As the Student Advisor at Genesis School of Natural Health my purpose is to guide students through their studies. I also take on projects as needed.
My business is called The Herbs & The Bees, LLC, which has a fully-stocked apothecary and provides holistic wellness consults and services utilizing nutritional augmentation, herbal and homeopathic remedies, as well as energetic modalities.
While it is common in the “world of aromatherapy” to be encouraged to simply add essential oils to a bath, to a foot bath, or to a compress with only water, you may want to think twice. Let’s discuss why…
Oil & Water… DO. NOT. MIX!
Pure, unadulterated, and undiluted essential oils are ‘hydrophobic’.
Pure, unadulterated, and undiluted essential oils will not disperse in water. Why? Because they are ‘hydrophobic’. In other words, they do not blend with or disperse in water.
Most essential oils are lighter than water and will float on top. There are also certain essential oils that are more dense than water, a few examples being vetiver, cinnamon, and clove. These essential oils will sink to the bottom. Regardless of where the essential oils lie, they will not disperse into the water. By separating to the top or the bottom, they will then adhere to whatever passes through the water like skin, or a cloth that then gets applied to the face, arms, or sensitive parts.
When adding essential oils to water special consideration should be given to children, pregnant women, and the elderly as their skin is much more sensitive than the typical adult.
Essential oils can be especially damaging to mucosal areas of the body and if inadvertently splashed into the eyes. Citrus oils which are relatively mild topically, may become an irritant when used for bathing.
One should also take into consideration that the skin of children, pregnant women, and the elderly is much more sensitive than that of the typical adult.
How to fix this problem?
The answer is to “solubilize” the essential oil prior to putting it in the water. Solubilization is the process of evenly dispersing essential oils throughout the water so they will not either float or sink. The medium used to accomplish this is called an emulsifier.
An emulsifier works because it has two parts, one with an electric charge that dissolves in water but not in oil, and the other part that will dissolve in oil but not water. Emulsifiers that are more soluble in water than oil will form ‘oil-in-water’ emulsions. They blend smoothly with water molecules, something that carrier oils cannot do.
This is exactly what is needed for essential oils, so while you may choose to skip this step for yourself (don’t say I didn’t tell you so), please don’t add essential oils to bath water, foot baths, or compresses for others without first mixing them with an emulsifier.
A very nice option to use as an emulsifier is modified tapioca starch. Modified Tapioca Starch is derived from the starch of the cassava plant while the flour comes from the root of it. When used for food and pharmaceuticals, the starch is treated or “modified” which causes partial degradation. Modified starch is used as thickener, stabilizer, tablet disintegrant, and in the case of mixing oils and water, an emulsifier!
The word modified in this instance does not refer to genetic modification. It refers to the processing required to end up with a product suitable to endure a greater range of temperatures, both heat and freezing temperatures, acidity, increased shelf life, and in this case as an emulsifier. You will want to make sure the product you select is labeled non-GMO.
To prepare, put 2 tablespoons of modified tapioca starch into a small glass bowl. Next, add 5 to 20 drops of essential oil(s) and stir until completely mixed. The amount of essential oil you choose will depend upon the type of oil, the age of the person, and the condition being treated (or whether it is simply for enjoyment.) Then this can be added to the bath.
Castile soap is another option. While some varieties come already scented, Dr. Bronner’s hemp baby soap is unscented and useful for creating your own blends. Mix 5 to 20 drops of essential oil(s) into one tablespoon of Castile soap. Shampoo or body wash may also be used in place of Castile soap.
A third, less-desirable option would be to use a carrier oil or vegetable oil in the same proportions as the Castile soap. The essential oils will be diluted in the carrier, but still float around the top of the water because the carrier will float as well. Regular coconut oil is not recommended as it tends to build up in the pipes after use. Less greasy oils that would make better selections would be fractionated coconut oil and MCT oil.
Substances that are not emulsifiers…
Robert Tisserand, essential oil safety expert recommends that the following items not be used in place of an emulsifier: milk, salt (including Epsom salt), soda, cornstarch, witch hazel, glycerin, or any form of aloe vera. Any clays, including Bentonite clay are also not recommended.
These substances are not emulsifiers. They are all water-soluble and will dissolve once in water releasing the essential oils into the bath. The result will be just as though nothing had ever been used.
…just as though nothing had ever been used.
Although commonly used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, and even food, the following emulsifiers are not recommended.
Polysorbate 20 – Although polysorbates in their original form are sorbitol, which is a harmless sugar alcohol, when it is used in cosmetics and personal skin care products it is treated with 20 parts of ethylene oxide. At that point it becomes contaminated with 1,4-dioxane which is a known animal carcinogen and likely human carcinogen that readily penetrates the skin and has been connected with skin allergies.
“The Organic Consumers Organization, adopting information from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, released a fact sheet on 1,4-dioxane. They report that the levels of 1,4-dioxane found in many personal care products are 1,000 times higher than those found to cause cancer in animal studies. They add that according to the FDA, ‘Skin absorption studies demonstrated that dioxane readily penetrates animal and human skin from various types of vehicles.
This can be especially concerning if you’re taking a hot bath or shower. As your pores open up, your skin could be taking in even more of the 1,4-dioxane in the product.”1
Polysorbate 80 – One characteristic of polysorbate-80 is that it has the ability to solubilize the blood brain barrier (BBB). We know that it is a skin irritant and eye irritant and hazardous when ingested or inhaled. In mice studies, polysorbate-80 has been found to cause adverse reproductive effects, is mutagenic, and cancer-causing on animals. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be human data available. It is considered safe while virtually untested on humans.
Dr. Randy Baker, Holistic Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School says “I consider polysorbate 80 moderately toxic; while occasionally eating it will not kill you, it may be a carcinogen, aggravate colitis, cause allergies, aggravate cardiovascular disease etc. It depends on how much you ingest but it’s best to minimize all processed foods and emphasize whole organic foods.2
While the Polysorbate 80 molecule is considered too large to penetrate the skin, external use as an emulsifier may be an option if one of the options listed above are not preferred.
When using essential oils remember to consider each person’s bio-individuality, age, health issues, and sensitivities. Less is always more with essential oils!
Welcome back! In “Sleep Much (Part I)” we learned that many of our ancestors slept in a biphasic manner consisting of two sleep periods each evening with a quiet awake time in between, especially during the winter season. Some cultures that sleep in a biphasic fashion take a siesta or mid afternoon nap, especially in the hot summertime mid-afternoons. Young children, the elderly, and some by personal preference may take a short nap in the afternoon. It is interesting to note that there remains a billion people in the earth who still practice biphasic sleep.
Myth or Not?
Are humans fundamentally different from all the other animals because our sleep has been consolidated into one continuous nocturnal session? If one considers how other mammals such as dogs, cats, chimpanzees, horses, etc., sleep (which are actually poly-phasic in their sleeping patterns), man may not be so unique after all. In the annals of history well-known people such as Nikola Tesla, Leonardo DaVinci, Salvador Dali, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Winston Churchill have been recorded as having practiced polyphasic sleep.
The industrial revolution of the the late 18th and the late 19th centuries caused biphasic sleeping to lose popularity. Natural gas-powered street lamps increased in prevalence, especially in the cities. The first homes “wired” for artificial light were actually “plumbed” with gas pipes to gas-powered lanterns. Electricity was soon discovered, the modern light bulb was invented …and the artificial light pierced the darkness.
Further changes that came about from the industrial revolution changed how people thought about time. Factories and “production lines” caused people to become more conscious of productivity and efficiency and therefore time and began foregoing a second sleep. In face, there were actually reform movements on both sides of the pacific ocean called “The Early Rising Association.”
Monophasic sleep is practiced by most of industrialized society today. Monophasic means that we get all of our sleep at one time or in “one phase,” usually at night. Should something serve to disrupt that sleep such as our jobs, children, insomnia, etc. it is difficult to get caught up on missed sleep the same day. This is because modern society changed to support a monophasic-type of sleep cycle. When sleep is routinely missed, the chronic lack of sleep we then experience is called sleep debt or sleep deprivation.
For those of us in the “developed” world, It would be wise to take note that artificial illumination has an enormous effect on human physiology. It literally alters/resets the human body clock, called the circadian rhythm. Many people find that the longer they stay awake, the more pressure they feel to sleep in the remaining time they have because of the obligations of the next day.
Thomas Wehr, Psychiatrist from the National Institute of Mental Health commented on his 1987 study. “By compressing all nocturnal biochemistry and all sleep patterns into an eight-hour period pretty much year-round, Dr. Wehr said, ‘we essentially live in an endless summer, from the day we are born until the day we die.’ The consequences of that compression have yet to be charted.” This is the million-dollar question. In just a moment we will take a deeper look into how human physiology responds to our modern sleep habits.
Now while our ancestors did not appear to sleep better than we do, their quantity of sleep was more significant. They slept an average of nine hours in a 24-hour time period, compared to our modern average of seven.
“A large-scale study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health in 2010 showed that a scant 8% of US high school students get the recommended amount of sleep. Some 23% get six hours of sleep on an average school night and 10% get only 5 hours.’ (Garey et al.) The teenage years are very stressful, and meeting the minimum hours of sleep is crucial to managing stress and maintaining good health.”
As we can see from the aforementioned adolescent study, sleep debt does not only affect adults. Sleep debt has a significant effect upon teens. Imagine, how high levels of stress and the disruption of hormones incurred by young people affect their developing bodies and psyche. Is it any wonder that teens have such startling high rates of mood disorders, depression, and suicide never seen before?
When sleep takes a low priority, sleep debt will also affect the smallest among us who need many more hours of restorative sleep to rejuvenate their rapidly growing bodies for the activities of the next day. Age appropriate bedtimes seem to be a thing of the past as our culture whirls itself into a frenzy of activity with most people consistently not getting enough of their body’s greatest healer,… sleep!
Yet Another Difference Between Men and Women!
Dr. Wehr’s insightful study also found that
the release of the main circadian hormone, melatonin, secreted by men during
winter was exactly the same as that secreted in the middle of summer. Lightheartedly, Dr. Wehr quips, “When it
comes to seasonal change, men just don’t get it.”
Yet in comparison to men, the woman’s sleep hormone melatonin is dramatically increased in the winter and much less so during the summer. This information, although inadvertently discovered, may comprise part of the answer to why Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) disproportionately affects women in the winter season.
Surprising Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
Studies reveal that sleep debt can lead to impairment that equals or exceeds being legally drunk.
“Drowsy driving has caused or contributed to hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle crashes and thousands of deaths in recent years. Estimates of drowsy driving-related accidents, injuries and deaths vary, however. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sleep-deprived and fatigued drivers caused 846 deaths in 2014. The NHTSA reports that, on average, an estimated 83,000 crashes a year were blamed on sleepy drivers between 2005 and 2009.”
16.5% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Waking performance is affected by sleep.
Sleep debt affects the ability to perform one’s work safely and efficiently. Many transportation related accidents beyond cars are caused by sleeplessness – buses, trains, trucks, planes, etc. Shift work increases the risk as well. Hospital medical errors in the United States are estimated to cause 100,000 deaths each year. Sleep deprivation has been implicated in a large percentage of these errors.
Psychological Effects of Sleep Deprivation
As sleep debt becomes chronic, hormone levels become unbalanced. Adrenaline levels climb making the person physically and mentally distressed. Symptoms begin to present such as brain fog, irritability, or grumpiness, along with anxiety (or increased anxiety), and panic attacks, memory problems, increased perception of pain, a racing heart, and hyperventilation.
For some, chronic stress causes depression or a combination of anxiety and depression when adrenaline begins to dip. Other psychological indications of sleep deficit can be visual or auditory hallucinations, impulsive behaviors, suicidal thoughts, and in those with bipolar disorder, mania can be a result.
How many of us have had anxiety because of our sleep debt, which causes more anxiety resulting in an increased inability to sleep, which then causes even more sleep debt and more pressure to sleep? A vicious cycle, but one that most of us have experienced at some point.
Physiological Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Paul Bergner writes, “The state of sleep debt, induced when hours of sleep drop below the physiological requirement of the individual, includes profound changes in the endocrine, cardiovascular, and immune systems. Herbal and other natural treatments for these systems will ultimately fail unless the underlying sleep debt is corrected. Herbal nervines and hypnotics, administered in the context of lifestyle changes to induce recuperative sleep and establish normal sleep duration and depth, become critical to the successful practice of herbalism in chronic disease. Sleep debt is a major obstacle to cure, and is present to some extent in the majority of patients in the U.S. today.”
“Herbal and other natural treatments for these systems willultimately fail unless the underlying sleep debt is corrected.”
– Paul Bergner, Medical Herbalist & Clinical Nutritionist
Once sleep debt becomes chronic symptoms can present as depression, nervous system misfiring, tingling in the arms and/or legs, headaches or back aches, and unexplained pains and odd sensations in different parts of the body. Beyond this reduced inspiratory muscle strength, decreased immune function, and corresponding frequency of sickness have been identified. This is supported by a number of studies revealing that just a small amount of sleep deprivation causes a reduction in natural killer cells that are crucial to the work of defending the body against viral infections and perhaps even cancer.
“A survey of Japanese men showed that two or more days per week with less than five hours of sleep were associated with a 200-300% increase in heart attacks (Liu and Tanaka). This is in the range of five to ten times the risk of having high LDL cholesterol. In a group of women, those reporting less than five hours of sleep per night had an 82% increase in cardiovascular events (Najib et al). Those sleeping fewer than six hours had a 30% increased risk. These risks in women are higher than risks for moderately elevated total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol.”
“Sleep debt is a major obstacle to cure, and is present tosome extent in the majority of patients in the U.S. today.”
– Paul Bergner, Medical Herbalist & Clinical Nutritionist
The natural health professional should be interested in your quality and quantity of sleep. It is important to understand that most people have become acclimated to sleep deficit and no longer recognize it as abnormal. It is common to compensate for sleep deficiency by consuming caffeine, energy drinks, etc. The professional should also be armed with remedials and techniques to assist the you in obtaining and adhering to a regular, restorative sleep cycle. This will provide the impetus the body needs to make huge gains toward homeostasis and get you well on the path toward healing.
Dr. Henry Lindlahr a Naturopath who founded the Lindlahr College of Natural Therapeutics in 1904, as well as opening and running The Lindlahr Sanitarium. The sanitarium, “a 300-bed inpatient facility in Chicago, routinely prescribed complete bed rest on weekends for his outpatients suffering from chronic disease.” Rest and sleep are still reasonable recommendations by modern natural health professionals.
Disastrous Effects of Sleep Deprivation
“Less than 1 week of sleep curtailment in healthy young people is associated with striking alterations in metabolic and endocrine function.” This study found carbohydrate tolerance was lowered and there was increased sympathetic tone. These are indicators of a higher potential for developing insulin resistance, hypertension, and obesity.
In this age of stress, toxicity, and nutrient deficiency, sleep deprivation is the catalyst which is sending children over the edge and into an abyss of chronic disease. “Old people’s diseases” are now occurring with alarming frequency in children. Sadly, as a society we have reached the turning point where children are likely to have shorter lifespans than their parents.
“A baby born in the U.S. in 2017 is expected to live to be 78.6 years old, which is down from 78.7 from the year before.”
– Uptin Saiidi, CNBC 
Findings from a study on the impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function states that “glucose tolerance was lower in the sleep-debt condition than in the fully rested condition, as were thyrotropin concentrations. Evening cortisol concentrations were raised and activity of the sympathetic nervous system was increased in the sleep-debt condition.” It continues, “Sleep debt has a harmful impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. The effects are similar to those seen in normal aging and, therefore, sleep debt may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders.”
“The average life expectancy in the U.S. has been on the decline for three consecutive years.” (Written in 2017. It continues to decline.)
– Uptin Saiidi, CNBC 
A decrease of thyrotropin or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) as mentioned in the study above, has significant potential. Consider this, the medical community often relates causation for low TSH (hyperthyroidism) to thyroid damage, tumor growth, infection/inflammation, or a malfunctioning pituitary gland. Yet chronic sleep debt does not generally enter into consideration. Sadly, most people or their physicians do not correlate the two, therefore treatment protocols do not fix the continued sleep deprivation, making the condition worse until surgery is the only option.
When the thyroid indicator is misread and the thyroid silenced, it will not be long before another part of the body will manifest the systemic dysfunction that is continuing to occur due to sleeplessness. How sad. This might give one cause to wonder how many healthy thyroids have been removed simply because the patient was chronically sleep deprived.
Some in the scientific community believe the type of markers and diseases caused by chronic sleep loss are actually signs of early aging. In another study, we are informed that the development of Alzheimer’s may be an end result of many instances of full or chronic sleep deprivation. While there may be a conglomeration of mitigating factors present in any disease, sleep debt should be considered and rest and recuperation would be a wise recommendation.
Sleep debt also negatively impairs carbohydrate insulin resistance which progresses to Diabetes Type II. It affects the inflammatory processes in the body such as increasing blood levels of C-reactive protein. The C-reactive protein test called hs-CRP is a marker of inflammation used to evaluate the risk of developing coronary artery disease. It is important because this inflammatory process damages the lining of the blood vessels preliminary to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels. This puts the person at risk for hypertension and eventually, heart attacks.
Weight gain is another side effect of insufficient sleep. When someone is sleep-deprived, the body produces less leptin, a hormone that signals satiation to the brain. At the same time, more ghrelin, a hunger-producing/appetite-increasing hormone that signals it is time to eat is produced. This makes sleep-deprivation a “gain/gain” proposition with obesity as a potential result. Additionally, ghrelin is increased in response to stress, therefore dealing with the cause of sleeplessness may be very beneficial for the person with weight issues.
Less is More!
Initially, insomnia can be due to our own desires to do whatever we want. There are many reasons for this. Maybe we just want to have fun and hang out with friends, play video games, or whatever we find entertaining. Perhaps we schedule our days so tightly that any error in sleep habits causes great stress, upsetting our expectations, and resulting in a cascade of negative occurrences. Or maybe we dream so big we become overwhelmed at the many tasks we think we need to do. Burning the candles at both ends may be an attempt to create more hours in the day. However productive it may seem, it does not outweigh the ensuing destruction in our body, mind, and spirit.
Remember this concept of time and productivity is a modern contrivance. Although we may seem counter-culture or old-fashioned, we can choose to live differently. Like my mother used to say many years ago. “Tomorrow is another day.” …and it is.
Prepare to Sleep
Here are some suggestions to help prepare the mind and body for sleep:
Set a bedtime allowing for adequate hours to sleep. We simply will not consistently meet unset goals. (By-the-way, it is harmful to stay awake after 1 AM.)
Prepare a space solely for sleeping (and intimacy.) Do not allow cell phones, TVs, computers, or other distractions in that space.
Sleep in a completely dark room that is a comfortable temperature.
The room should be quiet or with “white noise.” White noise is anything that makes a soft continuous noise like a fan, or very soft, relaxing music.
Create a bedtime ritual of the things you need to do before bed. The body recognizes to these patterns and will respond to them as they become habitual.
Exercise, but do so early in the day as it is stimulating. Exercise actually helps to improve sleep quality.
Don’t eat three hours before bed.
Take a warm (not hot) bath.
Read before bed. Books that are interesting, but non-stimulating. Definitely avoid horror books if you are inclined toward that sort of thing.
Do not use computers, phones, or TVs for at least an hour before bed. They are stimulating.
Nutrition Necessary for a Great Sleep
B Complex Vitamins – A deficiency of the B complex vitamins can cause insomnia because they are necessary in the syntheses of serotonin which is necessary in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Be sure to take B Vitamins in the morning so that the energizing and other necessary processes they take part in occur in preparation of sleep.
Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is often lacking in those aged 60 or older. Without B12 the body cannot produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Calcium – Calcium is necessary for the release of melatonin, a hormone that aids in sleep. It is important to eat foods high in calcium like leafy greens, kale, broccoli, fruit, and nuts. While dairy is a source of calcium it is nowhere near as bioavilable as fruits and veggies. Dairy is also one of the top allergens and a potential cause of insomnia. (Do not consume supplements made with calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is limestone (yes, the rock!) and is indigestible.)
Magnesium – The mineral magnesium is ‘hands down’ the most important nutrient for good sleep. It is necessary in over 600 cellular processes in the body. It can help the brain relax and activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us to relax. It is also useful for regulating melatonin, a hormone that directs the circadian rhythm in the body. Magnesium also calms nerve activity using the same neurotransmitter pathway as pharmaceuticals like Ambien without the negative side effects that may occur such as depression, memory loss, behavior changes, hypnosis, amnesia, and hallucinations, etc.
Potassium – While it might not be the first mineral to come to mind, potassium is a requirement balanced with magnesium to keep insomnia at bay. People rarely get enough potassium from their diet. Potassium-dense foods are: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beet greens, squash, carrots, avocado, bananas, apricots, apples, oranges, Lima beans, white beans, coconut water, blackstrap molasses, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and more.
Collagen Hydrolysate / Gelatin/ Bone Broth – Contain the amino acid glycine which encourages a deeper and more restorative sleep making the sleep you do get a higher quality. It also contains the necessary amino acids and peptides the body needs to help calm the nervous system.
EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids / Vitamin F) – EFAs may induce sleep as they are found in high concentration in the brain and used to support the transmission of nerve impulses. EFAs are absolutely required by every cell in the body to produce prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances that work as chemical messengers and regulators of a variety of processes in the body. Omega-3 EFAs are found in fish, fish oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil.
Tryptophan (the amino acid) – While it has other functions, the one most valuable to the sleep deprived would be tryptophan’s sleep-inducing qualities. Here is a list of foods to help one take advantage of this effect. Healthy sleep-inducing foods are: turkey (especially high in tryptophan), chicken, lamb, beef, pork, game, tuna, salmon, trout, haddock, cod, mackerel, shellfish, (real) cheese, whole eggs, pumpkin and squash seeds, white beans, kidney and pinto beans, black beans, and lentils, figs, dates, and walnuts – These foods all contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. Ever notice that friends and family fall asleep after eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? Now you know why!
Eliminate for a Great Sleep
Sugar or chocolate – Foods which contain tyromine, a brain stimulant.
Caffeine – Especially in excessive amounts and in the afternoon and evenings. Taken too late in the day, it suppresses melatonin levels thereby disrupting the body’s circadian rhythm.
Alcohol – While it may seem to help with falling asleep, even one serving of alcohol makes it more difficult for the body to enter deep, restorative REM sleep.
Smoking – Nicotine is a neurostimulant that actually causes the inability to sleep.
Sleep Medications – “Many authorities believe that they can almost only work by upsetting natural sleep cycles, thus leading to an unusual form of unnatural control.”
Allergens (Especially food allergens like dairy, corn, and wheat gluten.) Insomnia may be the only symptom of a food allergy and is often accompanied by fatigue, migraines, depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, heartburn, constipation, IBS, celiac disease, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, or menopause.
Stress & Worry – Identifying and eliminating triggers is important. Prayer, meditation, journaling, and exercise are all effective methods of bringing stressful situations into a proper perspective. A very effective FREE method of reducing stress is to incorporate the following breathing technique into your daily routine:
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)– A couple drops on the pillow can be mildly sedating to the body.
Lavender or German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – Place a couple of drops of diluted oil on the bottoms of the feet.
Blend a couple of drops each: Lavender, German Chamomile, and Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) in a diffuser 30-60 minutes before bedtime in preparation for sleep.
Herbal Remedies Useful for Great Sleep
There are many herbs that can be helpful for inducing sleep or deepening light sleep. Perhaps relax with a cup of tea while reading your book before bedtime. Here are a few you can try:
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – Mildly sedating. Can be combined with Valerian, Oatstraw, Skullcap, and Passionflower.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – A mildly sedative herb that is helpful for those who suffer from sleep debt caused by anxiety. Can be combined with Chamomile, Valerian, Hops, and Kava Kava.
Catnip (Nepata cataria) – Mildly sedative. Does not promote daytime sleepiness.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) – Well-known in the Appalachian mountains for promoting sleep. American Ginseng relaxes the nerves.
Vervain (Verbena spp) – A mildly sedative herb that works to decrease inflammation and anxiety. In this manner, it is helpful for supporting the ability to get to sleep.
Homeopathics Helpful for Great Sleep
Coffea Cruda is a wonderful remedy for insomnia caused by the inability to stop the mind from compulsive thinking.
Kali Phos is helpful for insomnia from stress-related anxiety and worry as well as mental exhaustion.
Natrum Mur or Aurum Met may be beneficial for insomnia rooted in chronic depression or melancholy with negativity.
Ignatia is better-suited for sleeplessness due to acute depression from grief, overwhelming emotions, loss of love or loved ones and with waves of sadness and weeping and dwelling in the past.
Nux Vomica may be helpful for those who fall asleep but cannot stay asleep.
There are many other methods and remedies for getting high quality sleep on a consistent basis. It is best to use these remedies only while correcting the root of the problem. Should you need additional help, your natural health professional is available and competent to help you rest!
If you are interested in becoming a Master Herbalist, Clinical Master Herbalist, Natural Health Consultant, Traditional Doctor of Naturopathy, or Holistic Health Professional, I invite you to consider the Genesis School of Natural Health. Preparing the natural health professionals to meet the complex health needs encountered today. For more information click the link below:
is no more restorative agent than sleep.
While one sleeps protein synthesis occurs. This is crucial because protein synthesis is
the activity that lays the foundation for the proper functioning of all the
cells in the body. During protein
synthesis tissues are healed and physical and mental processes are
restored. There is also an emotional
healing component and perceptual learning occurs while one is asleep. Perceptual learning is the ability to discern
the meaning of what we encounter through our senses of touch, taste, see, hear,
or smell. If any of these processes are
short-circuited, then the whole person suffers as the body is not able to heal
or restore itself.
An Interesting Sleep Study…
In 1987, Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist from the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study using 15 men imitating the light exposure in the midst of the dead of winter in middle latitudes and its effect on sleep patterns. Various indicators were monitored throughout each night such as temperature, hormones, brain waves, etc. For comparison another set of measurements was taken later on when the men slept for only 7 to 8 hours as is more common today.
The results of the first study was amazing. “As the study volunteers adjusted to their artificial circumstances, their sleep patterns relaxed into distinct phases. The men slept only about an hour more than normal, but the slumber was spread over about a 12-hour period. They slept for about four to five hours early on, and another four to five hours or so toward morning, the two sleep bouts separated by several hours of quiet, distinctly nonanxious wakefulness in the middle of the night. The early evening sleep was primarily deep, slow-wave sleep and the morning episode consisted largely of REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep characterized by vivid dreams. The wakeful period, brain wave measurements indicated, resembled a state of meditation.”  The total hours equaling approximately nine hours per night. Up until as little as one hundred years ago our ancestors slept nearly nine hours per night, just as the men in this study with all the external stimulation minimized.
Prolactin, More or Less
When people are sleeping with no artificial light at all they generally sleep twice every night. Called biphasic or bi-modal sleep, they go to bed around 8 p.m. and wake up around midnight, then sleep again from about 2 a.m. until daybreak. The hours in between first sleep and second sleep reveal a surge of prolactin that modern-day monophasic sleepers never experience.
In biphasic sleep between the first and second sleeps a higher level of prolactin is a secreted than when people sleep in one full “sleep” from evening until morning. As we know it, prolactin is that hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates breast development and lactation in women. It is also necessary in males and non-lactating females at low levels to produce a feeling of sexual satisfaction. In birds, prolactin is the hormone that causes them to go broody and contentedly sit on their eggs for extended periods of time. It is this same hormone that also that produces the feeling of peace and contentedness in the wake phase between first and second sleep in biphasic sleep.
In Dr. Wehr’s study it was found that the men’s prolactin release was linked to the onset of darkness. During the long 14-hour nights, prolactin doubled shortly before sleep and remained high for the whole first sleep, wake, and then second sleep phases. However, once men returned to a modern eight-hour nightly sleep, the prolactin released stayed the same, but here is the clincher, it was restricted to that shortened time frame. Instead of 12 to 14 hours of increased prolactin each night, men are now getting at best eight hours, but likely much less.
This raises questions. One of them being, how does a minimum of six hours less prolactin release per night affect male physiology overall? Researchers know that men with prolactin deficiency often struggle with impotence and depression. WebMD states, “The research, published in the August 2003 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that ED is common among older men and sexual function sharply decreases after age 50.” Perhaps this is a hidden contributing factor to erectile dysfunction (ED) that ought to be explored.
It is interesting to note that the people in these studies feel so awake during the daytime that they say they have never experienced true wakefulness before in their lives.
Back in the Day…
Sleep prior to the 1600s included biphasic sleeping, a practice that most would be unfamiliar with today. This type of sleep described in literature as ‘first sleep’ and ‘second sleep was still a common occurrence with country folk or “laborers” as late as the 19th century. As the range of night, especially in the winter season could be as much as 12 hours in duration, people would commonly sleep for three or four hours and then wake for two or three hours, and later return to sleep until daybreak.
Those hours in the middle of the night were used for many reflective tasks such as prayer and meditation, reading, and studying, and sometimes other mundane tasks such as tending the fire, sewing, or chopping wood. Yet typically, this time was primarily one of reflection or socialization. If one was out and about and a neighbor had candlelight emanating from their dwelling that would signal someone was awake and ready for a bit of a social visit!
In the preindustrial era until the industrial
revolution, biphasic sleeping continued in rural areas while, towns and cities
were having natural gas lanterns installed as street lights and even as a
method of illuminating the interior of homes and industry.
This was readily accepted, especially by the wealthy, as lighting was useful to discourage theft as well as to provide opportunity for people to move about after dark.
In those early days of in-home lighting aristocrats continued to sleep in biphasic fashion, however, they began to go to sleep later, wake briefly, and then awake from second sleep much later, well into the morning.
A doctor from the 1500s explained the reason why the working class conceived more children than city dwellers was “that they typically had sex after their first sleep.”  While there is something to be said for romance, it makes sense that many women, especially busy mothers, might enjoy three or four hours of recuperative sleep before intimacy. The first phase of sleep is an extremely important restorative phase of sleep. We will discuss this in more detail later.
Historian A. Roger Ekirch found that “references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th century. This is thought to have started in the upper classes in Northern Europe and filtered down to the rest of Western society over the next 200 years. Interestingly, the appearance of sleep maintenance insomnia in the literature in the late 19th century coincides with the period where accounts of split sleep start to disappear.” As people began to deny their natural biological rhythms to stay up into the evening, they became more fatigued upon awaking.
Although a number of early experimenters contributed to the invention of the incandescent light bulb, Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison developed a better design and Edison had the funds to commercialize the product. It was not long before he introduced the incandescent light bulb in New York City in 1882.
In May 1936, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. For the most part, this rural electrification was accomplished in the 1950s, yet even before that cities and towns were electrified. Street lights and urban homes already had the luxury of illuminating the night, causing the body’s biorhythms which had been embraced since the dawn of mankind to be ignored.
Work More, Sleep Less
World War II (1939-1945) called many women to the workforce. They were needed in these jobs to replace the men who had joined the military. Where before the war began most women fulfilled a culturally-accepted role of homemaker and child-raiser, now a full-time job beyond their full day’s work was not only encouraged, it became expected.
A famous cultural icon of this era was “Rosie the Riveter.” Rosie the Riveter stood for the many women who took factory jobs building aircraft, producing ammunition, and other supplies in support of the war effort. Long work hours added to family life also served to increase their daily stress.
Once having entered the workforce, many women continued to work after the war efforts ceased. The additional income helped the family to afford luxuries or “extras” that soon became necessities such as cars, store-bought food (because they no longer had the time nor the energy to garden.) Unfortunately, for the working mother, with the hours demanded by both job and family and the changing societal beliefs about sleep, the only place that could ‘give’ was her precious time for sleep.
Play More, Sleep Even Less
The 1950s saw the dawning of the age of technology. As the days continued to be filled with work and increased stress, people sought entertainment to help them relax. By the 1960s about 45 million homes had televisions across the United States and TV viewing grew to more than five hours per day. From there, video games, personal home computers, smart phones, and a host of electronic gadgets occupied free time and unfortunately time that might be better spent sleeping.
The following chart will help to visualize the stark reality of the changes occurring not only in the United States but in other countries as well. Life was getting increasingly difficult and stress had become an everyday word.
The year 1910 was used as a baseline as the amount of sleep that people got then was likely what was common throughout antiquity. 1942 is another marker when it was found that the average amount of sleep was reduced by an hour per night. By 1960, another hour was lost reducing the average amount of sleep each night by two hours from 1910! This translates into a loss of more than half-a-day of sleep each week. If this doesn’t blow your mind, at just seven hours of sleep per night, an entire month of sleep is lost each year!
A condition called “sleep debt” is created when the amount of sleep a person needs increases because they have not gotten enough in previous days. While people may think they can get away with having less sleep, this is not entirely true. What generally happens is that they become used to performing their daily routine in a deficit mode. The greater sleep debt that is incurred, the less the person is able to identify it.
Fortunately, the body is faithful to give warning signs when it does not receive enough sleep. Feelings of excessive sleepiness, yawning, irritability, and daytime fatigue drive people to consume caffeinated beverages to get through their day. These beverages are often counterproductive, making it even more difficult to fall asleep at night.
Microsleep, where one dozes off for a few seconds to a couple of minutes without noticing is another indication of being sleep-deprived. The EEG test results of sleep-deprived rats, reflect that certain parts of the brain fall asleep while others stay awake. Researchers to do not fully understand the mechanisms behind this.
Types of Sleep Deprivation
Full sleep debt is when a person is awake for a minimum of 24 hours. This is not as rare as it might seem. Think of any college campus when reports are due and exams are looming or a stressed working mother when her child is sick and she stays up all night and goes to work the next day, or computer programmers propping themselves up with coffee and energy drinks until an employer’s deadline is met.
Partial sleep deprivation is what most people experience at a more chronic level when sleep is not adequate for an extended period of time such as several days or weeks. One study found that “the results of those who slept for six hours each night for a period of 10 days were similar to those who are completely sleep deprived for one day.” It can be caused by not enough hours of sleep, disrupted sleep, or physical conditions like sleep apnea.
Sleep disruption can occur because of sickness, pain, or the use of pharmaceuticals such as alpha-blockers, beta blockers, corticosteriods, diuretics, SSRI antidepressants, medications containing alcohol/caffeine/nicotine, sedating antihistamines ACE inhibitors, ARBs, Cholinesterase inhibitors, H1 antagonists, glucosamine/chondroitin, and statins, Theophylline (an asthma med), and higher doses of thyroid hormone, as well as over-the-counter painkillers.
Alcohol has been shown to disturb the second half of sleep by increasing wakefulness after its initial effect of sedation, even when consumed up to six hours before bedtime. “However, alcohol consumed within an hour of bedtime appears to disrupt the second half of the sleep period. The subject may sleep fitfully during the second half of sleep, awakening from dreams and returning to sleep with difficulty. With continued consumption just before bedtime, alcohol’s sleep-inducing effect may decrease, while its disruptive effects continue or increase.”
Insomnia, or disrupted sleep is something that was almost never recorded in the history books two hundred years ago but has become commonplace in our modern culture. Insomnia includes having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep. Acute insomnia is considered brief. It comes on with stressors such as getting bad news, anticipating a stressful event (good or bad) such as a test at school, financial stress, work stress, relationship stress, etc.
Among adults, “15 to 20 percent have a short-term insomnia disorder which lasts less than three months, 10 percent have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.”
The Four Stages of Sleep
Stage 1 – Lasts only about 5 – 10 minutes. Theta waves are produced by the brain as the
body transitions from wakefulness to sleep.
Stage 2 – Lasts about 20 minutes. Body temperature begins to decrease and the
heart slows down. Most sleep is spent in
Stage 3 – SWS (Slow Wave Sleep) – This is deep sleep where slow delta brain waves occur and the deepest sleep happens. During this stage muscles relax and blood pressure and breathing rate drops. This is also the stage where sleepwalking tends to occur. This relaxation helps to ensure the blood is circulating properly and that there are proper levels of blood glucose.
Stage 4 – Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or paradoxical sleep. “REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs due to increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become immobilized.”
When sleep deprivation occurs, it is primarily of REM sleep and generally results in cognitive issues. REM sleep is believed to affect healthy moods, learning, and memory storage. During REM signals are sent from different areas of the brain to the body. Migraines may be triggered or increased due to increased expression of “the proteins p38, PKA, and P2X3, which are known to play an important role in initiating and sustaining chronic pain.”
“Researchers performed a study in order to determine the effect REM sleep deprivation has on the way a person responds to a stressful event. They applied mild electric shocks to participants while they slept and studied how their brains reacted. According to the results, the people who spent more time in REM sleep showed a lower level of brain activity related to fear than those who spent less time in deep sleep. The researchers believe that if a person is getting enough REM sleep, they might be less susceptible to suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a fearful event.”
“It is important to realize that sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, and 3. After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.”
While monophasic sleep is what most of us have known and practice, it is a relatively recent happening within the past two hundred years or so. Although there are many other factors that affect health we would be wise to consider the necessity of sleep in a culture that operates on the lack thereof. Sleep is the very thing the body needs to replenish and restore itself. Might it be presumptuous to entertain the thought that we have somehow “evolved” and no longer need those nine hours of nightly sleep that many of our ancestors received? That is likely.
Is biphasic sleeping preferable to a seven to nine hour monophasic sleep model? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not. There is even a polyphasic sleep model for those whose interest is piqued, those who ‘wake up’ at the subject of sleep.
Each person is a unique individual who needs a certain amount of sleep to maintain good health. Chronic health conditions require even more sleep for the body to restore itself. Although it sounds good on paper, dis-‘ease’ can be caused by sleep deprivation because a solid seven hours may not be enough. The industrialized society is programmed to work around productivity-based paradigms and do not base their work upon the biological rhythms of the individual. While it may not be feasible to adapt to a biphasic sleep modality, even if that were the answer, there is much the individual can do to maximize the sleep structure to which they adhere.
Some may heave a great sigh of relief with the new understanding that waking briefly in the quiet of the night can be a normal part of the sleep cycle and not always an indicator of dreaded insomnia. Forearmed with knowledge, these peaceful moments can be enjoyed by leaving the bed for a brief time of prayer, meditation, or reading using dim, non-stimulating light, then to return to bed again as they begin to tire once more.
Are there lessons to be learned in looking backward to a simpler time when folks were more connected to their surroundings? In the comments below, share your observations whether biphasic sleeping might be a valuable health-promoting tool, or maybe not so much… We would love to hear your thoughts on the value of sleep.
In Part II of ‘Sleep Much?’ we will take a deeper look at the devastating effects of sleep debt on the psyche and physiology, discover techniques to make falling asleep easier, and discuss natural remedies and healthy habits for getting a much-needed restorative, enjoyable sleep!
Proteins, next to water, make up the greatest part of the weight of the body. They are what provide the “framework” to every living cell. The proteins themselves are made up of chains of even smaller structures called amino acids which are connected by what are known as peptide bonds.
When peptide bonds are formed between two amino acid molecules, two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen is lost. This removes a molecule of water from the structure that is commonly written as H20. Therefore the process of peptide bond formation is accomplished by dehydration.
The process of the digestion of proteins begin in the mouth with chewing called ‘mastication’ and the release of saliva which contains the enzymes amylase and lipase which further break down the food. Once swallowed the food passes to the stomach through the esophagus. In the stomach the chemical process of digestion continues with hydrocloric acid which deactivates amylase but continues to allow lipase to work breaking down fats. In the stomach pepsinogen, a pro-enzyme, converts to pepsin which then can break down proteins into smaller units called polypeptides and amino acids. Depending upon the type of food and an individual’s metabolism, generally takes around four hours for the stomach to empty.
As the chyme moves into the small intestine, the pancreas releases amylase and lipase (the pancreatic form), trypsin and chymotrypsin to continue breaking down proteins. Additionally, there are four sugar enzymes (sucrase, lactase, maltase, and dextrinase) released which are secreted by cells that line the small intestine.
Therefore as a result of the activity of protease enzymes, large chains of amino acids found in protein molecules are broken down into even smaller chains of amino acids that can easily pass through the micro-villi of the small intestine (along with other nutrients) and into the bloodstream.
Once released into the bloodstream, amino acids are rebuilt or ‘biosynthesized’ into the specific types of proteins required for the building and repairing of tissue and to “develop into enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, and blood.’  Each redesigned amino acid is crafted to meet a unique “fit.” These newly-created proteins cannot be used for a different application. For example, a protein designed to replace tissue in the eye cannot also be used in the heart as heart tissue is not identical to eye tissue and would require a different protein.
“Proteins form the structural basis of chromosomes, through which genetic information is passed from parents to offspring. The genetic ‘code’ contained in each cell’s DNA is actually information for how to make that cell’s proteins.”1
“In the human body, protein substances make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, many vital body fluids, and are essential for the growth of bones. The enzymes and hormones that catalyze and regulate all bodily processes are proteins. Proteins help to regulate the body’s water balance and maintain the proper internal pH. They assist in the exchange of nutrients between the intercellular fluids and the tissues, blood, and lymph.”2
There are over 20 distinct amino acids with the human body having the ability to produce only half of them. The 10 amino acids the body does not produce are called “Essential Amino Acids.” This is because they must be obtained through the food we eat. The body does not store amino acids so they must be ingested daily. The essential amino acids are: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
This work of the body is absolutely amazing. I mean, who’da thunk it? Having a body that makes its own individualized building blocks from those large protein molecules in the hamburger or hummus that we have the pleasure of eating. Absolutely ingenious.
A Body That Cannot Repair Itself
Amino acid deficiencies are common. There are many ways that this delicate system can become impaired. If even one of the essential amino acid building blocks is not available, the entire protein synthesis in the body is hindered. This deficiency can lead to a disruption in integral proteins negatively affecting the whole body.
“The main reason for amino acid deficiencies is either low protein consumption, poor digestion, or the use of antacid medication, as protein requires adequate stomach acid to be broken down into the amino acids.” 
Signs of Deficiency…
Amino acids are the base organic matter used by the body to create serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and endorphins. These are all chemicals called neurotransmitters that create those good feelings of peace, contentment, and happiness in the brain. They are known for stabilizing mood.
“Low levels of amino acids lead to low levels of neurotansmitters. It’s that simple!” 
So what does it look like when one’s mood is “off” because of an amino acid deficiency?
Mental & Emotional Health
Sometimes an amino acid deficiency can present as pervasive negativity, agitation, mood swings, tension, irritability, insomnia, obsession and worry, low motivation/energy, types of depression such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or bipolar, or other major depressive disorders and mania. Schizophrenia and the anxiety-like symptoms of schizophrenia may be a result of amino acid deficiency as well.
For many people, anxiety reveals itself in everyday stress, or high stress situations, panic attacks, controlling behaviors, feeling frequently overwhelmed, perfectionism, or perhaps even being someone who seems to be driven to exhaustion. Crying too easily or frequently finding onesself feeling emotionally ‘hurt’, seeking to escape with drugs and/or alcohol, sugar and/or carbs, impulsive or aggressive behavior are more symptoms that tend to be magnified with amino acid deficiency.
The good news is that the person or some unknown entity may not be the root of the problem. Their body may simply be having some very real health challenges due to an amino acid deficiency. If it is a lack of neurotransmitter-building amino acids, the condition may be helped with proper nutrition which affords the body those necessary building blocks.
Amino acid deficiencies may be the root of some of the following symptoms which affect the musculoskeletal system. Arthritis, ataxia (lack of muscle control or coordination), impaired bone (fragile bones), insufficient cartilage repair, impaired collagen formation, muscle fatigue, slow post exercise recovery, and stunted physical growth.
The skin, hair, and nails may express amino acid deficiencies through decreased tissue repair and growth, the graying of hair, skin rashes, alopecia (excessive hair loss), and poor wound healing (especially that of burns and infections.)
The heart and circulatory system can reveal a deficiency of amino acids through atherosclerosis, cold hands and feet, elevated cholesterol, low blood pressure, and poor blood vessel functioning.
The nervous system (which includes the brain and teeth) is affected by amino acid deficiency in many ways. Insufficiency may present as: bloodshot eyes, cataract formation, corneal vascularization, dementia, dental caries, diabetic complications that affect the eye as well as nerve cell damage, headaches, migraines, lack of ability to focus, becoming hyper-stimulated, poor memory and memory loss, motion sickness, nerve deafness, narcolepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and stunted intellectual growth.
There are a number of ways the gastrointestinal system including the liver make known they are facing a lack of amino acids. Some of these are: appetite loss, nausea, and dizziness. Other symptoms are constipation, decreased immune function, a fatty liver unable to process fats, impaired fat burning, lack of gastric acid secretion which may cause indigestion, and obesity.
Amino acid deficiency affects the immune system by not being able to support the liver in its role in detoxification which can cause an accumulation of heavy metals. Other ways the immune system is affected by insufficient amino acid availability is by not being able to help prevent AIDS. Amino acid deficiency could also be causative for some allergies and other symptoms of an ineffective immune function such as anemia, chronic fatigue, fatigue (in general), lowered red and white blood cell production, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Some may be surprised at all the functions of the endocrine system and its chemical messenger hormones. Amino acid insufficiency here can look like delayed sexual maturity, diminished insulin production, high blood sugar, hypothyroidism, an inflamed pancreas, lack of sexual arousal, male sterility and low sperm count, menstrual cramping, mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Kidney stones may occur as a result of amino acid deficiency.
All of Life has its Own Spin
From a physics perspective, the intelligent design of the RNA and DNA of all living organisms (plant and animal) require amino acids which under polarized light reflect a spin to the left (also called left-handed spin). These are known as L-amino acids.
Optics – The branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light
The Greek word ‘levoratatory’ is symbolized by the letter “L” which identifies the molecule as appearing to spin to the left when polarized light shines upon it. Conversely, “D” is the word ‘dextrorotatory’ meaning the molecule appears to spin or turn on a right rotation with the application of polarized light. Therefore, in scientific language the left hand would be written ‘L-hand’ and the right hand written ‘D-hand.’ We will look more in depth at the significance of the spin in a moment.
Not everything has a left-hand spin. Some molecules spin to the right. For instance, sugars have the opposite spin of amino acids. They spin to the right and are recognized as “D-sugars.”
Chiral is a term that is used to describe an object whose mirror image cannot be identically superimposed upon itself. For instance, your left and right hands are mirror images of each other when placed palm sides together. If you set one on top of the other facing the same direction, they will always appear in reverse order. (Notice how the thumbs point in opposite directions when one hand lays on top of the other). This is called “chiral.” In both chemistry and physics, the term chiral indicates mirror images that are not superimposable.
Therefore, we have learned that, molecules which cannot be superimposed on their mirror images are called chiral. Either one of a pair of optical isomers is called an enantiomer. For example, if a hand were a molecule, each hand as it cannot be superimposed upon the other but is a mirror image, would be considered enantiomer.
Images that are superimposable are those that fit in the exact same space as the other. Therefore, you could lay the two molecules on top of each other and only see that one shape. Molecularly, these items look the same from the front or the back and are also spatially the same. In other words, one would be an exact “fit” in place of the other. These are called achiral. Either molecule could be placed in the space of the other with the exact same superimposition. There is no right or left “handedness” with achirial objects or molecules such as we see with chiral.
This becomes a bit more complex when considering achiral objects or molecules from the three dimensional (3-D) perspective. Let us consider the following:
An automobile mechanic determines a certain part no longer works and needs to be replaced, the starter for instance. When one starter goes bad, it is replaced with another that is the same size, fits exactly in the same place, and has the same function as the one that was removed.
If a mechanic tried to replace a starter with a spark plug the car would simply not be repaired. Everyone knows that it would be ridiculous to replace one part with another of a different size and/or function as the original.
What does this mean for me?
The same is true with the nutrients required by our bodies, especially amino acids, the topic we are discussing at present. Proteins that we consume in natural, unprocessed forms from plants and animals are always made from the L- form of amino acids. The fit our bodies perfectly. Isn’t it marvelous at how nature provides just what a body needs?
Nature Provides Just What the Body Needs!
Foods naturally high in amino acids are: eggs (which have the highest percentage of essential amino acids), game, chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, wild-caught salmon, tuna, cod, and surprise… quinoa!
In general, plant-sources have less of the essential amino acids than animal sources, however, a varied diet can offer additional nutritional component combinations along with the amino acids. Plant foods with higher amounts of beneficial amino acids are: buckwheat, seaweed, spirulina, pumpkin, peas and pea protein, lentils, whole grain rice, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, watercress, turnip greens, hummus (chick peas) mushrooms, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, kidney beans, figs, broccoli, olives, avocados, raisins, dates, apples, chia seeds, blueberries, and bananas
Racemism – the state of being optically inactive
We have learned that chiral amino acid molecules spin to the left a certain number of degrees. Additionally its mirror (not superimposable) molecules spin to the right an equal number of degrees. An equal mixture of left-handed and right-handed molecules (or D-50% and L-50%) is called a racemic mixture and has no rotation. In other words, an equal raceme is optically inactive. “In general, most biochemical reactions are stereoselective, meaning only one stereoisomer will produce the intended product while the other simply does not participate or can cause side-effects. ” 
“…or can cause side-effects” Huh? What?
Well over a hundred years ago it was known that the racemization of naturally-formed molecules was, in fact, a sign that they were dying.
“The phenomenon of autoracemization is of interest in connection with the question of permanency of optically active substances. Let us consider a pure organic substance such as dextrorotatory bromo-succinic ester. When it is kept for some time in a closed flask at ordinary temperatures, it undergoes spontaneous intramolecular rearrangement and a gradual decrease of the optical rotation results; in other words, it racemizes. Several examples may be cited to illustrate this remarkable fact…Might we not speak of ‘dying molecules’ much as we speak of ‘dead catalysts’?… The effect of these reactions is, as we may express it, a complete turning ‘inside out’ of the molecule.”
1895, Dr. Paul Walden
“It’s all About That Spin, ‘Bout That Spin, …No Trouble”
Getting our nutrition from food whenever possible is always best. With the exception of phenylalanine (utilized as a mixture, i.e. DL- ) all other amino acids are considered more suitable (the state is called “free-form” which is immediately bioabsorbable meaning it does not require digestion) in the human body. As Dr. Richard J. Thiel states, “Amino acids are also useless if not toxic when present in synthetic forms. Only left-handed (laevo-) amino acids can be assimilated. All synthetic aminos are racemic.”
Of course, it is not only amino acids that are affected by spin. Synthetic “Vitamin D sold as “Viosterol” and “Vigantol” is well established. It causes blood in the urine very quickly in children, by its destructive action to the kidneys. Deaths have been reported from the ordinary dosages used to “protect” from rickets.”  Here is another worth considering:
“Pantothenic Acid is a vitamin now commercially available only in synthetic form. Probably this is the reason for its effect of causing loss of sex function, particularly in females. This castrating action has been found both in test animals and in patients receiving the “vitamin” according to unpublished reports…”  Does this sound like nutrition to you?
There is much more to be concerned about with the use of synthetic supplements. All synthetics are reduced to a single molecule, while real food vitamins are always available in complexes that include many other nutritional components that boost nutrition and bioavailability in the human body. Science has yet to study or publicly disclose this information should it be available.
The “spin” is important just as the complexes and other factors are in real food that the body was designed to eat. On no death certificate ever was the reason for death given as “pharmaceuticals or supplements ingested with the wrong spin.” Although that has indeed occurred. Keep this in mind while seeking answers for yourselves and your clients.
This is a complex topic with many implications. We look forward to your thoughts and comments.
NOTE: The biochemistry of amino acids and their work in the body is significantly more complex than we have had time to discuss here. However the intent of this short description was to provide the reader a basic outline highlighting the importance of amino acids in relationship to nature and the human body as a whole. Hereby laying a foundation which conveys the potential for negative consequences when the natural spin of polarized light is not taken into consideration during synthetic supplementation.
Yes sirree! Did you know that drinking just one cup of strong coffee or black tea within one hour of consuming a healthy meal will impair up to 60% of iron absorption? The stronger the coffee or tea, the greater the absorption of iron is undermined in your body.
Is that a problem?
It could be. Mild to moderate iron-deficiency may be asymptomatic or it can present symptoms such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, dizziness, restless leg syndrome, frequent infections, difficulty concentrating, cardiac problems, and more.
“Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages with a meal is associated with a 39 – 90% reduction in iron absorption.” 
However, caffeine in and of itself only demonstrates a mild negative affect on iron levels compared to the extreme affects caused by tannins.
Do I have to give up my coffee?
Well maybe, maybe not. A severe deficiency may require a complete break from coffee, at least while rebuilding your body’s iron stores. However, if you must imbibe you will want to limit your intake and make sure to leave a one to two-hour window between consuming coffee and then consuming foods or supplements that contain iron. You will also want to increase the amount of food iron that you eat overall.
The Framingham Heart Study  was a large study of 634 elderly people from 67-93 years of age and who were still living on their own. It “found that each weekly cup of coffee was associated with a 1% lower level of ferritin, a protein that indicates iron storage levels.” 
What is the best way to get my iron?
Well, to begin with, it is not recommended to consume the inorganic form of iron called ferrous (Fe) sulfate which happens to be the most common form that is found in both supplements and in fortified foods.
“Iron used to fortify breakfast cereals ‘is a finely powdered metallic iron and is generally poorly assimilated.” 
Inorganic iron is not only used to fortify cereals, it is used to fortify wheat, maize (corn), and rice. Dairy, condiments, and sauces are also fortified. Therefore, one must consider any derivatives of these products such as bread, pastries, pasta, ice cream, tortillas, etc. to contain metallic iron.
Which real foods contain the iron my body needs?
The best organic food forms of iron are found in green vegetables, legumes, and meat (especially red meat and organ meat.) Unlike ferrous sulfate, dietary iron from real food is non-constipating and bio-available, making it the very best choice for your body!
Recipe: Darlene’s Mocha Delight!
~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~
1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon
In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.
Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!) Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage or steep longer, 10 to 15 minutes, to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.
Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.
Dandelion is a treasure-trove of nutrients. Unlike coffee, dandelion is high in iron as well as manganese and phosphorus. Chicory, like dandelion, is full of nutrients and an especially good source of potassium. Like dandelion, chicory is known to aid digestion making this a wonderful beverage to consume with a meal. Chicory and dandelion are a great combination.
‘Coffee people’ and ‘non-coffee’ people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.
Share your favorite coffee-substitute creation in the comments below or change-up this one and make it better! To your health!
Herbalism has been around as long as there have been, well, plants and people! Mankind has studied the usefulness of plants as food and medicine from the very beginning. In the early days women were the gatherers of plants for food. Therefore, they were entrusted with the duty of preparing food and mixing plants into ‘medicinal’ preparations to promote health.
During that time, it was a commonly held belief that disease originated with invisible spirit beings such as ghosts and fairies. Therefore, to appease the “anger” of these invisible beings, herbs (also believed to have spirits associated with them), were combined with magic rituals that corresponded to religious views.[A]
A different approach to herbs was practiced by the ancient Hebrews. While they also collected plants for food and medicine, they offered thanks for the food and medicinal value of the plant life all around them to their God whom they recognized as an all-powerful Creator and the God of their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many of these herbs were recorded in the Torah which is also known as the Old Testament in the modern-day Bible.
The allium plant family of which garlic, leeks, and onions are a part were a dietary staple of the ancient Hebrews (and also quite popular today!) One of these potent herbs, garlic, which is a rather lowly herb, was consumed in everyday life, yet highly regarded by the Hebrews. They “believed that garlic increased virility and relied on it to ‘be fruitful and multiply,’ as directed in Genesis.”[B] As such, they indeed were a prolific people which quickly grew into a very large nation.
In addition to the alliums, there were the balms such as the Balm of Gilead, an aromatic, medicinal substance derived from plants in the historical area of Gilead east of the Jordan river which was known for their spices and ointments. Also of significance were bitter herbs such as chicory, dandelion, sorrel, and watercress which were important for maintaining healthy digestion as they stimulate appetite and support the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, etc. These bitter herbs are especially nutritional, and we know now that they are chalk full of vitamins and minerals.
There were also cleansing herbs such as hyssop, marjoram, milk thistle, and the nettles. “Louise Baldensperger, who, in the early twentieth century, gathered lore about folk use of plants in Palestine, found that “People whip themselves with nettles for rheumatism, a most heroic remedy, rather like allowing oneself to be stung by bees for a cure.”[B]
Many were the herbs used in ancient times, anemone, poppy, crocus (saffron), anise and dill, cumin, mint, and rue along with grapevine, date palm, olive, myrrh, cassia (cinnamon), frankincense, hyacinth, lily, iris, lotus and many more. The benefits of these herbs were woven into the fabric of everyday living for the Hebrews. Everyone who partook at meals, received the benefits of many of these herbs, especially those that were edible as they were incorporated into recipes and cures for common ailments. Unlike today where one with a deep knowledge of herbs and their actions is unique, back then, the knowledge was commonplace and held within community.
At about 2500 B.C. the Egyptians began to practice what is considered a “rational and scientific” approach to medicine beginning with a physician named Herophilus. “The contributions of Herophilus to our knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology are enormous. Through his anatomical studies on the nervous system, Herophilus proved that the brain and not the heart was the seat of intelligence, a revolutionary breakthrough for that period since it contradicted a prevailing Aristotelian concept which stated that the heart is the seat of intelligence, rational thoughts, emotions, and desires. Unfortunately, their writings have been lost and most of our knowledge of these two is derived from commentators, especially Celsus and Galen.”[C]
“Galen is a giant in the history of medicine and casts a long shadow. His medical theories dominated European medicine for 1500 years. He was a Greek physician who practiced in Rome, becoming physician to five Roman emperors. He was prolific and wrote hundreds of treatises, compiling all significant Greek and Roman medical thoughts, and adding his own discoveries and theories, foremost of which was the humoral basis of disease: illness was caused by an imbalance of the four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. He showed, through experimentation, that the arteries carried blood, and not air, as was commonly believed.”[C]
Interestingly, King “Solomon’s ‘refresh me with apples’ may have inspired the nineteenth-century saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ In biblical times Greeks believed the apple healed all disorders. In the second century, Roman court physician Galen prescribed apple wine as a cure-all for almost every ailment. An Arabic author from the same period wrote, ‘Its scent cheers my soul, renews my strength and restores my health.’ Scientists at Yale University have since discovered that the scent of spiced apples produces a calming effect that lowers blood pressure.”[C]
For many thousands of years herbs were so commonplace to diet and wellness that most people practiced a type of folk medicine in their homes and villages. When the knowledge and remedies within the home were not enough, caretakers would reach out to a more knowledgeable family member such as a spinster aunt or a grandmother with greater knowledge.
When a situation would escalate beyond their abilities the family would then seek out the next most knowledgeable person who was known as a “wise woman” or a “wise man” man of the village or what we might recognize as the community herbalist. To this day this practice continues to be practiced outside of first world countries.
Modern day examples of herb-based medical systems would be Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as other eastern religions where there is a synergy between lifestyle and worship, and the resulting states of either health or disease.
Modern-day Christianity had its very roots in the religion of the Hebrews which was birthed in the Eastern mindset. The Western mindset, based upon reductionist Greek philosophy, has pervaded the thoughts of generations of believers until this preset day.
As a result, our beliefs have become fragmented into separate criterion-based compartments such as ‘business and personal,’ ‘church and state,’ and even ‘health and sickness.’ There is some value in this mode of thinking as ideally each criterion would remain within consistent parameters no matter who does the assessment. However, illness can have many different roots and while a person’s lifestyle may appear healthy, there may be something amiss lying below the surface.
What does this have to do with herbalism? Well, a lot. Understanding people and physiology, while understanding herbs and their actions is the basis for applying gentle, supportive, and effective remedials. Although our bodies have all the same components (liver, heart, blood, lymph, etc.) which can be scientifically studied, there are significant variables that are individual to each person that the holistic herbalist is trained to uncover.
In the early days as it is today, the herbalist’s “medicine chest” is not filled with pharmaceuticals. Rather, the herbalist ought to be intimately acquainted with the actions of plant materials: roots, stems, leaves, and flowers as remedials to support the body’s design to heal itself.
What Does Herbalism Look Like Today?
A burgeoning passion for medicinal plants combined with a desire to support people in their recovery process are two distinct indicators of an intense “herbal” fire burning within one’s soul. The field of study is called herbalism, which is the practice of utilizing plant materials in a manner that supports the body’s ability to maintain wellness and to heal itself. In times past, herbalism was known as the “medicine of the people.” Herbal artisans were called “healers” or the “apothecary.” In modern times these same people are called herbalists.
There are precious few who have experienced the passing down of esoteric knowledge through familial generations. Therefore, it has become common for modern-day herbalists to seek out knowledge and training regarding the utilization and safety of medicinal plants and to intentionally gain an intimate experience with these wonderful, unique, and beautiful creations of immense benefit to mankind.
What is a Master Herbalist?
A Master Herbalist is a title that denotes proficiency in the use of herbs. What a Master Herbalist actually does often varies with the individual’s talents as well as the desired expression of such knowledge and creativity. This is where it gets exciting!
instance, some herbalists are avid foragers and know much
about plant identification, growth and habitats, as well as the medicinal
and/or food uses of plants – a study called botany. Other herbalists are professional seed
savers, farmers, or gardeners that specialize in providing plants for other
gardeners, medicinal, or culinary use. Still others like to compound herbs and
make herbal remedies such as infusions, decoctions, tinctures, salves, creams,
medicinal syrups, suppositories, and encapsulations. Yet others find creativity and fulfillment in
formulating lines of natural cosmetics, bath and body products, household
cleaners, and personal hygiene items.
Herbalists have been known to dress in period
costumes and demonstrate how herbs were a vital part of frontier wellness,
while others find pleasure in teaching folks how to incorporate herbs into
their daily lives. Still, some master
herbalists spend their time studying and writing books, articles, and blogs
while others capture the distinct beauty and intricacies of herbs through art,
photography, painting, and crafts. Due
to the popularity of pets, herbs are becoming more sought out in the support of
the natural health and wellbeing of animals such as dogs, cats, and
horses. Once again, we find our beloved
Master Herbalists stepping forward to bridge the gap.
Some herbalists work in retail helping customers make the right product selections while others work in an herbal apothecary setting selling herbs by weight or mixing herbal blends to help with specific ailments. However, most commonly, herbalists are self-employed wellness consultants who observe and assess clients to offer natural solutions for their health issues and to maintain proper wellness.
Many licensed practitioners (doctors, dentists, chiropractors, nurses, massage and physical therapists, etc.) are adding herbalism to their knowledge base as well as carving out a space in their clinics for proficient Master Herbalists. Lots of moms just want to be grounded and knowledgeable in using safe and natural remedies with their family and friends. Others simply want to be an herbal resource for their local communities. Whichever way one chooses to express their passion for herbs is valuable and necessary as many people are searching for gentle-yet-effective alternatives to strengthen their bodies.
If you are interested in herbs and are unsure of what your long-term goals might “look like,” take a long, deep breath in and exhale. There is time and you have come to the right place. It is not unusual for a vision to bloom and grow as our students progress through the Master Herbalist and/or Clinical Master Herbalist program(s) at Genesis School of Natural Health and in their interactions with the other students and graduates in our private Student Discussion Group.
Herbalism is more than a career. It is a desire, a lifestyle, a dream, and an expression of what lies within a person, their beliefs, and the “communion and fellowship one has with nature, and with the Author of that nature.” ~Euell Gibbons
Mayonnaise is a delicious condiment most people love to eat. It can be dressed up and used in sauces, as a sandwich spread, as base for dips and salad dressings, and in a mix for meats and fish (a yummy addition to meatloaf and salmon loaf.) You might be surprised at the innumerable and creative ways that mayo can be used in a non-edible fashion.
Using mayo as a face mask to soothe and soften one’s complexion has been around a long time. It is also used to relieve and moisten sunburn. It feels so good when applied cold. It is an old-style hair conditioner. Just apply, massage into the hair and scalp, and leave it in for five or 10 minutes, then shampoo it out. It can even help remove chewing gum from hair. (Not that any of us would ever need that!) By saturating a finger with mayo a “stuck” ring can slide right off!
Old wooden furniture can get a welcome moisturizing and rejuvenating “face lift” by applying the gift of mayonnaise. Just be sure to spot test the area first. Simply apply and allow to set for a few minutes, then wipe off and buff. By applying a little mayo to a squeaky hinge or to a bottle that needs stubborn residue removed. It also as been touted as an effective application to tar or sap on one’s car. Apply to the tar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe clean. (Again, spot test in a hidden area first.)
Mayo as a condiment is highly perishable. It has been a modern convenience for many of us that has taken some unfortunate wrong turns in the manufacturing process. Unnecessary sugar can often be found to be added to mayonnaise, cheaper and very unhealthy oils have been substituted for the nutritious oils once used, and the method for preserving mayo has drastically changed.
In light of these things, take heed before you go and purchase a jar of commercial mayonnaise because all commercial mayonnaise is now cold pasteurized. Cold pasteurization is a method of sterilizing mayonnaise because raw eggs, a necessary ingredient in mayonnaise, cannot be allowed to set out on shelves at room temperature for months without going dangerously bad. Sounds great, yes? Well, no. Unfortunately, cold pasteurization (also known as HPP or High-Pressure Processing, or irradiation) is a modern method of preserving food that uses extremely high amounts of pressure.
While there is great publicity about the “wonders” of this technique, there are also problems with the outcomes that are beyond the scope of this blog and what the industry is willing to admit. Thoughtful consideration should be given to the nutritional devaluation of food caused by cold pasteurization, toxic radiolytic byproducts in addition to benzene resulting from the pressure, changes in the chemical composition of food, and contamination by toxic waste products from bacteria that remain unchanged throughout the irradiation process, along with the possibility of rapid re-contamination of food due to its sterilization.
The primary ingredient(s) in commercial mayonnaise are canola (rapeseed) and soybean oils both of which are mutagenic. Soy interferes with the bioavailability of nutrients and inhibits the function of enzymes.
Simply stated, enzymes have the important function of breaking down proteins into small enough bits that the body can assimilate them. This kind of interference in digestion can cause many negative malnutrative effects such as cognitive impairment (250% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s), brain shrinkage and premature deterioration (think dementia), increased production of steroidal hormones and estrogen mimicking compounds (beyond what the body requires and not the same as the body makes), early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys (from said hormone disruption), menstrual difficulties in women and “permanent” PMS, and a myriad of other negative effects.
On the positive side, when homemade using your own select ingredients, mayonnaise can be a source of healthy fat intake when used in moderation! It is incorporated into many summer recipes such as dips, sauces, salad dressings, and is an absolutely delicious additions to one’s table.
Fast ‘N Snappy!
My favorite way to make mayo is by dirtying the least amount of dishes in the quickest amount of time. That means I like to make my mayo in the same container that I store it in. Therefore, my container of choice is a wide-mouthed pint mason jar.
Here are the tools you will need to get started:
1 pint-sized wide-mouthed canning jar and lid
A stick/immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender/Vita-mix/etc. I have been told that you can hand whip mayo but that it takes much longer to set up. That doesn’t jive with my “quickest amount of time” requirement so let us move right along…
A rubber spatula
The Mayo-Maker’s Secret
The key to making mayonnaise is to allow all the ingredients to sit out until they become room temperature. If you add room temperature oil to cold eggs you would be the lucky one to get a proper emulsion. Here are the basic ingredients you will need: (Feel free to cut the recipe in half to suit your needs.)
Basic Recipe –
2 Raw Eggs
1 Tsp Water
½ Tsp Sea Salt
2-3 Tsps Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, or White Wine Vinegar
2+/- Cups Oil
About the eggs. Farm fresh eggs are a great selection and carry little to no risk of contamination. Simply wash the shell prior to using and allow to sit out on the counter-top until they are completely room temperature. Also, for safety’s sake do not ever use an egg with a crack in it.
A Word About Oils
The oil you select will directly affect the flavor of your mayonnaise. Extra virgin olive oil has a very strong flavor and will work, however, many folks do not like in their mayo. I find that I enjoy extra-virgin olive oil-based mayo better when I add more pungent spices like garlic, paprika, and horseradish.
corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and canola oils should never be used in your mayonnaise. They are
highly polyunsaturated, omega-6s that go rancid quickly (many are rancid by the
time you buy them, but [you] cannot smell the rancidity because they’ve been
perfumed), and increase your inflammation index.”
Peanut oil, sesame seed oil, and grapeseed oil can be used. Macadamia nut oil is “da bomb” from what I hear and avocado oil is another option, but presents a flavor with its own unique taste that not all will find suitable. A combination of oils can also be used. This is handy to know should you run out of your favorite go to oil. Additionally, coconut oil can be used, but it must be liquefied to become an emulsion and it might be wise to begin with a second oil before adding the coconut oil as it is high in saturated fats.
Spices I like to add to the basic recipe above –
¼ Tsp Garlic
¼ Tsp Paprika
½-1 Tsp Dill
Mayonnaise is delicious served plain or one can flavor it any way they like. For a yummy twist add fresh or dried herbs. Parsley, oregano, chives, thyme, ground mustard, Dijon mustard, etc. Experiment to find the combination that you like best.
The Mayonnaise “Trick”
Add a teaspoon of water to the egg yolks before adding the oil because “A little water physically broadens the space between fat droplets, helping them stay separate,”…“If the oil droplets don’t stay distinct from one another and evenly dispersed in the oil, the mayonnaise will break.” says Tucker Bunch, a chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.
Putting it all Together
Step #1 – **This is the most important step**
Everything must start out at room temperature. To emulsify properly the oil and the eggs must be the same temperature.
Step #2 –
Crack the eggs and put the egg yolks (reserving the whites for the next step) and water into the canning jar. Blend them together until frothy.
Step #3 –
Add the egg whites, salt, lemon juice or vinegar, and your choice of spices.
Step #4 –
Next, pour a thin layer of oil into the jar. About ¼ cup of oil ought to do it, that will be about 1/4 inch of oil floating on top. You don’t need a measuring cup, a guesstimate works fine. Then re-insert the stick blender and pulse a number of times until the oil is incorporated into the egg mixture.
Step #5 – **Now take your time**
This is where you slow down and forget about your time constraints. While processing, gradually add the oil in a thin, SLOW, steady stream until the mayo thickens (takes approximately 1 cup oil per egg.)
Helpful Hint: A grippy shelf liner works well to hold the canning jar. I run the stick blender with my left hand and pour the oil with my right hand. I am careful and take my time during this step. Of course, this would not be an issue with a traditional blender, but it is my preferred method. If you happen have someone wandering about the house with nothing to do, have them reach over and hold the jar steady.
Step #6 –
Clean off the rim of the jar if there is any food on it and then screw on the lid. If you are using a blender or food processor you will need to use a spatula to spoon your mayo into a suitable container. Then refrigerate.
As long as the mayonnaise remains refrigerated it is good for approximately 3-5 days. Enjoy!
What if it Flops?
Wait! Don’t throw it out! If it is runny, use it so make salad dressing by adding more vinegar and additional seasonings. Another option would be to stir in some sour cream and turn it into a veggie dip. You might even pour it into a delicious homemade soup or casserole. You still have time to refrigerate it and devise a plan. Then try again…
Have you made homemade mayonnaise? How did it turn out? Did you try this recipe? What is your favorite oil? Share your thoughts below …and make it better!
They’re here! Poison ivy that is, and her two toxic siblings poison oak and poison sumac. The bane of summer enjoyment for gardeners, landscapers, campers, hikers, and lovers of all things outdoors.
Each year, 50 million Americans endure the ramifications of a toxic encounter with poison ivy and her two pernicious allies. However, it was only recently that researchers identified the molecular pathway that had eluded them in the past. More about that in a bit.
Yet, for those who lead plant identification groups, “Is that poison ivy?” has to be one of the most commonly asked questions and for good reason. Poison ivy does not always present exactly the same, but once one masters its ambiguous nature, it seems to pop out of everywhere. So let us learn a bit more.
Know Your Enemy
Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and the Japanese lacquer tree are part of the cashew plant family. Originating as a North American native plant, poison ivy is found from coast to coast in Canada, the continental United States (except for California where poison oak abounds), and Mexico. It has a great ability to adapt to many different habitats which is why it can be found growing almost anywhere except in the desert or at high elevations.
In the eastern part of the United States one will typically see poison ivy as a climbing vine that looks like a hairy rope with flowers of green or yellow. While western poison ivy, although similar in appearance, typically does not climb, but instead grows into a low-lying shrub. To confuse the issue, western poison oak has a vining growth habit.
The edges of the leaves are called margins. They can either be smooth or toothed. Sometimes on different plants, and sometimes even on the same plant as in the one depicted below. Also, poison ivy can also present with many “teeth” on the toothed margins, not only the one notch depicted here.
The young plants or leaves usually have a “high-gloss” appearance and can range from green to greenish-red to deep red color. In the autumn, poison ivy leaves turn a deep orange to red color. It is simply beautiful to behold.
~ Leaflets of Three, Let It Be ~
While the edges of the leaves can be either toothed or smooth, the leaves themselves are pinnately-veined, making them a dicot. Dicots are a grouping of flowering plants that typically have four or five petals. Poison ivy flowers have five petals which flower in June.
~ Longer Middle Stem, Don’t Touch Them ~
The leaf presents at the end of a petiole in a grouping of three leaflets called “trifoliate” or “ternate.” A petiole is the “leafstalk,” which is a slender stalk that attaches the leaf or leaves to the stem of a plant. Also note in the photo above that the center leaflet has a longer stalk than the two opposite leaflets.
The fruit of poison ivy is called a drupe which is a fleshy fruit that surrounds a single stone-like seed and is colored greenish-yellow or amber. These fruits are a valuable source of food for birds during mid-winter when food is scarce.
Two simple mnemonics are just not enough to describe this “plant of many presentations.” Therefore, when describing the eastern poison ivy it is important to take note of that hairy vine. What child would not delight in repeating the phrase “Hairy rope? Don’t be a dope!” So let us stick with more refined terminology, “Hairy vine? No friend of mine!”
~ Hairy Vine? No Friend of Mine! ~
The next photo shows three poison ivy vines, two of which are quite thick. Touching any part of poison ivy plant can result in a form of contact dermatitis called “poison ivy rash”, which is a type of skin poisoning.
The photo below is a close up of those “vine” hairs for your consideration, but did you know that poison ivy is neither a vine nor a plant called a bine? A vine has tendrils which are used to climb, think of a grapevine, sweet pea, cucumber, or passionflower.
A bine uses its main stem to wrap around the thing that it is climbing like a fence post or a tree. Examples of plants that are bines would be hops, wisteria, honeysuckle, morning glories, or clematis.
Poison ivy is neither a vine or a bine. It is actually a parasitic plant. Those “hairs” used to attach itself to trees are, in fact, aerial roots which gain nourishment from its host.
~ To learn more about botany and the medicinal properties of plants consider the Master Herbalist program at Genesis School of Natural Health! ~
Toxicondendron radicans while native to North America can also be found alive and well in Europe and Asia, and disbursed from there all over the world. In the fall of 1784, “Philadelphia horticulturalist William Bartram wrote out a list of 220 “American Trees, Shrubs, & herbs” in his fine, flowing handwriting. He was packing up seeds and young plants to send across the Atlantic, as he had many times before. European collectors were eager to buy New World trees and plants, whether useful, ornamental, or simply unusual.” Number 120 on his list was poison ivy.
From there poison ivy began to be cultivated in English and French royal gardens. It was not long before the plant’s irritant effects became well known and its popularity dwindled. I wonder is it just me, or can anyone else picture a wry smile on ol’ Bartram’s face as he was writing out his list?
Poison ivy is a rich source of tannins, saponins, alkaloids, etc. It is also high in antioxidants and in antimicrobial activity. The oily mixture of sap contains Urushiol, a clear chemical that causes skin irritation and itch. Urushiol found in the Japanese urushi or “lacquer” tree is also found in poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and the skin and plant parts of mangoes.
It is the alkyl functional groups that make urushiol non-polar and hydrophobic. This means it does not dissolve in water. When oily urushiol touches the skin, it sticks and begins to be absorbed right away into the dermis over the next eight hours or so, unless measures are taken to stop it.
If not removed from the surface of the skin an itchy rash generally begins to appear in as few as 24 hours from the initial exposure. The molecular pathway for this irritating effect of urushiol had previously eluded scientists, until now.
Florian Winau, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School found that “when urushiol comes into contact with Langerhans cells in the skin, the Langerhans cells load urushiol on CD1a molecules that activate the immune system’s T cells. The T cells produce interleukin 17 and interleukin 22, which cause inflammation and itchiness. It was these two interleukins, known to be active in psoriasis as well, that prompted Winau to suggest that a similar mechanism — and a similar therapeutic target — may be involved in both the poison ivy response and in psoriasis’ auto-immune reaction.”
Why had this evaded researchers for so long? Well, lab mice are often used in immunology study and while they are valuable resource in many respects, no one considered that they don’t produce CD1a, the molecular pathway found in humans allergic to urushiol.
~ “Phytochemistry”, understanding how and why plant medicine works, is foundational in the Clinical Master Herbalist program here at Genesis School of Natural Health! ~
~ Ewww! Get it off-fa me! ~
While we need to be able to avoid direct exposure to the poison ivy plant, we also need to be cautious about possible secondary exposures as well. Toxic urushiol can remain active for up to five years on clothing, bedding, shoes, tools, gloves, and pet fur if not cleaned off. Dead, dried-up poison ivy still has the oil on it. So beware.
“Urushiol must penetrate the skin to cause a reaction, and can depend on the amount of sap, the length of exposure, and the parts of the body exposed (skin can be thicker or thinner depending on the part of the body). It will also depend on your individual sensitivity.”
To remove the urushiol, use lukewarm to cool water and scrub with a cloth. It is the friction that actually removes the oil, so don’t be afraid to give a good scrub. Do not use hot water as it opens the pores of the skin and increases the rate of absorption. Believe it or not cool water and friction are more effective at removing poison ivy oils, than even soaps and chemical products. The best practice is to soap up, scrub, and rinse two to three times making sure to get any place on your body that you may have touched with your hands.
Do not bathe in an attempt to remove urushiol. The still unabsorbed urushiol can float on the bath water and find its way to other parts of the body. There are products like Tech-nu and de-greasing soaps that are marketed, but by far the most effective way to remove urushiol is by pure friction.
Remember to clean well under the nails because urushiol can stay active for quite a while in that hiding spot.
~ Stop the Itch! ~
So ya got yerself some poison ivy goin’ on. Well, of course, it was before you read this article and knew all about it, but that does not change the fact that now there is an inflamed rash that itches like a bugger. What can help while the body is healing? First, do not scratch or break open the blisters. The blisters are self-protective fluids that help to cushion the wound, keep out infection, and heal the skin.
Here are a number of things to try, so don’t give up.
~ Cool as a Cucumber! ~
My personal favorite soothing, anti-heat, anti-itch remedy is to place lengths of thinly-sliced cucumber directly upon the rash and wrap it in a layer of paper toweling secured by cellophane wrap. I may look like a country bumkin in that getup, but there is nothing more soothing than cucumbers which are especially cooling. Such a relief from the heat of the inflammation and the incessant itch. Cucumbers are also astringent which helps contract the tissues and diminish the secretions.
Another way to use cucumber is to liberally rub the juice over the rash. Let it air dry after the application, then apply a second coat. This provides a protective layer over the rash that keeps it from being irritated by fabrics and things one brushes up against throughout the day. Two coats each time seems to do the trick, is easy to reapply, and lasts a few hours. Others swear by watermelon rind or the inside of a banana peel, but I don’t know if they have tried cucumber. Try whatever is available to see what helps your situation the most.
Aloe (Aloe vera) – Now might be a good time to slice open a leaf of that plant you keep around for burns and sunburn and smear it all over that rash. Aloe gel can help too.
Activated Charcoal can be helpful, especially where there is severe swelling. Take 8 tablets or mix 1 rounded teaspoon into a small glass of juice or water two times each day. Remember to increase water intake while using activated charcoal. Discontinue once the swelling has dissipated.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Saturate a cotton ball and apply topically with a saturated cotton ball.
Oatmeal Paste – Use plain or stir in some baking soda.
Calamine lotion is commonly applied to urushiol rashes.
~ Poison Ivy Herbals ~
According to Dr. John R. Christopher, naturopathic physician and herbalist, poison ivy is listed along with herbs that are known irritants. Irritants are “Herbs that produce a greater or lesser degree of vascular excitement when applied to the epidermis or skin surface.” It is included along with the Herpetic herbs, those that are healing to skin eruptions which relate to the herpes virus and scaling diseases such as ringworm etc. It is also rubefacient, stimulant, and narcotic.
Herbal Remedies by Dr. John. R Christopher 
Plantain (Plantago spp.) – Make a poultice of the fresh, bruised leaves and apply to the rash. Change before the poultice dries out.
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) – Use the infusion internally and with frequent external applications as a wash.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) – Applied topically as a component of Dr. Christopher’s Asthma Remedy.
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) – Apply as a poultice – 1 part lobelia to 2 parts slippery elm.
Virginia Snake Root (Aristolochia serpentaria) – Apply a wash of the fluid extract.
“Mrs. Maud Grieve was the Principal and Founder of ‘The Whins’ Medicinal and Commercial Herb School and Farm at Chalfont St. Peter in Buckinghamshire, England. The training school gave tuition and practical courses in all branches of herb growing, collecting, drying and marketing. Grieve had also been President of the British Guild of Herb Growers, and Fellow of the British Science Guild. Her work A Modern Herbal contains medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and economic properties, cultivation and folklore of herbs.”
Herbal Remedies by Mrs. M Grieve, F.R.H.S. 
Alkaline lotions – Baking soda in baths and pastes, hyposulphite of soda – use to moisten skin frequently.
Vervain Root (Verbena spp.) – Boiled in milk and water with the inner bark of the White Oak (Quercus alba).
Dr. John Heinerman traveled the world to work with folk healers and top doctors and scientists. Here are some of his suggestions to ease the pain of poison ivy.
Herbal Remedies by Dr. John Heinerman 
Beech (Fagus grandifolia) – Steep bits of tree bark from the North side of the tree in 2 C slightly salted hot water until color is dark. Bathe affected rash as needed.
Cattail (Typha Latifolia) – Make a paste of the root powder, spread a thin layer on rash, change after several hours.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – 1 TSP powdered root to 1 pint hot water. Dab on rash. Taking internally is beneficial as well. NOTE: If possible, use the other remedies as Goldenseal is overharvested.
Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) – Rinse and crush well. Rub over affected areas. NOTE: Jewelweed is often found growing in the same location as poison ivy. Look for it as it should be used right away as an antidote for the urushiol.
Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) – Dig and clean fresh root, then hammer to a pulp. Apply a poultice of mashed root and leave for 24 hours or boil 1 C chopped root in 1-1/2 pints distilled water, covered, for 15 minutes, cool, strain, and wash skin with the tea.
Sumac (Rhus glabra) – Make sure you have identified the correct species! Add 1 TBSP each of the bark, leaves, and berries to 1 Qt boiling water. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, then steep for 30 minutes, strain, refrigerate. Once cool, use as a wash.
~ Homeopathic Rhus Toxicondendron ~
Itching Skin Diseases – Use the homeopathic both internally and externally for poison ivy/oak/sumac, rashes, ringworm, etc. Homeopathic Rhus Tox is also utilized to prevent/lesson an allergic reaction and to treat a rash.
~ Homeopathic Cell Salts ~
Natrum Muriaticom & Kali Sulphuricum – For topical use only. Both must be used together. Use either the 3X or 6X potencies. Add to cool/lukewarm water, then apply directly to the rash using a clean cloth.
Due to its potent actions and the risk of toxicity, use of poison ivy as a medicinal has fallen by the wayside. Poison ivy was included as a remedy in the Merck Manual of 1899 as was Rhus Toxicondendron, the homeopathic. A fluid extract can be prepared from the fresh leaves, however, if taken orally a blistering rash may occur internally. With so many more suitable herbs, an herbalist would have no difficulty finding another to replace any potential benefit of Toxicodendron radicans.
Most skin rashes caused by urushiol are limited and cause only a minor although very irritating, sometimes painful, hot, itchy rash anywhere from five days to a few weeks.
It is important to not attempt to burn poison ivy as the oils are carried in the smoke and upon inhalation, can cause internal damage to the esophagus and the lining of the lungs. This condition is extremely painful and potentially deadly.
Should too great “a portion of the body be covered with blisters, respiration and excretion of poisonous wastes through the pores is impeded. This, in turn, may lead to a fatal toxemia.” The remedies included here are only intended for use with non-life-threatening conditions.
Hopefully, becoming knowledgeable helps us to avoid this beautiful-but-o-so-irritating plant. In the event that poison ivy makes itself known, we are now also armed with remedies to prevent and deal with the rash. Do you use natural remedies for poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac? Tell us about them in the comments below.
On the playground one is likely to hear almost anything. These days it is not entirely uncommon for one child to retort to another, “It’s none of your beeswax!” and the questioner immediately holds their tongue. This riposte was always good enough to stop the badgering and to keep the playground dynamics friendly. Beeswax, an amazing substance known to soften and soothe skin. It also serves to smoothly soften the verbal blow.
However, the playground was a long time ago and just as the phrase “It’s none of your beeswax!” is appropriate at a certain time, we should perhaps move on, or as another “bee-ism” used by lovers of honeybees so aptly states, “Make like a bee and buzz off!”
It has now imperative that the budding holistic health professional get “busy as a bee” as it has indeed become our business to understand natural remedies and their value to help people recover their health. Let us consider beeswax as another amazing healing product of the hive.
The Latin name(s) for beeswax Cera flava or Cera alba reflect both the substance and the color. Cera is translated ‘wax’, while flava means yellow. Therefore Cera flava can be interpreted “yellow wax”. Most commonly, however, beeswax is referred to as Cera alba. Alba meaning ‘white’ would be translated, “white wax.” Either white or yellow beeswax can be used to make wax-based products.
Beeswax ~ How The Bees Make It
Have you ever smelled a pure beeswax candle? If you have you might notice that is has the light aroma of honey. When field bees collect flower nectar and bring it back to the hive, that nectar is destined to become one of two things, either honey or beeswax.
Meanwhile back at the hive young worker bees learn how to produce beeswax from the older worker bees. “Wax glands are best developed and most productive in 12-18 day-old workers. After producing wax for a few days, the wax glands begin to degenerate and by the time the bee is ready to leave the hive to become a field bee, usually when it is about 21 days of age, the glands have completely degenerated.” 
“Beeswax is produced by metabolizing honey in fat cells associated with the wax glands and converting it to beeswax; workers cannot produce beeswax unless there are adequate honey stores in the colony. Workers also need to eat pollen during the first five to six days of their life in order to secrete wax later on, evidently because the protein in pollen is needed at that time for adequate fat cell development (Winston 1987). Wax is secreted primarily during warm weather when foraging is active. Workers actively engaged in secreting wax engorge themselves with honey and hang in festoons at or near the site of comb building. Drones and queens do not have abdominal wax glands.” 
As the worker bees consume the honey, eight wax-producing glands on their abdomens convert the sugars into a wax-like substance which appears on the surface as small transparent ‘scales.’ Initially, it is glass-clear and colorless, later as other bees begin to chew on this substance the enzymes in their salivary secretions help to soften the wax and change its appearance to a light whitish-cream color that then begins to darken with age.
Beeswax ~ The Seen & The Unseen
“Absorption of flavonoids from propolis and/or carotenoids in pollen lead to a bright to dark yellow color. The typical scent of wax is enriched with aromatic substances from honey, pollen and propolis.” 
“100% pure beeswax will develop a naturally occurring white film on its surface over time. Commonly known as “bloom”, this white film is an indicator of the purity of the beeswax. If you purchase a candle that is labeled as “pure beeswax”, and it doesn’t develop bloom over a period of time, it may not be 100% pure. Bloom can be removed by buffing the surface of the candle with a soft cloth or by running a hair dryer on warm/low over the surface of the candle. 
Beeswax ~ The Breakdown
“Beeswax is a complex substance made up of wax esters, fatty acids and hydrocarbons (Piek 1964; Tulloch 1970). Over 300 individual chemical components have been identified from pure beeswax (Tulloch 1980). Beeswax consists primarily of monoesters (35%), hydrocarbons (14%), diesters (14%), triesters (3%), hydroxymonoesters (4%), hydroxypolyesters (8%), free fatty acids (12%), acid esters (1%), acid polyesters (2%), free alcohol (1%) and unidentified (6%). It is this great diversity of composition that gives beeswax many unique properties (Goodman 2003) and keeps us from fully understanding the synthesis and secretion process.” 
Beeswax in the Herbal Pharmacy
The herbalist uses beeswax when making ointments, creams, cerates, plasters, and suppositories to give a proper consistency and tenacity. Not only is beeswax used to thicken salves, it “is so non-polar that it’s essentially waterproof. It won’t even mix with olive oil unless it is heated until it melts.”  As an emollient, beeswax is softening and soothing to the skin. It is also anti-desiccant as it works to help the skin retain moisture. Additionally, “The few studies [of beeswax] showed an antimicrobic effectiveness of beeswax against overall Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger; these inhibitory effects are enhanced synergistically with other natural products such as honey or olive oil.” 
Beeswax ‘Miracles’ ~ True Stories
An elderly woman with aging feet, whose skin was so thin it was translucent, had continual skin ulcers between the toes on her right foot. Previously MRSA had entered through one of the ulcerated spots on the foot. It settled in the bone requiring surgery to remove the diseased toe.
After this event, the woman’s podiatrist prescribed every manner of pharmaceutical creams, salves, and mechanical contrivances to encourage the ulcerated foot to heal over the previous year. While the surgery spot healed up another ulcerated area between the toes where they rubbed together became ulcerated, quickly becoming a very serious problem.
One day the elderly woman’s daughter traveled to visit her. (The daughter happens to be a Master Herbalist and a graduate from Genesis School of Natural Health.) She gave her mother a gift of a hand salve she had hand-crafted with beeswax, almond oil, vitamin E, and essential oils.
The next time the daughter visited she was told that at the ulcer had completely healed! The elderly woman went on to explain that she had used the “hand salve” given by her daughter on her foot each morning and again in the evening every time she cleaned and re-bandaged her foot.
At her next podiatrist appointment the doctor stared in shock at the healed foot ulcer and said, “How did you do that? I never thought we’d get that to heal up.” The woman replied, “My daughter made me a salve.” “What’s in it?”, the doctor asked. The woman recounted the list of ingredients to which the doctor replied, “Oh yes, of course. It was the beeswax.” And dropped the topic.
What was it about the beeswax that worked so magnificently for the elderly woman? There are a number of actions that came into play. First, the anti-desiccant property of the beeswax helped the skin to retain moisture, especially the moisture from the almond oil which carried the essential oils deep into the skin. Additionally, its antibacterial properties (along with those of the essential oils) helped keep bacteria on and in the ulcerated area at bay which allowed the wound to begin healing. Another very important aspect was the reduction in friction between the toes as the beeswax provided a very thin protective layer to the skin.
The following is an eye-catching example of the beneficial results of using a beeswax product on a woman diagnosed with Scleroderma, a disease that causes hardening of the skin which can be painful.
Reyah Carlson, Apitherapist at Reyah’s Bees says, this “Woman’s hand was affected by Scleroderma (an auto immune disorder.) Notice the difference in her hand before using my Bee-Lightful skin cream, and then again less than 10 days after using my skin cream!”
The Savvy Herbalist
Modern agriculture’s insistence on the use of pesticides harms more than just the food they produce. Honeybees as pollinators, are doing what they are naturally designed to do. Invariably, they will bring these chemicals back to the hive from their collection of plant pollen and nectar.
“Studies demonstrate that a cocktail of pesticides is present in bee hives. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that some of the chemicals identified might interact in a synergistic manner. In particular, some fungicides which have generally been considered as relatively safe for bees have proven to be harmful in the presence of other pesticides. These recent findings demonstrate that current standards and limits for pesticides may not actually be safe for bees. Current risk assessment schemes take only single chemical exposures into consideration.” 
“Residues of pesticides and varroacides accrue in wax. These residues are especially concentrated in recycled wax, preventing the absorption of additional substances and possibly transferring into honey. Not only is the honey contaminated, but also the bees’ food. Sub-lethal doses in wax show an influence on reared brood and can cause insidious but also acute damage. Therefore, combs from the brood chamber should not be used for the production of foundation. Combs in the honey chamber can be contaminated by pesticides from the environment, especially after honey flow near or in intensive agriculture.” 
What a conundrum we find ourselves in. Even beekeepers who practice natural beekeeping and do not contribute microbiome disrupting chemicals or essential oils to the hive, helplessly stand by and watch these bee colonies struggle and collapse under the toxic load year after year.
Dear God, What Have We Done?
“Increased mortality of honey bee colonies has been attributed to several factors but is not fully understood. The herbicide glyphosate is expected to be innocuous to animals, including bees, because it targets an enzyme only found in plants and microorganisms. However, bees rely on a specialized gut microbiota that benefits growth and provides defense against pathogens. … Exposing bees to glyphosate alters the bee gut community and increases susceptibility to infection by opportunistic pathogens. Understanding how glyphosate impacts bee gut symbionts and bee health will help elucidate a possible role of this chemical in colony decline.” 
Here is the conclusion of the study for your consideration. “As in many animals, honeybees rely on their gut microbial community for a variety of functions, including food processing, regulation of immune system, and defense against pathogens. Perturbations of this system have the potential to lead to negative consequences for host fitness. We found that glyphosate affects the bee gut microbiota composition and that bacterial species and strains within this community vary in susceptibility to glyphosate. Recent experimental and observational studies have provided evidence that dysbiosis affecting the bee gut can increase susceptibility to pathogen invasion. Our results also suggest that establishment of a normal microbial community is crucial for protection against opportunistic pathogens of honey bees.” 
Sounds a lot like the human microbiome and in some ways it is. Human gut microbes actually include a number of the same species as the honeybee. Additionally, the role of these gut microbes in humans also impacts ‘food processing, regulation of immune system, and defense against pathogens.’
How does glyphosate affect the digestive systems of insects? Well, in a similar way that antibiotics disrupt the gut of animal bodies. By attacking the good as well as the bad bacteria and disrupting the natural balance. Additionally, there are added surfactants to glyphosate that break down (ulcerate) the intestinal wall.
Donna Farmer, a Bayer/Monsanto scientist stated under oath that they could not use animal studies for glyphosate because the surfactants in it would irritate the intestines. (Transcript here.) Basically, their studies would never get far enough because the surfactants would irritate and subsequently break down the lining of the gut. The purpose of surfactants is to “enhance the uptake of the active ingredients across the waxy cuticle of plants which means that less herbicide can be applied.” 
The word anti means “against,” and “bio” means life. Antibiotic therefore means, “against life.” It works in a similar fashion no matter how it is used. Although patented as an antibiotic, the industry markets glyphosate as a xenobiotic. What is the difference?
The original definition of xenobiotic from the Miriam Webster Medical Dictionary online is: “a chemical compound (such as a drug, pesticide, or carcinogen) that is foreign to a living organism.” This means that xenobiotics are a “chemical compound foreign to a given biological system. It is not made from anything found naturally in an insect’s body (or a animal body for that matter). Let us delve a little deeper.
“With respect to animals and humans, xenobiotics include drugs, drug metabolites, and environmental compounds such as pollutants that are not produced by the body. In the environment, xenobiotics include synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and industrial pollutants that would not be found in nature.”  So unlike an antibiotic made from a natural substance like mold, xenobiotics are completely synthesized by toxic industrial pollutants and other chemicals.
A single honeybee that emerges from a cell is born with a sterile “gut.” Its interactions with the other bees, passing nectar and other products back and forth seed the little bee’s gut with the appropriate bacteria for proper digestion. A baby human likewise, has a sterile gut biome. During a vaginal birth, the baby’s gut is seeded with the bacteria of the mother. If a baby is born C-section, the child misses out on this health-promoting gift of the mother, assuming her gut bacteria is even balanced to begin with. A hive that is struggling with their microbiome due to antibiotics and xenobiotics does not easily survive stressors such as winters.
A honey bee colony is not simply a conglomeration of bees as many people think. It is an organism in its entirety. There is a microbiome of the hive of which there are fungi and bacteria that coexist with the bees. When chemicals like antibiotics, fungicides, and pesticides are added to the hive the microbiome is disrupted in a similar manner as the digestive system of a human when they take an antibiotic.
“There are over 8,000 microbes that have been identified (source USDA and Martha Gilliam’s research) that live with bees. Of these only a handful are pathogens. The rest either fill a niche in the ecology of the hive (and therefore crowd out pathogens) or they have an actual beneficial effect. Recent studies have shown some of the mechanisms by which these microbes protect the bees from Nosema, AFB, EFB and chalkbrood and that the preventative treatments for these diseases kill off the very thing that is protecting the bees from those diseases.” 
Who doesn’t love essential oils? Yet at the same time, we must respect their potency. Allopathic medicine is reductionistic and seeks to utilize chemicals in an isolated form. In similar fashion, essential oils can be (albeit unwittingly) used in a similarly allopathic manner when added to the hive. As Michael Bush writes in his book The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally, “Essential oils: Kill a broad spectrum of microbes including yeasts, fungus, bacteria and viruses. They are basically the immune system of the plants they are derived from. Essential oils includes thymol, wintergreen, menthol, lemongrass oil, spearmint, peppermint, neem, tea tree etc.” 
The addition of essential oils to the hive also disrupts the natural microbiome of the honeybee whether it be internal in their gut microbiome or external in the ecology of the hive, whether it affects a single bee or an entire colony.
A bee colony is not designed to be a filter for environmental toxins such as industrial pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics, xenobiotics, essential oils, other pharmaceuticals, EMFs, etc. All pollutants added to the hive whether by the beekeeper or by the bee as they go about their innate duties are stored within the hive. Anything added to the hive including the Glyphosate the bees collect in nectar and pollen are spread into the wax, into the biological system of each individual bee, and ultimately all throughout the hive.
One headline proclaims:
Weed Killer Residues Found in 98 Percent of Canadian Honey Samples
Then the article begins by saying that this “Study is the latest evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive that residues can be found in foods not produced by farmers using glyphosate.” 
A Word to the Wise
Commercially prepared beeswax pastilles are a modern contrivance. To obtain the perfect white color, the wax will have been bleached. While the appearance of the white pastilles may be nice for crafts it is certainly not the quality one would want to use for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. Unfortunately much, if not all of the medicinal benefit of the wax is destroyed by the processing necessary to remove the color.
The Good News!
It is imperative that those utilizing bee products for healing find the cleanest products available. Therefore, to ensure only the highest quality of honeybee products are used, lots of people who might have never considered it before are becoming beekeepers!
Bees can be kept in the city and the suburb, not only in the country. They will happily pollinate your organic flowers, garden, and even weeds indiscriminately. They pay you back in sweet dividends and awesome health-promoting products.
The next best thing to keeping your own bees would be to make friends with a beekeeper that uses natural beekeeping techniques and who does not contaminate their hives with pharmaceutical chemicals. Many beekeepers are looking for property to place some of their hives on. Additionally, most are willing to mentor a ‘new-bee’ and teach them the craft.
It is unfortunate that most community beekeeping classes promulgate conventional beekeeping methods without having so much as a clue to the damage they are causing the bees, the beekeepers, and the unwary folks that use their tainted products. What is exciting, however, is that a new breed of beekeepers is coming forth. Beeks who are excited to care for their bees with the same thoughtful diligence they care for their own bodies. There is hope for the journey ahead.
If you happen to be an herbalist or otherwise crafty sort of person, here are just a few of the many things that can be made with beeswax!
Other Beeswax Products
Cold Cream (& other cosmetics) ~ The first cold cream contained beeswax mixed with olive oil and rosewater. It is thought to have been invented by Galen, a Greek physician in the 2nd century A.D.
Chapstick ~ Nothing soothes and protects chapped lips like a chapstick made with beeswax!
Lubricant ~ Squeaky door hinge? Stuck zipper? Wooden drawer or window that sticks? Take out the beeswax and lube it up.
Got a rusted nut that won’t come off? lube the threads of the bolt with a little melted wax. Rub wax over the threads of screws and they will drive smoothly.
Candles ~ Beeswax candles are truly delightful! The mild natural scent of honey is soothing and relaxing and a beeswax candle will last longer than a comparable candle made of soy or paraffin because it has a higher melting point.
Wax ~ for skis & toboggans, bow strings. Beard and mustache wax.
Reusable Food Wraps ~ For keeping your food fresh without using cellophane or plastic baggies.
Furniture Polish & Sealant for Wood ~ Wonderful for restoring wood furniture, utensils, and cutting boards.
Wood Furniture Polish & Sealant Recipe
Into a double-boiler or wide-mouth pint canning jar add:
1 Part Beeswax (Hint: Use a cheese grater to shred. Melts faster.)
4 to 6 parts Olive Oil (More oil makes for a creamier mixture)
NOTE: Collect old wide-mouth pint jars. You can use one as a double-boiler for your beeswax projects. Put all your ingredients in it and use it as the final container.
DIRECTIONS: Into a small pan or pot with an inch or so of water in it, place the canning jar with the beeswax and oil in it. Turn on the stove a to low-medium heat and allow the mixture to heat up slowly. Turn down if it gets too hot as the water should never boil. Once everything is melted, stir the mixture with a clean stick to combine the ingredients. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then add a lid or pour into a container. Be sure to add a label and date to your jar.
Make a small batch, especially the first time, because the olive oil has potential to go rancid over time. Also, be sure to test on a hidden spot on your wood furniture to make sure you get the effect you would like. Dip a clean rag into the your polish and rub into the wood.
Soap ~ Sometimes also made with honey for a delightful scent!
Waterproofing for Leather ~ Beeswax will darken leather slightly. It is an effective waterproofing agent to apply to leather shoes, boots, hats, and any leather items you would like to make water resistant. Be sure to apply extra wax to any seams. Test on a hidden area first to make sure you get the effect you like. DO NOT USE ON SUEDE! This recipe can also be used on wood
Leather Waterproofing & Conditioner Recipe
Into a double-boiler or wide-mouth pint canning jar add:
2 Parts Castor Oil
2 Parts Almond Oil
1 Part Beeswax (Hint: Use a cheese grater to shred. Melts faster.)
1 Part Cocoa Butter
NOTE: Collect old wide-mouth pint jars. You can use one as a double-boiler for your beeswax projects. Put all your ingredients in it and use it as the final container.
DIRECTIONS: Into a small pan or pot with an inch or so of water in it, place the canning jar with the oils, beeswax, and cocoa butter. Turn on the stove a to low-medium heat and allow the mixture to heat up slowly. Turn down if it gets too hot as the water should never boil. Once everything is melted, stir the mixture with a clean stick to combine the ingredients. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then add a lid or pour into a container. Be sure to add a label and date to your jar.
CAUTION: This is not a leather cleaner! Make sure your leather is clean before applying or any leather waterproofer/conditioner will seal the dirt into the leather.
Rust Preventer ~ Apply a thin coat to shovels, tools, anything metal to prevent rust and corrosion.
Wax Seals ~ In ancient times wax was used to seal documents closed and a signet ring pressed into the wax while it was still soft would identify its official sender. The wax seal would make the document difficult to open without noticeably “breaking the seal.” This would verify the information within had not been revealed.
The uses for beeswax seem endless. You are likely. For those of us who know and love honeybees and all their wonderful gifts ~ There is nothing they cannot do!
There is a ‘weightiness’ conveyed by the word stress. A negative pressure that may be inflicted from within by ones own self or from without by others, circumstances, or even environment influences. Sometimes the pressure of the stressor is self-inflicted. Then we might describe this as a person being ‘hard on themselves.’ Excessive worry, self-pity, grudge holding, bitterness, and unforgiveness to name a few are internal stressors that negatively affect the human body. External stressors are sometimes easier to identify, think toxins, lack of proper nutrients, job and family pressures, natural disasters, wars, etc.
Initially, when stress became a word back in the 14th century it had less to do with a psychological state and “more to do with adversity, hardship, or some form of affliction.” Nowadays, ‘stress’ is generally recognized as a combination of both physical and psychological pressures resulting in physical manifestations.
Consider, for instance, the old campfire song called “Hi. My name is Joe.” Lyrics vary from camp to camp but the gist of the song is that Joe works in a button factory and he has a wife, a dog, and a family. His boss always asks him if he is busy and Joe always says, “No.” Joe never complains and always takes on more and more work, whether it be a wheel to spin in some versions of the song, or button to push in others. Now Joe gets increasingly busy using both hands and both feet to push buttons. If that were not bad enough, Joe is asked to push yet another button with his bum, and then his nose, and then… Boom!
The boss asks one more time if Joe is busy and he yells, “YESSSS” and collapses exhausted upon the floor!
It is hysterical to watch children pushing these pretend buttons just like Joe the factory worker and then yelling YES! and falling down on the ground. Everyone laughs because it is obvious just how ridiculous the song is. Yet many of us and our clients continue to allow way too many things into our lives all the while attempting to juggle a tremendous workload on the job, at home, at school, with children’s activities, volunteer work, holidays, and on and on the list goes. Let’s face it. If someone does not draw effective boundaries, others will continue to ask more and more of them. That’s just human nature. That is, until one finds themselves at a breaking point, like Joe.
The increasing business of life exemplified by Button Factory Joe reveals stress as the physiological concept that was developed in 1930s. The psychological component of the camp song is revealed when Joe yells “YES!” after being asked just a simple question, “Are you busy?”
All along we know that Joe could have simply said that the workload was becoming too much. Yet how interesting it is that we can all relate to Joe’s exasperated YES! Saying no and giving ourselves and others the gift of boundaries that promote health and well-being can be a gigantic hurdle to overcome.
Hans Selye, a Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist studied the responses of organisms to stressors. He developed what is commonly known as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). Charlotte Gerson considered Dr. Selye to be the first to demonstrate the existence of biological stress.1
Dr. Selye’s “last inspiration for general adaptation syndrome (GAS, a theory of stress) came from an endocrinological experiment in which he injected mice with extracts of various organs. He at first believed he had discovered a new hormone, but was proved wrong when every irritating substance he injected produced the same symptoms (swelling of the adrenal cortex, atrophy of the thymus, gastric and duodenal ulcers). This, paired with his observation that people with different diseases exhibit similar symptoms, led to his description of the effects of “noxious agents” as he at first called it. Although it was actually Walter Cannon who coined the term “stress” in his study of the fight-or-flight response.2
People with different diseasesexhibit similar symptoms
~ Observation by Hans Selye, MD
How does the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) occur? Through stressful events such as financial problems including the loss of a job, health problems, family problems, divorce, death, abuse, trauma, grief, listening to the bad “news” each day, and the list goes on. Other stressors on the body include toxins from the environment and pharmaceuticals, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, electromagnetic frequencies, etc.
It is important to note that even good things can become stressful. Getting a much-deserved promotion at work also comes with increased responsibility and pressure of a different sort. A new mother experiences “good stress” in an entirely different way. For the student there is an appropriate proverb which states, “much study wearies the body.” We can also find wisdom behind the old idiom, “too much of a good thing” as a reminder to strive keep a healthy balance in life. When we do that short, less frequent periods of stress – good or bad, won’t send us spiraling downward.
While all these things are normal, humans (and animals as well) are not meant to live in a chronic alarm stage, constantly pushing buttons, taking on more and more, and never taking a break. This is significant because ultimately we are the ones who are responsible to set an intentional boundary for our own well-being. Thereby, allowing the body and emotions to find their balance and strength once again.
Have you ever noticed that some people just seem to drive themselves with “busy”-ness until they become sick? In modern culture it is uncommon to take time off from work in order to remain mentally and physically healthy. However, once one is sick, then there is an excuse to call off work and other responsibilities. In this way some folks allow themselves permission to finally “take a break,” all the while feeling lousy for a day or so. At this point when someone makes a request, it can easily be said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t. I’m sick.” The words ‘I’m sick’ are like code words in our society and generally accepted without question. “I’m sick,” untouchable for a time, ‘nuff said. Just as it should be.
Is there an alternative? Unlike Button Factory Joe, one option would be to manage potential high-stress levels by simply saying “No” to some expectations or even “good things” and activity (stressors.) This can be very helpful in one’s life and family. Obviously we cannot control all stress in life, yet taking advantage of the ones we can choose to take control of becomes even more important while going through unusually stressful periods. Allowing the body the necessary resources and downtime it needs to restore itself is of tantamount importance.When the body perceives a threat it is considered the alarm stage of the GAS. This is when the ‘fight or flight’ system is engaged. When this happens we enter into a state of anxiety whether we are attuned to it or not. In anxiety, breathing speeds up and becomes shallow. More rapid shallow breathing which is a type of hyperventilation, ensues. As a result we no longer breathe deeply and fully as should happen when at rest.
Breathing speeds up & becomes shallow
Side effects of anxiety may include physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, elevated or high blood pressure, panic attacks, restlessness, fidgeting, trembling or shaking, rapid heartbeat, and changes in body temperature. Gastrointestinal symptoms can include nausea, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, and even vomiting. Muscle tension often presents in the neck, shoulders, back, and jaw muscles. Still other symptoms like teeth grinding, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, and insomnia are common.
The next state of the GAS is called the resistance stage. This is where the body either takes the opportunity to repair itself and get back to normal (if it is not faced with continued stressful activity) or is forced to adapt to chronic, unresolved stress.
What if we just live a stressful life? So what, right? People say, “I’ve gotten used to it.” Meaning they think they have become acclimated to the level of stress in their lives. The truth is, stress always takes a toll on the body and the emotions even if we think we are coping. There will always be signs.
In fact, the manifestations of unresolved, chronic stress “don’t subside in the absence of a threat; rather, they persist until specific relaxation or mindfulness skills are employed.”4
Chronic unresolved stress invariably leads to the exhaustion stage of the GAS model. Immunity is low as the body dangerously runs out of resources and the individuals risk of acquiring a stress-based illness or disease heightens dramatically.
“The longer you deal with stress, the more harmful it is to your health. You also don’t want to remain in the resistance stage for too long and risk entering the exhaustion stage. Once you’re in the exhaustion stage, prolonged stress raises the risk for chronic high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and depression. You also have a higher risk for infections and cancer due to a weaker immune system.”3 The oxygen content of the blood is also much lower creating an anaerobic, acidic environment where cancer and disease thrives.
Consider Diaphragmatic Breathing
How do we turn this ship around? Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing has been studied and found to be an effective method of triggering the body’s relaxation responses which benefits physical and mental wellness. This concept of deep breathing for enhanced relaxation and health is really nothing new. Controlled breathing exercises have been part of cultural religious experience for thousand of years.
“Breathing practice, also known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ or ‘deep breathing’ is defined as an efficient integrative body-mind training for dealing with stress and psychosomatic conditions. Diaphragmatic breathing involves contraction of the diaphragm, expansion of the belly, and deepening of inhalation and exhalation, which consequently decreases the respiration frequency and maximizes the amount of blood gases.”5
Beautiful Baby Bellies Breathe Better!
Newborn babies get it right! Without instruction, they breathe correctly. Ever notice how their little bellies expand as they inhale through their little button noses into their lungs? When they exhale, the belly contracts and pushes the air out more completely making the lungs ready to receive the next breath of air.
Shallow Breathing ~ BAD!
At some point for many people, the natural pattern of breathing changes to a stress-inducing shallow breathing that triggers the sympathetic nervous system to engage the flight or fight response. This is the alarm stage mentioned previously. Habitual shallow breathing leaves the body in a state of unresolved stress.
Habitual shallow breathing leaves the body in a state of unresolved stress
Society glamorizes a flat stomach. The tightening of the stomach muscles, while holding the breath to ‘suck in one’s gut’ does not allow a body to utilize the diaphragm to breathe fully. Extremely tight-fitting clothes like certain types of pants and corsets can restrict the ability of the diaphragm to expand fully and may be found to be counterproductive. Increased and chronic stressors like these can play a part in or exacerbate a wide range of physical and mental health issues by encouraging shallow chest breathing and discouraging deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Shallow breathing can cause stress & stress can cause shallow breathing
“When we breathe with our chests, we use the muscles in our shoulders, necks, and chests to expand our lungs, which can result in neck pain, headaches, and an increased risk of injury. Our shoulders slump forward and our posture changes as well. “6
Shallow breathing lowers immunity due to lowered amounts of lymphocytes which help protect the body from invaders as well as the amounts of proteins available for immune cell signaling. Additionally, shallow breathing can play a role in panic attacks, dry mouth, fatigue, the aggravation of respiratory problems, and even as a precursor for cardiovascular issues such as hypertension among other things.
Diaphragmatic Breathing ~ GOOD!
Diaphragmatic breathing “can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relax muscles, decrease stress, and increase energy levels.”6 It has even been found beneficial to help people who suffer from chronic pain.
There also appears to be a direct connection with a proper breathing technique and cortisol, a hormone that increases in response to stress. Cortisol can “involuntarily control metabolism, immunity, and some mental processing, including memory and emotional appraisal, and can easily be affected by breathing.”5
“Currently, breathing practice is widely applied in clinical treatments for mental conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), motion disorders, phobias, and other stress-related emotional disorders.”5 It was also mentioned that some studies “have indicated that a brief training could enhance sustained attention as well as reduce fatigue and anxiety.”5 Additionally, “some researchers believe that the relaxation generated by peaceful breathing helped to manage inattention symptoms among children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)”5
There is evidence that as little as one round of diaphragmatic breathing can cause significant reductions in blood pressure, increase heart rate variability, oxygenation, enhance pulmonary function, and improve cardiorespiratory fitness and respiratory muscle strength.
Unless there is an organic reason for blood pressure to remain high it comes down when Diaphragmatic Breathing is utilized. Why? Because deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (known as the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system) which in turn sends signals to the body to relax. Therefore by practicing correct breathing techniques, you will assist your client in making the connections between the ravaging effects of stress on their body and psyche, and offer a valuable skill by teaching them how to relax.
In other words, deep breathing helps the body to “chillax” AND it is non-toxic, natural, and affordable!
Some people have been ‘wound too tight for too long’ and lack the ability to fully relax. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a great place to start. It “is also applied as an adjunct treatment for patients with physical disorders including stroke and cancer.”5 Insomnia is positively affected. Clinical sleep-disordered breathing symptoms in all ages of patients were also relieved. Very impressive!
If it doesn’t help with something then, you’re probably not doing it.
Among “normal healthy participants, fatigue, work burnout, and task difficulty usually led to poor performance in sustained attention… Notably, attention improvement was gained after 15 min of diaphragmatic breathing.”5
In just 15 MINUTES!!! Wow! Now you’ve got my attention.
How about trying a little experiment next time you feel a bit ‘snoozy’ while trying to study or while you are at work. Deep breathing for 15 minutes it is. If you have been practicing, then no one will be the wiser.
Time to Refine Your Breathing Technique!
Learning to breathe correctly is a beneficial stress-management technique. If shallow breathing has played a role in keeping your client from achieving homeostasis, Diaphragmatic Breathing may be helpful to improve the imbalance. It is a powerful and effective tool to add to your natural health arsenal.
Go ahead. Turn down the lights, put on some soft, relaxing music, and do the following:
STEP #1 – To practice Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing, lie on your back with your head supported by a pillow. Bend your knees slightly (use another pillow under your knees for support.) Place one hand just below your rib cage and the other hand on your upper chest. Relax your muscles as much as possible throughout this process.
STEP #2 – Inhale slowly through your nose and allow the air to bypass your chest and fill your belly. Once you feel full of air, take one more small breath. While doing this the hand on your chest should remain still and the hand on your stomach should move upward against the lower hand.
STEP #3 – Slowly exhale through your mouth. “Whhhhoooooo” Allow the diaphragm muscle (where your lower hand is located) to push out the air. Once you have exhaled all your air, exhale just a bit more. Again the hand on your chest should remain still. As your diaphragm tightens you will feel the hand on your stomach move in an inward motion.
STEP #4 – Repeat steps 2 through 3.
Try this deep breathing exercise for 5 minutes three or four times each day. Then increase the length of time to 10 minutes, and then to 15 or even 20 minutes. Eventually, you will retrain your body to breath correctly on its own.
In the beginning it may take a bit of effort to use your diaphragm correctly. If this tires you out a bit do not despair. As you continue to practice and increase the number of repetitions and/or length of time, as with any exercise it will get easier.
The study referenced above “hypothesized that an 8 weeks breathing training course would significantly improve cognitive performance, and reduce negative affect (NA) and physiological stress.”5 Negative affect means stress related to negative emotions. So this is a general idea of the amount of time and commitment that it would take for the healthy people in this study to obtain a lasting effect. The more chronic and longer the stress has been, it stands to reason that a longer practice would be in order.
This is definitely a lifestyle change. However, once the technique has been mastered, Diaphragmatic Breathing can be incorporated into everyday life. Driving the car, sitting at your desk at work, reclining on the couch, lying in bed first thing in the morning and again before going to sleep are all opportunities to remember to breathe. After all, breathing correctly is the natural thing for our bodies to do.
There are quite of number of smartphone apps that are focused on helping to create relaxing breathing exercises so find one that you enjoy. If you are the type of person who is not inclined to breathe along with an app, not to worry. Humans have been breathing without smartphones for thousands of years!