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Apr 19, 2018

April Window to Wanderlust

by Abbie Warnock-Matthews


Apr 19, 2018

Book Nook: 10 Books to Read

by RidgeCrest Herbals

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Apr 19, 2018

Does The World Need Heirloom Seeds?

by Caleb Warnock

Read this twice: Most of the garden seed varieties available to U.S. gardeners in catalogs in the early 1900’s are now extinct, for one simple reason. Heirloom seeds cannot be corporate owned. Today, the vast majority of seeds are sold by three huge conglomerates. (At this writing, Monsanto has made a $57 billion offer to buy out Syngenta. That would bring the total down to two companies.) They buy up seed companies, drop the heirloom seed varieties, and replace them with hybrids and genetically modified seeds because those two kinds of seeds force the grower to buy new seed each year -- and those two kinds of seeds can be patented and corporate-owned. Getting rid of natural, true seeds is good for profits, but terrible for self-reliance. I’m also convinced that having so few seeds available by so few producers -- and most of them are the kinds of seeds that purposefully don’t produce new true seeds -- is a national security issue. Our food supply is at risk.

Most people are too busy watching television and playing on their smartphones to care. Gardening -- working to provide your own food with great flavor and nutrition -- is out of favor. Seed saving, because it requires extra work, attention, and space in the garden, has only been practiced among a small percentage of gardeners for the past century anyway, so you can imagine that today, the art is nearly extinct. People with a broad, working knowledge of how to save seeds in a backyard garden are few and far between. Seed saving is both necessary and in crisis. We, today, are the first generations on earth who have entirely walked away from the concept of growing our own food. Through the history of the world, people grew their food -- and saved their own pure seeds. Today’s world is the mirror reverse -- we buy our food without ever knowing who grew it, or where it came from. And 99.999 percent of the U.S. population today has no earthly idea how to grow and harvest pure seeds from the garden.   Even three generations ago, this would have been unfathomable. 

As a nation, we have spent little time making sure our children know how to grow even the easiest of vegetables. Knowing how to feed a family or a community self-reliantly is laughable -- after all, we have grocery stores and the industrial agricultural complex to take care of our needs, right? They will never let us down. Our food system will never be in doubt. Right? I’m not fearmongering. The point I want to make is that the “zombie apocalypse” has descended on us twice before, as a nation. Both times it nearly cost us everything. I have a large collection of ration books, stamps, tokens, and guidebooks from both World War I and World War II. I have vegetable ration stamps, sugar stamps, stamps for tires and gasoline. I have the ration stamps that were carried both by the families in the U.S. and those working in the European theater of war. I give a lot of speeches and I take this collection with me to nearly every speech because most people have never seen these relics of our near national starvation. I promise you that, when my great-grandparents were children around 1900, no one thought national starvation was on the horizon. Yet without war victory gardens, starvation is what would have happened. Twenty years later, we found ourselves facing starvation again. With so many of our men at the battlefront, we had exactly enough domestic food production to either feed the people of the nation or feed the millions of soldiers we sent overseas -- but not both. Again it was victory gardens to the rescue. Without them, we would have lost the war. As it turns out when you arrive to fight Nazi Germany, you can’t knock on their front door, and then ask for their nearest grocery store. 

But that is all ancient history, and surely we will never again need to be self-reliant. Surely. I pray it is so. You can discern where this is going. Let’s all say it together now -- “Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.” 

We can do better.  We can teach our children and grandchildren, by example, to grow gardens using true, natural seeds. Every gardener can either learn to save their own seed, or buys seeds from people like me who work to ensure heirloom seeds remain in the public domain, and that no more heirloom seeds are lost to extinction. I literally search the globe for the last seeds of important historic varieties, like perennial wheat, white strawberries, multiplier onions, just to name three. I am single-handedly keeping alive many critical heirloom varieties. You can read about this in my book Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers. For every common heirloom I offer at SeedRenaissance.com, I’ve grown and rejected 30-40 other varieties. I spend huge amounts of time and money on these tests because no one else is doing this work. I evaluate how these varieties perform in an organic garden, without petrochemical fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides. I evaluate earliness, flavor, production, storage, cold-soil tolerance, winter harvestability, self-seeding capacity, and more. If I don’t love a variety, I don’t sell it. Every seed I sell is guaranteed pure.  They’re NEVER hybrid, GMO, patented, or corporate owned. Our food supply MUST remain in the public domain. Join me in creating a renaissance in our backyard gardens.

Caleb Warnock is the bestselling author of 14 books, including the popular Forgotten Skills series and the Backyard Renaissance series. He is the owner of SeedRenaissance.com.


Apr 19, 2018

TCM and Organ Pairing

by Chris Herbert

Health is achieved through the combination of many efforts such as eating wholesome food, exercising, drinking plenty of water, and reducing stress. At Ridgecrest Herbals, we formulate products using what we call Eclectic Medicine, the combining of different philosophies of health from Western Herbalism, Ayurvedic Medicine, Nutraceuticals, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

We can learn so much about the body through the lens of TCM.  One of the oldest recorded practices of alternative medicine, TCM includes herbalism, acupuncture, qigong and tai chi exercises, reiki, and more, and is the largest long-term case study on the planet. In TCM, Qi (pronounced Chi) is considered a vital force or energy responsible for controlling the workings of the human mind and body. Qi flows through the body via pathways, called meridians. There is a total of 20 meridians: Twelve primary meridians, which correspond to specific organs, organ systems or functions, and eight secondary meridians. Imbalances in the flow of Qi through these meridians cause illness; correction of this flow restores the body to balance.

Four Key TCM Principles:

1. Your body is an integrated whole. Along with your mind, emotions, and spirit, your physical body structures form a miraculously complex, interrelated system that is powered by Qi.

2. You are completely connected to nature. Changes in nature are always reflected in your body. TCM factors in the season,

geographical location, time of day, as well as your age, genetics, and the condition of your body when looking at your health issues.

3. You were born with a natural self-healing ability. Your body is a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm. Think about it: nature has a regenerative capacity, and so do you. Sometimes, this ability may appear to be lost or difficult to access, but in most cases, it is never completely gone.

4. Prevention is the best cure. Do you know your body is continually revealing signs about the state of your health? It’s common to ignore these signs or symptoms until something more complicated arises. TCM teaches you how to interpret what your body is telling you and take proactive measures.  

Along with strengthening and balancing the meridians, TCM practitioners also use a theory called Zang-Fu, the art of pairing organs.

Zang (Yin organs) include the liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys. The pericardium is sometimes considered a sixth yin organ. The function of the Yin organs is to produce, transform, regulate and store fundamental substances such as Qi, blood, and body fluids. In general, yin organs do not have empty cavities.

Fu (Yang organs) which are made up of the gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder and triple burner. The triple burner does not have a physical structure and is considered a functional unit, which is translated to essentially regulating Qi, the synovial fluids, and fluid that surrounds the organs, muscles, nerves, and vessels. The yang organs are mainly responsible for digesting food and transmitting nutrients to the body. Usually, yang organs are organs with empty cavities.

These organs perform tasks with Qi in order to bring homeostasis to the individual. Certain organs work closely together, and sometimes the physical manifestation of illness are rooted in a different organ than the one that is showing the signs of disease. Therefore, you can sometimes address the health issues of one organ by cleansing a related organ. This is called Organ Pairing. For example, if you get constant bronchitis or lung issues, it would be wise to do a colon cleanse to not only serve the large intestine but help the lungs as well, whose health is dependent on the balance of the large intestine. 70% of the immune system is in in the gut, so if you eat a lot of refined sugar, carbohydrates, and mucus-forming foods, this causes your immunity to drop. Lowered immunity can result in more sickness and lung impairment. The harmonious relationship between the two organs needs to be restored.


Apr 3, 2018

Are Supplements Necessary?

by Healther Warnock

Are Supplements Necessary?

In a perfect world, the answer would be “no.” In the world we live in, I believe the answer is often “yes.” I’ve heard it said many times that supplements are unnecessary, as you should be receiving all of your nutrients from a balanced diet. Some argue that our ancestors weren’t popping pills to stay healthy, so why should we? However, our modern environment is profoundly different than that of our ancestors. Examples include:

- A decline in soil diversity and quality and thus, a consequent decline in nutrient-dense foods

- A decrease in the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed - Consumption of mass-produced, processed foods

- An increase in exposure to food additives and environmental toxins - Overuse of antibiotics and other medications that damage the liver

- An increase in chronic stress

- A decrease in sleep quality and duration

- A reduced connection with nature and less time spent outdoors

- An increase in the number of hours we spend sitting Supplements are meant to supplement your diet, not to correct a bad diet. There is no substitution for eating well! Food not only provides vitamins and minerals but also fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals and many other compounds that interact in ways that supplements can’t. However, it takes a lot of time, energy, and money to eat a perfectly balanced diet and those things are hard to come by in our modern world! By consuming certain supplements, you are ensuring that your body is taken care of, even when you aren’t necessarily making the conscious effort. A daily multivitamin is safe, effective and can go a long way toward correcting nutritional deficiencies.

Some other supplements to consider:

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is necessary for bone health. It is integral to your immune system, muscles, blood vessels, and nervous system. Consider taking if you spend a lot of time indoors, are over 50, or have dark skin.

Potassium reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease. It’s found in bananas, leafy greens, oranges, raisins, milk, etc. Consider taking if you have a heart condition or are African American, as those populations are at higher risk for hypertension and heart disease. Too much can be harmful to older people or people with kidney problems.

Folate prevents neural tube defects in utero, such as spina bifida. It’s synthetic version, folic acid, is found in many processed food sources, such as citric fruit juices, pasta, bread, and fortified breakfast cereals, but there is evidence that it can be more harmful than beneficial in the amounts included in a processed diet. Folate is naturally occurring and found in dark green vegetables, nuts, and legumes. If you are pregnant, find a supplement that sources folate from real foods, like the Garden of Life Prenatal.

Iron, Zinc and Vitamin B12 are crucial nutrients that are more readily available from animal products, thus making them hard to come by in vegetarian and vegan diets. Red blood cells use iron to transport oxygen and nutrients, so not getting enough could lead to anemia. Zinc is found in every cell in the body and helps with everything from maintaining your immune system to reproduction. It can be found in plant sources but is hard for the body to absorb. Our bodies don’t make vitamin B12, and it can only be obtained through animal products or supplements. It is essential for maintaining the brain and nervous system, as it helps make your DNA and red blood cells. Low levels can lead to anemia, pregnancy complications, fatigue, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and even vision loss. Calcium maintains healthy bones and prevents osteoporosis. Pair this supplement with Vitamin D to improve absorption, especially if you don’t consume or have a hard time digesting dairy products.

Fish Oil has a host of benefits and unless you’re consuming 2+ servings of fish per week, your body could use more of it! Fish oil comes from the tissues of oily fish and contains omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA, which are essential for the optimum performance of the heart and brain. Studies have shown that fish oil may improve the risk factors for heart disease, increase weight loss when paired with exercise, support eye health, reduce inflammation, maintain healthy skin, reduce arthritis and joint pain, and even improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity. The types of fish most commonly used in fish oil supplements are salmon, cod liver, mackerel, sardines, halibut, pollock, and herring. Doses vary based on age and health. Many supplements contain 1,000 mg of fish oil per serving, but be sure to look for one that contains at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000 mg of fish oil. Also check the label for purity, form, and sustainability certifications. Fish oil is best taken with a meal to reduce the side effects of “fishy burps” and bad breath.

You should always exercise caution when taking a supplement of any kind and it’s wise to consult with your primary physician and have blood tests run to see where you’re deficient. Toxic effects of high doses of vitamins and minerals are well documented and certain medicines such as antibiotics, birth control, laxatives, and aspirin can interact with them as well. Bottom line: there are many benefits of taking supplements, but nothing beats the taste of whole foods! Here’s to a longer, happier life through healthy choices!


Apr 3, 2018

Mind Games

by Will Christensen

“Challenge yourself.  If you don't understand how to play it, play it until you understand.”

I was recently reading a study on brain health and memory, which inspired me to share one of my personal hobbies that have brought me vast amounts of joy and great memories:  Playing games.  About 2,000 men and women, age 70 and older, participating in the long-running Mayo Clinic Study of Aging showed that those who used the computer at least once a week were 42% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems than those who rarely logged on.  This study also showed that playing games would decrease the chances memory loss by 14%.  I was really encouraged by this because this news helps to encourage families to get together in the home and play a game. 

Board games that include strategies, counting, and moving parts/pieces like Monopoly, or remembering who and what you have eliminated in a “who-done-it” game like Clue, or even keeping track of the shares owned by each player in the real estate game Acquire (my all time favorite) are GREAT brain boosters.  Games not only challenge and keep the brain firing, they also bring families and friends together.  Games help children learn how to lose, and more importantly, how to be a gracious winner.  They also teach parents how to throw a win to one of the children without letting them realize it.  Games open mouths to mothers that need to hear how their children each deal with challenges, and they teach children how to ask for help in understanding rules.  This list is a just a drop in the bucket of benefits from playing games. 

We work full-time, and we all have causes we commit time and energy to.  We are bombarded by media on our phones, TVs, even the radio in the car.  Entertainment is good, but experiencing it with family and friends is better.  This upcoming generation has more options than ever to escape into entertainment, but we need to remember the importance of turning off electronics every so often. Would we know what to do with our families and friends if there were no phones, no computers, no TVs?

Here are some ideas to help a family that is new to game playing: 

- Look at the age ranges and time keys on the outside of the game's box.  Start with a time and age that you feel is a little shorter and younger than you feel like you would like, and ease into it with family members.

- Find theme games that your family would enjoy.

- Read the instructions, and then search YouTube for a video on how to play the game. Play a round or two to get the hang of it, and then start over.  Play as teams, and ask your young children to be on your team.  This will help them get the gameplay down while still having an advantage to the older kids, and it's a great way to work closely with them.

- Look at games you're thinking about on boardgamegeek.com, and read the user reviews. This will help you choose a better game for your group/situation. 

- If you aren’t committed to finishing a game you can share with friends, invent a game!  You will have gone through a great deal of strategy and mental work in designing it. 

- When your family or friends are ready, step it up.  Play some intense strategy games, like Risk. This is great for children and adults to maintain the skill of learning something new. 


Apr 3, 2018

Make Your Own Natural Beeswax Candles

by RidgeCrest Herbals

Candles can provide atmosphere, beauty, and relaxation to your home, regardless of the time of year. Unfortunately, many commercial candles contain harsh ingredients that become harmful when burned. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned (both are known carcinogens). Yuck!  Keep your home cute and cozy with this natural recipe that can be customized with different scents. These also make great gifts!

Ingredients:

- 1 pound filtered beeswax, chopped or in pellet form

- 1/2 cup coconut oil

- Medium tabbed cotton wicks (the thicker, the better for beeswax)

- Jars – This recipe makes three 8oz. mason jars, or six 4oz. jars

- Essential Oils, if desired 

Directions:

- Melt beeswax and coconut oil in a pouring pitcher, or double boiler.  If you don’t have a double boiler, you can create one by placing one inch of water in a pot and placing a smaller pot or stainless steel bowl inside and bringing the water to a low simmer.

- Once the mixture is combined, add 20-30 drops of an essential oil of your choice (if using), and stir. To ease on cleanup, use a chopstick that you can throw away.

- Pour mixture into jars, and insert wicks in the center.  You can keep them centered and straight by feeding a trimmed-to-size wick through the middle of a clothespin hinge and setting the clothespin on top of the jar.

- Allow candles to set/harden in a warm place since cooling beeswax too quickly can cause the wax to crack.  

- Allow candles to cure for at least 2 days, then cut wicks to 1/4 inch tall.  When the candle is lit, allow it to burn long enough that the wax melts out to the sides of the jar. This helps to prevent tunneling (when the middle melts down with lots of wax left over around the edges). NEVER LEAVE A CANDLE UNATTENDED.


Apr 3, 2018

April Organtics

by Pat Bagley


Mar 20, 2018

World Herbal History

by Matt Warnock

Mankind has used herbs since long before the dawn of recorded history. How do we know? Well, like us, Neanderthals living some 50,000 years ago used to get food stuck in their teeth. In 2012, Spanish scientists preparing skulls for museum exhibition decided to run DNA analysis on the dental calculus that they were cleaning from the molars for display. They found two herbs, yarrow and chamomile, that are both too bitter and too lacking in nutritive value to have been eaten as foods. Both are still widely and regularly used as medicinal herbs today. This is compelling evidence that Neanderthals already used medicinal herbs. Since Neanderthals were not farmers, we can assume that the earliest medicinal herbs were all wild-crafted.

However, before we could say there was a “history” or “tradition” of herbal medicine, agricultural societies had to be established (about 13,000 years ago) and then writing (about 5,000 years ago), and early writings have not often survived. Monuments inscribed in stone are usually the oldest surviving original writings, while most other ancient texts, such as religious or medical texts, come to us through many years of handwritten copies of older documents, making their age and original authors difficult to determine. Yet every major civilization has passed down written texts and oral histories that have preserved their knowledge and philosophies of herbal medicine for future generations.

China:

In ancient China, the written history of herbal medicine began perhaps with the Divine Farmer’s Herb/root Classic (Shen-nong Ben Cao Jing), a treatise on herbal medicine attributed to Shen-nong, the Divine Farmer, a larger-than-life figure who was traditionally said to have lived before 2500 BCE, and who was said to have invented the plow, initiated the use of tea, and tested the use of medicinal herbs on his own body. Shen-nong was said to be an ancestor of the Yellow Emperor, the father of the Chinese people. The Ben Cao Jing listed 365 medicines (animal, vegetable, and mineral), and laid out the beginnings of acupuncture and other principles of Classical Chinese Medicine (now simplified and referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM).

This foundation of TCM was further expanded in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (Huangdi Neijing) which is a dialog between the Yellow Emperor and six of his ministers. The Yellow Emperor is also a legendary figure, who is credited with inventing the calendar, establishing the Chinese culture, and fathering the Chinese people. Both texts are some of the oldest in Chinese literature and are thought to date at least to the beginning of the Han Dynasty that was established at the end of the Warring States period, about 220 BCE, making them roughly contemporaneous with the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

India:

At least as old as TCM, Ayurveda is another ancient herbal tradition, founded and developed in India. Like the Chinese system, the origins of Ayurveda are lost in the mists of time, and the oldest manuscripts we have date to the Gupta period of 300-600 A.D. Like the foundational TCM texts, the earliest Ayurvedic texts relate an account of the Gods transmitting the knowledge of medicine to early sages, who passed that knowledge on and expanded on it.

Classical and European:

In Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East, the history of herbal medicine traces its roots through Babylon, Egypt, Phoenicia, and eventually to Greece. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived from about 460-370 BCE, is often called the “Father of Modern Medicine” because of his role as the founder of a school of medicine that still has influence today. Notable in the teachings of Hippocrates is the use of food (including herbs) as medicine, a focus on the natural healing powers of the body, and the ethics embodied in the Hippocratic Oath, which is still used today.

American:

The European discovery of the New World in 1492 began a wave of immigration that would last hundreds of years. Settlers from all over Europe brought their own herbal and folk medicines. They also adopted local remedies used by native Americans in both hemispheres. West African slaves brought their native remedies, and immigrants (forced or voluntary) from India and China were often used as cheap labor, bringing their herbal traditions with them. Physicians, exposed to all of these various influences, selected the remedies that seemed to work best, regardless of their provenance, and became known as the “Eclectic School” of herbal medicine.

Today in our global economy of shared information, this Eclectic tradition carries on with herbalists who review the literature on herbal medicine from around the world, tailoring traditional remedies to fit the needs and types of patients they serve. The influence of these global herbal traditions extends far past herbal practitioners. Even the most conventional Western physician is indebted to herbal medicine for the foundations of the vast majority of the drugs that he or she prescribes. And many physicians, dissatisfied with the modern assembly-line model of pharmaceutical medicines, are literally returning to their roots to study medicines in their natural form. It may be that someday, except in life-threatening situations, our society will entirely shift back to herbal traditions as the most effective form of care, tested for thousands of years.


Mar 20, 2018

Qi and the 5 Elements



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