Article of the Month


Consumer Beware


A common ingredient may increase your risk of stroke or early death


Open up your medicine cabinet and check to see if you have any of the following products: Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine, Alka-Seltzer Plus Children’s Cold Medicine, BC Allergy Sinus Cold Medicine, Comtrex Deep Chest Cold and Congestion Relief, Contac 12-Hour Cold Capsules, Coricidin “D,” Dimetapp Cold and Cough, Naldecon DX-Pediatric Drops, Robitussin CF, Triaminic DM Cough Relief, and, for all you diet lovers, how about Acutrim and Dexatrim?

Unfortunately, if you answer yes to any of these, you can be at risk for a stroke or an early death, especially if you’re a woman.

In October 2006, a panel of scientific experts, who gathered evidence from a five-year study at Yale University, recommended that the Food and Drug Administration ban an ingredient in many decongestants and appetite suppressants. Fifty years of using this ingredient in hundreds of over-the-counter drugs, mostly cold remedies, proved fatal for many young women while also causing hemorrhagic strokes leading to permanent disability.

The culprit is phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, the key ingredient in most cold remedies and some prescription decongestants and a major player in all suppressants. Dozens of our medicines contain PPA and many are intended for children. Six billion doses of these health hazards were sold last year alone, according to the FDA.

The Yale study found significant evidence of increased risk of certain types of strokes in women who had taken cold remedies or appetite suppressants containing phenylpropanolamine. It is likely that the FDA will ban PPA, which is the active ingredient in more than 35 of these brand-name medicines. When this ban takes effect, drug companies that produce these products might reformulate them and slip them in as prescription medications. How convenient–your doctor will be able to write you a prescription for that potential stroke.

Dr. Eric Brass, chair of the Department of Medicine at UCLA, told the New York Times, “If asked by one of my patients, I would recommend they use alternative products rather than risk using any phenylpropanolamine.”

According to the Times, Dr. Robert DeLap, of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, urged consumers to “read carefully the labels of all products involved in the Yale study.” A better suggestion would be to read the labels, immediately discard these products and then write your representatives about the lack of attention the FDA is giving to the dangers of many over-the-counter drugs.

The tragedy is that the FDA should have known about the hazards of PPA for decades. The FDA received reports on PPA from many users who were suffering from hemorrhagic strokes–bleeding in the brain, also associated with high blood pressure–since 1969. It took the agency 31 years to conclude that PPA did not “meet the burden of proof for safety.” The question is, how many strokes, disabilities and deaths resulting from the use of PPAs have gone unreported and unnoticed? Have you noticed that some of these over-the-counter drugs are now being taken off the shelves and put under the pharmacists’ control?! Also, recent studies indicate that many of these same drugs should not be administered to children under 6 years of age. (CNN Report)

The holistic and alternative medicine community has been vocal about PPA. Hulda Clark, in her powerful book Cure for all Diseases, refers to the “propanol” base of the PPAs, warning us about their dangers.

According to medical researcher, Dr. P. Yutsis, more than 150,000 Americans died last year from taking the wrong prescription drugs or from the serious side effects of drugs. A month later, every major newspaper is flashing warning signals about the dangers of medicine containing PPA–which Americans use on a consistent basis! The nightmare behind this American drug dream is that a huge number of children’s cold and decongestant medicines contain PPAs. Not only will PPAs affect the long term health of children, but may be the link in the rise of childhood asthma and circulatory problems.

Especially for children, alternatives such as herbal and homeopathic remedies for colds, coughs and congestion work so well that the use of these drugs is quite unnecessary. Unfortunately, it is easier to pop just one spoonful of PPAs into a child that will give eight hours of relief than to give 10 drops of homeopathics three to five times daily. What problems have we created for our children by taking the easy way out?

I was mad and sad reading a Times report called “Stroke Risk Seen in Ingredient Used For Cold Remedies.” There has never been more need for consumers to take back their healthcare than now. (2005) Conscious connections to holistic and preventative healthcare is a must. Learning to use non-invasive therapies and taking time to let them process will be movement in the right direction. Consumers need to become health detectives and handle their healthcare choices very suspiciously–meaning, question all involved and leave no stone unturned, Sherlock!

Health isn’t just being free of sickness. Quality health care is a process. To take that first step in this process, go to your medicine cabinet and ditch every single medicine that contains phenylpropanolamine–now!

May the long time sun shine upon you.

Mary Jo Ruggieri, PhD, RPP, is the Director of the Ohio Institute of Energetic Studies (Cleveland and Columbus Polarity Schools), which is a state registered school for Polarity Therapy training and Energy Science studies. For information and classes visit

Healthy Tidbits

Magnesium (again please)

Are we aware yet how important magnesium is to the quality of our health? According to the American Heart Association Newsletter (April 30, 2005), studies indicate that not having enough magnesium in your diet may increase your chances of developing artery disease:

  • Fat metabolism caused by magnesium deficiency is linked to the development of arteriosclerosis.
  • Magnesium intake is an important factor in controlling fat metabolism in the walls of arteries.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news release Dec 2, 2004) researchers found that magnesium helps regulate a key brain receptor that plays an important role in memory and a magnesium deficiency may result in a diminished learning and memory capacity. The study also states that an abundance of magnesium intake can improve such cognitive functions. MIT continues on saying that magnesium deficiency may result in reduced ability to learn and memorize, also cognitive function may be improved by an abundance of magnesium!

Sidebar: It may be wise for school personnel to understand the valuable role that magnesium plays in learning. Excellent sources of magnesium in our diets are dark green leafy vegetables, preferably eaten raw or slightly steamed which preserves the maximum amount of magnesium in the plant. So how many school age children run to the table for large spinach salads or steamed kale or drink wheatgrass for lunch?! In essence it may be beneficial to determine how much magnesium a child is getting in her diet.

Here are a few research studies about magnesium:

Magnesium Good For Old Bones
RealAge Smart Search ( BETA), the leading expert driven health search. Learn more magnesium good for old bones. Dec 01, 2005 12:40 PM New York ( Reuters health) – A higher intake of…

Diet Rich In Magnesium Good For Health
RealAge Smart Search ( BETA), the leading expert driven health search. Learn more Diet Rich in Magnesium Good for Health by Edelson HealthDay reporter Monday, March 27

Magnesium Infusion Helps Kids With Asthma Attacks
RealAge Smart Search ( BETA), the leading expert driven health search. Learn more Magnesium infusion helps kids with asthma attacks. Jan 07, 2005 1:22 PM New York ( Reuters Health)

Winter Is On Its Way

Things to do now

  1. Start to build your Immune system. Best to use a herbal formula like Healthy Cell. Start with 30 drops daily for 3 weeks, take 1 week off then repeat throughout the winter.
  2. Increase your Vitamin D by 400-800 IUs. Especially effective when the days (and sun) get shorter and nights longer. The days are shorter and the sunshine is spare.
  3. Add a B complex daily which will help strengthen your nervous system.
  4. Start to go to bed earlier and transition to more indoor exercises such as stationary bike, exercise balls or treadmills.
  5. Start skin brushing: Use a skin brush once per day.
  6. Enroll in a yoga or meditation class (stress can decrease your immune system’s ability to fight off infection).

Reference: Mary Jo Ruggieri PhD

Reducing Sinusitis Naturally

The first thing that should be of prime importance in handling sinusitis is the Neti pot!!

If you do not have one and do not how to use one, the time is now!

Sinusitis is often caused by air pollution and other unhealthy multiple environmental conditions. Remember our primary air filters are our nose and sinuses. Weakened immune systems are another variable which can cause colds and infections which contribute to sinusitis. An additional common cause is colds and infections that can lead to sinusitis if left untreated, especially in the context of a weakened immune system.

Natural remedies for sinusitis:

  • Neti Pot helps keep passages open and clear and gets rid of mucus
  • Herbal blends
    • Breathe Free
    • Breath Of Life
    • Healthy Cell
  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathics
    • Pulsatilla: Helps with discharge
    • Arnica: helps pain and swelling
  • Infrared saunas : very effective for detoxifying, enhancing the lymphatic system and clearing your sinus problems.
    (Check out our September 2005 Newsletter on infrared saunas)

Reference: Mary Jo Ruggieri PhD

Rose Hips for Osteoarthritis

A powder made from the fruit of the Dogrose (Rosa Canina) seems to alleviate pain and stiffness in the knees, hips and other joints.

Reference: Alternative Medicine, Jan 2006

Herbs & Drugs: Some Don’t Mix

According to Dr. Andrew Weil on blood thinners, many popular herbs including garlic, ginger, ginko, feverfew and bromelain, reduce the clotting tendency of the blood thus helping to protect against heart disease and strokes. However, taking these supplements in conjunction with prescription anticoagulants such as Warfarin (Coumadin) or even regular aspirin may increase the risk of excessive bleeding.

Reference: Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing

Mind, Body, Spirit

Let’s Meditate


This section of our newsletter “Mind, Body, Spirit” will focus on a meditation or visualization per month. It is intended to give the reader a choice of meditation techniques to help with stress reduction and disease prevention. Please try these meditations daily to see how they work for you. Always start with some controlled breathing. Please remember how healing it is to meditate.

November Meditation: The Gift of Presence


Sounds of migrating birds surround us over a tapestry of autumn leaves. The crisp air signals transformation to our senses, and subtly, our bodies and minds turn inward during the autumn time in preparation for the season of winter. Autumn beckons us to indulge in the Gift of Presence, to take a few moments from our daily routines and appreciate the transformation that is afoot. Seeking balance within our senses at this time can be especially nourishing. In our visual world, we often let sound, taste, touch, and hearing be muted by the power of sight. Here is an ‘inner exploration’ experiment you may want to embark upon this autumn:

How To Do It

In your backyard, at a park, in the woods, or any safe place you have access to outdoors, find a comfortable place to be. Take off your shoes, and feel the earth under your feet. Once you are comfortable, sit down with your spine straight, perhaps with your legs folded ‘Indian style.’ Enjoy a few deep breaths to take in the qualities around you. Gently tie a scarf over your eyes. Continue focused breath until your system ‘settles in’ to the place and your mind is clear. Sit as long as your heart beckons you to, opening to the sounds, the feel of the air on your skin, the crisp taste of the air, and autumn smells. When you open your eyes, allow yourself time to adjust before rising. Later, you may choose to remember the experience in your journal.

Give yourself the Gift of Presence this autumn. Rejoice in the wonders of the world around you, and in your miraculous senses.

Laura Ann Bergman, RPP, is an associate at the Columbus Polarity Center. She can be reached directly at

Essential Herbs


Greek Herbs in Greece


Ask Charoula

Hello. Today’s column is coming to you from Greece, where the Ohio Institute of Energetic Studies just finished conducting a successful seminar on Polarity, Aromatherapy and Herbs. We had such a great time that I thought I would bring you here for a few moments and let you share some of this Greek adventure.

Let’s talk about some Greek herbs and the way we use them in this country.

Herbs have been used here for thousands of years. Dried herbs and seeds have been found in large jars around ancient sites, and in burial places as food for the dead. Evidence suggests that they were used medicinally, but also as food, and to flavor different products such as olives and olive oil, honey, conserves etc. Continuously over the millennia, Greek dishes, have been flavored with herbs. This tradition is still evident in the intensity with which Greek women every spring take to the countryside, walking for hours and collecting greens. Some they prepare for meals, some they dry to stock their spice and medicinal cabinets.

In this article, I will describe the best Greek aromatic plants. In the next issue, I will tell you about the wide variety of important greens (weeds!) and share some recipes.

Dittany (origanum dictamnus) grows wild in the mountains of Crete but other islands as well. It is used widely in Greece to cure practically every ill!
It is an a aromatic, anstispasmodic, emmenagogue, tonic, and restorative.
As an infusion, pour two cups of water over two tablespoons of the dried herb, and drink two cups a day as a general tonic.
Externally, we make compresses out of leaves immersed in hot water, and use it to heal wounds and open sores.

Mountain Tea, often mistaken by foreigners for Dittany, is another wild mountain herb growing all over Greek mountains. I have not been able to find the Latin name, but Greeks call it Iron Weed (not to be mistaken with the well-known tall beautiful plant in the US fields). The name is derived from one of the main uses of the plant: to heal wounds caused by knife or sword wounds!
That property is due to its strong anti-oxidant elements. It is also an aromatic, and like all aromatics it is antiseptic.
Mountain Tea lowers blood sugar, it is anti-tussive (helps with coughing), and lowers fevers as well.
Use as infusion or external compresses or poultices (as for Dittany).

Oregano (Origanum Vulgare). Also growing wild in the mountains in Central and Northern Greece.
We know Oregano as a spice, and it tastes great with a Greek salads! But there is a reason it has been in continuous use since antiquity:
It is a strong aromatic, a tonic, antispasmodic, digestive, helps strengthen the stomach, is used as an anti-asthmatic, brings on sweating for the reduction of fever, and clears mucus.
Oregano is said to help with arthritis, so dosing your salads and meals with Oregano will keep your joints clean and functioning!
Use as spice, also as a tea infusion. Externally as a salve. Essential Oil.

Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis). Growing in pots, in gardens, and around my house profusely—reaches a height of 6-7 feet here on the island of Aegina.
It is one of the best antiseptics we know, it is richly anti-oxidant, and preservative, as a vulnerary it relieves vascular and tension headaches, strengthens eyesight, stops hair loss used as a shampoo, and is widely used as an ingredient in creams and skin lotions. Also, it is a strong aromatic and makes a great Essential Oil which can be used in lotions, salves, and as an inhalant.

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris). Growing everywhere in the wild.
It is a bitter, a tonic, an antiseptic, and an astringent. Therefore, it is excellent for digestive enhancement, for mucus reduction, drying up tissues in the lungs, facilitating breathing. It is also a valuable antispasmodic, both for stomach and intestinal gas, as well as asthma and coughing.
A strong aromatic, so use as spice, externally as an essential oil, or tincture.

Hope you are enjoying this trip to Greece!

– Charoula, Herbalist


Health Quotes Of The Day

“It’s our bodies that do the healing. It’s time we own our bodies; illness is not the property of doctors, it belongs to us and plays an important role in our lives.”
–  Margo Adair

Elemental Foods: The Fire Element

Fall has made known its colorful presence. Cooler temperatures and shorter days become the norm. Of course this time of year brings to mind sitting curled up on the couch, in your favorite pair of PJs with a nice bowl of soup. Well how do you keep the raw food alive when making soup. Pretty easy!!! It is all about temperature. Just heat the soup long enough so that is barely steaming. Also this is a perfect time to start utilizing various warming spices. Ginger, black pepper, cumin, cayenne and various combinations of curry. The following is a basic raw soup recipe. Use your imagination and add various spices to your preference.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 red, orange or yellow pepper
4 stalks of celery
1 red onion
1/2 cup tahini
1 Tablespoon of curry (or use less if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
Braggs amino to taste
2 scallions, minced

Blend all ingredients well and add enough water or vegetable broth to create proper consistency. Garnish with minced scallions, or yogurt, or a good feta or goat cheese.

REMINDER: when warming this soup up – be very careful just to take the chill off. You want to just warm it to a light steam. It is like warming up milk – if the heat is too high or on too long the milk will scald. Same with the soup – it’s just in this case the heat will kill the live enzymes in the food.

Your food is your medicine.

Antonia Rankin, APP – Energetic Food Awareness

Health Freedom Comes to Ohio

Protect your rights as a consumer to choose the type of healthcare you want. For more information please visit the website at Ohio Sunshine Health Freedom.

PHONE: 937-981-2924

Educate others about this topic: Brochure

Heidi’s Fact Finders


Early Detection with Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging


Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is an FDA approved radiometric imaging technique which displays and measures body temperature. The imaging process does not require direct body contact, is painless and uses no radiation. It works because all objects over a temperature of 0° K (absolute zero) radiate infrared energy. DITI cameras capture and record this energy and convert it to a color image that can be viewed on a computer. Because the amount of radiation emitted from a human body is a function of its physiology, this type of imaging can be a useful diagnostic tool. The scans detect thermal patterns not seen using other tools, particularly where abnormal cells require increased blood flow to supply nutrients for rapid growth. This increased blood flow in a specific area results in an increase in heat that can then be measured by the DITI camera. These subtle changes can occur years before a mass becomes palpable or can be detected through other screening methods.

Women are turning to digital infrared thermal imaging as an additional proactive screening measure for breast health; particularly if they are under 40, at high risk, have dense breasts or implants. Other clinical applications include endocrinology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology, physiotherapy, sports medicine, pediatrics and orthopedics.

Resources and References

Contact me if you would like to read any of these articles and don’t have access to them.

Heidi Beke-Harrigan is an APP and an academic librarian specializing in nursing, counseling and consumer health research. She teaches workshops, conducts research and provides individualized coaching. She can be reached at or

Disclaimer: The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat illness or prescribe any type of medication or treatment. For medical needs, consult your Medical Doctor, Dietitian, or Mental Health Practitioner.