Not looking for the US site? Click here Not looking for the US site? Click here
Home / Blog


Finding Light in the Darkness

Finding Light in the Darkness

On a moonless, pitch-dark night on a highway on northern Vancouver Island, my rental car decided to quit. Yes, far away from any town, pre-cell phone era, not that it might be an area with coverage now. It was me, darkness, and the sound of wolves sharing their mournful cries. Was I scared? Yes, but I had the security of being in an enclosed car, and the certainty of day-break or another car coming along within hours.

Have you noticed that darkness abets uncertainty and perhaps fear? The darkness definitely adds a spiciness to the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland, as you have no idea which way the coaster is going to turn next. Darkness lends an eeriness like being in a strange room when there is no contrast either from a light inside or seeping in through a window. 

As we encounter the darkest days of the year, or at least the longest nights in the northern hemisphere, we know that this darkness isn't forever. By January, the days are starting to stretch, and we can anticipate brighter days with certainty. Like our calendar, life is marked with seasons that come and go.

There is also the darkness of world events weighing on us, spilling over to what seems to be a resurgence of hate or intolerance in our communities. And in Canada, economic pressures stressing far too many and are reflected in unprecedented demand at our food banks and the unrelenting toll of the drug crisis.

Yet, even in the midst of this darkest time of year and the darkness of the world, there are still lovely things to enjoy. In Vancouver, on my walk to work, there are bushes with berries, dew drops on branches and birds pecking for their morning nourishment. There are Christmas carols and streets and stores with bright seasonal decorations reflected in rain-soaked sidewalks and boulevards. And for many the joy of shopping for and sharing gifts with loved ones.

There is also collective knowledge that all is not right. Is that not a good thing that we know this? Yet where does that belief come from? This week, as I write, we are in the midst of Hanukkah, and Christmas soon follows. Events that celebrate transcendent miracles.  Most of us have a belief in something bigger than ourselves, something more important. In a perfect world, there would be no understanding of grace or charity, as there would be no need for them.  Without darker winter days, there would be no brighter spring days to look forward to.

So, as you reflect upon 2023, a year likely filled with many joys and sorrows for each of us, know that there is good and that we can look forward with hope and optimism. There are angels in our midst, and we can strive to be among them, to share joy with simple acts of kindness.

As 2023 comes to a close, I do want to thank our customers, vendors and my colleagues at SierraSil®. We have an amazingly helpful ingredient and product, that helps people and their pets with chronically sore joints or muscles recover joy and ability.  It is a joy to serve, and I look forward to making better progress in 2024, fulfilling our mission to help a million people and their pets.

*Photo taken by Michael on vacation in December 2021

Remembering Sacrifice • Lest We Forget

Remembering Sacrifice • Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US) this coming weekend is important to me. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of those who serve(d) in defense of others, and the too many who lost their lives and left heartbroken families.

In Ottawa, the Government has a Room of Remembrance. It was in the Peace Tower, but due to renovations to Centre Block, a new room was created near the new Parliament visitor’s centre. The room was design by CENTRUS (a joint venture comprising of WSP engineering and HoK Architecture hired by PSPC to work on the Center Block Rehabilitation Project). I met with Jai Bawa (Key advisor to the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute) who was part of the team and played an integral role at CENTRUS for the design and construction of the Centre Block Rehabilitation Project. 

This past October, my wife and I took her mum, Heather, to see her dad's name in the new Room of Remembrance. I wrote about Capt. Kenneth West in my November 2022 blog. On October 11th, Capt. West's page in the World War II book was turned over and we were there for the ceremony.  It was deeply moving, especially for Heather, and I was very happy to experience the reverence of the event. Lesley and I then went on to Montreal, where there are a number of places with plaques honouring the war dead, including in private institutions such as the original Bank of Montreal branch in Old Montreal.

This weekend, in Canada, there will be Remembrance Services at Cenotaphs, places of worship and some schools. Please take time to attend a service. It will mean a lot to the families, friends and colleagues of those whose lives are remembered. If you see a person in military uniform, please thank them for their service. I'd also extend that to members of our police forces, who overwhelmingly serve with dignity and professionalism, too often in stressful circumstances of hostile, drug induced violent or disrespectful behaviour.

Around the world, sadly, there is still horrific hostility. As I write, Christians are being murdered in northern Nigeria, armed conflict and missile strikes continue in the Russian attack on Ukraine (and the response) and there is brutal carnage in the middle east (in Gaza and Israel) triggered by the hateful Hamas leaders. These are just but a few of the conflicts right now manifested by evil in the hearts of too many men.  I mourn for all the victims.

Sadly, the conflicts abroad are manifesting in fear at home. Fear that is real, thanks to threats and actual vandalism of personal property at University dorms and to houses, businesses and signage. These threats seem to be disproportionately (but not exclusively) directed at members of the Jewish community. Some of my ancestors lost their lives at the hand of Nazis and Capt. West died fighting that evil. Some of my ancestors were fortunate to have escaped, and in some cases, double persecution, as my late Aunt Louisa lost her husband and her children lost their dad as he was executed by the Communists in Yugoslavia. 

War and hate are deeply troubling. Yet we need a strong, well-equipped military to fight evil and deter future violence. And let us honour those who have and do serve for peace, Lest We Forget.

Experience the solemn beauty of the Room of Remembrance with me. Click on the image to embark on a heartfelt tour paying tribute to the heroes who served and sacrificed.

Uncovering Ancient Medical Clay Remedies and Advancing the Science with SierraSil

Uncovering Ancient Medical Clay Remedies and Advancing the Science with SierraSil

What might have cost over C$22,400* (in today's dollars, based on the price of gold October 18th) in the first century but now retails for just C$83.95? 

Yes, we currently have a lot of inflation due to COVID supply disruptions, war and of course western governments printing massive amounts of money, but can you imagine something costing just a minute fraction of what it may have been in the time of Christ? 

What am I writing about? I recently read Dr. Sera Young's book, Craving Earth and learnt much more about "understanding Pica, the urge to eat clay, starch and chalk". I wasn't interested so much in the starch and chalk, but I was interested in the history of the medicinal use of clay.  The father of medicine, Hippocrates (460–377 B.C.E.) "is responsible for the first written record of geophagy", the practice of eating earth. 

Dr. Young noted that in the first century AD, clay from the Greek island Lemnos was so revered that the harvesting was supervised by a priestess. Called terra sigillata (meaning stamped earth) it was literally worth its weight in gold because of its healing properties. According to Dr. Young, Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia "wrote about terra sigillata in several sections: how it could be used as an antidote to swallowed poisons and snakebites, as a treatment for dysentery, and to reduce inflammation around the eyes".  As an aside, Pliny had a famous cousin, Pliny the Younger, who was a Roman Governor of provinces on the southern Black Sea coast and was notable for being a "pagan" documenter of the rapid spread of Christ followers and their willingness to be put to death instead of recanting their faith. 

Dr. Young also notes that the Greek physician and father of pharmacology, Pedanius Dioscorides references this medicinal clay in his five volume book about medical materials referenced in Europe as De Materia Medica. In the Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 57, May 2015, Pages 257-267 there is a paper investigating medicinal clays reported by authors of classical antiquity including those referenced by Dioscorides. The Paper's authors note that "Smectite clays, of which montmorillonite is one, have two important properties: the capacity to exchange cations like sodium, calcium, ammonia, potassium and magnesium and the ability to adsorb toxic elements like As, Pb or Ag as a result of their cation exchange capacity". 

Dr. Young also wrote about many other clays medicinally used by the people of pretty much every continent (if I recall correctly) over the centuries, even in modern medicines available today. The use of these clays was often associated with maternal use. Unfortunately, she didn’t reference our hydrothermal mineral complex we trade named SierraSil®, but when she published her book, I don't think we were very well known, and still aren't.  Never-the-less I hope to connect with Dr. Young if she is willing, but she is currently on sabbatical in the UK.

However, I am glad that you know about SierraSil. The research on our minerals has been described as a gold standard for health supplements by an industry association leader and as representing a pharmaceutical pathway by a Director of Natural Products Research Society of Canada.  We have extensive safety studies, numerous clinical studies including what may be the largest single study on a proprietary natural joint health product in the world, a double blind, placebo control cross-over study in London Ontario. You can find it at this link and go to tab 4. We also have extensive data on bio-accessibility, bio-availability and that SierraSil, like the smectites in the Journal of Archaeological Science bind with and pull heavy metals from your body. 

Now returning to costs, where I started this. Many Medical Doctors, after reviewing the science on our minerals and experiencing the results with themselves and or patients, have concluded that SierraSil is really inexpensive. This without knowing how valuable medicinal clays were in the first century!

Of course there are now more medicinal options, including many good herbs, one of which is in our Joint Formula Curcumin3™ (Canadian packaging only), but SierraSil still seems to be the most consistently and significantly effective natural product for sore joints and muscles, and perhaps also for chelating heavy metals. 

I think it's fair to say that no other natural clay product has anywhere near the supporting safety and efficacy research as we do. We also want SierraSil to be accessible, so keen observers may note that even our capsules are lower priced than when they were introduced and our pet product is significantly less expensive than competing and possibly less effective alternatives (although the price has gone up). 

Our goal is to help a million people (and their pets) with chronic aches recover joy and ability, to be healthier and more active. If you have sore joints or muscles, or perhaps concerned about heavy metals in your body, please consider trying our products.  If you have tried our products, please share your experience with us. Our joy is hearing from customers, as I did this week from a few on the Canadian Prairies with lovely stories of how a senior, a carpenter and a podcaster all have better quality of life with SierraSil. Thank you.