Action Alert

Sneak Attack on Dietary Supplements

According to Scott Tips, president and legal counsel for the National Health Federation (NHF), harmonized global standards are enabling overall reduced vitamin and mineral levels in pill and food form. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed changes to both the current Nutrition Facts panel on food labels and Supplement Facts panel on dietary supplement labels that prompt concern.

“While the food industry, media and general public focus on the proposed format changes, new wording and label design, there’s a danger to our health in the FDA harmonizing our Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin and mineral levels down to the extremely low levels of the Codex Alimentarius, which our organization has fought against for more than a decade,” advises Tips.

Although a few RDIs have been raised, if the proposed rulemaking is adopted, the NHF anticipates that the FDA will work to conform other recommended nutrient values to those of Codex. Support for this projection is based on an October 11, 1995, FDA pronouncement in the Federal Register to harmonize its food laws with those of the rest of the world.

The deadline for citizens to submit comments to the FDA ended on June 2, 2014, but we can still write the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5360 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Mention Docket No. FDA-2012-N-1210 and insist that the FDA cease pushing its harmonization agenda.
 For more information, visit Tinyurl.com/NHFCaseForNutrients.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Natural Awakenings

Give Freedom a Hand

Let Peace and Prosperity Ring Around the World

Kirk Boyd

2048 is a plan to prevent wars, eliminate poverty and create the conditions for global sustainability by the time we celebrate the centennial of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, unanimously adopted in 1948 by all UN member countries.

2048 dispels myths, including a major misconception that peace and prosperity are hopelessly complicated and unattainable. In truth, both can be secured through the realization of five fundamental freedoms for everyone: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for the environment and freedom from fear. These basic freedoms establish a framework within which other rights can flourish.

The five fingers of our hand illustrate the possibilities, starting with the thumb. It looks different and stands out. It is strong. It represents freedom of speech, an idea that stands up to dishonesty and corruption.

With our index finger, we point and indicate direction. It represents freedom of religion. Each of us is free to choose our own way. Those that decide God is their guide are free to live their own relationship with God.

The middle finger, the longest, represents freedom from want—the long road of existence and the certainty that there’ll be food, water, education and health care for every one of us as we go along.

Next is the wedding ring finger for many of us, and a finger with a direct link to our nervous system for all of us. It represents freedom for the environment and for life. We all have a direct link to the Earth and the ecosystem of which we are a part. When the life of the Earth is spoiled, our lives are spoiled.

Finally, there is our little finger, the least imposing. It represents freedom from fear. It’s the “finale” of our hand, our reward. All the others lead to this one.

As we recount the five freedoms represented by our fingers, remember that we didn’t ask for that hand; we were born with it. Everyone was born with the right to all five freedoms. They are the essence of a good life for all, and in this way they are intertwined; the success of each bolsters the others.

As we learn our rights, we come to expect and demand them, with lasting results. They become our way of life.
Source: Adapted excerpt from 2048: Humanity’s Agreement to Live Together by Kirk Boyd. Used with permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers. See the evolution of human rights at Tinyurl.com/HumanRightsTimeline.

Super Cocktail Kills Breast Cancer Cells

“You cannot poison yourself into health. This is a law.” ~ Dr. Charles Majors, co-author, The Cancer Killers

 

Dr. Shailaja G.  Raj, a gynecologist and reproductive endocrinology and fertility expert with a clinical practice in the greater New Orleans area, knows that for many women their greatest fear is getting breast cancer. That’s why no one could be more excited about research results published in the November 2013 Journal of Cancer – regarding a cocktail of plant compounds that killed breast cancer cells in the laboratory – unless it is her husband, Madhwa H.G. Raj PhD, who led the study in collaboration with the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center and its Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center. “The ingredients in the cocktail come from foods people eat everyday, but at much higher levels than they could possibly get from their diet,” says Madhwa Raj, a research professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at LSU’s Health Sciences Center.

What the research showed was that a combination of six known protective chemical nutrients from turmeric, soybeans, broccoli, grapes and tea were more effective against cancer cells in vitro than each would be individually. Individually they were ineffective, but in combination these natural compounds killed 100% of the sample breast cancer cells without toxic side-effects to normal cells. The researchers tested other known protective ingredients found in apples and tofu but eventually settled on the combination of the six that suppressed breast cancer cell growth by more than 80%. The resulting super-cocktail – curcumin, known as turmeric, isoflavone from soybeans, indo-3-cabinol from cruciferous plants, C-phycocyanin from spirulina, reservatrol from grapes and quercetin, a flavonoid present in fruits, vegetables, and tea also inhibited migration and invasion of cancer cells, caused cycle arrest, and triggered the process leading to cell death resulting in the death of 100% of the breast cancer cells in the samples.

Madhwa Raj adds that the super anti-oxidant combination also inhibited a marker protein for metastisis and that there is nothing else in the drug realm available that has been shown to do that.  “One of the primary causes of both the recurrence of breast cancer and deaths is a small group of cancer stem cells that evade therapy. These often multi-drug-resistant cells have the ability to generate new tumors, so it is critically important to develop new approaches to more effective and safer treatment or prevention of breast cancer,” notes Raj, who has served as reviewer for many medical journals including Endocrinology, International Journal of Cancer, Breast Cancer Research and others.

When the research was published, the researchers received many emails from around the globe requesting where they could get this super-cocktail.

It was Shailaja Raj who decided to develop a supplement to make it available now. She explains that she decided to do this, because she believes that its super anti-oxidant properties may be helpful to women now as a nutritional supplement for breast health. “The combination has been shown to work in vitro, so there is a scientific basis for the product. I have confidence that it is a good product, since we were a part of it. This combination is not available anywhere else and is a pure compound.” She is collaborating with Protegene Corporation in the development of this nutritional supplement, which is available at ProtegeneCorporation.com

She emphasizes that the supplement cannot be considered a treatment for breast cancer, nor a preventive treatment until clinical trials actually determine that.  As for recommending the supplement to her own patients, she says she doesn’t push it. As she does with other medications and products, she gives her patients information and let’s them decide.

According to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER), which includes data from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, breast cancer is the second most common cancer with 232,340 new cases estimated this year and 39,620 deaths. There are an estimated 2,829,041 women currently living with breast cancer in the United States.

Report Says Prepare for Climate Change

On May 6, a coalition of more than a dozen federal scientific agencies released the government’s “flagship” report on climate change impacts and responses. The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s third climate change assessment – completed every four years – contains a plethora of information on the subject focused on the science and how each region of the country and various sectors  are being affected.

The 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA), is the most comprehensive document on climate change impacts in the U.S. to date. This iteration of the report is meant to update the public on the latest trends and science surrounding climate change, and to that end it has been formatted into a website so the information is easily searched, downloadable and shared, both in English and Spanish, on tablets and phones as well as laptops.

For Southeast Louisiana, the prospect is formidable:  severe storms will intensify, and this region is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise because of coastal land loss.

A trio of the report’s  authors presented its primary findings on the Southeast region of the country in a webinar sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists. First and foremost, climate change is not just in the future – it is already happening. Communities across the country are feeling the effects now, according to Dr. Fred Lipschultz, Senior Scientist of the NCA and its Regional Coordinator. “Impacts are widespread across the country and are well documented in the report,” he said, for each region as well as the coastal areas and the oceans.

Secondly, the NCA projects an increase in these impacts, especially in precipitation, drought, warming, and severe weather events. The document confirms that “human activities are the primary cause,” specifically carbon emissions, Dr. Lipschultz said. “We are in control of a lot of the future scenarios, and we can greatly influence the type of climate we are going to see.”

In addition, the report discusses adaptation plans and responses that communities are taking across the country, as a way to disseminate the information for other communities facing similar challenges. “There are opportunities for changing emission levels into the future,” Dr. Lipschultz said.

Paul Schramm from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lead author of the Southeast and Caribbean chapter, said this region has not experienced the sustained warming that was predicted. The region actually cooled from around 1955 to the mid 1980’s – this “Warming Hole” is being intensely studied, he said, but the cause is currently unknown. Besides that, the last two decades had considerable warming, and 2001-2012 was warmer than the previous decade.

Schramm also discussed the public health implications of increases in ground level ozone, which accompanies temperature rise. Ozone, which originates from cars and industry, is “very harmful to public health,” he said, but capping this pollution would help. “There are adaptation measures that could reduce these negative impacts,” Schramm said.

Schramm presented a map identifying the areas in the Southeast that are most at risk based on the “Coastal Vulnerability Index,” which combines vulnerability to sea level rise and storms and the ability to adapt to them. Virginia Beach, areas of South Florida and the entire Louisiana and Mississippi coasts were highlighted – he showed aerials of the deteriorating wetlands surrounding Isle de Jean Charles, 60 miles south of New Orleans, as an example.

“There is sinking land,” Schramm said, implicating four hurricanes in recent decades and oil and gas production as the primary culprits. The next slide highlights the importance of LA Highway 1 – recently elevated because of the subsidence – as the only road to Port Fourchon, which supports 18 percent of the nation’s oil and 90 percent of offshore oil and gas production.

Researchers of this NCA devoted considerable attention to urban and energy infrastructure for the first time. This topic is of great importance in the Southeast,  because it has experienced the most severe weather events since 1980, said Tom Wilbanks of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the lead author of that chapter. “It is very different to adapt to episodic events than to long term gradual changes,” he said.

The energy section, whose lead authors were both from the private sector, confirmed that extreme weather events are climate change related – the first time such a link has been made in an official document. Beyond impacts from coastal storms and flooding, the report describes how seasonal drought and heat waves increase electricity use in interior states – a concern for energy suppliers.

Wilbanks presented a map of the worst case scenario regarding temperature increases in the interior of the region, showing a July Heat Index of 20 degrees higher than current.  “If it were 20 degrees higher it would be very uncomfortable indeed,” he said.

However, the energy sector is financially capable of responding to this impending crisis, and has taken strides in that direction in the past five years, Wilbanks said. He called out Entergy Gulf States as a leader in this movement, noting that the chapter on Climate Change Mitigation tells the story of industry response.

“I have reason to think the energy sector will respond to climate change,” he said. However, people who work outside or cannot afford air conditioning are at risk.

On the other hand, climate change is a major threat to urban infrastructure, most of which is already overburdened, old and has experienced extreme events, he said, as New Orleans’ did in Katrina. Moreover, rainfall trends indicate that over time more water will fall during a smaller number of extreme events, which further threatens the drainage systems of low-lying coastal cities, including those in South Louisiana.

“That trend has been increasing since the 1980s,” Wilbanks reported. “Under the current track we are on, these extreme events will occur up to five times more severe than now.”

Urban infrastructure is already vulnerable, extreme events add to the stressors, they are expensive to update, and public officials don’t want to raise taxes to finance such projects, he said. But some communities have found ways to address this problem: Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program taxes new development to fund projects to turn impervious surfaces into green space. Moreover, the American Society of Civil Engineers has discussed revising engineering codes, which are not tied to taxes.

To access the report, visit http://nca2014.globalchange.gov. To view the UCS webinars, logon to www.ucsusa.org.

Colleen Morgan is the environmental editor of Natural Awakenings Southeast Louisiana. She may be reached at Colleen.NOLAHealthyLiving@gmail.com.

Moveable Feet

Girls Walking with poles-resized

How to Make Walking Part of Everyday Life

by Lane Vail

Hippocrates called walking “man’s best medicine,” and Americans agree: According to the U.S. Surgeon General, walking is America’s most popular form of fitness. It’s free, convenient and simple. The Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention reveals that 10,000 daily steps help lower blood pressure, shed pounds, decrease stress, and reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Here’s how to rev up the routine and stay motivated.

Practical Tips

Breathe. Belly breathing calms the parasympathetic nervous system, expands lung capacity and improves circulation. Inhale through the nose, fill the belly and expel through the mouth, advises Asheville, North Carolina, resident Katherine Dreyer, co-founder and CEO of ChiWalking.

Try new techniques and terrain. “The body is smart and efficient. It must be constantly challenged in safe ways and tricked into burning more calories,” says Malin Svensson, founder and President of Nordic Walking USA. She suggests taking the stairs or strolling on sand to strengthen the legs and heart.

Dreyer recommends ascending hills sideways (crossing one foot over the other) to engage new muscles and protect the calves and Achilles tendons. She also suggests walking backwards for 30 steps every five minutes during a 30-minute walk to reestablish proper posture.

Push with poles. Compelling the body forward with Nordic walking poles can burn 20 to 46 percent more calories than regular walking, reports Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Svensson explains, “Applying pressure to the poles activates abdominal, chest, back and triceps muscles, which necessitates more oxygen and thereby raises the heart rate.” The basic technique is: plant, push and walk away.

Mindful Tips

Feel the Earth move under your (bare) feet. Improve mood, reduce pain and deepen sleep by going outside barefoot, says Dr. Laura Koniver, of Charleston, South Carolina, a featured expert in the documentary, The Grounded. “The Earth’s surface contains an infinite reservoir of free electrons, which, upon contact with the body, can neutralize damage from free radicals,” she says.

Notice nature. Alexandra Horowitz, author of On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, finds walking outdoors infinitely more engaging than exercising in the gym. Seek out woodsy hikes, scenic waterways or historic downtowns, and “open up to experiencing the world,” she says.

Practice moving meditation. To lighten a heavy mood, “Imagine your chest as a window through which energy, fresh air, sunshine, even rain, can pour into and through you as you walk,” says Dreyer. To ground a scattered mind, she suggests focusing on connecting one’s feet with the Earth.

Creative Tips

Make fresh air a social affair. A group walk can boost performance levels of participants, says Dennis Michele, president of the American Volkssport Association, which promotes fun, fitness and friendship through noncompetitive, year-round walking events.

Let your feet speak for an important cause and sign up for an awareness walk.

Horowitz suggests strolling with friends and sharing sensory discoveries. “A fresh perspective can help tune you into the great richness of ordinary environments often overlooked,” she says.

Ditch the distraction of electronic devices. Horowitz views walking texters as “hazards and obstacles, non-participants in the environment.” Australian researcher Siobhan Schabrun, Ph.D., reveals the science behind the sentiment in her recent University of Queensland study. The brain, she found, prioritizes texting over walking, resulting in “slowing down, deviating from a straight line and walking like robots, with the arms, trunk and head in one rigid line, which makes falling more likely.”

Walking a dog brings mutual benefits. Dr. John Marshall, chief oncologist at Georgetown University Hospital, in Washington, D.C., prescribes dog walking to his cancer patients, asserting it yields better outcomes than chemotherapy. For maximum enjoyment, strive to hit a stride, advises Carla Ferris, owner of Washington, D.C. dog-walking company Wagamuffin.

Be a fanny pack fan. Fanny packs, unlike backpacks, which can disturb natural torso rotation, comfortably store identification, phone, keys and water, says Svensson. Ferris agrees: “Walks are so much more enjoyable hands-free.”

Walk while you work. Much of the independent and collaborative work at Minneapolis finance company SALO emerges as employees walk slowly on ergonomic treadmill desks. “Being up, active and forward-moving on the treadmill benefits productivity,” says cofounder Amy Langer. Alternatively, consider investing in a cordless headset or standing desk. “Most anything you can do sitting, you can do standing, and supporting your own body weight is almost as beneficial as walking,” she says.

A study reported in the journal Diabetologia suggests that sedentary time combined with periods of moderate-to-vigorous exercise poses a greater health risk than being gently active throughout the day. Dreyer’s mantra? “The body is wise. Listen when it says, ‘Get up and walk a bit.’”
Lane Vail is a freelance writer in South Carolina. Connect at WriterLane.com.

Bike to Work

The Two-Wheel Commuting Wow

People might start commuting by bicycle to improve their fitness, save money or support sustainability, but they continue because it’s fun.

Ask a motorist about their commute and they’ll frown, at best. Ask a bicyclist about their commute and they’ll smile, and likely mention the endorphin rush, fresh air, wildlife spotted that morning, the new breakfast shop discovered en route or how their retirement accounts are swelling with money saved by not driving.

 

Health Benefits

The health benefits of bicycling are recognized around the world. Cycling is a holistic form of exercise that gradually builds strength and muscle tone with little risk of over-exercise or strain, according to AdultBicycling.com. Legs, thighs, hips and buttocks all benefit, including hip and knee joints. The average cyclist burns about 300 calories during a 20-minute commute, while also improving coordination.

Commuting bicyclists easily meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that adults engage in moderate-intensity physical activities for 30 minutes or more at least five days a week. A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports concluded that just 30 minutes of bicycle commuting improved aerobic fitness, cardiovascular load, cholesterol and the burning of fats for energy.

According to the British Medical Association, in a nine-year study of 9,000 UK civil servants, those who cycled 25 miles a week (2.5 miles each way) experienced half the heart attacks as those who shunned physical exercise. A long-term Copenhagen Heart study of more than 30,000 men and women found that even after adjusting for other risk factors, those who biked to work had a 39 percent lower mortality rate than those who did not.

A less stressful commute also contributes to mental well-being, even to the point of countering depression. A study at Duke University found that 60 percent of people suffering from depression overcame it by exercising for 30 minutes three times a week without antidepressant medication, which is comparable to the rate of relief people generally achieve through medication alone.

Daily exercise may also help prevent memory loss, according to several recent studies from the United States and Europe. The research, reported by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and others, suggests that because regular aerobic exercise—such as bicycling, swimming or running—can improve cardiorespiratory fitness by up to 14 percent, it helps improve brain function. Further, improved overall health helps prevent certain diseases that may affect mental health.

Cost & Time Benefits

When it comes to sustainability, the bicycle is one of the most energy-efficient personal transportation devices ever created. According to the American Automobile Association, the average annual cost of operating a sedan for 15,000 miles in 2010 totals $8,487; for an SUV it’s $11,085. Vehicle costs include depreciation, finance charges, fuel, maintenance, tires, tolls, insurance and taxes. Given the latest U.S. median annual household income of $52,029 reported by the Census Bureau in 2008, the cost of car ownership exceeds 15 or 20 percent of the typical household’s income. A quality bicycle, which can be purchased for the price of about one car payment, will never need fueling, is inexpensive to repair and has an operating carbon footprint that’s next to nil.

Commuters can now select the “Bicycling”
layer on Google Maps at Maps.Google.com/
biking to help them plan their route.

Bicycle commuting is surprisingly time-efficient, too. Federal Highway Administration statistics show that nearly half of all trips in this country are three miles or less. More than a quarter of all trips are less than a mile. A three-mile trip by bicycle takes about 20 minutes; in a busy city, traveling the same distance by car can take longer. Add in getting a car out of a parking space, into traffic, through lights and congestion and parked again, and for many urban and neighborhood trips, bicycles are simply faster from point to point.

Making a good thing even better, bicycle commuting saves time that would otherwise be spent at a gas station, car wash, automobile mechanic, department of motor vehicles and even traffic court. Plus, without the large cost of operating a car, it’s just possible that bicyclists might even save the necessity of time spent at a second job. As yet another bonus, there’s next to no time spent sitting in traffic.

 

Paul Dorn, a writer and activist in Sacramento, California, is co-author (with Roni Sarig) of The Bike to Work Guide: Save Gas, Go Green, Get Fit. He is a former editor of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition newsletter, former executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition, and a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor.

Essential Culinary Herbs

The Must-Have Ingredients

As any good cook knows, herbs are often the essential ingredients that coax the finest flavors out of any meal. In most cases, fresher is better, and even the smallest garden can provide a selection of pot-to-pan varieties. Here is a short list of must-haves.

Basil, Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil comes in several varieties, but sweet basil is the most common. The leaf tastes sweet and spicy, overlaid with a clove-like perfume, and is used most often with tomato dishes, pizzas, salads and vegetables, often in combination with garlic. Fresh is far superior to dried. The sweet basil plants vary in size, as well as leaf size and color. Many cooks like to grow green-leafed and red-leafed basil side-by-side.

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

This aromatic herb is widely used to flavor fish, stew, rice, stuffing, curry and soup. It also is a favorite among those on low-salt diets. Bay is most often used as whole, dried leaves that are removed before dishes are served. The leaves are shiny and dark green. This evergreen shrub can grow to the height of a tree in semi-tropical climates, but most northern gardeners grow bay in pots that they bring indoors in winter.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives can be used fresh, frozen and freeze-dried, but fresh chives have the best flavor. Use snipped, chopped chives anytime you want to add the taste of onion in a milder form. When cooking, add fresh or freeze-dried chives at the end to preserve the flavor. Bright, dark-green chives grow in clumps and have slender, grass-like leaves. They produce purple, lavender or pink globe-shaped flowers.

Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Cilantro is the leaf of the coriander plant. It is best used fresh, and people either love or hate its citrusy-peppery flavor. Cilantro goes well in tacos, soups, stews, chicken dishes, rice, salads and tomato dishes and sauces. Leaves or whole plants are harvested young, because they lose their flavor when the plants grow tall and bloom. Cilantro produces small, white flower clusters. Fertilized flowers eventually mature into nutty coriander seeds.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill has a bright, grassy flavor with a savory bite. Young leaves offer a light version with a faint undertone of licorice, with dill seeds carrying a stronger flavor punch. Leaves taste best fresh, but seeds are fine when dried. Dill adds to soups, omelets, seafood dishes, potato salads, dips, breads and pickles. The dill plant grows light green, threadlike leaves and parasol-like clusters of small, yellow flowers. Fertilized flowers mature into dill seeds.

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)

Lemon verbena’s lemony taste is not bitter, and can be cooked without losing its flavor. For low-salt diets, it serves as a welcome flavoring substitute, often used in fruit salads, candies, jams and jellies, vegetable salads and dishes, stuffing and cottage cheese; it goes well with meat and poultry. Lemon verbena also makes a delicious tea. In northern winters, the semi-tropical plant must be brought indoors to keep it alive.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Marjoram—also known as sweet, knotted, pot or winter marjoram—is a mild, sweet-flavored herb that tastes like a lighter, sweeter version of oregano. It can be used fresh or dried, with the whole dried leaves offering much better flavor than the ground version. Fresh marjoram leaves are excellent with potato, pasta or chopped salads; they work well with pork and veal and in stuffing for poultry. Marjoram’s small, oval, slightly furry leaves are light green on top and graygreen underneath. The tiny flowers cling to green balls the size of pearls that grow on marjoram’s wandering stems.

Mint (Mentha)

Mints come in endless variations, and all are spreading plants that will take over a garden. Grown in pots, they make well-behaved subjects that produce an abundance of stems that can be used fresh or dried, whole or chopped. Mint makes a great accent herb in condiments and is a perfect touch brewed into winter and summer teas or chopped into fruit or grain salads. Leftover stems from purchased bunches will root readily in water. Most strains of peppermint are heavily blushed with red; spearmint is usually bright green.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano can be used fresh or dried. It has a warm aroma and robust flavor that is popular in Italian, Greek, Spanish and Mexican dishes. It is frequently added to vegetables, (especially peppers and tomatoes), soups, stews, meat pies, pasta sauces, shellfish dishes, stuffings, dumplings, herb scones and breads, as well as fish, roast beef, lamb, chicken and pork.

Parsley (Petroselinum species)

There are two main varieties of parsley: curly-leaf and Italian or flat-leaf. Both are best fresh, and have a celery-like flavor. Curly parsley often looks best on the plate, although flat-leafed types typically have a deeper, more rounded flavor that stands up to cooking. Parsley is especially good in omelets and other egg dishes, mashed potatoes, soups, pasta sauces, vegetable dishes, salads and tabouli. It also enlivens sauces. Parsley grows as a circular rosette of stems and mature plants produce rounded clusters of white flowers.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

The aromatic evergreen rosemary has a pine-like, slightly lemony flavor and aroma. It blends well with other herbs and spices, especially garlic and thyme, and can be used as a seasoning for soups, stews, eggs, tomato sauces, vegetables, roasts, fish, poultry dishes and marinades. It makes a delicious tea, hot or iced. Rosemary plants grow gray-green, needle-like leaves that remain evergreen in mild winter climates. Rosemary flowers present in pale blue or pink.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage lends its smoky flavor to many dishes and can be used fresh or dried, with leaves that are whole, crumbled or rubbed. Sage, along with garlic and cracked pepper, makes a good seasoning rub for meats and complements seafood, sausages and beans. It also is useful for flavoring sauces, dressings, stuffings and savory breads. The sage plant grows long, narrow, oval, gray-green leaves with a pebbly texture; showy blue sage flowers grow on upright spikes.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Fragrant thyme can be used fresh or dried and has a slight lemony-mint aroma and taste. Thyme is often used in soups, chowders, stews, sauces and stuffings. It also goes well with lima beans, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, eggs and croquettes, as well as a variety of meats, poultry and fish. Thyme is a small, stiff plant with oval, grayish-green leaves; its lilac flowers grow in small clusters.
Sources: The New Food Lover’s Companion; The World of Herbs and Spices; CulinaryHerbGuide.com; GardenHerbs.org

A Good Midlife Diet Prolongs Health in Later Years

Plant-Based Foods Earlier on Help in the Future

A Harvard Medical School study found that how well women age in their 70s is linked to the way they ate earlier in life. Researchers started with 10,670 healthy women in their late 50s and followed them for 15 years. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the results saw fewer chronic diseases among women that followed diets heavy in plant-based foods during midlife; these women were also 34 percent more likely to live past 70. Those that ate most similarly to the Mediterranean diet had even better outcomes—a 46 percent greater likelihood of living past 70 without chronic diseases.

Eleven percent of the subjects qualified as healthy agers, which researchers defined as having no major chronic diseases, physical impairments, mental health problems or trouble with thinking and memory. According to lead author Cecilia Samieri, Ph.D., midlife exposures are thought to be a particularly relevant period because most health conditions develop slowly over many years.

Tapping Acupressure Points Heals Trauma in Vets

Emotional Freedom Techniques Combat PTSD

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) may be an effective treatment for veterans that have been diagnosed with clinical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. EFT involves tapping on acupressure points while focusing on traumatic memories or painful emotions in order to release them.

As part of the Veterans’ Stress Project, an anonymous clinical study comprising more than 2,000 participants, 59 veterans with PTSD were randomly assigned to either receive strictly standard care or also experience six, hour-long, EFT sessions. The psychological distress and PTSD symptoms showed significant reductions among veterans receiving the EFT sessions, with 90 percent matriculating out of the criteria for clinical PTSD. At a six-month follow-up, 80 percent of those participants still had symptoms below the clinical level for PTSD.

According to Deb Tribbey, national coordinator for the Veterans’ Stress Project, PTSD symptoms that can be resolved with the combined therapy include insomnia, anger, grief, hyper-vigilance and pain.
For more information, visit StressProject.org or EFTForVets.com.

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces the Urge to Light Up

Natural Way to Fight Addiction

Mindfulness meditation training may help people overcome addiction by activating the brain centers involved in self-control and addictive tendencies, suggests research from the psychology departments of Texas Tech University and the University of Oregon.

Scientists led by Yi-Yuan Tang, Ph.D., studied 61 volunteers, including 27 smokers, randomly divided into groups that either received mindfulness meditation training or relaxation training. Two weeks later, after five hours of training, smoking among those in the meditative group decreased by 60 percent, while no significant reduction occurred in the relaxation group.

Brain imaging scans determined that the mindfulness meditation training produced increased activity in the anterior cingulate and the prefrontal cortex; regions associated with self-control. Past research led by Tang showed that smokers and those with other addictions exhibited less activity in these areas than those free of addictions. The current study previously determined that myelin and brain cell matter in these two brain regions increases through mindfulness meditation.