Pesticide Ill-Effects

Words: Dr Joette CALABRESE

It’s time, in summer, for backyard barbecues, or picnics in the park. In our winter imaginations too, many envision their summer yards and parks as manicured fields of green, inviting grass, lush foliage and brightly-coloured flowers — that endless bed of green with only our desired plants and no pesky insects.

Perfection. But, at a price — a stark-raving-scary price.

Giving up our idealised versions of green spaces is hard. But, pesticides [to kill bugs and rodents] and herbicides [to kill weeds] are filled with uncertain risks, making the entire world their guinea pig. 

Real Concerns 

Concerns abound that pesticides and herbicides are hazardous to animals. A Harvard study strongly links pesticide use to the mass-damage, or complete disappearance of bee colonies [Colony Collapse Disorder].

If this collapse remains unchecked, without bees to pollinate crops, our food supply could be gravely affected. Also, birds and amphibians are affected by the pesticides we spray — both directly, and by eating their prey that have been poisoned. Fish are affected by the pesticides contained in the runoff from our lawns into the waterways and oceans.

And, our beloved little dogs are subject to increased risk of nasal and bladder cancers when exposed to lawns that have been treated. Would you willingly do something hazardous to your little pet?

Of course, you wouldn’t [But, I have your attention now, don’t I?]

You might ask, “Aren’t they’re registered with the EPA and FDA? So, they’re safe for humans, right?”

Sure, they may be registered. But, that does not mean these chemicals have undergone adequate safety testing.

More Dangers 

Here’s a not-so-sobering statistic from “Fourteen of the 36 most commonly used residential pesticides are probable, or possible carcinogens, 15 are connected to birth defects, 21 with reproductive problems, 22 with liver or kidney damage, 24 with neurotoxicity, and 34 are sensitisers and/or irritants.” A UCLA study linked pesticides to Parkinson’s disease. The Ontario College of Family Physicians published a paper linking pesticides to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukaemia and tumours [stomach, renal, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate and brain cancers].

Did that make you sit up straight?

If not, how about this? The elderly, pregnant woman and our children may be even more sensitive to the effects of pesticide and herbicide exposure. The National Academy of Science, US, had this to say: “A fundamental maxim of paediatric medicine is that children are not ‘little adults.’ Profound differences exist between children and adults. Infants and children are growing and developing. Their metabolic rates are more rapid than those of adults. There are differences in their ability to activate, detoxify, and excrete xenobiotic compounds. All these differences can affect the toxicity of pesticides in infants and children, and for these reasons, the toxicity of pesticides is frequently different in children and adults.” Another study showed autism and developmental disorders can be linked to the mother’s proximity [exposure] to pesticides during pregnancy.

This had to get your attention.

But, let me put it in plain language: we are adversely affecting our children, so that we may have green, critter-free, golf course-quality lawns.


An article in Men’s Health reported this regarding pesticides: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested more than 9,000 people about nine years ago, and scientists found pesticides — or, the products created when the body breaks them down — in everyone they tested, according to a summary by the Pesticide Action Network, a group advocating alternatives to pesticides. Among people whose blood and urine was tested, 13 different pesticides were found in the average person’s body. At least half the people tested had 18 pesticides in their bodies. Concentrations generally rose the younger the person was.”

When I read that, I translate it to mean we are becoming the pesticides that we spray. Our bodies are absorbing it at alarming rates; assimilating it too.

Forgive me for shouting, but what are we doing to ourselves?

We think we’re merely using atrazine to kill weeds? But, at the same time, we’re causing endocrine disruption and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer [Adding insult to injury, atrazine also interferes with the drugs used to treat breast and prostate cancer]. We think we’re killing fire ants by using bifenthrin? But, we’re also overstimulating electrical signals in human nerve cells and increasing the risk of tremors and paralysis [not to mention that it is also a potential carcinogen].

And, then we reach for the Roundup.

It’s everywhere. No Home Depot, or Lowe’s garden department is without it. And, what a seemingly friendly name it has — ‘Roundup.’ Sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon.

Well, there is nothing friendly about it. Roundup is glyphosate. Glyphosate kills unwanted plants by interfering with an enzyme used in the synthesis of amino acids the plants need to live. Humans don’t produce that enzyme, so the manufacturer tells us that Glyphosate [Roundup] is safe.

I beg to differ. [And, so do a lot of authoritative individuals and organisations].

The problem is: the beneficial bacteria in our guts do require that enzyme that Roundup kills. When the glyphosate [Roundup] is absorbed in our systems by our good bacteria — they die. Dead. You know humans need good bacteria to live a healthy life. Minerals, vitamins and nutrients we ingest are no longer properly absorbed, leading to deficiencies. Glyphosate inhibits enzymes that help our bodies detoxify harmful chemicals in our systems. Our natural gut flora is disrupted, which may lead to disorders resulting from gut dysbiosis [such as gluten-intolerance, IBS, Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammation, auto-immune disease and allergies].

We risk all that — so, we don’t have to look at weeds.

What sense does that make?

Poison In The Grass

 The active ingredients of these lawn treatments are not even the entire danger. Nathan Diegelman says in his treatise, Poison in The Grass: The Hazards and Consequences of Lawn Pesticides, “Many components are classified as ‘inert,’ which allows them to be kept hidden from the public and not listed on product labels. These are more than just fillers, or solvents. ‘Inert’ does not mean ‘inactive’ — some, such as benzene and xylene, are more toxic than listed chemicals.” One article, Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells, in Scientific American, reported on the conclusions of recent studies: the inert ingredients in the product can increase the adverse effects.

Roundup has been declared a possible human carcinogen by the United Nations, and other influential nations have begun to ban its use. Yet, it is still widely used in the United States — if not by you, then by your neighbours, or your community.

How do we avoid exposure to glyphosate? published the following advice in their excellent article:

  • Avoid using Roundup and other similar products
  • Avoid consumption of GMO foods which are directly contaminated with glyphosate
  • Avoid animal products, such as milk, or meat, for which GMO foods were used to feed the animals
  • Eat organic foods as much as possible
  • Avoid living in areas where glyphosate is applied.

Healing With Homeopathy 

If you find that you experience a reaction to the pesticides, or herbicides sprayed by others, homeopathy is here to help — as always.

What’s a neighbour to do? Homeopathy, of course.

As always, I encourage folks to know how to use homeopathic remedies to protect themselves.

Here are three homeopathic remedies to consider when your family [pets included] have had   exposure to such chemicals.

  1. Arsenicum album 30C is the homeopathic ‘remedy of choice,’ if the exposure has caused a response such as anxiety, diarrhoea, breathlessness and weakness. All these symptoms do not need to be evident; if even one of them is apparent, this remedy could be a good match
  1. Carbolic acid 30C has a reputation for aiding folks who experience a more systemic reaction of a ‘more serious’ nature. Years ago, a friend of a friend of mine, a chemical engineer, went into an anaphylactic reaction after exposure to formaldehyde. After a few doses of Carbolic acid 30C, she showed signs of recovery within minutes and fully recovered within hours. This remedy is more difficult to procure, but I feel it’s important for folks to have this information, so I include it. If your homeopathic pharmacist doesn’t have this, check with another, or online
  1. Natrum muriaticum 30C. When there’s no actual immediate reaction to the pesticides, this is a useful remedy for providing generalised protection from poisonings. Most folks take it every 4-5 hours for a few days. I have personally found it useful when I used to get asthma from pesticides. It never failed to abort the spasms of breathlessness. 


As is often the method of use, when an acute situation presents, it’s best to use the remedy less frequently once improvement ensues and stop when it is fully addressed. Sometimes, this can take minutes, while other times it may take days.

In an ideal world bursting with dandelions and lamb’s quarters, we would be able to prevent toxins from coming into contact with our families; but, life’s not like that. This is just one of the countless reasons why I keep my homeopathic remedy kit close at hand [If you don’t own one, consider buying one, something that best suits your family’s needs and budget].

Homeopathy. Yes. It is one of the most important steps you can take towards self-sufficiency and in combating pesticide side-effects, or dangers.

Dr JOETTE CALABRESE, HMC, CCH, RSHom [NA], is a distinguished American homeopath, public speaker, and author. This article is published with especial thanks to ©Dr Joette Calabrese.

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