An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

Archive for May, 2010

Plantain, the Humble Herb, aka “White-man’s footprint”

The following article appeared in the August 2008 issue of Jetwork magazine from Mumbai, India.

Plantago major soakin' up the rays

Common plantain, also known as White-man’s foot and ribwort, has had a long ethnobotanical history as it has followed Europeans around the globe. Though often thought of as an insignificant weed, plantain is edible, valuable in first-aid and chronic illnesses, and economically available. Its constituents provide many of plantain’s medicinal actions, such as anti-hemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, laxative, hypotensive, expectorant, antitussive, diaphoretic, tissue restorative, vulnerary poultice, and as a snake-bite remedy.

When the European’s came to North America, they inadvertently brought many things with them. Besides small pox, the European’s brought with them the seeds of plantain, Plantago major. Botanists speculate that the seeds traveled in the clods of mud impacted into the bottom of the Europeans’ horses’ hooves. Native tribes observed that wherever the white man went, this plant would soon spring up. Hence, plantain gained the name “White-man’s foot”.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Hiawatha” might have been the first written reference to plantain as White-man’s foot:

“Wheresoe’er they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-man’s Foot in blossom.”

(Longfellow, 2000)

Before plantain was ever given the name White-man’s foot, it was considered one of the nine sacred herbs of the ancient Saxon’s, and called the “mother of herbs” in Anglo-Saxon poetry (Treben, 1988). In an 11th century leechbook, or book of folk remedies, an application of plantain leaves to a traveler’s sore or swollen feet is suggested. This might be an even earlier reason behind the name White-man’s foot (Duke, 2001, p.151). Once plantain became established in North America, one American Indian nation gave it a name which translates as “life medicine,” a kind of panacea, or cure-all (Bergeron, 2000).

Plantain flower spike

The herb plantain is a British native plant gathered during the period in which plantain flowers. The plant grows very close to the ground as a basal rosette of leaves, and bears a green-brown, cylindrical flowering spike with inconspicuous lilac and yellow stamens (BHP, 1983, p.164). Depending on the soil, plantain’s size will range from five inches to a foot in height. The herb mostly consists of the dried leaves, although the root and seeds are also used (BHP, 1983, p.164; Barnes, Anderson, & Phillipson, 2002, p.376). The herb plantain is no relation to the tropical fruit plantain, of which the banana is a subspecies.

Plantain grows everywhere Europeans have settled, in any kind of soil, from breaking through gravel and cracks in the street pavement, to rich garden soil. Worse plants could follow a population around. The edible and medicinal properties of plantain make it a top plant for the survival of a settling community. Its early spring leaves are edible either raw in salads or boiled as a pot herb, and high in many vitamins and minerals. Topically, plantain is a marvel when applied to bites or stings, and has much reputed success in treating snake bites (Ellingwood, 1919, p.380; Moerman, 1998, p.416). When applying plantain to an insect bite, caused by perhaps a mosquito or an ant, simply pick a leaf of plantain, chew it for about 10 seconds until the mucilage is released from the leaf (rubbing it in the fingers a bit is also an acceptable method if one would rather not chew the leaf), and place the wad of juicy plantain leaf directly on the place of the sting. Leave it in place for about five minutes. The itch and inflammation will decrease significantly, if not completely disappear. Made into a salve, plantain soothes irritated or ulcerated skin and wounds. For toothaches, a cotton ball can be soaked in plantain juice and applied to the sensitive gum (Ellingwood, 1919, p.380).

Internally, plantain’s astringent, styptic and blood purifying qualities have been traditionally used in British, North American, and Unani (where Plantago major is known as Baartang) medicine for diseases of the blood and lungs where there is long-standing depravity of blood and nutrients resulting in loss of tissue tone. In the body, symptoms which plantain addresses can show up as hemorrhages, hemorrhoids with irritation and bleeding, diarrhea and dysentery with blood, swollen glands, cystitis with blood in the urine, spitting blood, tender gums, and nocturnal incontinence in children (Ellingwood, 1919, p.380; BHP, 1983, p.164; Khare, 2004, p.374). Colonial Americans used Plantago major to reduce prolonged fevers, to prevent tuberculosis when early symptoms were presenting, and also to treat cholera (Sauer, 2001, p.246-248).

Recent clinical studies with plantain reported in Barnes, Anderson and Phillipson (2002) have shown that after treatment, diagnosed erosions and mucus discharge accompanied with blood have completely healed. Plantain was also effective in cases of chronic bronchitis, either of a spastic or non-spastic nature. For improvement of subjective and objective symptoms of the common cold, plantain has appeared to be effective. In combination with other herbs, plantain has shown analgesic activity when treating pain due to chronic gastroduodenitis (Barnes, Anderson & Phillipson, 2002, p. 376, 377; BHP, 1983, p.164). Both the traditional use and current studies point to plantain’s use in depleted conditions, especially those of a chronic nature.

The chemical constituents of plantain most responsible for its healing actions are allantoin, aucubin, apigenin, baicalein, baicalin, scutellarein, salicylic acid and ascorbic acid (Barnes, Anderson & Phillipson, 2002, p.376). Aucubin and baicalein have demonstrated liver-protective properties, and aucubin has shown activity against the bacteria Micrococcus flavus and Staphylococcus aureus (Barnes, Anderson & Phillipson, 2002, p.377). An infusion of plantain in water showed anti-inflammatory and capillary strengthening properties. In anaesthetized dogs with normal blood pressure, a 125mg extract of plantain lowered the arterial blood pressure by 20-40 mmHg (Barnes, Anderson & Phillipson, 2002, p.376). Baicalein has demonstrated antioxidant, hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory actions, and is currently being researched further.

A mucilage made of polysaccharides is on Plantago spp. seed coats. The seed of an Indian species of plantain, Plantago ispaghula Roxb. will swell when mixed with water, giving bulk and lubrication to stools, as a result, P. ispaghula can be used to decrease transit time for acute or chronic diarrhea, or to stimulate peristalsis in constipation. A reduction of serum cholesterol levels can occur with intake of P. ispaghula, and possibly Plantago major, due to the mucilaginous fiber binding to bile acids and causing them to be excreted, thereby necessitating the liver to manufacture more bile acids from cholesterol, thus lowering the body’s cholesterol levels (Khare, 2004, p.373).

With great irony we tread over a seemingly humble, insignificant plant, unaware of its value, which is named after the path of the colonizers who trod over the lands of the world often unaware of the value of the diversity of the land and the culture of its inhabitants.

References

Barnes, J., Anderson, L.A., and Phillipson, J.D. (2002). Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. (London: Pharmaceutical Press): 376-378.

Bergeron, K. (2000). Plantain: Plantago major. Alternative Nature Online Herbal. Retrieved on February 27, 2008 from http://www.altnature.com/gallery/plantain.htm

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1983). (West York, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association): 164.

Duke, J.A. (2001). Handbook of Edible Weeds. (Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press): 151.

Ellingwood F. (1998). American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Reprint of the 1919 edition. (Sandy, Oregon, USA: Eclectic Medical Publications): 380-381.

Khare, C.P. (2004). Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic and Other Traditional Usage, Botany. (Berlin: Springer): 373-374.

Longfellow, H.W. (2000). Hiawatha; A Poem. Provided by R. Wallace, 2000. Retrieved on February 29, 2008 from http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/modeng/modengL.browse.html

Moerman, D.E. (1998). Native American Ethnobotany. (Portland, Oregon, USA: Timber Press): 416-417.

Sauer, C. (2001). Sauer’s Herbal Cures: America’s First Book of Botanic Healing, 1762-1778. Translated and edited by W.W. Weaver. (New York: Routledge): 246-248.

Treben, M. (1988). Health Through God’s Pharmacy: Advice and Experiences With Medicinal Herbs. (Steyr, Austria: Ennsthaler).

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 3: 245.

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland Flora: Field Office Illustrated Guide to Plant Species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Natural First Aid

Calendula Gel, Lavender essential oil, Herbal Armor insect repellent

It’s that time of year in the South when the bugs can drive you mad, or at least drive you indoors. If you are interested in using more herbs, homeopathics and essential oils in your life, but don’t know where to begin, start with stocking your natural first aid kit. I have been using these products for years, and have experienced great results. I’m telling you about them because I like the products. I’m not getting any endorsement money from the companies.

1. Traumeel cream: a homeopathic with many ingredients. This is a pricey tube of cream, but it is really great when you or your kids get bumps, bruises, stub a toe, pull a muscle, etc. My father put it on his wrist where he had a cyst that was inflamed after taking down some shelving. His wrist was aching/throbbing for several days. Within 30 minutes the pain was almost gone. After a couple days of using Traumeel cream, the cyst went away!

2. All Terrain Herbal Armor: Great herbal insect repellent, especially mosquitoes. I use this all the time when at outdoor events and camping.

3. Calendula gel, by Boiron: a homeopathic gel that is great if you forget to use the Herbal Armor. It helps the itch and welt of a mosquito bite go away in about 60 seconds.

4. Plantain, Plantago major: If you have some of this growing around, either chew it up and put it on a mosquito bite or ant bite, or squish it in your fingers for awhile if you don’t want to chew it. Check out my article on Plantain which was published in the Jetwork magazine from Mumbai, India.

5. Lavender essential oil: Excellent for cooking burns, either from steam or touching a hot pan. I cannot stress enough how necessary it is to have Lavender essential oil on hand in the kitchen. Make sure the ingredients list only Lavendula angustifolia. This is also antibacterial, so you can add a few drops to an atomizer and spray it in your house or around your seat when you’re in an airplane. Your neighbors will love it, too.

6. Aloe vera: The gel is great for sunburns, chapped skin. There was a Jason product that was primarily Aloe vera, which I really loved. The juice is great for upset stomachs. Lily of the Desert is a good brand for juice.

7. Tea tree oil: If you happen to get chiggers, bless your heart. I know they are miserable. Tea tree oil helps keep them from itching and getting infected if you’ve been scratching. Tea tree is good on open cuts as an antiseptic. I know a couple people who have an allergic reaction to tea tree oil. This is not common, but just in case, use the oil in a small spot first before applying liberally.

8. Herbs etc. Ivy Itch ReLeaf: This is a great spray for stopping the relentless itch of poison ivy rash. One of the key ingredients is Grindelia flower. It forms a little coat on the rash and cools it down.

9. Rhus tox: The homeopathic Rhus tox is good for keeping poison ivy from spreading if you take it internally when you first notice the poison ivy blisters. Follow the directions.

10. Cardamom pods, fennel seeds, ginger, peppermint leaf or dill seeds: If you eat something that gives you painful gas or bloating, the above herbs will act as carminatives, meaning that they relieve the gas, bloating and nausea. If you have GERD, then stay away from peppermint unless its enteric coated.

There are lots of other fresh herbs which are useful when you have them on hand. There are also lots of products I’ve tried and wasted my money on. These are the products that I use again and again. If you use them, please follow the directions.

Pesticides? Herbicides? NO!

Dinky caution sign

Yesterday I was walking my dog to the Daily’s Coop in Athens, GA to get my local eggs and vegetables. Fay, my dog, stopped in front of a business and started rolling all around in a spot on the grass. I couldn’t see a dead animal carcass, so I didn’t stop her. She was enjoying herself. Then I noticed spots of the lawn were a funny, fake blue-green color. I turned to my right, and there, on the edge of the lawn, was a dinky sign informing the public that the lawn has been treated with toxic chemicals and children and pets should stay away. Oh. That’s nice.

Herbicide caution sign

First of all, the herbicides they used do not stop at the lawn. During last night’s rain the chemicals were washed into our water treatment system. Secondly, whoever was paid to spray the chemical is also being poisoned. And last, it should be required for pesticide companies, and businesses and homeowners who choose to poison the place, to post bigger noticeable signs with a skull and crossbones when they do poison the neighborhood.

I forgot to mention why they were using the poison in the first place. It was on the cute little clovers! Trifolium repens “is considered to be a beneficial component of natural or organic lawn care due to its ability to fix nitrogen and out compete lawn weeds. Natural nitrogen fixing reduces leaching from the soil and can reduce the incidence of some lawn diseases that are enhanced by the availability of synthetic fertilizer” (The Organic Lawn Care Manual, Tukey, Storey Publishing. p 183.; Wikipedia). In this case, nature is healing the lawn, but the health practitioner who occupies the property doesn’t understand that.

Trifolium repens, white clover

If humans were wise, we would use our sophisticated ways of knowing, i.e. science, and choose actions that did not hurt ourselves. We would know that working with nature’s processes is CHEAPER and HEALTHIER than pesticides. Instead, we give billions of dollars to a government that will force us to have health insurance because we are likely to develop heart disease and/or cancer from the toxic farming practices allowed at the expense of our (and our children’s+) livelihood for businesses to make money.

Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides in our Food

In addition to lawn spraying, we’re also soaking our food in the chemicals. The USA allows a lot of agricultural chemicals to be used in the growing, shipping, and preserving of our food. Even chemicals that have been banned in the USA, such as DDT, are showing up on our produce when tested by third parties. The main class of chemicals being used legally is called Organophosphates. They are also considered the most toxic. Organophosphates are cholinesterase inhibitors. Cholinesterase is an enzyme in the neuromuscular junctions. Some of the signs and symptoms of acute Organophosphate poisoning is: muscle weakness, tremors, anxiety, headaches, drowsiness, confusion, ataxia, hypotension, difficulty breathing, convulsions, coma, decreased sperm production, mutations, and infertility. This class of chemicals is linked to long-term illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease, autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, ADHD, neurological disorders, female reproductive disorders and many cancers. Even 48 hours after exposure, when traces have left the blood, clinical signs can be noticed for weeks.

If you would like to research Organophosphates yourself, begin with http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxicprofiles/tp84-c2.pd. This is an enormous pdf from the CDC Division of Toxicology and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry about the health consequences of agricultural chemicals from scientific studies. Look at Chlorpyrifos, which is a common Organophosphate. Not a nice chemical that we want on our food.

We are the Experiment

New scientific studies are finding that long-term exposure or ingestion of these chemicals, especially mixed with multiple other chemicals, are causing disease. We need to urge American farmers to use health-promoting practices, not health-degrading practices.

Educate Yourself

An excellent and frightening resource for the facts on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc is the Pesticide Action Network http://www.panna.org/
And Pesticide Action Network Database http://www.pesticideinfo.org/

A really good book about modern American slave labor is Nobodies by John Bowe. You would not believe what is behind the very popular orange. http://www.amazon.com/Nobodies-Modern-American-Global-Economy/dp/1400062098

You can also look up Coalition of Immokalee Workers http://www.ciw-online.org/

If you go to PubMed (this is a free database of scientific, peer-reviewed journal articles paid for by USA tax dollars and developed by NIH and NLM), search ‘farmworkers’ AND ‘pesticides’.  You’ll find lots of terrible side effects of agricultural chemicals, and the poor outcome for farmworkers who are exposed to these chemicals.

The way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Let’s do something.


Backyard Abundance

Happy with their harvest.

Question: How do you feed your family when grocery and gas prices are going up?

How do you get your child to eat his or her vegetables?

How do you get your kids off the couch and outside?

The Answer to all of the above: Grow your own food!

10,000 years ago at the time of the first agricultural revolution, when people complained about having to walk so far to get their food, the answer was the same: Grow your own food! After 10,000 years, we seem to have the same transportation problem: excessive energy output for less food results. Another agricultural revolution is at hand. I’m calling it “Backyard Abundance” or maybe “Edible Landscapes”. You might be amazed at how much food is produced from one inexpensive, little packet of seeds. My sister, Heidi, found out how easy it is to have backyard abundance, and her kids are learning, too.

It all started with the tomato plants she grew along the fence near the swingset. Heidi doesn’t even like tomatoes, but her husband does, so she grew them and had her sons help her pick them as they multiplied almost out of control. Heidi said when her son Jack, age 6, is just sitting around watching TV, she can say, “Come on, let’s pick tomatoes,” and he’ll drop anything to go outside with her to the tomato patch. Her oldest son, Adam, age 7, loves to pop the cherry tomatoes directly into his mouth from the vine. You don’t get much fresher than that!

Next in the evolution of her garden, at the other corner of her backyard, she started growing parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano and chives. She then was able to go out to the backyard and snip a little bit of herbs for her dinner recipes. The amount of herbs called for in a recipe costs about $1.50 to buy in a grocery store. At a nursery, she bought the whole plant, which comes back year after year, for little more than that. When I go over to help with dinner, I bring Heidi’s three boys out to the herb patch to gather what we need for the salad dressing and have them help me make it. The two-year-old, Kyle, scoops up handfuls of fresh thyme, chives and rosemary and chews them up. I have to go out and harvest more because he’s eaten so much.

For Adam’s fifth birthday, I bought him five blueberry bushes for the backyard. I gave him blueberry bushes specifically because Adam has Type-I Diabetes, and blueberries are very good for helping with the health complications that might come with diabetes. I thought it is never too early to build healthy capillaries and instill good eating practices, which are important for everyone, and even more important to Adam’s long-term health.

When Heidi saw my gift, she said, “I don’t think they’ll like blueberries.” I came prepared. The little bushes weren’t in fruit, yet, so I brought a pint of fresh blueberries with me to show them what the bushes would produce later that year. When they looked at the bowl of smooth, dark, bluish-black berries, they turned their little noses up. I took a few and started munching, exaggerating my “yums” until they slowly edged up to me and tried one. The blueberries became a hit. Adam, who was 5 at the time, and Jack, who was 3, wanted more. I told them they were lucky to have bushes in their backyard that would grow more blueberries later during the summer. Suddenly, they were excited. Now, they get many pints of berries each year, but it’s hard to really know how much they get because they eat so many of them right off the bush.

Heidi and Mike, her husband, let a few canes of blackberries grow along the fence, so they all harvested enough berries for a few cobblers. This spring Heidi added a muscadine vine that grows next to the tomatoes. Right now it’s loaded with grapes that are too hard to pick, but we’re all waiting for them to ripen so we may try them.

Unripe Muscadines, very high in antioxidants, like resveratrol!

The most recent addition to Heidi’s garden came late this spring when I brought over a packet of cucumber and pumpkin seeds. They had one more corner area along the fence that would be a good place for them, I thought. I sank the seeds into the ground with the boys helping me with spades and trowels. A few weeks later I get a call from my nephew Jack, telling me excitedly about all of the sprouts. In early July, he calls me again and tells me, “We’ve got cucumbers growing everywhere! But we have to wait for them to get 6 inches long before we can pick them.” A few days later I had the joy of sharing the very first cucumber off their vine, which was the very first cucumber Jack ever ate. He wouldn’t eat them before, but now that he has taken a part in their growing, his taste has changed.

We’re all eagerly watching the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch start to turn a beautiful orange. The boys already have one picked out to carve for Halloween. I’m thinking about pies and soups.

Kyle, the Pumpkin, and the Cuke

A week ago when we were out collecting cucumbers, the boys asked, “When these die, what can we plant next?” I smiled at my sister, and we started thinking out loud: “broccoli, collards, salad greens, peas, beans…” as we went through the seasons in our mind. I’ve been trying to talk Heidi into getting a fig tree, but she’s not crazy about it.

It probably sounds like Heidi and her family have a huge backyard, but it’s actually not that big. I added a picture of the backyard so readers could see that she lives in a typical Suburban-Atlanta subdivision with a smallish backyard. I really want readers to understand how possible it is to grow one’s own food. We haven’t done the math, but Heidi’s family and everyone she has shared her abundance with has saved money on groceries. Plus, her kids are actively involved in the revolutionary learning process of getting outside, counting the produce, watching the cycle of the seasons, learning what time of year certain foods ripen, the botanical parts of plants, and wanting to eat their harvest. That’s priceless.

Heidi's Backyard. Top left is the pumpkin and cucumber patch. Top right is the muscadine on the fence and tomatoes behind the swing set. The blueberries, blackberries and herbs are to the right of the camera, not visible.

STRESS and 8 Practices for Self Care

Visit your favorite body of water. Chattooga River, South Carolina side

Stress is a double-edged sword. Stress can be a motivating force, and a paralyzing force. The stress in a moment can urge us to move courageously, responding to the stressor with a decisive action intended to stop or change the circumstance to somehow benefit us, which illustrates the positive aspect of the philosophy that within a crisis is danger and opportunity. Constant, unresolved stress from perceived immutable stressors such as a mortgage, a chronic illness, or being in an abusive situation, however, will wither our vitality, causing us to doubt our power to change circumstances and become resigned to dwell in a pit of worry and fear.

Both causing and relieving stress are fortune-producing industries based on principles of contraction and relaxation marketed to people the industry calls ‘consumers’. We live among stressors; it’s unavoidable. Plus, we are biologically designed to respond to stressors which we perceive to be a threat, or that claim our attention. To put this into perspective and emphasize how as long as we are breathing, we will fluctuate between contraction and relaxation, it’s important to note that simply waking up in the morning increases the hormone often associated with stress, cortisol, and the levels may fall and rise throughout the day. Cortisol has many important uses in normal/ideal/health living (What’s that?). When under significant stress, cortisol production increases-generally, up until the point where it can increase no further where then it declines from exhaustion, producing many negative consequences during either the out-of-balance increase or the exhausted decline. This is the point where we notice being “stressed out” or “under stress”.Typically, the stressed out feeling comes after a long duration of a stressful circumstance.

In other experiences, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the result is from a particular traumatic event, or intermittent traumatic events. The physiological and psychological manifestations of long-endured stress or post traumatic stress have similarities and differences, and then, of course, within individuals there are also differences. Describing each of them at length is beyond the focus of this entry; however, it’s important to mention that what gets classified as PTSD is somewhat controversial. Researchers are careful not to apply the disorder too widely. The degree of trauma is in question, which also needs to take into account the state of the individual prior to the trauma. The straw that broke the camel’s back didn’t seem very significant in itself, but added to the existing burden, it was too much to handle for the camel. Young, healthy soldiers who are quickly exposed to traumatic experiences are more easily diagnosed with PTSD, than a single mother of three children in inner-city Baltimore who is worried about her family’s safety after a police raid of her neighbor’s rowhouse resulting in gunfire (I didn’t have children, but I was living alone in Baltimore during a stressful time when this happened to me and my neighbor, which resulted in occasional flashbacks, leading me to realize the importance of self care to which end the flashbacks have disappeared.).

So, we know this: Unavoidable stressors are around us, the stress response is natural, and experiencing traumatic events is unpredictable. That being written, what we DO have control over is our perception and classification of what is or isn’t a stressor, which affects our response to it. Notice when you are feeling stress about something that is insignificant. If you can reevaluate the stressor, and create an appropriate decisive action for the stressor, chances are the stress response to the stressor you were experiencing will shift as the decisive action releases energy instead of absorbing energy.

To prevent the misperception of insignificant toil being a stressor, many practices exist, which we all know but few actually do.

To Do List:

  1. Be in the present: Each of the following are built upon being present. We can anticipate the future. We can regret the past. We can change our attitude and perception of the past and future if we act in the present.
  2. Exercise: This is the single-most lifestyle choice to increase one’s quality and length of life. My favorite form of exercise is walking.
  3. Meditate: Experiencing silence is a revolutionary act for our psyche in an age of stimulus overload. Mediation creates a stillness in the mind and body which has tremendous health effects, such as decreasing the activation of proteins activated by stress associated with Alzheimer Disease and dementia, plus healing the heart and immune system.
  4. Pray: The Serenity Prayer expresses how discernment between things within our control and outside of our control releases stress and brings serenity. When something is within our control, we can create a decisive action in response to it. When it is not in our control, we can release it to the universal creator. Developing a relationship with a power greater than your small sense of self can bring you great peace.
  5. Care for a plant: Being in nature and caring for a plant brings us to the present, connecting us in a primordial bond between plant and animal/human. The relationship communicates soothing chemical molecules between the plant and our human being. An enjoyable read is The Secret Life of Plants.
  6. Eat nutrient-dense whole food from humane farming practices: Food is made up of molecular compounds which carry energy and impact our body in positive, neutral, and negative ways. You are what you eat is true. What goes into making and preparing food is also what what we become. Think about this when it comes to in humane farming practices for farmworkers and animals, synthetic additives and preservatives, and pre-packaged for convenience. One of the glorious aspects of living is eating good food. Why do we willingly give that up for disgusting food? A slow manipulation is responsible, so twisted that we end of wanting our poison. Try an experiment. Choose to eat self-prepared whole foods for a month and document how you feel along the way. Notice any mood changes. They may get worse first before they get better, so you need to be committed. It’s a detoxification process. At the end of the month, you’ll be thinking clearly, which will allow you to discern what is stress-worthy better.
  7. Follow a diurnal and seasonal cycle: Though sometimes we are confused about what we are, we are diurnal creatures. We are not night owls. Our body and mind responds to light and dark in different ways. The light photons enter through the eyes, and interact with the pineal gland which stimulates the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands to increase energy for the day, or when absent decrease energy for nighttime sleeping. Studies of night-shift nurses show a lowered immune system, increased stress hormones, and increased occurrences of cancer. Following the seasons is like tending to yourself as if you are the garden. In winter you rest, being silent and still, allowing creativity to come from deep within. Seeds are planted in early spring, seeds of ideas, plans are made of how to develop these seeds. At summer we tend to each other, we dance, we experience great joy at the great growth. In late summer, we harvest and enjoy the abundance. The fall calls us to collect the seeds of the plants we want to save for springtime replanting. We let go of whatever will not serve us through the winter, composting it in the earth, where it will become a new, nourishing form. We come back to winter to rest, reflect, be silent, and go deep within ourselves, within the earth to become renewed for the coming spring.
  8. Form a friendship with someone who is choosing self care, too: If you are going this path alone, you may have a hard time picking yourself up when you stumble. Also, being around someone who CHOOSES the path of self care is different from instructing others who are not choosing self care. Convincing others who are into self destruction will not help your stress. In this relationship be authentic, genuine, humble, light-hearted, and allow for mistakes. Making changes in our life can develop a sense of taking ourselves too seriously, and being more “evolved” than another. When you begin to feel that way, watch out, it is right before a stressful stumble.

Don’t Do List:

  1. Do the To Do List and the Don’t Do List just might disappear.

What About the Author?

Certainly the reader suspects whether the author follows the To Do List. Admittedly off and on (there is no contest), which is how I know the effects from following the list and falling away from some of the practices. I also know that number 8 is very important. Following these 8 practices can have positive outcomes for one’s self, others, plants and the planet, which is the whole idea.

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