Q&A With Dr. Martha Howard

Hi all, In an attempt to bring you original content, I conducted a question and answer session with holistic Dr. Martha Howard from Chicago Healers. Dr. Howard was particularly interested in taking our questions regarding our children’s exposure to toxins.

Please feel free to drop your questions here as she will follow up later this week. Thanks! -Elisa

MotherTalkers: I have a son with allergies to grass, weeds and oak trees. Is there a way for me to naturally get him accustomed to these things without allergy shots?

Dr. Howard: He can take allergy drops, under the tongue. These need to be made for him by an allergist who does this as part of their practice.

From Shenanigans in California: Aren’t those non-chemical sunscreens using nanoparticles? Do you have any concerns about nanoparticles on skin or in the environment? For example, we use sunscreen in the river, which is water used for fish and crops that are consumed by people, so nanoparticles that came off in the water would end up ingested in short order.

Dr. Howard: Nanoparticles means simply very small particles. The non-chemical sunscreens have zinc and titanium in them, both minerals which occur naturally in the earth and are not harmful. On the other hand, the gender-bending chemicals in the other sunscreens do not occur naturally, cause changes in the hormonal cycles and the genitals, and are very harmful.

From baker baker in Pittsburgh, PA: I’ve heard that fluoride for kids is bad, but why? I don’t give my kids fluoride treatments, and their toothpaste is fluoride free. We have a reverse osmosis filter for our tap water, so I’m assuming it filters out fluoride from the city water. But is this a good thing?  

Dr. Howard: Fluoride is bad because it replaces natural dental enamel with more brittle enamel and makes it easier for teeth to crack. There are many more reasons it is harmful, which can be found on many online sites.

MotherTalkers: What do you see as the biggest toxin children are exposed to today? Why?

Dr. Howard: I think there are three worst toxins, rather than one. The first one is the chemicals like avobenzone, homosalate and octylmethoxycinnamate, all in sunscreens. This is especially harmful because parents believe that in using them for themselves and their children, they are protecting them. However, these chemicals have been shown to cause smaller penises in male children when used by pregnant women, and their estrogenic effects are thought to cause earlier onset of menstruation (sometimes as early as age 7 or 8) in girls. The second is MSG. It is hidden in many foods, including, for example, most common brands of canned tuna. The label says “vegetable broth” and somehow we are supposed to guess that this “broth” has MSG in it. MSG has been labeled a neurotoxin by Russell Blaylock, MD, a board certified neurologist, neurology professor, and author of the comprehensive book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. It is well worth checking out this book to see all of the toxic effects on the brain from MSG, and my third worst chemical, aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.) the artificial sugar. Both of these chemicals are widespread in foods, and have not been limited in any way by the FDA, despite their proven harmful effects. Again, people think they are simply making their food taste better, or using a calorie-free artificial sweetener, when in reality they are exposing their brains to harmful chemicals. Both of these chemicals, according to Dr. Blaylock, actually cause your brain cells to pop and die (the medical term for this process is “apoptosis.”  I don’t know about you, but I believe that I need every brain cell I have!

MotherTalkers: The EPA is considering rules to regulate mercury emissions in our air. What can moms do to  help pass this rule?

Dr. Howard: Moms can initiate email campaigns to their state and national Senators and Representatives, and to their Governors, and to the President. And media-savvy moms can create public awareness on social media and YouTube.

MotherTalkers: Pertaining to question No. 5, what can moms do to limit their children to air mercury and air pollution in general?  

Dr. Howard: Air pollution is a tough problem. Knowledge is power, so it is important to find out about mercury emissions in your area. If they are an issue, the best temporary “fix” is to filter your indoor environment.  

Here is a list of coal-powered plants, the No. 1 source of mercury emissions in the country. -Elisa


Seeking Out Questions for MT Interviews

Hi all,

I’ve been experimenting with various ways to conduct interviews at MotherTalkers. I have done live-blog chats, but the downside to those is there is a limited window to ask questions.

So I am wondering if I can seek out questions ahead of time for a Q&A instead? That way, people can drop them throughout the day here, on Facebook, or at my e-mail: elisa at mothertalkers dot com.

I would like to interview Dr. Martha Howard of Chicago Healers, practitioners of holistic medicine. Her e-mail caught my eye because she offered these tips to protect our children from indoor pollution:

Formaldehyde in new clothes, carpet, wallboards and furniture made of particle board or with particle board backing.
Lead paint and other toxic paints. Children’s rooms should be painted only with non-toxic no-VOC paints. Even latex paints can emit toxic fumes over a long period of time, worsening allergies and asthma.
Mercury in any form—especially as a preservative in vaccinations, or in dental materials
Food dyes, additives, and artificial sugars. The so-called “generally recognized as safe” food dyes are made of coal tar. MSG and aspartame are neurotoxins (see Russell Blaylock MD’s comprehensive book, Exitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.)
Plastics that contain BPA
Fire retardant chemicals in pajamas and bedding
Sunscreens with “gender bending” chemicals like homosalate, octylmethoxycinnamate, octocrylene, oxybenzone. Use California Baby hypoallergenic sunscreen, Desert Essence sunscreen, or Aubrey Organic Sunscreen on all children (and on adults too!)
Shampoos and lotions are full of chemicals. Desert Essence makes a good line of shampoos, conditioners and lotions that are chemical free.

There are many things you can do to not only avoid indoor chemical pollutants but also keep your kids healthy in general.

Good indoor air filtration (with charcoal and zeolite in the filters, not just HEPA filters) can help limit exposure to airborne pollutants.  
Drink filtered water
Give children fresh, mostly organic unprocessed foods. This doesn’t have to be complicated. A turkey sandwich with whole grain bread, Applegate Farms or Hormel natural turkey (no additives, MSG, nitrites or nitrates—both big causes of cancer), and an organic apple are a great lunch, rather than packaged “cracker and cheese” or many of the items that are currently offered in school lunches.
Become active in advocating for better indoor air quality and better food at your child’s school
Stay informed about air and water quality and pollution hazards in your neighborhood and your town.

As someone with a son that has allergies, I am wondering what I can do to build his tolerance of his allergens. For example, I was told that offering him locally grown honey may help him “outgrow” his allergies of local grass and weeds. I wonder if there is any truth to that. What other questions do you have for Dr. Howard?

The other doctor I am interested in interviewing, is Dr. Michael Goldberg, an expert on children with autism. (See the photo of his book on the right.)

His office recently reached out to me with this advice for summer:

  1. Have a behavior chart just like at school. A smile can be used for good behavior, or a big frown just like the teacher would give for bad or aggressive behavior.
  1. Avoid daily bribery.
  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule, even if it is lighter outside because of the longer summer days. Be soothing yet firm.  
  1. Recruit siblings to help. Explain that their sibling is ill and they can help make that person feel better. Siblings can be the best therapists.
  1. Work with the child fifteen to twenty minutes a day on the computer to keep up academically and reward them with something they enjoy if they do that.
  1. If the child is in a special needs class, make sure he/she are also spends time with role models who are not developmentally challenged.

Summer Eating:
Dr. Goldberg advocates omitting certain foods from an autistic child’s diet. Doing so can have a positive impact on their behavior.

Foods to Avoid:

  1. Dairy
  1. Chocolate
  1. Whole Wheat
  1. Whole Grains
  1. Limited Amounts of Sugar

Do you have a child with autism or work with children who are autistic? What would you like to ask Dr. Goldberg?

Finally and lastly, there is Michelle Rhee, renowned “education reformer”, er teacher union buster. Despite my many disagreements with her, I am attending one of her events this Friday to try to understand the buzz around her. I have a lot of my own questions, but wondered if you have a burning desire to ask her anything? If yes, please drop that here, or on Facebook, or at my e-mail at elisa at mothertalkers dot com. Thanks!