By Henry Jom
Modern science has verified what the ancients believed about one’s heart—that the heart is a center of higher wisdom. It can actually remember things and it functions much like the brain.
The heart’s structure is similar to that of the brain: it has an intricate network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells.
“There is a brain in the heart, metaphorically speaking,” said Dr. Rollin McCraty of the HeartMath Institute, a non-profit that offers treatments based on the connection between heart and brain. “The heart contains neurons and ganglia that have the same function as those of the brain, such as memory. It’s an anatomical fact,” he said.
“What people don’t know that well is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain [than the brain does to the heart],” he added.
Dr. J. Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain” in 1991; he has also called the heart a “little brain.”
According to Harvard Medical School, chemical “conversations” between the heart and the brain affect both organs. Depression, stress, loneliness, a positive outlook, and other psychosocial factors influence the heart. The health of the heart can also affect the brain and the mind.
As neuro-cardiology (the study of the brain and heart connection) has developed, researchers have found that negative emotions throw both heart rhythms and brainwave patterns out of sync.
Stress responses, for example, take a toll on the body, contributing to high blood pressure, the development of artery-clogging plaque, and brain changes that may contribute to anxiety and depression, according to Harvard Medical School.
Conversely, when a person experiences positive emotions, heart rhythms and brainwave patterns are harmonious and coherent.
Heart as an Emotional Center
The heart as an organ is linked to the concept of heart as an emotional center. The heart sends messages through physical pathways to the brain, which are then interpreted as emotion.
McCraty explained: “Heart beats are similar to morse code, with these messages reflecting one’s emotional state.”
McCraty has worked as a psycho-physiologist for nearly 30 years. One technique he works with through the HeartMath Institute is “heart-focused breathing.”
While breathing deeply, the patient directs attention to the heart, which “shifts the physiology and facilitates changes in the body’s rhythms,” McCraty said.
Heart and brain wave patterning has been measured to observe the effects of this technique, showing greater coherence.
Near death experiences NDEs have been reported through the ages by those who were near death—or thought they were—and then return.
Though these experiences are not all the same, they have many distinctive hallmarks: seeing a tunnel of light; seeing loved ones who have passed away; feeling bliss or euphoria; having a heightened sense of cognition; feeling a sense of great love; reviewing one’s whole life, often in a very short period of time; and feeling as if the soul has left the body. NDEs also tend to transform the lives of those who experience them—leading them to try to become better people.
These rich, interesting experiences have provoked the question of whether we truly do have souls, or if our consciousness is only a product of the brain. As brain science advances, there are an increasing number of claims that NDEs can be explained by neuroscience alone, thus obviating any need for an explanation based on the soul.
But how well do these explanations from neuroscience hold up?
One very important piece of information is that about half of NDEs occur when individuals think they are going to die, but are not actually medically close to death. So for example, if someone fell off a building, and thought they were going to die, but only sustained minor injuries. This means that if we’re looking to the brain to explain all the different elements of NDEs, we need an explanation that accounts situations where the person is actually dying, and those where there is no real threat of death, in terms of one’s medical condition.
A common explanation that has been advanced by some scientists is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen, you can expect various patterns of response, particularly a sense of bright light in your center of vision. This kind of experience can indeed be induced by a lack of oxygen, but the problem is, not all NDEs involve anoxia, yet many still have the sense of a tunnel of light.
Furthermore, when the brain is out of oxygen, it starts firing rapidly in a disorganized fashion—it’s not working properly. From our knowledge of the brain, we would not expect organized experience in this state, but a jumble perhaps akin to what one might find in seizures or in mental illness—other examples of the brain not working correctly.
But what we get are vivid, organized, transformational experiences—people report that their NDEs feel “more real than real,” they feel free, that they understand the universe at a deep level, and have never been happier. This can happen both when the brain is not in immediate danger, and when it’s under severe duress because of a life-threatening situation.
Interestingly, when the brain is close to death, there is a higher incidence of cognitive enhancement—the mind feels unfettered and able to process more thoughts than usual. That we would find enhanced cognition under deprived conditions for the brain does not square with our understanding of brain function.
Another brain-based explanation is that the out-of-body experience (OBE) portion of NDEs is caused by a misfiring at the temporal-parietal junction, a region of the brain thought to be responsible for forming one’s body concept.
The evidence that this region is responsible for the feeling of people leaving their bodies and perceiving the nearby surroundings—sometimes nearby rooms and areas—is surprisingly weak. The most-often mentioned study, by Blanke and colleagues, is based on one patient, and the patient’s explanations indicated that though she felt like she was not in her body, she only saw her legs and her trunk—which she would have been able to see anyway.
The study only demonstrated that electrically stimulating this part of the brain can make people feel like they’re not in their body, but doesn’t produce any of the other perceptual qualities of an OBE, like seeing their entire body, floating around the room, and seeing the surrounding environment. In short, it failed to elicit anything qualitatively close to the out-of-body component of an NDE.
Explanations for the life review—a phenomenon where the person’s life is reviewed, sometimes in great detail, and they feel remorse for selfish acts and satisfied with their “good” actions—are also particularly lacking.
One explanation, in a Scientific American article by Charles Choi, suggests that the brain region responsible for the life review is likely the locus coeruleus, an area that is involved in stress and is connected to areas that process emotion and memory. However, why would this area evoke an entire life’s worth of memories during death—or when death is thought imminent—and not elicit any memories during other extreme stress? And how does it explain the new moral insights that often accompany this aspect of an NDE?
Another article, by Mobbs and Watt, appearing in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, attempts to explain the life review by citing a single patient who exhibited REM (a characteristic state during dreaming) during an NDE. They conclude that the life review is probably related to REM because it happened during the NDE and is also associated with consolidation of memory.
One critical flaw with this argument is that REM has only been shown to be involved with the consolidation of procedural memories—things like learning a new skill such as riding a bike—and not for episodic memories that constitute the memories of one’s lifetime, as revisited in a life review.
Another major problem with the explanation, just like with the out-of-body example, is that it relies on only one patient. Relying on one example to make a generalization in a case like this is simply bad science, because you can’t know if it’s an exceptional situation.
Mobbs and Watt also try to explain the presence of loved ones who have passed away, giving the example that people with extreme Parkinson’s disease will sometimes hallucinate headless corpses, monsters, and ghosts, as well as dead relatives. Parkinson’s involves a problem with areas of the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, and the authors suggest that these hallucinations arise from a dopamine imbalance.
The problem with this is that almost all NDE cases report positive experiences, and feelings of love and bliss—not headless corpses. While there are some cases where people apparently experience something like hell and demons, the majority of cases are not this way.
A more significant problem is that in Parkinson’s disease cases, there is an awareness that these are hallucinations, whereas those with NDEs feel that it is real. This would, at the very least, suggest a different neural pathway.
A good explanation from neuroscience needs to not only actually account for each individual phenomenon, but do so in a way that combines them and explains how they happen together.
Another explanation offered for NDEs is confabulation—that these experiences are concocted by the mind as a way of explaining a gap in consciousness. This has been offered by biologist P.Z. Myers, a noted skeptic.
Myers says that when people come back from clinical death and recount a story it doesn’t mean they were aware during the time of clinical death, it could just be the brain’s way of accounting for the lost time. In fact, he claims that this is the “the default understanding by neuroscientists of how the brain works,” in an article posted on Slate.
This explanation suffers from the same major problem as the other neuroscience explanations: about half of NDEs don’t happen in truly life-threatening situations, meaning these people didn’t go unconscious at all, and thus there’s no gap to account for.
The other problem is that confabulation sounds plausible at first, but in the scientific literature, confabulation of fantastic or extraordinary events—which an NDE would be considered—only happens in people with severe memory problems.
People who have recently had some sort of brain trauma and have trouble both learning new information and remembering old information will sometimes confabulate stories to explain things. These are occasionally quite fantastic, such as being a space pirate, but share little in common with NDE-type experiences.
The explanation suffers other weaknesses, as well. For one, this kind of confabulation goes away over time. Two, the stories often change. And three, they don’t have any qualities of ineffability, a hallmark of NDEs—that is, people try to explain what they went through, but acknowledge that words really aren’t adequate for describing the experience.
So confabulation is a kind of cheap explanation—it might sound good at first, but doesn’t fit with what’s known about confabulation, and completely fails to account for half of NDEs.
It is important to try to explain these phenomena through known mechanisms, because we don’t want to falsely believe in things, but we also have to acknowledge weaknesses or when an argument entirely fails.
More in Beyond Science
By Naveen Athrappully
Each person is endowed with a unique set of characteristics that define him or her, with fingerprints and eye scans being the most commonly used methods of biometric identification. Now scientists have come upon another way through which a person, including his ethnicity, can be classified. As every smile is precious, every mouth, it has been proven, is unique. The microbial cocktail that thrives in the mouth cavity is different for everyone.
This study, undertaken by the University of Ohio, has also concluded that each ethnicity has a different oral bacterial composition. Following the results of this study, oral treatment, which has until now been basically the same for everyone, could be more specialized in the future, thereby increasing its effectiveness.
The study of 100 people from four ethnicities—African American, Latino, Caucasian, and Chinese—found that approximately 400 unique bacterial species exist in the mouth, out of which only 2 percent were similar in everyone who participated. About 90 percent of the individuals had 8 percent shared between them. Bacteria were taken from tooth surfaces, saliva, and under the gums.
The press release by the university stated that researchers found that “each ethnic group in the study was represented by a ‘signature’ of shared microbial communities.”
“This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth. We know that our food and oral hygiene habits determine what bacteria can survive and thrive in our mouths, which is why your dentist stresses brushing and flossing. Can your genetic makeup play a similar role? The answer seems to be yes, it can,” says Purnima Kumar, associate professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study, in the press release.
Furthermore, the researchers constructed an algorithm that predicted individual ethnicities, which was right 62 percent of the time. African Americans, however, were identified with 100 percent accuracy.
The findings shed light on why some ethnicities like African Americans and Latinos are more prone to gum disease.
“The most important point of this paper is discovering that ethnicity-specific oral microbial communities may predispose individuals to future disease,” Kumar said.
Only about 40 percent of the bacteria in the mouth has ever been identified and studied, mainly because they don’t grow well in laboratory conditions. The bacterial species were classified by sequencing their DNA.
“Nature appears to win over nurture in shaping these communities,” Kumar noted in the study.
The group had already recognized the adverse effects some substances like tobacco have on the oral cavity. Smoking disrupts the healthy microbial community, causing infections ranging from cavities to oral cancer. The study also suggests dispositions toward certain diseases among different ethnic groups.
The trillions of invisible bacteria that make our bodies their home have not yet been fully studied by scientists. These organisms affect our bodies in many significant ways, telling a lot about a person including their health, intake of fat, allergies, and reactions to certain external elements.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was supported by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
More in Science News
By Henry Jom
Jon Robson gets to the root of symptoms of illness—the patient’s state of mind.
Robson began studying an integrative system of healthcare called “meta-medicine” in 2008 and founded Meta-Medicine USA in 2012. Compelled and inspired by his mother’s passing at an early age, and having a family history of chronic diseases, Robson set out to find a way to help people with chronic diseases.
He wanted to find a healthcare system that went beyond just managing symptoms and medicating patients for life.
Robson said in an interview with Epoch Times: “Disease is not a natural state the human body should be in. I believe that health and vitality are the natural states of the body.”
How a Patient Healed Heart Disease With His Mind
Robson had a client who had heart disease. After this client had a heart attack, Jon guided him with meta-medicine, and was able to help him understand the stresses in his life that manifested in his body as heart disease.
“[The client was able] to dissolve those stresses he was experiencing. He resolved his life stresses and his heart healed.”
Manifestation of Self-Loathing: Body Literally Attacks Itself
Robson also had a client who had Systemic lupus erythematosis. Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to essentially attack itself.
It’s underlying cause is not fully known. MedLine Plus explains: “It is where the immune system believes that certain tissues and organs in the body are cancerous and it then attacks itself.”
Robson helped this client by asking deeper questions: “Why is this body attacking itself? What deeper resentment do they have for themselves?”
After careful analysis, he discovered that this client devalued herself. She had put her mother on a pedestal, and felt she was herself unworthy.
Robson explained, “[The client] grew into systemic lupus. [This] systematically broke down her body because she didn’t feel worthy of love and had deeper anger toward herself.”
Jon taught the client to love and appreciate herself. He helped the client see that the positive characteristics she attributed to her mother she actually had in her own unique form and style within her own personality. This client’s disease went into remission. Her body healed.
“Their outer world changed, purely because they changed from within,” Robson said.
When asked how Meta-medicine relates to Buddhism or spiritual disciplines that teach looking within one’s mind and heart to find the root of problems, Robson said his treatment is similar in that, “[it] lets you see the specific moments which are taking you out of truth, and through that coaching process that brings you back to truth, transformation occurs.”
He said: “Your physical body is a perfect reflection of your mind.”
By Pure Insight
Reincarnation. Fact, fallacy, superstition or simply coincidence? Those stories of people with super-minds; minds that delve into the past, minds that have the power to move objects and perceive things the rest of us cannot with our ordinary senses; minds that operate independently of the body. Since ancient times, these enigmas have intrigued rational people but only back in the 1970s are scientists, the Mind Detectives, beginning to understand something of the mysteries at work inside of us.
Do we have one life only or several? Have you ever experienced that feeling of déjà vu or a sense of “been here before”? According to mind detectives, we have experienced many previous lives in the past and we’ll go on being born again, into other forms, until we reach an absolute state.
Here are three interesting cases of experts’ experience on the subject of reincarnation. Below is Part I
Case Study 1 – the Bloxham tapes
Arnall Bloxham was a Welsh hypnotherapist from back in the 1970s who, over a 20-year period, hypnotized a few hundred people and recorded what appear to be descriptions of previous lives. Do the Bloxham tapes prove reincarnation or can they be explained in some other way? Arnall Bloxham is an expert in what hypnotists call ‘past lives regression experiments.’ Under hypnosis he can take a person back to the moment of his or her birth, and even beyond that. Bloxham was the president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists then and he was using hypnosis to cure people of physical ailments, like smoking, for instance.
What happens during his experiments on hypnotic regression defies common human logic. His clients could relate, in meticulous detail, lives of people who existed hundreds of years ago.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Bloxham produced over 400 tape recordings of hypnotized subjects reliving their previous lives. In addition, many detailed records, cross-references from these tapes, have been substantiated as facts. According to Bloxham, this strong evidence strongly supports the ancient belief of reincarnation as the truth.
One of Bloxham’s high-profile cases is that of Jane Evans. Jane’s regression into her past lives began in 1971 when she saw a poster that reads: “Arnall Bloxham says rheumatism is psychological.” Jane, a 32-year-old Welsh housewife who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, found the statement incredible, so she decided to get in touch with the man responsible for this poster. Indeed she did, through a friend of her husband. And ultimately got in touch with six of her past lives as well. They were: as a tutor’s wife in Roman times; as a Jew who was massacred in the 12th century in York; as the servant of a French medieval merchant prince; as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon; as a poor servant in London during the reign of Queen Anne; and as a nun in 19th-century America.
The story of Jane Evans and several other examples of reincarnation were brought to light by BBC television producer, Jeffrey Iverson in his book, “More Lives Than One?” In 1975, in pursuing verification of the theory of reincarnation, Iverson asked Jane’s permission to let Bloxham hypnotize her again into regression, this time in the presence of a BBC television camera and tape recorder. Iverson then set out to uncover whether she did, in fact, have more lives than one.
Iverson researched the detail of these lives and verified that the details of Jane Evans’ recorded regressions were indeed founded on fact. At the end of the book he considers that Bloxham’s 20 years of work signify strong support for the concept of reincarnation. He also produced a BBC documentary film, called “The Bloxham Tapes” based on all these materials.
Case Number 2 - Dr. Arthur Guirdham’s Cathars
Skeptics have attributed this phenomenon to what mind detectives call “cryptomnesia,” a term that simply means remembering facts you forgot you ever knew! If such a distant memory could be culled from a person’s mind, it might logically explain Jane Evan’s supposed ‘reincarnation.’
However, for Dr. Arthur Guirdham, Britain’s other great authority on reincarnation, this explanation cannot account for the cases he had seen and heard. Dr. Guirdham relates these experiences in his books, “We Are One Another,” “The Cathars & Reincarnation” and his autobiography, “A Foot in Both Worlds.”
Dr. Guirdham, a retired national health psychiatrist in the U.K., heads a small group of people who believe that they were Cathars in their past lives, a heretical religious group which existed in the Languedoc area of south-west France in the 13th century.
The incident that led to Dr. Guirdham’s reincarnation theory began in Bath, 1962, in a hospital’s outpatient department, where Dr. Guirdham worked as a psychiatrist. His last patient on one particular day was an attractive, apparently normal young woman who had had a recurring nightmare occasionally since her teens, but was now experiencing it two or three times a week. In her dream she was lying on her back on the floor while a man approached her from behind. She did not know what was going to happen but was absolutely terrified.
Although Dr. Guirdham remained calm and detached, he had to hide his surprise while listening to his new patient for the woman was describing the same nightmare that had plagued him, too, for more than 30 years. The doctor was intrigued but said nothing to his patient. She never had the nightmare again and, as for Dr. Guirdham, his dream stopped within a week of meeting this new patient.
Their meetings continued, though. Dr. Guirdham was certain there was nothing mentally wrong with his patient and her knowledge of the past intrigued him. Later she gave him a list of names of people she said had existed in the 13th century and described things that happened to them. She also told Dr. Guirdham that he, too, had been alive then and was called Rogiet de Cruisot.
As a psychiatrist, Dr.Guirdham had picked up some basic information about the theory of reincarnation, but never had much interest in the subject. Nevertheless, intrigued by this case, he decided to investigate. He found that the names given to him by his patient were indeed accurate, though only mentioned in fairly obscure history records of the Middle Ages. Those records had been written in French though, and had never been translated into English. The people Dr. Guirdham’s patient described were all members of the Cathar sect, a group that had flourished in southern France and northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Among other things, the Cathars believed in reincarnation. Over time, Dr Guirdham met more and more individuals, 11 in total, who had memories of their past lives living together in a Cathar group.
None of the subjects were drugged or hypnotized; past names and incidents simply appeared in their minds, said Dr Guirdham. Dr Guirdham also produced one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he had. It was the sketchpad of a seven-year-old girl, containing drawings of a bygone era. The sketchpad also includes many members’ names of the Cathar sect. Amazed, Dr Guirdham said, “It’s beyond me how a 7-year-old child could know these names when I shouldn’t think there was an expert in medieval history in England at the time who knew them.”
The sheer amount of memories, names and contacts convinced the doctor that he and his group had all lived together, not just once, but several lifetimes before. He said, “With 40 years of experience in medicine, it is either that I know the difference between a clairvoyant’s experience and a schizophrenic one or I am psychotic myself. None of the people in my group is mad in any way – and none of my colleagues have found me psychotic.”
Case Number 3 - Dr. Ian Stevenson, University of Virginia
If the world’s top experts on reincarnation were to be named, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia would be on that list. He has traveled all over the world to investigate various reports of reincarnation and has devised a rigorous test to rule out fraud, cryptomnesia, etc. Out of 200, only 20 cases survived this tough test by Dr. Stevenson to be suggestive of possible cases of reincarnation. Seven of these cases occurred in India, three in Sri Lanka, two in Brazil, one in the Lebanon and seven among a tribe of Indians in Alaska.
Take the case of a very young girl, born in 1956 in central Sri Lanka with a tongue-twisting name of Gnantilleka Baddewithana. Soon after she had started learning to talk, she began mentioning another mother and father in another place, where she said she also had two brothers and many sisters.
From the details the little girl gave, her parents were able to fit her descriptions to a particular family in a town some distance away. They found that this family had lost a son in 1954. When Gnantilleka was taken to visit this family, she said that she was their dead son and correctly identified seven members of “his” family. But until then the families had never met each other or even visited each other’s town.
Skeptics may dismiss the theory of reincarnation as fallacy, while non-believers in reincarnation may brush it off as baseless superstition.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, since time immemorial, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism have been advocating the theory of reincarnation in their beliefs. They believe in the theory of causation, in other words, the connection between cause and effect. They believe a person’s conduct in this present life matters and all the good deeds and misdemeanors committed by one will be accounted for. But, well, who is the bookkeeper?
Theory has it that the natural forces of the Cosmic Law, or you may call it Nature’s Law, will take precedence over this. A person’s deeds, good or bad will manifest their effects in one’s present life or the next, as good fortune or destiny versus bad destiny or retribution, and so on, according to the case itself.
The atheists would probably consider this theory as an example of “fatalistic syndrome.” The atheists believe life is what one makes out of it; one’s destiny is in one’s own hands.
On the contrary, Taoists believe a person reaps what he/she has sown. Perhaps, this explains one of the theories of Taoism about the eight types of people’s reincarnated destinies; such as, wealth vs. poverty, honor vs. ignobility (lowliness), longevity vs. short-life, and the like.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Buddhism has promoted the theory of the “six paths of samsara (reincarnation)” beginning some 2,500 years ago until today.
And perhaps this could be the reason for the often heard advice of our forefathers and parents to follow the maxim of, “Doing good deeds will be rewarded with virtues and doing bad or evil deeds will beget retribution”.
Read more: Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
More in Beyond Science
By Tara MacIsaac and Henry Jom
In the Eastern spiritual discipline of Daoism, the human body has long been viewed as a small universe, as a microcosm. As billion-dollar investments are made in the United States and Europe to research brain functioning, the correlations between the brain and the universe continue to emerge.
The two pictures below illustrate the similarities. The top picture shows the neural network of a brain cell; the bottom picture shows the distribution of dark matter in the universe as simulated by Millennium Simulation.
By China Gaze
In China, food was traditionally considered to have medicinal qualities. Here are 20 foods that help the body detoxify. When preparation calls for juice, you can use a juicer if you have one or blend the ingredients with a little water in a good blender.
With their digestible fiber, sweet potatoes can facilitate bowel movement. The best way to eat them is baked and unpeeled.
Green beans can eliminate toxins, induce diuresis, and quench thirst. Green-bean soup can also help reduce swelling. Do not cook beans too long; otherwise, nutrients will be destroyed and the effects will be diminished.
Oats can relax the bowels, stimulate bowel movement, and detoxify the body. It is good to steam oats and then blend to make a thin drink. You can also add other ingredients to the mixture, such as an apple or raisins, which are also nutritious and promote elimination.
Barley is great for detoxification and as beauty aid. It can improve blood circulation, induce diuresis, and reduce swelling caused by edema. You can boil barley and eat it cooked. For a natural way to whiten your skin, boil barley, add a bit of sugar, and apply it externally.
A well-known ingredient in Chinese cooking, lotus root can purify the blood and act as a diuretic. Lotus root can be served hot or cold. You can juice it and add a bit of honey or you can heat it on low heat and then add a bit of sweetener and drink it while it is still warm.
Since it doesn’t contain gluten, millet doesn’t irritate the intestinal tract. It is mild and easy to digest, which makes it suitable to eat with other detoxifying foods. Millet gruel is very good for detoxification and inducing diuresis.
Whole, unmilled rice is rich in fiber. It can absorb water and fat and give you a feeling of fullness. It can also stabilize the digestive system. A good way to keep yourself detoxified is to have a bowl of brown-rice porridge every morning.
These beans can stimulate bowel movement, help with constipation, and induce diuresis. You can put red beans to stew in an electric cooker or crockpot before going to bed and then drink the liquid the next morning to promote detoxification.
Carrots help treat constipation and are also rich in beta carotene, which can neutralize toxins. Fresh carrots are better at clearing away toxins, soothing the intestines, and relaxing the bowels. You can juice them and add honey and lemon juice, which is thirst-quenching and good for detoxification.
These yams can rectify the digestive system, reduce subcutaneous fat, and help your immune system. They work best when served raw. You can cut a peeled Chinese yam into small pieces and combine with pineapple and water in a blender or juice them. This is good for promoting digestion and regulating the intestines.
Native to Europe and Northern Asia, the burdock plant has small purple flowers and large, fuzzy leaves that are whitish underneath. Burdock can improve blood circulation and metabolism and regulate bowel function.
The fiber can soften excrement, which is good for detoxification and treating constipation. You can make burdock tea and drink it any time. Burdock is safe to use over a long period of time.
Asparagus contains various nutrients, including asparagine and potassium, which can induce diuresis to discharge excess water in the body. The tips of asparagus are rich in vitamin A. It’s good to leave the tips a bit on top of the water when cooking to maximally preserve nutrients.
Onions can stimulate bowel movement and promote digestion. They are rich in sulfur which, when combined with protein, is especially good for the liver, resulting in good detoxification.
Make a pot of onion-based vegetable soup and add some high-fiber vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and celery. The soup can break down accumulated toxins and help with elimination.
Radishes are very good for inducing diuresis. The fiber they contain can also relax the bowels and help with weight loss. They are good for detoxification when served raw. You can also juice or pickle them.
Chrysanthemum is rich in vitamin A, which protects the liver and helps to discharge toxins from the body. You can make a tea by boiling chrysanthemum flowers and adding a little sweetener. It is also good in a juice made with tomato, carrot, grapefruit, apple, and mixed nuts.
Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves give a feeling of fullness. They can also stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation. Wash fresh sweet potato leaves and cook them in boiling water. When fully cooked, stir with chopped garlic and add a bit of salt and oil.
These leaves contain vitamins and fiber that can stimulate the appetite and help with constipation. Clean and drip-dry the radish leaves. Then juice them and add a bit of honey. Regular intake is good for detoxification and health maintenance.
Sichuan aescin is an extract from horse chestnuts that can reduce blood sugar and treat habitual constipation. You can mix Sichuan aescin with tomato, alfalfa sprouts, yellow pepper, kiwi, mixed nuts, and a bit of passion fruit juice or apple cider vinegar. Blend and enjoy as a drink.
Yogurt has lactic acid, which may help with constipation and stabilize the stomach. It can also help discharge toxins accumulated in the intestinal tract. Yogurt can also give you a feeling of fullness. It is good to eat yogurt before breakfast when the stomach is empty.
Vinegar is good for metabolism and discharges acidic materials from the body. It can also induce diuresis and relax the bowels. Drink some diluted vinegar after breakfast and dinner every day.
China Gaze is the English edition of the popular Chinese website and newspaper Kanzhongguo, which offers a window into the philosophy, culture, and beauty of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization. www.chinagaze.com
More in Fitness & Nutrition
By Cindy Chan
義 yì, the Chinese character for righteousness, contains broad inner meaning, encompassing moral values such as justice, honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness.
When mentioning 義, people might first think of one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (三國演義, pronounced sān guó yǎn yì), literally “three kingdoms demonstrate righteousness.”
The novel dramatizes the events and lives of feudal lords and other historical figures of the turbulent era from the late Han Dynasty to the end of the Three Kingdoms Period (A.D. 169–280).
During this epoch, the profound inner meaning of 義, along with other qualities such as wisdom and resourcefulness, was thoroughly demonstrated through the contest of strength among the three dominant states—the Wei, Shu, and Wu.
Through the tales about Zhuge Liang, who exemplified trustworthiness and loyalty to the nation, and anecdotes of Guan Yu’s sense of justice, among numerous other legends, people came to truly understand the essence of 義, how its surface and inner meanings are related, how it manifests at deeper levels, and how it is exhibited in action.
These stories have exerted tremendous influence on the Chinese people for generations.
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More in Chinese Culture
Among those herbs that have come into Western use relatively recently, echinacea is without doubt a standout.
This herb’s reputation as a powerful aid to the immune system is well-deserved. In the years to come, echinacea’s usefulness will only grow as our immune systems become ever more compromised as a result of drug abuse and the increasing threat of antibiotic-resistant infections.
Echinacea was probably the most important medicinal plant used by Native Americans. Its use is well-documented among nearly all the Plains tribes, including the Omahas, Dakotas, Kiowas, Pawnees, Cheyennes, Crows, and Comanches.
The herb has been employed by Native Americans not only historically but also up to the present day for a variety of ailments, including sore throats, coughs and colds, toothache, snakebite, and pain. It has been used both preventatively and as a corrective for venereal infections.
There are even reports of its use as far south as Mexico, far beyond its natural range and probably as a result of trade between Mexican Indians and the Native Americans of the southern prairie.
A Unique Application
Because echinacea is claimed to be effective against such a long list of different conditions, it has at times suffered suspicion due to what seem to be overly enthusiastic claims.
However spectacular the results from treatment with echinacea may be, its uses are both narrow and specific. Echinacea is specifically indicated whenever there is pus present in the body.
Pus builds up around the source of an infection and is a sign that the immune system is mounting a defense.
Anything from viruses, bacilli, staphylococcal bacteria, and spirochetes can cause pus to accumulate around the source of infection. Perhaps the most dangerous of all infections is septicemia, or blood poisoning, which can result from a hospital staph infection, infected wound, or a malarial mosquito bite. The toxins that are introduced into the blood from such an infection can be lethal.
This is where echinacea is such an effective herb and where an herbalist will prescribe it preventatively. A potentially deadly condition can be quickly brought under control by an immune system that has been strengthened by the herb’s unique properties.
Echinacea has a proven and unique ability to guard against secondary infection by assisting the immune system in a speedy and complete removal of toxic waste products that are produced by viral or bacterial infection. A complete removal of such waste also protects against disease occurring years later at the site of the infection.
Echinacea also goes on the list of herbs to be taken preventatively while traveling in the developing world, where there is a heightened risk of infection from tropical parasites or malarial mosquitoes.
The herb is now popularly marketed as an immunity booster, which can prevent and lessen the duration of the common cold. It is sold in the form of pills, tinctures, and a drink.
Its most therapeutic properties, however, are extracted only by alcohol. If you think this herb may be of benefit to you, it is best to consult a professional herbalist who has the training and experience in its specific uses and contra-indications.
Use by Western Physicians
There are three varieties used for medicinal purposes: E. purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida. All three species are endemic to the tall and mid grass prairie, glade habitats, and open woodlands of North America.
Echinacea angustifolia was the earliest species to be used by Western physicians and was introduced by the American folk doctor H. C. F. Meyer.
Dr. Meyer had no doubt learned of its use from the local Native Americans and had been successfully using the plant for 16 years when he first introduced it to other physicians. By 1897, E. angustifolia had become widely used by Eclectic physicians (a group of doctors who emphasized the use of medicinal plants in their practice) as well as “regular” doctors.
By the turn of the 20th century, echinacea was also very popular among European herbalists and homeopaths and by the 1920s had become the most prescribed medicine from an American plant.
Its popularity declined with the introduction of antibiotics and sulpha drugs. But with the renewed interest in herbal medicine since the 1980s, echinacea saw a steady rise in popularity and was again the highest-selling medicinal herb in the United States between 1995 and 1999.
Due to extensive harvesting of wild populations of echinacea for herbal products and widespread conversion of the North American grasslands for agricultural purposes, two species of echinacea are now listed as endangered.
It has become apparent in recent years that the current level of commercial exploitation is unsustainable, and increased conservation and restoration of wild grass prairie is required. Meanwhile look for echinacea products that are sourced from sustainable agriculture.
It’s important to note that echinacea is never prescribed in a support mixture for leukemic patients.
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist and horticulturist based in Sydney, Australia.
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By Cindy Chan
智 zhì is the Chinese character for wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge.
The character consists of three components. On the top left, 矢 shǐ is the radical/character for an arrow or dart, and also refers to an oath or vow. On the top right, 口 kǒu is the radical/character for mouth. Together, they make up the character 知 zhī, to know.
知 (zhī) provides the pronunciation for 智 (zhì). It also conveys the meaning of speaking in an accurate or precise manner, having the knowledge to say what is true.
On the bottom of 智 (zhì) is the radical/character 日 (rì), which means the sun, day, or daytime.
Thus, the combination of 知 and 日 expresses the ability to speak correctly every day, symbolizing a lifetime of wisdom, intelligence, learning, and good judgment.
In Confucian thought, 智 is one of the most fundamental of all virtues and one of the most important qualities of ideal human character, along with 仁 (rén), humaneness or benevolence; 義 (yì), righteousness; 禮 (lǐ), propriety; and 信 (xìn), faithfulness and sincerity.
智仁勇 (zhì rén yǒng), which refers to wisdom, benevolence, and courage, are the three essential attributes of a gentleman as defined by Confucius in an early code of ethics.
Other terms that contain 智 include 智力 (zhì lì), intellect or intellectual power; 智慧 (zhì huì), wisdom, intelligence, or sagacity; 智能 (zhì néng), wisdom and ability; 智謀 (zhì móu), resourcefulness, or intelligence combined with strategy; and 智齒 (zhì chǐ), wisdom tooth.
智勇雙全 (zhì yǒng shuāng quán) describes a person who is both wise and brave.
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Pest adaptation to GMOs a global problem
South Africa’s government is increasingly opening the door to genetically modified organisms GMOs—along with the issues that arise as GMOs sweepingly change the country’s agriculture industry.
Many African nations are wary of welcoming GMOs. South Africa, however, is now the world’s eighth-largest GMO producer, with 2.9 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of GM maize, soybeans, and cotton grown in 2012.
One of the major problems South Africa has encountered is the increasing resistance of pests to the GM crops. A misuse of the technology is to blame, say some researchers.
Pest Resistance and Biotech Misuse
Pests have been a big problem in South Africa for decades, and GM crops, when first introduced, were seen by many as a new and much-needed solution to the problem.
Despite the higher cost of GM seeds, adoption by many farmers was quick, steady, and widespread.
The first GM crops, yellow maize hybrids from Monsanto, were introduced in 1997. By 2009, 98 percent of cotton, 85 percent of soybean, and 73 percent of maize grown in the country was GM.
During the mass transition, however, some regulations and controls were overlooked, and the result has been a resistance developed by pests to the toxins produced by GM plants. The plants are genetically engineered to kill pests.
Refuge areas are supposed to be created, in which a certain number of pests are allowed to live so that they don’t develop a resistance. Johnnie Van den Berg of the School of Environmental Sciences and Development at North-West University worked with researchers to survey 105 commercial farmers. Most farmers did not follow refuge requirements.
Because of this critical mistake, the pest targeted by GM maize—stem borers—developed widespread resistance to the crops.
“This study shows irresponsible management of GM crop technology by farmers, chemical, and seed companies,” the researchers said in the 2010 report.
Farmers had mixed views of the growing stem borer resistance. In Christiana, one of the six areas surveyed, farmers were highly aware of the resistance, and only 34 percent said they would plant Bt maize in the future.
In the other five areas, the high majority (70 to 100 percent) said they would plant Bt maize in the future, though at least 45 percent in each area said the growing resistance to stem borer may prevent them from doing so sometime in the future.
At the same time, the majority of farmers expressed an overall positive attitude toward Bt maize, associating it with increased productivity and convenient management.
Is GM Food Necessary in South Africa?
Professor Van den Berg wrote in an email to Epoch Times that there are many benefits to GM crops, including farmers saving money by spending less on fertilizer and other inputs, as well as getting higher yields. However, the resistance pests have developed against both Bt cotton and maize in some areas of South Africa means “the value of GM technology” has been lost in these areas, he said.
“The main message that we send out to industry and the farming community is that stewardship of GM technology is very important and that GM technology should not be used as a silver bullet approach but as part of integrated pest and weed management strategies,” he said. Private companies, such as Monsanto, that develop GM technologies will determine the future of GM crops in South Africa, he said.
The growing pest resistance is part of a worldwide phenomenon.
In an analysis of 77 studies conducted in eight countries, a team of U.S. and French scientists found that nearly half of major pest species had become resistant to Bt cotton or corn plants, including the one in South Africa.
“Either take more stringent measures to delay resistance, such as requiring larger refuges, or this pest will probably evolve resistance quickly,” said Bruce Tabashnik, a professor at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
On the other hand, the development of resistance in pests is inevitable even with conventional pesticides, said Karl Kunert, a professor at the Plant Science Department of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria.
While “resistance will ultimately occur” with all pesticides, including those produced by GMOs, proper application of GM technology “has delayed such development of resistance, which certainly speaks for the technology,” he wrote in an email.
He said South Africa does not yet have the expertise needed to deal with GM crops, but the crops could have benefits beyond producing more food, such as providing economic opportunities and health benefits in less developed areas.
“A simple example is engineered cotton with a better fiber quality,” he said. It “addresses the need for better nutrition, which cannot be easily addressed by simply supplementing food in Africa.”
Thus, the question of whether it’s necessary for GM crops to be grown there “is rather a question of benefit and demand by both farmers and consumers.”
GMO watchdog Biowatch South Africa has a different perspective.
Rose Williams, Biowatch’s director, wrote in an email to the Epoch Times that GM crops are not necessary. They undermine food sovereignty for the country, she said.
Williams cited four reasons GM crops aren’t necessary.
First, the seeds are patented, meaning the farmers have to buy seeds every year instead of re-using them. Second, the relative danger of GM crops contaminating non-GM crops is high. Third, the lack of bio-diversity in the mono-crop industrial model that GMOs are a part of. And lastly, the chemicals used in GMO production, which “poison the land” and “are not part of healthy and culturally appropriate food.”
A Negative Cycle
Mariam Mayet, an environmental lawyer who represents Biowatch South Africa, spoke to the increased pesticide and herbicide use.
The growing pest resistance has forced Monsanto, one of the largest GM crop and pesticide producers, to sell farmers more chemicals to control the epidemic, she said. Monsanto has completely abandoned the maize variety it was using and has introduced another variety.
“This, too, will result in insect evolution, necessitating more pesticide use, and so the treadmill will continue,” she said via email.
Mayet also takes issue with the common statements that GM crops decrease pesticide use, lead to greater yields, and are less susceptible to pests and drought.
In the United States, for instance, the introduction of GM crops resulted in a net increase of pesticide use, Mayet said, citing research by the Organic Center. From 1996 to 2009, pesticide application increased by 144,000 tons. In Brazil, pesticide sales increased by 72 percent from 2006 to 2012.
“We appear to be aping these trends here in South Africa,” she said. “Over half of our GM maize is now herbicide-tolerant and domestic glyphosate [a type of herbicide] use has rocketed accordingly, from 12 million liters [3 million gallons] in 2006, to 20 million liters [5 gallons] at present. In addition, between 2007 and 2011 glyphosate imports increased by 177 percent.
“This is particularly disturbing in the case of South Africa, as it is clear that our food safety authorities do not have the capacity to adequately monitor pesticide residue levels in our food.”
The Government Stance, Regulations
The country’s Department of Environmental Affairs website outlines the potential benefits of GM crops, including higher yields, and lower herbicide use. However, the department also outlines the main concerns, including potential risks to human and animal health.
GM crops are vetted by several agencies before being approved for commercial production. Notably, a type of locally developed GM potato was rejected in 2009, though 49 varieties of canola, cotton, maize, rice, and soybeans have been approved in the country.
Also, grain imports from the United States are not allowed in South Africa unless an accompanying permit certifies the grain is milled and can’t be planted in the country. Corn from the United States is not allowed in at all.
Officials say they want to make sure GMOs don’t completely take over local strains.
Illustrative of the mindsets of many elected officials who spoke at a 2006 parliamentary debate on a GMO bill amendment, then-Member of Parliament Dr. Ruth Rabinowitz said: “even though South Africa could not afford not to develop biotechnology, it could also not afford not to develop organic farming or indigenous plant [cultivation].”
“Both these two fields were being sacrificed to develop biotechnology,” she said.
A bill currently on the table could close a loophole in the the current GMO labeling law, mandating all food with more than 0.9 percent genetically modified ingredients be labeled.
The Department of Science and Technology’s manifesto on biotechnology states that GM crops are safe because any approved in South Africa have been “subject to extensive testing and regulations.” At the same time, it says, “There are groups who believe the effects of GMOs will only be determined after many, many years of consumption, and until this time, we should proceed with caution.”
It does not appear that any studies on the health effects of GM food have been conducted in the country, though researchers have looked at multiple other aspects.
South African scientists are developing unique GM varieties not found anywhere else. This could cause trouble, however, in exporting to countries that forbid non-approved GM strains, according to a 2010 Council of Scientific and Industrial Research study titled “GMOs in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges in South Africa.”
Several problems persist in the country, including limited funding for agricultural biotechnology research and a shortage of trained biodiversity experts, which means only one GM crop (MON810) out of the 129 in the country is being monitored.
Though the production of GM crops is kept separate from non-GM crops, a 2011 South African National Biodiversity Institute study showed a flow of genes from the GM Bt maize to non-GM maize. As most farmers now grow GM maize, and cross pollination does occur despite efforts to separate the crops, it is difficult to find non-GM maize in the country.
Knowledge of GMOs and Labeling
A study of 7,000 adults aged 16 and older across the country found that eight out of ten South Africans have no knowledge about biotechnology. The 2005 study by the Public Understanding of Biotechnology found that 63 percent of respondents didn’t know whether they had ever eaten food containing genetically modified ingredients.
Also in 2005, researchers from the GMO Testing Facility at the University of the Free State reported on the lack of a system to verify claims made on labels. They found 71 percent of products in South African stores labeled “non-GM,” “GMO free,” “organic,” contained genetically modified ingredients.
The Epoch Times is exploring the issue of genetic modification, especially as it pertains to food products, with a series titled “GMOs, A Global Debate.” Each article in this series focuses on the role and reception of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a different country. See all articles tagged GMOs and Biotech here
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By Channaly Philipp
If you sleep on a conventional mattress like most people do, you’re spending a third of your life lying on toxic chemicals. If this little-known fact has you tossing and turning, read on.
Since the 1960s, mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a material derived from petroleum that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The popular memory foam mattresses are made from this material.
But VOCs are only part of the cocktail of chemicals in foam mattresses. Required to be flame-resistant, foam mattresses are imbued with flame-retardant chemicals that can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders.
Walt Bader, a sufferer of a condition called multiple chemical sensitivity and the author of “The Toxic Bedroom,” had several mattresses analyzed by a lab in Atlanta in 2005. One memory foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals.
The next year, he published the first definitive list of chemicals outgassing from memory foam mattresses.
“Nine of these chemicals are recognized as carcinogens by just about every significant health organization in the world,” Bader said on his website. “And do you know what has happened? Nothing.”
The outgassing is not only nefarious to people who suffer from respiratory issues, but some of the chemicals are also known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
As more people become educated about what they’re sleeping on, they are turning to organic mattresses and bedding in greater numbers.
Christine Chamberlin, co-founder of The Clean Bedroom, a retailer of organic mattresses and bedding, said when she first got into the business 10 years ago, her customers were those highly sensitive to chemicals seeking out an organic mattress.
Now, organic mattresses are being sought out by just about anyone concerned with living a healthy lifestyle.
“When we found out what was in our mattress, my husband said, ‘Every mother in the world should know what they are putting their child on at night.’ That was 2004, and The Clean Bedroom was born,” Chamberlin said on the company website. “While we sleep, our immune system recovers and prepares for the day ahead. If your mattress is filled with airborne allergens and chemical toxins, your immune system will battle these rather than repair itself.”
Organic mattresses, made of natural materials such as wool, cotton, and rubber latex, present an alternative to conventional mattresses and are becoming increasingly popular.
Wool is a natural fire retardant, and is excellent for regulating temperature and air circulation—a boon for anyone suffering from night sweats. The natural materials are also resistant to dust mites, which are a trigger for asthma and allergies.
The testimonials Clean Bedroom has received include people suffering from fibromyalgia, which affects pressure points, saying their suffering is relieved; to people waking up without a runny nose for the first time in years; to those grateful for the comfort, who no longer wake up in the middle of of the night and say they’ve never slept better.
The company carries highly-regarded names such as Naturepedic and Savvy Rest.
The fact that organic mattresses now sell at price points comparable to conventional mattresses makes them more within reach. Prices start at $749, while an all-wool Naturepedic mattress starts at $1,995.
The natural materials are organic, and the mattresses are made to order, mostly in the U.S., and also in Canada.
An added benefit of getting a mattress custom made is that for latex mattresses, the two sides of a larger mattress can be customized for different needs—one sleeping partner might prefer a firmer mattress, while the other might prefer something less firm.
“You can be a princess and the pea and your husband can sleep on a cement floor, and you’ll be able to co-exist on the same bed,” Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin, who has traveled to all the supplying factories to make sure they’re clean, said most of her manufacturers don’t keep materials around longer than two months.
There are even organic vegan mattresses for those who don’t want wool.
For those not ready to make the leap to a new organic mattress, they can start with an organic pillow or mattress pad or topper.
Chamberlin worked with a woman who suffered from fibromyalgia, who purchased an alpaca wool topper. “It’s not very thick, only three-quarters of an inch. She put it on her mattress. Wool has a healing quality and it stimulates blood flow. She slept on it and sent me an email saying she had never felt comfort in sleeping until she had this pad.”
Likewise, people who suffer from night sweats have benefitted greatly from wool toppers.
Choosing an Organic Mattress
When shopping for a new organic mattress, Chamberlin recommends asking if the mattress was made with certified organic materials and to ask for the certification, to avoid being duped by greenwashing. It should use cotton grown without pesticides and wool from sheep raised on organic farms.
Green Guard is the most valuable certification, while others include Global Organic Textiles (GOTS) for organic wool and cotton; SKAL for organic cotton; and Global Organic Latex Certification (GOLS) certifying organic rubber sap. A few manufacturers also have their factories certified.
Ask what percentage of natural rubber is in the “latex” mattress. To be considered natural it should be 95–97 percent.
The Clean Bedroom
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230 Fifth Ave. (at 27th St.)
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Tags: Body & Mind, Chinese culture, chinese medicin, health
By Tysan Lerner
Fall is sweeping in fast, and suddenly I find myself feeling a bit sad. The summer is over, my kids are getting older fast, and … Wait, why is that Dove commercial making me cry?
It turns out fall is the season associated with grief, according to Chinese medicine, as well as the season of the lungs.
Everything is interconnected. Even when an organ system is a little out of balance, you will feel it. According to ancient Chinese science, every organ has an associated emotion. For lungs, it’s the emotion of grief, which affects the health of the lungs.
So now that fall winds are sweeping summer away, cleaning up the air with a fresh cool breeze and getting the earth ready for winter, you too can prepare your body. You can clean up your lungs, keeping them healthy and strong by incorporating a deep breathing routine into your life.
When you breathe deeply, you’ll inevitably bring yourself out of a stress state and into a calm state. To breathe deeply, it is important to use your diaphragm to draw in your breath.
Many people can breathe deeply into their chest, but they are missing out on the calming effects breathing can have when they breathe into their belly and pelvis.
Not only will you be able to strengthen your belly-flattening muscles when you get belly breathing down, but you will also improve hip stability and bring your body into a deep state of calm—deeper than you may have ever experienced.
Belly breathing can be difficult to experience if you haven’t practiced it before. Some people find it while standing, others while lying on their back, and some can’t find it unless they are kneeling on their hands and knees. Choose a position to start exploring your belly breath.
As you inhale, expand your belly out as if it were a balloon puffing up with air. Try to leave your chest muscles out of it. Think of breathing all the way down into the bottom of your pelvis.
As you exhale, squeeze the air out of you as though you were squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. Exhale until all the air is pushed out of your body. At the end of the exhalation, you should feel a tightening of the muscles in your abdomen.
Once you find this breath, try these belly-breathing exercises:
The Elevator. Inhale and expand your navel out. As you exhale, your navel will draw in. Imagine an elevator traveling from your navel to your spine. Draw the navel back six flights, pausing at each flight as you do so. Repeat three sets of 10 repetitions every day.
Belly Breath on All Fours. Kneel on all fours. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
Inhale and expand your belly toward the floor, activating your diaphragm. Hold your breath and draw your navel to your spine, pushing all your organs out of the way, activating your transverse abdominis.
Lift your pelvic floor by using the muscles that can stop the flow of urine.
Exhale forcefully as you continue to draw your navel in without rounding your back. Repeat 6 to 10 times.
This autumn, keep your lungs healthy and clean by incorporating a deep-breathing routine into your life.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is LavenderMamas.com.
Tags: Body & Mind, Chinese culture, chinese medicin, Food, health
In China, it was traditionally believed that our bodies are small worlds containing all the elements and energies found in the world around us and fully interconnected with our environment.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the different parts of our bodies, just like the earth around us, are made up of the energies of the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.
Each organ system is connected with specific elements as well as certain emotions, a color, flavors, and other energetic characteristics. The four seasons and the hours of the day also correspond to different elements.
Because of this, our bodies’ needs change as our environments changes. To maintain harmony in our lives, we need different things when the sun rises and when it sets, and different things during winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Most of us have experienced taking a walk outside during the transition from one season to the next. We smell the difference; we feel the difference.
In autumn, as the days get shorter and the weather cooler, we are reminded that winter is around the corner, and we must prepare for it. Traditionally, we would be stocking up on fuel and food, unpacking our warm-weather clothing, and preparing for the period of winter stillness.
You may have noticed feeling a little sad these days, mourning the end of summer fun. You may notice your hair and skin feeling a little dry, just like the leaves and plants which are also less lustrous as they transition into autumn dryness. You may feel more vulnerable to getting chilled as you feel the rising autumn winds swirling about and cooling the summer air.
If you walk outside in shorts and a T-shirt at the beginning of autumn, break a sweat that opens your pores, and don’t get covered soon, the “autumn wind” can easily enter your system, making you more vulnerable to colds and chills.
To protect yourself from illness during this season, it is time to start preparing your body for the cooler months ahead.
The easiest and most practical way to prevent colds, depression, and colon issues such as constipation during the transition into autumn is to eat the foods that are local and in season.
The earth, in its mysterious wisdom, produces foods that warm us during the cold months, just as it produces foods that cool us during the warm months.
Aligning ourselves with the five elements means connecting our choices to the ruling element of the season. Autumn is governed by the metal element, which, when in balance, allows us to be more organized, focused, and productive.
Therefore, how we cook and what we eat should give us the energy to thrive in the cooler season.
Autumn is a time when we want to gradually move away from raw, cooling foods such as smoothies, salads, popsicles, and watermelon and into warming soups. Since it is not winter yet, you can still balance your meals with foods that are light and mucous-reducing, such as shitake mushrooms, white button mushrooms, daikon or red radish, bok choy, and cabbage.
Slow-cooked dishes such as congee (Asian-style rice soup) with some pickled vegetables, miso soup, and bean soups such as chickpea or aduki bean soup with squash are all great autumn meal choices. The preferred meat choice is pork, which, as a white meat, relates to the metal element.
It will also help to include foods that are sour in flavor because these energetically help us pull our thoughts together and ground us. Some suggestions are sauerkraut, pickles, olives, lemons and limes, vinegar, plums, grapefruit, and even tart yogurt and sour dough bread (if you can handle gluten and dairy).
Autumn relates to grief. If we grieve too much, we can strain our lungs and colon. We must allow ourselves to process grief and let it go. We can release our emotions as we do our breath when we exhale fully.
Pick up your mood by exercising more, breathing deeply every day and at different times throughout the day, and spending quality time with friends or on activities that take you out of sadder emotions and into joy.
Just as the leaves on the trees start to dry up and shed, so does our skin and body. If you notice feeling thirstier lately or have dry skin and hair, it may be a reaction to the seasonal change; however, if thirst and dryness are severe or persist, there may be something out of balance in your diet, fitness, or internal health.
Foods that create more moisture in the body are tofu, tempeh, spinach, barley, millet, oysters, crabs, mussels, herring, pork, pesto made with pine nuts, eggs, almond butter, and seaweed. Avoid foods that are too bitter or aromatic.
For a healthy colon and strong lungs, it is important that you stay active and eat enough fiber. Avoid overeating, eating processed foods, and smoking.
Be sure to stay warm if you exercise outside. You don’t want to “catch wind” as the ancients used to say, referring to the fact that when you sweat, your pores open up and become gateways for pathogens to enter the body, especially during the cooler, windier autumn months. To avoid the flu and yearly colds, dress appropriately.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com.
Tags: Body & Mind, China, environmental issues, Food, health, Society
The three largest fruit juice makers in China have been found to purchase vast quantities of rotting and putrid fruits for use in their beverages, according to investigations published in the Chinese press recently.
A fruit seller speaking from his tricycle in Xuzhou of Jiangsu Province was frank with a reporter who stopped by to ask him what he had planned to do with the rotten fruits he had.
“Those fruit can’t be sold to people for eating,” the fruit seller, giving his surname as Wang. “They are for the juice companies.” He pointed to Andre Juice, a large company, across the street. “I can probably get enough fruit by tomorrow and take them to the company,” he remarked to the reporter from the 21st Century Business Herald, a large newspaper in China.
“The closer to the fruit seller’s tricycle, the worse the fruit smelled,” the reporter wrote, describing the scene. “Liquid drips down from the tricycle. Flies are everywhere.”
Along with Andre Juice in Jiangsu, other companies to be found using corrupted fruit sources included China Huiyuan Juice and China Haisheng Juice, in Anhui Province and elsewhere. The companies are typically located near China’s large fruit production areas.
Local farmers have developed a hierarchy for the fruit they sell: the good fruit goes to the public, lower quality fruit goes to canned fruit manufacturers, and the worst of it, including rotting fruit, goes to juice companies.
Mr. Chen, the owner of a fruit market in Dangshan County, in the central Anhui Province, told the reporter that he delivers an average of 20 to 30 tons of “blind fruit” to juice company plants nearby every day. Sometimes he moves more than 60 tons. “Blind fruit” refers to rotten or damaged fruit.
Chen says he spends 400 yuan ($65.35) to purchase a ton of “blind fruit” from fruit farmers, and offloads it to juice companies for 450 yuan ($73.52).
The juice companies Huiyuan and Andre told the Chinese media that their fruit had no problems, but after the reports emerged the Anhui Provincial Food and Drug Administration suspended production, pending rectification of the problems, according to the state mouthpiece Xinhua.
The companies’ stocks, listed in Hong Kong, tumbled up to 5 percent on Sept. 23, the day after the reports emerged.
Huiyuan Juice had a domestic market share of nearly 50 percent in 2012. According to Haisheng Juice’s website, 95 percent of its products are for export, including to North America. Its concentrated apple juice exports are 20 percent of the global amount traded.