Alternatives & Traditional

Archive for February, 2007

Chaparral Safety

Medical journals have reported that the use of the herb chaparral has been linked to cases of hepatitis.  The chaparral issue started a while back when out of the clear blue there were 13 cases of hepatitis reported in a two year period in people taking chaparral supplements. There are several unanswered questions though as to the validity of this claim.

For instance, chaparral has been in use for thousands of years and is still widely used from Mexico to South America to cure various diseases such as cancer.  Yet there have only been 13 isolated cases of hepatitis reported in a two year period.

Furthermore, up to recently the chaparral extract nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) was widely used in the food industry for its powerful antioxidant properties.  It was added to foods to prevent oils in the foods from becoming rancid.

NDGA is also the active component that inhibits the cellular division of cancer cells and destroys pathogens such as many viruses.

Despite decades of use as a food ingredient there were never any cases of hepatitis reported.  And the FDA never explained why there were only 13 isolated cases supposedly from chaparral in this two year period with no cases reported before, nor since.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, chaparral was never banned from the market.  The FDA called for a voluntary moratorium since they could not legally ban the herb.  The FDA can only ban an herb if they can prove that the herb shows an unreasonable risk to safety, which the FDA could never do with chaparral.  When stores did not comply with their “voluntary moratorium” though, the FDA would harass stores that they found openly selling chaparral despite their actions being a violation of the law.  The reason that the FDA was never able to prove an unreasonable danger was because the FDA left out some very important facts about these 13 patients.  These included the facts that many of these patients were taking pharmaceutical drugs well known for causing liver damage.  Other patients were reported to have preexisting liver failure, BEFORE they started taking the chaparral.
Another fact they left out is the stability of the alkaloids in the plant.  Chaparral does contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) when fresh.  Some PAs are harmful to the liver, though they are also relatively unstable.  As an example, both fresh comfrey and dried comfrey have been tested on rats to test for liver toxicity.  What was determined was that only the fresh comfrey caused hepatitis in the rats but not the dried comfrey since the PAs are readily destroyed by oxidation when dried.  The same was found in cattle feeds that contained plants with PAs.   Studies showed the PAs were destroyed in about 20 to 30 days of curing the hay rendering the hay safe.

This brings up another point.  Some herbs have to be processed in a certain way to make them safe and useful.  For instance rehmannia is Chinese foxglove root that is boiled in 9 changes of water to render it safe.  Jack in the Pulpit root has to be aged for two years to prevent caustic burns.  Some anthraquinone laxative herbs must be aged for several years before they can be used.  The point here is that an herb should not be considered dangerous just because it is not prepared right since the herb can be safe if properly prepared.  Chaparral should not be used fresh.  Instead, it should be dried and aged a few months to make sure all the PAs are destroyed before use.

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Saline Implants

Safety of breast implants has been debated for decades.  This debate has brought to public attention to dangers of silicone breast implants.  Unfortunately, not as much attention has been focused on the safety of saline implants.

The FDA has left the public with the impression that saline implants are safe since the FDA has not targeted them as well.  Although, saline implants are safer than silicone implants they still pose dangers to the body.

One problem with saline implants is that the bag that holds the saline is made of silicone.  As explained in my blog on silicone implants, the immune system reacts to solid silicone in the same manner it reacts to liquid silicone.  If the antibodies to the silicone are of the low affinity type, these antibodies could tag healthy connective tissue for destruction by the immune system.

Another problem is the often erroneous belief that the saline inside the implants is sterile.  This is not necessarily true.  If the implant bags are filled and sterilized prior to implantation then the saline would be sterile.  The majority of saline implants though are inserted empty and then filled once they are inserted.  It is true that the bag is sterile before implantation and the saline is sterile before being injected into the bag.  The problem arises when the saline is injected into the bag.  This is done by drawing the saline into a syringe and injecting the saline into the bag.  Once the tip of the syringe is uncapped and exposed to air it becomes contaminated.  This is true of any injection.  Although, during general injections the amount of contamination is minimal and the immune system can deal with it.  A different scenario occurs when saline implants are filled.  Instead of the contamination being injected into the bloodstream where the immune system can deal with it, the contamination becomes safely contained within the silicone bag filled with saline.  Since the immune system cannot detect or destroy the pathogens within the saline the pathogens are free to grow in safety.  Over time the level of pathogens reaches a dangerous level.  If the implants begin to leak, or worse ruptures, a highly pathogenic saline can overwhelm the immune system causing dangerous or deadly diseases.

I mentioned an example in my blog about silicone implants.  My friend developed breast cancer in her right breast after her right silicone implant ruptured.  She successfully fought her cancer with herbs and ozone therapy.  When her saline implants that she replaced the silicone implants with started to leak she developed malignant tumors from head to toe.  She sold for ozone unit to help pay medical bills and she died from cancer, which I truly believe developed from her saline implants.

Another friend had her implants removed, and gave them to me.  I like to show them to people as an example of what I am referring to.  Her implants were double lumen, silicone in a bag surrounded by a bag of saline.  The saline is brown and black instead of clear.  The color comes from the pathogens growing in the saline.

Human blood actually has a very similar chemistry to seawater.  This makes saline an excellent medium for the growth pathogens.  Add the warmth of the body and you have a perfect breeding environment for pathogens.

This problem is well-known, though not often discussed.  One possible solution being considered is the use of peanut oil as a substitute for saline.  The advantage is that without the moisture microbial growth is limited or eliminated.  Researchers say that if the implants rupture the oil will be safely eliminated from the body.  Peanut oil may not be the best choice though considering the number of people with severe peanut allergies.

As a final note about saline implants it has been reported that women with saline implants often experience a sloshing sound when flying.  The problem occurs from the small air pocket formed when the implants are filled.  The lower atmospheric pressure when flying causes the air bubble to expand.  With the larger airspace the saline can easily slosh around inside the implant.  The problem disappears as the plane lands and air bubble is compressed back down to normal size.

Silicone Implants Part 2

Silicone manufacturers maintain that their products are safe and claim there is no evidence that the implants cause any health problems.  Research on the safety of silicone tells a different story.  When researching the safety of silicone breast implants a while back I ran across a very interesting article in a medical journal.  The article did not have anything to with implants but brought up an interesting fact.  The article actually described a 12 year old girl with a silicone drainage tube in her brain.  The patient subsequently developed antibodies to the silicone drainage tube.  The reason this is so important is that it shows us two things.  First of all, the focus of safety and side effects have been on the liquid silicone in the implants, which start leaking from the implants right after they are implanted.  They do not need to rupture to leak.   It was fond that the liquid silicone migrates through the bag in to the body.  This case though shows us that not only does the body react to the migrating liquid silicone, but also to the solid silicone bag of the implant. The antibodies produced against the silicone can then tag healthy tissue for destruction in a process known as autoimmunity.

Contrary to what we are taught in medicine, antibodies are not always specific to their target.  Antibodies have different levels of specificity.  High affinity antibodies are more specific to their target, and are the primary form of antibodies produced by a healthy immune system.  Low affinity antibodies are less specific to nonspecific, and are the primary antibody produced in autoimmune disorders.  Because low affinity antibodies are nonspecific to their target they can inadvertently tag tissues for destruction by white blood cells since the cells can share “markers” with the antigens the antibodies are supposed to target.

Understanding the above concept helps us to understand how silicone creates connective tissue disorders.  Low affinity antibodies targeting silicone can mistake connective tissues, which contain silicon, with the silicone the antibodies are supposed to target.

Not every woman with breast implants will develop connective tissue disorders or other problems though.  The reason is that the production of low affinity antibodies is not regulated by the presence of an antigen, but rather is due to the level of adrenal function.  The adrenal glands produce hormones known as corticosteroids that modulate our immune responses.  When the adrenal glands are healthy they produce sufficient levels of the corticosteroids for the production of high affinity antibodies.  If the adrenal glands become suppressed from conditions such as Prednisone use, chronic stress, or stimulant abuse the lowered levels of corticosteroids can lead to a higher production of low affinity antibodies.  This increases the risk of connective tissue disorders.

It is also possible that anti-silicone antibodies play a role in the failure of implants.  The average lifespan of an implant is around 12 years.  The implants are not being exposed to ultraviolet light  or other external factors that can cause silicone deterioration.  Therefore, it should be considered that the immune system’s assault on the silicone could play a role in the walls of the bag weakening and eventually rupturing.

Liquid silicone does pose more of a problem than solid silicone though.  Once liquid silicone leaks in to the body the silicone migrates in to various tissues making it impossible to completely remove.  There is even some concern that liquid silicone might be able to migrate in to the brain.  Regardless, women with silicone poisoning from leakage of liquid silicone risk a lifetime of health problems.

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