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Q&A: What Everyone Ought to Know About Digestive Enzymes, HCL, and Bile Supplements

May 01, 2019 18 min read

Causes and Solutions for Digestive Discomfort

Topics in this article include:

Q: Why take bitter herbs and spices with my food? Doesn't the body produce its own bile and digestive enzymes?
Ancient Traditions
Q: If I am taking Digestive Bitters, will I also need to take enzymes, HCL, antacids, laxatives, or ox bile supplements?
The Most Common Causes of Digestive Impairment Are:
The Acid vs Alkaline Effects on Digestion
Q: But I was told that the body produces less digestive enzyme & bile fluids after a certain age, thus the importance of taking enzyme & bile supplements.
Q: When are digestive enzyme supplements recommended and not recommended?
Q: What are the side effects from using nutritional concentrates and isolated nutrients?
Q: Why are animal bile supplements, HCL, antacids, and most laxatives not recommended?
Whole Herbs, Spices & Clay for Optimal Digestion
Q: When is the best time to take Digestive Bitters?
Q: Will the Digestive Bitters still help me to lose weight if I stop taking enzymes, bile, and laxatives?
Q: If my gallbladder has been removed is it still OK to take Digestive Bitters?
Q: What is the difference between liquid bitters and dry herbal capsules?
Q: How were the herbal ingredients in Digestive Bitters selected for the formula?

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Q&A: What Everyone Ought to Know About
Digestive Enzymes and Bile Supplements

Digestive problems are among the most common health complaints of them all in today's "modern" society. The effective metabolism of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and sugars are so central to one's overall quality of health, that most other health issues arise from this one basic health problem: deficiencies in the digestion and utilization of the nutrients in the food that we eat. 

A multibillion dollar industry of medical treatments, and natural supplements designed to treat digestive issues has arisen from this obvious fact. 

Yet before medical science was invented, Nature had already designed solutions that would naturally support the innate digestive powers of the body. Ancient cultures have utilized these solutions with meals for thousands of years, and to some extent, still do today. 

These solutions involve the use of bitter herbs and digestive spices in recipes and as condiments, or as a pre or post-meal digestive stimulant. 

As medical science and prepackaged, processed foods came on the scene, the digestive health of the average person began to deteriorate rapidly, leading to the multibillion dollar industry spoken of before. 

Food combining rules became popular, due partly to weakening digestive powers becoming rampant among "civilized" societies. Sensitive digestive systems were able to handle less and less food combining stress with each successive generation. 

Now, with digestive complaints showing up as being foundational to almost every other serious health condition, it is time to pay close attention to adding back into the daily meal regimen Nature's original solutions to deficient food metabolism: bitter herbs and digestive spices.

Q: Why take bitter herbs and digestive spices with my food? Doesn't the body produce its own bile and digestive enzymes?

If you are living off the land, if you are surrounded by forests, drink pure spring water from your own land, grow 100% of your own food or find your food in the wild, eat good amounts of raw food daily with your cooked food, do not eat a high fat diet (thus diluting your bile concentration), have never consumed antibiotics or allowed mercury fillings in your teeth, and do not have a history of consuming genetically modified (GMO) food or chemically farmed, non-organic food, or chemically-laced city water, then additional herbal nutritional support may not be required, providing you include your own digestive spices and bitter foods with every meal, and adhere to wise food combining practices.

While very few people might meet those requirements, the good news is, that a few years of a high quality lifestyle that follows the suggestions above, even after the fact, generally restores digestive powers, partly because you will be growing or wildcrafting your own herbs as well, and using them instead to activate your body's own digestive juices.

Today's human is subject to numerous environmental influences and dietary habits which have diminished, and in some cases, nearly destroyed the body's ability to digest food properly. Yet, even though this is true, Nature has not left us without an answer.

Ancient Traditions

In ancient human diets bitter herbs, spices, raw foods, and fermented foods were consumed with meals as a matter of course. Their herbal knowledge far exceeded that of our own of today.

Remnants of these ancient cultures can still be found in indigenous cultures today, whose levels of health also far exceed that of modern man (until, of course, the indigenous culture becomes westernized).

Antibiotics, mercury amalgam tooth fillings, chemicals in our food, water and environment have caused great havoc in the area of digestive health. The ancestral lifestyle of living close to the earth has been all but lost in modern congested, high-rise style living.

More so than at any other time in human history, herbal restorative digestive nutrition is needed to support and correct the damage done by modern living.

Q: If I am taking herbal Digestive Bitters, will I also need to take enzymes, HCL, antacids, laxatives, or ox bile supplements?

In most cases HCL, antacids, laxatives, and bile supplements can be dispensed with, unless of course, your stomach and liver are entirely incapable of producing stomach acids or liver bile (the body's natural laxative). 

Since these four digestive supplements are quite harmful to your digestive organs (as will be explained below), they are best discontinued as soon as is practical as you build up your innate digestive powers with bitter herbs, digestive spices, and fermented foods.

With proper herbal support the digestive system begins a gradual reconstruction.

If the diet is corrected by reducing the combination of proteins/fats with starches/sweets, many digestive complaints will go away with this one change alone. Reducing constipating foods (meat, cheese, nuts, eggs, granulated sugars, bananas, etc.) will go a long way toward improving regularity.

Most pharmaceutical drugs are constipating as well, so you will have to either compensate for that with additional herbal bitters and mineral magnesium sources, or discuss with your healthcare practitioner the possibilities of reducing them. 

The use of digestive enzyme supplements may vary for each person based on the quantity of cooked food verses raw food in the daily mix, although the use of bitter herbs (to stimulate bile) and blood sugar regulating herbs (to increase pancreatic enzyme production and improve insulin sensitivity) with each meal may reduce or eliminate the need for enzyme supplements as well.

Adding a larger quantity of raw foods with cooked food meals will also reduce the need for enzyme supplements, however, due to the strain that cooked food places on the enzyme producing organs of the body (salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and intestines), enzyme supplementation may provide a suitable crutch until such time that the diet is corrected and the digestive organs rebuilt.

The moderate use of enzyme supplementation does not atrophy the digestive organs in the way insulin atrophies the pancreas or hormone replacement atrophies the endocrine system. However, long term use of digestive enzymes and heavy reliance of them can disrupt your innate ability to produce them yourself, or cause physical discomfort or disease due to excess. 

Enzymes naturally occurring in raw food is a form of supplementation intended by Nature organically, so I see no reason not to take plant-based enzymes (not animal-based enzymes) for short durations if your system is burdened by a quantity of cooked food (that kills the natural enzymes in the food), or has been damaged by chemical laden foods, antibiotics, fast foods, dental or medical treatments, and you are not consuming a volume of raw foods or raw fermented foods (naturally containing those very enzymes) with each meal.

Add in an additional complement of bitter herbs and digestive spices with each meal (along with some fermented options), and the need for enzyme supplementation will disappear within a few weeks time for most people, simply because bitter herbs and digestive spices work for you in two ways:

  1. by providing the nutrients the body requires to produce its own digestive juices

  2. by supporting the restoration of the organs and glands responsible for creating those valuable juices innately

Q: Why are animal bile supplements, HCL, antacids, and most laxatives not recommended?

The observed loss of digestive powers of the body as we age is not caused by “natural and expected aging processes”, as many would have you believe. It is caused by poor diet, medical and dental treatment, wireless microwave radiation, and environmental toxicities.

The fact that older people experience digestive weaknesses more often is simply due to the fact that they have spent more years ingesting toxins and disrupting their body's digestive powers with the above factors.

Young people today are experiencing the same digestive problems for the same reasons due to the degradation of diets over the last several decades and increased environmental and medical toxic influences.

Your own body already knows how to regulate the precise quantity of bile, stomach acids, and other digestive juices you need in a given moment to digest the unique set of foods you are consuming.

Trying to micromanage the regulation of these more refined digestive juices with animal extracts is throwing the body out of balance in two basic ways:

  • animal juices are designed uniquely for that animal, not for humans. Animal juices may be too much or too little for your body, being designed for their diet and body type rather than yours.
  • digestive juice supplementation can never accurately approximate the precise digestive requirements of your body at any given moment throughout the day or night.

Fed properly, your own body's natural digestive mechanisms are perfectly capable of meeting your unique digestive needs in the moment.

Instead of supplementation, consider nourishing your organs and glands back to health. Then normal, ideal production of digestive juices, at any moment, day or night, becomes available to you on demand.

Bitter herbs are far superior as a digestive support by activating the bile production most suitable for your specific digestive requirements. They are also a significant part of the solution to constipation. 

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) supplementation is not recommended either as this can disrupt and reduce your body's own versions of stomach acids, (of which there are 6, according to the Medical Medium, Anthony Williams). 

Extreme cases of digestive impairment may need to taper off the HCL and bile crutches (since the body shuts down in areas where we endlessly supplement, rather than nourish organs back to health). 

Tapering is best accomplished while simultaneously building digestive powers through the herb and mineral nutritive approach. This process generally only takes a few weeks or less.

Antacids are an unwise choice as well, as their use is based entirely on the false premise that heartburn and throat acidity is related to excessive stomach acid.

While stomach acids in the throat are too acidic for the delicate throat membranes, the cause of heartburn and throat acidity is more often due to poor food combining practices, combining fats and starches, or due to the insufficient amount of digestive juices in the stomach. 

Hiatal hernia (the protrusion of the stomach into the esophagus), generally caused by a spleen weakness from sweets, stimulants, and/or alcohol, allows stomach acids to rise up and burn the esophagus, thus contributing to much of the discomfort. 

The stomach needs a pH of 1.5 to 3.5 to perform its most challenging work, like digesting nuts or meat. If the acidity in the stomach is only 4 or 5 pH, it is insufficient for the tough digestive work, yet still too acidic for the delicate membranes of the throat, so it appears that the problem is excessive acidity when it is actually quite the opposite.

The body's natural production of digestive juices can be supported with nutrition from herbs & earth-born mineral sources, thus assisting the body to rebuild these organs to the point that they regain full digestive juice production again. This includes HCL, digestive enzymes, and bile. 

Bile is your body's natural laxative. Bile is naturally activated by the consumption of fats, oils, bitter foods, and bitter herbs. If you are consuming the herbal bitters and reducing the volume of constipating foods in your diet (meat, nuts, dairy, eggs, sugar, bananas, etc.), in most cases no other support system will be necessary. 

If constipating foods are going to continue for awhile in your diet, then additional Digestive Bitters (that also contains digestive spices), and possibly a magnesium mineral supplement (like Ancient Mineral Blend) will be required to maintain regularity.

Any magnesium supplement needs to be derived from a complex mineral source that is naturally occurring. Such a source will also naturally possess other macro minerals (like calcium) and numerous trace minerals which are essential to magnesium's effectiveness in the body.

Drinking lemon water each morning and celery juice daily (highly recommended by the Medical Medium) will also support digestive repair over time. With these two beverages, in combination with digestive herbs and mineral sources, the digestive restoration process is vastly accelerated. 

Rebuilding digestive powers may take a short amount of time or longer, depending on the degree of harm done by medical & dental treatments, the supplements taken, and the nature of the diet causing the digestive obstructions in the first place.

The Most Common Causes of Digestive Impairment Are:

  • pathogen-promoting foods (especially sweets, fruits, grains, or starches when combined with oils, fats, meats, dairy, or nuts). Nuts top the chart here as they are so common among health food advocates and easily overdone. Nuts, even the soaked versions, feed the herpes/shingles strains of viruses, and are a major contributor to the Lyme-type chronic fatigue syndrome. 

  • chemicals & heavy metals (antibiotics, radiation, medications, vaccinations, mercury tooth fillings, chemical laden water, household, farm & industrial chemicals)

  • eating food grown with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers (central to most gut issues due to the havoc they wreck on the intestinal biological terrain)

  • drinking too much liquid with or after a meal

  • mineral depletion or imbalanced mineral ratios in the body due to poor diet, or due to taking common mineral supplements (isolated calcium, magnesium, antacids, etc.)

  • an over-acid body constitution in general, the result of worry, stress, coffee, sugar, meat, citrus fruits, tomatoes, nuts, etc. 

  • an insufficient quantity of sea vegetables and superfoods in the diet (required to supplement the lack of nutrients in organic food these days due to poor growing practices, like tilling the soil).

The Acid vs Alkaline Effects on Digestion

Both bile and enzyme production are more effectively delivered to the right places when the body (not the stomach) is already in an alkaline state. Body acidity (meaning blood pH) can cause bile to get thick, move slowly, block enzyme delivery, and form gall or kidney stones.

Granulated sugars and animal products are the two greatest contributors to gall and kidney stones.

An alkaline state is essential for optimal production of the body's natural digestive juices.

An alkaline body is also capable of providing acid electrolytes to the stomach and other places in the body when needed, but an acidic body is limited in its ability to send alkaline electrolytes to the pancreas and other places in the body when needed.

Earth & Sea Greens, Vital Cleanse & Nutrify and Sea Vegetable Blend are our most effective ways of moving the body quickly toward a perfect alkaline state (7.4 pH), thus providing minerals that work to acidify the stomach where it is needed, and other minerals to the pancreas (that plays a big role in regulating intestinal pH) and other organs to alkalize the body.

Q: But I was told that the body produces less digestive enzyme & bile fluids after a certain age, thus the importance of taking enzyme & bile supplements.

The human body is recorded to have lived at one point, for several hundred years. For example, Li Ching of China lived between 197 and 256 years (birth records back then were not common, so other public records were relied upon to confirm this). Li Ching lived an exceptionally healthy life without digestive enzyme or bile supplements.

What makes the difference between Li Ching's life and ours? His diet and lifestyle were radically different from our modern lifestyles, thus assisting him to maintain his health longer than is traditional for us today: Li Ching Yuen

Our lifestyle habits, diets, toxicity and medical treatments are the cause of the diminishment of our body functions, not aging.

Herbal support is merely applying ancient wisdom to the modern lifestyle in an effort to help correct the harm we have done to ourselves with our modern ways of living.

Q: When are digestive enzyme supplements recommended and not recommended?

In some instances, especially for therapeutic purposes, digestive enzymes are suggested temporarily, especially if the diet is mostly cooked and raw foods (that contain the same enzymes) are not tolerated, or if food combining mistakes have taken a serious toll on digestive health.

Then a short term use of enzymes, in combination with a digestive system building protocol of bitter herbs and digestive spices, will be helpful until the enzyme supplements are able to be replaced with an abundance of raw food, herbal digestives, a better diet, and the digestive organs have rebuilt to normal production levels. 

Digestive enzymes are extracts of plants and other sources, meaning they are not the whole plant. Thus the numerous supportive compounds (in some cases, hundreds of phytonutrients) that Nature builds into a plant for optimal digestion are not included in the digestive enzyme supplement.

To take Nature's plants and mineral sources apart, then isolate specific compounds from them to turn them into supplements, is revealing an inherent distrust of the Original Natural Order of Life.

It is saying that Nature's original provisions are not sufficient on their own merit, in their complete forms; that 5 billion years of product development by Nature cannot do as much as the measly 300 years of medical intervention and "natural" extract-based supplements.

Isolates and extracts have short term therapeutic value when used properly based on the unique needs of each individual, so they are not to be ignored entirely.

There is a place for them. But they can also be replaced eventually with the more natural 'whole' forms found within Nature's storehouse. 

The more concentrated and isolated a substance becomes, the more likely it is to cause disturbances in the body's biological terrain, especially with long term use.

What are the side effects from using nutritional concentrates and isolated nutrients?

Disturbances in the body eventually show up as deficiencies & excesses similar to the incompleteness of the extracted compound.

Isolated compounds extracted from herbs and mineral sources can in some cases, result in the weakening of body organs to such an extent that they atrophy, much like what happens to your leg muscles when placed in a cast.

Try getting off of hormone replacement therapy or addictive pharmaceutical drugs after a year or more and you will understand just how disruptive isolated supplementation can be to the human body.

Digestive enzyme supplements, being isolated extracts, while less impacting than hormone replacement therapy or HCL supplementation, are still missing some of what Nature built into herbs and raw food sources.

They do little to rebuild the body's digestive organs (salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, intestines, spleen, and liver/gall bladder) other than provide them with a brief rest from having to overproduce the digestive enzymes along with many unknown digestive compounds needed by the body, yet are naturally found within raw foods and whole herbs.

Isolated ingredients assembled into a supplement filled with extracts (like HRT, most mineral & vitamin formulas, ox bile, HCL, antacids, etc.) give the body the signal that it does not need to work at producing those compounds, causing the atrophy of the organs and glands responsible for doing just that.

Isolated minerals and vitamins also place undue strains on the body by demanding that the incomplete mineral or nutritional profiles in the supplement be supplied by resources already resident within the body, if they even exist there at the time. 

This leads to nutrient deficiencies, thus the further breakdown of health. 

It is far wiser to simply give the body the building blocks needed by the body to construct the metabolic compounds in ways that only Nature understands how to do.

Herbs, clays, sea vegetables, and other wild foods are complete forms of nutrition built by Nature for the human being to nourish specific areas of human physiology (also built by Nature).

The body uses these little known compounds in natural resources to regenerate itself according to Nature's own wisdom.

Which would you trust more, 5 billion years of earth's product development wisdom, or the measly 300 years of human scientific/natural/medical infancy?

Until we restore the Natural Order in our diet and lifestyle we are still living in the dark ages of medical ingenuity. 

Whole Herbs, Spices, and Clay for Optimal Digestion

Digestive Bitters provides whole plant herbs and digestive spices which nourish the body back to digestive health in accordance with the wisdom of Nature.

The body reacts to bitter herbs by producing bile in the liver. Digestive spices provide nutrient building blocks with which the body manufactures its own digestive enzymes in the pancreas, salivary glands, stomach, and intestines.

BloodSugar Balance provides the herbal nutrition needed by the body to reduce insulin sensitivity and deliver the vital sugar reserves to the cells, muscles, organs, and glands.

Friendly Flora provides the body with probiotics, humic/fulvic earth (also supportive of detoxification, immune strength, as well as improved digestion) and prebiotics (which feed the friendly bacteria essential for complete digestion in the intestines).

Herbal C provides herbs naturally high in Vitamin C that also support digestion, immune response, glutathione production, and detoxification. 

Sacred Clay provides minerals that promote HCL for improved digestion, detoxification, stomach lining repair, and the gradual cleansing of the intestinal tract.

Ancient Mineral Blend is a non-clay calcium-magnesium source with its own trace minerals which provides these two essential electrolytes along with laxative effects. 

Water infused with clay provides the missing minerals, electrolytes, and hydration essential for proper digestion.

Even a small amount of clay/mineral water (Sacred Clay, Ancient Mineral Blend, or AquiTerra Clay in 2-8 ounces of water 10-20 minutes before a meal), helps to prepare the stomach to produce digestive juices.

    Q: When is the best time to take Digestive Bitters?

    20 minutes prior to, or with a meal. An ideal time is when consuming the Clay Water and Friendly Flora. Otherwise it can be taken with the meal, or even after a meal (minimizing liquid intake, of course, so as not to dilute digestive juices in the stomach).

    Digestive Bitters can also be taken between meals if the prior meal has failed to digest sufficiently (often due to food combining, or hard to digest food like meat or nuts).

    Taking a small amount of Digestive Bitters between meals also assists in the cleanup of the bloodstream of toxins and the reduction of fat cells & cholesterol.

    Regardless of one's age, when fed properly and nourished sufficiently with earth-born nutrition the body will produce all of the digestive enzymes, bile juices, hormones, and soil based organisms required for perfect digestion. Thus, store bought enzymes and ox bile-type supplements are no longer needed.

    Q: Will the Digestive Bitters still help me to lose weight if I stop taking enzymes, bile and laxatives?

    Absolutely. The simplest and most effective approach for dropping some kinds of weight is to take Digestive Bitters with each meal and again before bed. A small amount between meals also speeds this reduction program along.

    Liver Bile is responsible for recycling fat & cholesterol. Bile production places a demand on the body's cholesterol levels, it has to draw lipids from all places in the body to fill this bile production need.

    Your body, when healthy, produces close to a quart of bile fluids everyday. Bile is composed of 97% water, 0.7% bile salts, 0.2% bilirubin, 0.51% fats (cholesterol, fatty acids, and lecithin), and 200 meq/l inorganic salts.

    While the fats portion of it does not appear to be a great amount, that steady drain of fats has the influence of reducing fat buildup and breaking down existing fat cells for recycling.

    The bile is also a transporter of toxins from the body, thus reducing one avenue of fat accumulation.

    Bile salts also reduce pathogens in the food, thus reducing bloat and potential illness.

    The net observed result is all who take the Digestive Bitters as suggested experience a slimming down.

    Q: If my gallbladder has been removed is it still OK to take Digestive Bitters?

    Consuming bitter herbs with a meal supports the body's natural bile production.

    The liver produces the bile (with some help from the spleen) and would normally store the bile in the gallbladder to concentrate it 5-20 times before delivering it to the small intestines once oils or fats exit the stomach. (For those without a spleen, the liver & lymph systems take over some of the splenic functions).

    Without the concentration process performed by the gallbladder, the bile from the liver is simply dumped into the intestines when stimulated by oils, fats, or bitter herbs.

    This means the bile is not as strong as is desirable, but still effective to a degree. So, yes, someone without a gallbladder can take the Digestive Bitters since bitter foods provide nutrients (an herb is simply food; parsley, coriander, cumin, dandelion leaf, and fennel are common herbal foods), to which the body reacts to by increasing the quantity of bile manufactured by the liver. In this way one might overcome the lack of concentration with abundance.

    (Keep in mind that bile is the body's laxative agent, so vary any amount of bitter herbs with observed and desirable effects.)

    Secondarily, bile performs the function of encapsulating toxins (chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, etc.) filtered out of the blood by the liver. Thus, the detoxification benefits of bile-stimulating bitter herbs will still be as powerful as before.

    Thirdly, bile is also used by the body to help reduce stomach acids in food exiting the stomach, so this benefit remains as well.

    Q: What is the difference between liquid bitters and dry herbal capsules?

    Liquid bitter herbal formulas are also helpful for the human digestive tract in a similar way that a dry herbal encapsulated formula works. The difference between the two are:

    1) The bitter taste of an encapsulated formula is noticed less than with a liquid formula, so this makes it easier for some to take.

    2) It is also true that the taste of the herbs help to prepare the digestive tract to produce certain kinds of digestive juices, so there is an advantage there in favor of the liquid. For this reason, some of our clients will open one capsule, to get the taste advantage, then take the rest in the capsule form.

    3) An herbal extract is not a whole plant, thus the liquid forms are missing part of what Nature intended for the human body to be most effective. It is impossible to extract 100% of the medicinal value from a plant using the various liquid extraction methods.

    4) The fibers of a plant alone contribute significantly to the effectiveness of a plant's action in the human body. Among their many benefits are the fact that fibers are a food source for friendly bacteria & archaea in the intestinal tract. Friendly bacteria & archaea are intimately involved in completing the breakdown of foods & fibers into nutrients for the body.

    Q: How were the herbal ingredients in Digestive Bitters selected for the formula?

    Complete digestion of food involves much more than just the stomach & intestines. The ingredients in Digestive Bitters were selected due to their historical and scientific value for assisting the body to improve the digestive powers of the entire human digestive tract.

    Each herb selected has its unique nourishing effect on various organs and glands of the body involved in the numerous digestive actions applied to foods consumed.

    The complete picture of food digestion and assimilation involves the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, small and large intestines, spleen, kidneys, bladder, adrenals, blood, capillaries, probiotics, enzymes, hormones, and numerous biological transformations.

    Digestive enzymes, Ox Bile, HCL, antacids, laxatives (the most common supplements reached for when the digestion is off), are incapable of providing the hundreds of plant-based nutritional compounds that Nature designed into various herbs and spices to support the true needs of the human body for total digestive efficiency.

    Many blessings of health and success,
    Enjoy the simple gifts of Nature!

    ––– – –––

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    ––– – –––

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    A Few Surprising Facts about the Most Rampant Health Condition on the Planet!

    ––– – –––

    A Liver Flush with Bitters Program - New, Simple, and Effective

    Why You Don't Want to Do the Olive Oil-Fruit Juice Liver-Gallbladder Cleanse and How to Get Superior Results with Bitter Herbs and Digestive Spices

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    Michael King

    Michael King is a Life Enrichment Consultant, a natural intuitive, a researcher of Nature's most powerful healing resources the world over, the author of "Detoxify, Nourish & Build - Three Essentials for Vibrant Health" and the Vital Health News Updates - a periodic newsletter documenting the most life-building natural resources on the planet. Michael is also an advocate of sustainable gardening, environmental responsibility, and an architect of ways to increase global food production.



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