritional protocols, and (3)assessing changes in blood chemistry. Once maintenance is reached, follow ups are generally every 3-6 months. I urge all my patients to be active participants in their health. Our therapeutic work together is most successful when it is collaborative, which requires both patient and physician alike to maintain accountability throughout.  Thank you.

3. Radio For Your BodyMind-Soul:

  1. Diet: What Works, What Doesn’t with Dr. Northrup
  2. Staying happy, healthy, and hot, during the Holidays with Michelle Phillips
  3. Ending Thyroid Symptoms with Marcelle Pick

4. Book of the week: The Beauty Blueprint with Michelle Phillips

Michelle’s latest bestseller discusses beauty from the inside out, learn about how feeling beautiful from the inside can radiate outward and how you can nourish your physical body and appearance with practical solutions. Here Michelle’s message on her website via YouTube.

5. Don’t miss out:

My interview on 360menopause Radio Show-Panic Attacks and Menopause

Check out my latest answer and more on Dr. Oz’s Sharecare: I discuss the benefits of Probiotics

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