An Insidious Invader : Combating the Red Tide Issue in Florida

 In Articles, Blog

Welcome to our Stonewisdom blog! As you know, we relocated to Venice, Florida for beaches, sunsets, pure air, sunshine and salt waters. But now, our most beautiful environments are being held hostage to the effects of red tide, and its inexplicable growth and paths of destruction.

Our Florida coastlines are under siege. Our sea life is suffering. So is tourism. Beaches are empty. Local businesses are closing. Snowbirds are staying away, while beach yoga, drumming and waterfront church services are all being cancelled.

It’s sounds, and it is, dreadful. But I am watching not the decimation, but the opportunity our Florida communities have to come together and find a non-partisan, non-denominational, race and gender inclusion type of solution. C’mon, folks! If we lose our air, waters and lands, we can never recover.

Let us be that archetypical Phoenix, rising out of the ashes and chaos of toxic death, to become united, pristine and once again, a delightful destination and place to live. Those who pray, please pray. The scientific among you, focus on solutions. Some of us are fund-raising. Some are signing petitions and wearing “No More Red Tide” t-shirts. This is a fertile opportunity for us all to step forward and decide to do better in our stewardship, to which I say “thank you!”

Meanwhile, it hasn’t been talked about, but people are feeling the negative effects in their own health. If you are elderly, have compromised lungs or are very young, please be extra cautious. Avoid any exposure, if you can. As the smell can go miles inland, leave your lanai and head indoors when the rancid odor of dead fish and poopy diapers hits your nose. I know no other way to describe the overwhelming stench. Watch which ways the winds are blowing: it is the westerly winds that bring the aggravating effect. Please do not enter the water, even on a mild day, as the bacterial bloom is still present.

Red Tide symptoms include respiratory, ear, nose, throat and eye issues. Flu-like symptoms. A dry cough you can’t get rid of. Headaches and nausea. Skin irritations. Huge fatigue, memory difficulty and balance issues.

If you are experiencing any of these or a combination, please get to your doctor or Urgent care. Treatment seems to be antibiotics, steroids, prescription inhalers, nose sprays, and coughing aids. These are what a pharmacist called the “Red Tide Cocktail.” To those of you who feel reluctant, I say, “I know. I understand.” Many of us are reluctant to pursue western medicine and prescriptions. Others have no insurance coverage. To all this, I say “There is a time and place.” If you need intervention, please get it! I don’t wish to alarm any one, but Red Tide has already been deadly.

You will also be advised on decongestants (the ones now behind the pharmacy counters), and OTC (over the counter) aids for cough, cold, allergy. Also reported are ringing and fullness in the ears. Plus sleep issues, and itchy rashes. Personally, if needed, I might turn to Benadryl or a generic, but ask the pharmacist. Be sure to read product ingredients to make the wisest choices for yourself and loved ones.

Here are some cautions: Cipro and Levaquin are powerful, broad spectrum antibiotics. According to a Sarasota Physical Therapist I spoke with, these drugs could cause injury to ligament and tendons, perhaps peripheral nerves. Recovery, if possible, could take 6 – 12 months. Talk to your doctor about all options available to you, including mixing anything new with other prescription drugs or alcohol.

Steroids, like Prednisone, can have an enormous effect on our delicately balanced body health, such as unbalancing hormones and water retention. It can also negatively affect diabetics, and cause increased risk of infection. Weigh the pros and cons carefully with your doctor.

Even after treatment, coughs and some symptoms may linger indefinitely. What can you do to proactively help yourself and your family?

Foremost, remove yourself from the extensive red tide areas. If the air stinks, go indoors. If dead fish cover the beach, leave. They are dying from red tide and it has a bacterial (and contagious) component. Do not eat local seafood any time soon!

Red Tide has affected the Intercoastal waterways and seems to be in brackish waters. A dead alligator was recently found on the beach, near a brackish inlet. Cause of death appears to be red tide. It is spreading, so please, do not use your kayak (or other water craft) in the Gulf, and then go inland to any lake, unless your craft has been cleaned of residue. We do not want to unwittingly bring red tide contaminates into our rivers and ponds.

Ask an ozone practioner about the benefits of ozone therapy, a relatively new treatment. While I have not done it for red tide, I did do a series of hyperbaric chambers (a similar concept) to help re-open my lungs after a chemical exposure. Invaluable and, unfortunately, not covered by insurances. Be sure to check your policy.

Home remedies may include: Neti pot, colloidal silver, natural tear drop product for itchy eyes or drops for the ear. Homeopathic and other natural solutions are available.

Many of us, not exhibiting acute symptoms, are using essential oils. There are combinations of oils, such as “Breathe Right.” Oils can be placed directly on the skin, using a “carrier” oil, such as almond or coconut. You may have them on the shelf  already. You can also simply deeply inhale oil. Unless you are really essential oil savvy, please do not ingest! Quality (and price) makes the biggest differences about oils safe, and whether they are safe to dilute and ingest. Most brands are not safe taken by mouth, but are fine used in other ways.

Diffusing into the air or sprays are very nice. Put a few drops onto a cotton ball, keep in your pocket, and sniff during the day. The Om Shoppe in Sarasota, on US-41, has lovely and inexpensive diffuser necklaces. A few drops, insert the cotton ball, and you convenient have wearable oils. Enjoy all day! Car diffusers are also available. Consider one in your workplace, too.

If you are fatigued, use oils that are spicy (cloves or cinnamon for example) or citrusy (orange, lemon, etc.) to energize. There are also oils for muscle aches, such as “Muscle Ease.” Biofreeze or Cryoderm also get great raves for body pain, and are now at some drug stores, Walmart or online. These are topical applications, not inhaled.

Peppermint and Eucalyptus – type oils will really open up the nasal passages. These are also effective on headaches, by rubbing (in a carrier oil) on temples and back of the neck. Amazon has a “Pocket Neti”, a portable product about the size of a chap stick for sinuses. Nicely effective!

I highly recommend “Thieves” oil, if it is affordable for you. It is considered an anti-bacterial, anti-viral blend. It is a more expensive oil, but oils can last a long time. “Thieves” cleaning products are also very effective. I always apply “Thieves” when traveling, going into a hospital, daycare or school, or any large crowds in flu season. My preventative experiences (avoiding getting ill) have been very good.

For sleep issues, there are “Good Night” blends. Also lavender, rose and other soothing oil scents (or blends) effective in helping relax and sleep. Spritz your pillow. Your children’s pillow, too!

If you feel empowered to take action, and be proactive, but are not sure how to go about it, start simple. Our website ( and the Venice Holistic Center, 714 Shamrock Blvd, Venice, 34293 have “No Red Tide, Vote!” refrigerator magnets. Get one! They are free. Voting is crucially important regarding environmental issues. Read up, and become informed. Vote for the one who reflects your views.

We will also have “No Red Tide” t-shirts shortly. We have been asked to create some, and it’s an easy protest. Wear a “No Red Tide” t-shirt and start the conversations that motivate people towards change! T-shirts will be for sale through our Stonewisdom website, payable by PayPal, or contact us directly ( about payment by check. We will offer the t-shirts until they run out. All proceeds will go to benefit the Sarasota Mote Aquarium for its red tide research. Mote is the home of the sea turtle and manatee rescue groups, and much more. Please visit, if you have never been. It’s worth the trip. Residents have special days to enjoy discount entry tickets, so please call or Google first. It’s a fascinating place for all ages.

Magnets, t-shirts and some oils will be available during the Venice Holistic Center Open House, October 13, 2018, from noon – 3 p.m. Look for the Stonewisdom table.

A local resident, for whom we are very grateful, has started a Facebook social media petition. Her goal is 100,000 signatures in support of more resources to combat red tide. The petition will be going to the federal government. Sign on! A quick, effective way to be proactive.

Please be smart, stay safe and healthy. Watch your children, and pets. We now know red tide has a neurotoxin component. Many people are complaining of more forgetfulness, foggy brain, feeling “spacy” and balance issues. This is neither coincidence nor age related. If your pet is sick, get to a vet. The Center for Hope Shelter in Nokomis started a free vet clinic, but things are changing rapidly. Please call before you head over.

Essential oils may be used on pets and children. Over-use of essential oils can start a “herxing” effect, which is a body detox that goes too fast for the body to comfortably get through. If you don’t feel well, back off of what you are using. Remember, children and pets need small doses. Please check the Holistic Center website (above) for the available Essential Oils classes. It’s a fun way to learn how to use them properly.

What else can you do? VOTE! Give someone a ride to the balloting. Get out and talk about it. Start a red tide conversation. No one is pro-red tide! Become empowered. Pass this information on to others. Also, stay tuned! Stonewisdom hopes to be presenting a Red Tide forum at VHCC, in association with those who are connecting to be victorious over this environmental catastrophe. (Thanks, Amber)

Thank you for reading all this. It’s not been a normal blog, but then, these are not normal weather and environmental times. Our manatees, dolphins, whales, sharks, schools of fish, sea turtles, shell creatures, the winged, the scavenger and the mermaids, all thank you!

Caveat: The above represents some of my knowledge and experience, which is no substitute for seeking a professional opinion specific to your needs. Please consult your health care practioner. Stonewisdom does not sell any of the above recommended products, or have any other financial interest in writing about them. Our hearts are about health and love.

We see you and we are in Love!


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