MW Blog

Worldwide Mercury Reduction

We’ve been keeping a pulse on the global and domestic plans for mercury reduction, here’s another update:

US Can Benefit From Worldwide Mercury Reduction

Global reductions in mercury emissions should lead to billions in economic benefits for U.S.

Cambridge, Massachusetts – Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments.

In the past several years, a global treaty and a domestic policy have been put in place to curb mercury emissions. But how will such policies directly benefit the U.S.?

In a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT researchers report that global action on reducing mercury emissions will lead to twice the economic benefits for the U.S., compared with domestic action, by 2050. However, those in the U.S. who consume locally caught freshwater fish, rather than seafood from the global market, will benefit more from domestic rather than international mercury regulations.

The researchers calculated the projected U.S. economic benefits from the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty adopted in 2013 to reduce mercury emissions worldwide, compared with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a national regulation set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce mercury pollution from the country’s coal-fired power plants.

Overall, while both policies are projected to lead to roughly the same amount of reductions in mercury deposited on U.S. soil compared to a no-policy case, Americans’ consumption of mercury by 2050 are estimated to be 91 percent lower under the global treaty, compared to 32 percent under U.S. policy alone. The researchers say these numbers reflect the U.S. commercial fish market, 90 percent of which is sourced from Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins — regions that are heavily influenced by emissions from non-U.S. sources, including China.



Read the whole article from Imperial Valley News


Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season.

Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

1. Be realistic. Don’t try to lose pounds during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.

2. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.

3. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.

4. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.

5. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.

6. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.

7. If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!

8. Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.

9. Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.

10. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier.

Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.

Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.

Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.

Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Mashed Potato — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.

Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.

Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.

By Greta Macaire, R.D.
Community Health Resource Center


Mercury in Fish Affecting Health

Some of the California Pacific Medical Center physician’s well-heeled patients were coming into her clinic complaining of fatigue, or trouble thinking – an on-and-off feeling of not being well. Sometimes it was problems with vision, hearing, nausea and vomiting, or a metallic taste in the mouth.

In 1999, she began keeping a tally of what they ate. Fish, it turned out – a lot of it. Specifically large fish, like shark, tuna, swordfish, cod and ahi tuna.

A possible cause began to emerge for their ailments: mercury, a potent neurotoxin that builds up in fish and can cause serious illness.

“I have a Pacific Heights practice,” said Hightower. “They’re not fishing in Martinez. They’re fishing at Bryans and Whole Foods.”

But another at-risk population in the Bay Area, she said, are lower income folks, who do spend time fishing out on the piers in Martinez, Berkeley, Pinole and other East Bay cities every season not only for recreation, but to supplement the family dinner table. The striped bass, sturgeon and halibut they bring home can be loaded with mercury, which is widespread in the bay but impossible to detect with the naked eye.


So where does all this mercury come from? Mercury enters the bay watershed from a number of sources, including stormwater and wastewater runoff from local oil refineries and cement kilns. Significant quantities also drift through the air from coal-burning power plants in China.

But the biggest culprit can be found at very root of California’s history and prosperity. In the 19th century, Gold Rush miners also mined mercury in copious amounts in the cinnabar-rich hills just south of San Jose. To extract mercury, crushed ore was heated in furnaces and transformed into a vapor. As the gas cooled and condensed, it turned into a liquid form known as quicksilver, which is naturally attracted to gold. Sierra miners used it to separate gold from crushed rock.

Roughly 2,000 pounds of mercury enter the bay each year from all these different sources. The bay is slowly cleaning itself, washing an estimated 3,100 pounds a year out to sea. But at the present rate, it will take generations for the bay to flush out so much mercury that fish are no longer contaminated.

Courtesy of the website

Read the whole story by clicking here…


Mercury Update

According to Consumers for Dental Choice:

Exposing separate but “equal” dentistry

Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s #1 newspaper, featured an op-ed exposing yet another injustice resulting from the traditional dental industry’s obsession with mercury: the resurgence of separate but “equal” dentistry.*Authored by Hartford city councilwoman and civil rights attorney Cynthia Jennings, former Hartford health director and physician Mark Mitchell, and author and mercury-free dentist Mark Breiner, this op-ed explains why the state of Connecticut must stop mandating mercury fillings for families on Medicaid immediately.On March 1, 2015, the no_mercuryConnecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) handed down a new decree: “Medicaid will not pay for composite restorations in the molar teeth regardless of whether the [dental] practice markets itself as ‘amalgam free’.” It then tells dentists, “If your office cannot provide amalgam services, please have your patients call the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership (CTDHP) (1-855-CT-DENTAL) to locate a new dental home.”With almost half of all dentists practicing mercury-free dentistry, low-income families in Connecticut now have less access to dental care than ever… and it gets worse. As the op-ed explains, “By segregating Medicaid patients from access to mercury-free dentists, DSS creates a separate-but-equal system of dentistry. As thinking Americans know, separate-but-equal was never equal in the Jim Crow days, and it is not equal today.”

As we can see in Connecticut, there is nothing equal about mercury-free composite fillings for those who can afford them… and toxic mercury fillings for everyone else.

Beyond Connecticut, state Medicaid programs are divided on whether mercury-free dentistry is allowed. On the plus side, an initiative led by Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett has borne fruit: the Oregon state government has thrown in the towel on mandating mercury fillings for children on Medicaid. The reason? There are so many mercury-free dentists these days that excluding them from participating in Medicaid severely limits low-income families’ access to dental care.

Oregon’s new policy is evidence of the mercury-free dentistry movement’s extraordinary growth! But sadly, even in states where Medicaid will pay for mercury-free fillings, that policy is not well-known to dental consumers.

Like Medicaid, insurance companies fabricate barriers to mercury-free dentistry. But we are working to overcome them. Over 1,800 of you have already signed thepetition insisting that Aetna change its dental insurance plans that require policyholders to pay extra out-of-pocket for mercury-free fillings. And well over 100 health professionals (including 121 dentists) endorsed a letter urging this insurance colossus to stop favoring amalgam.


What “Out of Network” Means To You


Why out of network?

Medicine Wheel Dental made the decision 37 years ago to be an “out of network” dental provider for the good of our patients. Being out of network enables Medicine Wheel Dental to:

  • Work for our patients and not the insurance companies
  • Allow more time to understand the patients’ individual needs
  • Prepare integrative and comprehensive treatment plans
  • Allows utilization of high quality dental materials

Don’t be fooled by your insurance company!

Dental benefits typically max out in the range of $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 per year. This range has been minimally adjusted in the last 40 years, not keeping pace with inflation. When a dental office contracts with an insurance company, that office accepts the insurances companies rates, terms, and conditions. For that dental office, this means they must rely on volume of patients to keep their doors open for business. For our patients in our practice, it means the same amount of insurance benefits regardless of whether the doctor is in network or out of network.

Is this style of benefits right for you?

As long as you have an “out of network” option available on your policy, Medicine Wheel Dental will file all of the paperwork necessary for you to receive reimbursement of the benefits owed to you. Medicine Wheel Dental does this by collecting your insurance information and then filing a claim electronically which is the quickest form of claim submission available. Medicine Wheel Dental offers 12 month no interest rate payment plans as accommodation for the inconvenience this method of reimbursement may create. Every person is different and special in their own way so at Medicine Wheel we have created a practice built around this important awareness.

If you have any questions regarding insurance, please contact us, we’re here to help you!


Prescription drugs and holistic health

According to Dr. Michael Cutter and Easy Health Options:

“Nearly all of us have at one time needed or currently use prescription drugs. They have their purpose for sure, yet interfacing these synthetic drugs with a holistic health approach can be tricky.

That’s because while these unnatural chemicals cause desired effects, they invariably cause undesired adverse effects too, most of which go undetected and unreported. Moreover, the known chronic adverse health risks of drugs are typically not even shared with patients.”

holistic dental health

When drugs are necessary

It is extremely important to know the risks and adverse effects of any medication you take—especially those you take chronically. Drug adverse health risks vary widely from chemotherapy (poison in my view) to intermittent Tylenol (proven safe even in pregnancy).

Also, consider the disease you are treating. Think back to when you were first diagnosed. By the time you experience the signs or symptoms of any chronic type illness, the underlying disease process has been long underway. In other words, it takes months to years from the time an imbalance occurs in the cells of the affected organ until you feel or see any problem.

Examples are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Another example is ulcerative colitis, which caused me to get a total procto-colectomy at the age of 33. By the time I was told my colon needed to be completely removed through a drastic surgery, it was too late for natural and holistic approaches to be effective. Likewise, you can expect months to years before you will be able to “undo” any chronic illness through proper lifestyle, nutrition, etc.

Here is what Dr. Cutter says to those of you who have a chronic illness and take a prescription drug for it. “Rather than focus on the possible adverse risks associated with your prescription drug, realize that your drug has been well-studied and proven to be better than letting your disease go untreated. Your drug allows you to feel and function better; plus it probably stopped your disease progression and your risk of other worse diseases. If you don’t mind taking these the rest of your life, along with more drugs as new diseases manifest, then you probably don’t need to look into holistic health methods.

However, if you wish to look into holistic health for guidance and getting off prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. You want to ask yourself how you contributed to the development of the disease in the first place (aside from genetics of course) and if you desire to do what you can to “undo” what was done. If the answer is clearly “yes” then you may be a candidate to not only reverse symptoms and the disease progression, but also to prevent a whole slew of other illnesses that are likely to manifest in time.

Therefore, the first question is not so much about your drug’s harmful long-term effects, though this is certainly a concern. Rather, the big question is whether you would rather keep taking your drug for life or make the effort to eliminate the need for your drug. The latter is a primary focus of restorative/functional medicine and must be carefully integrated with science proven by conventional medicine working with holistic doctors and dentists.

For more information about medications, please click here to read Dr. Keane’s article.


EPA Targets American Dentists Who are Mercury Polluters

A new article posted on states that the EPA’s Next Target will be American Dentists Who Are Mercury Polluters.

As reported by Mercola:

Those silver mercury fillings whose vapors readily pass through cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system? The damage doesn’t stop there.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently cited studies showing that approximately half of the mercury in the environment is there due to dental offices’ amalgam (i.e. silver filling) waste.

In fact, dental clinics are the main source of mercury discharges to public water treatment centers, according to the EPA, which estimates there are about 160,000 dentists in the US who use or remove amalgam and virtually all of them discharge their wastewater to water treatment centers.

In all, dentists discharge about 4.4 tons of mercury a year to such centers. The problem, of course, is that the mercury then settles into sewer systems or the biosolids and sewage sludge that are generated during water treatment.

What happens to the sludge? Some of it ends up in landfills, while other portions are incinerated (thereby polluting the air) or applied as agricultural fertilizer (polluting your food), or seep into waterways (polluting fish and wildlife).

Unfortunately, mercury is persistent and bioaccumulative once it reaches the environment. And when it is exposed to certain microorganisms in water, it can change into highly toxic methylmercury – the type that now contaminates most seafood.

Most Americans don’t realize that there is a simple solution that could drastically cut down on the environmental pollution caused by mercury waste, if only dentists would choose to use it.

EPA Proposes Rule Requiring Dentists to Use Amalgam Separators

The road to a federal rule mandating separators for American dentists has been long and circuitous.

The US is a federal system, so ideas generally start at the state level. A century ago, a distinguished Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, called the states “laboratories of democracy.”

Fourteen years ago, Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project launched a campaign to persuade state and local governments to mandate separators. He enlisted state-based environmental groups, plus national groups like Clean Water Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The prototype for action was the city of Toronto, Canada, which cut the mercury in water by more than half by mandating separators. Over the decade of the 2000s, 12 states, most of them in the Northeast, mandated separators, as did many US cities, such as Duluth, Wichita, and San Francisco.

As pressure built for a national mandate, the EPA engaged first in political diversion, signing a document with the American Dental Association to do a voluntary system. As any economist or sensible citizen knows, voluntary environmental standards do not work, because it raises the cost of business only for the good guys.

Bender issued a report exposing the EPA plan. Because it was done in the final days of the second Bush Administration, he termed the report “The Midnight Deal.” Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich convened an oversight hearing calling more attention to EPA’s unwillingness to act.

In 2010, the EPA first announced it would create a rule requiring dentists who use dental amalgam to at least use best-management practices and install amalgam separators. An amalgam separator is a wastewater treatment device installed at the source, in the dental office, that can remove 95-99 percent of the mercury in the wastewater.

As originally proposed, EPA said the regulation would be finalized by 2012. But inaction continued, and it got worse in early 2014, when EPA staff were told the whole idea of a separator mandate would be put on the shelf. Conscientious staff objected to backing off addressing this major source of mercury pollution.

Bender, Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice, and major environmental groups launched a counterattack, Bender by making the case directly to the EPA (and to the media), while Brown launched a petition drive. This campaign was supported by, and many of our readers responded.

To its credit – and responding to the petition that over 13,000 of you signed– EPA decided to go forward with the rule. The rule’s expected finalization date is September 2015.1 But we must leave nothing to chance! At the end of this article we ask you who have not yet signed that petition to do so!

By requiring dental offices to install amalgam separators, the EPA expects the amount of metals discharged into the environment to be cut by nine tons each year2 — and at a very low cost to dentists.

The average annual cost of an amalgam separator for dental offices is $700, making it a “common sense solution to managing mercury that would otherwise be released to air, land, and water,” the EPA noted.3

Unfortunately, dental offices that have already installed an amalgam separator will be allowed to keep it and be considered in compliance – even if it doesn’t meet the proposed amalgam removal efficiency standards.

Still, aside from eliminating the use of dental mercury entirely… which is the ultimate goal we’re working toward… this is a step in the right direction. About a dozen states already mandate the use of amalgam separators, but the EPA’s rule will add a federal requirement.

Why Are So Many Dentists Still Using Mercury?

In order to protect human health and the environment, mercury should be phased out as soon, and as quickly, as possible. The international treaty, named the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, requires the phasing out of many mercury-containing products, including thermometers, by 2020, and also calls for an end to all mercury mining within 15 years.

The treaty takes effect only after its ratification by 50 nations, which can take three or four years. Instead of working for the phase-down and ultimate phase-out of amalgam use, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) are pushing stalling tactics.

They say that before phasing out amalgam we should go through a litany of diversions like (1) prevention of tooth decay, (2) research and mercury inventories, and (3) mercury waste management – none of which actually phase down amalgam use, as required by the Minamata Convention.

But no more research is needed before we take action – the many effective, affordable, and available mercury-free alternatives have already been researched for over half a century, and we certainly don’t need any more research telling us that mercury is a problem.

And the realistic solution to waste management, of course, even beyond the amalgam separators, is to stop creating more mercury waste – i.e., stop using amalgam. Today, more than 50 percent of dentists in America have stopped using mercury filings.

That’s major progress and Charlie Brown’s Consumers for Dental Choice played a huge role in that change as when he first started his crusade only 3% of US dentists were mercury free. He helped prevent dental boards from prosecuting many of the early mercury free dentists.

But we still have a long way to go to end this archaic practice of putting mercury in people’s teeth (and into the environment). Unfortunately, we seem to have stalled out at around 50 percent of dentists who still insist on using amalgam. Charlie Brown, leader of Consumers for Dental Choice, noted:

“We think the pro-mercury dentists have stabilized because they won’t learn anything new and the profits are so easy. They are concealing from the patients that amalgam is a mercury filling.

The enabler of pro-mercury dentistry or of dental mercury is the FDA. The FDA says to dentists and says to the manufacturers, ‘You may conceal the mercury from patients. You don’t need to tell them,’ and of course, therefore they don’t.”

For more information and to continue reading this important article, please click here.

To learn more about how Medicine Wheel Dental safely removes mercury, please click here.


How and Why Clove Oil is used in Holistic Dentistry

If you should visit our office and notice a distinctive smell chances are, you maybe smelling Clove Oil. Clove Oil is used in holistic dentistry as a very effective antiseptic that is known to help relieve dental pain. It has been used in dentistry for over a century!
clove oil and dentistry
Cloves are dried buds from a tree in the Myrtaceae family and the oil extracted from a clove is known as eugenol. Depending on where the oil is extracted from — either the bud, leaf, or stem — the concentration of eugenol generally ranges from 60 to 90%.

Clove oil is generally used in holistic dentistry to treat a toothache, pain from a dry socket, as well a number of temporary restorative materials.

So, what can be considered a Toothache?

A toothache is any pain or soreness within or around a tooth or the jaw. The most common cause of toothache maybe dental cavities. Bacteria in the mouth can form plaques that stick to teeth and form acids that eat through tooth enamel, causing a cavity. This toothache pain is usually worse when you eat cold or hot food.

Other common causes of toothache are gum disease, tooth abscess, cracked tooth, irritated tooth root, and a condition called temporomandibular joint, which affects the jaw. In more severe cases, a toothache may also be a sign of heart attack, ear infections, and sinusitis.

Considerations for Using Clove Oil at Home:

Clove Oil is hailed as a wonderful home remedy to relieve a toothache. You may find many options online or at your local pharmacy.

Although natural, Clove Oil, may be toxic in specific amounts, people wishing to use the oil for dental pain at home, without the supervision of a dentist, should be cautious of the amount they are using as it may cause soft tissue irritation, pain or a burning sensation.

Using clove oil as a dental pain reliever may not be for everyone. It may increase bleeding in people with bleeding disorders and may also decrease blood glucose levels, diabetics may wish to use caution when considering the use of it to relieve dental pain at home.

If you have questions about the use of clove oil, please contact us.

From our friends at Organic Facts – here are a few more ways that Cloves/Clove Oil maybe useful for health. Please be sure to consult your doctor/dentist before using to ensure that you are a good candidate for Clove Oil treatment.

clove oil uses


Medicine Wheel Dental & Wellness, Why Us?

medicine wheel dental and wellness center tucson az dentists


Why Medicine Wheel Dental is for you!

At Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center we are often asked about our services, what makes our practice unique, and why do people come from all over the country to see us? We designed this graphic to highlight some of the unique tools in our Medicine Wheel bag. Most of these items can only be found at our office!

We invite you to ask questions on your next visit or if you are new to our clinic call to make an appointment and see the difference for yourself!


Laser Treatments for Holistic Oral Care

Holistic oral care is focused on the highest standard of patient care with an emphasis on total body wellness. For this reason, Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center has incorporated a laser for soft tissue treatment and management of the following:

healthy teeth healthy body by dr steven swidler medicine wheel dental and wellness center

Tooth sensitivities – laser therapy is commonly used to seal exposed tubules (located on the root of the tooth) that are responsible for tooth sensitivity.

Gummy smiles – lasers can reshape gum tissue to expose healthy tooth structure and improve the appearance of a gummy smile.

Frenectomy – a laser frenectomy is an ideal treatment option for children or adults who are tongue tied (restricted or tight frenulum) and may also help to eliminate speech impediments.

Benign tumors – lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumors from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.

Cold sores – low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores, apthous ulcers and herpetic lesions as well as a significantly minimizing healing time. Get immediate relief in a matter of minutes!

Depigmentation of gum disease – patients who have a darker pigment on their gum tissue and wish to lighten for cosmetic purposes.

Bacteria reduction during cleanings – lasers seeks out and eliminates oral bacteria beneath the gum line. These bacteria are responsible not only for inflammation and gum disease, but can be linked to increased risk for several systemic diseases. These diseases include, but are not limited to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, risk of stroke, diabetes and low birth weight in babies.

Lasers in dentistry have been used successfully for decades and are an excellent tool in the overall health of our oral tissues.

The laser treatment only takes about 5-10 minutes and is painless. Laser therapy not only improves oral health, but also significantly reduces the overall bacterial load present in the entire body. Laser therapy during cleaning appointments is one more way to improve your overall well being. Be sure to take advantage of this new service at your next cleaning appointment.

We are now, not only improving oral health with mechanical removal of irritants such as plaque and tartar, but also eliminating the source of infection by destroying billions of colonies of bacteria.

The addition of laser therapy at Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center gives us another tool to improve the general health of our patients and it is truly an exciting modality.

For more information on the use of lasers in holistic oral care, please contact us.