Archive for Drink

Improving tap water for better thyroid function


I don’t know about you, but I recently realized that I have not been paying close enough attention to the water I consume. I did drink from my carbon-filtered water, but the water I put into the kettle to boil for tea, in the coffee machine, into ice trays, or in the pot for rice or soup, I usually took straight from the tap.

So I decided to be religious about my water for the last while to see if I would notice a difference. And I did. Within 2 weeks my skin improved.

My whole life I have had these tiny dry-skin pimply-like bumps on the back of my upper arms and also on my thighs. I would call it my chicken skin. I went through phases where I would attempt to figure out what the problem was. I made sure my omega 3 levels were good, I dry brushed, I creamed, I drank more water … Nothing seemed to work. But since I became crazy vigilant about all water that enters my body there has been a noticeable difference, and I am now hopeful that my skin and maybe my health, will continue to improve.

Even though my water filter claims to reduce chlorine, I was not convinced it eliminated it completely, so figured I would let the chlorine gas escape before putting it through the filter. So, I put hot tap water in my 2 cup (500ml) measuring cup and let the water sit uncovered for half-an-hour before putting it through the filter. If you are using cold water instead of hot, it will probably take an hour (double the time) to do the job.

If your community uses chloramine instead of chlorine, that same 2 cups or 500ml of hot water will take 2.5 to 3 hours to de-gas.

Lately I have been using only the treated water to make anything that I am consuming. I did not decide to do this with the intention of improving my skin, but it is the happy result.

My intent was to help my thyroid. Chlorine, fluorine, bromine (another water disinfectant) and iodine are chemically-related compounds called halogens, and in the body they all compete for the iodine receptors. Our bodies need iodine, so when a different halogen occupies the iodine receptors, our thyroid is deprived of the iodine it needs to function properly.

In my neck of the woods, the water is not fluoridated, but if yours is and you want to remove the fluoride, you will need to look for a water filter that will do that.

If you have a thyroid issue it is possible that making sure the water you consume is free of chlorine and fluoride may at least move you in the healthier direction. Do make sure you are also eating foods that contain iodine.

I refuse to use common table-salt and instead use the Paludier Sea Salt which has not been iodized. So I make sure I eat at least 1 nori sheet (8″x7.5″ or 20.5cm x 19cm) per day. Wakame would be another great seaweed choice to get your daily iodine.

Well, that’s it for today. I have another school deadline coming up (thesis protocol), so I may be silent for a couple of months. Thank you for your patience with respect to my inconsistency in writing. I do appreciate it.

Let me know what you think of this and other topics. We are in this health-thing together!


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Choosing a water filtration system
Thyroid function and dysfunction

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Light and charged water provide our bodies with energy

It is common knowledge that are body is 75+ percent water, and yet we don’t really know what the purpose of all that water is, except for being the solvent for all the solutes (proteins, fatty acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients, minerals etc.)

Research by Gerald Pollack from the University of Washington in Seattle is now suggesting that water is far more complex than we have ever believed, and may be providing our bodies with another energy system – another driving force that moves fluids through our bodies.

I think this topic is fascinating, and has implications for a big change in our understanding of our basic physiology, as well as provides opportunities for technical applications in daily life.

Watch Gerald Pollack explain his science here. For those that prefer to read, I will summarize below.

When you are out in a boat, have you sometimes you noticed droplets of water sitting on top of the surface of the lake? How does that happen? Why don’t those drops immediately merge with the lake? Have you ever tried floating a coin or paperclip on the surface of some water? Possible, and somewhat amazing, no?

“Oh, that is just surface tension”, one would say. Right? Well, actually we now know there is more to it than that. We all know that water has 3 phases – solid (ice), liquid, and gas (steam). According to Pollack, there is a 4th phase of water – a gel phase between the liquid and the solid, and this is the phase of water that explains a lot of phenomena that has been largely a mystery.

When water contacts a water-loving surface (hydrophilic), the water molecules split, with the negative ions lining up next to the hydrophilic material, and the positive ions being pushed further away from the material. The negative ions rearrange themselves in such a way as to create a gel-like honeycomb lattice changing their molecular structure from H2O to H3O2.

The interesting thing about this negatively charged water is that it pushes everything else out into the positive water. The negatively charged lattice excludes everything including particles, contaminants, bacteria, even salt. Pollack calls this negatively-charged water, exclusion zone water, or EZ water for short.

Because the water is now divided into a negative zone and a positive zone, we essentially have a battery. If you put an electrode into each zone of the water, you can run an electrical device.

But what charges the water? Light. Pollack found that the more light was shining on the water, the more EZ water layers were created. He found that infrared light was particularly effective at increasing the layers of the negative-ion lattice.

This concept may explain how some biological processes in our bodies work. For example, red blood cells are commonly thicker than the capillaries (smallest blood vessels) that they have to go through. Is the pumping action of our heart really strong enough to squish these cells through the narrow tubes? Seems unlikely. So how is this possible?.

Pollack found that when he put a hydrophilic straw in the water and shone light onto the water, there was a constant non-ending flow of water and the particles it carried, through the tube. The charged water in our vessels may provide the energy to propel the red blood cells through the capillaries.

According to Pollack, the water inside the cells are negatively charged due to the many proteins they contain having hydrophilic walls, which creates EZ water, forcing the positively charged water outside the cells (extracellular fluid).

Mitochondrial cells are known as the powerhouses of the muscles as they provide energy for muscle contraction. Their structure contains many membranes, which would create a significant amount of EZ water, possibly increasing the energy production within the cells.

When we consider any biological process that involves a molecule sitting in water, we perhaps should now look at it with the understanding of all of the components involved: the molecule, the negatively charged EZ water, the positively charged water, and the effect of light. As Pollack says, perhaps we now need to reconsider many biological processes with this new understanding.

The take-away is that we are solar beings. Like plants, we are able to convert light into energy, and we also use this energy system to run some of the biochemical processes of the body.

It does make sense to me that if we can improve the body’s ability to use this energy system, we might feel much better. So, what might we do?

Certainly if we are dehydrated, EZ water would be depleted, and generally we don’t feel as good as we could. So drink up! There is anecdotal evidence that infrared light / saunas greatly increase people’s energy levels. Juicing raw greens like wheat grass is thought to be very healthy. Is it that we are consuming the plant’s EZ water that is also contributing to the health benefits?

At the very least, I think I will shine a light on my Britta pitcher – can’t hurt, might help …

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Pollack, Gerald H. The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2013

Pollack, Gerald H. Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life: A New Unifying Approach to Cell Function Ebner & Sons, Seattle, 2001.

Copyright 2017 Vreni Gurd

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Sigg comes clean on BPA in their water bottle liners


For a couple of years at least, consumers have been abandoning their plastic reusable water bottles in favour of metal ones in order to avoid the endocrine disruptor BPA.

Retail stores reacted to customer concerns about BPA, and pulled the hard polycarbonate plastic bottles from their store shelves and replaced them with metal bottles, such as those made by the Swiss company, Sigg. This was completely a consumer-driven change.

Nalgene, along with other plastic water bottle manufacturers that for years had declared that there were no health issues related to BPA, were forced to take the BPA out of their bottles due to consumer demand. It was not until October of 2008 that the Canadian government declared BPA a “hazardous substance”, and it was placed on the toxic substance list.

Then in March 2009, the US put through legislation that forbids the sale of “any bottle, cup, or other container that contains bisphenol A if the container is designed or intended to be filled with any liquid, food or beverage primarily for consumption from that container by children three years of age or younger.”

According to the Canadian Gazette, “On March 16, 2009, in the United States, a bill to ban the use of bisphenol A in food containers, and for other purposes was introduced for the second time in the House of Representatives.” BPA is particularly hazardous to infants, and many countries have now banned it from sippy cups, liners of infant formula containers, baby toys etc.

Metal water bottle manufacturers were the huge beneficiary of the BPA problem, and the whimsical Sigg bottles became extremely popular. Over a year ago, a CBC reporter asked a Sigg representative point blank if the bottle liner contained BPA, and the answer he received to the question was “No”.

However, we know that was not the truth, as Sigg has now come clean and admitted to the world that their bottle liners contained BPA until August 2008, after which they were replaced by a BPA-free liner. Today, when I was in the store that sold me my bottle, I noticed that all the Sigg bottles were pulled from the shelves.

Sigg, in an effort to save face, is offering an exchange program where consumers can send in their Sigg bottles with the old liner for a replacement with the new liner, at the consumer’s expense for shipping. I bought my Sigg bottle in July 2009, and it still has the old liner, so just because you purchased your bottle recently does not guarantee you’ve got the BPA-free one.

If you own a Sigg bottle and are concerned, check which liner you've got by referring  to these pictures. The old liner is coppery in colour, whereas the new one is yellowish. Make sure you download the labels they want you to use, to ensure a smooth exchange.

My water bottle / BPA post that I wrote a few years back was extremely popular, and I got many questions with respect to the safety of particular brands of water bottles, Sigg being one of them frequently asked about. I apologize if I steered anyone wrong – I did not know that Sigg bottle liners contained BPA and find it astonishing that they would, since people were moving to metal bottles in order to specifically avoid that chemical.

According to Sigg, their new bottles are BPA free. I do wish that as consumers we could trust companies to use materials that are not implicated in health concerns, and I’m sure there are some reputable companies out there, but how is a consumer to know which companies to trust?

Just to let those of you in the Vancouver Lower Mainland know, I am going to run my popular Nutrition Seminar again on Sept. 23, ’09 from 7-10pm. If you are confused about nutrition with all of the conflicting information out there, come out and learn some simple strategies to know instantly whether or not a particular food is healthy. Click here to find out details and how to register.

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Sun, heat, dehydration and kidney stones

Kidney stones occur more commonly in the summer, so stay hydrated to avoid one of the most painful conditions there is.

Well, with the heat wave we’ve been enjoying over the past week, I’ve found myself pondering how to stay comfortably cool, keep the apartment cool enough to be able to sleep, get my vitamin D dosage without burning to a crisp, and focusing on staying hydrated enough.

Dehydration creates a number of problems in the body, including increasing blood pressure, accelerating osteoarthritis (the wearing down of joints), and increasing the risk of kidney stones.

Kidney stones tend to develop more frequently in the summer months, and as anyone that has had one will tell you they are something you don't want to get as they are excruciatingly painful.

The south-eastern States, hot for most of the year, are referred to as the “kidney stone belt”, and the Middle East has about double the rate of kidney stones than North America, mostly due to inadequate water intake which is especially needed in hot weather.

Staying well hydrated is fundamentally important to health, and most tend not to drink enough water even when the weather is cool. Because we sweat more when we are hot, we need even more water to replace what we are losing.

If you’ve suffered from kidney stones in the past you are at risk of getting them again, so staying well hydrated is a very important preventative measure, as water reduces the concentration of the minerals that might crystallize into stones.

One often hears the saying “drink plenty of fluids” when it is hot, but some fluids will make the body’s internal environment worse, making one more prone to kidney stones. Soda pop is a fluid that not only dehydrates making one more prone to kidney stones, but also contains phosphates, which is linked to higher kidney stone recurrence.

Dark soft drinks like coke, tend to contain oxalates, which further increase one's susceptibility to kidney stones. Any caffeinated beverage is dehydrating, so for every cup of a caffeinated beverage you drink, do drink another glass of filtered water.

Sugary drinks tend to mess with calcium and magnesium absorption, once again increasing one's risk for kidney stones. With kids drinking so much in the way of sugary drinks and soda pop now, children as young as 5 are being afflicted with kidney stones.

The healthy fluid of choice is water – add a twist of lemon or lime if that will help you drink enough of it.

How much water should one drink? According to Dr. Batmanghelidj who wrote the book Your Body's Many Cries For Water, take one's bodyweight in pounds, divide by two, and that is the number of ounces one should drink each day.

When it is hot, probably not a bad idea to drink a little more to make up for sweat losses. If you are exercising in the heat (not the best idea – exercise in the early morning or evening rather than during peak heat times) you may want to weigh yourself before your exercise and again afterwards, and replace the water weight lost during the exercise.

One can tell if one is well hydrated if the colour of the urine is clear to very light yellow. If your urine is bright yellow, drink up! (Some vitamin supplements will turn the urine an almost fluorescent yellow colour, which would make it impossible to judge hydration levels.)

There have been media reports about people dying from drinking too much water, usually during or after an athletic event. The problem is caused by diluting the electrolytes to the point they can't do their job.

So the water we drink needs to be adequately mineralized – add a pinch of Pascalite Clay or unrefined, air dried Celtic Sea Salt, to any water that has been distilled or filtered by reverse osmosis as all the minerals have been removed by these processes.

Drinking mineral-rich water will ensure that our electrolytes won't become too diluted.

If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to

Related Tips:
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Batmanghelidj F. MD Your Body’s Many Cries for Water Global Health Solutions, Falls Church, VA, 2006.

University of Michigan Health System. Kidney Stones In Children On The Rise, Expert Says ScienceDaily 5 May 2009. 1 August 2009.

University of Michigan Health System. Stay Hydrated This Summer To Prevent Painful Kidney Stones. ScienceDaily 5 June 2007. 1 August 2009

Guerra A et al. Concentrated urine and diluted urine: the effects of citrate and magnesium on the crystallization of calcium oxalate induced in vitro by an oxalate load. Urol Res. 2006 Dec;34(6):359-64.

Guerra A et al. Effects of urine dilution on quantity, size and aggregation of calcium oxalate crystals induced in vitro by an oxalate load. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(6):585-9.

Rodgers A. Effect of cola consumption on urinary biochemical and physicochemical risk factors associated with calcium oxalate urolithiasis. Urol Res. 1999;27(1):77-81

Rodgers AL. Effect of mineral water containing calcium and magnesium on calcium oxalate urolithiasis risk factors. Urol Int.

Copyright 2009 Vreni Gurd

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Another reason not to drink bottled water


Did you know that the oil it takes to make, ship and refrigerate that bottle of water, would fill that bottle a quarter of the way?

When one considers that the water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for tap water are higher than the water standards set by the FDA for bottled water, and one realizes that it costs 10,000 times more to produce a bottle of water ($2.50 a liter or $10 a gallon – much more expensive than gasoline) than to simply turn on the tap, we must ask ourselves why we are wasting our resources and our money on bottled water.

I think originally bottled water became popular because it was perceived to be healthier than tap water, but is that really true? About 40% of the bottled waters on the market ARE tap water (including Dasani and Aquafina) with some minerals taken out, or added in – whatever the manufacturer believes will sell. Some waters, like Evian or Fuji are spring waters, higher in minerals and therefore healthier than some of the softer municipal water supplies, but is the environmental cost worth the price considering how easy it is to add back minerals into filtered tap water?

The PET plastic that the water is sold in is made from crude oil. In 2004, the amount of oil needed to satisfy the demands of Americans for bottled water was in the neighbourhood of 17 million barrels, enough to fuel over a million cars for a year. Then add to that the oil that is needed to ship the water bottles to market. Apparently nearly a quarter of the bottles of water are shipped cross international boundaries to reach store shelves – that is a lot of oil used in transportation. Making plastic bottles also wastes crazy amounts of water. It takes 6.74 times the amount of water contained within the bottle to make it, which is a staggering amount of water. Water is becoming more and more scarce worldwide, so why are we wasting it making bottles? And finally, plastic bottles need to be disposed of, and only 1 in 6 bottles is recycled, while all others are littered on land or in waterways, or find their way to landfill sites. It takes over 1000 years to biodegrade plastic, so the result is mountains and mountains of completely unnecessary garbage; furthermore, I’m not sure I want that plastic leaching into water tables etc.

Tap water is very economical, arriving at our taps through energy-efficient infrastructure, and due to the high water standards required by government bodies, is usually quite safe. One can easily buy a tap filter to filter out chlorine or other contaminants one may be concerned about. Filters that filter out fluoride may be more challenging to obtain, but they are certainly available. Most other contaminants are already removed by municipalities. If one’s filtering system removes all minerals (reverse osmosis) making the water too soft, one can add trace minerals back to tap water by adding a pinch of pasculite clay or unrefined, air dried Celtic or Himalayan sea salt. (NOT the white, dry, processed salt which has no minerals but sodium!)

So rather than buying bottled water, get a good re-usable stainless steel water bottle, filter your tap water, and take your water with you. There are even re-usable water bottles that come with a filter in them, so if you need to refill while out, anyone’s tap water will do. If you live in the States and want to check where your municipal water comes from, find out what’s in it so you know what if anything you need to filter out, click here. For Canada or elsewhere, try googling your home town and "water quality" and see what comes up. I got this link for Vancouver, for example.

If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to

Related Tips:
How much water should we drink?
Fluoridated water: boon or bane?
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Emily Arnold and Janet Larsen BOTTLED WATER: Pouring Resources Down the Drain Earth Policy Institute, Feb. 2, 2006.

by Union of Concerned Scientists A world of reasons to ditch bottled water TreeHugger – A Discovery Company, July 9, 07.

Julia Whitty Your Water Bottle Is One-Quarter Oil Mother Jones, Feb. 19, 2009.

Loyde Alter Pablo calculates the true cost of bottled water TreeHugger, Feb 6, 2007.

Drinking Water: Bottled or From the Tap? Kids National Geographic, Feb. 2008.

US Water Quality Reports Where you live Environmental Protection Agency

Water Talk – Drinking Water Quality in Canada Health Canada

Copyright 2009 Vreni Gurd

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Osteoarthritis: Is dehydration implicated?


Is it possible that dehydration plays a role in the degradation of the cartilage found in Osteoarthritis?

Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an auto-immune disease, osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease, where the cartilage (the smooth, cushiony, rubbery, white stuff that surrounds the ends of the bones that form a joint) deteriorates, eventually degrading the bone itself, resulting in stiff, painful joints. The big question in my mind is what causes the cartilage to begin deteriorating in the first place? I have searched, as has my colleague, Sue Bond who helped me research this topic, and we have found nothing much in the scientific journals that provides a satisfactory answer. Getting older and being overweight seems to be commonly associated with osteoarthritis, but many that are older and overweight do not get it. And there are some who are young and thin who do. A previous joint injury may pre-dispose someone to osteoarthritis, but once again, not everyone that has suffered a joint injury goes on to get OA. And unlike most of today’s chronic diseases, osteoarthritis has been around for a very long time. There is fossil evidence that some dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals suffered from OA (Wells, 1973), as did many of the Egyptian mummies (Braunstein, 1988), as well as two thirds of the Romano-British skeletons studied (Thould and Thould 1983).

I think there must be a biochemical imbalance of some kind that must create an unhealthy environment within the joint space resulting in the cartilage wearing away, and even though science has not as of yet put its finger on what exactly that issue is, I have a theory. I agree with Dr. Batmanghelidj that body dehydration may play an important role – I fully admit I cannot back this idea up with scientific studies, but I think it is worth considering because healthy cartilage is full of water, and water plays an integral role in how cartilage works. Cartilage functions something like a very dense sponge, and as we put weight through our joints, the water it contains squishes out, and when we take the weight off our joints, the water diffuses back into the cartilage. The water within the joint space also provides lubrication allowing the bones to glide smoothly on each other. If one is not drinking adequate water, the body would prioritize the viscosity of the blood over joint health, and water would be pulled from the cartilage resulting in it "drying out", probably making it more likely to degrade due to increased friction and weight-bearing stress. This theory would fit the observation that those that are older and overweight are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, as it is well known that as we age we tend to dry out, and putting a greater amount of weight through the joints would wear them out faster. And I think it is reasonable to expect that at all times in history some people would have been chronically dehydrated.

Cartilage is actually uncalcified bone. New cartilage cells grow on the bone surface, so cartilage nutrition come via the bone itself, and if wear and tear strip away the surface cells faster than the underneath cells can grow, the cartilage layer will become thinner. If the bone marrow and the cartilage are competing for water, the cartilage will lose out, losing its supply of nutrition. Now the joint needs to get nutrition another way, via the arteries in the joint capsule, which then expand causing swelling and increased synovial fluid in the joint space. But water coming from the joint space does not hydrate or nourish the cartilage in the same manner is water coming via the bone itself, and this extra fluid is often inflammatory and painful.

I don't know if it is reasonable to expect that damaged bone and cartilage will repair itself much if one suddenly pays attention to drinking sufficient water, but it may be worth while to do so in order to prevent further damage because as osteoarthritis progresses it becomes increasingly more painful, and anything that can be done to prevent further degeneration of the joint surfaces can only be viewed as helpful.

Other things one can do to decrease progression of the disease and reduce pain? The big one is to lose weight, which would result in less wear and tear on the joints. Studies have shown that a combination of glucosamine and chondriotin also aid in preventing further degenerative damage and reduce pain, especially in those that are suffering the most. News stories a couple of years ago on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that these supplements did nothing are misleading, as these popular-press articles unfortunately did not fully explain the results. Although the study showed that glucosamine and chondriotin did not help everyone with OA, they helped 79% of those that were the most seriously affected and in the most pain. (If you are allergic to shellfish, you are most likely allergic to glucosamine, so don’t take it.) It makes sense to me that eating soups made from bone broths, which provide hydrophilic gelatin to the body would not hurt either. Increased omega 3 fatty acid consumption (fatty fish and fish oils) reduce body inflammation, which studies have also shown reduces the pain of OA. Tumeric is also very anti-inflammatory, and research supports its use to reduce the pain of arthritis. And many studies also support acupuncture for reducing the pain of OA. Maintaining strength and flexibility about the affected joints is also helpful, and water exercise can be particularly beneficial, as strength and muscle endurance can be gained without putting undo weight-bearing stress through the joints.

If you want to search for other posts by title or by topic, go to

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Batmanghelidj F. MD Your Body’s Many Cries for Water Global Health Solutions, Falls Church, VA, 1997

Zhang W et al. OARSI recommendations for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis, Part II: OARSI evidence-based, expert consensus guidelines. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008 Feb;16(2):137-62.

Bierma-Zeinstra SM, Koes BW. Risk factors and prognostic factors of hip and knee osteoarthritis. Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. 2007 Feb;3(2):78-85.

Felson DT. An update on the pathogenesis and epidemiology of osteoarthritis. Radiol Clin North Am. 2004 Jan;42(1):1-9, v.

 Miller et al. Intensive weight loss program improves physical function in older obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Jul;14(7):1219-30.

Messier SP. Obesity and osteoarthritis: disease genesis and nonpharmacologic weight management. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2008 Aug;34(3):713-29.

Clegg DO et al. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 23;354(8):795-808.

Jang BC et al. Glucosamine hydrochloride specifically inhibits COX-2 by preventing COX-2 N-glycosylation and by increasing COX-2 protein turnover in a proteasome-dependent manner. J Biol Chem. 2007 Sep 21;282(38):27622-32. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

[No authors listed] Glucosamine for knee osteoarthritis – what’s new? Drug Ther Bull. 2008 Nov;46(11):81-4.

Bruyere O, Reginster JY Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate as therapeutic agents for knee and hip osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging. 2007;24(7):573-80.

Timothy E. McAlindon et al. Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Treatment of Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Quality Assessment and Meta-analysis JAMA. 2000;283:1469-1475.

Herrero-Beaumont G et al. Glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using acetaminophen as a side comparator. Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Feb;56(2):555-67.

Mazieres B et al. Chondroitin sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective, double blind, placebo controlled multicenter clinical study. J Rheumatol. 2001 Jan;28(1):173-81.

Vignon E et al. Osteoarthritis of the knee and hip and activity: a systematic international review and synthesis (OASIS). Joint Bone Spine. 2006 Jul;73(4):442-55. Epub 2006 May 6.

Goldberg RJ, Katz J. A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain. 2007 May;129(1-2):210-23. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Emma Dickinson Acupuncture as a complementary therapy to the pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: randomised controlled trial BMJ Volume 329 pp 1216-9

Claudia M. Witt et al. Acupuncture in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip: A randomized, controlled trial with an additional nonrandomized arm Arthritis and Rheumatism Vol 54 Iss 11, pp 3485 – 3493, 2006

Janet L. Funk et al. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis Arthritis and Rheumatism Vol 54 Iss 11, pp 3452 – 3464, 2006

Copyright 2008 Vreni Gurd

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Drinking and passing out


What should you do if your friend or relative passes out from over-drinking? What should you do if you have had a bit too much to drink yourself?

A client of mine told me this story about a friend of hers that needlessly passed away, and I thought that there was a lesson here that we could all benefit from. There is a lot of publicity around the idea of not drinking and driving, but I haven’t seen anything in the media about the potential dangers of drinking and passing out.

If you have taken first aid, you know that when someone is unconscious, that person needs to be placed in the recovery position, or on their side with their head tilted back slightly, but the face pointing towards the floor. The reason for this is to drain any vomit.

My client’s friend responsibly took himself home after drinking too much, laid on his back on his bed, passed out, then suffocated to death on his own vomit. Probably if he had been lying on his side, he would be alive today. So, the moral of the story is, if your friend passes out, place him on his side, face angled towards the floor slightly. You may just be saving a life. And if you think you have had a bit too much to drink, lie yourself down on your side when you go to sleep, just to be safe.

Perhaps this info should be taught in the schools? What do you think?

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Copyright 2008 Vreni Gurd

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Green and black tea – healthy or not?


Green and black tea are full of anti-oxidants and polyphenols which are good for us, but they also contain very high amounts of fluoride, which is highly toxic to the body.

Okay, enough is enough. Over the last few years, I've said that we shouldn't eat sugar, baked goods and pasta, omega 6 vegetable oils, boxed cereals and crackers, store-bought salad dressings, processed foods, soy, low-fat or no-fat milk, (pasteurized dairy or pasteurized anything including fruit juice for that matter), grain-fed factory-farmed meat, poultry and eggs, and well, I can handle that most of the time. But tea??? I love my cup of tea. Is NOTHING sacred? Heavy sigh.

Tea leaves seem to accumulate more fluoride from the soil and from the air than any other plant that we eat, and because pollution has increased over the last decades, fluoride in tea is increasing as well.

Green tea in particular is heavily promoted as being a very healthy beverage because of the anti-oxidants it contains. But it turns out that the fluoride levels in tea are higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)set for fluoride in drinking water, which is 1mg/L.

Double-blind studies exist proving the adverse health affects of fluoride at the level of 1ppm in water, and there are no studies documenting safety of ingesting fluoride at any level. No studies seem to exist investigating the effects of fluorides on the anti-oxidants in green tea, although other studies involving antioxidants show that they are adversely affected by fluoride.

A 6oz cup of green or black tea seems to contain between 1.3 and 7.8mg/L of fluoride, so possibly as much as 8 times the suggested safe dose, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has more than one cup of tea per day.

Fluoride may be a big culprit in hypothyroid (sluggish thyroid), as fluoride has a bigger affinity to the iodine receptor than iodine does, and the thyroid needs iodine to function properly. Fluoride was in fact used in several countries to treat an overactive thyroid because it was so good at reducing thyroid function.

With so many people suffering from problems of hypothyroid, many being undiagnosed, one can wonder how much of the problem can be related to tea and fluoridated water consumption. Fluoride’s affect on the thyroid go way beyond blocking iodine, and are far too numerous to account for here. If dental fluorosis is present, hypothyroid is a given. Yikes! This is serious stuff!!

Dean Burk, who was Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute for several decades, said that “no chemical causes as much cancer, and faster, than fluorides”, and fluoride is particularly problematic in uterine and bone cancers.

Fluoride also tends to soften bones and make them brittle, playing a role in osteoporosis. Dental fluorosis or a mottling of the teeth is the first obvious sign of fluoride poisoning, and if there is dental fluorosis, there are hypothyroid problems, and probably skeletal fluorosis as well.

Tea also frequently contains aluminum, and fluoride and aluminum together are even more problematic, creating renal and neurological problems, including possibly Alzheimers (aluminum fluoride which turns into aluminum oxide).

Chinese teas seem to have more fluoride in them than Indian, oolong and Ceylon teas, decaf teas have much higher levels of fluoride than caffeinated teas, and instant teas are full of fluoride too.

Black teas have more fluoride than green, and longer brewing times increase the fluoride content.

The higher the grade of tea, the less the fluoride, so in other words the expensive stuff really is better. In fact one study suggested that measuring fluoride content would be a good way to evaluate the quality of the tea.

If you want more detailed information on this topic, I recommend the book by Christopher Bryson is also a good read.

Non-organic teas are frequently riddled with pesticides, and do read labels to check for soy lecithin or corn starch, which are most certainly genetically modified. Many herbal teas contain colourings and flavourings also, which are not healthy.

Furthermore, I strongly suggest buying organic or non-GMO-certified LOOSE tea instead of tea in bags, as the bags can be a problem too. Paper tea-bags frequently contain the chemical “epichlorohydrin”, which is a carcinogen, and plastic tea-bags can leach endocrine disrupting phthalates.

I want to thank Sue Bond, who helped me considerably with the research for this post.

Related tips
Fluoridated water – boon or bane?
Choosing a water filtration system
Our toxic body burden
Thyroid function and dysfunction
The three keys to preventing osteoporosis

Malinowska E et al. Assessment of fluoride concentration and daily intake by human from tea and herbal infusions. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Mar; 46(3): 1055-61. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

Cao J et al. Fluoride levels in various black tea commodities: measurement and safety evaluation. Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Jul;44(7):1131-7. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Lu Y et al. Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality. J. Agric Food Chem. 2004 July 14; 52(14): 4472-6.

Whyte MP et al. Skeletal Fluorosis from instant tea.J Bone Miner Res.2008 Jan 7 [Epub ahead of print

Hayem G, Ballard M, Palazzo E, Somogyi N, Roux F, Meyer O. Insufficiency bone fractures due to fluorosis in heavy tea drinkers. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 63(Suppl 1): 488, 2004

Shu WS et al. Fluoride and aluminium concentrations of tea plants and tea products from Sichuan Province, PR China. Chemosphere 2003 Sep; 52(9): 1475-82.

Cao J et al. Brick tea fluoride as a main source of adult fluorosis. Food Chem Toxicol. 2003 Apr;41(4):535-42.

Anuradha CD, Kanno S, Hirano S.
Fluoride induces apoptosis by caspase-3 activation in human leukemia HL-60 cells. Arch Toxicol 2000 Jul;74(4-5):226-30

NTEU – “Why EPA’s Headquarters Union of Scientists Opposes Fluoridation” Prepared on behalf of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280 by Chapter Senior Vice-President J. William Hirzy, Ph.D.

Zhao, L.B., Liang, G.H., Zhang, D.N., and Wu, X.R. – “Effect of high fluoride water supply on children’s intelligence” Fluoride 29; 190-192 1996

Chan J.T.; Koh, S.H. -“Fluoride content in caffeinated, decaffeinated and herbal teasCaries Res 30(1):88-92 (1996)

Tohyama, E. et al. “Relationship between fluoride concentration in drinking water mortality rate from uterine cancer in Okinawa prefectureJapan. J Epidemiol (CL8); 6 (4): 184-91 1996

Gulati P et al. "Studies on the leaching of fluoride in tea infusionsSci Total Environ. 138(1-3):213-21 1993

Opinya GN et al. “Intake of fluoride and excretion in mothers’ milk in a high fluoride (9ppm) area in KenyaEur J Clin Nutr 45(1):37-41 (1991)

Wei, S.H.; Hattab, F.N., Mellberg, J.R. – “Concentration of fluoride and selected other elements in teasNutrition 5(4):237-40 (1989)

Sergio Gomez S, Weber A, Torres C – “Fluoride content of tea and amount ingested by childrenOdontol Chil 37(2):251-5 1989

C.A. Jones, et al.Sodium Fluoride Promotes Morphological Transformation of Syrian Hamster Embryo Cells, Carcinogenesis Volume 9, pp.2279-2284 (1988)

Copyright 2008 Vreni Gurd

Comments (10)

Choosing a water filtration system


We have been using those screw-on tap filters for couple of years, and are considering moving to an under-the-counter water filtration system, so before putting out the big bucks, I figured some research was in order.

Before purchasing anything, it is fundamentally important to know what the local water contaminants are that the system must filter out, so that one does not overspend to remove something that is not in the water supply, and miss filtering out something important that is there.

In my Vancouver water supply, ozone is the primary method of water treatment, destroying the water-born micro-organisms. Chlorine is the secondary method of disinfection used in the distribution system, which means also Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAAs), two carcogenic biproducts of water chlorination are in the water supply. Thankfully our water is not fluoridated. Lead from pipes in homes that were built prior to 1989 would need to be filtered out also. Well water out in the Vancouver Lower Mainland valley is frequently contaminated with arsenic, so get your water tested and choose your filter appropriately.

My primary concern will be to filter out the chlorine and its biproducts, the THMs and HAAs, which are poisons that not only kill our vital gut bacteria impairing our digestion and immune system, but are also linked to cancer (particularly bladder cancer) when consumed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. For this reason, whole-house filtration systems are best, as then bath water and shower water will be chlorine-free too. As they say, if it is on your skin, you are drinking it! The cheapest way to eliminate chlorine from water is to let it sit, but possibly you may be inhaling the chlorine instead.

There are many kinds of filters out there, so what to choose? Make sure any filter you select is certified by either NSF International, CSA International or Underwriter's Laboratories. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of various systems:

  • Activated Charcoal (Carbon) Filters
      • Inexpensive
      • removes
        • organic compounds like benzene
        • chlorine
        • trihalomethanes (THMs)
        • Soluable Organic Compounds (SOCs) like pesticides and dioxins
        • industrial solvents (halogenated hydrocarbons)
        • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
        • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
        • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) like chloroform and petrochemicals
      • Filter needs to be changed regularly
      • Water flow reduces over time until filter is changed.
      • Filters less well if water is hot
      • Pour-through (water jugs) or faucet mounts work less well as water does not sit in filter long enough
      • Can breed bacteria, so only appropriate for water bacteria-free water supplies
      • Does not remove
        • microbes
        • fluoride
        • sodium
        • nitrites
        • heavy metals unless specifically designed to do so, so read labels
  • Reverse Osmosis
      • removes:
        • sodium
        • sulfates
        • total dissolved solids (TDS) and suspended matter
        • nitrates – If sulfates and/or TDS levels are high, nitrate levels are not reduced
        • inorganic compounds
        • fluoride
        • metals like arsenic, lead, copper, cadmium
        • Usually comes with a carbon pre-filter, which filters chlorine etc. (see above)
      • Use a lot of water – wastes 3 to 20 times the water being treated
      • requires a storage tank to ensure adequate filtered water when needed
      • Waste water adds more load to household septic systems
      • more expensive
      • Difficult to install – call a plumber
      • May filter out too many total dissolved solids making the water too soft, causing body mineral loss
      • Needs a pre-filter (often a carbon one) to filter out chlorine
      • Needs regular maintenance and monitoring of membrane for leaks
  • Distillation
      • Removes
        • heavy like lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, selenium
        • fluoride
        • sodium
        • bacteria
        • can be combined with a carbon system
      • Removes all dissolved mineral solids making water too soft, causing a mineral loss in the body
      • Water becomes too acidic, also damaging to the body
      • Uses a lot of electricity, so expensive
  • Ultraviolet Light
      • Removes
        • bacteria and other micro-organisms
      • Does not remove
        • sediment and suspended matter
        • metals
        • chlorine
        • fluoride
  • Boiling
      • Cheap
      • Removes bacteria and other micro-organisms effectively
      • Concentrates metals
      • does not remove
        • fluoride
        • chlorine
        • metals
        • sediment

Related Tips
Tap, bottled or filtered?
Remineralize your water
Fluoride, boon or bane?
Bacteria, the soil, the gut and detoxification

Villanueva CM et al. Meta-analysis of studies on individual consumption of chlorinated drinking water and bladder cancer. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003 Mar;57(3):166-73.

Villanueva CM et al. Bladder cancer and exposure to water disinfection by-products through ingestion, bathing, showering, and swimming in pools.
Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Jan 15;165(2):148-56. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Zwiener C et al. Drowning in disinfection byproducts? Assessing swimming pool water. Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Jan 15;41(2):363-72.

Chevrier C et al. Does ozonation of drinking water reduce the risk of bladder cancer? Epidemiology. 2004 Sep;15(5):605-14.

Online at CBC Marketplace Shopping for home water filter systems

Online at Metro Vancouver Water treatment process

Online at Water treatment guide

Online at NSF

Online at How Stuff Works – Activated carbon filtration

Online at Reverse Osmosis

Online a Natural Resources Defense Council

Online at Fine Waters

Copyright 2007 Vreni Gurd

Comments (4)

Plastic Water Bottles Update


In a previous tip I suggested which water bottles do not leach chemicals into the water, and how to tell which bottles are safe to use. I suggested that those extremely popular hard plastic
colourful lexan water bottles with the recycling number 7 on them leach Bisphenol A, a xeno-estrogen and endocrine disruptor, into the water. You can’t taste it at all, so it is easy to think your water is not affected. Synthetic xenoestrogens are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Nalgene, the company that manufactures the lexan water bottles also makes #2 HDPE bottles in the same sizes and shapes, so we have a viable alternative. Order one at Nalgene.

Unfortunately, most plastic baby bottles and drinking cups are made with plastics containing Bisphenol A. In 2006 Europe banned all products made for children under age 3 containing BPA, and as of Dec. 2006 the city of San Franscisco followed suit. In March 2007 a billion-dollar class action suit was commenced against Gerber, Playtex, Evenflo, Avent, and Dr. Brown’s in Los Angeles superior court for harm done to babies caused by drinking out of baby bottles and sippy cups containing BPA. We need to move away from storing food and water in plastics, and use glass or ceramic instead. If you still use a microwave, remember to NEVER microwave food in plastic containers or use plastic wrap to cover the food, as the plastic will infiltrate the food and you will then be eating it.

Plastics may be convenient, but they are not generally good for our health nor the health of the planet, as they don’t break down easily. Plastics frequently wind up polluting our oceans and waterways, and are very harmful to the sea birds and other marine life that get entangled in plastic bags, fish net remnants etc. Wildlife frequently ingest small plastic pellets thinking they are fish eggs which makes them sick.

And the onslaught of plastics into our oceans continues, year after year. For an insight into that topic read The Plastic Sea to learn what our consumption habits are doing to our home, and the home of our fellow species.

Related tips:
Plastic water bottles
Microwave ovens: convenience vs. health and nutrition

Chek, Paul; How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2004.

Alonso-Magdelena, Paloma; "The estrogenic effect of Bisphenol A disrupts pancreatic β-cell function in vivo and induces insulin resistance" Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 114, No. 1, Jan. 2006.

vom Saal, Frederick and Hughes, Claude; "An Extensive New Literature Concerning Low-Dose Effects of Bisphenol A Shows the Need for a New Risk Assessment" Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 8, August 2005.

Hunt,Patricia;"Bisphenol A Exposure Causes Meiotic Aneuploidy in the Female Mouse" Current Biology, Vol 14, 546-553, 1 April 2003.

Schonfelder, Gilbert et al.Parent Bisphenol A Accumulation in human maternal fetal placental unit Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 110, No. 11, Nov. 2002.

More studies

Copyright 2005-2007 Vreni Gurd

Comments (3)

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