Natural Cold Care/Prevention:

*disclaimer: the statements below are not intended to replace diagnosis and treatment by your licensed healthcare provider.

Last night in clinic I had a young patient who was sick and sneezing/snotting all over the place. Yikes! After she left, I wiped EVERYTHING down with antiviral wipes and washed my hands vigorously. But within an hour I stated to feel funky -which probably means that I was already manifesting the crud, as I can’t imagine I could actually get sick that fast.

Anyway, now I’m sitting at home trying to kill off/cut off whatever is trying to hatch in me. I thought I would share my “tricks”. To be perfectly honest and in the spirit of full disclosure, sometimes these natural remedies work amazingly, other times, the crud get might get the better of me, but it’s always worth a shot! Here are a few to try:

1: Release the exterior. There are lots of herbal products that are “antiviral” and very cold, but many of my teachers actually think, and classical philosophy teaches, that you should first try to “Release the Exterior” and do a little sweating before you throw a bunch of “anti-toxic” cold herbs at “The Crud”. Since I’ve never had any real luck with Yin Qiao San formula myself, I’ve taken to the “Release the Exterior” method. If you have access to a Chinese Herbalist, try getting a classical “release the exterior” formula like Gui Zhi Tang (raw is best). Cook it up, drink some, take a wam shower/bath, then roll up in a sleeping bag and sweat a bit. I often put on a down coat at the same time!

2: If you can’t get a classical Chinese Formula (or as an addition to), make an herbal tea using any of these easily accessible herbs: Ginger (sheng jiang), Mint (bo he), Lemonbalm, Catnip (Jing Jie), Lavender, Tulsi/Basil, Chrysanthemum (ju hua), Angelica (bai zhi), Turmeric (jiang huang). Add in any other of your favorite “cold and flu” herbs. Try to use some fresh herbs if you have them. This gives the tea more “Qi”/Prana. Also use raw honey if you have any. Raw honey is an AMAZING medicine! You can also use Echinacea tincture  (adults: 1 teaspoon every several hours. Dosing is based on a ~150lb person, cut down dose as appropriate for smaller people).

3: As I mentioned above: Sweat -but not too much: Raising the body temperature helps activate immune cells and reduce the ability of viruses to replicate. But, sweating too much will further weaken the body, so don’t over-do it.

4: Moxa Stomach 36/”Su San Li”: This is another classical Chinese Remedy. You will need to have someone, such as your acupuncturist, show you how to do this for safety, but I really love this trick -especially for true Colds (where snot is clear and aversion to cold is greater than fever/sore throat). Once you know how to do it, you can do it quite safety at home. Once again, works best if you do this in conjunction with sweating.

5: Meditation and/or rest: Both a friend and I discovered a few years ago that lying very quietly and doing a self-guided (or recorded) meditation seemed to really help at the first sign of a cold/flu. You could especially do this after moxa, drinking your tea, a warm bath and wrapping up. This can work really well if you do it soon enough. It is important to calm the mind so that the body can use all its energy towards fighting off the pathogen. Stress and distracted attention will divert the body’s anti-pathogenic resources.

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Iceland: (Is)land* of Living Rock

*Iceland is actually spelled “Island” in Icelandic.

The first night I spent in Iceland, I woke up from a wild nightmare and in the intervening sleepless and restless hours before I finally fell back asleep, I decided that the locals might in fact be right that the rocks were alive, or at least were inhabited by some type of consciousness. Local myth has it that there are trolls and elves that live in/around the various volcanic rocks and there are many, many stories about various road and construction projects being diverted/suspended in order to appease some rock-dwelling elves or trolls. My favorite is the story about how the Keflevik airport foreman was visited by elves in a dream and asked to halt runway clearing for two weeks while a family of elves relocated to a rock out of the construction zone. He granted their request and construction resumed two weeks later.

In Ayurvedic/Vedic theory, all material is imbued with consciousness/Spirit -even rock. Inanimate objects such are rocks are seen to have consciousness, but it is in a deep state of Torpor, or Tamas/Sleep/Quietude. Interestingly enough, Iceland is the youngest landmass on our planet, having emerged from deep sea volcanic eruptions a mere 16-18 million years ago. Considering that the rock/land of Iceland is incredibly young compared to other Continental standards, perhaps this might explain the long and rich tradition of people experiencing the rock as having a “liveliness” about it. It is, after all, quite youthful, having been in a rather heated state of “Rajas” (fiery activity) only a geologically short time ago. Kids these days…

Anyway, I did finally fall asleep that night.

Enjoy a couple of pictures from the trip…

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In the photo above, you can (barely) see where the clouds end and the glacier begins. We were really quite far away from it, but this is just a tiny tip of a massive ice sheet covering distant mountains.

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This picture was taken standing on the shore of the Laugervatn Lake. On the shore of the lake there is a pretty big thermal spring spraying steam and boiling water into the lake water. It’s quite amazing and rather dangerous. All around the edge of the water, there were little bubbling, boiling spots. Happily, right down the shore from where I took this picture, there is a very nice “Spa” hot spring facility where the steam and boiling water is cooled down and run into nice soaking pools.

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This is the spectacular Gulfoss waterfall. It doesn’t look like much until you know that the little tiny dots in the upper left hand corner are people. Yup. This is a some serious glacial runoff…

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Iceland should really be called Rainbow Land… This is the view from the front deck of our vacation cabin -note the little sheep in the pasture. There were rainbows all over the place the whole time we were there… Even when we were sitting in the lovely Laugervatn hot tubs at the hot spring I mentioned above… just consider the previous lake view, from a warm hot spring tub, then add a rainbow. Yup. Iceland.

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The thing that threw me off the most was the long, long twilight period. Because it is still before the Autumn equinox, the days in Iceland are very long. Since the “vespers” are my favorite time of day/night, this was great for me. I don’t know how I would feel, though, if my entire day consisted only of twilight, which is what happens in the winter months…

 

 

What Remains

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I stumbled upon this stunning series of photos of Detroit. American Ruins.

On the upside, I predict that Detroit’s run-down splendor and bargain basement cost of living will end up attracting artists and innovators as present-day “hip cities” like San Francisco and even -gasp- Austin become unlivable for those making less than $200k/year.

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There is another photo slide of various global modern ruins with more amazing photos beneath the Detroit slide show.

“Time which antiquates Antiquities, hath an art to make dust of all things.” -Thomas Browne

Gardening -Like a Gangster!

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I love what “Renegade Gardener” Ron Finley is doing!

He’s planting curbside gardens in South Central L.A. in order to bring healthy food to the ‘hood, which was, until recently, a bonafide food desert.

I first heard about Ron via his fantastic (and wildly popular) TEDx talk and then also really enjoyed Shiva Rose’s interview with him last week on her blog.

Every time I listen to him talk about growing food, I get inspired to get out in my yard. Most recently, in the hubbub of the end of another school quarter and exams, I had neglected my gardening duty and the weeds were getting out of hand. But I watched an interview with Ron, took a study break and got my butt out into the yard, tidied things up a bit and planted some packets of seeds I had been meaning to get into the ground for weeks. It was good exercise and felt so grounding -not surprising, since I had to dig in the dirt! I also picked up a few more starts at a local organic nursery. It took a few weeks, but they are really taking off now!

Here are some pictures of my July garden, with Ron’s quotes interspersed (the last bed is planted with seeds of malabar spinach, cilantro and cumin. I can’t wait until they emerge):

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“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

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“Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

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“If kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes.”

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“We gotta flip the script on what a gangsta’ is — if you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta.”

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Grow some sh*t!”

(Ron Finley photo credit: RickettSones)

The Seed Vault at the End of the Earth (pt. II)

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I wanted to quickly, for the digital record, share additional information I found about the Svalbard Seed Vault (SSV) after my original post on the subject.

Kent Whealy started the Iowa Seed Savers Exchance over 30 years ago to save heirloom seeds from the agricultural dust heap. He was later forced from leadership of the SSE by people directly related to the SSV and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, such as the aforementioned Cary Fowler. The well-founded concerns of Whealy and others have, as usual, been rigorously dismissed as “conspiracy theories” -a common tactic employed against anyone who dares to question Monsanto and Biotech.

This speech, delivered by Mr. Whealy at the Land Institute Prairie Festival, back in September, 2010 tells the story and his concerns. It paints a very disturbing picture. Below is an excerpt.

“All depositors must sign the Svalbard Depositors Agreement which places the deposited varieties under control of the United Nations’ “FAO Treaty” (International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture), Article 7 of which states:

“The Depositor agrees to make available from their own stocks samples of accessions of the deposited plant genetic resources and associated available non-confidential information to other natural or legal persons in accordance with the following terms and conditions. . . . .”

The agreement goes on to dictate that “original samples” (other seeds of the varieties deposited in Svalbardthat are also in storage in the seed vaults at Heritage Farm) are also covered by the FAO Treaty. By signing the treaty, SSE cannot refuse any requests for seeds of deposited varieties from “Contracting Parties.”

Corporate breeders now can, as a right, request those varieties from SSE’s seed vaults at Heritage Farm, splice in GMOs, then patent and sell the seed. Indeed, a 1.1% tax on patents of “derivatives” of the varieties deposited in Svalbard is the main way that the FAO Treaty will generate its funding.”

Vandana Shiva explains in this article how similar [hostile/deceptive] tactics have been used in India to take control of the many varieties of heirloom seeds lovingly propagated and protected by Indian farmers over many millenia.

It’s also worth reading the Non-GMO Project’s document “GMO Myths & Truths”. 

The Seed Vault at the End of the Earth

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So, I saw this article floating around the Facebook Public House yesterday. I only read the first few paragraphs and then I spent hours I should been studying doing research on the issue (and the author) myself. Today I read the rest of the article and saw that the connections I had made doing my own research were in the article-I could have saved myself some time!

As someone who is deeply suspicious of anything having to do with Monsanto/Agricultural Biotech and those who support and partner with those companies (namely the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation), I have to agree with the author William Engdahl (who is a controversial figure) that there is something that feels a little sketchy about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault -or more pointedly, the groups that fund and control it. On the surface it seems like a really great and honorable idea (listen to the Ted Talk by executive director Cary Fowler). Seems super awesome, right? I’m especially supportive of the idea of vaulting genetic diversity in the face of the genetic contamination that is happening as a direct result of Biotech’s efforts to GM/hybridize and patent as many seeds/crops as they can.

But here’s the deal: The vault is being funded -to the tune of tens of millions of dollars- by many of the same organizations who, in my opinion, are the ones currently posing the greatest threat to natural biodiversity by forcing the massive world wide conversion of agriculture to GMO mono-crops -against the will of many global citizens AND scientists. They talk and talk about their honorable intentions to do things like create drought tolerant crops for sub-Saharan Africa and at the same time, their main GM crops are still those that can withstand massive dousing of herbicides they themselves produce and profit from the sale of. John Robbins wrote a really good article challenging the claims that GMO’s are really being made for the benefit of mankind, I’ve shared it before, but I’ll post the link here.

Hopefully, the Svalbard Seed Vault really is what it claims to be: a nationality-neutral, non-corporate, apocalypse-proof storehouse for the world’s precious biodiversity. But what if “someone” -other than the various depositors- decides that they have some kind of ownership of (and access to) the material stored there? In the above noted TED Talk, director Cary Fowler mentions that most seed banks are in non-secure buildings in cities prone to the tides of meteorological and human activities (like the one that was destroyed in Baghdad when the US invaded). It might be a stretch, but if seeds are so important, why didn’t someone protect the Baghdad seed bank before it’s priceless contents were destroyed -by US bombs- leaving Svalbard, thousands of miles away, to be the only place that housed Baghdad’s copies of ancestral wheat seeds? In a country that is increasingly behaving as a Fascist Corpocracy, I don’t think it’s too outrageous a leap to make that in the future seed banks might become targets. (I have a friend who, after taking a research trip to Venezuela, told me that one of the reasons that that country was on the US enemies list was because they had quite specifically resisted Monsanto monopolization.)

Who is actually standing guard on that desolate Arctic island at the end of the earth making sure that this priceless genetic material is protected from the prying hands of corporate interest?

Researchers with Genetically Modified Corn

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Magic Carpet Ride: When the Rug Gets Pulled Out from Under Us

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Last week I had a rather embarrassing and unpleasant experience. I found out that I had been very mistaken about something that I was quite sure of. It certainly wasn’t the first (or last) time I will be totally wrong,  but this experience was resoundingly shocking to my sense of equilibrium. What happened was that I had spent the previous three weeks of a new student clinic shift operating under the assumption that the shift officially started at 6:30pm when, in fact, it actually started at 6:15. This only became clear to me at the end of the shift last week when the supervisor was trying to get me to pull needles so she could take off and I told her I was pretty sure I still had 20 minutes left with my client. It turned out I didn’t.

Of course I was totally embarrassed for having made my patients (and supervisor) wait on me, but what was more disturbing, and what I found so hard to come to grips with, was that for three weeks I had been under the assumption that I was right on time when, in fact, I had been living in a 15 minute “time warp”.

As I lay sleepless that night, I kept churning over the details of how I could have come to such an utterly erroneous assumption. I felt a sense of total disorientation: If I had been so mistaken about this one little thing, what else was I totally mistaken about? What if everything I thought about myself and reality was ever-so-slightly, but profoundly, different?

What this experience reminded me of is the Break-through Koan” practice from Zen Buddhism which attempts to “shock” the student/practitioner into a state of openness in which Buddhist concepts like “Emptiness” or the “Nature of Mind” can be experienced. While I certainly do not have the hubris or ignorance to liken my confusion to a moment of “Satori”, I can definitely report that I had a momentary glimpse into the instability of Reality!

I was also reminded, and comforted, by this great quote from Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart:

“The only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land.”