with Roger Green www.academyhealingnutrition.com /
In one of our past newsletters we started the topic of seasonal colds and flu and investigated the issue of the Swine Flu “pandemic”. There have been people and critics on both sides of this health concern, suggesting everything from a necessity for extreme measures to the whole issue being a mere hype. Fortunately, we do not have to sit back and listen to the news about swine flu feeling helpless and anxious. It’s important to educate ourselves so that we are better prepared for this season’s challenges, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) and other government health organizations recommend that we wash the hands often and get a flu shot to protect ourselves from the H1N1 virus. Whereas hygiene plays an important role in keeping viruses at bay, recent research shows that flu shots do not prevent the flu, and in many cases do more harm than good. The traditional medical advice ignores mentioning the safe, natural ways to boost the immune system. In this article we will look at what comprises a healthy immune system and how diet, lifestyle and herbal remedies can help us stay healthy in the middle of the storm.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is an amazingly intricate and complex system that keeps us healthy and protects us against all sorts of invaders including viruses, bacteria, parasites and toxins. Much of it is supported by the lymphatic system, which is in charge of cleansing and purifying the body’s fluids.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine a strong immune system is characterized by a firm and well-regulated Wei Qi, or Defensive energy, which circulates on the surface of the body and is governed by the Lungs. Defense Qi prevents pathogens from entering the body by regulating the opening and closing of the skin’s pores. If lungs are weak, pores don’t close in time, allowing pathogens to penetrate. Lung weakness can result in lowered resistance, which in turn can lead to increased susceptibility to colds and flu.
The lungs are the only internal organ that has a direct contact with the outer environment through breathing, making it vulnerable to viruses and external pathogens. Factors that weaken the lungs include smoking, lack of physical activity, overworking, prolonged grief and sadness, emotional stress, and extreme climatic conditions such as heat, cold, dampness, dryness and wind.
Autumn is the season associated with the Lungs and Large Intestine in Chinese Medicine, and it is a good time to support these organs with appropriate foods and lifestyle choices.
Spleen is another organ that plays an integral part in supporting the work of the lungs. It is responsible for blood formation, especially red blood cells, and produces plasma cells, which make anti-bodies, tying the spleen to the immune system and to protection against various diseases. In TCM this organ is associated with element Earth and sweet flavor. A little sweetness tonifies the spleen, but excess of sweet food over-stimulates and weakens it. Refined white sugar reduces the production of white blood cells and can significantly impair your immune function making you susceptible to flu infection. Too much dairy, white flour products, cold, raw foods and fruit juices can injure this important organ, leading to accumulation of mucus, which gets deposited in the lungs.
As we move into Autumn and Winter, and into the colder and damper weather, the body tends to condense wastes and cleanse any excess mucus and congestion from our tissues in order to make them less stagnant and improve circulation. This allows us to be more in harmony with the externalclimate and season. In natural medicine, we call this process cleansing, but it often looks and acts like a cold or flu.
What can we do to strengthen the immune system and prevent the flu?
Much of prevention involves common sense personal care and positive lifestyle habits. Vital and energized bodies don't get sick as easily as stressed, toxic, and tired bodies. In the prevention of most illnesses, it's important to eat a wholesome and balanced diet, get regular exercise and propersleep, and learn to deal healthfully with daily challenges. Herbal and homeopathic remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to support immune system functioning, acting as natural immunity tonics to keep us healthy.
These simple strategies will safeguard you against the colds and flu and increase your natural immunity.
1. Make sure your vitamin D levels are sufficient. There has been a lot of research on the effects of Vitamin D on the immune system, linking its deficiency to lowered defense mechanisms against the seasonal colds and flu. Sunshine is the ultimate source of Vitamin D, but during winter months we do not have regular exposure to the sun, therefore, it is important to supplement with natural vitamin D3 in the form of colicalciferol (5,000IU daily) or cod liver oil. Vitamins A and D in cod liver oil offer strong protection against infection of all types, as well as against environmental toxins.
2. Get at least 8 hours of sleep so that your body is rested and capable of fighting any possible external invaders. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu.
3. Be physically active: oxygenation of the blood is one of the best ways to stay healthy in body and mind. Exercise increases circulation and blood flow throughout the body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.
4. Manage your stress. Being overly stressed puts a strain on your entire system leaving you susceptible to external invaders. Find time to relax amidst the hectic pace. Using lavender or Rescue Remedy to calm your mind will help your immune system stay strong.
5. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids so that your body can properly process toxins and function optimally.
6. Washing your hands frequently, especially after you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose, in warm or hot water and soap will get rid of a lot of bacteria and virus potential. Be mindful that viruses can be passed on from surfaces like doorknobs, pens or phones. Step up the cleaning duties at work and at home during flu season, make sure that everyone is on the same “hygienic” page.
Avoid excess sugar, alcohol, processed foods and chemicals in your diet, as these wreck havoc on the immune function.
-Eat garlic regularly. It works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is absolutely safe to use. To get the most out of garlic, it should be eaten raw, or added to the meals at the end of cooking.
-Take a high quality probiotic or consume fermented foods and beverages like sauerkraut, miso and kombucha daily. Eighty five percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so enhancing your gut health with probiotics is a very effective method to ward off cold and flu viruses.
- Include these foods high in Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and minerals in your diet: blueberries, goji berries, amla, broccoli, spinach, green leafy vegetables, ginger, scallions, turmeric, wild salmon, herring, brown rice, beans, almonds, pumpkin, seaweed, kelp, green tea and shiitaki mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are amazing for the immune system and are available at most supermarkets.
-Consider taking maitaki or reishi mushroom extracts a couple times daily between meals.
- Bone broth plays a double role of supporting the immune system and helping the body to detoxify.
Here is a recipe of an immune boosting soup that incorporates many of the powerful anti-viral, strengthening and cleansing foods. It’s a good soup to eat regularly during falls change to winter:
Super Immune Soup
8 cups of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bulb garlic (yes, the whole bulb), minced
One 1 1⁄2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
1 1⁄2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken broth)
1 small bunch of kale
5 pieces sliced dried Astragalus Root
2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 large reishi mushroom
Miso paste (1/2 to 1 tablespoon mixed directly into your plate)
1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.
2. Heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until soft and aromatic. Add contents of skillet to water. Add broth, shiitake, astragalus, and reishi. Simmer covered for two hours.
3. Remove from heat, allow to sit for two more hours.
4. Remove astragalus and reishi mushroom. Reheat.
5. Add thinly sliced kale and simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
6. Add cayenne powder if desired (just enough to bring out a light sweat).
At this point, I usually add a bit of miso. Miso offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and protein of the highest quality, containing all of the essential amino acids.
Unpasteurized miso is a "living food" containing natural digestive enzymes, Lactobacillus, and other microorganisms which aid in the digestion of all foods, and which have been shown to ward off and destroy harmful microorganisms, thereby creating a healthy digestive system (Source: www.southrivermiso.com). Look for it in the refrigerated section of the store. South River Miso is one of, if not the best quality miso you will find. It’s a little pricey, but so worth it.
Astagalus (Huang qi), as well as the mushrooms, are available at Asian groceries, but you can also buy astragalus from internet suppliers like Mountain Rose Herbs, which is a high quality, reputable herb company. I throw a few pieces in practically every soup and tea I make. It is the main herb you think about for “herbal immune system nourishment.” Astragalus builds up the body's vitality, prevents and hastens infections. This is a commonly used herb in Chinese medicine and is part of many immune-supporting formulas as sliced herb for boiling, in extracts, or in capsules.
Ginger possesses potent inhibitory action against various pathogenic microorganisms. It also possesses anti-influenza, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-yeast activity. Ginger assists in digestion and helps clear the lungs of mucus.
You can make variations of this soup, or ommit the reishi if you cannot find it.
To our health and freedom of choice!
Herbs and herbal formulas
There are several effective Chinese patent formulas that have been successfully used over hundreds of years for the prevention against flu. One of the most popular herbal formulas is Jade Windscreen with Astragalus (Yu Ping Feng San). Astragalus is the best herb for building Defensive Qi. Other useful herbs for prevention and tonification include Codonopsis, Schizandra, American ginseng, Eleuthero, Echinacea and elderberries.
If you start coming down with a flu, stop taking these herbs and try another Chinese formula called Yin Chiao. Planetary Formulas has a version of this popular herbal combination with Echinacea, which has been used successfully in the beginning stages of colds, flu and fevers.
Another useful remedy from Planetary Formulas is Echinacea-Goldenseal with Olive Leaf.
Wildcrafted Oregano is a phenomenal wildcrafted oil with many health benefits, including its ability to fight viral infections and candida. It's extremely useful as a first aid product, too, and can help your body heal more quickly.
Ayurveda, India's traditional 'science of life,' has the remedy for swine flu in the form of the basil leaves commonly known as Tulsi (or Holy Basil). Tulsi is well known in India for its remarkable healing properties, but the anti-flu property of Tulsi has been discovered by medical experts across the world quite recently. Tulsi improves the body's overall defense mechanism, including its ability to fight viral diseases. Apart from acting as a preventive medicine, Tulsi can also help a patient recover faster (Source: Yahoo News August 12, 2009).
Most of the supplements, herbs and formulas are available from various internet suppliers or from your local health food shop .
There are several descriptions/theories of the phenomenon. Here is one.
Some say there are three centres, some say five, some say seven, some say
eleven. And so on. Seven is the most 'popular.'
Imagine turbines/fans/wheels at each of the designated centres in the body.
Energy is 'stored' at the base of the spine and as each centre is
'liberated' that turbine revolves freely, and the energy moves uninhibited
to the next centre.
The first centre encountered is the sex centre.
If we do not clear that centre the energy never fully goes beyond that point
- through to the survival; enquiry; love; expression; realising that all is
one; becoming 'part' of the one; becoming the one.
The latter centre is said by some to be above the head.
So if the first centre is not taken care of the full force of the energy
does not rise to and through the other centres. Which means, if sex is not
balanced, the full experience of love is not attained.
There is a 'state' of inner/outer fulfilment/contentment/peace/....
It is not describable by, or to, a 'mind.'
The Tao; The Hidden Harmony; It; The Peace that Passeth All Understanding;
The Kingdom of God; Time No More; Not this, Not That; Nirvana/Moksha;
As a Little child.
Under certain circumstances, like the Satori group, and also other
situations, quite a few people enter into this state for a brief period.
Sometimes as long as three weeks, but not so many live permanently in this
When in the state everything else seems irrelevant, superficial.
When dropping back and being 'normal' it is a shock - and the state starts
to seem like a dream - although it is never forgotten, and always desired.
The state is most likely realized in a moment of complete acceptance/being
with. No conflict or desire of any sort.
Some people then make this state a goal - which becomes a desire, and thus
creates a barrier to entering into the state again.
(Technicality: We are in the state all the time. It is: The Only State.
That is one of the reasons it has been called: Realization.)
If we were born into a Sufi family where the parents live in this state we
would most likely live in the state ourselves and consider it normal.
(Trouble with that scenario is, people who are in that state are almost
certain not to have children.)
One of the things that is in the way of us living in The State, is sex.
Sex, as we know it is a very basic level. And on this basic level it is all
anything is about - reproduction and expansion of the species.
All species - including the bacteria and the viruses we fight.
Until we are really old, sex keeps us restless - unless we are sexually
unfulfilled, as most people are - then it keeps us restless right up until
One of the reasons we are sexually unfulfilled, and thus not living in deep
peace, is our religions. Religions, in this way, can be seen as a curse.
In many other ways as well.
Religion creates an artificial barrier to our sexual unfolding - so we get
frustrated, and at one level we remain guilty for the rest of our lives.
Sex is there in our consciousness all of the time.
Some times more to the front, and sometimes less so.
So with all this going on we are expecting to be at peace with ourselves?
No way. On some level sex influences everything we do, and everything we
think. That is why advertisers use it so much, and religions condemn it.
In relationships it is always an issue. Our natural state is to share.
Religion orders/threatens us not to.
So we have elevated sex into a 'special' bracket. That is our way of
attempting to bypass the guilt built into us from our youth.
Sex is not special. It is just our natural instincts wanting to do their
job. It is not special. What we feel are just chemicals - stimulating the
pleasure centre in our brain - so we keep doing it - and doing it - and
And, although rare (especially in men) there is another aspect possible.
It is very rare for two people to meet in honesty - we are always presenting
the behavioural patters we have developed in our childhood - to get
approval, and thus keep out of trouble. So, except in an emergency, most
people are not real - to themselves even, let alone another person.
But in an intimate physical contact there is another possibility - to show
ourselves, and meet the other person in honesty - without our shields.
That body/machine/robot you are living in has built-in programs.
You were born with many of the programs, and more have been added through
programming/conditioning. If you didn't have these built-in programs then
in certain circumstances you would forget to breath, or digest.
Unless you are very aware, unconditionally, in each moment, these programs
will run you and your life. If you are not fully aware, you are a robot.
We only have the physical body in order to experience this physical
dimension. To let the physical run your life is silly.
So, on some level, sex is always there.
With awareness it can be fun.
Without awareness you are a slave - to your basic instincts.
With awareness this dimension is a great adventure.
Without awareness of who you really are this dimension can be very
uncomfortable. Very. And with awareness, discomfort can be fun as well.
Are you not more alive in an emergency? Don't you learn more through what
you call mistakes? Life is for living; experiencing.
Of course there is a lot more to this subject.
Originally published on Forbes.com 07.07.09, 04:00 PM EDT
The Healthiest Foods On Earth by Jonny Bowden
The most important consideration in constructing a healthy diet: Eat whole food with minimal processing. These 12 foods do the trick.
What is the best diet for human beings?
Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free?
Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that's based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.
People have lived and thrived on high-protein, high-fat diets (the Inuit of Greenland); on low-protein, high-carb diets (the indigenous peoples of southern Africa); on diets high in raw milk and cream (the people of the Loetschental Valley in Switzerland); diets high in saturated fat (the Trobriand Islanders) and even on diets in which animal blood is considered a staple (the Massai of Kenya and Tanzania). And folks have thrived on these diets without the ravages of degenerative diseases that are so epidemic in modern life--heart disease, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis and cancer.
The only thing these diets have in common is that they're all based on whole foods with minimum processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat. Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.
All these healthy diets have in common the fact that they are absent foods with bar codes. They are also extremely low in sugar. In fact, the number of modern or ancient societies known for health and longevity that have consumed a diet high in sugar would be ... let's see ... zero.
Truth be told, what you eat probably matters less than how much processing it's undergone. Real food--whole food with minimal processing--contains a virtual pharmacy of nutrients, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthful fats, and can easily keep you alive and thriving into your 10th decade.
Berries, for example, are phenomenally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with plant compounds that improve memory and help fight cancer. Studies have consistently shown that nut-eaters have lower rates of heart disease. Beans are notorious for their high fiber content and are a part of the diet of people--from almost every corner of the globe--who live long and well.
Protein--the word comes from a Greek word meaning "of prime importance"--is a feature of every healthy diet ever studied. Meat , contrary to its terrible reputation, can be a health food if--and this is a big if--the meat comes from animals that have been raised on pasture land, have never seen the inside of a feedlot farm and have never been shot full of antibiotics and hormones.
Ditto for raw milk, generally believed to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet by countless devotees who often go to great expense and inconvenience to obtain it from small, sustainable farms. Wild salmon, whose omega-3 content is consistently higher than its less-fortunate farm-raised brethren, gets its red color from a powerful antioxidant called astaxathin. The combination of protein, omega-3s and antioxidants makes wild salmon a contender for anyone's list of great foods.
Another great food: eggs--one of nature's most perfect creations, especially if you don't throw out the all-important yolk. (Remember "whole" foods means exactly that--foods in their original form. Our robust ancestors did not eat "low-fat" caribou; we don't need to eat "egg-white" omelets.)
There are really no "bad" vegetables, but some of them are superstars. Any vegetable from the Brassica genus--broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale--is loaded with plant chemicals called indoles, which help reduce the risk of cancer.
In the fruit kingdom, apples totally deserve their reputation as doctor-repellants: they're loaded with fiber, minerals (like bone-building boron) and phytochemicals (like quercetin, which is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and to have anti-cancer properties). Some exciting new research suggests that pomegranate juice slows the progression of certain cancers. Other research shows it lowers blood pressure and may even act as a "natural Viagra."
Tea deserves special mention on any list of the world's healthiest foods. The second most widely consumed beverage in the world (after water), all forms of tea (black, oolong, white, green and the newer Yerba Matte) are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Some types (green tea, for example) contain plant chemicals called catechins which have decided anti-cancer activity
Finally, let's not forget members of the Alliaceae family of plants--onions, garlic and shallots. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties; hundreds of published studies support its antimicrobial effects as well as its ability to lower the risk of heart disease. A number of studies have shown an inverse relationship between onion consumption and certain types of cancer.
A healthy diet doesn't have to contain every one of the "healthiest foods on earth," but you can't go wrong putting as many of the above mentioned foods in heavy rotation on your personal eating plan.
Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, is a board-certified nutritionist and the author of seven books on health and nutrition, including The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
Billboards are getting exceedingly edgier, not to mention television advertisements in which models adorn high-end luxury cars, sending subliminal messages suggesting that the man who purchases this car will now be armed with the adequate sex appeal to attract copious leggy models. Recently I came across an advertisement doing the rounds on the internet, of a model biting hungrily into a juicy burger as mayonnaise drips down the corners of her mouth. It makes you think, who needs the hassle of a relationship when you can have a burger that apparently provides all the sexiness, without the drama?
Have we not become overburdened with such images? Everything guarantees sex appeal and lots of attention, even a dishwasher! So pervasive are these images that once too often we have noticed the poor dear on the street that donned the latest ‘sexy trend’ only to do him or herself the gravest injustice. Sexy is neither the fabric nor the tailoring, if you don’t’ have what it takes to carry it. But the persuasive advertisements will have you convinced otherwise. They will direct you to what ‘they’ think, (“they’ who have no clue of your individuality) what you should wear and how you should look. The dirty secret ‘they’ don’t tell you is how sex appeal, like many other qualities cannot be bought at the mall because it is not sewn into the fabric of the merchandise they are trying to sell you.
It is not such a rare occurrence to come across a uniquely attractive face, that does not hold up to the standard, air-brushed images splashed across magazine covers, and yet has a certain je ne sais quoi? We know it wasn’t the clothes or the shoes, it was unmistakably a deeper element ensconced within the personality, which ever so casually oozed out of every pore of that person’s being. You look carefully and see the facial features are not quite the standard idea of beauty, despite that, the whole persona is redolent with sex appeal.
When you don’t’ have to buy the hottest trends, the most expensive clothing or jewellery and get your hair and make up done by a professional each time you want to be ‘seen’, and yet, you exude an appeal that makes one hunger for just another look; that is what is sexy in the truest sense. We have all too often spotted women baring it (almost) all and looked on with dismissive amusement, while none can deny being totally taken by the vision of a confident woman who’s engaging and beautiful smile had our eyes follow her halfway across the block. There is an allure, a certain mystery that sets her apart. Baring it all will attract attention, for a definitive period of time and not always the kind one seeks, whereas floating with that inner confidence and feminine presence will always invoke lasting admiration.
Sex appeal is not a product that can be purchased over-the-counter, it is a state of mind, an inner state of being. It has nothing to do with the act of sex itself. It is not to be found in your closet, in what you wear, it is inside your head. Some women and men can look incredulously sexy hailing a cab, or stirring coffee in the kitchen or watering plants.
That is because sex appeal has more to do with self-esteem and confidence, a sense of self-assuredness than with low necklines and high skirts. Not the kind of self-assuredness that comes across as hubris, but the kind that is at peace with its strengths and its flaws.
Even in the case of men, not all men who have toiled in the gym for the buffest body will ooze it. They will however, warrant a head turn or two; but we have also seen men, who have a certain presence, an inner confidence as they walk into a room, again, that certain je ne sais quoi. That is the kind of sexy that lingers on in the mind, inviting curiosity and interest.
Confidence and self-esteem are qualities one is hard pressed to find in abundance in both genders, so when we see it, we instantly recognize it, it always makes the individual stand apart. It’s hard to put one’s finger on what it is exactly, but suffice to say people who have worked to conquer their inadequacies and made peace with themselves on several levels are the one’s who have that evanescent appeal, the one that you wish you could grasp but just as soon as you start to break it down and analyze it, it flies away.
Sex appeal comes from the confidence to not just play up one’s qualities and revel in them, but to embrace one’s imperfections too. So its not as simple as putting on a sexy outfit, because on closer look anyone will notice that there is little else beyond the outfit. It is being sexy in whatever you’re wearing or doing
There are some people who have a special gift of heailng and insight for other. The Thai monk Luong Pao Prasert is one of these individuals. Robert Gallop his student, talks about the special healing abilities of this humble Buddhist monk; including some original healing protocols.