Best Herbal Remedies to Relax

April 29, 2011

The 15 Best Herbal Sedatives to Take the Edge Off

By Dr. Nicole Sundeneon 04/28/2011

Do you ever just feel like you need to take a pill to take the edge off?

The fact is that everyone gets stressed sometimes and if you don’t want to take something that will totally knock you out, try a gentle relaxing cup of sedative tea instead of popping a pill.

Now opinions may slightly differ amongst herbalists as to what the best herbal sedative is, but I think we can all agree that the best herb is the one that works best for the individual. Here are my top fifteen favorites for making in to herbal tea as they are widely available and not endangered species (to my current knowledge.)

I have included a brief blurb so that you can get an idea of the herbs that will work best for your constitution. Please always check with your naturopathic physician before combining herbs with prescription drugs. Do not take sedative herbs during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

#1 Passionflower – The purple passionflower has been found to be as effective as sedatives in the benzodiazepine (valium) family, the aerial parts of this herb are great for nervous tension and anxiety. In recent research, passionflower extract at 45 drops daily (tincture) was shown to be as effective as oxazepam (similar to valium). This nervine herb is also “antispasmodic” which makes it great for people with constant nervous twitching.

#2 Ashwaganda – This is probably one of my favorite herbs. Unlike most of the herbs on this list that are designed to be taken at night or at least late afternoon, both ashwaganda and schisandra (listed below) are terrific “adaptogenic” herbs that help us tolerate our stressful days that much better. You can make some tea, or grab some capsules of the organic root and take two capsules twice a day.

This herb is specifically intended for those that are exhausted and agitated or debilitated by stress. In ayurvedic medicine ashawganda is a renowned anti-aging and rejuvenating herb.

#3 Schisandra – Often referred to as “Chinese Prozac” this herb is commonly unappreciated and underutilized in American herbal practice. Schisandra is a terrific daytime adaptogen herb and should be taken as is recommended with Ashwaganda, two capsules with breakfast and lunch, or a cup of tea in the morning and afternoon. The berries can be made in to a nice aperitif for those with a low libido.

#4 California Poppy – The bright orange flowers of the California poppy, leaves and other aerial parts are sedative, anti-spasmodic, and mild pain relievers. This is also a gentle herb used for colic and agitation in children. Do not use this herb or any other sedative herbs in pregnancy.

#5 Hops – No I am not recommending that you drink more beer to calm down. However, the herb commonly used to make beer bitter also works as a sedative. It is extremely bitter though so is best given a small part in your herbal tea formula for insomnia or stress. Do not combine with prescription sleep aids due to an additive effect.

#6 Kava Kava – A well known Polynesian psychotropic sedative, this herb is sedative and “spasmolytic” and thus helpful for chronic pain conditions. Several conflicting studies debate the safety of using this herb with alcohol. Liver damage is thought to occur if used in large doses in conjunction with alcohol. This research however was used to scare many people away from using kava kava for whatever reason.

People need to simply remember that herbs are medicines and that an herb with actions similar to prescription sleep aids and analgesics will of course pack the same side effects. A strong herb demands respect. When used ceremoniously, or occasionally this herb does not run the risks it runs when it is heavily abused.

The best way to safely use kava kava is in an organic tea form. Look for a tea blend that includes kava, or make your own. This herb should not be used in large doses, and large doses should not be used over long term. Do not combine with alcohol, or use during pregnancy or nursing. Chronic abuse will result in a horrible scaly skin rash.

#7 Lavender – Try adding lavender to your favorite baked good recipe. Purple lavender flowers will offer a sophisticated herbal makeover to your favorite shortbread cookies, or white tea cakes.

Lavender is great in your herbal medicine blend, and can also be used to stuff pillows, or as an aromatherapy stress reliever throughout the day. Lavender should not be used in pregnancy due to its emmenagogue effect (stimulation of blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus).

#8 Lemon Balm – Also known as “Melissa officinalis” this herbal sedative should not be used by those with hypothyroidism as it inhibits the thyroid and is used to treat hyperthyroidism or by anyone who is pregnant. However for everyone else it is a common simple herb to grow in your garden and make in to your own calming sedative tincture each summer.

I grow lemon balm in my garden and harvest it, rinse it, let it dry and then pack it in a jar with enough room for it to swim around in some vodka. Shake the jar once a day for two weeks. The vodka will extract the constituents and after a few weeks you can strain out the plant part leftovers and put a half a teaspoon of this liquid “anxiety medicine” in a little bit of water when you need something to calm you down.

#9 St. John’s Wort – Although we think “depression” the second we hear about St. J’s Wort, we also need to address that depression and anxiety tend to walk hand in hand and this herb is not just an anti-depressant it is a mild sedative as well. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to have a lower risk of side effects than conventional anti-depressants and is worth trying for those that don’t quite have severe enough depression to mandate the use of a prescription pharmaceutical, but instead need something to take the edge off and boost the mood a bit.

If you’re suffering from anxiety that has a form of depression associated with it, then this is a great herb to consider in your herbal-sedative blend if you are not on any anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications. The condition “serotonin syndrome” may occur from combing this herb with those classes of medications or other herbs and supplements that boost neurotransmitter levels.

This herb should not be used by those on oral contraceptives, or any medications as it increases the cytochrome p450 enzyme system which results in a more rapid detoxification of drugs from the system. The drugs or birth control pills are then rendered useless. Standard dose of St. John’s Wort for those not on any other medications, is 300 mg three times daily of the 0.3% standardized extract.

#10 Red Clover – Not traditionally recognized as a sedative, but as a mineral source and blood thinner, this “cooling” herb calms the system and has a special affinity to the lungs, throat, and salivary glands.

This is a terrific balancing herb to include in your herbal sedative blend as the dried flower blossoms make for a beautiful addition to a glass teapot. Do not use in pregnancy, or if on blood thinning medications.

#11 Catnip – Not just for cats. Catnip is actually a gentle nervine herb for humans. No it won’t make you roll around on the carpet or chase after things (at least not to my current knowledge) but it is still a great mild sedative.

This herb should absolutely NOT be used during pregnancy, as most herbs should never be used during pregnancy without checking with your naturopathic midwife, however it can safely be used in children by making a very weak tea. Be sure to only give your children organic herbs and always check with their pediatrician or naturopath prior to use.

#12 Valerian – Definitely one of the more potent herbal sedatives, valerian is also a great pain killer for those with chronic pain. Some people prefer not to use this herb because it can cause quite the herbal hangover the next morning and most complain that it makes them feel really groggy, or desire to sleep through the day.

Look for a tea formula that includes a bit of valerian to avoid the hangover, and if you have severe anxiety, chronic pain, or insomnia talk to your naturopathic doctor about using this at a more therapeutic dose. Always use organic root.

#13 Motherwort – The perfect herb for fried and frazzled mothers; it strengthens a weak heart and is great for nervous palpitations. Motherwort is best taken over a prolonged period of time, and because it is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used in pregnancy.

#14 Skullcap – A bitter, cooling sedative herb that is best used for nervous fear, restless sleep, and is also thought to lower blood pressure. This herb is great for people with the inability to pay attention—huh what was that? And has been used effectively to calm down children with ADHD. Some kids concentrate better when they are sped up, and some do better when they are calmed down.

#15 Chamomile – One of the most common kitchen herbs, chamomile is a great mild sedative and digestive bitter.

Be careful in using chamomile tea if you experience ragweed allergies, formally known as the “asteracea family” and previously recognized as “composite family.” If you have a history of seasonal allergies you should exercise caution.

If not, make your tea up strong, use a heaping tablespoon and not a teaspoon per 8 oz cup of water, and allow to steep 15 minutes covered. If you don’t cover your chamomile tea you will lose the calming essential oils to evaporation. Only elitist herbalists know to do that. Welcome to the club!

Traditional Herbal Sedative Use: Establishing a nighttime or daytime tea ritual is a great way to reduce stress, avoid binge eating, and help those that fight insomnia get to sleep at a decent hour.

Don’t forget to have your pot of tea with one of my favorite “Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs.” Also if you tend to be one of those that gets troubled by having to use the restroom in the middle of the night, be sure to drink your tea at least 90 minutes prior to your expected bed time.

Directions: For most of these herbs simply make a tea with about 1 tsp (milder herbs use a tablespoon) to 8 oz cup of boiling water. Allow to steep covered 15 minutes. Or if you aren’t a tea drinker just look for a pre-made organic herbal formula to take in tincture or capsule form, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Common Sense Cautions: Please check with your naturopathic physician before combining any herbal medicines with prescription medications or making any changes to your health care routine. Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should never use any herbs unless prescribed by their naturopathic midwife.

You can find bulk organic herbs at Whole Foods, through your local teashop or buy them online.

What is your favorite herbal sedative? Share your answer in the comments below.

About the author


Dr. Nicole Sundene is a Naturopathic Physician and a graduate of Western Washington University for her undergraduate degree, and Bastyr University for her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.


Krill best source of Omega 3

April 29, 2011

Krill Oil The Ultimate Heart And Brain Nutrient

By Layne Loweryon 04/28/2011

 Medical research has identified a source of omega-3 fatty acids that’s been shown superior to fish oil supplements in head-to-head testing. It’s found to be healthier, safer, more potent and more absorbable. It’s called krill oil.

Krill is a shrimp-like crustacean that abounds in the ocean. In fact, this tiny sea creature is a favorite food of marine life, including Beluga whales. Krill are almost 100 percent free of heavy metals and other toxins. By contrast, large predatory fish are often “filled to the gills” with dangerous toxins.

The reason krill oil is more effective than other marine oils is the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids and extremely potent antioxidants it contains. It’s the unique combination of these essential ingredients that provide the greatest health benefits.

Krill oil has been shown to outperform fish oil supplements when it comes to lowering your bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Patients who took 1 to 1.5 grams (g) of krill oil a day—compared to three times the dose of fish oil—showed a significantly greater decrease in bad cholesterol than the fish oil patients.

In an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test, krill oil was shown to contain 300 times the amount of vitamin A and E, plus 48 times the antioxidant power of standard omega-3 fish oils.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your diet—and should be supplemented since your body doesn’t produce them on its own. These fatty acids are the best source to help prevent blood clotting, lower blood pressure and relieve inflammation.

Krill oil contains a healthy balance of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids—which help fight infection. These two fatty acids need each other and work together to prevent other inflammation-related ailments like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. By supplementing with all-natural krill oil, you can protect your heart and brain for decades to come.

About the author

author-pictureLayne Lowery is the President of Health Resources™, a manufacturer of high-quality nutritional supplements.  In the health business since 1995, Layne’s passion is providing affordable natural health solutions and educational tools based on the best scientific research available to empower his customers to make wise decisions on matters of personal health.

April 27, 2011

New dental tech that delivers enormous doses of radiation

By Jenny Thompsonon 04/25/2011

This sounds familiar…

A new technology is introduced. It’s hailed as a great leap forward. It’s embraced by the mainstream. Then a few years down the line, problems start to become apparent. Watchdogs call for greater oversight. But by then too much time and money has been invested. The new technology is here to stay.

That’s sort of how it’s shaping up with cone-beam CT scans–a revolutionary dental imaging technique.

On a website that provides information about cone beam technology (, you’ll find this bold statement at the top of the home page: “CBCT FOR EVERYONE”

That’s a stunning statement. Because it’s a really REALLY bad idea.

Dangerous fun

Dentists tend to like CBCT. It creates crisp 3-D images of the jaw and teeth, including roots–very useful for complex problems like impacted teeth and braces.

And kids actually like CT scan too because of what one orthodontist calls the “wow factor.” On the computer display, kids can see their entire skull in vibrant colors.

As the orthodontist told the New York Times: “Fun for the kids.”

Fun…but dangerous.

A Times investigation reveals that this ingenious scanning method emits a massive radiation dose–much more radiation than a conventional x-ray. And it could be a huge risk for kids, because children–especially adolescents–are much more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than adults.

The enhanced detail of a CT scan image is helpful for orthodontists. But over the course of braces maintenance, patients usually get several scans. And unfortunately, scientists believe the effects of these powerful scans are cumulative. So the long-term risk of cancer is doubled after the second scan, tripled after the third, etc.

Now…here’s what’s infuriating: Orthodontists and dentists can also produce 3-D images with a digital camera that emits no radiation. But using the digital camera takes about a half-hour longer than the CT scan. And those half-hours add up, preventing orthodontists from booking higher numbers of patients each day.

Fueled by misinformation

But there’s one more detail about dental CT scans that actually goes WAY beyond infuriating. (My dentist would NOT be happy with me right now because I’m actually grinding my teeth as I write this.)

The selling of cone-beam CT technology has been outright dishonest.

In an online lecture earlier this year, a prominent 3-D technology expert who gives frequent professional presentations told attendees that the CT scan produces no more radiation than airport full-body scans.

But the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center told the Times that such an estimate is “very wrong–by a lot.” In fact, he says CT scanners can be SEVERAL HUNDRED TIMES more powerful than those controversial airport scanners.

Unfortunately, this wildly misleading “estimate” is fairly popular.

According to the Times, a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association ran a “favorable article” by an author who has stated that radiation from a CT scan is equal to–yep–an airport full-body scan.

Funny thing though: That entire JADA issue was devoted to cone-beam technology. In fact, the issue was actually underwritten by one of the leading makers of CT scanners.

Arrrgh! The dental mainstream is just as bad as the medical mainstream!

Here’s how the Times sums it up: “The cone beam’s popularity has been fueled in part by misinformation about its safety and efficacy.”

“Misinformation?” That’s a tactful way of saying what it really is: lies.

Please warn your friends and family about this travesty–especially those who have kids who may soon be headed to their first orthodontist appointment. But this warning is for everyone–not just kids. The next time your dentist needs to x-ray your teeth, ask him what technology he’s using.

If he says, “cone-beam,” tell him you don’t mind taking the extra half-hour for the digital camera–or that you’re willing to skip the special effects altogether.

Aspartame Unsafe for Diabetics

April 24, 2011
Dr. Brownstein
Is Aspartame Safe for Diabetics?

Monday, April 18, 2011 4:18 PM

Question: I am a diabetic. Is it safe for me to use the artificial sweetener aspartame?

Dr. Brownstein’s Answer:

The most common artificial sweetener used is aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal. It is added to more than 6,000 foods and many pharmaceuticals, including many children’s liquid medications.

Our experiences show that consuming large amounts of aspartame may actually cause many health problems, including obesity. We have found that it is very difficult for people to lose weight if they are consuming large amounts of aspartame. In addition, there are many neurological and immune system disorders exacerbated by aspartame. Aspartame should not be used in any amount and should be avoided.

Astoundingly, Big Pharma claims that because aspartame has no calories, it is therefore an appropriate dietary supplement for diabetics. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Aspartame is particularly toxic for diabetics because it disrupts the body’s normal response to glucose, which is to cause the pancreas to release insulin. The main symptom of diabetes is high blood sugar due to the body’s inadequate production or utilization of insulin. Therefore, aspartame is doing exactly the opposite of what diabetics need.

Unfortunately, even the American Diabetic Association has fallen for this propaganda, and has accepted the idea that aspartame is a suitable sugar substitute for diabetics.

The bottom line: Aspartame is not safe for diabetics or anyone else. All sources of aspartame sweetener need to be avoided.

© 2011 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Will the FDA ever put a stop to chemicals in our food? By Dr. Allan Spreen on 04/23/2011

April 24, 2011

A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me a link about the FDA’s decision to take a closer look at the possible link between artificial food coloring and hyperactivity in children.

“Wow!” she wrote, “Do you believe it? The FDA’s finally taking a stand!” My friend has four kids, so I can understand why she was interested.

But, ever the cynic, I wrote back, “Yes, but it’s just a ruse. They’ll review the data and then say ‘we’ve looked at it and determined there’s no problem.’ So go ahead, eat all the Froot Loops and Jello Jigglers you want!”

Sure enough…I was right.

The FDA panel decided that food coloring does not cause hyperactivity in most children. (There is plenty of scientific research that proves otherwise. To see the research for yourself, go….)

The panel did concede, however, that artificial food coloring might affect children who already suffer from hyperactivity. They called for more research into the matter, but stopped well short of banning artificial coloring.

In addition, the panel voted 8 to 6 against adding warning labels to food products that carry eight types of food dye. (Actually, that’s a much tighter margin that I would have ever predicted!)

Apparently, it’s too much of a hassle to add warnings to food packages. According to Tim Jones, Tennessee’s deputy state epidemiologist and a member of the FDA panel,

If we put a label that long on every chemical and ingredient that hasn’t been adequately studied, you wouldn’t see the package anymore. It’s a question of relative concern and severity, and that’s a hard one.”

Okaaay…so, do I have Jones’s argument right? We can’t add warnings about these chemicals — even though we believe some kids can’t tolerate them — because it would cover too much of the food package?

Really, Tim, did you ever think about cutting out the mysterious chemicals? You wouldn’t have such a packaging dilemma on your hands. But I have bigger concerns with the FDA’s ruling and it doesn’t have anything to do with warnings on wrappers…

Great Article on the healthiness of Grains

April 20, 2011
Be Kind to Your Grains…And Your Grains Will Be Kind To You PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
Saturday, January 01 2000 09:57
The science of nutrition seems to take a step backwards for every two steps it takes forward. When the study of vitamins was in its infancy, researchers realized that white flour lacked the nutrients that nature put into whole grains. One of these researchers was Dr. Weston Price who noted in his studies of isolated, so-called “primitive” peoples that when white flour and other devitalized foods were introduced into these communities, rampant tooth decay and disease of every sort soon followed. But defenders of the new refining process argued that phosphorus in whole grains was “too acid” and was the true cause of bone loss and tooth decay. Warnings against the use of white flour went largely ignored.

Only in recent decades has Dr. Price been vindicated. Even orthodox nutritionists now recognize that white flour is an empty food, supplying calories for energy but none of the bodybuilding materials that abound in the germ and the bran of whole grains. We’ve take two important steps forward—but unfortunately another step backward in that now whole grain and bran products are being promoted as health foods without adequate appreciation of their dangers. These show up not only as digestive problems, Crohn’s disease and colitis, but also as the mental disorders associated with celiac disease. One school of thought claims that both refined and whole grains should be avoided, arguing that they were absent from the Paleolithic diet and citing the obvious association of grains with celiac disease and studies linking grain consumption with heart disease.

But many healthy societies consume products made from grains. In fact, it can be argued that the cultivation of grains made civilization possible and opened the door for mankind to live long and comfortable lives. Problems occur when we are cruel to our grains—when we fractionate them into bran, germ and naked starch; when we mill them at high temperatures; when we extrude them to make crunchy breakfast cereals; and when we consume them without careful preparation.

Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.

Other antinutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive disorders and even mental illness.

Most of these antinutrients are part of the seed’s system of preservation—they prevent sprouting until the conditions are right. Plants need moisture, warmth, time and slight acidity in order to sprout. Proper preparation of grains is a kind and gentle process that imitates the process that occurs in nature. It involves soaking for a period in warm, acidulated water in the preparation of porridge, or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of bread. Such processes neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

Animals that nourish themselves on primarily on grain and other plant matter have as many as four stomachs. Their intestines are longer, as is the entire digestion transit time. Man, on the other hand, has but one stomach and a much shorter intestine compared to herbivorous animals. These features of his anatomy allow him to pass animal products before they putrefy in the gut but make him less well adapted to a diet high in grains—unless, of course, he prepares them properly. When grains are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or sour leavening, the friendly bacteria of the microscopic world do some of our digesting for us in a container, just as these same lactobacilli do their work in the first and second stomachs of the herbivores.

So the well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, can be misleading and harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them as presented in our modern cookbooks in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas, bran preparations and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Our ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point: In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas; in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days to produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol, are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana leaves; before the introduction of commercial brewers yeast, Europeans made slow-rise breads from fermented starters; in America the pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits; and throughout Europe grains were soaked overnight, and for as long as several days, in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served as porridge or gruel. (Many of our senior citizens may remember that in earlier times the instructions on the oatmeal box called for an overnight soaking.)

Bread can be the staff of life, but modern technology has turned our bread—even our whole grain bread—into a poison. Grains are laced with pesticides during the growing season and in storage; they are milled at high temperatures so that their fatty acids turn rancid. Rancidity increases when milled flours are stored for long periods of time, particularly in open bins. The bran and germ are often removed and sold separately, when Mother Nature intended that they be eaten together with the carbohydrate portion; they’re baked as quick rise breads so that antinutrients remain; synthetic vitamins and an unabsorbable form of iron added to white flour can cause numerous imbalances; dough conditioners, stabilizers, preservatives and other additives add insult to injury.

Cruelty to grains in the making of breakfast cereals is intense. Slurries of grain are forced through tiny holes at high temperatures and pressures in giant extruders, a process that destroys nutrients and turns the proteins in grains into veritable poisons. Westerners pay a lot for expensive breakfast cereals that snap, crackle and pop, including the rising toll of poor health.

The final indignity to grains is that we treat them as loners, largely ignorant of other dietary factors needed for the nutrients they provide. Fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in animal fats like butter, lard and cream help us absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and the many other vitamins that grains provide. Porridge eaten with cream will do us a thousand times more good than cold breakfast cereal consumed with skim milk; sourdough whole grain bread with butter or whole cheese is a combination that contributes to optimal health.

Be kind to your grains. . . and your grains will deliver their promise as the staff of life. Buy only organic whole grains and soak them overnight to make porridge or casseroles; or grind them into flour with a home grinder and make your own sour dough bread and baked goods. For those who lack the time for breadmaking, kindly-made whole grain breads are now available. Look for organic, stone ground, sprouted or sour dough whole grain breads and enjoy them with butter or cheese.

Copyright: From: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD. © 1999. All Rights Reserved.  To order Nourishing Traditions, go to

Yet another reason not to eat meat

April 16, 2011

Study Finds Staph in Half of Supermarket Meat

posted by: alicia graef 11 hours ago

On Friday, researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research center in Phoenix, Ariz., reported that meat products lining the aisles of grocery stores in the U.S. are widely contaminated with drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus Aureus.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease, examined 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 80 brands that were bought in Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.

The results showed that more than half of the samples were contaminated with S. Aureus, and that half of those samples were contaminated with strains that are resistant to at least three kinds of antibiotics, according to the AP.

S. Aureus can cause a number of problems from minor skin infections to more serious issues including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. Methicillin-resistant staph, or MRSA,  which can be potentially fatal was found in three of the samples.

S. Aureus is not monitored by the USDA and the FDA does not routinely check meat products for it.

The American Meat Institute issued a statement arguing that meat is perfectly safe for consumers and that the study’s samples were too small to be significant. They also believe people will be safe if they properly cook meat products, and make a note of their suspicion that the bacteria are a result of human contamination, as opposed to coming from animals themselves.

However, researchers concluded that the strains of bacteria found were not from humans, and were from farm animals themselves, who are given approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics in the U.S. in a nontherapeutic manner, or before they get sick in order to compensate for unsanitary living conditions or to promote growth. The problem with this is animals receiving low doses of antibiotics on a regular basis are like walking petri dishes for bacterial growth that can result in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

These antibiotic strains of bacteria can be spread to other animals and to us through contaminated food products or by making their way into water supplies that have been tainted by manure in the forms of fertilizer and runoff.

Even if you don’t consume meat or dairy, you’re still susceptible to superbugs, which again, can be spread from person to person and by other means.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 76 million Americans are affected by food-borne illnesses each year.  Of those, 2 million are cases of antibiotic resistant infections, 90,000 of which result in death. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic resistant infections in the U.S. to be $30 billion.

“There is unequivocal evidence that decreasing antibiotic use in food production decreases antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the animals, decreases antibiotic-resistant bacteria on the foods and decreases antibiotic-resistant bacteria in people,” said Lance Price, author of the study.