January 23, 2017

Pesticides: When Killing the Pest Becomes the Plague

How Can We Minimize or Avoid Exposure to Pesticides?

by Rob Fischer

Greek mythology tells the tale of the Trojan horse. The tale describes how the Greeks tricked the citizens of Troy with the gift of this wooden horse. But unknown to Troy, the horse was filled with an elite troop of Greek soldiers. The people of Troy wheeled the giant horse into their city thinking it a great prize. In the process, they unwittingly aided in their own destruction.

Today, commercially grown produce, grain, meats, dairy products, etc. are that Trojan horse. Every day we unwittingly eat foods that are tainted with pesticides. And these toxins are waging war on our health!

Pesticide is a generic term that refers to any chemical or agent used to destroy pests. Thus, “pesticide” may refer to insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, or anything used to kill whatever pests are present. These pests may be insects, worms, molds, mildews, bacteria, weeds, and even mice, rats and gophers.

But think about it. If pesticides are designed to kill living organisms, what happens when we bite into an apple, plop a grape or strawberry into our mouths, or eat anything that has been sprayed with a pesticide? What happens to us? What effects are pesticides having on our health?

How Widespread Is the Use of Pesticides?

Unless you live in a more rural setting, you may not realize how widespread the use of pesticides has become. Virtually every crop that’s commercially grown is sprayed or treated with some form of pesticide. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc. According to Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center, “We’re exposed to a cocktail of chemicals from our food on a daily basis.”[1]

Just think, the seemingly healthy greens in your salad can also hide dangerous amounts of chemicals! In the US alone, we use more than a billion pounds of pesticide each year. Currently, there are about 20,000 products on the market with formulas that span more than a thousand chemicals.[2] When tested, the average American contains residue from 29 different pesticides in our bodies.[3]

Fortunately, since 1996, when Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act, pesticide residue on produce has declined in the US.[4] But the amount of residue and its potential impact on our health is still alarming. One problem is that over a third of all produce tested in the US has residue from two or more pesticides. The interaction of these chemicals within the human body is unknown.[5]

How Pesticides Hurt Us

Various pesticides use different means to kill the pests they are targeting. Some use a nerve-gas-like chemical to disrupt the neurological function of the pest. One type of pesticide, organophosphates, was developed and used as nerve gas during World War II.[6] Others throw a pest’s key hormones into unbalance. And others prevent a weed from being able to absorb necessary trace minerals from the soil.[7]

The problem is that whatever pest is being targeted is generally mingled in with the crop that eventually lands on our table. This includes any and all commercially grown or processed foods that are non-organic. Pests also eventually adapt to whatever pesticide is being used and become resistant to it. So, new pesticides must be developed and applied, which compounds the chemicals bombarding our food and our bodies.

How Pesticides Affect Our Health

Pesticides enter and damage the human body through a variety of means: eating foods treated with pesticides; drinking water that is contaminated from runoff; through exposure to pesticides that come into contact with the skin; and by breathing in pesticide particles.

The CHAMACOS Study that was released a few years ago followed hundreds of pregnant women who lived in Salinas Valley, California, a rich agricultural area. Up to a half-million pounds of organophosphates have been sprayed on all of the crops of this valley each year.[8]

effects-of-pesticides-on-your-childrenThe study observed the pregnancies, births and development of these children through age 12 to determine the effects of pesticides on their health. So this was an extensive research project. The study revealed:

  • Shorter pregnancies
  • Poorer neonatal reflexes
  • Lower IQs and cognitive function
  • Increased risk of attention problems[9]

Research on Dursban, a pesticide widely used to control household pests in the 90s, also showed similar effects on children.[10] And these studies only represent two primary products. We lived in Texas during the 90s. I now remember (with remorse) buying Dursban to control fleas, fire ants and roaches in our yard. (That product never worked very well.)

In Argentina, where massive exposure to pesticide glyphosate in herbicide has occurred, miscarriages, infertility, and birth defects have skyrocketed. In the village of Malvinas Argentinas, the miscarriage rate is 100 times the national average and birth defects are the number one cause of death among children under one year.[11]

Also, much data is available from studies of farmworkers who handle pesticides regularly. The link between these serious health issues and pesticides is undeniable. Babies and small children are especially susceptible to the negative health effects of pesticides. Toxins remain in their systems longer than with adults and children are more vulnerable to these toxins because their organs are still developing.[12]

The President’s Cancer Panel wrote a report in 2010 on the topic of environmental cancer risks. In that report they warned, “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals. … Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting properties.”[13]

Studies on the effects of pesticide on human health have linked them to: [14], [15]

Use of pesticides year after year permeates our soil and enters our drinking water through runoff. Authorities warn that even miniscule trace amounts of these chemicals are harmful to humans. A study that focused on the product Roundup was found to be “toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications.”[17]

What’s even more disturbing is that some foods have been genetically modified to contain pesticides within their own DNA!

Also, follow the downstream effects of pesticides. A hayfield is sprayed with pesticide. When harvested, the hay is bailed and fed to cattle. The cattle ingest the pesticide and pass it along to us in the form of meat, milk, cheese, and so on. The same can be said for pork, chicken, and a host of other food products.

How Can We Minimize or Avoid Exposure to Pesticides?

There are several things you can do to avoid or minimize your exposure to pesticides. And these measures are especially important if you are pregnant or have children at home.

1. Eat organic fruit, vegetables, dairy and meats.

By definition, organic foods must be free from use of synthetic or chemical pesticides and are non-GMO (genetically modified). Most grocery stores stock organic foods nowadays. True, organic food is more expensive, but it’s not as costly as it once was. And considering the alternative health problems, eating organic foods is much cheaper.

Local farmer’s markets and specialty markets also offer great selections of organic foods. And finally, why not grow your own? Veggies and herbs grown in the backyard or on the windowsill connect you with nature’s bounty — and you can create healthy, clean, and inexpensive food sans pesticides. Then you know exactly what you’re getting.

2. Avoid the “Dirty Dozen!

Some of your favorite smoothie staples could contain a serious dose of pesticide Not exactly the healthy drink you were going for. As of this year, strawberries have officially dethroned apples (which have ranked number one for the past five years) as the dirtiest piece of produce.

The Environmental Working Group has identified a list of produce that routinely contain more pesticide than any others. The 2016 list in order of contamination includes:[18]

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Unfortunately, the use of these pesticides that make it onto our plates is totally approved by the USDA. So if you want to avoid them entirely, your best bet is to stick to exclusively organic fruits and veggies. (Did you know that organic fruit also has more antioxidants?)

4. Wash your produce.

While peeling or washing produce may remove some pesticide residue, it cannot remove all of it. At the same time, washing produce well under running water is a good practice. Using a vegetable brush on harder produce like carrots and potatoes will help too.

5. Pay attention to the country of origin.

Where fruits and vegetables were grown is important in determining the relative safety of eating them due to types and concentrations of pesticides . Studies measuring the amount of pesticide residue are available to help us determine the safest countries to buy from. For instance, for low pesticide residue buy apples grown in New Zealand and asparagus, cabbage and broccoli from Mexico or the US. By law, produce stickers must divulge the country of origin.[19]

6. Look for natural substitutes for getting rid of pests.

This applies to your personal home applications of pesticides. There are numerous more natural and viable methods for getting rid of unwanted pests than reaching for the chemicals. Some of these are as simple as cutting some herbs and placing them on your window sill.

Across America, confusion reigns in the supermarket aisles about how to eat healthfully. One thing on shopper’s minds: the pesticides in fruits and vegetables. Spinach, grapes and strawberries are some of the worst pesticide offenders. Other regular items in your shopping cart such as tomatoes, apples, celery and peaches have all been found to contain a variety of killing chemicals.

And what do you put on your salad? It’s a chemical cocktail of pesticides. The most important thing is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, eating organic whenever possible. Organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food. Hopefully this article can help you save money while still looking out for your well-being.

So, now that this culinary Trojan horse has been exposed what will you do? The above list of nasty side effects associated with exposure to pesticides should serve as a wakeup call. Are you still skeptical? Then eat only organic foods for the next 30 days and see if you don’t feel better.

How else are food and beverage manufacturers trying to trick you? By sneaking sugar into your favorite foods, of course. Or, are you drinking arsenic-laden water?


Rob FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes ghostwriting, creating curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, and training courses. He has written over a dozen books and serves as an editor for a nationally known copywriter.





[1] Consumer Reports, “Pesticides in Produce,” nd, http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/natural-health/pesticides/index.htm.
[2] Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Bad News about Pesticides,” April 29, 2014, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/29/pesticide-exposure.aspx.
[3] Consumer Reports.
[4] Consumer Reports.
[5] Consumer Reports.
[6] Dr. Joseph Mercola.
[7] Leah Zerbe and Emily Main, “10 Crazy Things Pesticides Are Doing to Your Body,” Rodale’s Organic Life, July 29, 2016, http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wellbeing/10-crazy-things-pesticides-are-doing-to-your-body.
[8] Dr. Joseph Mercola.
[9] Dr. Joseph Mercola.
[10] Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Bad News about Pesticides.”
[11] Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated,” July 30, 2013, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/30/glyphosate-toxicity.aspx.
[12] Consumer Reports.
[13] Consumer Reports.
[14] Leah Zerbe and Emily Main.
[15] Consumer Reports.
[16] Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated.”
[17] Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated.”
[18] Suzee Skwiot, “New Fruit Tops EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ List of Produce,” Rodale Wellness, April 13, 2016, http://www.rodalewellness.com/food/new-fruit-tops-ewgs-dirty-dozen-list-of-produce?_ga=1.243200898.1212542912.1467760939.
[19] Consumer Reports.

Natural Remedies for Healthy Pets

natural remedies for healthy pets

Do you consider your pet a part of the family?  I sure do.  I’m not only concerned with what I put in my children’s bodies, but what goes in my dog’s body, as well.  Would you serve you kids the leftover parts from a butcher shop, give them pesticides or chemicals to eat?  Many times we don’t even consider what we are actually feeding our pets.  Just because an item is labeled for pets, doesn’t  mean it’s actually GOOD or healthy for them.

As a naturopathic doctor and a breeder of Weimaraners, I know about holistic pet care. The health of our dogs is of utmost importance to us, so we use only natural foods and therapies for our dog and puppies. Our dogs are healthy, vibrant and full of life.  I strongly believe that your pet’s health and lifespan are directly affected by what you put into their bodies.

It’s important to know about your options in pet care in order to make the best decisions for your pet’s health and well-being. I believe that “standard” care is causing more harm than good, so in this article I’ll cover natural remedy therapies and alternative pet care.  Most animal diseases and problems can be avoided and treated naturally.

Finding a Holistic Vet

A typical veterinary office is similar to a regular doctor’s office, which essentially practices “Western Medicine” on animals. Drugs, antibiotics and pesticides are their “medicines” of choice.  These treat only the symptoms and do nothing to correct the underlying problem of your pet.

The first and most important thing to do for the health of your pet is to find a holistic vet in your area.  Even if it is a bit of a drive, the natural treatments for your animals are well worth it, especially when it comes to more serious diseases like cancer.  I was lucky enough to find a fantastic holistic vet nearby who has taught me much of what I know today about holistic pet care. She changed our dog’s life after having a bad experience with a standard vet.

You can find a holistic vet in your area by going to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association website here:


The Vaccination Myth

If you take your dog or cat to a standard vet, the first thing they are going to want to do is get them up-to-date on their vaccinations.  However, holistic veterinarians believe that these yearly vaccines can assault your pet’s immune system, bombarding them with a whole host of potential problems and diseases.  Holistic veterinarians state, and science has proven, that most vaccines are completely unnecessary.

Dr. Ronald Shultz, a Veterinary Immunologist and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, pioneered the vaccine schedule that most holistic vets follow today.  He backs his recommendations with over 25 years of vaccine research. Dr. Shultz states that most vaccines given after a dog’s first year have little or no value and don’t offer significant protection.

Additionally, these unneeded vaccines can cause many adverse side-effects.  Dr. Shultz’s research shows, that if your puppy gets vaccinated at 12 weeks with a booster 4 to 6 weeks later, then he/she is likely immune for life! There’s no need for future vaccinations.

The Holistic Vaccine Protocol

According to Dr. Shultz’s Research, there are only 3 vaccines that are necessary for your dog.

Recommended Vaccines for Every Dog

  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Parvovirus

The holistic vaccination schedule recommends your dog’s first vaccinations of distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus at 12-14 weeks with a booster of each 4 weeks later.  Most likely no other vaccinations will be needed for the life of your dog. However, your vet can administer a titer test later to measure your dog’s antibodies to see if additional boosters are necessary.

I also recommend giving your dog the homeopathic, Thuja, to counteract the vaccines side-effects.  Give them a 30C dose of two pellets 30 minutes before and after the vaccination.  Follow that with 2 pellets twice a day for the following 3 days.  This will help detoxify your dogs system from the potential dangerous ingredients and their side-effects.

truth about rabies vaccineYour Pet Is Already Vaccinated, Now What?

If you already have a pet that has been vaccinated several times, you are probably wondering what you should do now.  Most likely, they have all the necessary antibodies for those diseases.  If it makes you or your vet more comfortable, you can have your pet’s blood tested to make sure.  Most vaccines, including the rabies vaccine, will keep your pet immune for at least 8 years.

The Rabies Secret

Most holistic veterinarians believe the rabies vaccine is one of the most harmful vaccines to a dog’s system.  However, it is required by law.  The rabies vaccine is available in both one and three year doses.

Here is a little helpful secret.  The 3 year vaccine is not any stronger and is the exact same dosage as the one-year.  Choosing the 3 year rabies vaccine will not only save you money, but will save your dog from the dangers of being overly vaccinated.

Treating Pet Problems Naturally

Even if you feed your dog or cat natural food and avoid over-vaccinating, they can still develop health problems with age, or simply because of a genetic disposition.  I have seen our dog overcome her genetic health predispositions with just a few supplements.  If you are fed up with conventional pet care therapies not working, then this is for you.  Just like our bodies, an animal’s body is designed to heal itself.  Natural supplements help facilitate that healing.

Immune System and Allergies

Our dog’s breed, like many dogs and cats, is prone to allergies.  When your pet has allergies, it is an immune system issue.  The best way to combat it is not with anti-histamines, but with a good immune booster.  There are several amazing immune boosters for pets.  My favorites include:

  • 4 immune boosters for petsColostrum: Just 1 pill a day cured our dog’s allergies.  It is easy to sprinkle on their dog food and has no risk of overdose.
  • Probiotics: Be sure to buy a pet-specific probiotic.  These are not only good for the immune system, but for upset tummies.  They are also a must following an antibiotic to replenish their good bacteria.
  • Echinacea: Purchased in herbal or homeopathic form, this is a great anti-viral and immune booster.  Add 1-10 drops to your pet’s food, depending on weight.
  • Vitamin C: Buy the non-acidic calcium ascorbate form so it doesn’t upset their stomach.  Add 50-500 mg into their dog food, again depending on their weight.

Good natural pet food is essential for a compromised immune system, as well.  Many dogs are sensitive to grains like corn and wheat, so avoid them.  By-products and chemical ingredients in their food can also lower their immune system.

Also, make sure your dog is getting some sun.  They make vitamin D from sun exposure too, which is essential therapy for the immune system.  I give my big 80-pound dog a teaspoon of cod liver oil in the winter months to give her some extra vitamin D. Smaller dogs would need less, of course.


Many dogs suffer from anxiety.  Sometimes it is from separation or maybe certain situations like a car ride make them anxious.  There are some great natural remedies on the market for pet anxiety.  Here are my pet care favorites:

  • Bach Rescue Remedy: Squirt a couple drops in the mouth of a smaller dog, or use a full dropper for larger ones.  Rescue Remedy is a blend of non-toxic flower essences that help calm and relax.  It is great for humans, too!
  • Healthy Calm by Renew Life: This flavored chew is a tasty treat packed with calming herbs like lemon balm and hops.  It also has amino acids GABA and L-Theanine, which promote relaxing brain activity.
  • Wholetones:  The right music can help ease dog anxiety. Or, if your dog is scared of fireworks and storms, Wholetones music can really help them to relax. These 7 songs with 7 different frequencies have been specifically arranged to cultivate calm and a sense of peace. Seeing is believing when your pet is stressed. Click here to calm your pets and hear songs for free!

Flea Repellents and Heartworm Alternatives

Keeping your animal flea- and tick-free is extremely important.  However, most collars, powders and even the longer lasting repellents like Frontline, are essentially chemical pesticides.  These chemicals can soak through their skin and cause your pet health issues like seizures and respiratory distress.   More importantly, you and your kids can also be exposed to those toxic chemicals by simply hugging or petting your pet!  In my opinion, if it says it is dangerous to ingest, then it is dangerous to apply to their coat, as well.

I have been using natural repellents with great results.  You can make your own using essential oils or purchase one already made.  Here is the blend I make for my dog.

natural flea and tick repellant recipe v2Natural Flea and Tick Repellent Recipe

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Add the following essential oils.

  • 15 drop of citronella
  • 10 drops of pennyroyal
  • 10 drops of geranium (this is specifically for ticks)

Shake before using.  Spray your pet down every 2-3 days or before they go into a wooded area.

Neem is another fantastic natural repellent.  I have used Ark Naturals Neem Protect Spray with great results.

Heartworm Prevention

You may have good intentions giving your dog heartworm meds, but these tablets are just another chemical pesticide.  This “medicine” is packed full of potential side-effects, including death!

The cause of heartworms is mosquitoes; so using the repellent above can help tremendously.  However, you can also prevent heartworms with a blend of herbs that is also designed to kill intestinal worms and parasites.  I give my dog an herbal blend of garlic, clove, black walnut and wormwood.  I put several drops in her dog food a few times a week during the warmer months.  No need for parasite or heartworm meds with this powerful blend!

Natural Pet First Aid Kit

Lastly, I want to list some natural remedies I feel are important to have on hand for natural pet care.  This is essentially your pet’s “first aid” kit:Colloidal Silver: This natural antibiotic is good for bacterial infections, stomach problems (from eating bad pet food), cuts and scrapes and eye infections.

Pet Natural First Aid Kit

  • Purification Oil by Young Living: Dab on your pet’s collar for bug repellent or use on skin irritations and bug bites.  This oil dissolved a large cyst that was on my dog’s ear in just 5 days.  It is an amazing blend.
  • Activated Charcoal: This is what vets use when a dog or cat eats something poisonous because it absorbs toxins.  It’s also great in a smaller dosage for diarrhea and upset stomachs.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide:  I learned about this when one of our puppies ate mouse poison at a friend’s house.  Making them drink hydrogen peroxide is a natural way to cause them to vomit.  Use only in extreme circumstances, of course! Having this on hand can save your pet’s life!

Natural Health for Longer Life

I hope I’ve inspired you to take a closer look at what you do for your pet’s health. Knowing how to keep your pet naturally healthy can save you thousands of dollars in vet bills.  It can also greatly extend the life of your pet.  Not only that, better health equals better quality of life.  As for me, I want my dog healthy and around as long as possible.

Did this article open your eyes to something new? Did I inspire you to take charge of your pet’s health in a more natural way?

I’d love to hear your feedback. If you already use natural remedy methods with your pet, I would also love to hear some of your tips and success stories.  Please write your comments below.

If you are thinking of vaccinating this year with the flu shot or if you are vaccinating your kids for school, then read about how to detox after vaccines. And if you are traveling this summer, here’s how to make your ownbug repellant.  The recipe includes some of the top essential oils you should always have on hand.



Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.



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