The troubling health effects of fluoride over-exposure

“Do ze” (pronounced “dau je”) is the only word in Cantonese that I know, but I think that saying “thank you” is always a good place to start a story, even if I never physically make it to Hong Kong, where British colonialism got a strong foothold in what was formerly considered China’s “Fragrant Harbour.”

Having nearly 25,000 times less land mass than our “Big” Turtle Island, but a government with an even larger appetite for industry, it’s not surprising that there’s not much left of traditional knowledge or the natural world in the Asian city-state. It’s also not surprising that their water supply is one of the Earth’s most contaminated, host to a cocktail of chemicals.

This includes fluoride compounds, which don’t smell so good and have devastating effects on the indigenous turtle populations that are famously sensitive to water quality.

Last week, we talked about recognizing fluoride toxicity in the human body and this week we’re going to discuss what you can do about it using some Turtle Teachings that the 7.2 million inhabitants of Hong Kong and most of the 528 million settlers in North America have never heard.

Most medical geologists, environmental health practitioners and mining-energy industry prospectors use Turtle Teachings all the time without knowing it, thinking that they’re talking about structural geology, plate tectonics and chemical hydrogeology.

But those who are familiar with the Sky Woman story don’t need a piece of paper in any of those disciplines to know that the water that comes from the middle of a scute on the turtle’s back will be night and day different in terms of chemistry, taste and health effects than water that’s “on crack.”

Fluoride never travels alone in any case (a trickster can only exist if there’s someone else to play with), so it’s the best indication of how “powerful” the water might be. Sometimes the balance of other elements in the water favours the Twin who takes electrons from the cells of the body (a process called “oxidation”), and sometimes it’s tipped towards the Twin who gives electrons (called “reduction” or “anti-oxidation”). Too much of either one for long or sensitive periods of time are linked with disease.

Typically, only prospectors in the mining and energy sectors know the secret of how to use modern technology to track fluoride in water, soil, rocks and sometimes snow or tree leaves back to the buried treasure in the ground, but they’re not in the habit of sharing their knowledge, especially among themselves.

Not that modern western healthcare workers, with their fixation on superbugs and Big Pharma, would think to look for anything beyond E. coli and other microbial relations for the cause of disease anyway, even if it is preventative healthcare and common sense.

But the good news is that it’s never too late to start managing your family’s environmental fluoride exposures, simply by making informed consumer decisions. Many people start to feel better in as little as 3 days after reducing their total fluoride intake from all sources to a safe level. Most notice a big improvement in their overall health and need for prescription medication or traditional remedies after 3 weeks.

Breastmilk, rain water, uncontaminated surface water and shallow groundwater usually have low levels of fluoride (between 0.0128 and 0.3 parts per million or ppm) and we should work hard to keep them that way through source water protection regulations that are based on traditional knowledge.

The bad news is that we now also have lots of fluoride pollution in the air that you breathe in, and that municipal water treatment plants, boiling the water or using a Brita filter at home won’t remove the fluoride that occurs naturally in water or is intentionally added to a level of 0.7 ppm. Reverse osmosis or steam distillation systems can be expensive, but they also remove most other harmful chemicals that might be along for the ride, especially the ones we’re not testing for.

The ugly news is that make-up and personal care products can contain up to 67,000 ppm fluoride that gets absorbed through the skin, and the tooth discolouration of early childhood fluoride toxicity is permanent unless you spend about $2000 on cosmetic dentistry work. This is why fluoridated toothpaste, with an average of 1,200 ppm fluoride should never be swallowed (even if it tastes like bubble gum) and great care must be taken when making up infant formula that may have up to 5.5 ppm before adding any water.

Devoted “tea grannies” should know that fluoride in the soils where food plants are grown will build up in the leaves, with black tea imported from India, Africa and China (often via Hong Kong by ship to North American grocery stores) having some of the highest levels.

Combining traditional teachings with modern analytical technology is a practical and economic way of renewing the Two Row treaty and ensuring that future generations say “Do ze” to us instead of something that starts with the letter “F.”

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