Friday, June 30, 2006

Great Comments on the Thyroid Posts

Sorry, I KNOW thyroid affects women disproportionately to men but I couldn't resist this "back view" of the thyroid.

Some really enormously helpful comments on the thyroid post, 'Roid Rage, so while I'm trying to figure out how to file my posts in some kind of a system (Blogger doesn't have a category system, and I barely can turn on the computer--hackers, help!!), anyone having trouble losing weight, cold hands and feet, already on thyroid meds that suck, click here.
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Treehugger's FAVOURITE GREEN of the week

Hey Fertility Buds!

We were picked as one of Treehugger's Favourite (oooh, love that European-ness) Greens of the week along with our friends at Eco-Chick. I'm so honored!!! If you don't know about, you should. Check out the rest of the Greens here. What a weird coinky-dink, a bunch of us are going to see An Inconvenient Truth tonight.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cottonfield Organic Underwear

The urgency behind wearing organic undies has even hit Ladies Home Journal. I just read one of their innumerable tips in the current issue that urged readers to wear organic undies to (in their inimitable LHJ way) protect "sensitive areas."

Cotton is one of the most pesticide-y crops (chemical insecticide used on cotton crops account for 25% of global consumption--ick), which is why you should try to avoid all the foods (mostly snack foods and bad salad dressing) that use cottonseed oil. This oil is cheap because it's extracted as a byproduct from cotton, which is technically not a food, so they can spray it will all the really bad non-food-grade pesticides. When people jibe me for spending so much of my limited writer's income of organic products, I like to retort, "Well, think of how much $ I'll save in chemotherapy." It really is a matter of You get what you pay for. Health--of selves, and respecting and conserving the earth--is priceless!

Pictured are organic, non-toxic-dyed cotton undies from Cottonfield USA. Here's a quote from their website: Likewise, many followers of holistic lifestyles, such as Macrobiotics, also believe that organic cotton is beneficial for healing when a person is in a weakened physical condition [These guys have non-latex elastic for you allergic types].

I like them because the covered elastic seams are extra-comfy, nice line esp. for low-rider jeans, kudos to Yeumei Shon for designing such a great looking and wearing product. I can already tell from one washing these will last a loooong time, which actually makes them a smarter buy than the 99-cent undies I used to buy that fell apart in a few washes. There are many other styles to choose from, and don't forget the MAN FERTILITY. If you need any more reason to look organic, follow this link to an article on genetically modified Frankencotton and all the weird things it does to a person.

Extra points: these guys are local to the Boston area, and maintain a blog about Bostony goings-on.

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Ask Da Fertilityb*tch!

I keep getting some cool questions: will the gluten-free diet make my skin look great? that I would love to answer, as much as is in my power. I'm not a medical professional, but think of me more as the neighbor blabbing away over the cyber-fence. Please send mail Subj: DEAR FERTILITYB*TCH to

And...congrats to all the preggers peeps who participate in the blog!!

Raw Convenience Food: GOOD STUFF = yum!

Raw food, as you can see, takes a bit of advance planning. Seeds and nuts need to be soaked/sprouted beforehand to rev up the amino acids.

There is an awesome company, GOOD STUFF BY MOM & ME, that makes ready-to-eat raw snacks that are made from organic, germinated, raw ingredients and they taste great (and are GLUTEN-free, yippee).

This Pecan Pie bar (pictured) is something I'd loooove to indulge in any time. Many, many bonus karma points that it's just organic pecans, almonds, dates, flax, lemon Celtic sea salt, natural extracts. Great granola and their Lemon Walnut Crunch is good enough for company. The mom and daughter also look to be extremely healthy and false advertising there.

For stores near you:

Wikipedia has a pretty good entry on sprouting whys, wherefores, and basicsSprouting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Cashewwwwww Cheese--Gesundheit!!!

Of course I am thinking I am sooo clever because Gesundheit means "health" in German. Ja!

Sorry, the picture didn't turn out so great but the cheese DID. I scraped off some of the top so you can see what it should look like if you don't use seaweed. This stuff is milk-free and raw and full of beneficial bacteria, a.k.a. probiotics, mostly lactobacillus, same stuff that makes yogurt good for you. It tastes pleasantly sour and a bit buttery.

(this is done the Korean way, with approximations, because you never know how much stuff you're going to have)
2-3 cups raw organic cashews (size of small tub from Whole Foods, etc.
sea salt OR kelp or dulse flakes (dulse gives it a nice red color, above)
1/4-1/2 cup Rejuvelac (see below)

Soak the cashews overnight or 24 hours, drain.
Combine with sea salt to taste and/or seaweed in a high speed blender, food processor, or Vitamix. Add Rejuvelac and set blender on high and go to town.

If you prefer a firmer cheese, you can drain water out of it by putting it in a colander lined with a muslin cheesecloth. I don't think it's worth the trouble. I just pack it into a nice glass or ceramic container, cover it with something permeable (e.g., pantyhose, papertowel) and let it ferment for about 24 hours. It should NOT grow fuzzy mold, as the probiotics in the Rejuvelac should colonize the cheese, but if it does sometimes mold can fly in through the air, that's why you keep it covered), just scrape it off--maybe it's penicillin. The mold is NOT harmful and will not poison you.

Then refridge and eat. I like to stick salty-salty olive bits on it for even more taste. Enjoy!!!!! It's great on sunflower burgers, if you miss the cheese.

most recipes use sprouted wheatberries or rye, all of which have gluten. I used quinoa, which is not only faster sprouting, it is a "super" food that has all the essential amino acids.

Soak about 1/4 cu (or less) quinoa in a clean jar covered with NON-chlorine water (e.g., filtered, spring) about 12-24 hours, or overnight. You should see the beginning of white, sprouty looking things in the morning.

Drain into a seed sprouter, or just put some pantyhose (clean, please!) over the glass and drain out the water. Rinse these guys at least 3 times a day with the same non-chlorine water.

When the sprouts get to be about 1/4"--this can happen in 24 hours if it's hot out, stuck them back in a clean glass cover with plenty of water and let sit out 24 hours or longer. When it gets cloudy and tastes sour (use clean spoon to swig, don't introduce your bacteria into this!), it's done. If it smells rotten (this has never happened, but I heard is can) throw it out and start over. This is your gluten-free Rejuvelac, strain the sprouts out, use it, drink the rest as a refreshing probiotic punch.

As a vegetarian, I used to get all my bone-building calcium (so I thought) from cheese. Here's an article from BBC about a study that followed a group of committed Raw Foodies and found them to be slim and healthy with great bones. Even the guy from the National Osteoporosis Society (which I'm sure always wants more members) had to admit the Raw Foodies showed NO signs of osteoporosis PLUS they had way MORE vitamin D than average, which is additionally interesting because most people are already low on Vit D, which is why they stick it in milk in the first place. Obviously, something they are doing is nurturing their Vitamin D uptake, and milk might not be the best vehicle. (n.b. The FertilityBitch has been telling people to lay off on the sunscreen and get naturally from sunlight).

, , , ,

Me, my yam, our 1000-year-old stove

Look! I found a yam. Next to the yuca (sic), something called a batato, and a display of generic salt in a grocery store in the "ethnic" part of town, i.e., far far away (for RI) from Brown.

I tossed 'em with a little olive oil and curry and lime juice and then found out our 1000-year-old oven had died (a smaller, very environmental auxiliary oven died a few months ago--maybe it's like those elderly couples when one goes...). The broiler still worked, so they came out a little, uh broiled, probably with more high-heat free radicals than I liked. But with some organic hot sauce, they were pretty tasty. Starchier than sweet potatoes, they'd make great fries I bet. We're actually officially trying to conceive (ttc, if you like acronyms), so I'll definitely let you know 1. if I get pregnant 2. if they are twins.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yams and Fertility

I was at the Brown library the other day and stopped by a display of these fertility totems and was interested to read that the Yoruba of Africa have some of the highest fertility rates, including that of having twins.

Fern Reiss' Infertility Diet also recommends eating yams, that they are sort of nature's Clomid and help trigger the release of the egg (or eggs). They are particular recommended if you have a short luteal phase. Anyway, they taste good, so why wait until Thanksgiving?

Please note that "garnet yams" and "Jewel" yams, like you'll see at Whole Foods are NOT real yams, they are sweet potatoes. True yams look like a hairy log of firewood and are all gucky and mucilagenous when you slice them. You can often find them in Carribean markets. Here's more on an recipe site.

WARNING: true yams are poisonous if you eat them raw.

Okay...okay...about the CASHEW CHEESE, it's almost done. Probably will post tomorrow. It turned out pretty tasty using the thyroid-enhancing seaweed seasoning.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Raw Foods: Enzyme power!

Raw food conjures up gnawing on some huge daikon you just pulled up from the ground. But actually, it's part of a new movement, that even the very non-hippie-ish Charlie Trotter uber-chef, subscribes to. It's a little odd to hear a celebrity chef go on and on about how raw food is better for you, but he does say this, and Raw Foodies believe that cooking kill's the food's vital enzymes. Some people swear they have tons more energy if they follow a raw-only diet (this can include meat). If you don't want to do that, at least some raw in your life would probably be good for you.

Here are some raw foods you might already eat:
o pesto
o guacamole
o kimchi
See? Not so bad!

When I was in Minneapolis, I ate at Ecopolitan, a restaurant that ONLY does raw food, so they try to be creative about it. I'm not sure how I feel about one thing trying to pretend it's another (e.g., raw food Pad Thai), but they had this cashew "cheese" was actually pretty rich and spreadable and yummy (okay, can't compare to a drippy brie or a slice of pizza...but...)

So I cruised for some recipes, but they all use this stuff called Rejuvelac for the fermenting; it's made of WHEATberries, so of course it has gluten read here why giving up gluten/wheat may be an easy way to clear up your thyroid and/or digestive problems). I've done a little experimentation and come up with a nice cashew cheese that isn't too hard to make. I have pictures, too. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Stem Cell Hypocrisy-- Tell Frist to Cut it Out!

The FertilityBitch is back!

I'm so sick of this fake piety by Bill Frist, the guy who used to kidnap cats in his neighborhood and practice surgery on them while the were still alive. He's clearly a sick man.

Now because he wants to be Prez, he's prostrating himself before the religious right with this mealy mouthed opposition to stem cell research. I say, we'll save many more "lives" by cutting off all in-vitro fertility procedures because in basically the same process, they result in gazillions of fertilized embryos that GET DISCARDED instead of harvesting potentially lifesaving stem cells from them. But no one wants to mess with the fertility options for all these parents-to-be (many religious, rich Republicans) including a number of rabidly pro-lifers I personally know who were okay about discarding what, in front of Planned Parenthood they'd be calling "sacred life" thereby bending their own moral principles into a temporary pretzel so they can have their bay-beeeeee, but not 5 of them at once.

Plus, fun fact! The MMR vaccine (the rubella portion, at least) is a "live" virus that comes from (I'm quoting from my physician father's copy of the Physician's Desk Reference, here) "live attenuated rubella virus propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts." Where did they get these living cells? From a 3-month-gestation fetus,. Rubella, Hep A, chickenpox, and rabies (eeek!) are all made from human diploid cells, which have to come from intentional abortions, not miscarriages, because miscarriages may stem from infections, have chromosomal damage, etc. Every so often the Catholic church makes feeble noises about aborted human tissue in vaccines, but it's probably easier and more fun to go after Planned Parenthood.

Stem cells have SO much potential for helping Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, diabetes, spinal cord injury... How skillful the propagandists are, making it sound like taking cells from a 4-day old fertilized egg/blastocyst is unholy murder, but creating a bunch of embryos for IVF specifically to make babies but discarding the "leftovers" is completely benign and morally A-OK.

Let's call them on it--Sign the Petition!

You can also add comments. Here's my angry screed:
If Frist is so against stem cells, why isn't he against using ABORTED FETAL TISSUE for vaccines, particularly the MMR? They can only use tissues from ABORTIONS, not miscarriages, because those would be infected, DNA problems, etc. He is a physician and can read all about this in the PDR!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inulin Helps Calcium uptake

Most humans lose their ability to digest milk as they get older, which is thought to be an adaptive behavior because milk--despite the claptrap the ads with the milk moustaches tell you--isn't that great for you.

When we put our kid on a dairy-free diet, even though we saw immediate results on the diarrhea and tummyache front, our pediatrician got on our case: WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? THAT'S DANGEROUS!!!! HE WON'T GET ENOUGH CALCIUM!!!! To which we replied, How do you think cows get their calcium? The larger proportion of the world does not drink/eat milk. Koreans have survived over several thousands of years eating 800 vegetables and myulchi, these teeny tiny fish with teeny tiny bones.

There is also INULIN. It's a carbohydrate found in asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions, artichokes, banana and chicory (n.b. chicory is also packaged a healthy coffee substitute for those who want to avoid coffee for fertility reasons...). An onoing study at the Baylor College of Medicine's Children's Nutrition Research Center found that inulin helped growing kids absorb more calcium and build more bone. Our child luckily already eats many of these foods and he's even taller than some of his older cousins, even with all the nasty spinal surgery to remove his cancer, which also removed some of his vertebrae and, we were told, will curtail his height.

Here's what MY gluten and dairy free kid's t-shirt says (there's a pic of a rice cooker on the back):

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Greenpeace Report: Yes, All those Chemicals ARE killing our fertility

Okay, before you slap on that chemical-laden suncreen or spray DEET all over yourself and/or your kids, please take a moment to check out the new comprehensive report from Greenpeace, Fragile: Our reproductive health and chemical exposure. Basically, the post-WWII bring-'em-on! chemical use is is catching up to us.

n.b. Rachel Carson, in Silent Spring, warned of the increasing prevalence of pediatric cancer, which was once almost unheard of. We are using exponentially MORE pesticides than we did since the book came out (shame on us), not to mention all the chemicals and plastics., etc.

Was it any wonder, then, that the ocology ward, when our son as in the hospital, was packed full, including with babies (he was 18 months old)??

Some fertility highlights:
. A dramatic decline in sperm counts over the past 50 years in many countries.

• Significant increases in testicular cancer.

• Infertility is thought to affect 15-20% of couples in industrialized countries compared to 7-8%
in the early 1960s.

• Girls are reaching puberty at a disturbingly early age in many parts of the world.

• The incidence of endometriosis in women has become alarmingly high in some countries.
Please remember, too, that even if one DOES manage to get pregnant, all these things that affect fertility/cause cancer can also affect the fetus,

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thinking '

(photo of an actual human brain is courtesy of BODIES...The Exhibition)

While I was in NYC to watch my friend operate, I also took my little reporter's notebook to
BODIES...The Exhibition, which features pres cadavers, with many of their organ systems on display.

They also had some yummy exhibits of pathologies, like a smoker's lung. Plus, a couple truly amazing cross-sections of some hu-u-u-u-ge goiters, which are caused when the thyroid does not receive enough iodine. Because of iodized salt, goiters are not particularly common today. However, those who use SEA SALT should probably make sure to eat something else that contains iodine, like seaweed. Thyroid, as always, is a key player in fertility.

I was thinking of that exhibit as I was experimenting with a cashew cheese recipe for which I substituted dried seaweed bits to provide a nice salty flavor instead of salt. Seaweed happens to be a favorite snack of Koreans everywhere (when roasted and salted, even better than potato chips!) as well as mortal enemy to the disfiguring goiter.

This is not the most appetizing segue, goiters to cashew cheese, but the recipe, if successful (still fermenting), shall be posted soon. About the kimchi recipe: because of global warming (this is what the clerk at Whole Food said, honestly!) causing some drought in California, there's a real lack of organic nappa cabbage [n.b. cabbage is notoriously pesticidey--it would kind of negate the health benefits of kimchi to use non-organic, I think]. I know some readers are patiently waiting for the recipe...and I am, too. Kimchi-making is a little tricky, like artisanal cheese, so I plan to post step-by-step photos. Hope they get some cabbage, soon--it's definitely fermenting weather. Stay tuned!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Birth watching

I was recently BACK in the hospital (a different one, this time) watching my friend, an OB/GYN do her stuff in order for me to research the last little details for my next novel.

I actually got to suit up in scrubs and follow her around all day; plus the staff there was so nice (not to mention the mothers), I actually ended up seeing a LOT more than I'd imagined or intended: a C-section, a stint in the ER, and a beautiful, midwife assisted birth...uh, somewhat also unexpectedly assisted by me (another pair of hands was needed and I gladly gave up my notebook scribbling to participate)!

Such a vivid reminder that ALL children--biological, adopted, step, etc.--come into the world this way. A powerful thing.

Pesticides Keep Us Safe from Organic Slavery

Okaaay, so the New York Times lets me write on their op-ed page, but they won't publish my letter on how my kid's autism looks scarily a lot like vaccine damage [pause for appreciation of Sour Grapes] but they WILL publish this letter from the "Crop Protection Research Institute":

Michael Pollan (The Way We Live Now, June 4) gets it right when he writes that organic agriculture's future production will be outsourced to countries where it is cheaper to grow crops without chemical inputs. The reason growing organic crops is cheaper in other countries is the availability of workers at cheap wages to pull weeds by hand out of crop fields. Pollan suggests that tens of thousands of organic corn acres would be required to meet the needs of a world thirsty for corn syrup. He's wrong there. Tens of millions of acres would be required. A vast expansion in organic acreage will sentence millions of low-paid workers around the world to a life of drudgery pulling weeds so that Americans can sip an organic drink. Seventy years ago, almost a quarter of the U.S. population lived on farms and millions of people hoed weeds all summer. Thanks to herbicides like atrazine, those days are long gone. In the U.S., chemical herbicides do the work of 30 million laborers. Without a vast infusion of migrant workers and a significant lowering of the wage rate, growing crops with organic methods has a very limited future in the U.S.

Leonard Gianessi
Director, Crop Protection
Research Institute
CropLife Foundation
Questions? How about the atrazine? Who's making it? And where does it go after it's sprayed on crops? Does anyone care about the workers who will also inevitably get sprayed? Also, read this excellent article in the Washington Post on how atrazine was causing (remember?) all those Frankenfrogs with the mixed-up gonads and how it's carcinogenic in rats and men who worked in the Atrazine factories had higher levels of prostate cancer than other men in the state (at least they weren't out in the clean dirt pulling weeds!), and, oh, it's been banned in Europe for all those reasons.

Another thing to keep in mind: more and more studies are showing that growing food without pesticides makes the plants healthier and therefore more nutritious, i.e., when they don't have to fight off pests, the plants get lazy and fat. Gerry Potter, a researcher at Leicester's De Montfort University, and his team are close to finding a treatment for cancer that works by using a compound to activate one of the body's OWN enzymes to eat up the tumor (see "Cancer Drug Raises Hope for Cure" on the BBC). What's interesting is that this compound naturally occurs in ripe ORGANIC fruits and vegetables, it's a phytoestrogen called a salvestrol. The plant, as ripening nears, produces salvestrols to protect itself from fungus, and if we eat these plants intact, they get to work on fungus-like diseases in our own bodies, including cancer cells. If the plants are artificially ripened, we don't get squat, just like you don't get omega-3s from farm-raised fish.

So...the irony is, we'll have to use these plant sterols that the pesticide wipes out in order to fight the cancer that the pesticides will eventually give us.

Today's NYTimes: and as usual, feel free to use my account:

USERNAME: Greenfertility
PASSWORD: Greenfertility
secret clue: soylent green

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Peas May Impede Fertility

Even in our humble urban house with virtually no yard, I've been so proud of being able to raise some sugar snap peas in a pot, using chopsticks as supports for their little tendrily vines.

But Fern Reiss, in The Infertility Diet, her well researched and thoroughly annotated book, says that peas
have been linked to infertility; they seem to contain a national contraceptive (m-xylohydroquinine) which interferes with estrogen and progestrone: In a study of rats fed 20% of their diet in peas, litter sizes were reduced and 30% had no offspring.
Sometimes when I eat peas, I get a weird scratchy feeling in my mouth--this happens to my mom, too. Maybe it's just my body telling me to avoid these kinds of things altogether...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mind Fertility: 13 Ways of Seeing Nature in LA

There is a neat article in The Believer Mag called"Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA" by awesome environmental writer, Jenny Price.

You're thinking nature? LA? But Price writes, "...the City of Angels feels like a distinctly honest place to seek and write about nature." The article is full of surprises: the trip a mango makes from orchard to the Beverly Center Mall, the river (!) that runs through the city, and how our attempts (esp. those Californians) to be out in nature and commune with it are a lot more complicated that it seems.

A nice outside-the-box romp, with coyotes, mallard ducks, ocean air, Aaron Spelling's mansion, Gore-tex (please don't wear that, Jenny! It's teflon!)...all in a glorious, free (in every sense of the word) essay that'll make you realize nature's where you find it, and maybe you've been missing a lot of it all this time...makes ya think, don't it?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More Hope: Organic Tea from Today Was Fun

Here's Harubang and Hello Kitty posing with the (organic) Teastack from Today was Fun, a company whose motto is, Share your toys. Drink more tea. Make everyday fun. The Teastack, which was nominated for Gift of the Year 2005 had Happiness, Friendship, Inspiration, and Sleepiness teas, interesting looseleaf blends of caffeine free herbs, and I could not help but notice the teas inside were wrapped in a nice non-endocrine-busting cellophane (not plastic wrap!!!). I swear, I really became inspired by Inspiration (lemongrass, orange, peppermint). They also have Expectancy, a pregnancy tea--hmmm? They're a U.K. company, a country that really knows its tea. Plus, the CEO is super-nice. I sense good karma.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

There is Hope...

Okay, if you read the report from the Breast Cancer Fund, your head must be about to explode--basically everything causes breast cancer.

The list of hormone-disrupting cancer-causing plastics was particularly scary. Reading that, it seemed like even those so-called healthier Nalgene bottles are deemed seriously un-fertile. Take heart, though--here's the Harubang (the Korean fertility god) next to a GLASS BOTTLED sample of toner from Dr. Hauschka...gotta love a company that watches out so that even the samples avoid the icky plastics. I think we can count on the "Doc"!

Report Finds Half of Breast Cancer Causes May Be Environmental

Okay, can we all be crazy? While no one seems to be willing to consider a cause or catalyst for autism other than the safely murky "it's got to be genetic," our friends at the Breast Cancer Fund have released a State of the Evidence 2006 report that draws on nearly 350 studies linking breast cancer to synthetic chemicals and radiation exposure.

The report is very thorough and therefore rather large, but this paragraph stuck out at me:
Patterns of breast cancer incidence indicate the importance of environmental exposures. Women who move from countries with low breast cancer rates to industrialized countries soon acquire the higher risk of their new country. The largest study ever conducted among twins found that environmental exposures unique to those with breast cancer made the most significant contribution to the development of the disease.
The statistics in this report indicate that breast cancer rates have been climbing steadily since the 1940s, which coincides perfectly with the post WWII chemical-pesticide-pharma age. It's striking to me (getting back to my "favorite" subject) that in a series of well-researched investigative reports, UPI reporter Dan Olmsted was unable to find the 130 autistics that should (according to epidemiological statistics) be residing in Lancaster County among that genetic-malformation hotbed that is the Amish, who,incidentally are allowed a religious exemption to not vaccinate and also don't traditionally use a lot of chemically cosmetics. The first time, he didn't find a single case. After some dogged digging, he unearthed a measely three autistic kids: a fully vaccinated Chinese adoptee (China is moving at hyperspeed to mass-vaccinate, and using vaccines preserved with mercury), a child who had a documented vaccine reaction, and a nonspecific third. All the children were under ten--could it be just a coincidence that while the older generation did not traditionally vaccinate (hence, the exemption), that because of pressure public health officials, some of the younger Amish parents are beginning to vaccinate their babies? Hmmmmmm?

Ooops, sorry I got a little off topic. Back to breasts. FertiltyBitch also finds common ground with her BCF sisters in their cautions about plastics, crap (particularly phthalates) in cosmetics, mercury...and SUNSCREEN, which may contain some estrogenic and lipid-loving substances on top of the mysterious ways it also alters thyroid function (see previous post, How Suncreen Screws Up Your Thyroid).

When you read this report, please don't try to suffocate yourself in a bag of marshmallows in despair--which was my initial impulse. Obviously you can't protect yourself from everything, but by keeping yourself informed, you can start eliminating some of the big things.

Monday, June 12, 2006

For Women Actively Trying to Conceive, a WARNING about ACE Inhibitor Drugs

Based on the new findings, taking these drugs during early pregnancy "cannot be considered safe and should be avoided," lead researcher Dr. William Cooper, a Vanderbilt University pediatrician, said in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

"The research raises troubling questions about the lack of safety data for many drugs prescribed to pregnant women."

If you are one of the 2.7 million people taking an ACE inhibitor drug and actively trying to conceive, you'd better check out this warning about these drugs being DIRECTLY linked to birth defects esp. in EARLY PREGNANCY:

I liked this pediatrician who said he thought ALL drugs were poisons, you just had to figure out if the benefit was worth it or not. Keep this in mind when your doc wants you to take something...I always argue (with all the resources of the Brown med school at my disposal) and often, it turned out the drugs were unlikely to be effective for whatever it was, anyway (e.g., refusing antibiotics for ear infection that would resove itself on its own in three days, anyway) Please remember that prescribing drugs (and getting free pens and lobster dinners) is a reflex habit for many (not all) docs. Caveat emptor.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Grounding to my autism/vaccine rant

Here's great post that sums up my incoherent babbling about why i think my son acts "autistic" because he's been messed up by his vaccines. Jay Gordon is a pediatrician and a lucid writer. Here's his piece, Vaccines & Autism: Answers.

No GLUTEN No CARB Konjac/Shirataki/Tofu Noodles that can beat back Diabetes, too!

Konjac noodles are made from a water-soluble dietary fiber derived from the root of the konjac plant (Amorphophallus konjac) plus tofu. The primary component of the konjac root is glucomannan, a soluble dietary fiber. These guys have been on the "Extra" TV program and Your Diet Magazine as "miracle noodles," as they are only 20 calories a serving and no carbs compared to 200 empty carby calories that'll make your poor pancreas need to pump out the insulin.

Actually...konjac noodles are not only low carb and GLUTEN-FREE, they actually may be seriously healthy for your fertility. The "spaghetti" version actually is nice and curly and looks exactly like fresh ramen. The mouth feel is also a lot like noodles but a bit, uh, springier, but not as springy as jellyfish, if this is a valid point of reference to you. BIG TIP: drain the water out of the bag and boil the noodles for at least three minutes or they will smell like low tide.

Here's an article from The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, no less, on how Konjac may do everything from help ameliorate Type II diabetes by its beneficial effect on insulin resistance, lower serum cholesterol, and fight obesity--all conditions that can wreak havoc with one's fertility and therefore affords it a big thumbs-up from the FertilityBitch.

Pure konjac noodles are found at almost any Asian grocery--they look like a bunch of gelatinous gloop in a bag of water (Yoo-hoo, Rex Reed!). The shirataki noodles, which are mixed with tofu, are more noodley and less slimy. Apparently House Brand's shirataki has become sooooo popular with the low-carb and weightloss craze, you can even get 'em on

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Learn a language online for free!

If you want to learn how to order kimchi in real Korean, you can take a free online course!

Cool, dat:

A free online language lessons are available in, as of now,
ten languages:


Kimchi's really good for you, here's why

Not to totally belabor the point, but kimchi is one of the world's superfoods.

Here's some highlights from a very article on the LifeinKorea website:

Kimchi has played a role as an important source of nutrients in fermented vegetables during the long winter months. It has different kinds of nutrients based on materials and the level of fermentation. Usually, the materials used in making kimchi have few calories and low levels of sugar, but contain high amounts of fibers, diverse vitamins (especially vitamins A and C), and minerals (such as calcium and iron). The nutrients produced during fermentation (lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid) help protect against cancer and germs.

The fiber in cabbage is not a nutrient, but it aids digestion, allows smooth movement of food through the intestines, and helps prevent constipation and intestine cancer. Red chili peppers and garlic help to lower blood cholesterol and aid in blood clotting. The nutrients and activities of the various micro-organisms produced during fermentation are also very beneficial to the human body

Lactic Acid Bacteria
The well fermented kimchi has more lactic acid bacteria than yogurt. This bacteria isknown to be especially good for the intestines and has anti-germ functions.

Acetic Acid
Acetic acid is produced differently according to the materials used, fermentation temperature and period, and level of salt. The flavor depends on the level of acetic acid. Overall, kimchi that is fermented with less salt at a low temperature has a better taste.

Amino Acids
The special flavor of kimchi depends not only on acetic acid, but also carbon gas, condiments, and amino acids. Amino acids are produced by breaking down protein in pickled fish paste and oysters. Researchers have found that kimchi contains 17 different kinds of amino acid.s

Kimchi has high levels Vitamin B, C, and Beta Carotene. The levels of Vitamin B1 and B2, and B12 double after a 3 week-fermentation period.

If you still want to read more about it:


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Our Toxic Children -- The Epidemic of Autism, ADHD etc.

Okay, yeah I'm mad!

In case anyone's wondering how I acquired such an eclectic knowledge of health issues, it wasn't initially for me, but for my kid. My poor kid who was diagnosed with cancer at 18 months and now has mercury poisoning (what "they" are calling autism)--and I'm not afraid to say it: primarily from the thimerosal (look it up, it's cute name for mercury) in his vaccines.

In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson talked about the ominous increase in pediatric cancer. Ominous all right--who has more fresh, healthy DNA than a baby? The environmental insult needed to trigger something like cancer must be the 2nd most toxic element on the periodic table (it's only #2 because it's not radioactive).

To add insult to injury, once we figured out what was wrong with our suffering child, it seems like the larger culture is bent on painting us as delusional wackos. First Bruno Bettleheim et al blamed it on "refrigerator mothers".

Continuing the tradition is The New York Times, which had the audacity to print an op-ed suggesting that some parents killed their autistic children because "Perhaps they were frustrated that their efforts [at treatment] did not lead to greater improvement."

Uhhh, may I suggest that having an autistic child really, really sucks? (Here's an article I did for Newsweek on how when my child has a neurological meltdown, people start yelling at me.) And the rage I feel at having willingly let my son be injected with many, many, many times the safe limit of mercury, a known neurotoxin, when he had inherited all of his mother's immunological vulnerabilities, is not particularly salutory to my mental health...

I even wrote a letter, although I knew the NY Times would be too chickenshit to print it. For some odd reason, whenever I have the word "vaccine" in a piece, it doesn't see the light of day. But when I take it out, the piece gets published pretty easily. I've also had op-eds and letter printed in there before....strange...

To the Editor:

re: Cammie's McGovern's "Autism's Parent Trap."

As a parent of an autistic child, I don't presume to know what other parents are thinking; but being in a biomedical support group where *four* children have recovered from autism due to intensive biomedical therapies completely outside of the standard purview of "autism is incurable," I have to ask why there isn't more support and research into these therapies and instead, the parents (including parents who are physicians and scientists) are being painted as delusional, if not murderous.

We were told that our son's screaming and head-banging was simply stereotypic of autism. Instead of resigning ourselves to being "realistic," we disagreed and found a doctor at Harvard, no less, who treated a genuine case of bowel pathology that he said is shared by many autistic children, who often scream with pain all day and self-injure as our son did--and no longer does.

Given the explosive rates of autism--50 new cases a day according to the author--it's incredible that no one in any official capacity seems particularly interested in searching for what must be at least partially an environmental cause. Perhaps because these environmental causes may lead back to some inconvenient vectors such as mercury in our air, water, and vaccines, and it's simply easier to put the focus back on, as Bettleheim did so well with his "refrigerator mother" theory, the parents. I take umbrage at the suggestion that we parents are the new "Medeas," ready to kill our children because we are trying "too hard" and not getting the results.

May I suggest that the "frustration" that Ms. McGovern describes might come not from doing too much, but from the helplessness of doing too little?

Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Visiting Lecturer
The Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America
Brown University
Providence, RI

For Local Yokels: Farmers' Market Time!!!

Hey, Rhode Island eaters, check it out. The Hope Street one sometimes has a cute alpaca you can pet and it takes WIC. Cool beans!

Farmers’ Market Season kicks off this Saturday, 6/10/06

Contact: Louella Hill, Farm Fresh RI, Phone: 401-301-7690

Start Dates and Locations

 Hope High Farmers’ Market, Hope High School, Saturday, June 10th, 9:30 to 12:30 p.m.
 Armory Park (Parade Street), Thursday, June 15, 3 till dark
 Downtown Market, Friday, Biltmore Park, June 16th, 11 to 3
 Pawtucket Market, Sunday, Broadway, June 18th , Pawtucket, 12 to 3
 Central Falls Market, Saturday, Broad Street, June 24th, 1 to 4
 Woonsocket Market, Monday, Precious Blood Church , July 10, 9:30-12:30
 Brown U. Farmers’ Market, Wednesday, August 23, 11 to 2

Join us for the 2006 Season Kick-off at Hope High School this Saturday, June 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Farmers’ markets are a great way to bring vibrant foods into the City. This year the Downcity / Farm Fresh RI Market Season kicks-off on Saturday, June 10th at Hope High School. The Hope St. Market is one of nine farmers’ markets in the Providence region. Join us everyday, throughout the season: from strawberries in June to sugar pumpkins in late October. Farmers’ Markets a community event—and will feature local performers, chefs, artists and flavors. Stop by and show your support for local agriculture and really fresh food!

For info on Providence and Rhode Island farmers’ markets, visit:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Okay, Okay, Full Text of Rex Reed's Racist Review of the Movie "Oldboy," and of Kimchee and Koreans in General

I think it was Ishmael Reed who said "Writin' is fightin'." For Rex Reed, however, writin' is...uh, venting his peculiar racist feelings toward Koreans? DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND, here's the full text of the review of the Korean movie "Oldboy"that appeared in the New York Observer a while back but seems strangely unavailable on the site right now (don't worry, I'll happily go the extra mile for you guys--thanks for the nice comments and emails!):

For sewage in a cocktail shaker, there is Oldboy, a noxious helping of Korean Grand Guignol as pointless as it is shocking. What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?

Directed by Chan-wook Park, a film-festival “comer” in this nation of emerging cinematic schlock, a cheerful drunk named Dae-su Oh disappears from the phone book and is sealed in a room for 15 years. Injected with drugs and forced to sleep every night with Valium gas that hisses through vents in the walls, he has no idea where he is, who put him there, or what he did to deserve such a fate in the first place. He keeps track of the time he’s imprisoned in this hole by etching a tattoo on his body for every year. Suddenly, he’s released in a field from the inside of a steamer trunk, more confused than ever. What follows is an extended two-hour nightmare in which he tries to track down his captors by tracing the takeout food they fed him in his cell, while the voices of his torturers contact him on cell phones and computer chat-room Web sites.

What is going on here? Nobody knows. Meanwhile, he defeats an entire gang of killers with a knife sticking out of his back. He eats a live eel. A severed hand rips out a man’s teeth, one by one, with a hammer. Blood flows, there is much vomiting and incest, and more screams than Japanese kabuki. Part kung fu, part revenge-theme Charlie Chan murder mystery, part metaphysical Oriental mumbo-jumbo, all of it incomprehensible. Dae-su Oh is played by Min-sik Choi. I walked out at the point where he grabbed a pair of sharp scissors and cut his tongue off in blood-splattering close-ups. Obviously the actor is still in one piece, but I’d be willing to bet there’s some poor cow somewhere in Pusan who can no longer moo. Oldboy makes strange music, but it’s like a three-hour concerto played on a theremin.

P.S. You may reach Mr. Reed via email at:

"We are not entirely human, germ gene experts argue"

Maybe calling someone germy is not necssarily an insult. This article in Reuters suggests that we are bacteria and bacteria is us.

"We may not be entirely human, gene experts said on Thursday after studying the DNA of hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in the human gut...
...Bacteria are so important to key functions such as digestion and the immune system that we may be truly symbiotic organisms -- relying on one another for life itself, the scientists write in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Funny, I’ve been thinking about that lately, about our collective Western fear o’ germs. I was visiting a Korean American friend, and in celebration of my arrival, she’d made a big-ass pot of kimchi stew. Kimchi, as Rex Reed the film critic more of less racistly put it, is

"a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs."

Kimchi, like other fermented food, doesn't go "bad." It just gets more sour. There is a whole putrefaction theory that has been circulating vis a vis pasteurized milk--unpasteurized milk retains all enzymes etc., and thus becomes sour when it ages, but not putrefied. Anyway, about the kimchi stew, my friend kept it out, unrefrigerated, and there was even meat in it. I noticed that with each reheating and eating, it became more and more delicious until I was basically requesting to eat it three times a day for the remainder of my stay.

My mom used to make me feel that if I left some hardboiled egg out of the fridge for 15 minutes before I ate it I'd automatically give myself salmonella. My thinking, however, is changing on that. I read in a macrobiotic cookbook that when chopping organic veggies, one only needs to rinse off the cutting board, not scald, soap and bleach it (as I'd normally do). I have done this rinsing thing for going on 6 months and no food poisoning symptoms yet!

Per my previous bird flu column, we see that the unhealthy/healthy question might lie more not in the germs/no germs dichotomy but in what kind of germs we are talking about. It seems if you have more of the delicious good bacteria (probiotics) in your system, the bad bacteria don’t get a chance to flourish, hence us kimchi-eaters who eschew the flu vaccine (more on that later) might have the last laugh.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Harper's Index = eeek

I was reading Harper's Magazine today, this is a paraphrase of the first two entires in their excellent "Index" column:

Date when the thingie counting the deficit went up in Times Square: 1989

Date when the thingie is going to run out of numbers: 2007

It's not online yet, but if you want last month's statistics:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Make a Cute Purse Out of Your Old Jeans: Definitely try this at home!

I was so sad when my favorite hippy-type jeans didn't fit anymore--I tried to pass them on to my sister-in-law so at least SOMEONE could enjoy them, but look what she did! She transformed them into a super cute and super recycled purse.

She made a really nice long messenger-bag length strap out of the legs and tacked them on the sides. There's also two snaps inside so all my junk won't fall out. The outside jeans pocket is perfect for a mini-umbrella. Cool beans!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Peace Out with Peace Coffee

Peace Coffee delivers coffee by bike courier where ever possible to save fossil fuels. Our motto is "Roast beans, not fossil fuel."

Here's a new concept, eco-macho!

So I got one of those neat Splaff! bags for my husband's birthday; he's an environmental historian and I wanted to get him something that looked cool but was also environmentally correct. This messenger bag is perfect--fits his i-book plus some professorly papers, recycled bike tires and hemp, but looks pretty cool. When I bought it, I was also happy to pull out a pound of organic, fair-trade, delicious and environmentally consciousPeace Coffee, as the company is doing a promo with Splaff.

Geez-us. You don't have to tell me how cold it is in Minnesota. I'm charmed that these guys deliver by bike (and biodiesel). Check 'em out at; they are actually available in a number of venues in New England and all over as well...

Fertility Yoga: Try This!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is believed that as a woman ages, the body's energies migrate from her womb to her heart. I'm probably not explaining this well, but it's sort of like as you get less womb-y you start to acquire the heart wisdom that eludes us during our impetuous youth. Acupuncture, however, can help you nudge the energy back into the old womb, and in fact some clinical trials have shown that, at the very least, acupuncture can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Okay, so that's proven.

Similarly, yoga (and I love how these things converge), has an number of "fertility" poses that also encourages and opening up of the centers of the body (i.e., de-stressifying) and stretches/poses that encourage blood flow back to the ol' reproductive organs.

I've done yoga on and off to help de-stress, and it also helps maintain the insane flexibility I acquired getting my black belt in tae kwon do. Since my husband likes yoga, too, we've researched all kinds: from the simple stretchy kind to Bikram, that "hot-box" Yoga Of the Stars (okay, we were on sabbatical in LA!) where they make you do yoga in a sauna-like atmosphere and of course it smells terrible in the studio. Generally I have not found a program I like enough to stick with.

So it was with a mix of skepticism and hope that I tried out Monica Morrell's Fertility Yoga DVD. It also has some great backward-bending poses that can help stimulate the thyroid.

Monica has a nice way about her, she makes you feel like a yoga champ. The poses are a good mix of challenging and restful, and she shows modifications you can do if you're too stiff, or injured, or whatever. It's the perfect balance (for me) between the try-not-pass-out hot-box yoga and the slooooooow moving stretchy yoga. I also noticed that after a few weeks my thyroid function (I have an underactive thyroid) did improve (as measured by my basal body temps) and it was nice not to have to practically wear a parka to bed every night. I should note, also, however, being Asian, I had been making myself eat a ton of seaweed, which is rich in iodine and should also therefore help the old 'roid.

In any event, I have to say I actually found this program RELAXING. Whether it's making me more fertile is almost immaterial. It feels very very good, which makes me more likely to continue to do it. And after dinner, my husband and I just drag out our mats and yogify more procrastination, whining about having to leave the house.

Plus, if you look at the website, lots of women have actually gotten pregnant after doing this yoga (of course, I make no guarantees...but it couldn't hurt).

P.S. If you are in the Massachusetts area, Monica runs fertility and prenatal yoga classes herself...

Check it out at

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wheat (Gluten) and Thyroid and Fertility

This will really take the fun out of your pizza.

Besides milk (see below), WHEAT is also not a part of the rice-based Korean diet. I took wheat out of my diet as it kept coming up time and again as bad for fertility, inflammatory, a common allergen, etc. etc. It's made me very sad and limited my diet drastically, although I recently had a spirited conversation with a Celiac Disease sufferer (people who produce antibodies to gliadin, a wheat/oat/etc. protein) and then I found THIS on the site, an article on how most people with autoimmune thyroid disease (check!) also may have undiagnosed celiac disease. Sigh!!!! The GOOD news is that taking wheat out of the diet seems to make your body stop producing those ridiculous organ-attacking antibodies:
"A relatively high percentage of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis also have...a connection between untreated celiac disease, gluten consumption, and autoimmune disorders. The researchers believe that undiagnosed celiac disease can cause other disorders by "switching on some as yet unknown immunological mechanism."

The good news:

"By following these subjects longitudinally, it has been seen that not only do the anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-endomysium antibodies disappear after 3 to 6 months of a gluten-free diet, but so do the organ-specific autoantibodies."

I.e., give your body a break--cut the stuff out of your diet and feel better.
Hint: how do you know you may have these food sensitivities? There are all sorts of ELISA allergy tests you can take, but if you feel particularly "addicted" to something, it may actually suggest you are sensitive to it. When we took our kid off milk, he acted like he was coming off heroin for the first few days, he kept screaming for milk and cheese. If you're intrigued, take yourself off these things for a few weeks and introduce them back in, and then see how you feel. This is what I did inadvertently by living in Korea for a year.

Link between antidepressants and stillbirth

Here's an article from the BBC on a link between antidepressants and stillbirths.

It's interesting for two (among many) reasons. Many women who can't conceive have too-thin uterine linings, and the thickness of this lining actually depends on serotonin (again, all those hormones need to be in balance), which is what is increased with antidepressants--Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors SSRIs.

Secondly, many women with fertility problems get depressed! It's a vicious cycle.

Dr. Beer tested my serotonin and not surprisingly found it through the floor--I'm a depressive writer, I already knew that. Interestingly, he gave me a choice between Lexapro (a SSRI) or St. John's Wort, an herb. I take SJW three times a day, now, and my mood (who knows about my uterine lining) is much improved. I don't know if this will make my writing sunnier, or not.