By Dr. Mercola
To quote Suzanne Somers: "We're all on a big, chemical drunk, and the hangover is a killer."
In addition to a successful career as an actress and singer, Suzanne has also become a household name in the natural health field, authoring a number of books.
Her latest, TOX-SICK: From Toxic to Not Sick, is her 25th book to date, in which she delves into the toxic roots of disease. Before this, she did a great deal to bring bioidentical hormone replacement to the forefront as a means for women to reclaim their health and quality of life.
“I started writing about bioidentical hormones 20 years ago with The Sexy Years: Discover the Hormone Connection: The Secret to Fabulous Sex, Great Health, and Vitality, for Women and Men, my first book in this genre.
“Before that, I had the ‘Somersize’ books, and before that, I had the Children of Alcoholics book and a book for children of abuse. My very first was a book of poetry in 1973. I’ve actually been writing books for a number of decades,” she says.
Stricken with Cancer, Suzanne Bucked the Trend
In 2001, Suzanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was offered standard of care radiation, chemotherapy, and harsh aftercare drugs, and she was told to quit taking the hormones she was on. She disagreed across the board.
“I said to my doctor at that time ‘I cannot give up my hormones.’ He said, ‘You have to. You have an estrogen-positive tumor.’
“I said, ‘With all due respect, doctor, what I understand about hormones is that, [the cancer is] because I haven’t been making sufficient progesterone these last 10 years. That probably is a contributory factor.’
“And then, factor in 20 years of birth control pills...These are foreign molecules in the body, and it confuses the body.
“Estrogen is carcinogenic. That’s what everybody is afraid of. Progesterone is anti-carcinogenic. So nature pours out estrogen every day of the month. And then two weeks of every month, we pour out progesterone, and that is how we keep the balance.
“As we start declining in hormones, the one usually declining first is progesterone...
“It took courage to come face to face with my doctor and decide on my own that I knew more about my body. I think what we all need to do as laypeople today is to do the work, to do the research, and become your own detective and to listen to the body’s language.”
Surprising Side Effect of Radiation Treatment
In the end, she did do radiation, but opted out of chemotherapy and the aftercare drugs. Today, she would have declined the radiation as well, she admits, as health problems she now has are likely a result of the radiation, which eliminates your body's ability to make hydrochloric acid for life.
"I wish I had known that," she says. "As a result, with each meal I take three digestive enzymes and three hydrochloric acid capsules to mimic what my body would have done on its own.
“But think of all the women who go on the Nexium-type drugs when there would be a natural way to handle this. Again, you have to do your homework.”
Novel Breast Reconstruction Procedure
Interestingly, Suzanne actually became the first woman in the U.S. to undergo surgery in a legal FDA-approved clinical trial of breast reconstruction, regrowing the breast she lost to cancer through a novel process using her own fat and stem cells.
The procedure was developed by Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura from the University of Tokyo. It took three years to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a clinical trial in a U.S. hospital. In the meantime, Dr. Yoshimura taught the procedure to Dr. Joel Aronowitz, who performed it on Suzanne.
"I thought it was so historic to be the first woman to legally... regrow my breast using my own fat and my own stem cells. The result is absolutely beautiful and fulfilling...
“What they did was take the fat from my stomach. They took out the stem cells, discarded the weak ones, kept the strongest ones, spun them, and put them into that fat...The best way I can describe it is using a turkey baster to inject [the stem cell-loaded fat] into my breast until it became the size of the other one. The result is beautiful.
“I don’t know why this hasn’t become the standard now because it’s safer. Every time you put a foreign object into a body, you’re going to have some trouble. Every woman I know who has implants has some trouble.”
Dr. Aronowitz has done over 1,000 of these breast reconstructions now. He's at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and is still doing them.
Environmental Toxins Are Now a Major Health Threat
As Suzanne says, "We are now under the greatest environmental assault in the history of humanity. The planet has changed so drastically in the last 50 years. The chickens are finally coming home to roost."
Today, we're trying to address diseases that were more or less unheard of, or exceedingly rare, a century ago or less. And even those living a seemingly "clean" life can be dramatically affected; the toxic load is just that great. Suzanne and her family are among them.
Despite eating organic foods, sleeping eight hours a night, and exercising, Suzanne, her husband, and many other family members have struggled with health issues stemming from toxic overload.
“What weakened our immune systems to where it almost brought us down? That is the basis for TOX-SICK,” she says. “I believe there are going to be millions of people who will see themselves not only in my story but in my granddaughter’s story, my daughter’s story, and the other stories of mold victims that I interviewed in this book.
“Also... I think the doctors in TOX-SICK are the five top environmental doctors in the country. I said to each of them, ‘Give me your best. Imagine I’m your patient, and you’re going to spend the whole day with me.’ That’s what I got out of them. I just picked their brains as a patient would if you had all the time in the world. They’re very important interviews.”
Suzanne has not only faced breast cancer. She and her husband have also suffered the effects of living in a house filed with toxic mold. Over the course of about four years, strange symptoms began cropping up, but she didn’t connect it with the house right away.
For instance, her husband, who has always been very healthy, developed red, watery, crusty eyes. “Red, watery, and crusty eyes aren’t because you’re old,” she says. “I believe it’s your body saying to you, ‘You are now so toxic I’m trying to expel toxins whichever way I can.’”
Chronic sinus infections followed, along with facial tics, spasms, and grimacing. His doctor suggested it might be Parkinson’s. Suzanne began bloating, despite eating well and exercising. Eventually, she ended up in the hospital in anaphylactic shock, at which time the doctors declared she had cancer--again.
“I, at the time, was devastated because I thought, ‘Have I been wrong?’ I’ve been telling all these women about the joys of keeping hormonally balanced, and how a hormonally balanced woman is so protected, and here I was. But it didn’t feel right. It turns out they were wrong. They were wrong about my cancer. It was a misdiagnosis, but I had to go through a surgery to get there.”
The source of all these problems, it turned out, was an unfinished room downstairs that, unbeknownst to them, had standing water in it. It was filled with toxic black mold that had crept into the air conditioning ducts, heating ducts, and vents. In her husband, the black mold settled into his cranium and sinuses.
It also attacked his cerebellum and central nervous system—that's what was causing the facial spams and grimacing. In Suzanne, the mold settled into the intestines, where it degraded her immune system and activated a dormant fungus called coccidioidomycosis, also known as "Valley Fever."
“How many people are walking around thinking they have Parkinson’s when, maybe, they have mold, fungus, yeast, or candida in their brain? I was offered chemotherapy again, day one in the hospital. I turned it down again. Would I be alive today if I had taken chemotherapy? They told me they’d never seen so much ‘cancer’ in a body.
We then realized that we had to start by moving out of the house, leave all our things like bandits, and start a major detox protocol that we’ve now both been on for four years. I will cut to the end right now: we are well. We are better, and that’s a takeaway I want your listeners and readers to get.”
Are You TOX-SICK?
Other signs and symptoms suggesting toxic overload include rapid weight gain, bloating, and your face turning puffy or your eyes turning yellow. ADD and ADHD may also be rooted in toxic overexposure. Ditto for food allergies.
“People are so busy counting calories. I think we should be busy counting chemicals,” Suzanne says. “Where’s the tipping point? There’s the air freshener. There’s what you’re cleaning your house with. Pest sprays...all poison. The chlorine that you’re using. The fluoride in the water... And then you’re eating food that is not organic. You’re putting on skin care that’s all chemicals... Well, guess what? That’s going to go somewhere. It drops into the bloodstream...”
Toxic overload may also be involved if you're having problems with your hormones. Suzanne gets mail from women saying they were taking hormones and everything was going well, but then all of a sudden, they became symptomatic. According to Dr. Nick Gonzalez, one reason for this can be that your liver is too toxic. If your liver is overburdened, it will expel the hormones back out into your bloodstream, causing you to overdose on the hormone.
“We’ve got to find the answer to MS. We’ve got to find the answer to autoimmune [diseases]. We’ve got to find the answer to cancer. Maybe it’s simpler than we all think. Maybe the answer to these organisms – candida, yeast, mold, fungus, and cancer – maybe it’s simply cleaning up your life. Maybe it’s switching to organic cosmetics and organic hair care and organic makeup, and lead-free lipstick, cleaning your house with toxic-free cleaners—clean up your own sphere. Then, only eat organic food...”
Detox Is a Necessity, Not an Option
Dr. Gonzalez, one of the doctors featured in TOX-SICK, treats cancer and mold using pancreatic enzymes, taken with and away from meals. The reason for this is because pancreatic enzymes eat debris—and both cancer and mold qualify as food sources for these enzymes. When you take these enzymes with meals, it helps you digest your food. But when you take them an hour before or after your meal, the enzymes start looking for something to digest, and will gobble up any mold and cancer cells that it comes across.
"I watched my husband get well. No more facial tics. No more spasms. No more grimacing. Clearly, he didn't have Parkinson's. I clearly did not have cancer," Suzanne says. "I just want people out there to know that you can do it. It's going to take time. It's not fast. But if you do it, you can regain your quality of life, and you can enjoy this extended life that we are now afforded... The sad fact of our damaged planet is that we all need to detox every single day of our life, in some way for the rest of our life."
Detoxing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive however. Simple suggestions include:
- Organic coconut oil, which helps heal gut inflammation. "I take four spoons of coconut oil throughout the day. The virgin organic oil heals the intestines, seals up the barrier wall in there. That's a great antidote to that leaky gut," Suzanne says.
- Bentonite clay. "Take a big squeeze of that every morning to protect you against the environment."
- Organic coffee enemas help detoxify your liver. Please note, however, that conventional coffee should NOT be used for enemas. The coffee MUST be organic naturally caffeinated coffee, and if you were to do this at home, you'd also want to use unbleached filters to avoid introducing toxins into your colon.
- Dr. Sherry Rogers' Detox Cocktail. If you're on the road and have eaten less than healthy, take a spoonful of ascorbic acid powder (vitamin C) and three r-lipoic acid capsules before you go to bed to promote detoxification. (Of course, fasting is another option when clean organic food is temporarily unobtainable.)
While toxic mold can indeed wreak havoc, it's typically not the most pervasive problem out there. Probably the most important and persistent toxic exposures we have are food, which is why eating organic non-GMO foods is so important. Avoiding processed foods, even organic ones, is another important point that Joanna Blythman's book Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets really brings home.
It's a fascinating review of how many food additives and processing chemicals go into our food. Once you read this book, you'll be inspired not only eat organic food, but to prepare it yourself, because many processed organic foods still contain "greenwashed" chemicals in the processing that aren't listed on the label.
On Bioidentical Hormones
Suzanne is a firm advocate for bioidentical hormone replacement, and at age 68, she replaces estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone, melatonin, human growth hormone (HGH), and thyroid. "How great that I can have a youthful vitality and energy by putting back what I've lost in the aging process and by putting back what I've lost because of stress and environmental assaults," she says. "There is a new way to age. There's a new way to live a preventative life while you're having a good time."
Bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to the human hormone; an exact replica of what your body would normally make. Hence they don’t confuse your body like synthetic ones can. Suzanne takes her hormones based on what her blood work shows, which she checks about once a year.
“You have to understand there’s a ratio,” she says. A qualified doctor well-versed in hormone treatment will understand the ratio of estrogen to progesterone to testosterone needed, for example. “You only put back what’s missing; not more, not less,” Suzanne says. “You’re trying to achieve absolute balance for you. It’s so individualized, because what I need is different from what the next woman needs.”
When Suzanne wrote The Sexy Years: Discover the Hormone Connection, she could only find 30 doctors in all of the U.S. who specialized in bioidentical hormones. “Today there are more than a quarter of a million and growing. It’s clearly a movement. Bioidentical hormones are a game changer,” she says.
But good health and longevity doesn’t begin and end with hormones. A number of other lifestyle factors can aid or hinder optimal health, and more often than not, turning to a drug will only worsen the situation. Fortunately, there are lots of solutions besides drugs for most ailments. For example:
“If you can’t sleep, LifeWave makes a patch called Silent Nights nanotechnology. You put it on the side of your head and it shrinks the time before the melatonin pours. You get a great night’s sleep without drugs.
When I was doing ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ I would come home and take an Epsom salt bath...you get so sleepy after a 20-minute soak, you sleep like a baby. That’s another way to sleep. If you have a lot of lists in your head...take a couple of chewable gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to turn off that noise.”
In the Longevity Race, the Least Toxic Ones Win...
Suzanne sees her bout with cancer as a gift. “I’ve been there. I’m not going there again. I’m doing everything I can to never hear those words again,” she says. But even if she were to be given that dreaded diagnosis a third time, she’s convinced there are ways to beat it, without going through chemo, radiation, or toxic drugs.
Interviewing 17 of Dr. Gonzales’ stage 4 cancer patients who have survived for upwards of 20 years has convinced her of his approach using pancreatic enzymes, organic food, supplements, and organic coffee enemas. But there are many other strategies as well. The key is to adopt a more holistic view, rather than focusing on small bits and pieces of your anatomy. And that includes taking your thoughts and emotions into account as well.
"In keeping the insides young, bioidentical hormones do that," she says, "and designer supplementation, eating correct food, sleeping eight hours a night, having love in your life, and thinking good thoughts. My daily meditation is this. Knowing that all cells communicate with one another, every morning when I wake up, I isolate one cell and I say to that cell: I am so grateful I have such love in my life. I have such a beautiful family. I love my work. I'm so grateful for my health.
“I release that cell and I envision it going off to all the others going, ‘We have love in our life. We’re so happy. We’re so grateful. We love what we do for our work.’ I swear it starts me off on the right path every day. I realize that you can program happiness just as you can program unhappiness...
We’re in control of pretty much everything – our health, the environment, and our happiness. I wish everyone the opportunity to really start thinking about the fact that it’s up to each of us, that nobody’s going to care about you as much as you, and that no one will be as sorry as you if you don’t make the right choices for yourself. It’s your life.”