21 July 2002
Heidi died this week. She had been a customer, a local woman and neighbor, and I was just beginning to think of her as my friend. Heidi came into our store one day last year and we had a long conversation about our lives and cancer - hers and mine.
When I first met Heidi, she was just 33 and I was 42. She limped into our shop and exclaimed with delight over the colors and the smells of the essential oils. She was thin, with clear skin and big eyes and very personable. As we talked, I learned about Heidi, her career as a nurse and her family, and she asked me a lot of questions about health, organics, body care ingredients and chemicals. She told me that she worked in nursing and that she had had three cancers, breast cancer twice and some in her bones and that doctors had done a procedure on her leg and the muscle hadn't healed quite right and she was left with the annoying limp. I remember talking to Heidi for quite some time that first day, thoroughly enjoying our conversation and her sense of humor.
Over the next several months I spent a bit more time with Heidi and and I got to meet Zach, Heidi's inquisitive 8 year-old son. Heidi was exploring organic everything and wanted to learn as much as I could teach her and she, in turn, was teaching Zach. I told her about our favorite local Vietnamese restaurant, a cuisine that was new to her. She was intrigued enough to try it out for herself and discovered that she loved it. I told her about my favorite organic market and she became a regular customer there. I taught her about washing her hair with our hair "mud" and about the simple joys of bathing with our natural castile body washes with their organic essential oils, and pampering her skin with our delectable lotions. I know she loved these new experiences because she would send me emails with lots of exclamation points about how good the products made her feel.
Heidi did a good bit of exploring and research on her own and would share tidbits with me and often asked my opinion about various products that she was thinking about trying out. I'll never forget about the miracle "all natural" and "organic" product that Heidi was so excited about. She had learned about it from a friend who was selling it - a multi-level marketing situation. Anyway, she told me about how her friend claimed that you could wash your hair, clean your teeth and clean your bathroom with one product! Wow! This made me really nervous. She asked me if I could take a look at the ingredients and tell her what I thought. I did and it was just as I had figured. The product was the typical detergent, foam-booster blend of "botanically derived" man-made synthetic junk.
Heidi was so sure that it was pure, because the company said so - right there on their web site. If it was stated as such, then it had to be true, right? We had a long conversation shortly after our research into the "miracle" product and I enlightened Heidi about the advertising practices of body care, cleaning product and food manufacturers. I had to tell her the truth - I was worried about her fragile immune system. I told her that she needed to evaluate each ingredient in a body care or food product as if it were something that she would plant in her garden and ask herself if she could buy seeds for each ingredient that wasn't water or minerals. Her eyes got wider than usual when she finally made the connection. If it wasn't water or clay or a plant, then it was something synthetic and that, she and I, with our weakened immune systems, needed to avoid polluting and stressing our overloaded bodies by dousing them with man-made synthetics that our bodies wouldn't recognize and wouldn't know how to process.
It's all really pretty damn simple. Our cells and our brains, having evolved alongside plants for millions of years, developed receptors that recognize phytochemicals from the earth's plants. Once these phytochemicals are inhaled, absorbed or eaten, they send signals to our body's cells, which then communicate to our organs the instructions on what to do - how to process these botanicals - foods, medicines, irritants. Don't believe anyone if they tell you that you must have synthetics in your personal care products, your food or in your water. This is absolutely untrue. You don't need them and your ancestors didn't need them either and they did fine. Your body doesn't recognize synthetic chemicals and it stresses your body when you subject it to these man-made substances. If you see the phrase "naturally-derived," don't buy the product - this tells you that the ingredient is synthetic and was processed in a chemical factory. There's another important reason to avoid synthetics. Not only are they not good for you, they're not good for the planet. Synthetics are created via chemical reactions in big chemical factories and these are the kinds of factories that pollute our air and our water. Had enough yet?
Please don't accept the marketing propaganda from companies who throw "healthy" words around and use lovely photos of colorful fields of flowers, little girls in pretty dresses and soft, white doves. It's pretty sad, but it's almost as if it has come down to the fact that you can't trust the word "organic" anymore. Used to be we'd look for the word "natural," then, once "natural" became meaningless, it was "organic." Many of us thought that, finally, the word "organic" was going to make everything crystal clear, but, alas, this has proven to not be the case. Industry appears to be hell-bent on diluting the word "organic." Bending it to suit their stockholders' expectations. Cheapening it so that "organic" is beginning to look like a flashy hooker - all glitz and no soul.
Heidi died this week. Heidi's friend, Erla, another cancer survivor(!) who also lost her baby daughter to cancer(!), called to tell me the news and I was stunned. It was only a few weeks ago that we were talking about going to pick blueberries together. It was going to be a fun, healthy outing at a Middletown neighbor's organic farm. I was excited at the prospect of having a new friend. Now, I feel that I've been robbed. Again. Who do I hold responsible for my loss, for Heidi's son Zach's loss? I hold the giant polluting corporations and all of their decision-makers completely responsible. I won't forget about all of the willfully ignorant people, either. Today, I can't forgive willful ignorance or the calculating, greedy and evil people who have been consuming my time, forcing me to spend my precious hours watching their every move to protect my life when I'd rather be out picking blueberries. My perceived competitors would accuse me of being emotional, an elitist, yet they are cold and detached and their dirty deeds fill me with anger and disgust.
Heidi tried so hard to be chemical-free. She asked questions, she read labels and she taught Zach to avoid chemicals. He is the only boy in his class who knows the word "organic." Unfortunately, Heidi, like most of us, trusted that the government and the big corporations would protect her. She believed, as too many people do, that, if they buy something in a store, it wouldn't be permitted to be sold if it weren't safe. She thought that the words "natural" and "organic" meant something better. She learned that she had her fourth cancer about a month ago. Apparently, she thought the cough was a cold or allergies. I would have thought so too. She looked so healthy. She was so cheery and funny. There is too damn much cancer. Too much ADD. Too much asthma. Too many females with reproductive organ and hormonal problems. Too many people with chemically-induced apathy.
Heidi was young and courageous. She must have felt horrid, but she did a grand job of keeping it to herself. I guess getting that fourth cancer was one too many. She didn't have the energy reserves to deal with one more cancer and this final cancer, ravaging Heidi's weakened lungs, took all of her breath away too quickly. I will miss her.
Author's note: I am only posting this editorial now, January 1, 2003, because I could not bring myself to review and edit this piece earlier. I hope that Heidi's story will help you in this new year to reflect upon what you can do to help stop this bizarre and insane practice of dousing ourselves, our children and the wildlife of the Earth with indulgent and unnecessary personal care product chemicals. There is a story in a delightful and inspiring book "Travels in a Stone Canoe" that was told to the authors by a native American elder and seems very appropriate to share with you now for the year 2003. The respected tribal elder, a "wisdom keeper," remarked that his people had never fouled their air, their water, their soil. They would never willingly poison themselves and their children and their brothers and sisters, the animals of the earth. He said that people living today would be known to future generations as the "garbage makers." Do you want to be known as a garbage maker? Or, would you rather be known as someone who spoke out about pollution and health problems and worked to make positive changes - a person who wasn't a garbage maker?
19 February 2002
This past Saturday we spent the entire day at a store in Maryland meeting many new customers and introducing ourselves and our products. It was lots of fun and we met some very nice folks. One woman nearly brought tears to my eyes with her most gracious compliments about our products. She told me that when she read about our presentation in the store's newsletter, she decided to make a special visit to the store just to meet and talk to me and Jim in person. What an angel! This special woman has no idea just how important her compliments were and how, as it turned out, we actually really needed them to balance our spirits after speaking with some other people. One man, in particular.
He walked into the store with a cell phone against his right ear, his young daughter's hand in his left hand. Even though he was clearly distracted, I smiled brightly at him when he glanced in our direction. His eyes met mine and he paused for a brief second before resuming his telephone conversation and his evaluation of the store layout. A few minutes later the pair reappeared, the cell phone replaced with a shopping basket. As they emerged from the condiments aisle, the man and his daughter spotted our table and I smiled at them and said "hello."
The little girl was very sweet with dark brown hair, beautiful, trusting eyes and a shy smile. They walked over to our table and I introduced myself and asked them if they would like to learn about our products. The father set his shopping basket on the floor and said "sure." The little girl, perhaps six or seven years old, was delighted to have a chance to look over our pretty packages and to feel and smell such nice body care products. Her father asked about our Pure Earth Hair Wash and I explained how it worked. I asked them if they would like to try it and Dad reached into his basket and said that he already had an "organic" shampoo.
Jim asked if he could take a look at the bottle's ingredients and the man said "no problem" and handed the bottle to Jim. The shampoo was a new addition from an established health food store body care company and the product boldly used the word "organic" as part of the name on the front of the bottle. The bottle looked friendly and was decorated with flowers and leaves. After a few seconds Jim handed the bottle to me and said "take a look at this." I immediately saw what he had seen. The fourth ingredient on the bottle was a chemical that is listed on the FDA web site as one that has caused cancer when applied to the skin of laboratory animals. (So much for "not tested on animals!")
We are always prepared with educational materials when we make presentations and I happened to have a copy of the toxic chemical information page that I had downloaded from the FDA web site sitting on our table. I asked "Dad" if he would like to see the information that I had about the troublesome ingredient from the "organic" shampoo. He said that he would, so I showed him the ingredient on the label and showed him the FDA page. He read it quietly for a few seconds, handed the paper back to me, put his shampoo BACK into his shopping basket and said "well." He then changed the subject slightly and asked me about the price of our Hair Wash. It seemed odd to me that he made no real comment about the toxic chemical, but I chose not to pursue the issue in front of the man's daughter.
I noticed that the little girl seemed very intrigued by our White Chocolate Lip Protectors (100% Organic!), so I offered her one. She looked at me, her eyes alight with surprise and, when I nodded my head towards the display box, she eagerly helped herself to a single tube and thanked me. Her father seemed pleased and thanked us also and said that they needed to get going. Some new folks wandered over to our table at this moment providing the man with an opportunity to slip away.
Several minutes later, I happened to see the man and the little girl at the checkout just at the moment that her father was placing the fake natural shampoo with the toxic chemical in it on the checkout counter to be added to his purchases. At that moment, all I could think of was that little girl. Simultaneously, my chemotherapy days flashed before my eyes. I picked up one of our trial size bottles of our Pure Earth Hair Wash and took it over to the young girl. When she saw the gift that I had for her, she was thrilled to learn how she should use it. The father thanked me, but I have to admit, I had a hard time looking him in the eye.
I still cannot understand why anyone would purchase or use a product like that on themselves or on their children, particularly after being informed about the slick deception and the potential health hazard. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture? Are people really willing to spend fifty dollars and more per month on the luxury of a cell phone service, but unwilling to spend a few additional dollars to safeguard the health of themselves or their children?
4 November 2001
It's hard for me to believe that yet another summer has come and gone. I broke my ankle at the beginning of summer wrestling with a stubborn, rascally Virginia Red Cedar seedling and was deeply concerned about the impact of my incapacitation on the state of our herb display garden, which was in desperate need of attention. Fortunately, we managed to find some knowledgeable gardeners who were able to help out at our farm this year. I am pleased with our redefined and replanted beds and look forward to the new growth that will come with spring.
Spring. I'm sure that it will be here before I blink twice. Why, I just blinked once and here it is, November 4, and Jim and I just returned from a TerrEssentials road trip through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The fall foliage was beautiful, but most of the people that we met on our trip were far more vibrant. Please be sure to visit our new retail store locator section to read about the great stores and people that we met.
I don't believe that I've taken the time to ever properly introduce myself to most of you. I hope you won't mind, if I take a moment to give you a little of our personal history. (I won't be the least offended if you're a little pressed for time and would like to skip our personal history stuff and slide on ahead a few paragraphs.)
I am a crafty designer with a vivid imagination who enjoys a stay at Philippe Starck's humorous and pretentiously dramatic Paramount Hotel in fantastic New York City. I'm a sassy herb lady who loves my boys - our five wild barn cats, our farm and all of this short life's many challenges. My soul finds some deep satisfaction in knowing that no one could ever quite fit my round peg in the square hole and that I was born too early to get caught in the ritalin craze.
For those of you interested in more cosmic, personal attributes, Jim is a Sagittarius and I am Aries. On the native American medicine wheel that makes Jim an owl and me a hawk. What a combination! (This is my Diana's Planet page and I am permitted to be totally personal, totally me here, so bear with me. At the risk of being compared to Ayn Rand - but, wait! Not her fantastic writing style, I'm no egomaniac. I know my writing is not anywhere near the caliber of her sophisticated, intellectually stimulating philosophical writing style - I'm simply talking about her tendency to lecture. By the way, did you know that Alan Greenspan once was the editor of the Ayn Rand newsletter?) (Now that I've warned you, if you're not a big Ayn Rand fan, go ahead and skip down a few paragraphs.)
Ok, back to our story again. In late spring of 1988, we learned that I had a very aggressive tumor: non-Hodgkins lymphoma. At this time in our lives we thought that we were pretty darn healthy. Neither one of us owned a car, we rode bikes or walked everywhere. I participated in a volleyball league and worked out two to three times a week. Jim and I both ate meat, but tried to eat more chicken and turkey, "white" meat, because we had heard that it was better for us. We both ate lots of Thai and Ethiopian food, whole wheat bread, fresh fruit, broccoli, multivitamins and drank distilled water and Sleepytime tea. In looking back, it's incredible how much we've expanded our minds since then.
From the nutritional and healing perspectives we've studied vegetarianism, raw foods, macrobiotics, juicing, herbalism and acupuncture. Because of our architectural backgrounds and environmental interest, Jim and I both became certified A.D.A. (aka Americans with Disabilities Act) design specialists with majors in nontoxic building design. During this same period we also did special research projects into agro-business (we bought our organic farm) and organic farming (growing organic herbs, perennials and veggies), retail operations (we opened our store), cosmetic formulation, food chemical engineering, household product formulation, phytotherapy and exotic botanicals topical applications, aromatherapy, vitamin and pharmaceutical manufacturing (often eerily similar), the history of human and animal disease, nutrition and disease prevention, chemical manufacturing, environmental pollution and degradation, genetic engineering, geopathic energy, remote viewing, Washington lobbying and, last but not least, crafting totally natural body care products.
This year has been a year of incredible growth for our small company and for me, personally, professionally and spiritually. Jim and I spent this past year working extremely hard, traveling across the country, visiting health food and natural products stores and speaking to store buyers and customers. We have also been blessed with incredible encounters with new and unique friends from varied layers of our social planetary strata. To say that our experiences have been enlightening doesn't begin to capture the true essence of the brilliant wit, insights, eccentricities, inventions, encouragement and deep humanity of our ever-increasing circle of dear friends. You all know who you are.
One of the great things about being alive is tasting new experiences. I love to get up in the morning. I can't imagine who could say that nothing surprises them, because no matter what day it is, I've always had at least one surprise. Some days though, I could do without the surprises.
Traveling in the grand ol' US has me surprised with the remarkable similarities of so many towns and health food stores that we visited. I knew that America, in general, has been molded into sameness and familiarity with the acceptance of strip malls, chain stores and suburban sprawl. Even so, armed with this awareness, it still came as a shock to me to see this cookie-cutter sameness affecting even the natural products industry from coast to coast. I've gradually come to accept that not everyone is like me and doesn't seek out uniqueness and organic everything, but I do so with disappointment. This is exactly why visiting these stores has been such a great learning experience. There are some stores that only want to carry what everybody else carries, they don't want to be different. They want what's easy to get from the one distributor that supplies them with all of their standard "health" food store stuff. OK, these folks don't understand what our mission is. Then there are the stores, the people who get it. They make our long hours and hard efforts worthwhile. The informed people on the cutting edge say things like "Where have you guys been?" and "Wow! You guys are fantastic!" and "You guys rock!" We have touched people and been touched back. We've exchanged hugs and formed partnerships with some of the coolest and smartest people in the country. The exchange of energy has been potent, a bubbling volcano, and to think about this powerful force, these revolutionary people, feeds my soul and provides me with the fuel to continue moving forward.
When you are a small company in a land of giants, some days can be wearisome. You take ten steps up the mountain and a giant at the top rolls a boulder down your path. Being a crusader for our organic birthrights and meeting the face of darkness, the chemical industry, can sometimes be a little frightening. I have seen evil technology, lies and outright fraud. I spend a great deal of my life reading discomforting materials and sifting through double-speak to find the truth and, when I unearth a piece of the puzzle, I pass it along to the other bearers of light. Being a cancer survivor, I am determined, some say obsessed, to stay healthy and enjoy a long life. I feel that my cancer was an awakening. It brought me an awareness of my mission, my purpose in this life. I now know that my reason for being here on this planet, at this time, is to remind others of the fragility of life. To remind people of balance and the universal interconnectedness of all things. The only way that I know to do this is to do what I do. There are some who are afraid of the truth, who see the truth as negative because it makes them feel uncomfortable - or unprofitable. Others are threatened by the truth because they have something to hide.
Many of you who know me know that I am not a Pollyanna type. I usually calls 'em like I sees 'em. To borrow another euphemism - I shoot straight from the hip. I have battled cancer, and won. As a cancer survivor, I can tell you this: there is no pleasant, sunny way to talk about cancer, losing your hair, chemo and other cancer treatments, or dying from cancer. Many people would prefer that you not talk about cancer because IT is uncomfortable, for them. Well, you know what? It IS uncomfortable. The thing about an illness like cancer is that it doesn't just affect the person who has it, it affects everyone around them. It is painful, physically, emotionally, financially. However grim a diagnosis may be, I believe, I know, that many cancers can be prevented.
There are many people who go through their lives and never make any changes or try to improve themselves because they cling to the idea that their lives are pre-ordained by some mystical power or fate. This is a pretty easy and comfortable way to live because it absolves them of any responsibility or potentially challenging situations. Well, I must be nuts, because I've never taken the easy road. I thrive on quests for knowledge. This is why I've spent my past thirteen post-cancer years researching cancer, its causes, prevention and cures. I guess you could say that I've become a cancer prevention specialist.
I could (and probably will) spend hours, days and years telling you all what I've learned about cancer, but I'll spare you today and try to stay focused on my point here. My point is that I believe that many, maybe even most, cancers can be prevented. There is overwhelming evidence that implicates a chemical lifestyle in the triggering of cancerous cell mutations. There are always going to be those who lower their eyes, shrug their shoulders, shake their heads and say "Oh, there's nothing that I can do. We're all going to die sometime." Then, there are others who say "I'm going to try to eat more vegetables and exercise to stay healthy." Yet others who say "I'm going to become vegetarian and purchase as much organic produce as possible because, if I reduce my exposure to pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, I'll reduce my risk of cancer." The vegetarian/organic approach is great, definitely heading in the right direction, but it's not enough. For those of you who are delicate and easily overwhelmed - stop reading now! If you are of a stronger nature, please continue.
No person living on this planet can totally control the quality of air that we breathe, everywhere, every day. Drinking water is a pretty tough one, too. In fact, these two issues alone are enough to make most people throw up their hands. It is important to know that most of our toxic chemical exposure comes from our personal environment. What is "personal environment?" Personal environment is your personal space, personal situations, personal routines, meals, clothing, housing, hobbies and body care. Yes, body care! Rather than being overwhelmed by the feelings of powerlessness that can result from environmental overload, it is far better to focus on personal environment.
You might not be able to solve the world's air pollution problem today, but you can work on your own personal environment's air pollution or water pollution. You do have a great deal of control over what you put in your mouth and what you put on your body. New science shows us that our primary source of chemical exposure is what we breathe. How can you improve your personal environment air quality? There are many easy, little steps you can take. Use less toxic building materials. Buy more organic and/or clothing and fabric products that haven't been treated with toxic chemical dyes, sizing and flame-proofing agents or stain or moth repellants. Most importantly: Don't buy products with known or suspected carcinogens or hazardous perfumed products that use "fragrance" or even "natural fragrance." Petrochemical perfumes can trigger horrific breathing problems and even death in asthmatic individuals. Chemical "fragrance" has also been linked to a host of other health problems including those of neurological origin - hyperactivity, aggressiveness, migraines.
You need to know that a new class of chemical exists: nature identical fragrances. There is a relatively new chemical technology - "head space technology" - that chemists claim gives them the ability to replicate natural fragrances found in nature from petrochemical raw materials. Many companies, yes, even "natural" products companies, are using these synthetic chemical fragrances in personal care and household products and are labeling these chemicals as "natural fragrance." Some even have the stupendous gall to label their products as environmentally friendly. Though, sadly, the chemical industry has successfully lobbied the government into acquiescence regarding the labeling of these chemicals as "natural fragrance", don't be fooled. Read labels and withhold your money from green-washing eco-imitator companies like these. They don't care about your health or that of your children. They don't care about the health of our planet or how other beings on a higher universal intellectual plane may perceive humans. They care about the bottom line and, to them, you and me, we're just numbers, dollar signs.
Now, there's something I want to remind you of: I am not a luddite, opposing businesses or technology. I believe in free enterprise and progressive life-enhancing technical innovation. (I had my first business at age nine - selling snow cones in the summer.) I am opposed to dangerous technology, however. For example, as a woman who suffers from R.A.D.S., Reactive Airways Disorder, my lungs react to certain chemicals in "fragrances." There have been incidents when I have experienced immediate wheezing and severe loss of pulmonary function when I have breathed one of these "natural fragrances." It is very frightening to be fully conscious and not be able to breathe. It is chilling, fearsome and expensive to be in an emergency room breathing oxygen and drugs to try to open your lungs, wondering if you are going to die.
I do believe, completely, that you have the right to wear and do whatever you want; however, when what you do can hurt me, cause ME to die, I must insist that your rights must stop at my nose.
There's nothing more personal in your personal environment than what you rub on your skin or what you clean your teeth with: personal care products. You can absolutely control what you put on your body and, if you consider that when you apply body lotion, for instance, whatever is in that lotion is slowly being absorbed through your skin all day. Whenever you wash your hands, you are absorbing hand-washing stuff through your hands. According to research being conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, washing your hair with shampoo products can be a significant source of hormone-disrupting chemicals. What about pleasant little lip protectors? Did you know that sunscreen chemicals were never tested as food additives and, yet, they are in most of the lip protectors on the market. Where has all of that lip protector with the sunscreen gone when the tube is empty? You ate it! Now for some news hot off the press, Jim just found some new information about the endocrine-disrupting and cancer fueling side effects of "safe" levels of these chemicals. Yeesh!
I've yet to see a store with the oh-so-strict standards that we have in our TerrEssentials store. I can tell you that it takes a lot of time to do the research on ingredients and manufacturing that we do and most people are not willing to make the time to be intensive, dedicated researchers. Many stores say that they have to make money, they have to survive, so they have to sell what people want, so they sell any body care items that exist - if a good amount of people ask for them. People, who don't do intensive, unbiased research, rely on the media or a manufacturers advertising propaganda to be informed. This is why most people ask for want they've seen advertised in print or on television. Just what kind of companies, generally speaking, can afford to run full-page color ads, month after month, in major publications at $5,000 to $30,000 dollars per month, per magazine? Pretty gosh-darn, big companies, that's who. I can tell you that smaller companies and the majority of small organic farmers like us can't afford promotional budgets and propaganda campaigns of that magnitude. Some of the small and struggling organic farmers that we work with can't even afford the fees or the time that is necessary to deal with the bureaucratic paperwork that organic certification and organic marketing demands.
Where do companies get the funds to run these costly ads? Sometimes they make a lot of money from glamorizing the cheapest ingredients they can find and selling them for as high a price as they can get away with. This is considered to be excellent business by most people. Not too long ago I saw a half-page newspaper advertisement for a face cream that was being offered at an upscale department store for the incredible price of $250 for a one ounce jar! What was even more interesting was that the cream was entirely synthetic. The sad thing about this scenario is that this is not a unique incident. Sharp marketing and grand advertising budgets over the past fifty years has created entire generations of people who have now lived their whole lives completely surrounded by synthetic chemicals. It's kind of bizarre to think that there are many people alive who would not recognize real essential oils and, in fact, might even find true organic flower oils to be unfamiliar, insipid, strange or distasteful. How odd is this, in this the best of all possible worlds!
Some stores take great pride in their wide selection of organic produce and don't hesitate to educate their customers about the health and environmental benefits of eating organic fruits & veggies. I applaud this wide-spread and increasing support of organic farming. Now I wish that I could somehow communicate to all of the health food stores across the land that we, obsessive organic produce buyers and label-reading ingredient junkies, are confused by inconsistent philosophies. Why have one standard for one product category and different standards for another product category? Does it make sense to buy organic produce and then rub synthetic chemicals on your skin? Maybe if we had some clear definitions of the words organic and natural in body care land, this would help to make us ingredient junkies happier. We must take organics to the next level. If we can talk about the health and environmental benefits of produce and another agricultural product, organic cotton, we need to talk about organic, agriculturally-based body care.
Speaking of organic farms and organic hand-crafted agricultural body care and and Fair Trade...oh! We weren't talking about Fair Trade? Sorry! Fair Trade these days seems to me to have too narrow a focus, particularly now, in view of our recent economic woes. I'd like to bring up a point that seems to have been overlooked. Fair Trade isn't simply about fair wages and economic, environmental and social balance and diversity in foreign lands. It is also about Fair Trade here in our homeland. I think that right now is the best time to refine our perspective about what truly constitutes Fair Trade. In order to have global balance, we need to have balance locally first. We have a lot of problems here in our own country and it is now, more than ever, the right time to support progressive, organic and truly environmentally sustainable small businesses in America. With our purchasing choices we can begin in our own backyard and help the health-oriented businesses to thrive. By the way, where are your body care products being made?
Terrorism, gasoline by-products, petrochemicals, pesticides, GMO's, irradiation, air pollution, ozone, chemical preservatives, growth hormones, chemical warfare, herbicides, dioxin, mass extinction and on and on and on. What do all of these things have in common? Humans. Greed. Profits. Who has the power to make changes? Humans. You. Me. As a link in the chain of the universe, a student on the path of enlightenment, I want to become one with the positive forces of energy, remembered as one who generates good harmony. Join me, join with us. The simple act of choosing to use organic and chemical-free products takes power away from the forces of darkness. Don't give money to the forces that try to keep us on our knees. Fight back with the strength of your right to choose and with your wallet. Organic is everyone's birthright.
16 July 2000
How did we end up here - in
summer, already? The garden at Terressentials was
a site to behold this spring, with many herbs
abundantly producing thanks to the considerable
rain of our first drought-free summer in three
years. We harvested about five hundred pounds of
catnip and lemon balm! We're redoing our beds
this year and, for some crazy reason, decided to
add three more beds. What were we thinking?
We've been extremely busy
making and shipping the new Organic Flower
Therapy skin care products and have been so
pleased to hear the glowing reports from those
who have been using them. Thanks for telling the
world about us. Please continue to do so! Also,
if you have a favorite store where you'd like to
be able to purchase our TerrEssentials products,
let us know about the store and we promise that
we will contact them.
Are you ready for
some hard news? I suppose I should feel
vindicated about this item, but I don't. This
week in the Washington Post, a front page
headline declared that environmental and
behavioral factors (unhealthy lifestyles - using
chemical body care products, poor diet, no
exercise, etc.) are the main causes of the
majority of cancers, NOT gene defects. We've
known this for years and have been trying to get
this message across to everyone we meet. It's
interesting to note that the article stated that
scientists have known for a long time that
environmental factors were important factors in
many incidences of cancer. When I was diagnosed
with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1988 and I asked
why I got cancer, the doctors told me that it was
because of "bad" genes. Later, when I
debated Elizabeth Whelan MD, a covert
spokesperson for the chemical industry, on a
radio talk show, she dismissed my reports of
studies, some done by the US government, that
defined links between specific classes of
pesticides and chemical body care ingredients and
lymphomas. Ah! The evil of corporate propaganda.
Presumably, you've done
considerable research and have made many
lifestyle changes and this search has led you to
our store or website. Hopefully, you've already
eliminated house and garden chemicals from your
home and you've been eating a primarily organic
and unprocessed, fresh food diet with many
healing herbs (without meat and dairy, of course!)
and drink pure water. You've probably been
reading labels on body care products and have
been disturbed because you're not familiar with
and can't pronounce many of the ingredients.
Perhaps you purchased a body lotion because it
said "organic" or "natural"
on the front label and when you read the
ingredients later, found only one organic
ingredient listed out of twenty, or maybe no
organic ingredients at all!
If you've seen more of
the TerrEssentials website or have talked with
anybody in our company, you, most likely, have a
pretty good idea how we feel about rubbing
synthetic ingredients on your body. Here's Diana's
golden rule for evaluating ingredients:
ingredient isn't distilled water, minerals, cold-pressed
or steam-distilled oils, medicinal grade herbal
extracts or seaplants, you don't want to feed it
to your skin. Don't let them confuse you with
words on the front that say "organic"
or "natural" and phrases on the back
that say "derived from...". Are the
ingredients rocks, water or can you grow in them
in your garden?
What's troubling to me
is that manufacturers aren't required to tell you
how they extract herbs and oils or about the
preservatives in the ingredients that they buy if
they are below a certain percentage. Hey guys!
Take it from me: cancer is no fun. It is every
bit as important to be chemical-free with your
body care products as it is to be chemical-free
with the food that you eat. In fact, according to
the research I've collected below, it seems to me
that is actually MORE important to be chemical-free
with body care and household products.
Here are some important
facts for you to chew on:
(Italics and Bold are
the author's editorial license.)
Contrary to popoular belief, eating and drinking
are NOT the primary routes of chemical exposure.
Recent human water immersion studies indicate
that the primary routes of chemical exposure are
(in order) inhalation and skin absorption.
following information is excerpted from the US
Food and Drug Administration's Office of
Cosmetics website (December 9, 1999):
The National Toxicology
Program completed a study (they'd been
investigating this for years) in 1998 that found
an association between the topical application of
diethanolamine (DEA) and certain DEA-related
ingredients and CANCER in laboratory animals.
DEA related ingredients
are widely used in a wide variety of cosmetic
products - including
those sold in health food stores and labeled
These ingredients function as emulsifiers or
foaming agents and generally are used at levels
of 1-5% of a product's formulation.
The following are some of
the most commonly used ingredients that may
Cocamide DEA, Cocamide
MEA, DEA-Cetyl Phosphate, DEA-Oleth-3 Phosphate,
Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide MEA, Myristamide DEA,
Oleamide DEA, Stearamide MEA, TEA Lauryl Sulfate,
cancers of the lymphatic system (the detoxifying
drainage system of our body), have been making an
astounding rise - nearly
doubling since the 1970's. Lung, prostate, breast and colon
cancers are still at the top of the list,
although the incidence of these cancers appears
to have leveled off. This year 62,300 Americans
will be diagnosed with lymphoma and over 27,000
will die this year. Some lymphomas are slow-growing,
others are highly aggressive and rapidly fatal.
Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is the type that is rising
most dramatically in America and in most
July 1999, in the US Federal
Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed
rule that stated that wastes from manufacture of
dyes used to color cosmetics may be listed as hazardous wastes. The EPA listed facilities that
created in the production of FD & C (Food,
Drug & Cosmetic) colorants as those that are likley to be
regulated by this action.
Because of many complaints to its agency varying
from mild irritation to serious illness about
beauty products, Health Canada (the Canadian
counterpart to the US FDA) is setting up a
program to examine the safety of makeup and other
personal care products. They are concerned about
the cumulative health effects and low-level
toxicity of various cosmetic/body care
ingredients. Hugh Davis, a Health Canada official,
was quoted in Happi (Household And Personal Products
Industry) magazine in January of this year
as stating: "Some people use a moisturizer
every day, which is fine. But to use it for 30
years, we want to know if there is some long-term
effect." Previously, Canada did NOT have any
regulations requiring mandatory ingredient
disclosure; however, they are publishing new
rules this year to require a complete disclosure.
We currently have mandatory ingredient disclosure
regulations here in the US. However, I have seen
many products on store shelves that I know have
ingredients that are not listed. Here are two
examples: a) two different shampoo products, with
lathering properties, that have no soap or detergent listed on the label and
b) a product that has no essential oils or
strongly aromatic herbs listed on the label, yet
has a distinctive fragrance. A representative of
the FDA stated to me that "at this time, the
burden of proof rests upon the FDA to prove that
an (cosmetic) ingredient may be harmful, and the
FDA has neither the time nor the resources to
investigate all of the ingredients in all of the
products on the market. Currently, our primary
focus is on pharmaceuticals.")
recent FDA study of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
concluded that using products containing 10%
glycolic acid increases the skin's sensitivity to
the sun's UVB rays - making
the skin more susceptible to free radicals and
skin cell mutations, i.e. melanomas, etc.
Autopsy studies have found that 39% of women from
40 to 50 years old have tumors in their breasts,
46% of men aged 60 to 70 years have prostate
cancer in the form of small tumors, and, almost
all people aged 50 to 70 have small thyroid
tumors. According to scientists at Dartmouth
University, many people live their lives with
small cancers, and many early-detected cancers
never become "clinically significant,"
that is, they won't cause problems. In prostate
cancer, for instance, because doctors have no way
to distinguish between the tumors that won't
cause harm and the ones that will, ALL are
treated. Some scientists are concerned that
advances in detection will result in more people
being subjected to high-risk chemotherapy,
radiation or surgery. As reported in Spectrum magazine.
Diana's theory on this
is pretty similar - I think that we're ALL born
with the potential for cancer. It's what we rub
on our bodies, what we breathe, what we drink and
how we think that determines what cancers grow.
On the brighter side,
you' ve found out about us. We're on your side.
Welcome to Diana's Planet!
6 February 2000
Every year the media
report that asthma is rising at alarming rates
and that bad housekeepers are to blame. Haven't
you read or heard that those evil dust mites and
bad cat dander are the cause of all of these
asthma problems? Of course you have.
So as not to spoil a
perfect record, the Washington Post, on 20
January 2000, did indeed include an article
summarizing a report prepared by the Institute of
Medicine, which is a part of the National Academy
of Sciences. The report stated that cases of
asthma have risen 75% since 1980. The report also
stated that dust mites, cat dander, cockroaches
and secondhand tobacco smoke are the "proven"
culprits in worsening asthma. Curiously, there is
no mention of chemical culprits such as perfumes,
chemical cleaners, pesticides, paints, air
What catapulted this
asthmatic author to the keyboard after reading
this article was the evil, the murders, the lie,
the billions in profit. The evil is that this
truly is a conspiracy. The murders involve humans
and animal companions. The lie involves reports
such as this. The billions in profits for
chemical companies, I will explain.
As an asthmatic who has
gone through the conventional medical wringer, I
can tell you that my housekeeping habits have
been attacked on numerous occasions. I was told
that I must get rid of my cats (two at the time).
I was told that I would need to take drugs for
the rest of my life and that I should just "learn
to live with it" (my asthma, low energy,
migraines, stomach problems, rashes, mood swings,
joint pains, swelling and constant flu-like
symptoms). Let's take this point by point. I am
told that if my house weren't so filled with dust
mite and cockroach feces and dander, and if I
would clean more often, I would have fewer
breathing problems. What does a normal person do
when they hear this? Why, they run down to the
discount store and buy more chemical cleaning
products. Then they also buy soft vinyl covers
for their chemically-laden conventional
mattresses and pillows. When these options don't
make the asthma go away, it's time to murder the
cats - off to the animal shelter they go! The
asthma specialist that I saw (ten years ago)
never mentioned vitamin supplements or dietary
changes and when I asked what he thought of the
chinese asthma herb, ma huang or ephedra sinica,
he barked "That's quackery!"
Here's the problem with
the scenario above. First, it adds significant
stress to the person whose body and mind is
already overburdened by this life-threatening
condition by blaming the patient for the illness,
i.e. "bad housekeeper". Third, an
asthmatic whose immunity is already seriously
compromised, brings even more, and possibly more
dangerous, cleaning chemicals and pesticides (for
those darn cockroaches) into the house that will
detrimentally affect her/his deteriorating health.
Fourth, millions of cats are murdered every year
because the patient has been led to believe that
their beloved feline companions are causing their
I tried all of the
conventional medical recommendations (except for
killing my cats) and I did not get better. In
fact I got worse, much worse. When I finally got
tired of the drugs, the side effects and the
constant state of stress from living with the
fear of death by conscious suffocation, my hub
and I explored the realm of alternative ideas.
Here's what I did. I eliminated all animal
products and food addtives from my diet and began
to consume all organic unprocessed foods. I
stopped drinking any tap water or bottled spring
water products, sodas and coffee and drank only
distilled water and organic juice. We installed a
chlorine removing shower filter. We got rid of
all chemical body care items, perfumes, air
fresheners, cleaners, strippers, pesticides,
paints, sealers, etc. Also, we got rid of the
soft petrochemical/vinyl mattress and pillow
covers. I weaned myself off of all chemical
pharmaceuticals. Started using organic herbal
preparations and vitamin/mineral blends. Avoided
people, places and things with high chemical
odors. Got rid of "dry-clean only"
clothing and invested in non-toxic clothing.
Moved out of an old house with a damp and moldy
basement. The results of our alternative approach?
No asthma. No bills for doctor or emergency room
visits. No drug bills. No migraines. No joint
pain. No stomach problems. I still have my cats,
in fact, I now have four! My house is still dusty,
but chemical-free. My health and my hub's is
great! No flu in over five years! Low blood
pressure and low cholesterol and freedom from
I did NOT follow the
conventional medical asthma regime and I am
healed! My body is mostly back in balance and I
can think clearly and have great amounts of
energy. Now here is the interesting part. Every
single asthmatic person that I know who DID
follow the conventional asthma regime has NOT
been cured. Most of the people who go the
conventional route seem to get worse every year
and some die. Think about this, and then do your
own personal investigation. You will see that the
numbers do not add up.
Who wins in this asthma
epidemic? The only group that seems to win in
this arena is the chemical industry. They win big
profits on several fronts. They make the products
that made you sick in the first place. They make
the drugs that the doctors want you to take every
day for the rest of your life. They make the
carpets, cleaners, disinfectants, pesticides and
vinyl products that they want you little
consumers (I hate this word! Whatever happened to
citizens?) to buy and buy and buy. They fund the
asthma researchers and medical schools and wine
and dine doctors, nurses and hospital
administrators. They also, unbelievably, profit
from the euthanized pets that are sold to
rendering plants to be made into cheap fat for
use as a raw material in prescription drugs,
foods and body care products (more about this
Where do you stand? Stop
the petrochemical poisoning of people today. Take
back your money from the chemical industry and
use your dollars to fight back by supporting
small organic businesses and reducing the
chemical load on our planet and your body. If
asthma alone rose by 75% in just twenty years,
who will be left to breathe freely ten years from
6 January 2000
Last year newspapers
around the country reported that two scientists
in Switzerland, Hans-Rudolf Buser and Markus
Mueller, discovered pharmaceuticals in drinking
water supplies when testing the water for
pesticides. Some of the drugs that were
discovered included clofibric acid (a cholesterol-lowering
drug), antibiotics, chemotherapy and anti-inflammatory
drugs. Subsequent studies in Switzerland and
Germany found the problem to be widespread and,
frighteningly, found that some of the antibiotic
residues discovered were in concentrations high
enough to kill bacteria. At the Wiesbaden water
lab, water samples from around the country were
screened for 60 common pharmaceuticals and 30 of
the drugs were found in the water.
Scientists worldwide are
worried about the findings. The journal
Chemosphere, published by the Royal Danish School
of Pharmacy in Copenhagen, reported that after
reviewing over 100 studies on environmental drug
residues, they were unable to find any
substantial research on toxicity for humans
drinking the water.
Stuart Levy, director of
the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug
Resistance at Tufts University expressed concern
about the antibiotics in the water not only
altering the ecology of the environment, but also
contributing to the rise of drug resistant
bacteria. Other researchers investigating frog
and fish mutations in Minnesota and other upper
Midwest states, are now investigating the
possibility that hormones from birth control and
estrogen replacement drugs might be a
contributing factor in the wildlife deformities.
The director of the EPA's
Wastewater Permit Operations stated that sewage
plant operators have know for years that their
wastewater was very high in caffeine,
particularly so after morning rush hour and
coffee breaks. (A teacher in Maryland remarked
that children in her classes are washing down
their Ritalin with cola!) Pharmaceutical capsules
and tablets dissolve quickly in water and are not
intended to remain in the body for long so that
they will not accumulate and damage tissue.
Approximately 50% of every pill taken ends up in
the water supplies. Billions of doses of
prescription and over-the-counter drugs now
contaminate water supplies in the US alone.
Then consider what
happens when expired drugs are flushed into your
community's water system, and add those into the
NOW, permit me to sound
off. People have always been told by doctors,
pharmacists and drug packaging labeling that they
should NEVER mix pharmaceuticals with other
pharmaceuticals and NEVER with alcohol. Why?
Because when you mix drugs or drugs with alcohol
(alcohol IS a drug) they combine in the body to
form new dangerous compounds with unpredictable
results. It turns out that every time someone
swallows a pill with a BIG GLASS OF WATER, they
have been doing what they were told they should
NEVER do: mixing drugs with other drugs. Once
again, people are playing the unwitting part of
mad scientists and guinea pigs on thenselves and
their children, creating new chemical compounds
every time they pop a pill or drink their
medicine. What are the side effects? Allow me to
make an educated guess - flu-like symptoms, sleep
disorders, depression, impotence, lack of energy,
hyperactivity, migraines, neuromuscular disorders,
autism, cancer, stomach problems, confused
thinking, violent behavior, paranoia, skin
problems, respiratory afflictions, fertility
impairment, hypertension and so on.
Solutions? DON'T DRINK
THE WATER! Great. We live on a planet that is two-thirds
water and we can't drink any of it. What about
the wildlife that is affected? It's not like they
can buy Evian. Bottled water and juices - are they
safe? Where is the water coming from when you buy
that coffee, tea, juice or soup at the health
food store, restaurant or juice bar? Most
companies do not use purified water in
manufacturing food and beverage products.
The big problem? Apathy.
The problem is too big. What can one person do?
Everything causes cancer. We're so busy. You can't
fight city hall. You can't take on industry. The
ideal remedy: radical, yes radical, changes in
the way we think, manufacture, farm and live.
Realistically speaking? Most people hate change.
Change means different. Being different is bad.
I would love to hear
what other people think. I am working hard to
influence others into making positive changes and,
because I don't sugar-coat the ugly truth, some
people are "uncomfortable" with what
they hear me tell them. Some may even view me as
extreme because they hear things from me that
they've never heard on television or radio or
seen in a drugstore/doctor's office magazine.
Some are frightened by my strong advocacy for a
chemical-free life and my passion to remain
cancer-free. People who have never had to fight
to live against a cancer caused by chemical
exposure might see my viewpoint as fanatic. So be
it. I cannot spend my short time on this planet
in oblivion, ignoring crippling planetary
devastation and leading a self-centered life. How
do you cope? What are your ideas? Email me via
this website with YOUR thoughts and I will post
the most intriguing letters.
By the way, Jim and I
don't drink the water. We haven't since 1986.
27 December 1999
Regional Primate Research Center reported that
they were successful in splicing glowing
jellyfish protein genes into rhesus monkey sperm.
The bioengeered sperm was then used to fertilize
monkey eggs. The resulting monkey embryos had the
jellyfish protein green glow.
Seven of the glowing
embryos were transplanted into female monkeys
with just one resulting in a live birth, George,
a six-month old male. Scientists now say that
they are unsure whether George has the jellyfish
glowing protein gene. Perhaps, he hasn't reached
prime glowing years yet?
The researchers did
admit that their hope is to bioengineer a new
super laboratory monkey that could be used for
studying human disease.
27 December 1999
A parent writes to a
certain syndicated medical columnist that her pre-teen
demands to use hair spray. Mom says that she
doesn't like the idea of her 11-year old using
this (sexist, toxic, planet killing - Diana's
opinion) junk, but needs supportive factoids to
convince her daughter not to use the stuff.
quack-buster who loves to attack alternative
health therapies, actually states that hair spray
will not affect her daughter's health. Hello!
What planet does Doc hail from? Once again I am
disgusted by misinformation. (Here's more to chew
on: interior designers, for instance, are
required by law to hold a license to practice
commercial interior design. In order to maintain
this license, they are required to complete a
number of continuing education credit hours every
two or three years. Why aren't medical
professionals held to a similar standard?)
If I had my own planet,
hair spray would not exist.
Many hair sprays contain
liquid plastic polymers, some of which are
formulated by carpet fiber technologists. A very
common one, PVP copolymer or polyvinylpyrrolidone,
is a petrochemical plastic product that flakes
off the hair when dried. These polymers are
ubiquitous in mass market hair care products.
They are primarily found in hair sprays, although
they can also be found in shampoos, conditioners
and styling gels and mousses. These plastic
polymers pose a hazard to not just the hair spray
user but to everyone who might be near this
person. The polymers are engineered to flake off
throughout a normal day, thus eliminating massive
plastic buildup. Unfortunately for us, these
flakes are inhaled into the lungs and, over time,
have the potential to cause a serious lung
condition called thesaurosis. Thesaurosis
is a narrowing of the lung's airways due to scar
tissue forming over the imbedded plastic
particles in the lungs. For anyone afflicted with
asthma, RADS, emphysema, etc., this could be a
life-threatening problem. If you are athletic or
just like to exercise, the more deeply you
breathe, the more deeply chemical pollutants and
plastic polymer shards get into the lungs. Is the
dramatic rise in "asthma" caused by
these plastic particles or aggravated by them?
sprays contain solvents which have the potential
to interfere with neurological processing. Some
kids these days will sniff anything to get high.
Why not hair spray? Petrochemical solvents could
be problematic for some people who suffer from
migraines, epilepsy, neuro-muscular disorders (MS,
Parkinsons, etc.) or hyperactivity disorders.
Haven't we seen enough episodes of neurological
impairment in our schools, in offices, fast food
joints and on the highways with violent daily
I could analyze the
harmful side effects of all hair spray
ingredients, but I'll spare you that for now and
wrap up this opinion with one last ingredient:
FRAGRANCE. Virtually all hair sprays employ
synthetic petrochemical fragrances to mask the
odor of the chemical solvents and plastics. After
all, who wants to smell like an automotive repair
shop? Chemical fragrances have been identified in
scientific studies as positive triggers for
asthmatics. They have also been shown in
neurological scans to interfere with brain
function. They are also linked to migraines. Some
are effective pesticides.
Then there's the sexist
angle. Hair spray. Big hair. UNreal hair. Fantasy
hair. The manipulation of the tender female
psyche. What's wrong with normal hair? But I won't
go into this angle.
23 December 1999
A recent study reported
in the New England Journal of Medicine that
asthmatic human subjects were injected with an
experimental antibody serum, rhuMAb-E25, that
contains a cloned mouse gene. The bioengineered
concoction is being tested by Genentech, Novartis
Pharma AG and Tanox, who hope to share in the
multi-billion dollar profits generated by this
This new DNA cocktail is
being marketed to the FDA as an IgE binder, to
reduce the production of histamine - an
alternative to the horrible steroids from the
1900's. It is being marketed to investors as an
incredible new and highly profitable
bioengineering patent to kick-off a new century.
The global financial
power lords, mad scientists and greedy
politicians would, rather than change their
polluting way of conducting business, force the
masses to suffer with chemically induced diseases
and pharmaceutical drug addiction, and via
bioengineering, breed a new super-human/mouse/jellyfish
being. This bizarre new super human species will
be able to withstand signifigantly higher global
temperatures, an atmosphere complicated with
newly created chemical acid gases, a synthetic
petrochemical food diet and the stresses of
violent surges from their drugs' side effects.
Will your children be of this new human type? The
truly frightening thought is that this scenario
isn't science fiction, it is real life in the