Monday, April 30, 2012

Toxic Household Cleaners

Kudos to Sarah B. Weir who wrote an article titled The Worst Household Cleaners for Your Health MyAchingKnees believes that there are four legs to the Chair of Health: Maximize intake of good Low Glycemic Foods/Minimize intake of bad foods; Lead an active, physical lifestyle; take quality nutritional supplements; and, Avoid Toxins.
Toxins can be found about anywhere, … the air with pollution from auto exhausts; in foods such as the ever increasingly alerts on e coli in meat products; to the toxins found in off the shelf supplements and medications; and, in the case of this article, to the toxic chemicals found in household cleaners.
My wife is fastidious in cleaning,….in fact, almost to the point it is a disorder. I have often thought about the amount of money we spend on cleaners, but prefer not to know. But I have asked her to take measures to protect herself from all the toxic chemicals in the cleaning products,……wearing rubber gloves and a painters face mask when she sprays cleaners on the windows and furniture,…..perhaps opening a door and/or window and turning on the ceiling fans to drive aerosols away from the living areas.
In any event, the article by Sarah Weir serves to provide a strong warning to people on the dangers of these toxins in cleaners. Not necessarily because one time exposure will pose a grave danger, but certainly repeated exposure for years and even decades can.
The Article:
Most people think of house cleaning as a way to make their living environment safer and healthier, but according to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) just-released "Cleaners Hall of Shame," many common products contain chemicals that can "inflict serious harm on unwary users."
Consumers often assume that the cleaning products industry is strongly regulated by the government, but EWG Senior Analyst Nneka Leiba tells Yahoo! Shine that this is a misconception. "Most hazardous ingredients are legal and many are unlabeled." These include toxic compounds such as formaldehyde that are banned in other countries and are known to or suspected of causing cancer, blindness, asthma, burns, and other afflictions. There is also little information on how the hundreds of chemicals we are exposed to react together and what their cumulative effects on the body are.
The EWG came up with its "Hall of Shame" list while developing an extensive database that scientifically analyzes the chemicals in 2,000 products. "While we were researching the database, we saw glaring problems which we wanted to highlight to the public immediately," says Leiba.
The full database will be published in the fall of 2012. The EWG report cites the following worst offenders: Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner contains methoxydiglycol (DEGME), a toxic chemical which is "suspected of damaging the unborn child" by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe .
The EWG found that the DEGME levels in this product are up to 15 times higher than allowed in the European Union. Tarn-X Tarnish Remover contains up to seven percent thiourea, which is categorized as a carcinogen by the state of California .
The National Toxicology Program, an interagency government group, says that thiourea is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner claims to be "non-toxic" but contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that irritates eyes and may damage red blood cells.
The EWG points out that this highly concentrated product should be diluted, but is sold in a spray bottle which is can lead customers to misuse it in a hazardous way. Target's Up & Up and Walmart's Great Value brands are what the EWG calls "mystery mixes," products whose labels offer little or no ingredient information. There are a number of products the EWG also says to avoid:  
* Whink Rust Stain Remover
* Citra-Solv Cleaner and Degreaser
* Spic and Span Multi-Surface and Floor Cleaner
* Scrubbing Bubbles Anti-Bacterial Bathroom Cleaner and Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer
* DampRid Mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker
* Easy-Off Fume Free Over Cleaner
* Drano Extra Strength Kitchen Crystals Clog Remover
* Walmart Great Value Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner
* CVS Fume Free Oven Cleaner * Easy-Off Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner Aerosol Spray
* Glade Air Freshener
* Air Wick Air Freshener
* Spot Shots Stain Remover
* Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner
* 2000 Flushes Toilet Bowl Cleaner
* X-14 Toilet Bowl Cleaner
* Hagarty Liquid Jewel Clean
* Ajax , Dynamo, and Fab Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergents
* Static Guard * Final Touch Ultra Liquid Fabric Softener
* Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off, Lysol, Mr. Clean and Spic and Span spray cleaners * Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder
* Lysol Neutra Air Freshmatic
* Air Wick Freshmatic Compact
* Febreze and Glade Automatic Air Fresheners
Until the full database comes out in the fall, which will point consumers toward the safest products, Leiba says that consumers should be stringent label readers. "The fine print warnings are revealing. If a product says it may be fatal, you probably shouldn't be using it around a young child. If it says use gloves, use gloves. If it says don't use around pets or in confined area, then that is telling you something about its safety." If a product has minimal labeling, she suggests calling the company for more information.
The safest cleaning products are cheap, widely available and have been around for centuries: baking soda, water, and vinegar along with some elbow grease. The EWG says these ingredients can be used to clean everything from countertops to hardwood floors to ovens.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Exercise for Better Knees?

Richard wrote and asked if machine weight exercises can help his aching knees. "Dear Myachingknees, a friend of mine who is an avid gym rat told me that I could help ease the pain in my knees by doing several sets of knee extensions and hamstring contractions on a weight machine, using light weight an 16-20 repetitions per set. What is your experience with weight training to reduce knee pain?"

Richard, I believe weight training and other forms of exercise can help strengthen the muscles supporting and involved in the extension and contraction of joints. Exercise, be it weight training, swimming, biking or a hundred other forms can also aggravate your aching joints depending upon existing structural damage, health of the joints and their supporting cartilage and ligaments. I would first find out why your knees are hurting. Is it from an old or newer injury? Age, past use and stress placed on your knees and other joints can bring about general pain and arthritis or arthritis type symptoms.

If your body isn't getting the nutrients for cellular repair and health then I would tend to think that even the most benign form of exercise, walking, may increase your knee pain. It is a shame that people my age, mid 50's, and older think that knee and other joint pain, and eventual immobility, is inevitable. I am just a believer in maximizing the benefits of nutrition,….eating right and taking the best supplements, to ensure your cells and therefore your joints obtain the nutrients necessary for optimal joint health.

In any event, begin new exercise gradually, building your work load slowly and be aware that pain tells you something is wrong.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Vitamin Deficiency in Children

Yahoo recently published an article from Shine titled 5 Signs of Vitamin Deficiency in Children

I am happy that more and more information is being posted on-line for people to become better educated on nutrition and vitamins in general. I only have two issues with this article:

1. Vitamins, Minerals and Anti-Oxidants,…are not something you should pick and choose individually to take. They are meant to be consumed or otherwise provided to the body in optimum ratios with other nutrients in order to get maximum benefit.

2. While the absolute best way to get the nutrients you need is through consuming whole foods, free of toxins such as pesticides, etc. It is almost impossible to get those nutrients, in the required amounts, with today’s food supply. Do you really think you are getting 15% of your Vitamin C needs by eating that microwave meal? Or getting 25% of your calcium needs by drinking processed and pasteurized milk?

The Yahoo article:

Vitamins are more than just little pills to pop; they are the building blocks and support system of our bodies. Well-rounded, healthy diets can provide all a growing body needs, but the reality of our busy lifestyles and sometimes finicky eating patterns can lead to vitamin deficiency. Knowing what to look for is part of the battle. The following signs of vitamin deficiency in children are by no means complete, but it will give you a good idea of potential problems.

Signs your child lacks Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency in children is a common problem. My niece was recently diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency after exhibiting some puzzling symptoms. Signs that your child is not producing enough include late teething, irritability, poor growth, and muscle cramps. Seizures and breathing difficulties could also be traced back to insufficient vitamin D. Combat vitamin D deficiency with exposure to sunlight, milk, cheese, yogurt, and egg yolks.

Signs your child lacks Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to serious vision problems. In children a vitamin A deficiency can start to show up as tiredness, hair loss, weakness, and weight loss. Other symptoms include dry eyes, scaling of the skin, and respiratory infections. Combat vitamin A deficiency by ensuring children eat plenty of yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots, yams, and squash, as well as eggs and cheese.

Signs your child lacks vitamin B 12

Deficiencies in vitamin B 12 in children shows itself in a wide variety of ways. Specifically, vitamin B 12 greatly influences the nervous system and affects the functions of the brain and heart. Signs your child lacks the proper amount of vitamin B 12 include abdominal pain, edema, weakness, insomnia, and they may begin to lose their voice.

Signs your child lacks vitamin B 6

Manifestations of a vitamin B 6 deficiency in children include diarrhea, anemia, weakness, irritability, and seizures. Researchers have also pointed to a lack of vitamin B 6 as the culprit behind inattention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, temper tantrums, and other inappropriate behaviors.

Combat vitamin B deficiencies by offering a wide variety of meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans. Vegans and Vegetarians should look into supplementation in order to maintain a healthy amount of vitamin B.

Signs your child lacks vitamin C

Easy bruising is one sign that your child is not getting enough vitamin C. Additionally they may experience joint pain, have dry skin, and poor appetite. Frequent nose bleeds, infections, and illness can also be traced back to a vitamin C deficiency. Combat vitamin C deficiency by providing plenty of opportunities to eat a wide variety of citrus fruit, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, and green vegetables like broccoli.

While the problems caused by vitamin deficiencies are shocking, it is important to note that excessive amounts of vitamins taken in supplement form can be toxic to the body. If you suspect any of these signs point to a deficiency, check with your physician before administering extra vitamins to your child to avoid an overdose.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

PSA - Strokes

MyAchingKnees received this from one of our clients, a 72 year old man still going strong. The article stated that Stroke has a new indicator - the Tongue.

STROKE: Remember the 1st Three Letters of Stroke..... S. T. R.


During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - where she had passed away.

She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had the people at the party known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse most of the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions, which most of us have heard before:

S - Ask the individual to SMILE.

T - Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)

R - Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Now we have a new sign of stroke - Stick out Your Tongue

Ask the person to stick out their tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dangers of OTC Drugs

Dr. Oz published a video article, March 27, 2012, available here, discussing the most mis-used over the counter (OTC) drugs. I hope in the future he publishes something on the most dangerous OTC drugs as well as the most dangerous prescription drugs.

Multi-symptom Cold and Flu Medications. You know them by common trade names such as Dayquil, Nightquil, Dimetapp, Alkaseltzer Plus Cold and over 600+ others. The bigger dangers come in using a multi-symptom medication with multiple ingredients/chemicals when you only have one one symptom and therefore only need one chemical. Excessive ingredients can cause adverse reactions. I haven't used anything in this category in over 7 years, but if I absolutely had to, I would only one ingredient for the symptom I wanted to reduce.

Acetaminophen. Commonly known as Tylenol or various other trade names, and used as a multi-symptom general pain reliever from head aches to stomach cramps, Acetaminophen side effects can range from mild nausea, pain in the abdomen and sweating. More severe side effects can be damage to the liver and kidneys. Acetaminophen has minimal benefit to those who take it for joint pain including arthritis. I quit taking any Acetaminophen a couple years ago and now only use Aspirin and then, only in small doses.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). PPI drugs have used in treatment of many acid-peptic disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, and gastropathy induced by use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug­induced. Some of the PPI drugs you may recognize the names of are: Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium to names a few. There is thought that some people who use PPI's are susceptible to dizziness, bone density problems and motion sickness.

Antihistamines. Usually used for stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing and also used by people suffering from a wide variety of allergies. Some of the common antihistamines are Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, Dimetane, Tavist and Zyrtec. Antihistamines can aggravate or possibly even lead to asthma and sinusitis.

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). This class of drugs includes ibuprofen under the trade name Motrin, naproxen under trade name Aleve, and celecoxib - common name Celebrex, among many others. These are used to treat mild and moderate pain. Side effects can include stomach pain, ulcers and even bleeding. As with Acetaminophen I quit taking any NSAIDS a couple years ago. Although Aspirin is considered a NSAID, I believe it is much else harsh on your stomach and liver.

I cannot help but think the best solution for people dependent upon or having a robust level of use with all OTC and prescriptions drugs, designed to treat symptoms and not the cause, is to embrace a more healthy lifestyle,....maximize good foods, minimize bad foods, take quality nutritional supplements, avoid toxins and live a physically active life,...then, if you have some problems address them with a very moderate use of OTC and Prescription drugs and only then when absolutely necessary, while being aware of potential side effects.

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