Summer and sunscreen

Before you head out to the beach today, don’t forget your sunscreen. You want to keep yourself healthy and free of melanomas in the future.

Did you know a healthy sunscreen does more for just keeping you free of sun damage? By using the right kind of sunscreen you can help keeping our coral reefs healthy. Using reef safe sunscreen can help! Here is a cheat sheet on what to look for to determine if your sun screen is safe.

Does Medicine Really Expire?

Since 1979, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required that pharmaceutical companies put expiration dates on prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The date printed on a pill bottle is the date until which the medicine’s manufacturer will guarantee the drug’s safety and full potency. How long a drug actually remains safe and effective can vary.

Some medicines like insulin, nitroglycerin and liquid antibiotics, contain active ingredients that are known to become unstable after a prolonged time period. Yet other drugs and medications may have a longer shelf life than their packaging states. The effectiveness of these medicines may degrade over time, but may still offer some benefits.

That said, several years ago, Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego Division of the California Poison Control System, had a rare opportunity to examine an old stash of drugs — including antihistamines, pain relievers and diet pills — found in the back of a pharmacy.

He found that those found medications, some of them at least 40 years past their manufacture date, still retained full potency.  That study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2012. Cantrell published another study in 2017 showing that EpiPens — the expensive auto-injectors used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions — retained 84 percent of their potency more than four years past their expiration dates, suggesting that in an emergency, an expired EpiPen would be better than nothing.

Although the federal government, the FDA and the U.S. Department of Defense started the Shelf-Life Extension Program (SLEP) in 1986, a SLEP study in 2006 tested 122 different drugs stored under ideal conditions, and the results showed, the expiration date of a majority of the drugs in the SLEP storage were extended by an average of four years. 

 Even so, the FDA still strongly warns consumers against taking expired medicine.

Because certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance, the FDA strongly warns consumers against taking expired medicine.

The FDA also encourages people to bring their unused and expired meds to the National Prescription Drug Take-Back days, hosted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

June is National Safety Month

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. The good news is there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries. During National Safety Month, everyone is encouraged to learn more about important safety issues like preventing poisonings, transportation safety, and slips, trips, and falls.

Did you know that nine out of 10 poisonings happen right at home? You can be poisoned by many things, like cleaning products or another person’s medicine.

Other causes of injury in the home are slips, trips, and falls. More than one in four older adults fall each year often resulting in broken bones or head injuries.

Doing other activities while driving – like texting or eating – distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost one in six crashes where someone is injured involves distracted driving.

Lower your risk of falling

National Safety Month

Did you know that falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around, and other health problems – especially if you are age 65 or older.

As people age, poor balance and weak muscles can lead to falls and fractures. Most falls happen when older adults are doing everyday activities, like walking. Not only do these fractures and broken bones cause pain and disability they can also have an impact on your ability to do everyday activities without help, like cooking a meal or taking a shower. Sometimes vision problems or medical conditions such as diabetes which can reduce feeling in the feet, or a stroke which can affect your balance, will make a fall more likely.

Some conditions that can lead to a fall include: having fallen in the past year; disease; trouble walking; getting up from a chair; or stepping up onto a curb; medications—especially medicines to help you relax or sleep or vision problems such as cataracts or glaucoma

Use this checklist to find out if you are at risk for falling.

Did you know that half of all falls happen inside the home?
It may be time to do a walk through to find the possible danger areas in your home.
It may not seem like much, but there are quite a few things you can do to make your home safer for yourself, family and guests.

  • Have railings put on both sides of all stairs inside and outside of your home.
  • Have grab bars put inside and outside your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower.
  • Remove small rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.
  • Use bright lights throughout your home, especially on the stairs.
  • Keep stairs and places where you walk clear of clutter. Pick up or move things you can trip over, like cords, papers, shoes, or books.
  • Keep kitchen items you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets or shelves.

Improve your balance, increase your safety
Exercises that improve your balance can help prevent falls. For example, tai chi (“tie chee”) is a mind-body exercise that can help with balance. Check with your local community or senior center for physical activity classes that can help your balance.

Do strengthening activities at least two days a week to make your legs stronger. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands (long, stretchy rubber strips).

There’s a lot your doctor can do to help keep you safe from falls. If you are worried about falling, talk to your doctor or nurse about how balance exercises and physical therapy can help. Review all medicines with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall. Get your vision checked by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. Update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes. Make your home safer. For example, add grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower – and put railings on both sides of stairs.

Use this checklist to make your home safer.

Gluten intolerant or glyphosate intolerant?

Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it,” researchers wrote in a meta-analysis of nearly 300 studies.

They propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. The study, published in the journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology in 2013, was completely ignored by the media except for Mother Earth News and The Healthy Home Economist.

Now that glyphosate is getting the attention it deserves, being named as the culprit in a $280 million cancer lawsuit and labeled as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the state of California, it may be time to look at the chemical’s role in a related disease:

The symptoms of so-called “gluten intolerance” and celiac disease are shockingly similar to the symptoms in lab animals exposed to glyphosate. They study’s authors also reference a recent study on how glyphosate affects the digestive systems of fish. It decreased digestive enzymes and bacteria, disrupted mucosal folds, destroyed microvilli structure in the intestinal wall, and increased secretion of mucin — features highly reminiscent of celiac disease.

Additionally, the number of people diagnosed with gluten intolerance and celiac disease has risen in tandem with the increased use of glyphosate in agriculture, especially with the recent practice of drenching grains in the herbicide right before harvest, which started in the 1980s and became routine in the 1990s. While some suggest the recent surge in celiac disease is due simply to better diagnostic tools (which as you can see above happened around 2000), a recent study suggests it’s more than that.

In 2009, researchers looked for gluten antibodies in frozen immune serum obtained between 1948 and 1954 for gluten antibodies, and compared them with samples from people today. They found a 4-fold increase in the incidence of celiac disease in the younger generation. As further evidence the researchers make the following points:

“Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria.”

“Celiac disease is associated with the impairment of cytochrome P450 enzymes. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes.”

“Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements.”

“Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids.”

“Celiac disease patients also have a known increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure.”

“The incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma has increased rapidly in most Western countries over the last few decades. Statistics from the American Cancer Society show an 80% increase since the early 1970’s, when glyphosate was first introduced on the market.”

“Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate.”

Glyphosate residues in grain, sugar and other crops are increasing recently likely due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to harvest, the researchers say. The secretive, illegal practice has become routine among conventional farmers since the 1990s. Ironically, the practice increases yields by killing the crops. Just before the plants die, they release their seeds in order to propagate the species.

Moral of the story? We need to go glyphosate-free, not gluten-free. And that means going organic, especially when it comes to grains and animals who eat those grains.

Are you a weekend gardener?

Now that warmer weather is here, I find I spend more time out in my yard and garden. Finding natural and safe products can sometimes be an issue, but I have found some safe and affordable lawn and gardening care alternatives using my everyday household products.

For killing weeds.
I mix 1/4 cup Tough & Tender with 1 gallon vinegar and two cups salt. Apply to trouble spots. For stronger, hardier weeds I add 1/2 Lemon Bright dish soap. The soap is needed to break through the weed’s protective coating.
Here is a “how-to” video: https://youtu.be/tINbAl37hvo

Ridding the lawn of gnats, “no seeums” and mushrooms.
Spray the lawn with a diluted mixture of Tough & Tender in a lawn sprayer unit. It will kill the little gnats as well as mushrooms that grow in your yard. (Tough & Tender is my go-to cleaning product, It’s one thing we are never out of there are so many uses for it!)

Killing “Yard Bugs”.
Mix 1 cup of Lemon Brite dish soap and 1 cup of pre-mixed Breath-Away Mouthwash into a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer and soak your lawn, garden beds and trees to the point that the fluid is running off. Bugs HATE it!

Killing Ants.
Spray concentrated Pre-spot Plus on areas ants congregate (don’t use on wood). For heavier concentrations and black ants, combine 1 ounce of MelaMagic and 1 ounce of Sol-U-Mel in a 16 ounce spray bottle and fill with water.

Armyworm caterpillars.
Mix 1/2 cup of MelaMagic in two gallons of water to spray. Spray cocoon, nest, and any webs you see. This will also help cutdown on succeeding generations as well as with the ant invasion that follows the armyworms.

All purpose home made spray.
A safe and non-toxic bug spray can be made from a combination of ¼ cup of Sol-U-Mel, five drops of T36-C5, 1 teaspoon of Tough & Tender, and 14 ounces of water. Or you can just get the Natural Insect Repellent. (Which we happen to love!)