A new study links group nature walks with significantly lower depression and perceived stress.
Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being, according to the study conducted by the University of Michigan… People who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or unemployment especially saw a mood boost after outdoor group walks.
The study surveyed members of the U.K.-based group Walking for Health. Closer to home, a quick search of Meetup.com turned up more than 100 walking groups in the bay area – take a look! With the warm weather we’ve been having, now is a great time to get outside.
This is an excellent article from Dr. Mark Hyman on how sugar lowers your sex drive. He goes over how sugar has a dramatic effect on your hormones and goes on to say:
Rebalancing these hormones could be as simple as what you put on your fork. Food is information that controls your gene expression, hormones, and metabolism. Choose low-glycemic, real foods, including fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, non-gluten grains, nuts, seeds, and high-quality animal protein.
In Chinese medicine, sex drive is mainly related to three organ systems: the Kidneys, the Liver, and the Stomach.
The Stomach system has to do with overall fitness and the condition of your muscles and flesh. Exercise and increased muscle tone have a salutary effect on your overall health and help maintain arousal.
The Liver system has to do with circulation. Arousal of course increases blood flow to the sex organs, and if your circulation is not good, it may be difficult to become aroused. Exercise and acupuncture are two of the best things one can do to increase and maintain good circulation.
The Kidney system is the most important for sexual health. According to Chinese medicine principles, the kidneys store your basic sexual energy. Low kidney energy means low sexual energy. Herbs are the best means of replenishing low or exhausted kidneys. People make a lot of jokes about exotic substances like rhino horn and tiger penis, but the fact is there are many natural plant materials that increase sexual energy.
If you’d like to maintain or increase your sex drive in a natural and healthy way, start by eating healthy and getting more exercise. Then come see me for a consultation and we’ll figure out the best plan for you, whether it’s acupuncture, herbs, or some combination of the two.
Interesting story from the great wild ginseng-growing region of the United States.
Say “American ginseng” and many people will think of Wisconsin. But Wisconsin is known for its cultivated roots. They have large scale farming operations and produce many tons of ginseng each year. The ginseng from Wisconsin is pretty good, but cultivated roots are generally larger, straighter, and less potent.
Wild ginseng, on the other hand, is scarce, hard to find. When you do find it, the roots are much smaller, more gnarled and bent, having had to fight for their existence on the forest floor. They are generally much more potent than cultivated roots and correspondingly more expensive. This quote from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll sums it up:
‘How is it you can all talk so nicely?’ Alice said, hoping to get it into a better temper by a compliment. ‘I’ve been in many gardens before, but none of the flowers could talk.’
‘Put your hand down, and feel the ground,’ said the Tiger-lily. ‘Then you’ll know why.
Alice did so. ‘It’s very hard,’ she said, ‘but I don’t see what that has to do with it.’
‘In most gardens,’ the Tiger-lily said, ‘they make the beds too soft — so that the flowers are always asleep.’
This sounded a very good reason, and Alice was quite pleased to know it. ‘I never thought of that before!’ she said.
There are other gradation of ginseng, including half-cultivated/half-wild, where the plants are sprouted and nurtured in a nursery before transplanting to their native environment on a mountainous forest floor. From there they are left to themselves for 3-7 years. My understanding is that the plants are not cared for in any way once they have been transplanted. Many will die, but the ones that survive will be extremely potent.
Today I’d like to share something written by a colleague, Matthew Bauer L.Ac. Matt is an acupuncturist who has been in practice for many years and has spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to educate people on how acupuncture works, and why it works the way it does. Take a look and let me know what you think.
The Needle and the Feather – My Favorite Acupuncture Analogy
by Matt Bauer L.Ac
I like to use analogies to describe acupuncture and my treatment approach with my patients. Good analogies help people grasp concepts associated with acupuncture they otherwise have trouble grasping. My feather analogy is by far my favorite way to explain acupuncture although it really goes beyond what most people need to understand. So here it is: In a way – acupuncture is like taking a feather and touching under someone’s nose and causing them to sneeze. This is a good analogy for several reasons. First, a sneeze is something the body developed the ability to do to help it restore homeostasis – it is a self-regulatory reaction. By touching under the nose with a feather, you are using an artificial stimulus to trigger a natural self-regulatory reaction. That is exactly what acupuncture is all about – an artificial stimulus to trigger a multitude of the body’s self-regulatory reactions.
But this analogy goes much further to explain acupuncture. Although it is possible to trigger a sneeze with a light feather touch under the nose, you cannot be sure it will happen. There is no “sneeze-spot” that will make everyone sneeze every time when touched. Isn’t that strange? You can trigger a sneeze touching one specific spot in one person but it won’t work on another person. More strange still is that you can trigger a sneeze with one spot in one person at one time and then touch the same spot in the same way on the same person at another time and it won’t cause a sneeze. The reason is because when you trigger a sneeze with a feather you set-off a domino effect with the first domino being the skin cells touched with a feather and the last falling domino causing the sneeze. But in order for the first domino to knock over the last domino, several middle dominos have to line-up just right and those middle dominos constantly fluctuate in unknowable ways making the outcome difficult to control or predict.
Appreciating the role those fluctuating middle dominos play is also key to acupuncture and explains why the same points can have different effects on different people or even on the same people at different times. That is why Acupuncturists often need to use several points and treatments to attain the desired effects. That is also why the “controlled” experiments so often used to study acupuncture lead to confusing results. Imaging trying to conduct a controlled experiment to answer the question if touching under the nose with a feather triggers a sneeze. Because causing a sneeze would be so difficult to reproduce, you would probably conclude that any sneezes caused in this way were due to the placebo effect!
So there you have it: The feather and sneeze analogy not only gives a good general explanation of acupuncture (an artificial stimulus that triggers natural self-regulatory reactions), it also explains why it sometimes works and other times does not, why several points and treatments are usually needed, and why most acupuncture research gets confusing results that have mistakenly labeled the hard to control clinical benefits as placebo. I hope you find this analogy helpful.
Always read labels – if it contains ingredients you’re unfamiliar with, don’t buy it, don’t eat it. This is my simple rule for buying prepared products. For instance, the picture above is the ingredient label for “Grandma’s” chocolate cookies (taken from this excellent slideshow comparing ingredient lists for home-cooked and prepared products). Even if you ignore the “enriched” flour, why is there “corn sugar” in the chocolate chips? Natural flavor? Isn’t the flavor of chocolate enough? Do you ever use vegetable shortening when you make chocolate chip cookies at home? No, of course not! You use butter, because it’s delicious and it’s a natural product that has been around nearly as long as human civilization.
Moving on… high fructose corn syrup. For a detailed analysis of high fructose corn syrup, please read “Fat Land” by Greg Critser. I did a quick internet search but it’s hard to find reliable information online – the top results are either poorly-written screeds about how high fructose will kill you or polite marketing nonsense about how it’s exactly the same as regular sugar. Long story short, high fructose corn syrup is the byproduct of aggressive corn subsidies by the U.S. federal government. It’s not sugar, and your body processes it differently than regular sugar.
(A quick aside: don’t take this to mean that regular sugar is wonderful – we’ve only had cheap refined sugar for the last few hundred years, and the whole idea of modern cakes, pies, et cetera is relatively new. Try eating fruit for dessert – a ripe, in-season fruit is packed with amazingly delicious natural sweetness.)
The rest is a mish mash of chemical goodies – propylene glycol, I have no idea what that is, but it sounds like something you would put in your car.
Be a label reader! If you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your body.
Jiao Gu Lan (gynostemma pentaphyllum) is one of my favorite kitchen-cabinet herbs. It has a light, grassy flavor that takes well to steeping or boiling and makes a good tea for everyday consumption. Jiao Gu Lan has numerous medicinal benefits including lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering blood sugar.
The plant is native to southern China and northern Vietnam and was not well known in mainstream Chinese medicine circles until recently, so it’s not found in many custom formulas. It’s most often taken by itself as a tea. In terms of Chinese medicine it is classified as a qi tonic, meaning it’s good for increasing energy. Unlike most qi tonics (ginseng, astragalus, etc.) it is cool in nature and thus reduces inflammation at the same time as it increases energy.
Interestingly, Jiao Gu Lan has also become popular with horse owners, who use it to aid in the treatment of laminitis.
You can find Jiao Gu Lan in teabags in most Chinese markets. In some places it’s sold under the trade name “Penta tea” or “Panta tea”.
What’s your favorite herbal tea? Let me know in the comments! :)
I found these vegetables at Berkeley Bowl. I forgot what they’re called, but they are easy to cook and delicious. The stalks break off a central core very easily and they don’t have much dirt, so the prep time is minimal. To cook them I use an easy method I learned initially with broccoli, but it applies just as well to any vegetable with a hard stem:
Heat some sunflower or other high-heat oil in a pan with 1-2 cloves of smashed and chopped garlic. Flame should be medium-high to high, but not maximum – depends on your stove. I currently have an electric stove but I’ve gotten used to it. When the garlic starts to sizzle, throw in the cleaned and wet leaves. Stir around until the leaves are coated with oil and turn color slightly, about 1-2 minutes. Then add some water and cover. It will steam up. Let it cook for another 2 minutes or so, or until the stalks are soft enough to bite through. Done!
Watermelon is an excellent dessert for the summertime. It’s sweet and cold, rehydrating and cooling the body during hot weather. Choose seeded watermelons rather than seedless as these tend to be sweeter and more delicious on the whole.
But is there anything you can do with the rind? I googled “watermelon rind recipe” and found many recipes for pickling and chutney. I also found this recipe, which looks great.