From Sea to Land

“We evolved in the ocean, developed methods of controlling potassium, sodium, and chloride across membranes to maintain metabolism and life (using solutes in the water), and, along with land plants, we now must carry the ocean water within our skins, controlling these electrolytes, bathing the outside surfaces of our cells as if they were single-celled organisms in the sea.” — Michael Moore

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A Beautiful Talk by Jiddu Krishnamurti on Living Simply

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Jiddu Krishnamurti is a spiritual figure known for his radical dedication to understanding the actuality of day to day life.  Krishnamurti emphasized a direct and perceptual contact with life and denied any necessity to external sources or authorities in one’s own self-understanding.  Krishnamurti spent his life talking to audiences in various parts of the world about the actual facts of what we are doing to the world.

This beautiful talk, from 1953, starts off with the sentence: “It seems to me that it is one of the most difficult things to live simply, and perhaps this evening we can go into it not just at the superficial level but deeply, and try to find out what, in essence, it means to live simply.”

Now, our conception of a simple life is to possess only a few things or to have no possessions at all, but surely, that is not a simple life. We look up to those who lead a simple life in the physical sense, who have few clothes and no property, as though that were something marvelous. Why? Because we in ourselves are attached to things, to property. But is living a simple life merely a matter of denudation, the putting aside of physical things? Or is it much deeper? Though we may have but few things, inwardly we are always gathering, accumulating; we are bound to beliefs, to dogmas, to every form of experience and memory, and there is in us a ceaseless conflict between various wants, longings, hopes, desires. All this indicates not a simple life but a very complex inward life. So I think it is important to find out why the mind accumulates, consciously as well as unconsciously, why it cannot meet every incident, every reaction as though it were something new, fresh. Why must it translate each experience in terms of the old, in terms of what it has known? The mind is always accumulating experiences, reactions, storing them away as memory in order to use them for its own security. And is understanding, is intelligence the result of innumerable experiences? Or is it the capacity to look at things anew, to face life from moment to moment without the darkening effect of experience, of the past?

You can view this entire talk online for free at the J. Krishnamurti Online website.

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Vitamin D

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The merits of Vitamin D supplementation are well known and it has become a common practice in many parts of the world.

The Vitamin D Council are one of the main research-based advocates for Vitamin D.  The Weston A. Price Foundation has also long been promoting the Vitamin.

What remains to be clarified is what is the optimal blood levels of Vitamin D and what are the optimal co-factors (there remains debate about if the Weston A. Price foundation is using too much Vitamin A, and they would suggest others are using not enough).

Too high levels of Vitamin D may be linked to the development of kidney stones (for example, see http://www.vitamincouncil.com/newsletter/2006-aug.shtml).

This study,

Kristine Ensrud et al. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Frailty Status in Older Women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, December 2010

found that both lower and higher levels of Vitamin D were associated with increased frailty.

Like most things in life, they should not be considered in isolation, nor should they be used in excess.

A reassuring study came out 3 days ago from the Mayo Clinic.  Read about it at Science Daily: Vitamin D toxicity rare in people who take supplements, researchers report

Americans have low vitamin D levels, research shows, and as a result, vitamin D supplement use has climbed in recent years. Vitamin D has been shown to boost bone health and it may play a role in preventing diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. In light of the increased use of vitamin D supplements, researchers set out to learn more about the health of those with high vitamin D levels. They found that toxic levels are actually rare.

We have a Vitamin D thread started on our discussion forums.

Oh Mr. Ornish

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Scientific American recently released an article titled Why Almost Everything Dean Ornish Says about Nutrition Is Wrong.  Dean Ornish is well known for his almost 4 decades of advocating for a low-fat, carb-heavy, vegetarian diet.

This article will come as no surprise to most herbalists.  It contains a good overview of some of the recent research that debunks Ornish’s proposals.

So there’s little evidence to suggest that we need to avoid protein and fat. But what about the claims Ornish makes about the success of his own diet—do they hold up to scrutiny? Not exactly.

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Jiddu Krishnamurti on Happiness

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We may move from one refinement to another, from one subtlety to another, from one enjoyment to another; but at the center of it all, there is the ‘me’, the ‘me’ that is enjoying, that wants more happiness, the ‘me’ that searches, looks for, longs for happiness, the ‘me’ that struggles, the ‘me’ that becomes more and more refined, but never likes to come to an end. It is only when the ‘me’ in all subtle forms comes to an end that there is a state of bliss which cannot be sought after, an ecstasy, a real joy without pain, without corruption.

When the mind goes beyond the thought of the ‘me’, the experiencer, the observer, the thinker, then there is a possibility of a happiness that is incorruptible. That happiness cannot be permanent, in the sense in which we use that word. But, our mind is seeking permanent happiness, something that will last, that will continue. That very desire for continuity is corruption.

If we can understand the process of life without condemning, without saying it is right or wrong, then, I think, there comes a creative happiness which is not ‘yours’ or ‘mine’. That creative happiness is like sunshine. If you want to keep the sunshine to yourself, it is no longer the clear, warm life-giving sun. Similarly, if you want happiness because you are suffering, or because you have lost somebody, or because you have not been successful, then that is merely a reaction. But when the mind can go beyond, then there is a happiness that is not of the mind.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Adaptogens Questioned

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Very simply, adaptogens are nontoxic, produce a nonspecific defensive response to stress and have a normalizing influence on the body. As defined, adaptogens constitute a new class of natural, homeostatic metabolic regulator. — David Winston and Steven Maimes

Paul Bergner has a very interesting slide presentation titled the Dark Side of Adaptogens.  Unfortunately this paper does not appear to be available online anymore, but it still available as part of the Fatigue: Pathophysiology, Natural Therapeutics, and Adaptogens course.

The subtitle to this talk on the Dark Side of Adaptogens is “How the indiscriminate use of tonic herbs can promote burnout and deep injury to the endocrine system”.

One of the parts I found most interesting about this talk was questioning the need for an adaptogenic approach when tonic herbs already have a well defined role within the traditional systems of health.  Tonic herbs are used in very careful ways at the appropriate times with the appropriate indications.  The modern usage of adaptogens as a silver bullet, in isolation, and without a holistic consideration or the backing of a well assessed health restoration plan can do more harm than good.

Tonifying herbs strengthen the processes of the body, including the pathogenic processes. Thus tonifying herbs should not be prescribed in cases where there are still signs of an exterior disorder. If they are, the exterior disorder will linger on. — Bensky and Gamble (Chinese Materia Medica)

We have a thread started on our discussion forums to discuss adaptogens.

Low-Carb Diet for Athletes

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An article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine titled Low-carbohydrate diets for athletes: what evidence? reviews the studies done on the performance effects of low-carbohydrate diets. There are very few of such studies and most are not well designed.

What we particularly enjoyed about this paper was its questioning of the conventional wisdom that athletes need to consume carbohydrates. It also raised questions such as the adverse effects of carbohydrate consumption as well as the often un-thought about benefits of a low-carb diet (prevents insulin resistance, effect on the immune system, weight control, and so forth).

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