(NaturalNews) Recently, a reader asked for details about what natural health products are pure. This discussion is ongoing and endless because so many interesting and new methods of preparation appear regularly on the market.
There are some rules that we can follow that serve us pretty well. To begin with, an excellent tool for determining pure products is found in the Natural Food/Healing Filter that comes from Traci Sellers' Traci's Transformational Health Principles:
1. "Is it a plant food in its original state, or is it made from a plant food in its original state?" This has to do with the belief that plants and humans are symbiotic opposites and anything else for our food is less than the best.
2. "How is it produced or processed?" If the process used to make a product could not be done in a cave, it is suspect. If that process is destructive, it is avoided or used rarely. If the process shows no respect of nature's plan and wisdom and wholeness, the product is rejected.
3. "Are the processes used to separate it from its original state something you could do in nature without the aid of specialized equipment?" This helps to protect the consumer against things that no one knows to warn them about because a particular product has not been in use long enough.
Aspartame is a perfect example. It hit the market as the perfect sweetener but a few years later it became obvious that it was causing serious problems. If you would like to not be one of the victims of such a problem in the future, you can do a simple test to decide if a product is close enough to nature to be recognized and safely utilized by your body.
You just have to know if you could make the product, with any amount of inconvenience, in a cave. If not, it is suspect until further investigation tells you exactly what you need to know to know for sure.
4. "Is the separation condoned by the nature of the product (i.e. does it require special additives or preparations to keep it from spoiling after it is separated)?"
Olive oil versus flax seed oil is a common example. Olive oil is stable for up to a year if kept cool. You can store it at room temperature and it will not go bad, rancid or become oxidized for a whole year.
Flax oil, on the other hand, is very unstable and must be stabilized quickly and refrigerated and then you still get some rancid oils. You can also push this principle to simple observation of nature's clues. You can literally squeeze the oil out of an olive with your hand. Try that with a flax seed!
5. "Is the product available to everyone, or is it patented and secret?" Maybe it is a bit cynical, but if a product is produced by a secret process, I am suspicious that maybe I don't want to know how it is produced and I probably do not want to use the product.
In today's world there are enough informed consumers that it is a good business practice to advertise your process when you have one that preserves nature in some way.
Traci says that she added this step later in the natural food filtration evolution. She added it after using Braggs Liquid Aminos for several months. She developed food reactions to it, characterized by cravings and bloating.
Traci called the company only to discover that they would not tell her anything, really, about the process. She later switched to Nama Shoyu, which has the entire process on the side of the bottle, and to which she says she has had no food reactions. She has used it for several years now.
Maybe a secret process is fine, maybe it is not. I personally will not use products with that exclusionist energy cast upon them at all. With this standard, I am certain that I gain far more than I lose.
(6.) The one addition that should be made to Traci's list is this: does the process by which a product or food get prepared honor nature's processes in some way?
For example, you might not be able to make distilled water in a cave, but the creation of distilled water is merely mimicking what nature does when it takes water by evaporation and then rains it back to the earth.
Another example is flash-dried juices. You certainly could not manufacture a flash-drying apparatus in nature, but the process allows you to preserve enzymes and prevent oxidation while just removing the water as would be done with drying the whole leaf. It involves steps to protect what nature provided in the first instance.
For the rest of this article, we will examine several products in succession and discuss those products and whether they would fit through my personal natural food/medicine filter.
My hope is that, by the end, there will be enough examples to get the idea to be pretty clear in the minds of readers. This can then be used to examine any product.
One other thing I have not yet discussed is the possibility of some products being preferable, based on certain modern-day needs, after some processing. The example I use here is burdock root. In burdock root there is a complex sugar (starch, really) called inulin. This substance is ambrosia to your flora. It is like spraying down fertilizer in a tropical forest. It just bursts into life and helps control a wide variety of conditions. It also soothes the digestive tract and aids in proper elimination.
Inulin is extracted from burdock root by putting the fresh or dry cut root into distilled water. This water is brought to a boil and then reduced to a light simmer and kept there for several hours. The result is a liquid that is very inulin dense. One could use burdock root whole for sure, but when there is a real problem, the inulin decoction is a very powerful medicine that you could even spoon to an infant.
In this case, then, there is an argument for processing in a way that you could do in a cave, but clearly does not respect what nature provided in the form nature provided it.
Let us go on with our list:
Extra Light Olive Oil: This depends on the brand. Some companies will use chemicals or heat to extract more oil from the pressed olives and will then filter and sell that oil unabashedly as a healthy olive oil.
In our research, however, we found that Bertolli brand would give us a statement from the headquarters that no heat was used at all.
What Bertolli does is press the oil out and then run some of it through another fiber filter that removes the solids and taste. It is then mixed with a small amount of the virgin olive oil to give it a pleasant, yet mild flavor. There is nothing unnatural about the process and the finished oil is at least as stable as extra virgin olive oil.
I am not presenting Extra Light Olive Oil as an ideal health food, clearly an organic extra virgin olive oil would be worlds better, but I will use Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil without hesitation or concern for my health. Nothing about it will be confusing to my body.
Flash Dried Wheatgrass Juice: Someone recently told me that flash dried juices were sometimes flash pasteurized. I have been unable to verify that this is true. As far as I am aware, flash drying uses a process where a water-hungry gas is released in a hypo-baric chamber with the juice. The process is done very cool — lower than 90 degrees F. The juice is exposed to the gas for only about 3 seconds and tests negative for the gas when the process is done.
In my opinion, this process, though it could not be repeated in nature, is respectful of nature to the extreme. Drying the whole leaf at room temperature would keep the nutrients and medicines and enzymes stable, but leaves them less bio-available than the flash dried juice.
Dr. Christopher's Vitalerbs and Dr. Schulze's Superfood Plus are two examples of flash-dried juice products that I use. I believe them to be the very best multi-vitamin-mineral supplements on the market anywhere and keep both of them around.
Flash Pasteurized Juice: Flash pasteurizing is a process of pasteurizing juice while exposing it to smaller doses of the heat needed for pasteurization. It also involves exposing said heat to smaller quantities of the juice. It is also used for milk and other perishable items.
The advantage is obvious, that the naturally supplied balance is less altered than in conventional pasteurization. As a consequence, flash pasteurized juices are less stable than conventionally pasteurized juices.
Pasteurization is actually a violation of good thought, historic evidence, modern research and nature's laws. Every study that has ever been done shows "sterilized" surfaces and substances to have more harmful bacteria on/in them after than before. Generally, only people with greatly reduced elimination are safer using pasteurized products because of the danger of a threatening germ like salmonella or some parasite contaminant.
On the other hand, those who eat live, healthy food that is not heated to death find that they have a healthier flora, elimination and immune system, which protects them from potentially threatening microorganisms.
Certainly it is an insult to the intelligence of nature to decide that we need to destroy what she created in an effort to make it "safe." The result is sick people who get sick with even more threatening things far more often. Perhaps cleanliness would be a better use of our money and effort than pasteurization. Perhaps local CSA farms would be a good way to help insure the quality of what we are getting while reducing the price.
Since the FDA is not likely to back down from their position, if you are going to buy juice, I recommend the flash pasteurized juice over the conventionally pasteurized juice because it is actually a step back toward nature. Of course, freshly squeezed juice is the best of all juices, and the whole fruit/vegetable is ideal.
Noni Juice: Usually when you buy noni juice, it is either pasteurized, preservative-ridden or fermented. The traditional way of using it is to ferment it. Noni fruit are unstable to ship anywhere, so the islanders who knew the fruit would ferment it for several days, after which it would lower in pH and become quite stable to store or ship. Its medicinal properties would become slightly more active but would not last in the body as long.
The fermentation process leaves the juice very enzyme-rich and full of life energy. Like raw apple cider vinegar, the properties of the original fruit are largely preserved in the fermented product. You could definitely do it in a cave with no specialized technology.
Colloidal silver: The use of silver for anti-microbial purposes is not new, but it may not have ever been very wise.
Certainly, you could make a suspension of ionic silver in a cave if you understand the process. Who would be confused enough to use this as medicine is another question. It fails Traci's test at the beginning because it is not a plant food in its original state and to get it from plants takes processes you could not do in a cave.
Originally the claim about colloidal silver is the same type of misdirection that is often given by those willing to sell your health short for money — that it will magically kill your disease without hurting anything nature created.
Of course, the truth with colloidal silver is that it kills microorganisms indiscriminately, both beneficial and harmful. The worst thing about colloidal silver is that it stays in your body indefinitely, constantly inhibiting the re-growth of healthy flora.
People get results with it for sure, but they are results that they would get with antibiotics.
When nature kills harmful microorganisms it does it selectively by using something that will inhibit overgrowth (thus allowing the immune system to sort out harmful from beneficial) like tannins, or it supplies abundant oxygen (all harmful microorganisms are anaerobic), or both.
Colloidal minerals: This is the same discussion as colloidal silver as far as how to produce them. The best way to get colloidal minerals that will not harm you, settle in your tissues or throw your body out of balance by diffusion of particles is to get them from plants that suspended them in living cells naturally.
Isolated minerals only appear in nature in the form of sea salt. First, this is a predictable formulation, the same ratio in every part of the world. Second, this formulation contains high amounts of sodium. Some feel that this is a disadvantage and have taken the sodium out of sea salt to sell it as a supplement. The sodium, however, is what is offered by nature and thus probably is used by our bodies intelligently.
In the case of sea salt, the danger is that the minerals will freely flow from high concentration to low concentration in our bodies, saturating us with far too much of all those minerals. Sodium prevents this. Sodium will help keep any excess from entering our cells. Thus by using a little sea salt over a period of time, one can pick up trace minerals that are genuinely low in his/her body without the danger of a flood of minerals saturating and cluttering up cells that are the basic unit of life.
Canola Oil: The canola seed (genetically modified rapeseed) is not a ready provider of oil. There are organic providers, but heat (and in non organic oils, chemical refining) is used to extract the oil and then extract the strong smell and taste from the oil. The organic, expeller pressed brands produce an unstable oil that must be stabilized in some way — usually with heat or tocopherols.
Either way, you probably could not get it in a cave, although you might be able to if you heated it and ground it at the same time. This would make it possible to get sesame oil in a cave also.
Oils that are heated are not our friends, however. Usually, the fact that the oil can only be extracted by that process would be a warning against extracting it. If the oil were extracted cold, it would not fit Traci's filter because it would not be stable. If it were heated it would be something to be used rarely, knowing that the natural form was altered in some way.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Of course this one gets my vote. Olives could easily be pressed between two rocks to yield oil that will keep for up to a year.
Vitamin C: If you are wondering how vitamin C is extracted, you don't have to worry about that, it is usually made from petroleum products in a laboratory!
Certainly anything labeled ascorbic acid is very suspect. Vitamin C is not extracted by any naturally occurring means, so the product is suspect too.
We use lots of vitamin C at our house. It is in the form of rose hips, acerola cherries, fresh fruit and sprouts. Sprouts actually contain more vitamin C by volume than oranges do. One cup of sprouted soybeans contains over 600 mg of vitamin C.
I stand by a strategy I use in my clinical practice: I find a plant food that is loaded with whatever my client needs and I have them eat a lot of it or juice it.
Fish Oils: I used to fish in the mountains as a kid. I was never able to extract oil from the livers of the fish I caught. On the other hand, the extraction of fish fat and then filtering it would not be hard at all.
Depending on the oil you are getting and how it is made and processed will determine whether it fits through most of the natural food filter. However, nothing is going to make fish oil into a whole plant with which we exist symbiotically.
Every so often someone comes forward to announce another supposed nutrient that can only be found in their patented substance. In the case of fish oils, we hear about EPA and DHA. I wonder how many more times this nonsense will get passed around before it is admitted that the human body can easily extract or manufacture every nutrient it needs to be optimally healthy from the plant kingdom — under most conditions this applies to the plant kingdom immediately around the person!
Traveling around the globe for a special nutrient, or looking for someone's specially extracted fish oils even, is not only unnecessary, in the process we acquire many harmful behaviors, discontentment and exotic, but ultimately unnatural and harmful processing.
From a natural healing standpoint, it is consistent and reliable that the person who takes charge of his or her health using simple remedies well applied and who lives in harmony with nature, will predictably have far better health than the one who travels the world looking for the miracle remedy, answer to all problems or a patentable formula.
The answers to health are not exotic and foreign. There are many cultures who consistently live long lives free of disease, who are under-nourished, who never use a single supplement and who are a thousand times happier and more at peace than the average citizen of the developed world.
Focus, not another exotic supplement to spend neurotic money on, is what is needed more than anything for people to be healthy.
Personally, I consider any supplement of animal origin to be sub-par at best. Animal products can heal, but they always bring expenses with them, whereas plants give freely with no expense attached. I am not against animal products, exactly, but I do not use them or recommend them. I also do not tell people who use them to stop using them unless they ask for my opinion about their supplement.
Whole Wheat Products: This one is easy. A thousand years ago, no one would put a grain in a millstone unless it was sprouted and soft. It could be re-dried, but usually it was ground wet and then dried. The resultant product was very flora rich and could be made into bread without added leavening.
Nature readily gives out clues about wheat. The easiest way to test how you should eat wheat is to take it at each stage and test it against your ability to eat it. Green wheat (growing on the stalk) can easily be chewed and is sweet. Dry wheat is almost unbreakable with your teeth and not sweet at all. Sprouted wheat becomes very chewable and very sweet. Wheat grass is also sweet and chewable.
Thus we see that anyone using wheat in a cave, would probably figure out before long that sprouting was the best policy. If they did not, they would certainly suffer because dry wheat contains a natural preservative called phytic acid. This substance will interfere with mineral and nutrient metabolism for several hours in the person who consumes it, leaving them very disposed to disease.
Nama Shoyu is a fermented soybean product that is raw and enzyme rich. It is stabilized with sea salt. It is fermented in a backyard fashion that could easily be duplicated in a cave. They are very proud of their raw and tasty product that replaces the very inferior soy sauce and Liquid Aminos.
Palm Shortening: It does depend on the brand. Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening is the kind that we use. Getting palm oil is easy enough. It will separate from the cracked-open palm seed just by setting it in the sun. Sometimes it is gathered this way and poured out into gathering buckets. It is extracted also with expellers and presses in a warm room.
Spectrum (only speaking about their organic palm shortening) then takes the smelly, strong-tasting oil and runs it through a clay filter. The result is a clear liquid that hardens white. They then whip it with nitrogen, which composes 78% of the air you're breathing right now. Obtaining just the nitrogen in the air is a process which could not be done in nature.
The product alone, however, could be made in a cave, it just might not look quite as solid and whipped without the nitrogen. Since nitrogen is the most abundant element in our air, it follows that a little in our food would still be pretty harmless.
Coconut oil: Like palm oil, coconut oil is frequently obtained by accident. The oil will separate as the nut dries at room temperature. It could easily be extracted in a cave and is stable when stored. I only get extra virgin coconut oil, however, since some companies do heat the coconuts to get the oil and the oil does not survive the heat very well.
Tinctures: Generally, tinctures are made by putting the herb in alcohol or apple cider vinegar. Sometimes it includes making a decoction that is then concentrated (simmered down) and mixed with vegetable glycerin for stability.
Other than the use of distilled alcohol, tinctures can be made in a cave with no trouble at all. Even when distilled alcohol is used, the energy of the tincture is enhanced, with its enzymes and vital nutrients in tact and often amplified, much the way a homeopathic preparation is enhanced when it is diluted again.
Because alcohol is merely a way of extracting the majority of what nature provides, it slips in as acceptable. Personally, I am satisfied that this naturally occurring substance, though distilled, does no harm to nature's value.
If one lived the pure life, however, the alcohol based tinctures would most likely be made in a whole, not distilled alcohol. Glycerin is a by-product of soap-making, which you can indeed do in a cave.
Standardized Extracts: These are usually chemically isolated active principles from herbs (frequently just one active principle from an herb) that are then added back into an extract of the whole herb at a certain level in order to guarantee that it is present in a certain concentration. The danger here is twofold. First, what about the isolation process? Is it chemical? It certainly is not what could be done in a cave and is nothing that the human body would recognize.
Second, what exactly is the quality of the herb that it is being added back to? Is it the lowest grade herb? Is it anything more than sawdust? In any event, the danger of having something more like a drug than an herb is imminent.
As for myself, I feel that the unnatural nature of standardization outweighs the potential benefit of a predictable product. Part of the value of a product that is natural is that nature's wisdom, in creating checks and balances, is present. This is a greater and wiser protection than is a controlled quantity by the wisdom of humans.
Decaffeinated green tea: This is not hard. The number one concern is how did they get the caffeine out? Usually, this is a chemical reaction and the chemical used is frequently more harmful than caffeine. I avoid caffeinated beverages of all kinds, including green tea. If I were to use it, however, I would use the real stuff, not the decaffeinated version.
One last note about green tea: all versions of green tea (black, white, oolong) are processed in some way. In the case of green tea, it is minimally fermented. In the case of black tea (the other extreme), it is very fermented and heated. When black tea is created, the healthy tannins are chemically altered. This changes the flavor, but it is a real danger for the person who makes this a regular beverage. Those damaged tannins damage you. They damage capillaries and weaken the blood and cause abnormal cell development.
I avoid coffee and black tea completely because of these tannins. I do not consider these substances safe as medicine. I consider them harmful and poisonous over the long run.
These examples ought to supply some grounds for consideration. At one extreme are raw foodists who only use plants as nature provides them without making even so much as a hot water infusion.
At the other extreme are people who feel that anything that tries to supply what nature would supply as food is okay. To such people, refined table sugar and isolated vitamins, including those that are petroleum based, are fine and "natural."
My recommendation is to avoid all such processed foods and err on the side of the raw, unprocessed food. What nature provides is always going to provide your most optimal health.
About the author
Kal Sellers, MH currently operates KalsSchool.com and teaches a 2-year curriculum for Natural Medicine, via live teleclasses. Kal is a Master Herbalist and holds several other certificates and licenses for hands-on healing modalities. He maintains a current practice in the Atlanta area. Kal and Traci have six children, the last four of which were delivered at home. They live now in Powder Springs, GA where they teach live classes on food and medicine. Kal is also a full time Chiropractic student.