A New Normal

We left our home on Saturday, October 4, 2008. Friends bought us new clothes. Teachers threw away books and by Monday morning my kids were back in school. Life was going to get better and return to normal.

Or so I thought.

As we struggled to find a new place to live, cope with the losses, and do proper medical testing, our symptoms seemed to worsen. Not all of them. The bloody rashes on the back of Colin's hands slowly disappeared. They moved to his knuckles, then the tips of his fingers, and then were gone. My black tongue improved within days of leaving the home.

But the sore throats, nosebleeds, migraines, neurological issues, and digestive problems didn't go away.

I continued my correspondence with Dr. Jack Thrasher, the leading toxicologist in the field. (He, along with Dr. Michael Gray, one of the leading physicians in the field, helped us make our decision to leave the home.)

With Dr. Thrasher's permission I share part of our exchange below. My despair, lingering brain fog, and desperation may not be evident. My concern with cross-contamination and confusion over the severity of the remaining symptoms is apparent.

November 5, 2008

Dr. Thrasher,
Colin's stool sample came back negative for c dissicile toxin. He is still symptomatic and I'm wondering what this result tells me.
As always, I appreciate your thoughts greatly,
Andrea Fabry

Dr. Thrasher
It eliminates Clostridium as the cause. There is something that is preventing or interfering with the reabsorption of water by the colon and possibly small intestines. He needs to see a physician who understands these nuances of mold/bacteria problems related to exposure.

November 19, 2008

We have a panel of lawyers looking at the case and are waiting to hear back. I am doing everything I can to get the testing required to go see Dr. Gray. My physician has dropped the ball repeatedly but I'm not giving up.

In the meantime, Reagan has had massive nosebleeds in the last two days. Reagan has a cold, sore throat, runny nose. Brandon has nausea and headaches and blurry vision. Kaitlyn has headaches and blurry vision and episodes of dizziness. Colin is home from school with abdominal pain and headaches as well as blurry vision.

We are beginning to worry about cross-contamination from the other house. We brought cell phones and of course our two cars.

Should we have the air tested in this house? In our cars? Are these residual effects from the old house?

I would value your opinion.

Dr. Thrasher
The cell phones are probably not a source of cross-contamination. The automobiles may be a source of contamination. The air conditioning system of autos can become contaminated.

Actually, what I think is going on is possible school exposure to molds and pesticides. Also, there may well be infection and/or colonization with the children, particularly the upper respiratory (sinuses) tract. The nosebleeds are a dead giveaway. The children need to see a physician who knows what he/she is doing.

Has any physician done a culture of the sinuses/nasal cavities of the children for molds and bacteria?

No culture has been done. I have set a date of December 15th to get Colin's adenoids and tonsils removed. I believe his adenoids have been contaminated for many years and he will be able to breathe at last. I think we need to go to Arizona and recoup the costs later. I have tried all of the insurance avenues and keep coming up against brick walls.

Dr. Thrasher
If you have his tonsils and adenoids removed, be sure that the tissues are either frozen or fixed in a solution for future analysis. Do not allow the surgeons involved to discard them.

November 26, 2008

In the last 3 days Kaitlyn (10), Reagan (12), and Brandon (7) have all had bloody noses. Brandon and Chris have a sore throat/cough/cold. Kaitlyn keeps breaking out in hives/rashes. Colin's blood sugars are high and he has the head throbbing, etc.

Kaitlyn said her ear was ringing last night (first time she has said that).

Is this all part of the de-tox process or have we cross-contaminated? I keep thinking about our Suburban.

Dr. Thrasher
It is not part of the detox program. The bloody noses, sore throat, cough and cold and H.A.s indicate some type of infectious process.

November 27, 2008

How would we measure whether or not we cross-contaminated? Is this what the infectious process is? Or is it just compromised immune systems? Another child woke up with a sore throat today.

Dr. Thrasher
I am concerned that they go to school and come home sick. Schools are notorious for mold and bacterial growth as well as the use of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, etc.). Have you looked into these conditions?

I did not look into the conditions. I focused on getting medical help, just as Dr. Thrasher encouraged us to do. We pulled the kids out of school and finally went to Arizona to begin treatment. My fear of cross-contamination slowly improved, with continued testing of our environments. We canceled Colin's surgery. We traded in the Suburban but kept our other car.

Life did not return to normal.

But it did get better. Much better than those early days out of the house.

We have a long way to go. Our new life is nothing like I planned or imagined. Many questions remain, but with the help of people like Dr. Thrasher, we've been able to answer many of the critical ones and take steps to heal and keep our environment clean.

For those who are on this long, dark road, my encouragement is to take it one step at a time. Focus on the things you can do. When symptoms persist, don't settle for unsatisfactory medical explanations. Listen to your instincts.

And watch for the day when life takes on a new and different normal.

Sweetener Summary

PepsiCo announced this week that it is cutting back on sugar in their soda products. The goal in the next 10 years is to cut the average added sugar per serving in drinks by 25 percent. In addition, PepsiCo said it would remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools worldwide by 2012.

The word is spreading. And big business is listening.

Those of us with fungal illness must pay particular attention to the sugar issue. Sugar propogates yeast in the body. It's interesting to note that sugar cane is grown in tropical climates. The same conditions where fungus thrives.

Since leaving our home we have slowly eliminated refined sugars and processed foods from our diet. It has not been an easy transition.

All of us would agree, however, that our tastes have changed dramatically.

Vegetables taste completely different than they once did. My kids tolerate bitter herbs and flax oil. An orange takes the place of dessert.

We still keep sweeteners in the house, but use them sparingly.

What are the best ones? What's the difference between cane juice and molasses? How about stevia and NutraSweet? Read on.

The Bad Guys

Refined Sugar

Comes from sugar cane and sugar beets. The sucrose (50/50 mixture of fructose and glucose) is extracted from the plant, leaving virtually no minerals, vitamins, proteins, or fibers. This means there are no alkaline minerals, which further increases acidity in the body. Refined sugar is best avoided at all costs.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS starts as corn syrup, a liquid sweetener extracted from corn, which is then altered by enzymatic processes to yield a product high in fructose (sometimes as high as 90%). Fructose is more readily metabolized into fat by the liver than glucose.

The use of this syrup has increased by more than 10,000% since 1970, largely because it's more economical. Corn has added GMO and aflatoxin burdens, making HFCS potentially even more toxic to the system.

The Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions has an excellent article on the dangers of high fructose corn syrup.

Artificial Sweeteners

Opinions vary regarding artificial sweeteners. I steer away from anything synthetic so I side with those who contend they are hazardous. Take aspartame, for example. The phenylalanine in aspartame has been proven to increase dopamine levels in the brain. This can lead to depression, migraines, brain tumors, and more. This proved to be true for our son in the early stages of his migrainous vertigo. I remember an immediate attack from one stick of artificially sweetened chewing gum.

The aspartic acid in aspartame is an excitotoxin. These toxins cause specified brain cells to become excessively excited to the point that they die. In addition, the ester bond in aspartame is broken down to formaldehyde and methanol, both of which have their own toxicities. Because of the clouded perception surrounding this sweetener, it is soon to be marketed as Amino Sweet. For more on this latest initiative, see this article.

Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound discovered in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. The Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar)--however, three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. See this article for more information.

The Better Guys

Unrefined Sugar

Is made by evaporating the water from whole sugar cane juice. Not to be confused with brown sugar, which is white sugar with some molasses added, unrefined sugar has nutritional content such as phosphorus, chromium, and calcium. Several food producers are aware of the public's concern with sugar and now use "dried cane juice" or "cane juice," which can be just as refined. Be sure to choose unrefined dried cane juice.

Just Like Sugar

This is derived from chicory root. It does not taste like sugar, in my opinion. One of my sons loves it. The texture is much like table sugar and therefore can be good in recipes.

Lo Han

Lo Han Kuo is the fruit of Momordica grosvenorii, a plant cultivated in the mountains of southern China. The fruit contains a series of terpene glycosides called "mogrosides." These are up to 300 times as sweet as sucrose. Mogrosides have a licorice-like off-taste. As with stevia, it's important to check ingredients added. It's hard to find in its pure form.


This is a sweetener derived from the Mexican plant aguamiel. It goes through a heavy refining process yielding as much as 90% fructose. For an in-depth look at agave, see this article.

Rice Syrup

Is made by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (usually from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and reducing it by cooking until the desired consistency is reached. The final product is 45% maltose, 3% glucose, and 52% maltotriose. This can be a good option when making granola.

Blackstrap Molasses

There are several types of molasses: unsulphured, sulphured, and blackstrap. The distinctions are based, in part, on how many times it has been boiled during the manufacturing process.

Unsulphured molasses is the least refined. Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane that has not matured long enough and treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process. Blackstrap is made from the third boil. One tablespoon of blackstrap is approximately 46% sucrose. The mineral content includes manganese, copper, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B6. The healthiest version is unsulphered organic blackstrap molasses.

Yacon Syrup

Is derived from the yacon plant in South America. The sugar in this syrup is known as FOS (fructooligosaccharide), a special type of fructose, which according to some researchers has unique benefits in the digestive tract. (Yacon syrup is pictured above in the unmarked jar.)

Maple Syrup

Is 65% sucrose and is produced by tapping maple trees to release their sap. A tree’s sap is the fluid that, much like blood in animals, carries water and food to different parts of the tree to keep it nourished. As with all concentrated sweeteners, the less refined, the better.


Honey bees convert nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and store it as a food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Honey is extremely sweet (86% glucose/fructose combination), but offers some health benefits in its raw form.


Is perhaps the best option for those with fungal issues. It is a whole herbal food known for its sweet leaves and flower buds. The powdered leaf can be made into an extract by mixing one teaspoon in one cup of water and allowing it to soak overnight. It is a "free" sweetener for diabetics without the risks associated with artificial sweeteners. The clear extracts and white powders are highly refined and less optimal. As with Lo Han, read the label carefully to see that nothing is added. Truvia, for instance, contains erythritol, which is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn.

The Good Guys

Fruit in its raw form

This is perhaps the best way to incorporate a sweetener into the diet. The fiber in the fruit slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, allowing the full benefit of the enzymes and minerals. There are a variety of dried fruits that offer nutrition and sweetness.

Gogi berries, for instance, contain 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, linoleic acid, more beta carotene than carrots, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, selenium and germanium. Mulberries are an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K and iron. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.

Dates and figs have health benefits as well. Higher in fructose (more than 10%), these can be soaked and made into a paste to add to recipes. Like other concentrated sweeteners, these are best if used sparingly.

The Best Guys

Are not sweet guys.

The foods rich in chlorophyll are the fungus fighter's best friends. Reducing the intake of sugars will help these foods taste better and richer.

One day we might even see PepsiCo's name on the bottle of a spirulina drink.

Leviticus 14

The Old Testament addresses the issue of mold and clearly states that mold must be taken seriously.

The following passage is found in Leviticus 14. This is taken from "The Message" version.

35-42 "...the householder is to go and tell the priest, 'I have some kind of fungus in my house.' The priest is to order the house vacated until he can come to examine the fungus, so that nothing in the house is declared unclean. When the priest comes and examines the house, if the fungus on the walls of the house has greenish or rusty swelling that appears to go deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest is to walk out the door and shut the house up for seven days. On the seventh day he is to come back and conduct another examination; if the fungus has spread in the walls of the house, he is to order that the stones affected by the fungus be torn out and thrown in a garbage dump outside the city. He is to make sure the entire inside of the house is scraped and the plaster that is removed be taken away to the garbage dump outside the city. Then he is to replace the stones and replaster the house.

43-47 "If the fungus breaks out again in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house has been scraped and plastered, the priest is to come and conduct an examination; if the fungus has spread, it is a malignant fungus. The house is unclean. The house has to be demolished—its stones, wood, and plaster are to be removed to the garbage dump outside the city. Anyone who enters the house while it is closed up is unclean until evening. Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash his clothes.

48 "But if when the priest comes and conducts his examination, he finds that the fungus has not spread after the house has been replastered, the priest is to declare that the house is clean; the fungus is cured."

New Mexico High School Update

The case of Paul Taylor vs. Roswell Independent School District took a new turn this week.

Paul Taylor sued the school district in November 2008, requesting permission to test Goddard High School's indoor air after his daughter became ill. Taylor won the right to test. The school was found to have "massive fungal presence as shown by fungal DNA" including stachybotrys and several types of aspergillus. Asbestos fibers were found in airstream pathways as well.

Part of the court order included an admonition that the school district retain all evidence. The court also stated that evidence must not be removed without allowing access to Taylor.

This week the court ruled that the District violated the order by completing repairs, remediation, and removing construction materials at issue in the lawsuit, and failed to turn them over to Taylor for testing and examination. Further, the court ruled, "all materials that were removed, remediated, repaired, and/or destroyed by the School District in violation of the May 1, 2009 Order are presumed to be contaminated with mold and/or toxin producing pathogens."

To view the press release about the court ruling, click here.

A document signed by the treating physician for Taylor's daughter, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, makes an interesting point regarding the well-being of the students at Goddard High School.

"In this instance, it is my opinion that we have an historical precedent in the fields of public health and epidemiology to show us the way to our next step.

In the late 1850’s, cholera was the scourge of London.

An observant physician, John Snow, noted the presence of cholera, diagnosed by symptoms, clinical course and outcome, was confined to those people in a given area who drank water from a single public well but not from another.

He stopped people from drinking from the putative causative well and the cholera epidemic abated. It wasn’t known that cholera was caused by a water-borne bacterium (Vibrio cholera) until the 1880’s and it wasn’t known that the mechanism of cholera illness involved a watersoluble toxin until the 1950’s.

Yet by protecting the children by stopping use of a well, even before he had every detail needed to show exactly every step of specific causation, he saved countless lives.

In 2010, we would test the well water for Vibrio toxins, confirm the problem, fix the source of the toxin entry into our children and re-open the well because we all need potable water.

. . . In this case, given the clear delineation of illness (one that is statistically impossible to be ascribed to chance), protection of the children at GHS from toxins and inflammagens is a duty no less important now than in 1856. That duty extends beyond medical care and points directly to assessment of potential health risk posed by a public facility.

The duty is clear: Identify the problem, correct the problem, fix the source so it never recurs and return the children to a safe fountain of knowledge."

Green Juice

There are a myriad of green juice possibilities. I thought I'd include our most recent, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Green apple

The proportions vary. It depends on what we have and how much we have. I wash the produce but don't scrape the skin. The lemon is juiced as is.

The kids do fine with no apples or lemons. The carrots provide a certain sweetness.

I can't say enough about the health benefits of juicing. We started with a basic juicer 6 months ago and recently upgraded to a Green Star Juicer. Both models have served us well.

The difference between lower price and higher price models lies in the extracting mechanism. The Green Star, for instance, uses twin gear technology. This means more juice is extracted and the pulp comes out drier. The lower price models rely on centrifugal force to push the pulp against the strainer.

Now that I've used both, I can say that the higher price model is well worth the investment. It is easier to clean (although still requires some work), easier to use, and more adaptable to a wider variety of foods.

I look forward to creating the juices now!

I'd love to hear other green juice recipe ideas in the comment section.

A Lawyer Instead of a Doctor

Imagine this scenario. A woman experiences respiratory problems. She goes to her doctor. He offers a prescription for the symptoms and then does the unexpected. He inquires about her housing situation.

She talks about water leaks, cockroaches, mice, and mold.

He expresses concern that the environment is contributing to her illness. He refers her, not to another medical specialist, but to a lawyer. To help her deal with her landlord.

Sound implausible?

Such a scenario is being played out in Southern California and across the nation as legal teams join forces with medical doctors to improve patients' living conditions in low-income neighborhoods. The awareness of the link between environment and health marks another positive shift in our country.

The following article appeared recently in the Los Angeles Times:

Sometimes, good legal help is the best medicine

Ten medical-legal partnerships in California bring doctors and lawyers together to improve patients' living conditions. The program serving South L.A. and Compton has assisted 866 clients since August.

Maria Perez's fever had climbed to 103, her body ached and she had trouble breathing. After being told in the emergency room that she had pneumonia, Perez went to a clinic in South Los Angeles for a follow-up appointment.

The doctor asked Perez about her housing situation. Her apartment had cockroaches and mice, Perez said, and rain came through a broken window and filled the walls with mold. The doctor wrote prescriptions to treat the pneumonia and an asthma flare-up and then did something that he hoped would prevent her from getting even sicker: He sent her down the hall to talk to a lawyer.

The attorney, Dennis Hsieh, contacted both the landlord and the Los Angeles Housing Department. The living conditions improved, and so did Perez's health.

"The medicine wasn't what cured me," said Perez, 49. "It was Mr. Dennis and what he did."

The full article can be viewed here.

Eyeglass Awakening

I bought new glasses this week. Not because I wanted a new look or needed a new prescription.

I bought them because it suddenly dawned on me that I never replaced my glasses after we left our home.

We disposed of our clothing, threw away our shoes, and replaced wallets and purses. But not my eyewear. It never entered my mind.

Until my recent awakening.

My brain is connecting dots and seeing things for the first time.

Like the persistent bumps on the bridge of my nose that are located exactly where the eyeglasses rest.

Here’s a picture of the old glasses above my brand new ones. There's green stuff on the inside of the nosepads.

I don't have tests to prove this theory. It could be normal wear and tear. But I'm not taking a chance. The new glasses have put me on a better path.

As for the spots and bumps on my nose and under my eyes, I'm using some of my old tricks. Bentonite clay paste, charcoal soap (which we still use daily), and diluted grapefruit seed extract.

I wish I would have thought of this possibility sooner. I wish I would have "seen" this sooner.

But that's how I feel about the last nine years of our life.

At least I see now; through clean glasses.

Reality Tears

It's hard to wake up.

I went for my first session of brain rehab last week. Treatment with a psychologist who knows and understands toxic injury to the brain. He's seen hundreds of patients like me, which I find comforting.

Before discussing the memory issue, we talked about the overwhelming sadness that has kept me company these last couple of months.

"I've been improving physically, but I've found myself declining emotionally," I said.

His response was simple. "You woke up."

"The brain literally comes back to life after a trauma. You suddenly become aware of what has happened to you. You connect with reality."

It's a harsh reality. The loss of our home. Our friends. Our health. Our dreams for our kids. Our life as we once knew it.

And then the loss of my precious mother.

I've had trouble functioning at times. Not only because of sickness, but also because of grief.

Last night I sat up with one of my older daughters as she wept over her reality. The loss of her adolescence. Her beloved journals and books. Her love of learning. Her dreams for her future.

The pain, at times, is unbearable as a mother.

"I think this must mean I'm getting better," she cried.

She knows. Every tear that climbs out of its cage moves her closer to a recovered life.

I love these simple, yet profound words of William Cowper, "Grief is itself a medicine."

An Expanding Iceberg

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine's call for papers for an upcoming conference presents an outstanding exposé on the prevalence of environmental illness. The following article, subtitled "Special Focus on Molds, Chronic Infections, Endocrine Disruptors, and Foods," appears on the homepage of AAEM, along with a search option for those looking for an environmentally minded physician.

The widespread adverse health effects from 9/11/01 and Hurricane Katrina have greatly increased the public's awareness that serious health consequences can result from exposures to molds, toxic chemicals, and other environmental substances. However, the health consequences from these two events are merely the tip of a rapidly expanding iceberg.

A large, growing, and persuasive body of scientific evidence has documented that, in a growing segment of our population, a rapidly increasing and complex toxic body burden is contributing to an increasing variety of multi-system, chronic, and debilitating conditions and diseases. The resultant adverse and expensive impacts on the quality of life in these patients are reaching alarming proportions. It is therefore imperative that these insights be widely disseminated throughout the health care system and that focused attention be given to improving the accurate diagnosis and effective treatments for these types of illnesses.

Diagnostic tools must effectively address the diversity of conditions that can result from these contributors. They must also assess the status of affected organ functions, individual body burdens and susceptibilities to specific exposures, and must allow monitoring of the success of treatment. Treatment must address the actual causes: effective removal of toxicant burdens, optimizing the individual's organ system functions, detoxication pathways and state of nutrition, and accommodating individually specific detoxication genes of biotransformation where applicable. Prevention must focus on the early recognition of the causes of various conditions, cleaning up the environment and diet, and optimizing nutritional status.

This cause-oriented and preventive strategy is the approach of Environmental Medicine. It offers the most effective and cost effective approach to restoring and maintaining the long-term health of those patients whose chronic illnesses are contributed to by molds, chronic infections, endocrine disruptors, foods, and other environmental factors, including chemicals.

1. To address the day to day management of the complex patients with common illnesses contributed to by molds, chronic infections, endocrine disruptors, foods, and other environmental factors

2. To focus on clinical insights, diagnostic and treatment modalities, and clinical algorithms and protocols to help the health care professional provide the most effective health outcomes for these patients

At the end of this educational activity, the attendee should be able to:

· Discuss the range of many common illnesses contributed to by molds, chronic infections, endocrine disruptors, foods, and other environmental factors such as chemicals, cared for by many different health care specialties.

· Understand the nature of the complex biologic mechanisms and principles that govern the manifestations and course of these illnesses.

· Utilize practical diagnosis and treatment options and guidelines that physicians and other healthcare professionals can implement to improve the long-term outcomes for these patients.

· Appreciate how the techniques and concepts of Environmental Medicine can improve the effectiveness of health care and simultaneously lower its long-term cost.

The entire article can be viewed here.

A Wake-Up Story

Nancy and James Chuda lost their little girl to cancer at the age of 4. Through extensive research, the Chudas linked an exposure to pesticides during Nancy's pregnancy to their daughter’s death.

The Chudas founded an organization, Healthy Child Healthy World, to awaken the public to the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment.

I heard from a young man recently who was sprayed last summer with weed killer.

"The sprayer blew up on me and the chemical went in my mouth, nose, eyes, and directly into my bloodstream through a laceration. I awoke the next day to severe dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, headaches, and now have extreme fatigue also. That was 8 months ago. The symptoms are present 24/7. I have been to about 10 different specialty doctors and none of them think the poison has anything to do with it."

The political and medical communities must wake up to this reality.

The following video from Healthy Child Healthy World may create some discomfort. But that’s a good thing. We don’t make changes when we’re comfortable.

To learn more about Healthy Child Healthy World, visit their website.

A Legal Victory

The following story, published Tuesday, March 2, is more about perseverance than mold. A Texas couple encountered structural defects soon after they moved into their brand new home in 1996. They took legal action when it became obvious the house wasn't "settling," as the builder assured them. Their action led to verdicts, appeals, more verdicts, and finally this week, an astounding award.

Jury awards $58 million to Mansfield couple in home builder lawsuit
by Sandra Baker, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A Mansfield couple's nearly decadelong legal battle with their home builder, Perry Homes, and a home warranty company took another step toward closure Monday when a Tarrant County jury awarded them $58 million in damages.

But on Tuesday, Bob and Jane Cull say, they woke up like it was any other day.

Jane Cull went to her job at a hospital company, and Bob Cull, who is retired, said he started tending to some personal business that had been put off for several months as their case came to trial. They also realize that their lawsuit, which has been arbitrated, been appealed and twice gone to the Texas Supreme Court, still has some hurdles to clear before they see any money.

"Who knows?" Bob Cull said. "You certainly can't plan on it. We're hopeful."

Anthony Holm, a Perry Homes spokesman, in a statement called the verdict "jackpot justice" and an abuse of the legal system. Perry Homes offered to buy the home back at full price, he said.

The verdict, Holm said, "is equivalent to every single resident in Texas depositing $2 into the lawyer's bank account."

Perry Homes may appeal the decision, he said.

Van Shaw, the couple's attorney, said justice was served.

"I thought it was a fair verdict," he said.

Bob Cull describes the couple's legal fight as an "odyssey."


For the details of their journey see the full article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Supplement Shopping

My number one source of anxiety over this last year has been the issue of supplements. I would rather shop for a used car than decide which supplement to buy.

I have a hard time sorting through the promises. I can’t decide if we need it. I’m not sure what I’m looking for when I read the list of ingredients. I don’t know which company to trust. Does the most expensive option necessarily mean the best option?

The most haunting question for me: Is there some miracle supplement we’re missing?

Which has made me especially vulnerable to the promises.

One thing that has helped me sort through the supplement selection process is to rule out anything with magnesium stearate. There are opposing views on this subject. One side says the stearate scare is exaggerated. The other insists magnesium stearate is a toxin.

Magnesium stearate, stearic acid and calcium stearate are made with cottonseed or palm oil. The oils are hydrogenated and then added to the raw materials so that machinery will run faster.

Are these stearates added in levels high enough to do us harm? I don’t really need to know the answer. Much like with toxic mold, I can't lose to avoid it.

For an interesting look at the potential hazards of supplementation, see this article.

The magnesium stereate issue confirms my inclination to drink my nutrition. For those of us with digestive problems due to toxic injury, it makes sense to question the absorbability of the supplements.

Thus I have focused my attention on improving digestion rather than picking the right supplement. The lining of the gut is a delicate membrane and the wall behind it contains 80% of the immune system.

One of the most affordable and potent ways to boost the digestion is raw unsalted sauerkraut. Fermented cabbage produces compounds known as isothiocyanates, which in animal studies have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer. Fermented cabbage also produces lactobacilli, or friendly bacteria, which promote the growth of healthy flora.

We have acquired a taste for the dill sauerkraut by Rejuvenative Foods found in the refrigerated dairy or probiotic section of most health food stores.

There are many other ways to boost digestion. The simple process of chewing, for example. Drinking lots of good clean water. Chicken and beef broth. Eliminating processed foods.

This emphasis in our recovery process has saved my sanity as much as it has our health.

We still add to our diet in various ways, but I'm far more relaxed about it all.

I'm content to rebuild our digestive tracts, and our lives, one lactobacillus at a time.