37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

23 November, 2014 at 07:33 | Posted in animals, Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, health, Science, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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Organic Health

Millions of bees dropped dead after GMO corn was planted few weeks ago in Ontario, Canada. The local bee keeper, Dave Schuit who produces honey in Elmwood lost about 37 million bees which are about 600 hives.

“Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” Schuit said. While many bee keepers blame neonicotinoids, or “neonics.” for colony collapse of bees and many countries in EU have banned neonicotinoid class of pesticides, the US Department of Agriculture fails to ban insecticides known as neonicotinoids, manufactured by Bayer CropScience Inc.

Two of Bayer’s best-selling pesticides, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees. The marketing of these drugs also coincided with the occurrence of large-scale bee deaths in many European countries and the United States.

Nathan Carey another local farmer says that this spring he noticed that there were not enough bees on his farm and he believes that there is a strong correlation between the disappearance of bees and insecticide use.

Read more: 37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field | Organic Health

My comment: I once saw a television program about the death of bees, and there it said that one drop of dew from a GMO plant in a GMO crop field kills a bumble bee when it drinks it in the morning (as bumble bees usually do…). GMO really kills…

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person?

22 November, 2014 at 12:06 | Posted in Body & Mind, books, Culture, health | Leave a comment
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Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams?  Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water?  Are you “too shy” or “too sensitive” according to others?  Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you?  If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

For those people who have a keen imagination, are labelled too shy or too sensitive, who perform poorly when being observed even though they are usually competent, have vivid dreams and for whom time alone each day is essential – this is the book to help them understand themselves and how best to cope in various situations. Highly sensitive people are often very bright and creative but many suffer from low self esteem. They are not neurotics as they have been labelled for so long. However, high sensitivity can lead them to cease to engage with the outside world.

In The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron, you will discover:
* Self-assessment tests to help you identify your particular sensitivities
* Ways to reframe your past experiences in a positive light and gain greater self-esteem in the process
* Insight into how high sensitivity affects both work and personal relationships
* Tips on how to deal with overarousal
* Informations on medications and when to seek help
* Techniques to enrich the soul and spirit

What Can You Let Go Of?

21 November, 2014 at 10:19 | Posted in Body & Mind, health, Spirituality | Leave a comment
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By David Tucker, L.A.c. LMP, thezenofhealing.com/blog/

The Autumn season and Metal element in the body is governed by our Lung and Colon meridians. They have a reciprocal relationship of receiving or inhaling the very highest quality of life, of Spirit, and then a release of what is no longer useful for us. And if we are not letting go, then we are not making room for new “inspiration”. This is true on all levels – physiological, mental, emotional, spiritual.

So I’d like to focus on the letting go aspect. Much of the world’s suffering exists today because of grasping, clinging, attachment. Holding on to a particular idea, thought, emotion, experience. We say all the time, “I wish this moment could last forever”. And people try and try with all their might to create a reality in which that feeling endures. Our expectations and preconceived notions really get us into trouble – what a friend should be, a partner, a son, a teacher, what a parent SHOULD be. Why trouble?? Well, most of the times our ideas of what people SHOULD be very rarely coincides with how we they actually express themselves in the moment. Then can we watch our reaction… can we observe without judging, criticizing, blaming or labeling? This takes a lot of practice, luckily, we never seem short on opportunities!

As my Grand Zen Master used to say…”Put it all down!”. Not that its a terrible thing to have desires, opinions, preferences, etc., but we must watch how we cling to them. If we are holding on so tight, then we allow for a sort of mental constipation which is NO FUN! There is no mental constipation that won’t find its way to manifest physically. That may be in our actual Colon, but it can manifest as any sort of stuckness – bloating, pain, insomnia, depression, etc. An important thing to remember is that the Colon meridian is not only charge of disposing of its own trash but all the garbage from the other meridians as well. So if there is a back-up, we can see “symptoms” coming from any of the meridians… which is a reminder that symptoms do not always point you to the root cause.

So what we can do? Well, on a physiological level… keep your Lungs and Colon healthy. Keep your lungs filled with pure, clear air and that they get plenty opportunity to “breathe” – yoga, meditation, aerobic exercise. For the Colon, we certainly want to encourage the physiological releases! Good dietary sources of fiber, omega-3 fish oils, aloe vera juice/gel, and plenty of water to name a few. On the deeper layers, many alternative therapies are wonderful for encouraging our processes of inspiration and letting go – of course, acupuncture and massage… but how about dance, drumming, martial arts, music. Utilizing rhythm and/or the voice… really powerful! On a more quieter note… journaling or a creative art project.

What’s most important is that we are checking in with ourselves internally. It would make a wonderful daily practice, ask yourself, “What am I holding on to?” or “What can I let go of today?”. Watch how it can not only ease your suffering, but those around you as well!

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at www.tcm007.com.

via What Can You Let Go Of?

DIY: Natural Floor Cleaning

16 November, 2014 at 07:14 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Michael Edwards
Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Our floors are the largest surface area in our homes that require regular cleaning. If we use chemicals, we breathe them in day and night until they dissipate. There is no need to add to our indoor air pollution when we can use simple and handy, homemade cleaning solutions.

How to Clean Wood, Bamboo, and Laminate Floors

It would be so easy to clean every floor of our home with a steam cleaner. No muss, no fuss, nothing but water turned to steam. But regardless of the claims made by the manufacturers, steam cleaners can damage wood, bamboo, and laminate floors.

Laminate floors consist of layers of materials glued together. Any water, but especially steam, will break down the bonds between layers, causing them to buckle and split. Steam can strip the finish that is protecting your hardwood floor. Moisture that seeps into the wood will cause grains to swell and the wood to warp and splinter.

The primary rule for bamboo, laminate, and hardwood floors is the same: do not wet mop–dry mop (though damp mop would be a better descriptive term). After thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming your floor, use a well wrung out sponge or rag mop with plain water, water with a few drops of essential oil, or water with 1/4 cup of vinegar (added to a 2 gallon bucket). Use warm water; it will evaporate faster than cold. Buff the floors dry with a soft cloth or towel.

Perusing the net, you will find other suggestions such as 1/2 cup of lemon juice added to water. However, a manufactures’ site warns against using citrus to clean laminate flooring as it will damage the finish after repeated use.  Many sites, including a manufacturer’s site, suggest using 1/4 cup of dish soap to a bucket of water to clean sealed hardwood floors–without rinsing. But it only stands to reason that, over time, soap residue would accumulate. If you do rinse, you are using more water. Since the object is to clean with the least amount of water possible, this method doesn’t make sense.

One wood laminate manufacturer suggests mixing vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Rather than spraying the liquid on the floor, use it to dampen the bottom of your dust mop.

Another solution, claimed to be even better for wood floors than vinegar, is cleaning with tea. Brew black tea, (1 tea bag per cup of water) and either fill a spray bottle to mist the floor (a small area at a time) then follow with a damp mop, or make enough tea to immerse your mop in a bucket. As before, wring out your mop so it is as dry as possible.

How to Clean Linoleum, Tile, and Stone

Linoleum and tile floors can also be cleaned with vinegar and water. The ratios vary according to preference from 1/4 cup of vinegar to a one-to-one ratio of vinegar to water.  For a really dirty floor, try the following recipe:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap (remember to choose a natural soap)
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • Add a few drops of essential oil, if desired

Rinsing is not required, but if streaking occurs, rinse.

Do not use lemon juice, vinegar or other acids on marble, limestone, or travertine. To wash these floors, use a squirt of liquid soap (such as castile soap or dish soap, not detergent) in your bucket of water and wet mop. Rinse. Too much soap will cause streaking.

These floors may be the best candidates for a steam mop, but first check with the manufacturer to be sure steam mopping does not void your warranty.

All floors of all types are scratched and scarred by dirt. Mats outside and inside each entrance can help limit the amount of dirt on your floors. A shoeless house can make a tremendous difference. Remember, how often you sweep or vacuum and what you use to mop your floors will determine the longevity of your floor’s finish as well as the level of pollution in your home.

via DIY: Natural Floor Cleaning

Are wireless phones linked with brain cancer risk?

14 November, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Science, sustainable development, Technology | Leave a comment
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By Ronnie Cohen

Reuters Health – Swedes who talked on mobile or cordless phones for more than 25 years had triple the risk of a certain kind of brain cancer compared to those who used wireless phones for less than a year, a new study suggests.

The odds of developing glioma, an often deadly brain cancer, rose with years and hours of use, researchers reported in the journal Pathophysiology.

“The risk is three times higher after 25 years of use. We can see this clearly,” lead researcher Dr. Lennart Hardell told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

His finding contrasts with the largest-ever study on the topic – the international Interphone study, which was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and funded in part by cell phone companies. That study, published in 2010, failed to find strong evidence that mobile phones increased the risk of brain tumors.

Even if the odds of developing a glioma were doubled or tripled, however, the risk would still remain low.

A little more than 5 out of 100,000 Europeans (or 0.005 percent) were diagnosed with any kind of malignant brain tumor between 1995 and 2002, according to a 2012 study in the European Journal of Cancer (bit.ly/1xIlQam). If the rate triples, the odds rise to about 16 out of 100,000 (or 0.016 percent).

Hardell, an oncologist from University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, and his colleague Michael Carlberg matched 1,380 patients with malignant brain tumors to people without such tumors and compared their wireless phone use.

People who reported using wireless phones for 20 to 25 years were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with glioma as those who reported using them for less than a year, the study found. Those who used cell and cordless phones for more than 25 years were three times more likely to develop one of these tumors.

Read more: Are wireless phones linked with brain cancer risk?

China criminal gang floods market with 100 metric tons of toxic tofu

10 November, 2014 at 10:53 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food, health | Leave a comment
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(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Ryan Woo)

SHANGHAI

A criminal gang in eastern China has sold almost 100 metric tons 110.23 tons of toxic tofu onto the local market, the latest in a string of scares that have thrown light on shady practices in the country’s food industry.

The gang added industrial bleaching agent rongalite to make dried tofu sticks brighter and chewier, the Shanghai Daily reported on Monday, citing official media in Shandong province. Rongalite is banned in food production as it can lead to cancer.

Gut-wrenching food scares erupt regularly in China and highlight the challenges firms face to control supply chains.

Read more: China criminal gang floods market with 100 metric tons of toxic tofu | Reuters

Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

2 November, 2014 at 07:32 | Posted in Body & Mind, Science | 1 Comment
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By University of Texas at Austin

Scientists have previously found that resting the mind, such as daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information.

Now, research shows that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning, may boost later learning.

At the University of Texas at Austin, graduate student research Margaret Schlichting and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Alison Preston gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorize different series of associated photo pairs.

Between the tasks, participants rested and could think about anything they chose, but brain scans found that the ones who used that time to reflect on what they had learned earlier in the day fared better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially where small threads of information between the two tasks overlapped.

Participants seemed to be making connections that helped them absorb information later on, even if it was only loosely related to something they learned before.

Read more: Rest Your Mind the Right Way to Boost Learning

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Help, Not Incarceration

31 October, 2014 at 07:31 | Posted in Body & Mind, Society | Leave a comment
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By Annie WuThe Epoch Times

NEW YORK—Anthony Cruz is a different man now that he has been locked up several times.

Before serving his 10-year sentence in New York state prisons for manslaughter in the first degree he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and depression, among other mental health conditions. Cruz spent a total of three years in solitary confinement, but he said he was denied help from mental health staff in prison. Unless he had suicidal thoughts, he wasn’t allowed to talk to a psychiatrist. 

Since Cruz was released on parole two years ago, it’s been difficult finding a steady job with a felony conviction on his record. This summer, he received notice from the city that his family would have to relocate from their current homeless shelter location in the Bronx. Then, his wife’s temporary teaching job ended, and her weeks of job searching didn’t yield results. To cope with the stress, Cruz turned to MDMA, a drug he was addicted to before. “I was going through so much,” Cruz explained.

At a regular visit to the parole office for a drug urine test, Cruz was caught with the drug in his system.

He had a panic attack upon hearing that he’d have to go to jail at Rikers Island for his parole violation. “I was wailing and crying, telling the parole officers that I didn’t want to go back to a cell.”

Cruz suffered several more panic attacks while inside. He couldn’t sleep being around so many people. He was reliving his deepest fear.

Local jail reform advocate Five Mualimm-ak, with the Incarcerated Nation Corporation, sought to get Cruz treatment for his drug dependence and other mental health needs, but nothing came of the requests.

Across the country, people with mental illness and substance abuse are repeatedly cycled in and out of the criminal justice system. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimate that more than 1.26 million mentally ill adults are detained in the country’s jails and prisons. Some cities are trying to change this statistic through programs that offer some of these nonviolent offenders a way out of incarceration, and a chance to improve their lives.

Out of Jail, Into Treatment

In the 1980s and ’90s, different communities across the country created programs to provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for people like Cruz, who would otherwise face jail time for nonviolent drug charges, or those who committed offenses during a mental health crisis.

For example, in the late ’80s, the police department in Memphis, Tenn., devised a crisis intervention team (CIT) where officers would be trained in identifying and responding appropriately to the emotionally or mentally disturbed. Police are taught de-escalation techniques to calm down individuals who may be agitated or aggressive. And instead of arresting them, police would bring them to a mental health treatment center.

The Memphis model has been adopted by other cities, including in San Antonio, Texas, where police officers bring people to The Restoration Center. There, they can get medical and mental health treatment, as well as social services such as housing and job training.

San Antonio also has a detox center and a 90-day residential program for those in need of substance abuse treatment. For those in need of more intensive care, they get transferred to state hospitals or private institutions if the individual has private health insurance.

Leon Evans, the director of San Antonio’s mental health care system who developed the center, said he got the idea after he saw the county jail overcrowded with people in need of mental health treatment.

Police would bring the mentally distressed to the emergency room or jail, but without treatment or housing, they get released back to the streets and may turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with their illnesses. “They would get arrested the same day and go right back into jail,” Evans said.

“Texas is a pretty conservative place,” said Evans. “[W]e realized that putting them in jail was the last thing we should be doing.”

Evans said the center has been proven effective: about 70 percent of those who graduate from the center’s treatment programs are living and working independently a year later. Since the center was built five years ago, the county has also saved $10 million per year.

Dangerous for the Mentally Ill

The country’s jails and prisons are toxic environments for those with a mental illness.

In August, a DOJ investigation of jail conditions at the city’s main jail Rikers Island found that adolescent mentally ill inmates were routinely abused by corrections officers and placed into solitary confinement for extended periods of time—as punishment for breaking rules, or getting into verbal disputes with the officers. Several high-profile cases of mentally ill inmates dying under questionable circumstances while detained at Rikers have been reported in the last year.

DOJ data shows that across the country, mentally ill jail inmates are twice as likely to be charged with a rule violation and three times as likely to be injured in a fight. Studies have also shown that mentally ill inmates are detained longer on average than those without a mental illness.

Incarceration also has heavy financial costs. A recent analysis by the city comptroller’s office revealed that in fiscal year 2014, it cost city taxpayers more than $96,000 a year to house an inmate in jail.

Treatment is more cost-effective than jail, said Jim Parsons, research director at the Vera Institute, a criminal justice policy research organization based in New York. The organization found that alternative-to-incarceration programs in New York City save an average of $7,038 per person.

Read more: Help, Not Incarceration

Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

24 October, 2014 at 13:54 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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by Tatiana Tobar-Darzi

There have been times when I was unhappy with my life for no certain reason. I looked to external factors to fill the void, only to realize that no other person or thing could fill that gap. So I started thinking, ‘What can I do to maintain happiness throughout my daily living?’ I came up with a practical solution: positive thinking.

But it’s easier said than done, because positive thinking requires practice and a balance of emotions.

Negative thoughts will affect our actions and perspective.

For example: at work, your colleague gets noticed and praised, meanwhile you get overlooked. As a result, you feel resentment and anger toward your colleague, thinking he or she isn’t worthy and you deserve to be rewarded for your work as well. You try to make yourself feel better by focusing on the other person’s weaknesses. But how does this really help you improve your mood? It doesn’t. So what can you do to change the way you feel about a situation that is bothering you and attain a positive state of mind?

Here are some steps you can take to improve your outlook and emotions:

1. EMOTIONAL THINKING

Let’s say you’re driving, and someone cuts you off, you come home angry, slam the door, scoff at your spouse or pet, because you’re now in a bad mood. Think about it, you’re basically letting this negative state of mind control the outcome of the rest of your day.

Don’t do it! Don’t dwell on it. Take a step back, breathe, forgive, and let that moment go. Negative things happen to us all the time.

2. INJURED PRIDE

If at work someone gives you constructive criticism but you are too stubborn to see past your pride, then you will never allow your mind to be open to the suggestions of others. Especially when you view the other person in a lesser light. Maybe they’re your subordinate, maybe they haven’t performed that well, but try to push your pride aside and re-analyze things. Is there indeed something you can improve on and therefore benefit the greater cause? By setting aside your pride, you will allow yourself to see things more clearly. Pride is a negative emotion and it won’t get you far in life.

Read more: Having a Bad Day? A Positive Mindset Starts With These 4 Simple Steps

Knowing Your Own Mind

12 October, 2014 at 07:14 | Posted in Body & Mind, health | Leave a comment
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By Wayne Dean Doyle
Epoch Times Contributor

Upon trawling my mind as to how to define what this article is trying to convey, I decided to visit the World Health Organization’s website to define the area of Mental Health and its many different forms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health (and mental health) as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is an integral part of this definition.”

How many of us can actually admit that we can know what our Mental Health is? Yes, that’s correct. There is simply not one single answer because Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and insomnia to name but a few are extremely complex and in many cases an intellectual minefield.

I did something on the way to work a couple of days ago partially out of disbelief but mostly out of frustration. I stopped trying to board a rush hour train and simply slumped my body onto the bench nearest to me. I refrained from being part of this scurry and began being consumed by the panic, havoc, and the general disarray of the many bodies thrusting and cramming relentlessly onto a Path train in order to get into work on time.

The constant rushing from one place to the next, the anxious glances at your wrist watch, the uneasy shuffling on the subway during rush hour, your heart beats faster and becomes more anxious, the perspiration builds on the palm of your hands, another quick glance. Damn, it’s almost 9:00 am and you are not going to make it to work on time.

Now stop for just a moment, if this is you and this happens five times a week on top of handling the heavy workload, on top of raising a family—you really need to be privy to the inner sanctums of your Mental Health.

Some individuals are fully aware and actively promoting a positive mind set within their lives, which is a smart and intelligent move.

But for those that don’t, your ability to handle stressful situations may well dictate the structure and successfulness of your life.

Mental health and anxiety issues can be just as detrimental to one’s well being as any other physical illness, yet we as individuals continuously fail to acknowledge these underlying and very prevalent issues.

When the topic of Mental Health is mentioned the concomitance ensues, which unfortunately is usually one of negativity. The whole spectrum of Mental Health is vast, complex and extremely multidimensional topic.

Not only do many individuals refuse to discuss their Mental Health openly, but in some cases remain in denial that their Mental Health maybe in actual fact be experiencing an overload.

One of the first steps to promoting a positive Mental Health within one’s life starts with actively acknowledging your Mental Health. Equipped with this knowledge one should then be talking steps to ensure your mental attitude is residing within a controlled environment.

Denial is a major component of depression and anxiety with prevents many individuals from taking the first positive steps.

According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, ”If you’re in denial, you’re not being realistic about something that’s happening in your life—something that might be obvious to those around you.

Sadly this in turn can lead to a multitude of issues and bottomless pits. These signposts include loneliness, depression, and isolation. They also include loss of self esteem through loss of a job or person through death.

All of the above scenarios are an attack on ones Mental Health and general well being causing individuals to become mentally ill, they feel as if they have nobody to turn to.

The current economic climate is having disastrous effects on individuals and their families, marriages have failed because of arguments about incomes, job losses and pressure to keep the family together in these turbulent times.

Although there are many contributing factors related to Mental Health issues many experts have cited poverty and economical factors as a major contributor including socio economic status. A culmination of the above leaves an individual with not only a feeling of vulnerability and disadvantage but is also seriously damaging to self confidence and belief.

Those who love and support you can see if you look tired, if your humor is mellow, and if you are generally just not being yourself.

These issues combined have a ripple affect essentially undermining ones confidence; this in turn reduces their productivity within their communities.

via Knowing Your Own Mind

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5 Natural Antibiotics that Fight Illness and Promote Health

9 October, 2014 at 06:58 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food, health | Leave a comment
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By Natural News, Healing the Body

There are many herbs and foods that can treat and prevent a wide variety of illnesses and diseases. Many people are beginning to use natural antibiotics and remedies for these illnesses rather than relying on traditional Western medicine with risks and side effects.

Natural antibiotics can be powerful treatments for illnesses, preventing disease and keeping the body’s health in balance. Natural antibiotics, such as honey, ginger and Echinacea, among others, are powerful remedies to a wide variety of illnesses and diseases.

Local Honey

Honey has natural antibiotic properties. Spreading it on wounds and burns can fight infection and promote faster healing. Using locally sourced honey can also combat seasonal or environmental allergies. Since bees use local pollen to make their honey, people with pollen allergies can find relief by consuming local honey. As a natural sweetener, adding honey to tea is an excellent way to get its health benefits.

Garlic

Garlic is an herb used commonly in cooking, but it can also be used as a remedy to fight off infections and diseases such as ear aches, colds, flus, and pneumonia. The herb can help boost the immune system and reduce risk of heart disease, and it contains lots of vitamin C, which is beneficial to people’s health. Because it is used so widely in cooking, garlic is readily available for anyone who needs it.

Read more: 5 Natural Antibiotics that Fight Illness and Promote Health

Australian Scientists Find Plastic’s Toxic Footprint at Molecular Level

4 October, 2014 at 07:22 | Posted in animals, Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, Nature, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Shar Adams
Epoch Times

SYDNEY—California has become the newest region to ban lightweight plastic bags, joining four states and territories in Australia in restricting the use of disposable plastics. The move comes as Australian researchers study the toxicity of plastics, which are polluting the marine environment at a molecular level.

The Californian ban was signed into law on Sept 30, making plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies prohibited from July 1, 2015, with convenience and liquor stores to follow a year later.

In Australia, non-biodegradable lightweight plastic bags are banned in Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, but the legislation does permit the use of compostable, bio-degradable bags.

While the bans on bags represent important progress, researchers are finding the threat of plastics goes deeper than the disposable products we can see. Professor Richard Banati from the the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) says the full lifecycle of plastic is not yet understood and its degradability is questionable, particularly when litter is left to float in oceans.

The present paradigm is “the solution to pollution is dilution” but his research indicates otherwise.

“Dilution has its limits,” he said in a phone interview.

Beyond the Visible

There is no doubt that on a visible pollution level plastic is a huge problem. Scientists have found evidence of plastics choking or smothering many marine animals and ecosystems.

In a report released last month, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found plastic constituted most of the rubbish floating along Australia’s coastline, with densities ranging between a few thousand pieces of plastic per square kilometre to more than 40,000 pieces.

“About three-quarters of the rubbish along the coast is plastic,” said CSIRO scientist Denise Hardesty after collating data from survey sites every 100 km along the Australian coastline. “Most is from Australian sources, not the high seas, with debris concentrated near cities.”

Professors Banati’s work, however, looks beyond the visible. Using nuclear scientific methods he is examining a more insidious interaction – plastic contamination at the molecular level.

Following the results of an earlier collaboration with biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers, who was researching plastic in shearwater birds, the two scientists found that when plastic interacts with sea water, it absorbs heavy metals, becoming more toxic as it degrades. Looking at shearwater feathers at the molecular level they have identified the presence of plastic particles.

“Micro plastic particles are perfectly bite sized pieces for things like krill, zoo plankton, filter feeders and all of the marine creatures at the very base of the marine food web,” Dr Laver said.

Professor Banati is now collecting a larger sample for further research, conducting his own survey from Hobart to Sydney Harbour.

His aim is to identify the full life cycle of plastic, its impact on marine life and the food chain.

The forensic method, he said, will make plastic traceable and in that respect make producers and consumers accountable.

It is the increasing use of plastic on a mass level that is the concern. Identifying the full life cycle of plastic will allow for a better understanding for industry and government of how and when it can best be used.

“Traceability will allow us to make policy decisions,” he said.

via Australian Scientists Find Plastic’s Toxic Footprint at Molecular Level

How Lucid Dreaming Could Help PTSD and Give Psychological Insights

2 October, 2014 at 07:29 | Posted in beyond science, Body & Mind, Science | Leave a comment
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By Tara MacIsaac
Epoch Times

The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In “Beyond Science” Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.

A lucid dream is a dream in which a person realizes he or she is dreaming and is able to consciously interact with the dream. People can learn to dream lucidly through various techniques (discussed later). Some psychologists use lucid dreaming to treat trauma victims, including veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge, who received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, has also said that studying lucid dreams may greatly help us better understand the phenomenon of dreaming; unclear dreamer-recall has always been a great hindrance to studying dreams, but lucid dreamers are able to remember their dreams with greater clarity. They are also able to perform actions in dreams following the instructions of researchers.

Treating Trauma

Psychologist J. Timothy Green treated a Vietnam War veteran who had recurrent nightmares about the time he saw his best friend killed in battle.

It was the same every time. His friend would fall, and blood would flow from his neck until he finally died.

“Because his dream was always the same, I suggested he pick one particular moment in the dream and each night as he fell asleep to mentally and emotionally visualize himself back in that particular moment and remind himself that he was dreaming. He decided to use the moment when he found that his buddy had died as the signal he was dreaming,” Green wrote in an article on Therapist-Psychologist.com.

The veteran followed Green’s advice and was able to realize he was dreaming when he saw his friend. He was then able to redirect the dream, telling his friend the war was over and they were going home. The friend didn’t die this time, but instead got up smiling and walked away.

The nightmare that had haunted this man for three decades did not return.

Green hypothesizes that nightmares are either subconscious attempts to make the individual aware of something, or they are “a psychological attempt to end a difficult, even terrifying event, in a less traumatic manner.”

“During lucid dreams, the individual is able to face the frightening images in his or her dreams and have the dream end in a more favorable and less traumatic manner,” Green wrote.

Neuroscientist and science writer Bill Skaggs noted that people who dream more often are also likely to be depressed.

“People who are very severely depressed often show an excess of REM sleep—the type of sleep in which dreams occur,” he wrote in a post on Quora.com. “Reducing the amount of REM sleep is an effective way of reducing the level of depression, at least temporarily.” Whereas eliminating REM sleep—eliminating dreams—is a temporary solution, Green helps patients change the dreams for more lasting results.

ALSO SEE: Talking About Near-Death Experiences Could Help Soldiers Heal, Says Retired Colonel

 …
The Place of Lucid Dreaming in Dream Studies

Hobson-quote

LaBerge began studying lucid dreaming more than 40 years ago for his Ph.D. at Stanford. At the time, many dismissed the phenomenon of lucid dreaming as temporary arousals from sleep. The experiments of LaBerge and others, however, showed the physical effects of lucid dreaming on the brain, eye movement, and muscle movement.

The effects on the brain set lucid dreaming apart from waking life, but also from imagining. A lucid dreamer performing a certain action, such as singing, in a dream produced different brain activity than the same person singing in waking life or imagining singing while awake.

Such experimentation was only possible with lucid dreamers. LaBerge directed a test subject to signal to him while in the dream using pre-determined eye-movement patterns. Once the dreamer realized he was dreaming, he would make the eye-movements, which would also cause the eyes of his physical body to move. Then he would sing. When he was finished singing, he would make the eye movements again.

This way, LaBerge could see where the singing began and where it ended and could examine the brain activity data for that exact time period to see how it correlated to the action.

“The fact that recall for lucid dreams is more complete than for non-lucid dreams … presents another argument in favor of using lucid dreamers as subjects,” LaBerge wrote in “Lucid Dreaming: Evidence and Methodology.” “Not only can they carry out specific experiments in their dreams, but they are also more likely to be able to report them accurately. That our knowledge of the phenomenology of dreaming is severely limited by recall is not always sufficiently appreciated.”

How to Realize You’re Dreaming

Green had directed his patient to picture a scene as he was falling asleep and to also be aware that that scene is within a dream. This is one method of training yourself to dream lucidly.

Others have suggested would-be lucid dreamers get in the habit of asking themselves in waking life, “Am I dreaming?” If it’s a habit, you’re more like to ask yourself this question in a dream and realize it is indeed a dream.

Having a predetermined signal in mind can also help. For example, in the film “Waking Life,” which is themed around lucid dreaming, the main character knows that if he flips a light switch and it doesn’t change the lighting level, he’s in a dream. Many lucid dreamers have reported that establishing similar signals for themselves is helpful.

WikiHow gives several other techniques, including marking an “A” on your palm. Whenever you see the “A,” it can remind you to ask yourself whether you’re awake.

LaBerge wrote: “As long as we continue to consider wakefulness and sleep as a simple dichotomy, we will lie in a Procrustean bed that is bound at times to be most uncomfortable. There must be degrees of being awake just as there are degrees of being asleep (i.e. the conventional sleep stages). Before finding our way out of this muddle, we will probably need to characterize a wider variety of states of consciousness than those few currently distinguished (e.g. ‘dreaming,’ ‘sleeping,’ ‘waking,’ and so on).”

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via How Lucid Dreaming Could Help PTSD and Give Psychological Insights – The Epoch Times

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5 Drug-Free Ways to Control High Blood Pressure

30 September, 2014 at 08:17 | Posted in Body & Mind, Food, health | Leave a comment
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By Shubhra Krishan, http://www.care2.com

Fresh CoconutWe do know that high blood pressure can cause heart disease. But it does not stop there. This silent killer has been liked to serious conditions such as heart attack, stroke, dementia, and kidney failure, among others. It is, in fact, the No. 1 killer in America, affecting almost 25 percent of the population, according to extensive research conducted at the University of New Mexico.

The good news is that high blood pressure can be kept in check, and it need not always be done using drugs. Here are some tried and tested ways to maintain healthy blood pressure:

  1. Eat almonds: Almonds are low in sodium, which is notorious for sending up blood pressure. At the same time, they area rich source of potassium, which helps the heart muscles contract and nerve transmissions strong. The result of this improved heart function is that your blood pressure does not get a chance to rise above normal levels. Two ounces or one quarter cup of almonds daily is the perfect amount to consume, say nutritionists.
  2. Drink coconut water: A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal shows that its potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C content make it a very heart-healthy drink. The best coconut water comes from young coconuts, which can be found in health stores and international markets.
  3. Cook with turmeric: results of a study published in the Nutrition Journal conclusively showed that 80 mg of turmeric per day significantly lowered high blood pressure. Not only that, the curcumin in turmeric was seen to lower the risk of liver disease and Alzheimer’s too. Time to reach out for that bowl of curry!
  4. Move more:  If you exercise regularly, you are unlikely to suffer from high blood pressure. Here’s why: Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. If your heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. Moderate intensity exercise performed for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is adequate for helping you maintain both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, say experts.
  5. Sing in the shower. Pummel a pillow when you’re angry. Dance. Let your stress find release, but in harmless ways. When you are feeling stressed, your heart starts beating faster. As a result, your blood vessels narrow, and blood pressure shoots up. Prolonged stress can cause long-term hypertension. So, try and be mindful of your stress, and find ways to deal with it before it sets in too deep. I find watching a comedy show or spending time with children very efficient ways of reducing stress. You?

This article was originally published on www.care2.com. Read the original here.

via 5 Drug-Free Ways to Control High Blood Pressure

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China Stumbles Into Future of Genetically Modified Food

29 September, 2014 at 07:23 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, health, Science, sustainable development | 6 Comments
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Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing

By Zhang Hong
Epoch Times

On Aug. 17 safety certificates for genetically modified GMO varieties of corn and rice were due to be renewed by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, but the deadline came and went with no action being taken.

The failure to act was apparently not an oversight. Huang Dafang, a researcher from the Biotechnology Research Institute and a member of China’s Biosafety Committee, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Sept. 4 that the central authorities have an attitude of “active research and careful promotion” of GMOs.

Because local authorities fear public opinion against GMOs, Huang said, there was “a very slow procedure in getting approval” and the Aug. 17 deadline was missed.

The failure to act in this case amounts to a de facto approval. The curious handling of these safety certificates fits a general pattern of the Chinese regime moving toward a broad adoption of GMO food without publicly acknowledging this is happening.

Although authorities have never approved the commercial distribution of GMO rice in China, the environmental group Greenpeace reported that GMO rice was found in 4 of 15 samples bought by activists in randomly chosen supermarkets in November 2013 in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.

Last year, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported that 27 countries in Europe have found GMO-contaminated rice among Chinese exports, including 46 shipments in 2010, and 19 shipments in the first 10 months in 2011. According to People’s Daily, although all of the shipments were returned and supposedly destroyed, they were actually sold on the domestic Chinese market.

On July 31, China News published an article headlined, “GMO Rice Grown in Hubei on a Large Scale, Growers Refuse to Eat It Themselves.”

According to the article, farmers who grow GMO rice sell all of it, refusing themselves to eat it. Instead, they grow a small amount of conventional rice for themselves and their families. As a result, GMO rice has taken over.

A rice farmer named Dong Kejiang told China News, “It is now difficult to find conventional rice seeds.”

Not Just Rice

The Economic Observer, a magazine in mainland China, reported in June 2011 that a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture that GMO crops such as corn and rice have been illegally grown in China for a long time.

GMO corn varieties were found all over the country including in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Liaoning, and Jilin, according to the Economic Observer.

Much of the GMO food consumed in China is imported.

Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University Department of Economics told Epoch Times the Communist Party imports large quantities of GMO crops to alleviate food shortages, since GMO foods are relatively inexpensive. The Party intentionally conceals data such as the varieties of and lab results for GMO foods, according to Sun.

According to China-based Science Net, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China imports over 70 percent of its soybeans and more than 90 percent of its vegetable seeds, and most of them are genetically modified.

The extent to which the state is pushing GMO food can be seen in budgetary figures mentioned in a 2010 report.

China-based Science and Technology Daily quoted a member of the National People’s Congress who is also a director of a research institute for rice as saying that the central government had approved 30 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) for the research and development of GMO crops, but only 180 million yuan (US$29 million) for non-GMO crops.

The state’s official data doesn’t reveal the extent of the use of GMO in China.

According to the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, China has issued GMO Safety Certificates for eight domestically developed, genetically modified crops, including varieties of tomato, cotton, petunia, sweet pepper, chili pepper, papaya, rice, and corn.

However, according to the Plant Genetic Engineering Center in Hebei Province, a government-funded research center, the Ministry of Agriculture has in fact issued as many as 1,110 certificates since 1996.

This plunge into GMOs may have presented Chinese society with a fait accompli.

“GMO has entered so many areas of society, it’s almost impossible to ban it now,” said Li Guoxiang.

Safety

The GMO rice whose safety certificate expired on Aug. 17 is named Bt Shanyou 63. It has a protein called Bt added to it, which helps the rice resist pests.

Dr. Wang Yuedan of the Department of Medicine at Beijing University noted that Bt is a type of bacterial protein that kills insects and bugs by dissolving and “melting” their intestines.

“The Bt protein is not a natural component of rice,” Wang said. “It is a bacterial protein. There have not been sufficient laboratory tests on the safety of this variety of rice.”

“We do not yet know what possible effects eating this variety of rice will have on human physiology, especially when this bacterial protein is absorbed into the blood stream,” Wang said. “This bacterial protein, when fully integrated into the human body, may cause allergies and may weaken the immune system.”

After Wang injected his lab rats with the Bt protein four times over a four-month period, he found their immune systems became abnormal, their spleens atrophied, and their white blood cell counts changed. He said this shows the Bt protein seriously affects mammals.

Yuan Longping is an agricultural scientist and popularly known as China’s “father of hybrid rice.” He is also a critic of the Bt rice.

During the China Development Forum 2014 Yuan told Xinhua, “A number of transgenic, insect-resistant rice varieties contain a toxic protein. If insects die after ingesting it, what happens when humans eat it? We have to be especially careful.”

Fudan University life sciences professor Yang Jinshui recently told Shanghai Daily, “The bacteria genes in GMO rice cannot be completely metabolized and eliminated.” Yang is a member of the genetic research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

“Rice is the staple food of the Chinese,” Yang said. “If [GMO rice is] industrialized and commercialized on a large scale, there is no turning back in our country. So we have to be extremely careful.”

via China Stumbles Into Future of Genetically Modified Food

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