Issue #49, Winter 2015

In This Issue: Finding a World of Blessings – Outer Environment/Inner Environment – A New Book on Biological Dentistry

JoAnne’s Motivational Minute

Finding a World of Blessings

By JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin

If you’ve been getting our newsletter for a while, you know about my sometime struggles to turn out this column. Deadlines seem to come faster and faster. And sometimes topics do, too!

At least that was the case this time around.

Though you’d think it was a blessing to have lots of ideas to choose from, if you have too many choices, choosing becomes even harder! In fact, too many choices can really stress you out!

So I went to my bookshelf to see if browsing some of my usual inspirations – Zig Ziglar, Ken Olson, the Dalai Lama, Gary Zukav – might help me find some focus. And that’s when a surprising thing happened. After reading all that positive stuff, I had a negative thought!

I’ve just wasted time reading when I should have been writing.

I glanced at the clock. Then I surprised myself again, realizing that I hadn’t “wasted” time at all. Those few minutes I’d spent reading had totallychanged the way I felt about the writing I needed to do.

When life comes at us at a million miles an hour, we do have the power to slow it down – or at least slow down how we experience it. Sometimes, all it takes is a step away from the choice or challenge we’re facing. A few minutes of distraction give us the opportunity to regroup and to come back to our task with a fresh perspective.

And the days are flying by. Thanksgiving has just passed. The winter holidays will be here faster than we think. Or want. Soon enough, we will be welcoming in another new year – filled with joys, sorrows, accomplishments and challenges.

Not only do we have personal challenges; we have global challenges, as well. The things that happen across oceans seem like they are happening on our own Main Streets. It seems so difficult to think of anything we can do to improve the state of the world. The pols continue their primary debates and offer all kinds of answers. While we might identify plenty of wrong answers, I think most of us aren’t really sure just which are actually the right ones.

One thing we can do is keep our minds open to the thoughts and feelings of those humans who don’t have the same backgrounds we have. It’s hard to avoid passing judgment on those who are different, but that’s no excuse not to try. We must try.

When we do, we find a world of blessings, what binds us together instead of keeps us apart.

Gary and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season this year!

happy holidays

Reminder: Insurance Benefits – Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

If you have unused insurance benefits for this year, now is the time to use them. After all, if you’re paying your premium, you should get what you pay for. If you don’t have dental work that needs to be done, you still should have regular cleanings and exams to prevent more expensive problems from cropping up down the line. This is even more important if you have gum disease. (About 75% of Americans have some form of it!)

Your benefits don’t roll over. As the saying goes, “Use ’em or lose ’em.”

Your deductible doesn’t roll over either. If you don’t meet it this year, you have to start over from scratch next year.

Give us a call at (209) 838-3522 to make your next appointment before 2016 arrives!

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Dr. Verigin’s Comment

Our Outer Environment, Our Inner Environment

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

Last time, we looked at the current state of dentistry, where what has evolved is largely unfit to support the whole body health and wellness of individuals. We also looked at some evolutionary paths the industry failed to follow, much to the detriment of patients everywhere.

But just because the mainstream veered off those paths doesn’t mean that every dentist went with them. Some stayed the course to what’s now known as biological dental medicine.

In biological dentistry, everything begins with the extracellular matrix, or biological terrain. Its regulation – or dysregulation – is what determines whether and how a person will react to mercury amalgam fillings, root canal teeth, devitalized teeth and implants.

We often describe the terrain briefly as the body’s internal environment. So to understand and appreciate how this “ground system regulation” works in our bodies, let’s first take some time to explore how it works in the environment in which we live.

Welcome to “the New Normal”

In a widely syndicated opinion piece earlier this year, William deBuys described our current drought – now in its fourth year – as “a living diorama of how the future is going to look across much of the United States as climate change sets in.” Yes, periodic droughts are common here in California, but

Even so, climate change remains a potent factor in the present disaster. According to the state’s Climate Change Center, California is on average about 1.7 degrees hotter than a century ago, and its rate of warming is expected to triple in the century ahead. The kicker is that hotter means much drier because as temperature creeps up, evaporation gallops. As a result, the droughts of the future will be effectively more destructive than those of the past.

The impact of climate change on the drought – and thus, conditions in our local environment – was laid out in a paper published this past August inGeophysical Research Letters. Analyzing the historical data, the authors found that while “natural variability” is the main player in the drought, “global warming has increased the likelihood of ‘extreme California droughts.’”

More, they said that within 50 years, drought will be the rule, not the exception. According to the journal’s editor Noah Diffenbaugh, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment,

If this drought was a one-off event, we could get through it and get on to the next times…. But the research shows this is not the case. We are in the new normal, which means we will have more droughts than we did before.

Importantly, this work echoes earlier studies such as this one in Science Advances. According to its authors – affiliated with NASA and Columbia and Cornell universities –

The mean state of draught in the late 21st century over Central Plains and Southwest will likely exceed even the most severe megadraught periods of the Medieval era in both high and moderate emissions scenarios, representing an unprecedented fundamental shift with respect to the last millennium.

“This,” adds deBuys in the full version of his essay,

is now expected to happen even if greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lowered in the decades to come. The impact of such droughts, [the authors] conclude, will exceed the bounds of anything known in the history of the continent or in its scientifically reconstructed pre-history.

And this is just one aspect of our radically altered environment.

Consider what’s happening here in the Central Valley as more and more water is pumped out from underground aquifers, largely for use in agriculture:land subsidence – a fancy term for the soil collapsing as water is taken out of it. Simply, the ground sinks.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, although subsidence isn’t a new problem, it’s “returned with a vengeance” as our drought has worsened. A report by NASA for our state Department of Water Resources showed

significant rates of subsidence in recent times. A spot near Corcoran, in the Tulare basin, sank 13 inches in one recent eight-month period. Researchers found a stretch near the California Aqueduct, the key highway of the State Water Project, that sank 8 inches in four months last year.

The problem isn’t limited to the San Joaquin Valley; a spot near Arbuckle in Colusa County sank 5 inches during the last half of 2014, according to the NASA report.

At the same time, agribusiness continues to encourage the use of synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers. After all, they do increase yields. However, they also generate air and water pollution, even as such intensive farming also depletes the soil of nutrients. Scientific research has linked nitrate exposure to thyroid damage, birth defects and “a litany” of other health issues.

That’s bad enough, yet there’s also the matter of nitrous oxide emissions from fertilized fields, which contribute to the greenhouse effect – a major driver of climate change. Speaking at a 2014 conference, Dr. William Howarth, a UC Davis professor of biogeochemistry, noted that nitrous oxides are estimated to be 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Further, as the Modesto Bee reported,

Howarth said that while agriculture is a major emitter, the problem would be far worse if farmland were developed into homes where people use energy and fertilizer much more intensively.

“If you save an acre of farmland from urbanization, you can reduce greenhouse emissions by 70 times,” he said.

So it’s not just the farmers. It’s also the rampant paving over of our land. And all of it starts to reveal a terrible – indeed, deadly – cycle: Our actions alter our environment. We adapt to those changes. Those adaptations have consequences. Our environment is changed even more.

And life forms – plants, animals, us – that evolved to thrive in the natural environment fare less and less well.

“When I was last in Beijing, China recently,” said one of the authors of a recent study on Chinese air quality, “pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes. It’s as if every man, women and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour.”

The Acid(ification) Test

The effect of climate change isn’t exclusive to dry land either. As described in a SF Chronicle report on falling oyster stocks,

Ocean acidification, is the caustic cousin of climate change, and it shifts the chemistry of ocean water, making it harder for oysters to grow. That’s because about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing pH levels to plummet and making the water more acidic. The more pollution in the air, the more carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs.

The hostile conditions stunt the growth of oysters in the larval stage, making it difficult to build their fragile calcium carbonate shells. If acidification doesn’t kill them outright, an increased susceptibility to disease and predators often will. The stress also weakens many small oysters, so it takes them longer to reach reproductive age.

Suffice it to say, oysters are far from the only life forms affected. A toxin-generating algae bloom in the Pacific – the result of rising ocean temperatures – has been devastating. The toxin

has accumulated in fish, shellfish and mussels and poisoned the marine mammals, birds and other creatures that eat them. When it is sufficiently dense, it attacks the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, and can cause memory loss, tremors and convulsions.

The plumes, which one researcher called “toxic plankton soup,” have killed harbor porpoises, fur seals, sea otters and sea lions. Although whales don’t seem to be dying in large numbers, researchers in Monterey Bay have reported strange behavior by humpbacks and other whales.

Then there’s the effect of all the pollution we add to the aquatic environment. A study published earlier this fall found that “about a quarter of fish samples from markets in Indonesia and fresh off the boat in California are filled with plastic and debris such as clothing fibers.”

While other research has found plastics in the bellies of popular dinner-plate items such as tuna and swordfish, this is the first study to link marine plastic ingestion directly to fish sold for human consumption.

* * *

Scientists found plastics and synthetic fibers in more than 25 percent of the fish bought in from off coastal California—including oysters, Pacific anchovies, chinook salmon, striped bass, and other dinner-plate mainstays. Researchers found plastic trash in six of 11 Indonesian fish species tested and eight of 12 species examined in the U.S.

Back here on land, meanwhile, four years of drought has taken a huge toll on residents of the San Joaquin Valley – physically and mentally – as “wells run out and despair sets in.”

Physicians say they’ve treated more children and adults struggling to breathe as dust from plowed-over farm fields and wildfires penetrate nostrils and lungs. Mental health counselors report that they’re hearing from more residents suffering anxiety and depression, fearing that the drought will cost them their homes, farms and livelihoods. Calls are up sharply at a local suicide prevention hotline.

Must this be “the new normal,” as well?

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics
are always so certain of themselves,
but wiser people so full of doubts.
– Bertrand Russell

So what about the other side of this analogy I’m making – namely, how the body’s “internal environment” affects the health of the whole? That’s the stuff of our next installment, where we’ll look at some recent cases we’ve dealt with that clearly illustrate the fact that as goes the terrain, so goes every cell and organism it connects.

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From Our Blog

Recommended Reading: Dr. James Rota’s Mirror of the Body

Here’s the full version of Dr. V’s review, which we recently ran in abbreviated form on our blog:

Mirror of the Body represents the collected thoughts and observations of a brilliant and inquiring dentist. Dr. James Rota, a general practitioner of dentistry whose life focus has been on holistic health, courageously raises important and vital questions concerning commonly accepted medical and dental procedures which can adversely affect the health and wellness of every individual.

Mirror of the Body coverAs a long-time biological dentist, I find this a passionate and necessary book – one to read and re-read and prominently place on your bookshelves. Rota asks difficult questions about the future of dentistry. The narrative is gripping, and the writing is marvelous. His life history and the problems associated with being first exposed to mercury as a twelve year old and later on as a practicing dentist are so movingly told, they grabbed and kept my attention throughout this remarkable book.

Through five decades, Rota has directly observed the enormous negative impact that mercury “silver” amalgam fillings and infective dental toxicity has had on the health of many of his patients. He has also found that the removal and complete healing of sites of infective dental toxicity such as IBD (Ischemic Bone Disease / chronic jaw osteitis / cavitations) and removal of the patient’s mercury amalgam fillings often result in seemingly near-miraculous improvement in many of the patients he has so treated.

At the very least, Dr. Rota has frequently viewed substantial improvements in the clinical conditions and numerous aberrations in the patient’s laboratory profiles of many patients who have had these dental obstacles removed.

The chapter called “Show Me the Science” further attempts to demonstrate that a very large amount of hard scientific data already exists to support all of the assertions made. He cites, too, the work of the great German doctors and researchers such as Reinhold Voll, Fritz Kramer, Jochen Gledistch and Ralf Turk, among others – men whose work helped provide the missing link between dentistry and medicine and inspired the approach now known as biological dentistry.

Some of the oldest conundrums of dentistry are examined here, in light of exciting new insights and discoveries. The ideas and concepts he touches on should propel the scientist in each of us to further research how rigorous science can dispel the charge of “unscientific” from new and unfamiliar ideas and challenge conventional wisdom.

The title of the book comes from Osler’s famous quote: ”The mouth is the mirror of the body which reflects systemic disease.” Rota, in turn, emphatically states:

The mouth is a sacred part of the body. It is a highly sensitive entrance to the body. It is where we verbalize our thoughts, where we eat our food, where we kiss and experience intimacy, and where we laugh and sing. We instinctually cover our mouths when we are afraid or surprised. We may bite to defend ourselves. We look at other people’s mouths and make judgements based on its size, color, condition and reflection of the current state of emotion. We socialize with our mouths, even from great distances. Some of us will use our mouth to chant the word “Om” to tune into the vibration of the universe. It is considered the frequency energy that connects and joins all things together.

In our universe, information is as important as energy. It’s just as important in the human body. In presenting these concepts, I sense that Dr. Rota is trying to communicate that as cosmic information fields direct natural processes in the universe, so these direct the physical functioning of the body in human beings. Might he also be suggesting that the information (software) that directs individuals also directs the energy (hardware)?

Throughout his book, Dr. Rota stresses that dentistry and medicine must always be practiced in conjunction with each other, although presently, such collaboration is rarely – if ever- found. Indeed, dentists and physicians must become working colleagues on a regular basis for the sake of their patients’ health and well-being.

Rota is unafraid to dig deeply and honestly both within himself and within the dental profession. He raises critical questions that twenty-first-century dentistry must answer if it is to meet the proper needs of its patients as well as of its practitioners. He peels back the veneers, so to speak, revealing the discomforting truths of modern dentistry.

There’s a maxim Drs. Voll and Kramer liked to share when they taught: “One dentist will keep two physicians busy for the rest of their practice lives because of the ills placed upon them by uninformed dentists.” Mirror of the Body does more than just show how this is so; it shows how things can be otherwise.

Get your copy of Mirror of the Body now.

Read more articles like this at Know Thy Health.

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