Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
By Loyola University Health System
While mainstream medicine recommends eating right, exercising and getting your flu shot to stay healthy during cold weather months, Eastern medicine takes this advice a step further.
“Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons to protect our health,” said Aaron Michelfelder, MD, a family medicine and integrative medicine physician at Loyola University Health System. “Making certain adjustments to our diet, sleep regimen and lifestyle will make us more in sync with nature and better equipped to cope with the plunging temperatures.”
Dr. Michelfelder recommends the following Eastern medicine tips to “winterize” your body and protect your health this season:
Eat Warming Herbs and Foods
The environment and the food we eat can create imbalances in the body, according to Eastern medicine guidelines. Using warming ingredients for meals that are in season to counteract any imbalances created by the cold weather. Warming herbs and foods include cinnamon, ginger, garlic, spicy foods, sweet potatoes, squash, meat and nutrient-dense soups and stews. Save raw, leafy greens for the summer.
We typically are not as active during the winter so we require less food. Cut down on your caloric intake.
Traditional Chinese medicine recommends following the sun and sleeping more in the fall and winter because we have fewer hours of daylight. It is best to get nine to 10 hours of sleep as opposed to the recommended eight hours in the summer and spring.
We should expect ourselves to slow down naturally and be less active during winter months. This is a hard concept for many Americans to grasp given our busy culture.
As our bodies naturally slow down, it is best to slow the mind as well through meditation. Don’t resist what the body is naturally meant to do this time of year.
Turn to Acupuncture
An acupuncture winterizing treatment naturally restores balance and boosts energy levels.
Get a massage, engage in social activities and take a vacation, if possible. Self-care will help you recharge your body.
“Our immune system is naturally suppressed in the winter,” said Dr. Michelfelder, who also is a professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Try not to fight the seasons. If we are not aligned with the natural cycles of life, we won’t be able to recharge our immune system to protect our health.”
Tags: Body & Mind, Chinese culture, chinese medicin, health, psychology
Obesity, insomnia, and depression can all result from trouble with the spleen
By Christopher Trahan
While Western medicine views disease as being biochemical or mechanical, in Chinese medicine, all disorders can involve both physical and psychological processes.
Therefore, when we talk about an organ in traditional Chinese medicine, it has a different scope than the Western organ with the same name (and for this reason, is capitalized in this article).
So, while Western spleen diseases all affect the “Spleen” of traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen of Chinese medicine also includes other physiological functions.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Spleen provides perhaps the most far-ranging array of physiological functions and is the most complex when compared to its Western equivalent organ.
The Spleen of Chinese medicine maintains our daily energy and metabolism. It includes our digestive system, our immune and lymphatic systems, our blood nutrients, and various aspects of our endocrine system.
The Spleen’s mental-emotional states are worry, over-thinking, pensiveness, and rumination. In modern Western psychological terms, the Spleen relates to anxiety and nervousness and some forms of depression and insomnia.
In Chinese medicine terms, the Spleen “Governs Transportation and Transformation” of food and fluids. In Western terms, this includes digestion, assimilation, the distribution of nutrients, and the utilization of lipids, hormones, and electrolytes.
Imbalances in these functions of the Spleen produce most digestive disorders, including diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, excess or lack of appetite, obesity or emaciation, eating disorders, water retention, and skin disorders such as acne and weeping eczema.
In traditional Chinese medicine, wind, heat, cold, dryness, and dampness can unbalance the body and cause illness.
Spleen disorders are particularly affected when a person is exposed to damp environments. Damp weather aggravates conditions like diarrhea, edema, and excess mucous.
On both physical and mental levels, dampness is associated with dullness, slowness, and lack of energy. Dampness can weaken the Spleen energy, causing fatigue and lassitude, and can lead to hypothyroidism. When the Spleen is weak as a result of dampness, a person can develop environmental, seasonal, and food allergies, as well as yeast infections.
The taste associated with the Spleen is sweet. Craving sweets can indicate an imbalance in the Spleen, and over-consumption of sweets, including carbohydrates, can cause the Spleen to lose energy. Taken to the extreme, sweetness and excess dampness can lead to obesity. Deficient Spleen energy can also result in hypoglycemia and diabetes.
Spleen imbalance often occurs in combination with imbalances of other organs. Insomnia of all types relates to the heart, which is said to “house the mind” in Chinese medicine.
When people have trouble falling asleep, this relates to the blood of the Spleen failing to nourish the heart and is often due to over-thinking, anxiety, or worry.
Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes that the Spleen’s digestive function, which produces blood, relates to onset-insomnia. Chinese doctors understood the sleep-stomach connection, thousands of years before modern Western medicine discovered that some 70 percent of serotonin metabolism occurs in the gut.
Treating the Spleen
In my practice, at least 30 percent of my patients experience frequent insomnia, and most of them have trouble falling asleep, which can occur both at the start of the night or when their sleep is interrupted.
In my practice, I always use formulas combining herbs to flesh out the benefits to the Spleen and to address other organs’ imbalances.
Chinese herbal medicine treats all deficient Spleen energy with formulas featuring ginseng and other Spleen tonics such as astragalus and atractylodes.
When we treat Spleen disorders such as excess dampness, we use herbs such as hawthorn to enhance lipid digestion and utilization, and alisma to promote urination.
Global Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy
I also use global herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat spleen issues. In global herbal medicine, I use Ayurvedic and Western herbs to treat spleen syndromes.
In classical homeopathy, I treat these syndromes, including physical and mental-emotional issues, with one or more of homeopathy’s hundreds of plant-based remedies.
The homeopathic remedy Lycopodium treats digestive and mental symptoms associated with Spleen imbalances. I also use the remedy Ceanothus, which dilates the splenic artery, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the spleen, which enhances the spleen’s function as filtration.
I have found that classical homeopathy often achieves even more impressive results than traditional Chinese medicine and global herbal medicine when it comes to treating more severe psychological pathologies such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Homeopathy is also very effective in some cases of hormonal and immune disorders, including infertility and allergies.
Dr. Christopher Trahan, O.M.D., L.Ac., is the medical director of the Olympus Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is nationally board-certified in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (NCCA) and is a classically trained homeopathic physician. He has been in clinical practice for over 30 years. Complimentary consultation: Olympus-Center.com
Tags: animals, Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Nature, Science, sustainable development
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.
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…
Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, health, psychology
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
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology, Spirituality
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.
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, health, sustainable development
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.
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Ryan Woo)
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.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, psychology
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.
Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
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.
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 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.
Tags: animals, Body & Mind, environmental issues, health, Nature, sustainable development
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.
Tags: Body & Mind, Food, health
By Shubhra Krishan, http://www.care2.com
We 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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?
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Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, Food, GMO, health, Science, sustainable development
Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing
By Zhang Hong
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.
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.”
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Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, technology
By Zachary Stieber
Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.
Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.
New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.
“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.
“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”
Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.
“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health, technology
By Lu Chen
In ancient China, as the myths goes, the Emperor would use silver chopsticks to eat his food—because they would turn black if the food they touched contained poison.
Modern China now has an app for that: Smart Chopsticks, which promise to detect contaminated water, “gutter oil,” and chemicals in foods.
The product aims to respond to Chinese peoples’ general wariness about what they eat in the face of constant scandals of fake meat, gutter oil—that is, the stuff produced by underground workshops that use leftover oils and animal fats collected from the gutters outside restaurants—and chemical-laced rice and baby formulas.
Like the newest smartphone, the product was unveiled at a tech presentation held by Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine. The chopsticks connect to a phone app using Bluetooth.
“Bringing Chinese people healthy living,” the slogan said at the Baidu Technology Innovation Conference in Beijing on Sept. 3.
“They can detect gutter oil,” Li said, to audience applause.
The device has three basic functions: it can analyze the quality of oil it touches and grade it superior, good, or bad. It can identify the pH levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, of liquids. Finally, it is supposed to be able to analyze the level of sweetness and even origin of fruits.
Data collected by the chopsticks is then beamed to the phone app, which analyzes the information and sends a conclusion to the chopsticks. An LED on the devices then lights up: blue means good quality, red means stay away.
Baidu released a video of the Smart Chopsticks on April Fool’s Day this year. The video went viral online, but was taken as a prank.
“But now we have the product made,” Robin Li said. Baidu hasn’t given a timeline for when it will be put on the market.
Reaction online was a mixture of excitement at the product and disappointment that such a product was necessary. “If the safety of our food is guaranteed, would we need something like these chopsticks??” wrote cheer_liu.
Food safety has become a major social issue in China in recent years. The regime on Wednesday announced prison sentences for up to eight years of 39 people in 17 food safety cases. They were guilty of adding chemical contaminants, like industrial salt, during the processing of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even medications. The court says one group produced and sold three tons of contaminated bean sprouts per day.
In 2013, police in the coastal city of Wenzhou uncovered 10 underground mills that used massive amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to clean out-of-date meat and sell it to the public. The Ministry of Public Security in 2013 released a warning to consumers in Shanghai that recent lamb products may have been either rat, fox, or mink meat.
One of China’s biggest dairy companies, the Sanlu Group, was found to have produced baby formula containing melamine, a deadly chemical, in 2008. The poisoning led to the deaths of six babies and illnesses of over 300,000.
“There’s no food for us to eat,” wrote Internet user KathieCANke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Everything’s poisoned.”
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development
By Hong Jiang
China’s environment has been so thoroughly assaulted by urban and industrial development that pollution in air, water, and soil has reached alarming levels. “It’s on a scale and speed the world has never known,” according to Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center. What do we know? What can be done?
Beijing’s air pollution reached a level so dramatically high in January 2013 that a new word, “airpocalypse,” was coined for it. The word has since been used to refer to the alarming air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.
Beijing’s PM2.5 level reached beyond 500 in January 2013, with the high index recurring in 2014.
The smog-choked city experienced a visibility so low that it put schools and work at a halt.
World Health Organization (WHO) measures PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, as a health indicator, as it can penetrate the blood stream and enter the lungs, causing respiratory disease, lung cancer, and various other ailments. Safe exposure to PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period—called PM2.5 index 12 and 25, respectively.
A research report released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in February 2013 ranked Beijing as the second worst in living environment among 40 major cities in the world, according to the Daily Mail. The study considered Beijing “barely suitable” for living due to its severe air pollution.
Smog is especially severe in northern Chinese cities during the winter heating season when coal burning adds to air pollution. In October 2013, the northern city of Harbin had the record PM2.5 index of 1,000, with visibility reduced to less than 50 meters, according to data from China’s environmental protection agency.
China’s unbridled and coal-dependent development serves as the direct cause of air pollution. China consumes half of the coal in the world, used to fuel the world’s second-largest economy.
Air pollution has caused great harm to human health. Based on a “2010 Global Burden of Disease” study published in December 2013 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, air pollution led to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, which is about 40 percent of the global total.
Air pollution has reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years in Northern China, according to a study done by researchers from China, Israel, and the United States and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.
China’s airpocalypse not only chokes the Chinese cities, but also affects other countries through long-range transport of air pollutants. About 40–60 percent of fine particulate pollution in Japan comes from China, said Hiroshi Tanimoto at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies to New York Times. The effect on Korea is even greater. Pollutants have crossed the Pacific to affect the western part of the United States.
China’s airpocalypse goes hand in hand with China’s rank as the top emitter of greenhouse gases, aiding the driver of global climate change and the threat of global warming.
Water ‘Too Dangerous to Touch’
If air pollution is bad enough, water pollution is an even worse problem and more difficult to resolve, said a report by The Economist.
“There are large parts of the urban water supply which are not only too dangerous to drink—they are too dangerous to touch,” said John Parker, globalization editor at The Economist, in a video interview. “You cannot even wash in them.”
Data from the Chinese government in 2011 shows that over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. Groundwater, which accounts for one-third of China’s water resources, suffers similar pollution. Of the more than 4,700 groundwater-quality testing stations, about 60 percent showed “relatively bad” or worse pollution level. Half of the rural population lacks safe drinking water.
Chemical, pharmaceutical, and power plants spew pollutants into waterways, creating dead zones where they flow. A notable example is central China’s Huai River, pronounced dead by Elizabeth Economy in her well-known 2004 book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black.”
If China’s air pollution makes airpocalypse, water pollution has created incidents that attract international attention. In 2007, Lake Tai suffered from a heavy carpet of blue-green algae that is cancer-inducing, and its gruesome images have circulated on the Web. The 2006 incident of a chemical spill contaminated Songhua River in Northeast China, and the government cover-up was widely criticized. Many more incidents, however, go under reported.
Some incidents of water pollution can be sadly surreal. Urban waterways in the eastern city of Wenzhou were so polluted by chemicals that a lit cigarette set the water on fire, as reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year. This is not the first time a river was on fire, and other images of water pollution show water turning black or red or orange, or carpeted with algae or dead fish.
A report on chinadialogue indicates that in 2012 over half of China’s cities had water of “poor” or worse quality. Ma Jun, an environmentalist who heads a Beijing-based green NGO, told chinadialogue, “Tackling water pollution is as serious and worthy a challenge for the authority as combating air pollution … water pollution poses a bigger health threat to about 300 million people living in rural areas.”
Polluted Soil and Food
China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese regime, ran an editorial stated, “Soil contaminated with heavy metals is eroding the foundation of the country’s food safety and becoming a looming public health hazard.”
Nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources. Chemicals such as cadmium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and mercury poison the soil, as they are dumped into waters used for irrigation.
Early this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted that there are 450 pollution-related “cancer villages” in China. Prior to that, soil pollution and its threat to health and food received limited media attention, and the Chinese government had kept data on soil pollution as a “state secret.”
The change was partly brought about by a recent scandal of cadmium in rice that set off a Hunan rice scare. According to the mainland business magazine Caijing, the city of Guangzhou inspected local restaurants and found excessive cadmium level in 44.4 percent of rice and rice products. Most of the rice came from Hunan Province.
According to Caixin’s New Century Magazine, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions had reported on cadmium pollution in 2009. They sampled 100 rice paddies near mines throughout Hunan Province, and found that 65 percent of the samples exceeded the cadmium safety limit. The contaminated rice had entered the local and national market.
WHO’s website states, “Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal, and the respiratory systems.” The heavy metal is leached from mines and chemical factories in Hunan.
Also under the spotlight are Hunan’s new cancer villages, among which, Shuanqiao. China Youth reported that 26 people in Shuanqiao died of cadmium poisoning. Soil samples there showed cadmium content 300 times the permitted level, and 509 of its 2,888 villagers were tested positive for cadmium poisoning. The chemical came from the Xianghe Chemical Plant, whose pollution villagers have complained about since 2006. This example is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical poisoning in China.
Worrisome ‘War Against Pollution’
Facing catastrophic environmental pollution, the Chinese government has become alert. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced early this year at the National People’s Congress, “We will declare war against pollution.” Li said, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China, and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”
The Chinese government has plans to clean up the environment. In September 2013, the government launched a $280 billion plan to clean up the air, and early this year, it announced an investment of $300 billion to tackle water pollution. Experts are uncertain, however, whether these investments will change the situation.
What is worrisome is the regime’s persistent attitude of a “war against nature,” that has rendered past investments in the environment limited in their effect. In Mao’s war against nature, draconian actions in agriculture destroyed the fabric of the rural ecosystem. Post-Mao pursuit of economic development has only trumped the past trend with unprecedented pollution in air, water, and soil from industrial and urban growth.
Experts on China believe the root of China’s environmental problems lies with the top-down control by the Communist Party, which has been trapped in corruption and a lack of political accountability and rule of law. Economic incentives for officials have continued to leave pollution unchecked. As some polluting factories are closed, others pop up.
“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” said Ahkok Wong, a university lecturer in Hong Kong, to the ROAR Magazine.
Environmental pollution has increasingly become a source of discontent and protest in China. In the 1990s, rural protests in China already included pollution-related land loss. Since the 2000s, large-scale protests expanded to cities where citizens reject polluting factories and plants. According to a Pew survey, environmental issues accounted for half of the protests in 2013 in China.
Short of fundamental changes in the political system, it is hard to foresee major environmental improvements.
As Mao obliterated traditional Chinese belief of harmony between human beings and heaven, and as the post-Mao communist regime continues to favor development over the environment, the moral foundation of the Chinese people has also been eroded, aiding corruption and disregard for others and the environment.
Without a rebuilding of a moral system, the Chinese environment will continue to suffer, along with the Chinese people.
Hong Jiang is associate professor and chair of the geography department at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She specializes in China’s environment and culture.
For more photos: China’s Environmental Catastrophe
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