Reflections on my father and cancer

Note: Originally posted as “Foods for Inoperable Shrapnel”

Considerations for Carcinogenic Substances in the Body


In May 1996, at the age of 75, my father became a victim of pancreatic cancer. He was a World War II U.S. Army combat veteran. In 1945, while fighting in the Philippines, he was seriously injured from an explosion that riddled his body with shrapnel. He spent over a year in rehabilitation and was discharged from the Army afterwards.

In his civilian life, he was self-employed as a commercial roofing contractor since the 1960’s and also involved with electric vehicle repair, so he was in regular contact with various industrial and automotive chemicals.

Moreover, for many years one of his shops was located near a dry cleaners, a place that spewed condensation into the air that felt like sprinkling rain as it settled to the ground. If you’ve done any research into the causes of cancer, you could say that he was exposed to many environmental toxins that could be carcinogenic, or cancer-causing.

He was hard-working, fitness conscious, socially active, community oriented, did not smoke, drank very little alcohol and an avid runner since the 1970’s.

His sudden illness and death came as a shock to the people who knew him.

It is unfortunate that the general public’s understanding of nutrition through virtually all of my father’s professional life was pretty misinformed compared to the growing awareness now of what constitutes a healthy diet. It has been kind of a whiplash effect from the days of when processed food was considered the solution to all dietary needs.

Having been regularly exposed to toxins, it would have been a good idea for a person like my dad to have a diet high in vitamin C foods, cruciferous vegetables and other natural anti-oxidant foods. These would have been a good toxic counter-measure, in addition to a diet with Omega-3’s and a minimum of processed  and synthetic foods. Supplementation with high quality vitamins and mineral products would be highly recommended given uncertainties in the nutrition quality of the typical available food supply (refer to my older  blog article ).

Although I was not inspired to pursue a career in medicine until about 6 years after my father died, part of why I chose to learn about medicine is I know that feeling of helplessness when a loved one is suffering from an unforgiving disease and when conventional medicine offers no solutions except to rely largely on lethal chemicals and opiates for pain.

During his illness, I remember  hoping there would be some new drug trial thinking that maybe the next unapproved drug could perform a miracle. At no time in the process do I recall anyone suggesting holistic or nutritional medicine as either a curative or preventive measure.


My father’s was a member of the 11th Airborne in WWII. Here members of the 11th gear up  for a one-way ride on a C-47.


Pancreatic Cancer

When someone passes away from cancer (or more accurately, complications as a result of the cancer), particularly pancreatic cancer, the root cause is often unknown. What we do know are that many toxins or malnutrition conditions can alter the genetic expressions of cells, in other words, disturb their normal functioning.

Furthermore, pancreatic cancer is a disease that often strikes quickly and fatally after diagnosis due to its detection typically being at a late stage. With my father and many other cases I have learned about or know personally, 2 to 3 months is a common period from diagnosis to death.

The pancreas is ‘hidden’ behind other organs and closer to the spine. One of my father’s first symptoms was severe back pain, one day it became so bad he could not drive comfortably in his truck and had to let my mom drive while he lay down. It was very unusual to see him in such pain.

In the 1970’s, he had herniated his back or was diagnosed with some kind of bone degeneration and his doctor advised him to stop running. He loved running so much, he continued to run, at first progressing gradually, and eventually he ran without any back pain. It had healed. At first, we all thought his new pain was just another back injury.

What can we do to help, before something happens? While we may not be able to determine the cause for a cancer to go malignant, we can look at abnormal conditions in the body and its surrounding environment and  then consider if there are some simple methods to help resist the formation of cancer based on those known abnormalities or exposures to high levels of toxins.


Back to the Present…

I received an idea last weekend when I attended a continuing education class on nutrition called “Fantastic Over 40: Nutritional Solutions to Healthy Aging” given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC. The days of the seminar (May 2/3) almost coincided exactly with the 19th year since my father passed away from pancreatic cancer on May 1st, 1996.

This idea came to mind when Ms. Birnbach presented us evidence from a scientific study about the synergetic effects of three foods: Garlic, Milk Thistle (Silymarin) and Hawthorn Fruit (Chinese “Shan Zha”).

Each of these foods have a  chelating effect for toxins. In layman’s terms, each has an ability to latch onto a toxin in your body and make it easier for your body to get rid of it. But what is special about these three together is that they are especially good in the process of excreting toxic metals out of your body.

The study tested the ability of over 30 herbs to bind to cadmium, lead and mercury. While no single herb performed the best at binding to all three, a combination of the three herbs in particular provided the best results. See chart below.

Source: "Fantastic After 40" a Standard Process (Northern California) Seminar given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC.

Source: “Fantastic After 40” a Standard Process (Northern California) Seminar given by Jeanette & George Birnbach, DC.


I correlated this to another possible cause of my father’s cancer –  shrapnel

My father, when he served in combat in World War II was severely injured by a satchel charge, a bomb in a sack with a bunch of unsterile metal scrap for projectiles. His paratrooper buddies thought he was dead at first, yet they managed to carry his body away from the front line. He was fortunate to have survived and was returned to the States.

Despite the surgeon’s best efforts to remove all the shrapnel from my father’s body, there were still some that they could not remove. He was considered 50% disabled at the time of his Honorary Discharge from the Army in 1946. From 1945 until the day he died, he carried these shrapnel in his body. (To read more about my father’s combat experience, read my article here).


What if he had taken medicinal foods regularly as a simple post-operative prescription?

Having these three herbs in his diet is not only safe to take on a long term basis in moderate quantities, they would have been an inexpensive addition to his diet as a natural detoxifying agent. While these ingredients could be found in fresh or preserved form, they can also be taken in the form of organic-supplements, which are readily available, for ease of consumption.

It is difficult to convince most people to adopt preventive measures, because they will not see a change if all is successful. But you can compare a person with a healthy diet and lifestyle and compare with one who does not. In reality, we ALL have ways we can improve our health through incremental changes in our daily habits.


BONUS:  Toxicity-Decreasing Lifestyle Tips

Here are some simple tips on how you could live a less toxic life. I composed this list with a variety of sources in mind.  Which do you need most to incorporate into your life now?

1) Permanently replace a junk food or toxic substance with something more healthy. Repeat this process on a weekly basis until your diet is straightened out. Read more articles on this blog for more tips.

2) Adults should get 6-8 hours of sleep regularly. Less than 6 can trigger inflammation and stress. More than 8 suggest other issues.

3) Moderate exercise at least 3 times per week. In general, the older we get, the less demanding we need to be for general health. Unless you are driven by a particular passion (like entering a triathlon or going to ExtremeSealExperience), what most people did at 20 just is not necessary for someone who is 60 to maintain basic health and to slow down the aging process.  Whatever you do, even if you pickup a leisure interest like social dancing, incorporate a short workout routine that utilizes all muscle groups and exercises your range of motion. Check with your doctor, do some research and see what fits your individual situation.

4) Meditation. Clearing your mind of incessant clutter is highly underestimated. Just intentionally and gently clear your mind when you are awake for a few minutes per day. No need for weird chants or cosmic robes, unless that turns you on! And NO, doing this while you are sleeping does not count! Meditation deals with another compartment of your mind than the one you use for sleeping.

5) Kindness. Make practice of being kind and expressing that kindness to others. This will help you spiritually which is an often an overlooked one-third of life. Since our physical, emotional and spiritual selves are interconnected, you will see a physical health benefit in putting your good intentions and compassion to action.

6) First thing in the morning, drink two cups of clean warm or mildly hot water. See if this works for you, it can help flush your system of toxins and help you start your day hydrated and work to keep you from being constipated (if you are constipated, work on this issue asap as having regular bowel movements are critical for proper daily self-detoxification). By the way, the general daily rule is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water daily.


Physiologically speaking, what are we trying to accomplish with a toxicity-decreasing lifestyle?

The “Car Door” Analogy

When your body must harbor a toxic substance, there is a higher probability that it will interfere with the normal functioning of cell operation. Imagine that a piece of debris gets caught in the keyhole in your car door, at some point your key will not open that door. So you open the car from the other side, but eventually that door doesn’t open. Since you’re too busy to take your car to the shop to get it fixed, you start crawling through the hatchback if your car is so equipped but then eventually that one gets jammed also.  Now you are SOL., you cannot get in the car, that cell no longer functions for you. When this happens to enough cells that perform a specific function, whether it’s generating white blood cells, producing hormones or repairing the lining of your gut, more bad happens.

Keeping up with a healthier routine will help keep those door locks free of crud and if you have specific abnormalities, you can do some reasearch to help your body stay more in balance.


The “Mopping the Floor” Analogy

You can keep on mopping the flood water off your kitchen floor, but it’s a lot easier if you unclog your sink and turn off the water first.



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Simple Diet and Detox Recommendations

I invite you to please leave one of your favorite simple dietary suggestions or detoxification tips in comments to help others who visit this post.

If you are in a LinkedIn group, in order that the suggestions are centralized, I would also ask you to also go directly to my website to leave your simple suggestion there.

Okay now…

I want to thank you for supporting my blog here at

It’s been almost a year since I started this, my first blog, and it’s been a rewarding experience in terms of learning how to blog and doing some research on simple ways a person can lead a healthier existence by doing some simple and natural dietary changes.

A photo I shot and used in an old article on The Season's of Life. Another season is about to pass.

A photo I shot and used in an old article on The Season’s of Life. Another season is about to pass.

I always encourage my friends and patients to get their diets in order. I’d rather they get healthy rather than having to keep on coming back to me to fix their pain.

The sad fact is with many patients, their lifelong embracing of bad or decadent habits, sometimes lifestyle bombs along with voluntary or involuntary exposure to toxic environmental influences have built up a cache of burden in their bodies that purging and cleansing are necessary to help begin reversing the course of their disease conditions. I’d like to believe if you’re reading this you can reverse the damage done – you have hope if you can adhere to a simple strategy.

In modern society, we are surrounded by influences that are non-stop biding for our commitment to consume, including in the world of medicine. In moderation most is well, but without self-control and awareness, we run the risk of sacrificing our ability to live healthy lives.

What is known about good nutrition, for the most part, has been known for many decades, although mass marketing and publicity, or the latest government direction tends to cause people to jump on the bandwagon or magic bullet of the day.

One of the biggest trends we unknowingly face is the amount and variety of toxins we are exposed to. The risks and damages caused by many commonly used materials or chemicals are yet to be discovered by protection agencies and will not over the course of years if not decades. This blind-eye approach to public safety has happened in the past and no doubt will occur in the future.

For your information, I have decided to put BestBuckBuck in indefinite stand down in terms of  adding new articles. In the meantime, I hope you will still find value in the humble collection of advice here to aid in your pursuit of better health through dietary change and purposeful reducing and combating of toxin exposure.

Again, feel free to add your favorite dietary or detox suggestion in the comments.

Thank you again,




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Dr. Fung and Herbal Soup Recipes

Today I’ve got a couple of Chinese soup recipes for you that are from the book “Sixty Years In the Search of Cures” (1994) by Dr. Fung Fung & his son, John Fung.

In 2002, when I first met Dr Fung, he was over 90 years old and I knew very little about Chinese medicine. I was very skeptical at the time, following my wife to see a side of life I was unfamiliar with. My wife grew up in China where herbal medicine was common place, but to me, having grown up in a world of Western medicine and pharmaceuticals, I thought herbal medicine seemed like quackery.

Have you ever experienced an “herbalist” where the price of the herbal prescriptions were expensive, no copy of the written prescription was provided, and there was no full disclosure of the ingredients?  We have and you don’t have to settle for that. When my wife first experienced this kind of practice in the United States, she mistakenly assumed “that’s the way things are done in the United States.” Eventually she sought a recommendation from her cousin who practiced in China, his recommendation led us to Dr. Fung.

Dr. Fung was vastly different. He was a man worthy of being a role model. His character would be able to persuade the cynics, like me, and restore the faith of the believer, like my wife. Dr. Fung exhibited the true essence of a Chinese Medicine doctor. He has a long a colorful history that begins as a humble student and herbalist in Guangzhou before World War II, which led him to an unexpected stay in Southern Vietnam for 30 years (1939-1969) where he developed a thriving practice in his home away from home.

When we met him in 2002, he was a tall stately gentleman and semi-retired herbalist who worked in a small clinic in Cupertino, California, where he, in his spartan consultation chamber, engaged and observed his clients, checked their pulses, looked at their tongues, getting answers to a few questions and writing out herbal prescriptions in the traditional manner with his beautiful long hand. His son John (who I remember looks like martial artist Donny Yen) would fill the herbal prescriptions and then charge a very modest fee for the herbs which included a copy of Dr. Fung’s beautifully written prescriptions. And his prescriptions were effective.

Speaking in their native Cantonese, he and my wife grew instant rapport. After a brief discussion of her history, he asked my wife, “Why would you drink an herbal prescription when you didn’t know what was in it?”  Simple question. Good question.

Dr. Fung is and remains one of the Chinese Medicine doctors who inspired me to study Chinese Medicine. So it is with great gratitude and respect that I share a small part of one of his books.

Here are a couple of simple soup recipes that would be useful to nourish your liver and aid in reducing the effects of stress, both important in the mission to detoxify your body.


Cover shot by Challen Yee

Cover shot by Challen Yee


From “Sixty Years in Search of Cures” by Dr. Fung Fung.


The Goodness Of Soup

Soup is nutritious and easy to make. Just gather the ingredients, combine them in the right proportions, and boil them in water. The relative quantities of water and ingredient, will determine the thickness of the soup. Westerners seem to prefer thick soups, whereas Chinese prefer to drink the broth and consume the ingredients separately.

Soup normally comes before the principal dish in a Western meal. In the Chinese tradition, especially in the south, soup stands on its own. It can be served at mealtimes with a meal, in between meals, or as a snack before bedtime. Since soup is an important part of the diet, the Chinese have developed a wide range of soup recipes. The Cantonese in particular are well known for their enthusiasm for soup, and for the great variety of their soup menus.

With the addition of some special herbs, soup can be eaten in order to prevent ailments or address certain physical conditions. The soups described below are selected recipes used by our family through the years. Most of the ingredients can be purchased from Asian supermarkets, and the special herbs from any herb store. When the soup is done, the essence of the ingredients will have been dissolved in the broth. Therefore, the broth should be consumed. The boiled ingredients may be eaten as well, with the exception of some herbs which will be rendered coarse and tasteless after cooking. Specific instructions in each of the following recipes describe which herbs to discard.

[I have specially selected two for this post]

Strengthen the liver.

3 oz pig liver, sliced
7 oz lean pork, sliced
5 oz abrus (Herba Abri Fruticulosis, ji gu cao)
3 cups water
After the soup boils, let it simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Add boiling water to compensate for evaporation. Skim the fat floating on top of the broth. Salt or soy sauce may be added to enhance the taste. Drink the broth, and consume all the other ingredients except the herb.


Anxiety and nervousness.
This soup may be eaten to calm the body and mind, and prevent

6 oz lean pork, sliced
15 pieces red dates
3 cups water
After the soup boils, let it simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Add boiling water to compensate for evaporation. Skim the fat floating on top of the broth. Salt or soy sauce may be added to enhance the taste. Drink the broth, and consume all the other ingredients.


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A historical look at Cancer

Note: I was fascinated by the historical research found in today’s passage and I hope you will too. Thanks to Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron for their research involving Vitamin C and its effects on cancer.

This book was recommended by Dr. Michael Savage when I was researching methods to help my sister fight (and beat) an adult onset of cancer of the thymus. Although she had treatment by chemo and radiation, I do not doubt that her major turn in her diet, going organic, high on vegetables and fruits, moderation in meats, using some high quality supplements and by and large eliminating most of the junk she used to eat resulted in a marked improvement in her countenance, energy, and outlook.

I am a strong proponent of a diet high in natural sources of vitamin C and I personally supplement with higher than typical doses of Vitamin C when fighting illness, infection, injury or after eating foods that may be high in carcinogens.

There is mainly one common side effect of Vitamin C that I’ve encountered in clinical application and that is of stomach cramping leading to diarrhea. A rare case that indicates caution is if the patient has high iron levels the blood (hemochromatosis) since Vitamin C aids in the binding of dietary iron for transfer into the blood. On the other hand, the function of adequate Vitamin C is valuable for low iron patients.

This is a longer than usual passage for my blog, but I believe you will find it a useful source of historical information.

This is one of ht enlaces my sister travelled to after she beat her cancer in 2013. (Photo by Challen Yee - 1989)

This is one of the places my sister travelled to after she beat her cancer in 2013. (Photo by Challen Yee – 1989)

From Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron’s “Cancer and Vitamin C” (1993)

Excerpt from the chapter  “The Causes of Cancer”

At this moment more than one million Americans are under medical care for cancer. This year about 395,000 of them will die, one every minute and a half. And, of course, we must not think only of the United States. This is a world problem, and from that wider perspective we see that every four seconds a human being, with all his hopes and aspirations, is dying from cancer, possibly quite miserably.

These statistics are frightening.

What is the cause of all this suffering?

In a more innocent age, cancer was regarded as an act of God. We are now beginning to realize that many, and indeed probably the majority, of human cancers are man-made, the results of our careless and almost criminal pollution of our environment.

The first recognition of an environmental cause of cancer is attributed to Sir Percival Pott, a London surgeon who in 1775 described the cancer of the scrotum that was prevalent among the adolescent chimney sweeps of his day as an occupational disease. Since their early childhood they had been, to quote Sir Percival, “thrust up narrow and sometimes hot chimneys.” His conclusion was that “the disease in these people seems to derive its origin from the lodgement of soot in the rugae (skin creases) of the scrotum.” Thus over two centuries ago there was given a clear and concise description of a “cause-and-effect” occupational cancer, and more than an inkling as to how it might be prevented. Early in the present century patient work in a Japanese laboratory (the daily painting of a rabbit’s ears with soot suspensions for week after week) did prove that soot (and later some of its identifiable chemical constituents) is indeed carcinogenic – able to give rise to cancer.

In later years many other forms of occupational cancer were recognized. When the causative carcinogen was identified it became possible to institute and enforce preventive measures and thus to eliminate the hazard. One of these diseases was the “Mule-spinners cancer” of the “Dark Satanic Cotton Mills” of Victorian England, again a scrotal cancer, caused by the constant saturation of work clothes by hot lubricating oil splashing from the steam-powered looms. Then there was the recognition of an abnormally high incidence of lung cancer among the uranium miners of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where only much later was it recognized that the ores are highly radioactive
and that the radioactive gas radon is present in the air. The solid radioactive decay products of the inhaled radon were deposited in the lungs, where they produced carcinogenic rays. About one half of the miners who had died up to 1939 had developed lung cancer. There was also the belated recognition in Germany and Russia, and later in the United States and Britain, of an abnormally high incidence of bladder cancer among workers in the aniline dyestuffs industry and other industries who were exposed to the substance B-naphthylamine. More recently it has been recognized that workers and other people exposed to asbestos have a high incidence of an unusually vicious cancer of the pleura and peritoneum, and even more alarmingly that this increased incidence occurs in family members whose only contact with asbestos came through the dust brought home on the workers’ clothes. There was a particularly high incidence of this rather rare form of cancer in Japan that has been explained by the fact that the rice that they ate had been polished with asbestos fibers. An increased incidence of cancer has been observed also in other industries and many carcinogenic agents have been identified, such as carbon black in print workers, carbon tetrachloride in dry cleaners, benzpyrene in roofing, asphalt, and coke oven workers, polychlorobiphenyls in paper-mill workers, vinyl chloride in the plastics industry, and many more.

Then came the clear demonstration of the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Cigarette smoking became fashionable among men in the 1920’s, and about 25 years later the world experienced an explosive growth of lung cancer among men.
Between 1910 and 1940 the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by men in the United States increased eight-fold, from about 0.5 per day to 4 per day. Between 1930 and 1960 the mortality from lung cancer (the number of deaths per 100,000 men per year) also increased about eight-fold, from 4 to 35. For women nearly similar increases in cigarette smoking and then in mortality from lung cancer occurred, with a delay of 25 years.

Lung cancer now causes 35 percent of the cancer deaths in men, more than any other kind of cancer. In 1978 close to 100,000 men and women in the United States died of lung cancer, for the most part because they smoked popular cigarettes. Moreover, cigarette smokers have an increased probability at each age of dying from other forms of cancer and from heart disease and other diseases. The average cigarette smoker develops serious illnesses and dies 8 years earlier than the average non-smoker. On the average, each cigarette smoked decreases the life expectancy of the smoker by 10 minutes.

It is the delay of 15 to 30 years between exposure to the carcinogen, such as cigarette smoke, and the development of the recognizable cancer that worries many thoughtful people in the world today, people who can remember when cigarette smoking was a perfectly acceptable social habit with no suspicion of any danger. Since the Second World War we have lived in an increasingly “chemical” society, with plastics, pesticides, herbicides, artificial colors and flavors, food additives, and other chemicals to which the human body is not accustomed being manufactured on a gigantic scale. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that 60,000 chemicals are already in commercial use and that new ones are coming into use at the rate of 1000 a year. Many of these agents have been recognized to be carcinogenic and some of them have been banned. The tragedy is that it takes time to identify the carcinogens, however, and many people who are exposed to them before they are recognized and removed from the market will appear only after the induction period of two to three decades.
High-energy radiation in all its forms – alpha, beta, and gamma rays from radioactive substances, cosmic rays, x-ray, and even ultraviolet rays in sunlight – also is carcinogenic. The high incidence of cancer in workers in the uranium industry has already been mentioned. Many of the women from 1916 to 1924 painted the dials on watches and clocks with a radioactive paint and who brought a brush to a fine point by putting it between their lips thus getting the radioactive radium or thorium into their bones, died later of bone cancer. The radioactive atomic nuclei liberated into the atmosphere by the test explosions of nuclear weapons (strontium 90, cesium 137, carbon 14, and others) are now present in every human being and continue to increase the incidence of cancer all over the world. Many of the scientists and physicians who worked with x-rays during the first decade or two after their discovery in 1896, until their carcinogenic power was discovered, developed cancer.

The natural exposure of people to high-energy radiation, part of which comes from cosmic rays and part from natural radioactivity (radium, potassium 40, tritium), varies from place to place but amounts on the average to about 100 milliroentgens per year. This unavoidable exposure causes genetic mutations that lead to the birth of infants with minor or gross congenital defects and also causes cancer. There is some uncertainty about how much cancer is caused by this amount of high-energy radiation, but we have confidence in the estimate made by Dr. Hardin B. Jones, late Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology in the University of California, Berkeley, who concluded that 9 percent of all cases of cancer are produced by it.

The average exposure of people in the United States to medical x-rays for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes is about the same, 100 milliroentgens per year, and medical x-rays may thus cause as many cancers as background radiation. Of course, it must be remembered that the use of x-rays in medical practice is of great value, and that the danger of genetic and somatic damage by the x-rays is one that often must be taken, although it should be kept to a minimum by taking care that the x-ray exposure is not made except when necessary and then not in amounts greater than necessary.

Continued exposure to sunlight of people whose skin is not strongly pigmented is related to an increased incidence of skin cancer. The conclusion that this increased incidence is caused by the ultraviolet rays in the sunlight has been made highly probable by careful studies of a similar effect of ultraviolet light on hairless mice.

Another apparent cause of cancer is heat. For example, some people in India who warm themselves by holding a pot of glowing coals under their clothes have an increased incidence of cancer of the skin in the area that is repeatedly heated by the hot pot…

… Now that we understand the enemy, we have the duty to conquer him. Cancer is caused by agents and conditions that change the genetic material in the cells of our bodies. It is clearly sensible for us to strive to prevent these changes and thus to prevent cancer. High-energy radiation causes cancer; hence we should avoid being exposed to it — no unnecessary x-rays, no over-exposure to sunlight, no radioactive pollution from nuclear weapons tests or nuclear power plants. Many chemicals cause cancer; hence we should try to identify them and to ban them. Moreover, as will be pointed out later, vitamin C is a rather general detoxifying agent, and its proper use can help to protect us against carcinogenic chemicals, even those in tobacco smoke, although here the only sensible course is to stop smoking. Our normal tissues and organs fight the renegade malignancy; it is our duty to ourselves to help strengthen them in this fight, and there is evidence that vitamin C and other nutrients provide this strengthening influence.


It is noteworthy that this is from a 1993 revision, 20 years ago, and the actual number of  chemicals used  and the statistics do not reflect 2014 levels.

If you’d like to order Pauling and Cameron’s   “Cancer and Vitamin C”  please click here.


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Milk Thistle – from The Antioxident Cookbook

Author’s Note: With the focus on the need to keep our liver, the major organ used in daily detoxification of our blood, in a healthy state, I wanted to share this bit of research information about a powerful herb commonly used to aid in liver health and detox programs.

Many people do not derive the benefit from any dietary change because their livers have been overwhelmed from years of uncontrolled diet or environmental stresses. As their diet improves, their bodies continue to struggle with the release of toxins that have been stored in their bodies along with a liver that is working at a low efficiency. With the increased exposure to daily toxins from every direction, simple diet changes and exercise often do not have the desired results.

While a detailed examination should be conducted for any patient, it is not unusual that a dietary detoxification, supplemented with herbs in the form of food, food supplements or herbal decoctions, be administered as part of a health management program.

Milk Thistle is only one herb and may be considered part of a comprehensive program.

I am excerpting from Dr. Michael Savage’s “The Antioxident Cookbook” (1995).


Milk Thistle - image source:

Milk Thistle – image source:



Scientific Name: Silybum marianum
Parts Used: Seeds
Dosage: Seeds: 1 teaspoon seeds steeped in 1/2 cup water; 1 to 1 1/2 cupfuls per day, 1 tablespoon or mouthful at a time.

Recent Scientific Findings
One active component extracted from milk thistle seeds, silymarin, is a flavonoid long recognized for its ability to benefit people with liver disorders and as a protective compound against liver-damaging agents as diverse mushroom toxins, carbon tetrachloride, and other chemicals. This flavonoid demonstrates good antioxidant properties, both in vivo and in vitro.

Chilean scientists found that silymarin also increases the content of liver (+)-cyanidanol-3 (cathequin). These experiments also showed an increase of glutathione content and antioxidant activity in the intestine and stomach. The effects selectively occur only in the digestive tract, and not in the kidney, lung, and spleen.

A double blind, prospective, randomized study performed on 170 patients with cirrhosis of the liver supported the fact that silymarin protects the liver. All patients received the same treatment with a mean observation period of 41 months. The 4-year survival rate was significantly higher in silymarin-treated patients than those in the placebo group. No side effects of drug treatment were observed.

Another study found that Milk Thistle may offer us some protection against the toxic side-effects of the common pain-reliving drug acetaminophen, which is a widely used analgesic and fever medication. In overdosage severe hepatotoxicity may result characterized by glutathione (GSH) depletion, suppression of GSH biosynthesis, and liver damage. GSH is considered the most important biomolecule against chemically-induced cytotoxicity.

Silybin, a soluble form of silymarin, is thought to exert a membrane-stabilizing action which inhibits or prevent lipid peroxidation. Silybin and silmarin may be useful in protecting the liver in many cases besides acetaminophen overdosage. Alchohol also depletes GSH and these flavonoids offer protection for those cho continue to drink. Interestingly, silybin dihemisuccinate remains medicine’s most important antidote to poisoning by the mushroom toxins a amantin and phalloidin.

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Holy cow! How safe are your chicken eggs?

Writer’s Note: With respect to the Easter holiday, which often conjures up the thoughts of springtime, lush green grasses, eggs, dairy farms and the animals that live on them, I though it appropriate to increase the awareness the importance of organic and balanced environments to support the production of of food products delivered from these, what ought to be, “whole-y places.”

If you were not aware of these details before, they are guaranteed to be an eye-opener.

The excerpt below is from “Anti-Cancer – A New Way of Life”(2009) by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, a passage from a chapter titled “The Anti-Cancer Environment.”

Let’ s get hopping…


How natural are your eggs?

How natural are your eggs?



In the natural cycle, cows give birth in spring, when the grass is most luxuriant, and produce milk for several months until summer’s end. Spring grass is an especially rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; these fatty acids are therefore concentrated in the milk from cows raised in pastures and in the milk derivatives – butter, cream, yogurt, and cheese. Omega-3s are likely found in beef from grass-fed cattle and in eggs from free range chickens fed with forage (rather than grains).

Starting in the [1950’s], the demand for milk products  increased so much that farmers had to look for shortcuts in the natural cycle of milk production and reduce the grazing area needed to feed a 750-kilogram (1,600 pound) cow. Pastures were thus abandoned and replaced by battery farming. Corn, soy, and wheat, which have become the principal diet for cattle, contain practically no omega-3 fatty acids. To the contrary, these food sources are rich in omega-6s. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are called “essential” because the human body cannot make them. As a result, the quantity of omega-3s and omega-6s in our bodies stems directly from the content of the food we eat. In turn, the amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our food depend on what the cows and chickens we eat have consumed in their feed. If they eat grass, then the meat, milk, and eggs they provide are perfectly balanced in omega-3s and omega-6s (a balance close to 1/1). If they eat corn and soy, the resulting imbalance in our bodies is as much as 1/15, even 1/40.

The omega-3s and omega-6s present in our bodies constantly compete to control our body functions. Omega-6s help stock fats and promote rigidity in cells as well as coagulation and inflammation in response to outside aggression. They stimulate the production of fatty cells from birth onward. Omega-3s are involved in developing the nervous system, making cell membranes more flexible, and reducing inflammation. They also limit the production of adipose cells. Our physiological balance depends very much on the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s in our body, and therefore in our diet. It turns out that it is this dietary balance that has changed the most in the last fifty years.

Note: The imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in our diets increases inflammation, coagulation, and the growth of adipose and cancer cells.

Cows are not the only farm animals affected by this change. Chicken diets have changed radically as well. Eggs – the embodiment of a natural food – no longer contain the same essential fatty acids they did fifty years ago. Artemis Simopoulos, MD, is a prominent American nutritionist who ran the department of nutrition research at the National Institutes of Health. In an unusual study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, she shows that eggs from chickens raised on corn (a nearly universal practice today) contain twenty times more omega-6s than omega-3s. Eggs taken from the Greek farm she grew up on retain a balance of virtually 1/1.

While their diets have been radically overhauled, farm animals have sometimes been treated with hormones like estradiol and zeranol to fatten them even faster.* These hormones build up in fatty tissues and are excreted in milk. Recently a new hormone has been introduced on cattle farms to stimulate milk production: rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone, also called bovine somatotropin, or BST). It acts on the cow’s mammary glands and can boost milk production significantly. Widely used in the United States, fBGH is still banned in Europe and Canada. Because of trademark agreements however, this hormone is likely to find its way onto dinner plates anywhere in the world through imported ingredients derived from American milk. The effects of rBGH on humans are still unknown. But we do know it promotes IGF production in cows, that this IGF is found in milk, and that it is not destroyed by pasteurization. As we have seen, IGF is a major factor in the stimulation of growth of fatty cells and also accelerates growth in malignant tumors.

* A European law forbids this use in EU countries, but it may be repealed.


Finally, the switch from grass to the corn-soy combination has another inconvenient side effect. One of the very rare components of our diets that is from an animal source and that has possible anticancer benefits is a fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). Among the first to bring to light the role of CLA in fighting the growth of cancer cells was Philippe Bougnoux, MD, and his team at INRA (the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Tours, France). CLA is primarily found in cheese, but only if the cheese comes from grass-fed animals. Thus, by disrupting the diets of cows, goats, and sheep, we have eliminated the only anticancer benefit they may have provided.

Note: rBGH is the hormone injected into dairy cows in the United States to stimulate milk production. It is found in conventional (nonorganic) milk. It may stimulate the production of insulin growth factor and the growth of cancer cells in humans.


(end excerpt)


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Have a Healthy and Happy Easter!


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GINGER – from the Antioxident Cookbook

Writer’s Note: Back to basics after last week’s lesson on how happiness plays an important role in your daily detoxification. But just to follow up with  one more idea. Your track to happiness should include what will bring it long term and that is fulfillment with what you are doing with your life. How do you find fulfillment? Understand why you were put here, know your purpose and then your root for your happiness and fulfillment will be solid. If you would like to follow my occasional commentary along these lines, you can follow personal development blog at or click on the header.


 Back to the diet…

Okay, before I offer you the excerpt from Michael Weiner’s (Savage) “The Antioxident Cookbook.” (1995) on the properties of Ginger, something I commonly do for early onset of a cold, which is a different from Michael’s recommendation below, is to boil down a sliced giant thumb-sized piece of fresh Ginger, going from 2 cups to 1 cup. At the last minute, stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar. If you don’t like adding sugar, you could use honey or maple syrup after the boiling is completed. The sweetness balances the spicy nature of the Ginger taste, making it more palatable, especially for children.

Michael’s description of Ginger also includes some scientific terms, which will be good for you, if you are into the chemical properties.

And now for Mike’s passage on Ginger…


Scientific Name: Zingiber officinale
Parts Used: Rhizome
Dosage: Root: 1 ounce of rhizome to 1 pint of water. Boil the water separately then pour over the plant material and steep for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the desired effect. Drink hot or warm, 1 to 2 cups per day.


Ginger.  Photo by Challen Yee

Ginger. Photo by Challen Yee

Recent Scientific Findings

Currently, Ginger has received new attention as an aid for motion sickness. Ginger tea has long been an herbal remedy for coughs and asthma, related to allergy or inflammation; the creation of the soft drink ginger ale sprang from the common folkloric usage of this herb, and still today remains a popular beverage for the relief of stomach upset. Externally Ginger is a rubefacient, and has been credited in the connection of relieving headache and toothache.

The mechanism by which Ginger produces anti-inflammatory activity is that of the typical NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). This common spice is a more biologically active prostaglandin inhibitor (via cyclo-oxygenase inhibition) than onion and Garlic.

By slowing associated biochemical pathways an inflammatory reaction is curtailed. In one study Danish women between the ages of 25 to 65 years, consumed either 70 grams raw onion or 5 grams raw ginger daily for a period of one week. The author measured thromboxane production and discovered that ginger, more clearly than onion, reduced thromboxane production by almost 60%. This confirms the Ayurvedic “prescription” for this common spice and its anti-aggregatory effects.

By reducing blood platelet “clumping,” Ginger, Onion and Garlic may reduce our risk of heart attack or stroke. In a series of experiments with rats, scientists from Japan discovered that extracts of Ginger inhibited gastric lesions by up to 97%. The authors conclude that the folkloric usage of Ginger in stomachic preparations were effective owing to the constituents zingiberene, the main terpenoid and 6-gingerol, the pungent principle.

In an earlier look at how some of the active components of Ginger (and onion) act inside our cells, it was found that the oils of these herbs inhibit the fatty acid oxygenases from platelets, thus decreasing the clumping of these blood cell components.

A 1991 double-blind, randomized cross-over trial involved thirty women suffering from hyperemesis gravid arum. Ginger was alternated with a placebo. Seventy percent of the women confirmed they subjectively preferred the period in which they took the Ginger. More objective assessment verified the subjective relief was found after the use of the Ginger reactions, as significantly greater relief was found after the use of the Ginger.

In a series of experiments with rates,scientists from Japan discovered that extracts of ginger inhibited gastric lesions by 97%. The authors concluded that the folkloric usage of Ginger in stomach preparations was effective due to the constituents zingiberene, the main terpenoid, and 6-gingerol, the pungent principle.



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