About Dr. Mercola

I am an osteopathic physician who believes that proper nutrition, not medicine, is the key to good health. I seek to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. I offer you practical health solutions without the hype.

Using Sleep as a Tool for Creativity

The Fascinating Science of Sleep and Dreams!   While many still approach sleeping as a waste of valuable time and hence something to be done as little as possible, overwhelming evidence shows sleeping more can actually boost both productiveness and creativity.1 In the video below, professor Matthew Walker, Ph.D., founder and director of the University of California Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science and author of the book "Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams," explains what happens in your brain while you dream — and why this is so important. What Happens During Dream Sleep? "Dreaming is essentially a time when we all become flagrantly psychotic," Walker says. The reasons for this rather extreme-sounding diagnosis are fivefold: When dreaming, you see things that aren't there, so you're basically hallucinating While in the dream, you believe things that cannot possibly be true, which means you're delusional While dreaming, you are confused about time, place and the identity of the people involved, so you're suffering from disorientation Emotions fluctuate wildly while dreaming, a condition known as being affectively labile Lastly, upon waking, you forget most if not all of your dream experience, so you're suffering from amnesia Any one of these, if experienced while awake, would be cause to seek psychiatric treatment. During sleep, however, these states appear to be part of completely normal biological and psychological processes. What then are the functions and benefits of dreaming? How Dreaming Benefits Creativity According to Walker, dream sleep, which occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle, has at least two known brain benefits: creativity and psychological well-being. Starting with the former, during REM sleep in general, and dreaming specifically, information you've recently learned is integrated together with a catalog of autobiographical data from previous experiences, building novel connections between the old and the new. "It's almost like group therapy for memories," Walker says, adding, "Through this informational pattern alchemy at night, we create a revised mind-wide web of association. And you can start to divine new novel insights into previously unsolved problems, so that you wake up the next morning with new solutions." In fact, sleep increases, by about 250 percent, your ability to gain insights that would otherwise remain elusive. Tests also reveal that simply dreaming about performing an activity increases your actual physical performance tenfold. As old and new memories are integrated to form a new whole, new possible futures are also imagined. (This is what you actually perceive as "the action" of your dream.) The sum total of these processes allows you to see the meaning of life events. According to recent research,2,3 non-REM sleep and REM sleep appear to contribute to creative problem-solving in different albeit complementary ways. It seems the non-REM sleep portion known as slow-wave sleep (which is vastly different from the light phase non-REM sleep that makes up most of the night) is a time during which your brain replays memories that are thematically related in [...]

2018-10-24T17:36:38+00:00 By |

What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Gluten?

Common Signs of a ‘Gluten Allergy’ You Should Watch Out For   The word “gluten” has become such a buzzword in recent years, most likely because of the sudden popularity of the gluten-free diet that’s been endorsed by famous personalities. Before you consider trying this diet, read this page first to learn about gluten, and how it can negatively impact your body and health in the long run. What Is Gluten? A type of protein, gluten is composed of glutenin and gliadin molecules that form an elastic bond when mixed with water. Gluten is highly noted for its adhesive abilities that can maintain a compact structure for holding bread and cakes together, and providing a spongier texture. This ability isn’t surprising, considering that the word “gluten” is derived from the Latin word for “glue.” While it does wonders for these foods, the same cannot be said for your body. Research has shown that gluten can be quite harmful for you because of the vast range of complications it might cause (more on this to come in a while). What Does Gluten Do to Your Body? A major caveat linked to gluten is its tendency to impede proper nutrient breakdown and absorption from foods, regardless if they have gluten or not. This may prevent proper digestion because excess gluten leads to the formation of a glued-together constipating lump in the gut. Afterward, the undigested gluten prompts the immune system to attack the villi, or the fingerlike projections lining your small intestine.1 This may lead to side effects such as  diarrhea or constipation, nausea and abdominal pain. Excessive gluten consumption and further small intestine damage and inflammation may predispose a person to nutrient malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis, other neurological or psychological diseases, and complications linked to the skin, liver, joints, nervous system and more. What Are the Types of Food That Contain Gluten? Gluten is predominantly found in whole grains like rye, barley, triticale and oats; in wheat varieties like spelt, kamut, farro, durum; and in other products like bulgar and semolina.2 Wheat-based flours and byproducts that also contain high quantities of this protein include:3,4,5,6 If there’s another compelling reason why you shouldn’t eat processed foods, it’s because these items often contain gluten. Here are examples of foods with gluten, even though they’re not made from grains:7,8 Even worse, manufacturers deceive customers by “hiding” gluten products like wheat under other names in food labels, such as:13,14 • Malts • Starches and other derivatives • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) • Hydrolyzed wheat protein15 • Textured vegetable protein (TVP) Common Signs of a ‘Gluten Allergy’ You Should Watch Out For Consuming too much gluten can prompt various complications, such as a gluten allergy, wherein the immune system produces “weapons” to combat gluten in your system. However, a gluten allergy is not to be confused with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity16 or celiac disease.17 It is quite similar to other food allergies, since these are all responses to a particular [...]

2018-10-24T18:03:49+00:00 By |

How to Detox Heavy Metals to Help End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue

How to Test for Heavy Metals   Detoxification is an important aspect of optimal health, but can be quite confusing, not to mention risky if done incorrectly. Wendy Myers, a functional diagnostic nutritionist, founder of MyersDetox.com and author of "Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue," is a treasure trove of information on this topic. One key component many fail to take into consideration when detoxing is their exposure to non-native electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and microwave radiation from cellphones and Wi-Fi routers. Unless you address these exposures, your detoxification capacity may be impeded. In other words, your body may not be able to excrete heavy metals as efficiently as it would otherwise, due to the interference caused by EMFs. EMFs Hinder Detoxification As explained by Myers, when you have heavy metals in your body, you tend to attract EMFs to your body. EMFs in turn impact your body's metabolism and functioning — and its ability to effectively eliminate toxins and heavy metals. "That is one of the things I work with," Myers says. "Identifying and trying to reduce EMF in [my clients'] environment, so they can improve their body's ability to function generally and to detox." In my book, "Fat for Fuel: A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power and Increase Your Energy," I detail a program to improve your mitochondrial function, and reducing your toxic burden is an important part of the equation. Your mitochondria will suffer as long as you bombard your body with EMF. In fact, EMF exposure itself is intrinsically a mitochondrial poison. Professor Emeritus Martin Pall wrote an excellent paper explaining one of the primary mechanisms of harm from exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones. It is related to voltage-gated calcium channels. EMFs impact these calcium channels that release calcium into the cell. Calcium causes nitric oxide release and combines with superoxide, thereby creating perioxinitrate, which is a massive producer of hydroxyl free radicals, the most destructive free radical known. Regular exposure to EMFs can actually poison your cells more than ionizing radiation from X-rays. Common Metals That Wreak Havoc With Your Mitochondrial Function Fatigue is a widespread problem today. "In doing my research, I was trying to figure out what is making us so tired," Myers says. Eventually, she discovered a treasure trove of mitochondrial research and studies showing how various metals impact the mitochondria's ability to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency in your body. Metals that are particularly detrimental to mitochondrial function include: • Aluminum, which is very prevalent in our environment, including the air we breathe, thanks to geoengineering. Aluminum is also found in many vaccines, and is used in water treatment plants to separate out sediments. Antiperspirants, aluminum cans, foil and cookware are other common sources of exposure. Aluminum poisons enzymes that transport nutrients into your mitochondria, impeding their ability to produce energy. "When you remove aluminum and other mitochondrial poisons, we see a dramatic uptake [...]

2018-10-24T11:27:28+00:00 By |

Early Bird Gets the Worm; Night Owls Catch an Early Death

Early Birds May Have Higher Cortisol Levels in the Morning   Your chronotype, or what time of day you prefer to conduct your daily activities, is the result of both innate and environmental factors. Many people identify as being more of an "early bird" or "night owl" but fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. True night owls, however, described as later or evening chronotypes, tend to go to sleep later, and both later bedtimes and having an evening chronotype have been associated with an increased risk of health problems ranging from metabolic dysfunction to heart disease.1 Recent research has now shown that night owls face additional health risks as well, including an increased risk of premature death. So while early birds are rewarded by catching the worm, night owls must grapple with health risks, perhaps because the modern world forces them to exist in a timeframe that's mismatched to their biological circadian disposition. Being a Night Owl Raises Mortality Risk by 10 Percent The study, published in Chronobiology International,2 involved more than 433,000 people who were classified as definite or moderate morning or evening types. At the end of the 6.5-year study, people who were definite evening types had a 10 percent increased risk of dying from any cause compared to definite morning types. In fact, the more a person trended toward an evening chronotype, the higher their disease risk became. Compared to early birds, night owls had nearly double the risk of developing a psychological disorder, a 30 percent higher risk of diabetes, a 23 percent higher risk of respiratory disease and a 22 percent higher risk of gastrointestinal disease.3 The increased risk of disease and mortality could be due, according to researchers, to behavioral, psychological and physiological risk factors that may be "attributable to chronic misalignment between internal physiological timing and externally imposed timing of work and social activities."4 In other words, for people who are naturally predisposed to wanting to be awake at later times of day, the challenge of having to wake early and function out of sync with their internal clock could have health consequences. It's not necessarily that being a night owl is harmful in itself, but rather that night owls are often expected to behave like early birds, even if their bodies are telling them otherwise. It's important to note, too, that only those who identified as being "definite" evening types experienced the large jump in health risks. People in the "moderate" category were much less affected. Jamie Zeitzer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, also told CNN, "It's not intrinsically chronotype that's bad; it's chronotype plus our society ... and not all societies are the same … If you looked in Spain, where people are much later in terms of when they go to work, my guess is that the health consequences are probably less than in the U.K."5 Night Owls [...]

2018-10-24T12:23:07+00:00 By |

Chlorella Boosts Immune Function

Chlorella's Effect on Disorders and Diseases   For anyone who suffers from frequent bouts of upper respiratory tract issues, and even for anyone wanting to protect against them, research shows three interesting things: First, about 95 percent of all infections start in what's called the mucosal surfaces, or moist areas such as your nose, eyes and mouth.1 Second, a School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences study2 at Bangor University in the U.K. revealed that women who don't tend to get much exercise but then start walking briskly for 45 minutes a day may, after just a few months, cut the frequency of such infections in half. Third, mucosal surfaces can be protected by "immunological barrier" antibodies contained in chlorella, a freshwater alga. In fact, this relatively unknown alga has so many beneficial functions in your body, it's hard to list them all. But first, we'll tackle the impact of the studies. Dr. Michael Greger, a New York Times best sellers author at Nutrition Facts, explains that even a 30-minute workout three times a week might be enough to provide a significant immune system boost and considerably curtail your risk of developing upper respiratory problems.3 But regarding its relation to your susceptibility to flu-like symptoms (and arguably, the flu itself), those mucosal surfaces: " … [A]re protected by antibodies like IgA, which provide 'an immunological barrier by neutralizing and preventing viral pathogens from penetrating the body through the mucosal surfaces.' The IgA in our saliva, for example, is 'the first line of defense against respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and influenza.'"4 He also states that it doesn't take much, including in children: "Let kids run around for just six minutes, and you can boost the numbers of immune cells circulating in their bloodstream by more than a third."5 How Studies Have Used Chlorella to Increase Athletes' Immune Systems While it may seem counterintuitive, it was established years ago that heavy exercise for a prolonged period may actually reduce your resistance to infections, even leading to a two to six times greater risk of acquiring an upper respiratory tract infection following strenuous activity such as marathon participation.6 As such, immune function is something savvy sports coaches keep their eye on and even monitor, as illnesses like these can seriously undermine athletic performance. One of the most effective ways to inhibit illness is to minimize contact with cold viruses, but it's not always enough for athletes who push their bodies to extremes (or otherwise overtrain) to wash their hands or wear a mask. Upper respiratory tract infections can be initiated when latent viruses already inside your body (such as Epstein-Barr [EBV]) are reactivated. According to Greger, this can happen as soon as your immune system starts to flag. In fact, IgA levels drop the day before EBV "comes out of hiding" and symptoms begin emerging, which can be linked to reduced salivary IgA during training. Greger suggests that to keep athletes' collective immune functions strong, using [...]

2018-10-23T18:20:59+00:00 By |

Is Your Gut Causing Sleepless Nights?

You share your body with trillions of microorganisms, the bulk of which reside in your gut, including your stomach and small and large intestines. There, however, they are not restricted to influencing only the goings-on of your digestive process. Far from it, these microorganisms, collectively known as your microbiome, influence your body's homeostasis daily and are intricately tied to other body systems via a number of complex pathways, including the gut-brain axis and a recently revealed gut-brain-bone marrow axis, the latter of which may influence your blood pressure, mood and more. One of the most compelling avenues of study relating to your microbiome is how it relates to your sleep. It's already known that sleep influences your gut health, in part because lack of it makes it harder for you to control your impulses and manipulates hormones linked to food intake, causing you to eat more and crave unhealthy foods. So skimping on sleep is a remarkably good bellwether of a poor diet, the latter of which can quickly take a toll on your gut health. Now researchers are asking whether the opposite also holds true and perhaps your microbiome influences your ability to sleep as well. Can Your Microbiome Keep You Up at Night? Although the science is in its early stages, researchers are looking into whether improving gut health could act as a new form of sleep therapy. Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told The Guardian:1 "There is no question in my mind that gut health is linked to sleep health, although we do not have the studies to prove it yet. Scientists investigating the relationship between sleep and the microbiome are finding that the microbial ecosystem may affect sleep and sleep-related physiological functions in a number of different ways: shifting circadian rhythms, altering the body's sleep-wake cycle, affecting hormones that regulate sleep and wakefulness." For instance, writing in the journal Chest, researchers pointed out that changes in gut microbiota have long been linked to lifestyle behaviors such as diet, travel, exercise and disturbances to circadian rhythm.2 Meanwhile, diseases once primarily attributed to lifestyle, such as obesity, heart disease and depression, are turning out to have increasing links to microbiota. In this case, they believe that "microbial-immune cross-talk" may be playing a role in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), particularly in fatal cases. "[W]e posit that altered patterns of sleep and oxygenation, as seen in OSA, will promote specific alterations in gut microbiota which in turn will elicit the immunological alterations that lead to OSA-induced end-organ morbidities," they stated. Likewise, in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, researchers evaluated the interplay between sleep dysfunction, gastrointestinal health and disease, with particular focus on how the effects of sleep and circadian rhythm disruption could affect the microbiota.3 Yet another study pointed out that partial sleep deprivation is known to alter gut microbiome, and its composition is linked to cognitive flexibility. Their study found that there could be [...]

2018-10-23T17:02:13+00:00 By |

Why Low-Carb Diets May Be Ideal for Most People, Including Athletes

Jeff Volek, Ph.D., and registered dietitian and professor in the Human Science Department at Ohio State University, has done enormous work in the field of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, investigating how it affects human health and athletic performance. Volek has published many scientific articles as well as several books, including "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living," and "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance." Both of these books were co-authored with Dr. Stephen Phinney, a physician and true pioneer in this field, who has studied low-carb diets even longer than Volek. Starting out as a dietician, Volek was taught that low-fat diets were healthy and that saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided. But in working with diabetics, he kept feeling that something was "off." Why should diabetics eat so many carbs? "In essence, it drove me to want to understand metabolism and nutrition at a much deeper level," he says. "I was also into self-experimentation ... I was at the time into very low-fat diets, thinking that was how I would optimize my own health. But I decided to experiment with a very low-carb diet." Low-Carb Diets Can Benefit Athletes and Non-Athletes Alike His experimentation began in the early '90s and, to his great surprise, his low-carb experiment proved to be anything but harmful. This fueled his passion for understanding how humans respond to diets that are very low in carbohydrates, and led him to continue his education. He has now spent the last 15 years conducting research in this area, and the outcomes from most experiments have been very encouraging. "The science continues to point in the direction that there are a lot of applications for these diets for a large number of people. We're still sorting out a lot of the details, but clearly we need to change the way we feed Americans and the way we think about nutrition in order to reverse ... obesity and diabetes." He's also done research on low- and non-fiber carb diets and athletic performance, and here too results have proved quite positive — despite running counter to everything he was taught about diet and performance in school, and in most of the scientific literature as well. "It's been an interesting journey to say the least ...The things I was reading, the things I was taught were not really based on a lot of science, and were a lot of half-truths and misinformation, which still persist today," he notes. Is Your Diet Driving Your Metabolism in the Right Direction? Most of the food (fuel) people eat these days is moving their metabolism in the wrong direction. The Westernized diet constantly biases you toward using more nonfiber carbs for fuel. Most Americans are primarily burning glucose as their primary fuel, which actually inhibits their body's ability to access and burn body fat. Healthy fat, meanwhile, is a far preferable sort of fuel, as it burns far more efficiently than carbs. As noted by Volek, humans [...]

2018-10-23T16:05:48+00:00 By |

Baking Soda — An Inexpensive Treatment Aid for Autoimmune Diseases Like Arthritis

Medicinal Uses for Baking Soda   Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate or NaHCO3), popularized by Arm & Hammer more than 150 years ago, is a staple in many homes for baking and cleaning purposes, but this inexpensive ingredient also has a number of medicinal uses and benefits. It rates right up there with hydrogen peroxide as one of the most inexpensive and safe health tools around, so it makes sense to learn all you can about the many uses of baking soda. It's commonly known to have alkalinizing, antacid and electrolyte replacement properties.1 When taken internally, baking soda is thought to raise the pH of your blood. This appears to be the basic premise behind its recommended use against colds and influenza symptoms, recounted in a 1924 Arm & Hammer booklet on the medical uses of baking soda.2,3 Long-distance runners have also engaged in a practice known as "soda doping" — taking baking soda capsules — before races to enhance performance — a measure thought to work similarly to carbohydrate loading. In this case, by increasing the pH of your blood, this practice is thought to offset the acidity produced in muscles during intense activity. While I do not suggest or recommend you try this at home, use of baking soda has also been shown to improve speed among swimmers.4 Research5 has also shown drinking baking soda solution can help pregnant women who are having a slow or difficult labor to avoid C-sections in about 20 percent of cases by neutralizing acid in their womb. This could spell the difference between life and death in developing countries and/or instances where C-section is not an option. Baking Soda May Be an Inexpensive Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases Most recently, research funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests baking soda may be an effective treatment adjunct for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune diseases. According to this study,6,7 led by renal physiologist Paul O'Connor and published in The Journal of Immunology, drinking a solution of water and baking soda appears to prime your immune system against inflammation. Although this study suggests some benefits from baking soda for rheumatoid arthritis, there are far more fundamental approaches that should be tried before this as detailed in "Inspiring Account of How to Put Rheumatoid Arthritis Into Remission." Additionally, one could avoid lectins for autoimmune diseases like RA. The theory was initially tested on rats, and later in human subjects. According to O'Connor, baking soda may indeed be "a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease,"8, including arthritis. As reported by Medical News Today:9 "Their experiments tell a complex story about how this salt provides a signal to a special kind of cell called 'mesothelial cells,' telling them that the body is fine and not under attack, rendering an aggressive immune system unnecessary. Thus, harmful autoimmune responses are averted. Mesothelial cells line the internal organs as well as many different cavities in the body … Basically, in O'Connor words, mesothelial cells learn [...]

2018-10-23T17:59:46+00:00 By |

Chamomile Tea: Why This Ancient Therapeutic Drink Still Stands Out Today

Chamomile Tea Helps Lower Risk of Thyroid Cancer   The story of chamomile goes back to ancient European and Western Asian civilizations. Greeks, Egyptians and Romans valued the flower for its varied uses, such as for treating erythema and xerosis (severely dry skin). Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was one of the first luminaries to advocate the use of this plant.1 It was only during the Medieval Age that chamomile came into widespread use. During the 16th and 17th centuries, doctors and healers prescribed chamomile for all kinds of uses, and it was even used as an ingredient to make other medicines. Chamomile was also taken as a tea, and is still a practice that survives today.2 The Potential Benefits of Drinking Chamomile Tea Chamomile contains a mixture of essential oils, vitamins and minerals that are known to provide an array of benefits. One of the easiest ways of gaining these positive effects is to make tea from the flowers, which is one of the most common ways of consuming chamomile.3 Here are several documented benefits of chamomile tea that may help with your health: Improves cardiovascular function: Flavonoids in plants like chamomile have been long associated with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease, as well as myocardial infarction. In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, chamomile tea helped improve brachial artery pressure among the participants 30 minutes after drinking.4 Improves digestive function for babies with colic: Chamomile tea may be helpful in reducing colic in babies, especially when combined with other herbs. In a correlated study published in Pediatrics in Review, infants who took chamomile tea had a success rate of 57 percent in the elimination of colic compared to those who only took a placebo, which only had a success rate of 27 percent.5 Induces sleepiness: Chamomile tea has long been known for its ability to help induce sleep, especially when taken via tea or aromatherapy. In the study conducted on brachial artery patients, researchers also observed that 10 of the participants went into a deep sleep for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea.6 Helps lower risk of thyroid cancer: Apigenin, an antioxidant found in chamomile, has been shown to fight various cancer cells (breast, digestive tract, skin, prostate and uterus) in test tube studies.7,8 Another study supports this claim, as evidenced in the European Journal of Public Health. Researchers found that there’s an inverse relationship between chamomile tea consumption and benign/malignant thyroid diseases among the Greek patients who participated in the study.9 Helps manage blood sugar levels: According to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, Type 2 diabetics who consumed chamomile tea regularly experienced decreased concentration of HbA1C, serum insulin levels, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride and homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance.10 Helps manage inflammation: Chamomile contains compounds that may help prevent inflammation caused by microbes. In one example, chamomile has been shown to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori,11 a microbe that can [...]

2018-10-23T15:24:15+00:00 By |