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True health is to live at the peaks, to explore the heights of wellbeing - physically, emotionally and spiritually. To forge the deep connections between the mind, the body & the spirit.

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My Love Affair With Plants

My Love Affair With Plants

For more than a million years, our ancestors lived with herbs. They cooked with them, healed with them, used them to scent their bodies and sanctify their prayers. On a molecular level, the human body recognizes herbs when we take them. Get to know the nature of a few specific plants and they will enhance your life immeasurably. In a very real sense, we can come to know an herb the way a woman knows her lover. The spirit of a plant meets the spirit of a human. Expect magic. You won’t be disappointed. A FINE ROMANCE My own passion for herbs began when I discovered the help they could bring me and my family. Simple plants such as nettle or golden rod (Solidago virgauria) have a natural cleansing and diuretic effect on my body. Traveling on airplanes, my ankles used to swell up. I discovered when I got home and made a cup of golden rod or nettle tea, the swelling would vanish. Fascinated, I began to read about what herbs can do for the immune system. I began to experiment with other plants—goldenseal and echinacea, burdock and shiitake mushrooms. I began to give herbs to my whole family whenever any of us threatened to come down with flu or a cold. I discovered that, provided we took them in time, one or a combination of plants would clear the problem before the full force of any illness hit. A doctor friend, Gordon Latto, taught me that gargling with red sage and sticking a clove of garlic in its paper shell in between the teeth and the inside of the mouth for a few hours a day would clear a sore throat and nip throat infections in the bud. I began to wonder just how many other remarkable things plants could do for us. THE SUPERB ADAPTOGENS I was lucky enough to meet with the famous Russian scientist I.I. Brekhman, expert in adaptogenic herbs, who won the Lenin Prize for Science. From him I learned that the adaptogens such as ginseng, eluthrococcus or Siberian Ginseng, and Suma from South America strengthen a person’s ability to resist illness as well as making it possible for us to work and play longer and harder without experiencing the negative effects of prolonged stress. That was thirty years ago. Since then I have come to use herbs and flowers, fresh raw juices and vegetables, water and tender loving care to help the body protect itself from illness, heal a sickness when it struck, calm an agitated mind, induce slumber when unable to sleep, clear depression, and care for my skin. I have also learned to use herbs to decorate my house and sanctify my working space. I also fell in love with photographing them. Meanwhile, I raised four children without antibiotics or over-the-counter drugs thanks to the blessings of herbs. DAZZLING POWER The classic definition of an herb is ‘a non-woody plant which dies down to its roots each winter’. This definition is far too limiting. It was probably made up by 19th century European botanists who had never seen the rainforest in which, of course, there is no winter to die back in. Neither had they ever heard of woody trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, ginkgo and elder, which provide us with some of the best-selling herbs on the market these days. My own definition of an herb is simply a medicinal plant. It can come from any climate and be a leaf, a bark, a flower or a root. It can be home-grown or wild—a weed, a spice, a plant which is used for its healing, culinary or beautifying properties. So powerful are the health-enhancing capacities of herbs that a vast number of common prescription drugs have been derived from a mere 90 species of plants. According to Professor Norman Farnsworth—leading American expert in pharmacognosy at University of Illinois —74% of common drugs have been developed directly out of traditional native herb folklore. In the United States alone, the annual sales of prescription drugs developed from plant products used by tribal cultures is already in excess of $6 billion. Unlike prescription drugs, whose side-effects can be devastating, most herbs are both safe and simple to use. Most carry no side-effects at all. MEDICAL FAILURE The way we have thought about health and healing for the past century—what the experts call our biomedical model—has come to the limits of its usefulness. Conventional medical practices view the body as a collections of structures—bones and blood, cells and tissues. Common medical treatment consists of acting on these structures in a symptomatic way. Doctors give one drug to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, another to get rid of headaches or put you to sleep. Whether these drugs are medically prescribed or over-the-counter products, virtually all carry negative side effects. Most have no concern with genuine healing. They instead focus on ‘managing’ illness by suppressing symptoms. Herbal treatment, like all of the great natural approaches to health through history, looks at things differently. It insists that at every level of biological organisation—from chromosomes in our DNA all the way up to our eyes and toes, stomach and liver—the body has a stunning capacity for self-treatment. It is capable of removing damaged structures and renewing them on its own. The natural capacity of living organisms as complex as ours to regenerate themselves is something that symptomatic drug-based medicine ignores altogether. Yet self-regeneration lies at the very core of using natural foods, water, air and movement therapies, and of course herbs, to strengthen, balance or heal. Chinese medicine is functional medicine; it did not develop along structural lines as Western 20th century medicine did. So is Ayurvedic and Unani medicine from India, and nature-cure in the West. The Chinese pharmacopoeia is the richest in the world. Chinese doctors value plants for their ability to strengthen the body’s functioning, heighten its own defences and improve immunity. They use herbs, as we are only now beginning to in the West, to extend longevity, to increase resistance to illness, to heighten energy, and to calm disturbed emotions. BRING MAGIC INTO YOUR LIFE There is an endless parade of different ways you can use herbs. In the health food store and mail order catalogue you can find a confusing array of capsules, pills, tablets, extracts, tinctures and ‘whole herbs’ or ‘bulk herbs’, none of which seem to relate to the ‘infusion’ you have decided you would like to take. And what about the herbs you have growing in your garden? Here is a rough guide to finding your way through the confusion. First, find yourself a reputable supplier. I have a passion for iHerb.com, since the variety of herbal products they offer are the best and cheapest anywhere, and they ship worldwide. Personally, I’m wary of buying herbs in health food stores or pharmacies unless they come from a manufacturer or supplier I know. With a supplier you trust and with whom you can discuss your needs, you can be sure you are getting a good potency and that the herbs have not been sitting in a cupboard somewhere for months. BULK/DRIED/WHOLE HERBS What you are buying is a bag or box of a specific weight of dried herb, either in its whole form, crushed or powdered. This is the best way to purchase herbs if you want to make teas (infusions), decoctions, or your own capsules, or if you want to use them in potpourris and sachets. It is also about the cheapest way to buy dried herbs. TINCTURES A tincture uses alcohol diluted in water to draw out the plant’s chemical constituents and preserve them. You can buy tinctures by the bottle and they are pretty potent. You take from several drops to 1 teaspoon or more of a tincture in a little water several times a day if needed. Tinctures are best bought from a reputable supplier. You can make them yourself, but the process is less accurate than when they are professionally produced. I buy many herbs in tincture form as I find them so convenient. You will sometimes find a figure such as 1:4 on a bottle of tincture. This gives you the ratio of the weight of the herb—in this instance 1 part of herb—to alcohol/water mix. An herbalist may suggest you take a specific ratio in which case your supplier can advise, but for general usage you don’t need to know the ratio. EXTRACTS Extracts are easy to confuse with tinctures. They are far more concentrated. They aim to contain all the active chemicals of the plant, not only those that will dissolve in alcohol. Extraction processes vary from pressure rolling to heat treatment to vacuum extraction. These are best left to the experts. Extracts have a limited shelf life. They should be kept in the fridge. Herbalists often prescribe extracts during an illness, rather than using them for prevention. Extracts can also be useful to add to a cream or salve for external use: ¼ extract to ¾ base. They are pretty strong in their action. TABLETS, PILLS & CAPSULES Tablets, pills and capsules are often more readily than the loose dried herbs themselves. Tablets, pills and capsules usually contain the whole herb, not just the constituents extracted in a tincture or infusion. Therefore, in taking them, you are making use of the synergy in action between all the constituents of each plant. Choose those from a reputable manufacturer/supplier. Tablets are made from dried plant material—leaves, roots, bark and/or flowers—mixed with a base, sometimes lactose, both to help you hold them in your hand to take them and to aid absorption in the stomach. Pills are, basically, tablets with a coating. If the plant is sticky, smelly, or tastes dreadful—or all three—it is more likely to come in pill form than tablet form as the protein or sugar coating disguises less pleasant aspects of the plant. Usually I avoid these, since sugar in any form is far from beneficial. Capsules, made of gelatine or a vegetarian equivalent, are filled with dried herbs—even the stickier, smellier ones. They need to be stored in a cool, dry place, but they preserve herbs well. You can buy gelatine capsules from a chemist and fill them yourself, either with herbs you have dried yourself or with dried herbs you have bought in bulk. The standard 00 size capsule holds about ½ gram (500mg) of herb. Make sure the herb is ground into as fine a powder as possible before filling, so that it can be easily absorbed by the body. A WONDROUS WORLD Plants speak volumes when you know how to listen. One of the great joys of our herbal tradition has been the love affair that takes place when the spirit of an herb meets the spirit of the person using it. It is an old art by which, using your intuition and trusting your instinct, you can move towards an awareness of the central nature of a plant and how best it can be used. For example—the herb Leonurus cardiaca is a powerful strengthener of the heart, reducing tachycardia and hypertension and promoting normal heart action. The essence of its personality, however, is better expressed in its common name—motherwort. This herb has the ability to bring a sense of absolute security—the way a baby feels lying in the arms of its mother—during periods of deep and unsettling change. Every plant has secret wisdom and power. It will tell you its tales and offer its richness to you as you open your heart to it.

Color Your Life

Color Your Life

Color matters. Seeing, wearing, or being exposed to a color - whether in the form of cloth or pigment or light - affects you below the level of your conscious mind. It can make you feel happy or sad, aggressive or peaceful, determined or indifferent. Each color has its own personality, and appears to offer a particular quality of energy for work as well. Researchers have found, for instance, that the color green can help provide 'elasticity of will' which makes you able to persist despite opposition or setbacks to finish a task. Exposure to green can also enhance your sense of self-esteem. Red's "workforce" is different altogether. The color red represents the power of will to strive for effective action, and exposure to it can help develop the will power. Yellow, the other color particularly useful for work, brings the spontaneous enjoyment of action and the ability to project yourself beyond your present work goal towards the future. Colors also have strong emotional or symbolic qualities. Blue symbolizes the feminine and the mystic. It is a color that tends to make people feel peaceful and calm. Red incites sensuality, voluptuousness and sometimes anger. Yellow makes you more cheerful. Violet symbolizes the magical; black, renunciation. And color's affects are not just psychological either. Because of the complex way in which exposure to various colors acts via the brain upon the autonomic nervous system, exposure to a specific color can even alter physiological measurements such as blood pressure, electrical skin resistance, and glandular functions in your body. color as energy Like both light and heat, color is an easily defined part of a whole gamut of energy, which comes to us from the sun and other sources. It is the part that makes itself easily perceptible to the human senses by reflecting off or interacting with matter. While heat is the perceptible effect of disturbed oscillation of atomic particles, light is the visible reflection off the particles in the atmosphere. Color makes up a band of these light wave frequencies from red at 1/33,000th's of an inch wavelength to violet at 1/67,000 of an inch wavelength. Below red lie infrared and radio waves; above it you find the invisible ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays. The colors we see are nothing more than the vibrationary rebound of frequencies which a particular object has refused to absorb. For instance, black hair absorbs all the color rays and gives back none, while snow rejects them giving them all back. That is why it appears white. A red flower has absorbed all except that which we interpret as red, and so on. The colors we see are wavelengths of energy that our brain interprets as seven basic shades or hues: red, yellow, green, blue, white, black and violet. And the experience of these frequency rebounds affects us profoundly and subliminally. As one highly respected color researcher puts it: Colors are not only and usually, not even primarily 'recognized', but they are felt, as exciting or soothing, dissonant or harmonious... joyous or somber, warm or cool, disturbing and distracting, or conductive to concentration and tranquility. And one of the remarkable things about the affective and biochemical powers of color is that they do not appear to be dependent on a person or animal seeing a color for it to work its magic. Russian scientists experimenting with the blind have found that earlobes and fingertips are highly sensitive to color. So probably are other parts of the body. And many studies show that even a blindfolded animal or person exposed to specific colors by having pigments rubbed on them, by shining light on the skin, or even being made to live in an environment of a carefully chosen shade will register predictable physiological and psychological responses. Learning about color's affective qualities and putting color to use can not only enhance your spirits and improve your looks; it may even improve your health and expand your consciousness. ancient color practices Although color effects are now beginning to be studied and described in biochemical terms or in the language of modern physics, the health benefits and consciousness-altering effects of color being used by these color therapists are not a new discovery. Celsus, the famous Roman physician of the first century AD, used colored plasters on the skin to promote healing, and prescribed medicines in specific colors to treat different ailments. In the Middle Ages different colored rooms were "prescribed" to heal various sicknesses. And ancient religious traditions reflect a clear awareness of the energy variations we now measure as wavelengths of different colors. They knew, for instance, that red has the slowest rate of vibration and the longest wavelength, while violet was energy vibrating at the highest rate with the shortest wavelength. And they associated the different colors and their vibrations with the specific energy centers or chakras in the body - three dimensional pulsating wheels which can be seen by clairvoyants, and are said to be centers in the energy body that govern physical and emotional changes in a person. Chakras are much represented in Eastern religions. (Even Christian art traditions acknowledge chakra energy when they depict saints radiating a halo from the head.) The halo represents the highest chakra - what the Buddhists call the "Thousand Petal Lotus" - but there are said to be seven chakras in all, each believed to be responsible for regulating energy in specific systems and parts of the body. Red is said govern the lowest reproductive chakra at the base of the body, and to impart a strong physical energy. The orange related chakra at the navel is concerned with digestion, while the yellow chakra at the solar plexus is said to be linked with certain emotional states and associated with the functions of organs such as the pancreas and the liver. Green is the color linked to the heart chakra, and with the qualities of courage and love. The blue center in the throat is known as the chakra of higher creativity and of self- expression. The color indigo belongs to the brow chakra, and is said to be concerned with such qualities as intuition, and right-brain-dominated thinking. The violet chakra, which is supposed to be situated at the crown of the head, is said to be linked with the body via the pituitary gland and the endocrine system as a whole. And, while color therapists who claim to work with chakra energies are quick to point out that many different colors can appear in the various chakras at the same time, visualizing or being exposed to the colors most associated with each, they say, can dramatically improve the functioning of that chakra and those physical and psychic links with it. We use color a great deal in our lives - to change our moods or to intensify them, and to explore different kinds of feeling and response. Following the ancient color chakra guidelines, you can buy color gels and place then on lights or windows where the natural light shining through creates wonderful prisms. You can experiment with different colors of fabric stretched over home made frames, or with huge pieces of brightly colored paper hung on the walls and changed frequently. You can play with color changes in what you wear and see how different this makes you feel and how different colors seem to bring out different parts of your nature. We like to color old tee shirts using fabric dyes in different shades such as clear green, yellow, apricot and brilliant orange. It is remarkable how changing the colors you wear can alter the way you feel and your sense of your self. And not only is exploring the effects of color rewarding in terms of exploring your own physical and psychic energies, the experience of playing with color can be sheer delight.

Natural Menopause Revolution

Natural Menopause Revolution

Nobody ever prepares you for menopause. Nobody tells you that if you are going to have hot flushes or emotional instability, they are likely to be far worse before you stop menstruating than afterwards. Nor does anybody explain that waking regularly at two or three in the morning, and lying in bed filled with sadness or fear or anger, is likely to be not some aberration of nature, but a messenger announcing that menopause is near. And because we are told so little about menopause - apart from the scaremongering that equates the menopause with a disease, something that needs fixing - few women in our culture are prepared for the next phase of their life. We seldom expect the intensity of emotion - both pain and pleasure - that can accompany the end of the childbearing years, nor do most of us realize that such passions can be transmuted into creative power. In fact, there are many signs that the change is near. Alterations in menstruation, for instance. Periods can become longer, heavier, shorter, lighter or irregular. You can find your feelings go up and down very much the way they did in puberty, so that one moment you are completely content with your life, and the next you want to throw everything up and go off to India to ‘find yourself’. You may begin to experience a growing dissatisfaction with the parts of your life that used to seem fine. You may also find yourself very tired without apparent reason. You may also begin to get aches and pains in joints, or find your skin suddenly seems to sag or look sallow. Some or all of these things can happen to a woman in mid life. They are commonly lumped together with menopause, some even are temporarily masked by giving hormone drugs; however, most have little to do with the change - aches and pains in the joints, weight gain, and aging skin for instance, as well as the sense many women report that they have climbed to the top of the ladder only to find that it was against the wrong wall. Such symptoms are really signs that a woman’s lifestyle - probably her values too - needs revising. It could be time to give up the work you are doing and do something else, to follow your passion, to take up weight training, to learn a technique for meditation or deep relaxation, to reeducate the way your body moves through Feldenkreist, or to revise your way of cooking and eating. If you have been eating convenience foods, or going on and off crash diets over the years, for instance, in an attempt to keep your weight down, you will have inevitably created biochemical imbalances in your body. Deficiencies of minerals such as magnesium and zinc, or trace elements such as boron or chromium here, excesses of heavy metals such as lead or aluminum from your environment there, radically interfere with the functions of enzymes in your body - which are responsible for the manufacture of hormones, for the digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients, and for the production of energy. A woman’s body has a remarkable ability to compensate for a deficiency here and there. But, as a result of chemical farming - which depletes the soils and therefore our foods of trace elements and unbalances minerals - as well as food processing, which further depletes vitamins and minerals and puts chemicals into our bodies that do not belong there, by the time mid-life arrives most women have accumulated many metabolic imbalances. In time these biochemical distortions begin to create symptoms - mood swings or depression that occur because of a resultant deficiency in brain chemicals such as serotonin, low levels of adrenal hormones that we need to cope with stress and to protect against inflammation in the tissues such as rheumatoid conditions, and fatigue with no apparent cause. Perhaps a woman also begins to get hot flushes or night sweats, both of which are a normal and temporary part of the readjustment in hormones that takes place during the profound passage of menopause, yet these days are also treated like a disease, and so she goes to her doctor for help. Yet because few doctors are trained in either nutrition or metabolic biochemistry, nor are they aware of how to use effective plant substances and natural hormones to ease a woman’s passage through the change, they believe there is no alternative but to put the woman on drug-based HRT. He will choose from an enormous variety of combinations of oestrogen and artificial progestin drugs, the latter being added to help protect her from cancer. For by now it has been well established that giving oestrogen on its own is dangerous - predisposing a woman taking it to cancer of the breast and womb. The experience of taking HRT varies widely from one woman to another. Some feel great on it. Others feel lousy and gain weight. More commonly a woman will feel better for a few months and then begin to report unpleasant side effects from the drugs she is taking. The most common complaints from prolonged HRT are migraine, bleeding, depression, water retention, increased blood pressure, weight gain, thrush, breast problems, varicose veins and chest pains. A recent Swedish survey in the university town of Linkoping showed that 48% of women who go on HRT stop taking the drug within a year. A recent British study examined the reasons most commonly given by women who give up HRT after starting the treatment: about half stop taking it because of side-effects, about one-fifth because they are advised to do so my their doctors, and about one-third either because they are afraid of long term consequences such as cancer, or because HRT has shown itself to be ineffective in helping them. Unlike changes in diet and lifestyle, at best HRT is a stop gap measure which addresses symptoms but offers little in the way of genuinely strengthening and re-balancing a woman’s body. And as far as the treatment of hot flushes is concerned - the single major symptom which is part of menopause - where the plant based treatments from say, wild yam, or agnus castus, or angelica will tend to work more slowly, it will also tend to eliminate hot flushes completely; while the woman who opts for HRT as a way of treating hot flushes finds that the moment she stops taking the oestrogen - whether in a few months or ten years - her hot flushes return. But it is time we stopped talking about the bad news connected with menopause and looked at the good. For despite all of this, we are now poised at the brink of a revolution in women’s natural health care, which promises to help women turn the menopause transition into a true passage to power, personal well being and freedom. Health educators such as Sandra Coney, author of The Menopause Industry, and Dr Robert Jacobs of The Society of Complementary Medicine in London, scientists such as biologist Renata Klein, and doctors such as (the now sadly late) John Lee MD - the only person who has ever carried out a study on 100 women and been able to reverse osteoporosis - now vigorously challenge the wisdom of established medical practices in the treatment of women with drug-based hormones. They also object strongly to the widespread propaganda which accompanies the sale of HRT, claiming that the indiscriminate doling out of potent drug-based hormones can undermine a woman’s fertility as well as trigger the development of menstrual agonies including PMS, and menopausal miseries, from endometriosis to cancer of the breast and womb. This practice of making virtually every woman a `patient’ for most of her life by subjecting her to drug treatment, not only where it may not be necessary but even when it can be potentially dangerous, is a way of diminishing her personal power and taking away control over her own body. It is therefore, they say, biologically, politically and morally reprehensible. There are two classes of major reproductive hormones in a woman’s body - the oestrogens, which are commonly lumped together and called `oestrogen’, and progesterone. When these two are in good balance, a woman’s health thrives. She remains free of PMS and other menstrual troubles. She is fertile and able to hold a fetus to full term, and menopause becomes a simple transition instead of a passage riddled with suffering. She is also protected against fibroids, endometriosis and osteoporosis, and she is likely to remain emotionally balanced and free of excessive anxiety or depression. When oestrogen and progesterone are not in balance in a woman’s body, all of these things can come a cropper. In our modern industrialized world it is easy for a woman’s biochemistry to become distorted as a result of declining physical activity, because of the proliferation of highly processed convenience foods depleted of essential minerals, and as a consequence of the rise of a whole new - as yet largely unrecognized - phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. This is where a woman’s oestrogen levels far outweigh progesterone in her body, making her prone to cancer, menopausal agonies and menstrual miseries. Oestrogen dominance has developed in industrialized countries for many reasons, including the widespread use of oestrogen-based oral contraceptives, and the exponential spread of chemicals in our environment which are oestrogen mimics - they are taken up by the oestrogen receptor sites in a woman’s body and throw spanners in the works. Called xenoestrogens, these include the petrochemical-derivatives we take in as herbicides and pesticides which have been sprayed on our foods; the plastic cups we drink our tea out of, from which can migrate into our bodies; and even the oestrogens that come through in drinking water recycled from our rivers. Oestrogens from the Pill and HRT are excreted from a woman’s body in her urine, which end up in water and are not removed by standard water purification treatments. Every woman needs to be aware of the potential dangers of the `sea of oestrogens’ in which we are now living. Recently, Greenpeace issued a report describing the effect that xenoestrogens are having on men’s sperm count. It has dropped by 40% in the past fifty years. But far more devastating - and much less publicized - are the effects that the rising sea of oestrogens, and its consequence of oestrogen dominance, are exerting in women’s lives. Oestrogen dominance makes us more prone to breast and womb cancer, to fibroid tumors, to endometriosis, to osteoporosis, to infertility - not to mention a long list of emotional and mental imbalances. However, because much of the medical profession as well as the general public remains ignorant of the effects of xenoestrogens and the growing oestrogen dominance in women’s bodies, oestrogens continue to be prescribed heavily as part of HRT, not only to the handful of women who - around the time of menopause - may need it temporarily, but for thousands of women whose lives would be far better off without it. Neither do they know that hot flushes, dry vaginas, and early aging can usually be addressed more safely and successfully - not to mention less expensively - by alterations in diet to eliminate highly processed convenience foods (replete with junk fats which can interfere with the production of important hormones and prostaglandins in a woman’s body), changes in lifestyle, and by the use of traditional herbal remedies such as wild yam (from which many of the drugs sold for HRT incidentally are derived), chastetree, motherwort and black cohosh. Natural menopause revolutionaries are by no means altogether opposed to HRT. But they want to see it put into perspective. They insist that, while it may be useful for short periods in a small number of women who actually need oestrogen, the use of drug-based hormones in most women’s cases is costly both in financial and physical terms. Drug based oestrogens and progestogens in the ‘treatment’ of menopause have virtually all been shown to have dangerous side effects and for many who have followed such advice, the use of hormone drugs has ultimately created more problems than it has solved. Also they insist there are better, more natural, ways. One alternative to the currently available HRT appears to offer many new benefits yet is virtually side effect free. It consists of using plant derived natural progesterone - natural in the sense that it is the identical molecule to that found in a woman’s body - in the form of a cream applied to the body. Progesterone can not only help eliminate oestrogen dominance in a woman’s body, reestablishing hormonal balance; it can therefore also help protect against the many conditions with which oestrogen dominance is associated. Unlike the progestins prescribed in conventional HRT, it has virtually no side effects since it is a normal body chemical. As such, the body has the enzymes needed to metabolize it easily. Progesterone is also superior to the progestins because it is a biochemical precursor to many other important hormones in the body. This means the body can turn it into these other important hormones - adrenal hormones, for instance, to help support against stress damage, and into hormones which support brain function and balance emotions. It can even be transformed into the natural oestrogens. By contrast, the progestin drugs are ‘end product molecules’. They cannot be converted into other important body chemicals that are needed for emotional and physical health. In fact, their presence in the body may actually interfere with these conversions. After all, the progestins have to be unique molecules foreign to the human body to be patented and sold as drugs. There are no big profits for anybody in selling a generic substance such as a natural progesterone cream. This is another reason why so many doctors remain ignorant of its value in the treatment of women who need extra hormones. Unlike oestrogen commonly given in HRT to help slow down bone loss, progesterone actually increases bone density. It effectively stimulates the activity of osteoblasts - the cells which make new bone. By contrast, no drug has ever been shown to do this significantly. In most countries of the world, the progesterone cream used for natural HRT is readily available to women for their own use without a prescription. In Britain it is available by prescription from doctors who do know about it, but it can also be legally ordered by post, by any woman for her own personal use, from the United States or Ireland. In fact a  French study has recently reported not only that transdermal progesterone in small doses is well absorbed, used monthly, it reduces the risk of breast cancer. These are only a few of the exciting alternatives developing as part of the natural menopause revolution. But in many ways, what is most exciting of all about the new movement is a growing recognition that menopause is no more a disease than menstruation. It is a natural and important transition in a woman’s life - a passage every bit as important physically and spiritually as puberty was. And, like puberty, menopause carries with it enormous fluctuations in hormone levels and with them great shifts in mood, attitude and personal values, all of which are part of the passage itself. In other cultures, the transformation which takes place in a woman’s life sometime between the ages of 35 and 60 is traditionally considered a journey towards new freedom and power for a woman, a time of celebration where her creativity - until then bound to her biology - is at last set free for her to use as she wills. It is a time when women cease to give a damn what others think of their eccentricities and can set themselves free to soar into whatever realms they fancy. The passage we make at menopause - like the passage at birth or in giving birth - is a profound one which dissolves the boundaries of a woman and can take her deep inside an archetypal heroine’s journey to discover the real treasures of her life. Each woman is biochemically and spiritually unique. So is the inner journey she must make if she is to succeed in her quest for wholeness. Such journeys need to be undertaken with the highest respect for the body, the spirit and the powers of nature which bring it about. Such journeys cannot be codified. They are not packaged holidays where you pay your money, take your anti-diarrhoea pills and know exactly what to expect. These, insist natural menopause revolutionaries, are journeys of the soul.

Houseplants - Oxygenate Your Life Pure Magic From Plants

Houseplants - Oxygenate Your Life Pure Magic From Plants

I have a passion for plants—especially house plants. I have many in my house. In one large room, I even have a Ficus benjamina, which is 30 feet tall. I’ve had it for years. It was maybe 10 feet tall when I started with it. Now it is a magnificent life-form that delights me. It lives in a room with about five or six others, many of them rainforest plants. It’s a room we use for meditation, celebration, and work. PLANTS FOR PURE AIR What has happened—and I find this so exciting—is that there has been some recent research done by NASA scientists keen to explore the possible effects plants have on the environment, with reference to off-planet facilities for astronauts. What they discovered is that common indoor plants are amazingly powerful in fighting against the rising levels of indoor air-pollution in both offices and homes. Why? Because a number of plants—and they only studied and verified the effects of nineteen, though they strongly suspect there are many more—absorb potentially harmful gases, and clean the air inside our homes and buildings. Plant physiologists have long known that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But what the researchers have now found is that many house plants absorb nasty chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. How the scientists discovered this was to take a particular plant, put it in an enclosed space, and then introduce chemicals individually to see how the plant responded. The responses were fabulous. This is really important for all of us, because newer buildings are often tightly insulated and sealed to conserve heat or air-conditioning. This insulation, combined with the kind of chemicals used in building and painting, causes what is known as the “sick building syndrome”. I’ve always felt that house plants are beneficial to our lives, and sensed that they purify and renew our stale indoor air by filtering out toxins and replacing our exhaled carbon dioxide with life-sustaining oxygen. OXYGENATE YOUR LIFE Some HousePlants, according to NASA’s research, are more efficient in filtering out toxins than others. Philodendrons, for instance; spider plants; common English Ivy; even Ficus benjamina. Mostly they looked at green plants, but they also looked at a couple of flowering plants—one of them was Chrysanthemums. If people get Chrysanthemums, they usually bring them in while blossoming, and then take them outside. But it may be that we should keep some of these flowers inside permanently. Finally, one of the plants which I am very fond of, that they found enormously helpful in creating good air, is the Aloe vera plant. HOW MANY ARE IDEAL The NASA studies recommend that we use 15-18 good size plants to improve air quality in an average 1800 square foot house. I am going to explore the possibility of introducing a lot more plants to my wonderful indoor collection. I hope you will too.

Sleep Your Fat Away

Sleep Your Fat Away

Want to control your weight? The key to this may be simpler than you think: Get more sleep. A brand new study of 1800 sets of twins reveals that those twins who slept nine plus hours a night had a drastically increased ability to combat genetically-predisposed weight gain, compared to the twins who slept less than seven hours. What this means is that, when you do get enough sleep, your genes become less critical in determining how much weight your body lays down. You will no longer at the mercy of your DNA. If at the same time you make good lifestyle choices like eating a healthy diet, and getting some regular, enjoyable exercise, can set the stage for living a long, slim, healthy life. If you are someone who has long struggled with weight control, this is great news. A few extra hours of sleep a night could throw the ball of weight control right back in your own court. MEET YOUR ALLY The word leptin means ‘thin’ in Greek. Leptin is an important hormone which helps regulate your metabolism. It tells your brain when you have had enough to eat—the experience known as satiety. Earlier studies have shown that, when you are sleep deprived, your body’s levels of this hormone drop, and you develop what is known as leptin resistance—a condition which interferes with fat burning. Meanwhile, levels of another important hormone ghrelin (leptin’s hunger-signaling counterpart) rise. This results in your experiencing increased appetite and food cravings—especially for carbohydrates like grains, cereals, sugars and junk food—all the stuff which makes us fat and undermines our health. NIGHT AFTER NIGHT John Keats in his ‘Sonnet to Sleep’ called sleep the “soft embalmer”, praising its “careful fingers” and “lulling charities”. How right he was. The benefits sleep bestows on us extend far beyond weight control. Sleep helps heal our bodies and our minds—enabling us to integrate new information with ease. When we are sleep deprived, however, our bodies come under biological stress. They begin to respond in negative ways in an attempt to protect us: Muscles get tense. Heart rate and blood pressure go up. Digestion becomes disturbed and your stress hormone, corticosterone, floods the system. Then your body lays down yet more fat deposits while refusing to let go of the ones already there. But here’s the rub about sleep deprivation. In case you think you can “catch up” after prolonged periods of too little sleep, you can’t. For sleep to become an ally in your fat-fighting armory, you need to get plenty night after night. WHAT’S BEST The new twins research shows that some of us need nine or more hours sleep a night to receive weight control benefits. But there are no hard and fast rules. So instead of trying to adhere to a strict eight or nine-hour-a-night regime, listen to your own unique body. When you do, it will tell you how much sleep you should be getting. Life factors such as age, stress or illness, occupation, sex, diet and pregnancy mean that some people will need more sleep, and others less. Check this out: Are you often tired upon waking? Do you get sleepy throughout the day? Experiment. See how you feel after different amounts of sleep, and find what works for you. Your entire being—not least of all, your slimmer waistline—will thank you for it. To here more click here

Nature's Helpers

Nature's Helpers

Amidst the growing awareness of what high-tech biochemistry boasts in the form of the antioxidant nutrients against degeneration and what expensive treatments such as cell therapy can do to improve your appearance, to slow down the rate at which you are aging and to revitalize your system, we often give little thought to what simple natural substances have to offer. Take herbs and roots and animal tonics for instance - some with a history going back several thousand years. Amongst them all, the most exciting, the finest and most effective belong to a group called `the adaptogens'. The adaptogens, which include a number of very different natural substances - from Panax ginseng and eleutherococcus (sometimes called `Siberian ginseng') to an exotic-sounding preparation made from the horn of a deer - have been widely investigated in recent years by Soviet scientists and, in centuries past, mostly by the Orientals. Most of the adaptogens belong to long traditions of folk medicines and most have been held in high esteem for thousands of years in the pharmacopoeia of the world's medicine. What is so special about these natural products and why they are grouped together under the name is that they are all substances which, in carefully conducted laboratory and clinical studies, have been shown to enhance an organism's `nonspecific resistance' to aging, illness and fatigue. In practical terms they enhance your body's ability to adapt itself to all forms of stress - from the stress of fatigue, of illness, of exertion and of aging to emotional hardship - while at the same time helping to normalize biochemical activities. Taken as `medicines for well people' they can be remarkably helpful in keeping your body young and full of vitality. So remarkable are the positive effects that adaptogens have been shown to have on a living organism that it is a constant source of wonder to me that they have not been more widely investigated and used in Europe and in America. Meanwhile Soviet and Oriental scientists have spent the last forty years working with certain natural products which, when taken in a form unadulterated by heat or heavy processing, have a remarkable ability to improve health. They appear to be high in structural information. structural information for high-level health As Soviet scientists I.I. Brekhman and others have shown, not only are the chemicals and nutrients which can be extracted from natural plant or animal substances in the laboratory - vitamins, minerals, protein, organic acids, oils, etc - important for health, so is the complexity of the way they and other as yet unidentified factors are synergistically combined. In Brekhman's terms certain natural products (many of them folk remedies) are rich in `structural information' a high-quality health-supporting energy which cannot be measured in chemical terms alone. He was particularly interested in certain natural pharmacological substances such as ginseng which appear to supply a high degree of structural information to an organism and thereby support a high level of health and energy. There is something quite special in the way the constituents of such natural products seem to work together and have a natural affinity for the body. They have been shown to increase physical stamina and endurance, stimulate protein repair on a cellular level, protect from radiation damage, increase antibody production, detoxify your body and improve your stamina and vitality. In a way the adaptogens could be considered the `elixirs of life'. They are perfect natural tools for ageless aging stress without distress It was Soviet scientists who first developed the notion of an adaptogen, from the work of Hans Selye, Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, whose work on stress has become universally accepted. His `general adaptation syndrome' describes the way in which when your body is stressed by whatever agent - from cold to fatigue to emotional upset to overwork to chemicals in your air or foods - its homeostasis, that is its natural balance, is threatened. Immediately it draws upon its resources to resist the threat and to maintain well-being. And indeed, provided you are young and strong and well it can go on resisting any damage from stress for a long time. But, alas, eventually it enters the final stage of the GAS in which exhaustion takes over. Then your body's weakest system starts to break down and chronic illness, fatigue and (if the stress is great enough) even death can follow. What in effect has happened is that your body's adaptive energy - its ability to cope - has finally become exhausted. Selye pointed out that the aging process itself can be viewed as the GAS on a wider scale. He emphasized that the capacity to adapt virtually disappears in old age and that this loss, equivalent to a loss of vitality, is characteristic of senescence. Selye was always fascinated by the notion that it might be possible to discover or to develop `medicines for well people' which could enhance the body's own adaptation mechanisms - substances which could prolong your body's ability to resist age degeneration and exhaustion. They would be different from usual medicines in that, unlike drugs, they would not be aimed at a specific effect such as lowering blood pressure or eliminating pain. Nor would they be intended for the treatment of illness. Instead they would belong to a new category of medicines for health for they would improve the body's nonspecific resistance to illness, aging and fatigue. That's where the adaptogens come in - substances which can increase your general capacity to overcome external stresses through adaptation. Their use has an important part to play in protecting skin from aging, in maintaining a high level of health and vitality and even in enhancing mental abilities. Russian researcher I.I. Brekhman, at the Far-East Scientific Center of the Academy of Science, Vladivostok, did more than any other single scientist to explore adaptogens and to test their effects. In fact it was Brekhman's teacher, the Russian expert in pharmacology N.V. Lazarev, who first coined the word in order to describe these substances with the remarkable ability of strengthening and rebalancing the whole system. One of the first natural substances which Brekhman and his coworkers investigated and which they found had this ability was Panax ginseng - the root that was first used for medicinal purposes more than 4000 years ago `to restore the five internal organs, tranquilize the spirit, calm agitation of the mind, allay excitement, and ward off harmful influences. The continual use of ginseng makes for long life with light weight of the body.' It is probably the most well known and highly respected natural medicine in the world. useless in perfect harmony Traditionally ginseng has been prescribed only in states of imbalance. It is used to treat toxicity in the body, sluggishness, anemia, weakness and fatigue. But like most of the nutritional and natural tools for health, in a perfectly healthy and balanced person it is supposed to have no effect whatever. Because, as your body ages, its ability to withstand stress and to maintain homeostasis declines, ginseng has become a prime anti-ageing remedy. For generations in the West the value of ginseng has largely been dismissed as an old wives' tale. In part this is because the very notion of a medicine for health finds no place in the thinking behind Western orthodox medicine. But in part too it is probably because some of the few studies which have been carried out to test claims made for it have been done on inferior crops or on ginseng which had been heat-treated and heat-treating destroys many of the beneficial effects of most of the adaptogens. A number of well-conducted studies, both on animals and humans, carried out by Brekhman and others in the Soviet Union and by European researchers in Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and Britain show quite conclusively that ginseng has extraordinary adaptogenic properties. It improves the body's ability to use oxygen - important in staving off aging as well as increasing mental and physical stamina and in enhancing athletic performance, all of which it has been shown to do. It helps lower blood pressure that is too high, but doesn't affect normal readings. It offers protection against radiation-caused damage - also important in slowing down the rate at which your body ages. It increases your resistance to illness and against harmful effects of chemicals in the environment. It heightens mental faculties and is a natural stimulant to the central nervous system, improving reflexes, long term and short term memory, and making learning easier. But unlike coffee and most other stimulants, it does not produce a sudden rise in body activity followed by an unpleasant dip in energy, or depression. Nor is there any danger of becoming dependent on it. Like all of the adaptogens, ginseng has a gradual buildup effect on the body when you take regular doses of it over about three weeks. staving off exhaustion If, like me, you like to work long hours but still be reasonably fresh and responsive afterwards, you can use ginseng as a means of staving off exhaustion, while improving mental and physical functioning and maintaining a sense of mental and physical balance. At the Maudsley Hospital in London, Stephen Fuller gave ginseng to nurses involved in stressful and exhausting shifts and an identical placebo to others. He found that although performance in psychological as well as physical tests, and overall mood, vitality and competence, were undermined by the stressful conditions in which they worked, ginseng improved many of these parameters in those who took it. In the Soviet Union ginseng was given to fifty soldiers on a 3km race while to another fifty a placebo was given. Those who had taken the ginseng finished an average of 53 seconds sooner than the rest. At the University of Minnesota researchers tested the exam taking abilities of students giving some ginseng and some a placebo. The exam results from the ginseng group were significantly better than the placebo-takers. In repeated trials Brekhman and others have found that ginseng acts as a stimulant without causing insomnia and that not only does it help stave off fatigue and strengthen the organism's ability to cope with stressors of all sorts, the beneficial effects of taking ginseng appear to multiply and build up over the period in which it is taken. Also, ginseng's benefits last long after you stop taking it. As Brekhman said: After a series of experiments on men it was established that daily doses of ginseng preparations during 15-45 days increase physical endurance and mental capacity for work. The increase was noted not only during the treatment itself, but also for a period of time (a month to a month and a half) after the treatment had been over. The increase in work capacity was attended by a number of favorable somatic effects and a general improvement of health and spirits (appetite, sleep, absence of moodiness, etc). siberian ginseng Another adaptogen which has now been widely investigated, particularly in the Soviet Union, is eleutherococcus or Siberian ginseng. Unlike ginseng, eleutherococcus has not been used for generations for health. Indeed its therapeutic properties have only been discovered in the past fifty-odd years. Siberian ginseng is a prickly plant known as `devil's shrub' with leaves similar to ginseng and beautiful yellow and purple flowers. It is the plant's hot and spicy roots which are used medicinally. Like ginseng it has an ability to strengthen the body's ability to resist illness, degeneration and fatigue while never upsetting your body's natural physiological functions. It is a mild stimulant. Take it now and this stimulant action will last between six and eight hours. Its tonic effects are accumulative - they come gradually over a few weeks. They include increased stamina, better sleep patterns, better memory, clearer thinking and improved athletic performance. Eleutherococcus has particular relevance to any anti-ageing program because it is a natural protector against the kind of free radical oxidation which leads to cross-linking of proteins and, among other things, skin sagging and wrinkling. It also appears to have potent anticancer properties. Brekhman and many Russian researchers believe that eleutherococcus is a better adaptogen than ginseng. It has been shown both to increase the work capacity of people in factories and also to reduce the incidence of absence from work because of illness. And it is considered by Russian physicians to be a treatment of choice for both high and low blood pressure thanks to its ability to harmonize bodily functions. It is also used widely to treat anemia and to treat arteriosclerosis in the Soviet Union. Like ginseng and all of the adaptogens it is best taken regularly over a period of several weeks. It can however be taken year round without any loss in beneficial effects. stringent demands for adaptogens Ginseng and eleutherococcus are the two adaptogens most widely available in Britain and America (not, alas, always in active forms however - you have to be careful what you buy). But there are others too: pantocrine (an extract of deer horn); Schizandra Chinensis (the red berries of a Chinese plant which are widely used as a tonic); and many more, including the Scandinavian Arctic Root, and Kvann - a Norwegian variety of Angelica - still under rigorous investigation. Schizandra Chinensis has protective properties for the liver, increases the ability to use oxygen at a cellular level and stimulates brain function. Acantha Root or Acanthopanax Senticocus is used to build physical strength, regulate blood pressure that is too high or too low, improve adrenal action and heighten cerebral function. Each has its unique properties but they have a great deal in common both in the way they act on the body and in their safety even when used regularly over long periods of time. The most exciting herb I have come across for a long time is suma (Pfaffia paniculata). Locally known as Para Todo - `for everything' - suma has been used by Brazilian Indians for centuries as an aphrodisiac and general tonic. Recent research shows that, like good ginseng, the wild root of the suma plant also has strong adaptogenic properties. Amongst its other constituents, suma is rich in the saponins, some of which show anti-tumour activity, and in a plant hormone called ecdysone. At the University of São Paulo, Dr Milton Brazzach, Chairman of Pharmacology, has treated thousands of patients with serious ailments, including both diabetes and cancer, and verified the plant's potent healing and preventative powers. Researchers have found that a major source of the plant's energy-enhancing and stress-protective properties lies in its ability to detoxify connective tissue of what are called homotoxins. These are wastes which can interfere with the active transport of nutrients to the cells and in the production of cellular energy, and lead long-term to changes in the DNA associated with premature aging and the development of degenerative diseases. What all of this means to the active man or woman is that suma is well worth looking at as a nutritional support to raise your energy levels, enhance your ability to be very active both mentally and physically without fatigue or damage, and to detoxify your cells as a prevention against premature aging and degeneration. Russian scientists are very careful about the requirements that need to be fulfilled if a natural medicine is to qualify as an adaptogen. In Brekhman's own words: 1.The substance must be absolutely safe to the body. It must also have a wide range of therapeutic and protective properties while only bringing about minimal alteration to bodily functions. 2.Its action must be nonspecific. That is it must increase resistance to a wide variety of harmful chemical and biological influences. 3.It must have a normalizing action regardless of the direction of pathological changes it may meet with in the person's body. In other words in a person with blood pressure which is too high it should help lower it while it should have just the opposite effect on an organism in which blood pressure is too low. When you think just how remarkable these requirements are you begin to realize why the Chinese have traditionally believed many of the adaptogens to be worth their weight in gold. It is also easy to understand why the Western mind has such difficulty grasping the idea of an adaptogen at all. After all, we are used to a totally different approach: mostly this is because of our strong emphasis on symptomatic medicine. Our science has investigated a number of pharmacological preparations designed to do specific things, such as improve circulation or increase oxygen uptake by cells during surgical operations. However most of these drugs, such as the derivatives of phenothiazine and ganglio-blocking agents, bring about side effects which make them inappropriate for any healthy person to use as part of a program for increasing vitality, promoting high-level health and encouraging ageless-ageing. We take substances such as the phenylalkylamines, like amphetamines and their analogues, as a means of suppressing an overactive appetite, or we drink coffee with its caffeine or other purine derivatives to pep us up, and we can turn to the bromides and sedatives such as the herb valerian to calm us down, but we find it hard to conceive of something that could do both or either depending upon our specific mental and physical state when we take it. As a result little investigation of possible new adaptogenic substances is going on. Good candidates would be bee products such as pollen, propolis and royal jelly and even honey itself. bee power `Use thou honey,' commanded Solomon, `for it is good.' Just as ginseng has a long history of being used to increase vitality and protect from aging, so folklore is filled with advice about the medicinal use of honey and other bee products such as pollen, propolis and royal jelly, which have been employed throughout history to increase stamina, heal sickness, beautify skin and retard aging. A natural antiseptic with a proven ability to kill bacteria, honey and all its `by-products' - pollen, propolis and royal jelly - have antibiotic properties. And although honey has been scientifically analyzed for the last fifty years, there appear to be a number of its constituents which remain unidentified. Scientists who have attempted to break it down into its parts and then to put it together again have failed. Although honey is made up of 75 per cent natural sugars and 17 per cent water it is also a good source of many of the B group of vitamins, vitamin C, carotene and organic acids, and of many important minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron, sodium, calcium, sulfur, phosphorus and lime. This sweet golden substance has a reputation for prolonging life. While researching longevity another famed Russian scientist, biologist and experimental botanist DR Nicolai Tsitsin, discovered that of the 200 people in Russia whom he surveyed claiming to be over 100, a large number were beekeepers. All of them claimed their principal food was honey. Natural unprocessed honey has been shown to increase calcium retention and to raise hemoglobin count - it is traditionally used to treat anemia. It also appears to speed the healing process in a great many conditions from arthritis and poor circulation to liver and kidney disorders, poor skin and insomnia. Some researchers even believe that, thanks to its high aspartic-acid content - an amino acid important in the proper functioning of sex glands - it has rejuvenating properties. But just in case you're tempted to rush to your local supermarket and buy the first jar of golden stuff you come across you should know that it is not the honey itself which appears to be the most potent source of health-promoting qualities but the pollen-rich waste matter which lies at the bottom of honey containers. Tsitsin found that beekeepers tended to sell the `good' honey and to eat the `dirty residue' themselves. The dirty residue - which is a constituent of natural unfiltered and unprocessed honey and appears to have such exceptional properties for health - is too often filtered off from commercial honeys. Most have also been heated, which further limits the structural information they carry and therefore depletes their health promoting value. Honey, by the way, keeps indefinitely thanks to its anti-microbial properties so you need never worry about it spoiling. royal bee power Even more interesting than honey are the other bee-based products - propolis, royal jelly and pollen. Propolis is a sticky resin made out of the substance bees gather from the leaves and bark of trees. It is secreted via their pharmageal glands. They use it as a binding material when making hives. It has strong antibiotic properties and is much used in Sweden and Denmark to combat minor infections. Royal jelly is a white jelly-like substance produced by glands in the heads of very young worker bees. It contains almost every life-supporting element known. The queen bee, who lays over 2000 eggs a day, lives on the stuff and it appears to have remarkable benefits for beauty both when it is taken internally and when it is used in beauty products. The problem is most Royal Jelly on the market is pretty worthless. To be active it needs to be fresh, not processed into pills and potions, and it must be properly extracted from the hive and kept under refrigeration at all times - including while it is being transported. Royal jelly contains virtually all the life-supporting elements plus an unidentified 3 per cent which scientists have been unable to break down. In the south of France royal jelly is a common sight for sale by the roadside. People take a `cure' of it for a month or so twice a year. It is also said to be beneficial for anyone suffering from stress or exhaustion or for people recovering from an illness. Bulgaria is often called `the country of royal jelly' because beekeeping and all its products have formed an important part of the economy since feudal times. The Bulgarians have also done a great deal of research to establish the health benefits from royal jelly, pollen, honey and propolis. They have found for instance that royal jelly has an ability to protect against radiation, that it increases fecundity in animals, that it improves the body's use of oxygen, lowers blood pressure, speeds regeneration of damaged tissue, lowers cholesterol and, like the official adaptogens, increases tolerance to stress. It even stimulates and encourages better functioning of the immune system. priceless pollen Pollen is the male germ seed of flowering plants. A fine powder that plants need to make seeds, it is gathered by bees in the process of collecting nectar for honey and harvested by pollen collectors as the bees fly back into the hive. Not only does it contain all the water-soluble vitamins including the elusive B12, it is a good source of carotene, and vitamins E and K, and it offers a rich supply of minerals, trace elements and enzymes as well as hormonal substances beneficial to human beings. As such it is probably the perfect `skin food'. Pollen is a rich natural source of rutin as well - one of the bioflavonoids which, together with vitamin C and zinc, is particularly important in the formation of collagen (the structural protein which gives skin its contours and much of its strength). A thrice daily dose of raw pollen can do wonders for ailing skin whether the problem is acne, excessive dryness or hypersensitivity. It can also improve the look and feel of normal healthy skin. But pollen's health promoting properties don't stop there. It has been a favorite of Olympic athletes since ancient times and still is. Those who use it claim it increases strength and endurance, improves performance and helps prevent minor infections. cure for allergies? One of pollen's more curious attributes - particularly important in springtime - is its ability to render many hay fever sufferers free of symptoms, provided oral doses of the stuff are taken regularly for several weeks before the season begins - another example of one of those folk remedies which is supported by the experience of a number of physicians who still use it successfully every year. One more interesting attribute of pollen of interest to anyone concerned about preventing premature aging is its ability to protect the body from some of the damaging effects of radiation. It has been tested on irradiated animals and given to cancer patients subjected to radiation doses with excellent results. Finally, and most important, pollen taken in this way, like many of the natural substances which are high in structural information, seems to possess an ability to restore balance to a body. It is said to be particularly helpful in weight regulation - whether the person taking it is underweight or too fat. Bee products - all of them - are best taken unheated in small quantities daily. In the case of pollen and propolis, which usually come in tablets, the recommended dose is usually two to three tablets a day on an empty stomach. Royal jelly is best bought raw, kept refrigerated and taken in amounts of between 250 and 500mg a day under the tongue where it is absorbed by the mucosa in the mouth and bypasses the digestive system. It can also be bought in less biologically active forms as capsules and suspended in tonic solutions. proof of the pudding Using any adaptogen as a tool for increasing vitality, protecting health and resisting aging is simple. It is taken every day, usually on an empty stomach, and an average long term restorative dose is usually 1-2g a day in the case of ginseng and Siberian ginseng. Benefits tend to accrue over the time one is taking it and the best results come from taking it regularly over a period of a month to six weeks at least. Often people take it twice a year as a `cure'. What is not so simple is making sure that the product you are taking has been properly grown, harvested and processed in order to preserve its biological activity. For instance there are dozens of ginseng preparations on the market which are virtually empty of ginsenosides - the active ingredients in ginseng. And if eleutherococcus has been heated too much in its processing its effectiveness is either reduced or completely destroyed. Panax ginseng comes from Korea or China and the best quality are the big red roots which are six years old. Second are the white roots and third are the red grown in Japan, so look for country of origin when buying them and also for the Korean `Office of Monopoly' seal on the pack. The whole roots are the best, with root pieces and extracts following in that order. Ginseng tablets and powders often contain `fillers' and are much less potent. American ginseng - Panax quinquefolium - is usually less effective than Panax ginseng unless you can get large old roots, and they are hard to come by. The best form of eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) comes in extract direct from the Soviet Union. It has been carefully low-heat processed to preserve its biological activity. This form of extract is used in some of the German Siberian ginseng preparations. Most experts in adaptogens insist that Panax ginseng is primarily a man's preparation, although it can be useful for women past menopause, and that eleutherococcus is excellent for both men and women. People with very high blood pressure are usually given eleutherococcus instead of ginseng. It is best to steer clear of coffee while on a course of ginseng or you may have trouble sleeping, and to follow a light diet without too much meat. Certain herbs and plants such as astragalus and echinacea now also appear to offer excellent immune support. Known as Purple Coneflower, echinacea is a member of the Compositae (daisy) family with potent antibiotic and anti-viral effects. The roots of two species, E. purpurea and E. angustifolia, have long been used against infection and in detoxifying the body by native people including the American Plains Indians, who also used it for poisonous snake and spider bites, abscesses, diphtheria, measles, chicken pox, septic wounds and many other infectious or immune-compromising conditions. In recent years the herb has been heavily researched in Germany where numerous scientific studies now verify its health-promoting abilities. In Germany there are now more than 200 prescription products based on echinacea or its derivatives. The herb can inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria that cause colds and 'flu, increase the number of valuable B-cells in the body and enhance the protective functions of macrophages - white blood cells - which are the guardians of the immune system. In short, echinacea is able to amplify the activity of the immune system not only by helping an ailing body recover swiftly, but by helping protect from infections such as colds and 'flu during the long winter months. I find particularly interesting some recent research in the treatment of vaginal thrush where the herb was used. All the women in the study were treated with conventional anti-fungal drug agents. Some were also given echinacea - the equivalent of 100-200mg a day. As any woman who has ever suffered from it knows only too well, one of the major problems with thrush is although you can knock it out, it tends to recur, especially when you are under stress. Researchers discovered that amongst the echinacea-supplemented group there was a significantly lower recurrence of infection than amongst the rest. And the protection went far beyond thrush. They also found a heightened immune response to tetanus, diphtheria, streptococci and tuberculin. What is exciting about their findings is that they concluded that, unlike antibiotic drugs, echinacea does not attack germs directly. Instead it strengthens your body's own ability to resist them and heightens your defenses. I find it a welcome friend taken daily as a preventative during `the 'flu season' as well as a great boon to recovery.

Natural Aphrodisiacs For Men

Natural Aphrodisiacs For Men

Sexual impotence—a loss of ability to maintain a full erection—affects most men at some time in their lives. It can be the result of feeling unwelcome, afraid of your own power, or experiencing a sense of inadequacy or depression about yourself. Such feelings strongly influence the behavior of your body. And when you can develop real awareness of how your lover feels, with patience and consideration, psychologically-caused impotence will often clear by itself. Other difficulties in maintaining an erection can be biochemical in nature. In men over the age of 35, this often happens during periods of prolonged stress, after illness, or simply as a result of having lived for too long on convenience foods, so your body has become depleted in essential minerals, trace elements and vitamins. When you have eaten like this, many of your metabolic processes no longer work properly. Then it’s time to make some serious changes in the way you are eating, and keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. In the meantime, there are a number of effective plants for heightening your sexual energy: Mucuna Dopa Mucuna Dopa—this is a powerful Ayurvedic herb, also known as velvet herb. A potent extract from the Mucuna pruriens seed, it heightens brain function, libido and muscle growth. It contains high concentrations of L-Dopa, a neurotransmitter which prompts a positive mental state of action and assertiveness. These are a few of the reasons Mucuna Dopa is an effective sexual enhancer for men. Start by taking one 166mg capsule between meals (containing 100mg of L-Dopa). Never take more than 6 a day and do not use if you are taking MAO inhibitors or any prescription drugs without first getting permission from your medical practitioner. Ginkgo biloba Ginkgo biloba—not only boosts the flow of blood to the brain and enhances memory; it can increase circulation to the penis. The best way to take it for this purpose is in the form of a concentrated 24% standardized extract capsule, once or twice a day. Do not take more, since in large quantities gingko can cause loose bowels and irritability. One research project gave men 80 milligrams of gingko extract three times a day, with excellent results. It not only cleared impotence, it lifted the depression which often accompanies it. You can also get a ginkgo tincture: 1 teaspoon in a little water twice a day. Horny goat weed Horny goat weed—has been known for 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine to enhance both male and female libido. It increases blood circulation to the genitals. A study carried out in 2008 indicated that it can be as effective as Viagra but without the dangerous side-effects. One 1 gram tablet daily between meals is the usual recommended dose. Fava beans Fava beans—can have an astounding effect on an erection. The first written record of this food’s sexual benefits comes from ancient Rome, where Cicero used it to increase his own passion. Fava is also a good natural source of L-dopa (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). It intensifies erections in many men, which is how fava got its reputation. One way to use fava beans is to make soup from them. Whatever products you buy it is essential that they are top quality and organic. Be warned, there are lots of cheap imitations which do not deliver on their promises. See below for my recommendations. Source Naturals, Mucuna Dopa Mucuna Dopa uses a potent extract of the Mucuna pruriens seed which assists in brain function, libido and supporting muscle growth. Order Source Naturals, Mucuna Dopa from iherb Paradise Herbs, Ginkgo Biloba Paradise Ginkgo is a potent 50:1 concentrated extract of the highest quality nature has to offer. Using a 100% natural extraction method the true essence and breadth of the whole herb is captured Order Paradise Herbs, Ginkgo Biloba from iherb Planetary Herbals, Horny Goat Weed Epimedium is one of the most valued tonics of Chinese herbalism. In China it is especially used for supporting healthy sexual activity - thus its name, Horny Goat Weed Order Planetary Herbals, Horny Goat Weed from iherb Bob's Red Mill, Fava Beans For over 5,000 years, Fava Beans have been enjoyed as a delicious source of protein, fiber and iron. Similar in taste and texture to lima beans Order Bob's Red Mill, Fava Beans from iherb Dragon Herbs, Siberian Ginseng, Super Potency Extract This is a potent formula, made from the finest Chinese herbs, to enhance your adaptability and daily Qi. Order Dragon Herbs, Siberian Ginseng from iherb

Get High On Life

Get High On Life

Several years ago, as a result of an unexpected breakthrough in my own life, I came to understand something remarkable: Bliss is a natural state for human beings. When we feel blissful, it’s not only a wonderful personal experience—it connects us with our compassion for ourselves and others and with innate creative power. It shows us that we are capable of living life to the full, regardless of current circumstances. Unfortunately, in the chaotic atmosphere of the 21st century, with all its economic uncertainties, political unrest and suffering, too few of us tap into our capacity for bliss. Perhaps the greatest reward of working with participants on the on-line Cura Romana program is this: As a result of changes that take place physically, emotionally, and spiritually bliss becomes a frequent visitor in their lives. BODY OF BLISS Our capacity for bliss, as well as our need to experience it, is inscribed in our primitive brain—almost as deeply as our need for air, water and food. Bliss is the medium through which mind, spirit and emotions weave a tapestry of meaning. Bliss renews. Bliss cleanses. It makes us feel whole, solid, stable and alive. Bliss tells us: “This is something I want to try.” Then it brings us the courage to go for it. So important is bliss to our discovering who in truth we already are and to our realizing our goals, that when we deny our need for it we are forced to look for artificial substitutes. Addictions arise: to food, drugs, alcohol, sex—even ambition. But addictions always disempower us. They lead us further away from the authentic freedom that is our birthright. Here’s the bottom line: Find out what brings you bliss day by day. Make space for it in your life and you forge your own unique path to authentic freedom, creativity and joy. Where do you begin? Here’s a three-stage process: Dive into stillness Immerse yourself in sound Discover your passions JOURNEY TO THE CORE At the center of your being is a place of safety and security which you can move into when you so choose then out of again to meet the outside world, form friendships and share your gifts with others. This place within is a permanent sanctuary to which you are able to return when you feel tired, confused, or in need of more vitality and new directions. The key that opens this particular door to stillness is sensuous breathing for letting go. HERE’S HOW: Lie on the floor on your back and just let go, so your arms and legs flop. Close your eyes. Feel your body against the floor. Do you notice any tension in any part of it? Shoulders? Back? Legs? Focus inside your body; notice where you sense any movement in your muscles as you breathe. Imagine you are breathing into that spot. Imagine you can exhale through that part of your body. As you do, experience the breath relaxing your sore muscles as it filters through them. As you become more and more relaxed, experiment with movements that are a natural consequence of free breathing. They are blissful movements. WHOLE BODY SENSUALITY As you breathe in, your pelvis tips back ever so gently, creating a slight arch to your back. Your abdomen and chest rise. Your ribs and back expand and your chin tilts forward just barely. Then, when you exhale, your pelvis moves down again so your spine almost touches the floor, your back contracts, and your chin and head move back again, exposing the front of your neck a bit more. This subtle, natural movement turns into a wave-like motion that gently flows without hesitation from in-breath to out-breath. The whole process of sensuous breathing is already encoded in the human body. Experiment with this kind of breathing, and before long you will discover that it happens automatically. And as this takes place, you can enter a realm of deep stillness and begin to experience a surprising bliss. It’s a bliss that revives, restores energy and helps set you free from habit patterns that no longer serve you. Try it a few times and see for yourself.  SOUND POWER Sound is another effective medium for invoking bliss. The sound of running water winding its way over stones in a stream cleanses the mind of worries and leaves us feeling calm and clear. The sound of a heartbeat played in an infant's cot reassure her and send her into blissful sleep. Take advantage of the sounds of nature even if you live a bustling city life by regularly using earphones and an MP3 audio which reproduces the breaking of waves or the calling of birds. Then there is simply listening to music. This is one of the few human activities that activates the whole brain. Intrinsic to all cultures, music brings us profound benefits—improving memory and focusing attention, as well as enhancing physical coordination and development. It opens our mind and body to experiences of deep pleasure and joy. The right kind of music clears the mind. It filters out distractions and improves focus on whatever activity we happen to be involved in. The finest classical music is generally the best choice. By now it is common knowledge that babies exposed to classical music while in the womb are likely to be born with higher intelligence. GIFTS FOR FREEDOM Music also spurs creativity. Artists and writers learn this from experience. For some, even writer’s block can be cleared by listening to music. Sound and music are processed by both sides of the brain simultaneously. This encourages a unity of perception and feeling in us. Listening to music also reduces chronic pain, including that of osteoarthritis rheumatoid arthritis, back problems and muscular aches. It also alleviates depression by as much as 25%. This is one of the reasons that music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals. It reduces the need for medication during childbirth, decreases post-operative pain, and complements the use of anesthesia during surgery. How does music do this? Music helps us feel that we have a sense of calm control over our bodies. It triggers bliss, fosters relaxation and encourages the release of endorphins. Gentle music relaxes us, slowing the rate of breathing and the heartbeat. It reduces stress all round. Music also boosts immune functions. Some kinds of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience which leads to the secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This contributes to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing decreases levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol. CHOOSE YOUR MUSIC The most important question then becomes “What kind of music do you use for what?” This is such an individual experience. Everything from Mozart to the soul dynamism of Brazil’s Capoeira can do it for you. I believe that we humans need lots of different kinds of music if we are to gain the greatest value from it. Let me share with you some of my own favorite music and composers. Get yourself an inexpensive iPod or other MP3 player. Experiment with music from different artists and genres. Don’t be afraid to explore lots of different kinds of music in your own life. Find out what each makes you feel. The bliss awaiting you as you do is virtually unlimited. Here are a few of my personal suggestions to get you started: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony Craig Armstrong’s film music Brazilian Capoeira Arvo Part John Martyn Al Gromer Khan  YOUR OWN BLISS TRIGGERS OK. We’ve explored a few bliss-creating experiences together, from stillness and sensuous breathing to sound. There are many more. It’s time to find out what brings you joy. Get yourself a simple notebook. Start making a list of all the things that bring pleasure to your body and mind by enlivening your senses. Continue adding to your list day-by-day and week-by-week as you become aware of more possibilities. Let your imagination run wild. At the beginning of each week, make a pact with yourself to enjoy one or more of these things within the next three days. And keep your promise. Experiment. Find out just how much enjoyment your body can take! Remember, your body thrives on bliss—feed it and it will reward you with energy, rejuvenation and joy that builds week by week into a whole new way of being for you. Here are a few of my own favorites. Making love. Running along the cliffs above the sea. Smelling lilies and freesias, roses, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Watching a good movie. Dancing with abandon to wonderful wild music. Feeling the breeze on my face on a bike ride. Swimming naked. Listening to all sorts of music. Lounging in front of an open fire. Reading a fascinating book. Spending time with a young child listening to its stories and make-believe games. Snuggling up to my cats. Eating fresh organic strawberries. Walking in the rain. What are yours? Write them down. Then create an intention to make them a part of your life, day-by-day. DIVE DEEP This experience feels like diving deep into a lake where the water is shot through with streams of light in constant motion—one moment gentle and lulling, the next wild or filled with the excitement of wind or the pounding of rain. This is what it can feel like for each of us as we delve deeper into the blissful state and develop greater aliveness. Bliss asks us to immerse ourselves in a way of being and thinking, living and dreaming that feels brand new. Try some of the activities that bring you the greatest joy, will help you rediscover ancient echoes of an endlessly rich way of living too long forgotten. Of course, at the deepest levels, we have never forgotten at all. Reconnecting with your innate capacity for bliss doesn’t happen overnight. It is a constantly developing experience, which makes it possible for us to reach levels of vitality, joy, clarity and radiant health which previously seemed beyond reach. The process begins by reconnecting with the body and developing a determination to live life your own way come hell or high water.

Fever Power

Fever Power

Like many old wives' tales the adage `sweat it out' is beginning to look like good advice. For generations medicine has tried to suppress fever, believing it to be a state detrimental to the body. Latest findings show that fever can not only significantly strengthen your body's defense system, it appears to be a critical component in immune function. As such, so the new findings indicate, when it occurs naturally, for instance as a response to infection, it should not be completely eliminated by drugs the way we have been wont to do. Fever weakens the force of invading enemies and is a potent positive force for fighting infections. Some scientists now believe that, because of its many immune-supporting characteristics, even when fever is artificially induced in a healthy body by saunas, Turkish baths or vigorous aerobic exercise it can act as a powerful prophylactic to aging, it can increase vitality and it can help provide you with a high level of well-being. This approach to fever is anything but new. Ancient Greek physicians considered fever a beneficial sign of vitality in an organism. They believed that disease was the result of an imbalance between the four humors - blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile - and they considered fever a means of burning off the bad humors and clearing the body of them. To this end they employed sudorific (sweat-producing) herbs, steam and hot baths to induce fevers in their patients. Such practices went on well into the seventeenth century when the famous British physician Thomas Sydenham commented that `Fever is Nature's engine, which she brings into the field to remove her enemy.' Then in the middle of the last century, with the discovery of antipyretic (temperature-lowering) drugs such as aspirin doctors began to insist on reducing fevers when they occurred. Drugs such as aspirin not only lower bodily temperature, they also eliminate many aches and pains associated with fever, thanks to their analgesic properties. This makes patients feel temporarily better. So gradually both doctor and patient began to lean heavily on the use of these drugs to suppress fever, and fever came to be considered a negative thing - something to be eliminated as rapidly and effectively as possible. Recently researchers such as Matthew J. Kluger, a professor of physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, have begun to examine the phenomenon of fever afresh and to ask questions such as: Just what happens when the body is plunged into a feverous state? Why did evolution develop the phenomenon of temperature-raising fever in its creatures? What is the purpose of this remarkable response? What Kluger and others have discovered is that fever's occurrence is not a sign that something is wrong with your body's temperature control system. Instead, a superbly modulated deliberately chosen temperature has been created at which several important physiological and biochemical events occur to heal the body. fever's bounty Among their known benefits (and there are probably many as yet unknown), even slight elevations in temperature not only increase white-cell concentrations, they make the body's defense army of white blood cells more mobile so they can reach any site of infection quicker. There is also considerable evidence that fever makes them more effective in engulfing and destroying invading microorganisms. Indeed it appears to make many other immune functions more effective too. For instance interferon, one of the body's natural anti-viral, anticancer (and therefore probably anti-aging as well) chemicals, about which we have heard so much in the news lately, has been shown to be more effective at elevated temperatures. Of course illness is not the only way that many of the beneficial effects of fever can be brought about. EP stands for endogenous pyrogen which is a low-weight protein produced by leukocytes to help destroy infection in the body. After a good workout of aerobic exercise substances appear in the blood which have identical characteristics to EP. Naturopaths have long insisted that fever is an important force for healing the body. They claim that controlled overheating of the body also increases the rate of metabolic processes as a whole and stimulates the functioning of the endocrine system. Since Hippocrates - some 2400 years ago - doctors have been using artificial methods of inducing fever, for instance giving the herb Echinacea or putting people into sweat baths or steam baths and applying hot compresses, to improve their vitality or stimulate the body's natural healing processes. The new fever research has begun to explain why many of their time-tested methods work. It is also beginning to lend credence to the beliefs of the Turks and Russians that periodic steam baths are strengthening to health and vitality, and to those of the Scandinavians, who have used saunas as a means of both stimulating immune response and spring-cleaning the body from within. words of warning Despite new findings that fever is of benefit to the body, there is every indication that it needs to be treated with respect and that your physician is the best guide to dealing with any illness. For extreme fever can have a damaging effect on a body. And there are some people in whom the benefits of fever may well be outweighed by the risks involved. For instance, in a pregnant woman a high fever could potentially damage her unborn child and young children with very high fever can be subject to convulsions. Also, fevers in very old people have to be carefully watched because of possible damage they could do to the heart. fever as a prophylactic Provided you are fit, aerobic exercise such as cycling, running, walking very briskly, swimming, rowing or dancing is probably the best way of all to benefit from small elevations in temperature. Saunas too can be helpful provided you are in good health, don't overdo them and provided you follow the basic guidelines. A sauna helps make your joints more supple while it soothes your muscles and refreshes the mind. It is also an excellent adjunct to any serious anti-cellulite program for a woman. And early spring, when one's body is suffering from too much heavy winter food and clothing, too little fresh air and exercise, is an excellent time to make use of it. Here are the guidelines: Give yourself lots of time. It will do most for you if you take it leisurely so you have time for several sessions in the heat, with short rests in-between and a rest of at least thirty minutes - preferably an hour - after you are through. Never take a sauna until at least two hours after a meal and never take a sauna during a juice fast. (It is an excellent idea to use the sauna the day before a juice fast or special eliminating diet begins, however.) Never take a sauna if you have the symptoms of an illness. Wear little or nothing in the sauna - a towel wrapped around you is more than enough. The more you wear the less effective will the heat treatment be. Take off any jewelry and your watch. They become very hot. Stay in the sauna room for only 5-10 minutes at a stretch. Then plunge into cold water or take a cold shower and rest before going back in. Don't water the stones during your first session and be sparing with the moisture you put on afterwards. Lie down in the sauna room if you can or sit quietly. Once you are used to the heat you can move to a higher bench. Take at least a half-hour rest at the end to let your body readjust to the normal temperature of the room. This is just as important as the sauna itself to make sure you reap all the benefits. Don't towel-dry yourself afterwards. Instead let the air dry your skin naturally. Then you can have a shower.

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Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 12,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 12 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 4th of June 2020 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.79 lb
for women
-1.00 lb
for men
-0.79 lb
for women
-1.00 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 4th of June 2020 (updated every 12 hours)

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