Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Health Posts Have a New Website

As of today, there will be no more health topic posts on this blog. Joint Health is the last health post for The Nature In Us.

July has been a transition month for the health category of news. All health news posts will now only be made on The Herbs Place News website.

All of the archived posts for the health topic will remain at The Nature In Us, but they are also posted on the new website, so you will be able to search for the same information there also.

Health has always been the most popular topic in polls at The Nature In Us. The new website is offering 3-4 posts a week so you'll have more health news to choose from.

You can get the posts by email, feed, or follow on Twitter. The options are on the website. Visit The Herbs Place News now and choose an option to stay in touch.

Joint Health

by Shannon Larsen
Health Sciences
June 18, 2009

Joints are areas where two or more bones meet. They are made up of cartilage (connective tissue that covers the bones of joints, reducing friction), synovial membrane and fluid (to provide joint protection and lubrication), ligaments and tendons (bands of connective tissue that provide support and control movement) and bursas (fluid-filled sacs that provide cushion). Most joints are mobile, allowing skeletal movement.

Several scientific studies have demonstrated the joint-protective and supportive actions of certain supplements, including glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that stimulates the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans, the major structural component of cartilage, and aids in replenishing joint fluid.1 Chondroitin aids in maintaining the structural integrity of connective tissue, including cartilage. Chondroitin attracts fluid into cartilage, making it more shock-absorbent.2 MSM is a natural source of sulfur which may have soothing properties and is needed for the synthesis and maintenance of cartilage.2,3

Additional joint-supportive supplements include hyaluronic acid, devil’s claw root and other herbs with soothing actions. Hyaluronic acid is found abundantly in joint synovial fluid and cartilage and plays a role in joint lubrication.2 Devil’s claw root contains iridoid glycosides that have soothing properties.2

Nature's Sunshine EverFlex with Hyaluronic Acid is a natural alternative for joint support that combines glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, devil’s claw4 and hyaluronic acid for healthy joint function. EverFlex Cream provides the cooling relief of menthol, plus MSM and CMO (cetyl myristoleate) along with five other cetylated fatty acid esters. Cetylated fatty acid esters have been clinically studied and shown to help promote joint mobility and flexibility. One study showed improved flexibility and joint function in patients 30 minutes after the initial topical application.

Joint Support and Ayurvedic Joint Health provide nutritional support for the structural system including the joints.

IF-Relief contains a combination of herbal extracts that provide antioxidant protection, including mangosteen pericarp, turmeric root, andrographis (whole plant), white willow bark, and boswellia gum.

Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may promote joint health. Two of the acids contained in fish oil—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) reduce the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

After several other small studies, a formal trial was launched in which some patients received fish oil capsules and others received a placebo. The researchers noted that after 14 weeks the patients taking fish oil reported a delay in the onset of fatigue.

Clinical studies also indicate that omega-3 fatty acids help improve bone strength and the deposition of calcium into bones.5 Nature's Sunshine Super Omega-3 EPA contains 1000 mg of purified (molecularly distilled) fish oil, providing both EPA and DHA.

1. University of Maryland Medical Center. Glucosamine. 2008. Available at: Accessed December 18, 2008.
2. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 9th ed. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2007.
3. University of Maryland Medical Center. Sulfur. 2007. Available at: Accessed December 22, 2008.
4. University of Maryland Medical Center. Devil’s Claw. 2007. Available at: Accessed December 22, 2008.
5. University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. 2009. Available at: Accessed June 12, 2009.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gardening for Native Pollinators

WHEN ECOLOGIST Rachel Winfree set out to survey native bees in the Delaware Valley of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, she was not optimistic about her results. Not only is the region far from any known hot spots of bee diversity, such as the U.S. Southwest, “New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the country,” says Winfree, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University. “I was worried that after getting funding and hiring a staff, the project would turn out to be a waste of time.”

Her fears were unfounded. “We found bees everywhere,” says Winfree—thousands of individuals of 46 different species. More surprising, she and her colleagues discovered that the number of flower visits by these natives was sufficient to fully pollinate the watermelon crop on 21 of 23 farms in her study region.

Gleaning such data was the goal of Winfree’s work. As European honeybees decline in a mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), “I wanted to find out whether native bees could fill in for them,” she says. While Winfree cautions against extrapolating her results too broadly to other crops in other parts of the country, “if we lost all honeybees in this region to CCD tomorrow, between 88 and 90 percent of the watermelon crop would be fine,” she says. “Native bees are providing a backup plan—for free.”

How to Plant for Pollinators

“The neat thing about pollinator conservation is that anyone, from the owner of a golf course to an apartment dweller with a window box, can do something to help,” says Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. All it takes is to provide appropriate food and habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinating species—and to avoid using the pesticides that harm them.

“Being pollinator-friendly also means you are being wildlife-friendly,” says Kimberly Winter, NWF’s habitats program manager. “And you are creating a sustainable ecosystem in your own backyard.”

Read the entire article and get tips on planting for pollinators.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Altering Your Intake

by Donna L. Watkins

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Ruby-throated Hummingbird Feeding on Bee Balm

When we're finished with our life on earth, our bodies will be raised to live forever, we will be spirit beings, but in the here and now, we are called to honor our bodies because it is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

In today's hectic, rushed, stressful lifestyles, we do not care for our bodies the way we should. My body is well aware of the abuse I gave it for many years growing up loving junk food more than real food; in my young 20's as I worked 2 and 3 jobs to have money for all the things my mind craved (from images of what advertising told me I had to have); and in my 30's and 40's while I began a business, raised my son, homeschooled, ran a health food co-op, and enjoyed the role of Super Woman while desiring to keep everything looking perfect.

Generally when we're stressed we don't eat well which means we don't eat the things we're supposed to eat to make our bodies healthy. It's amazing what our bodies tolerate! But there comes a time in life when you realize that things are headed down hill and it's time to heed the warning signs. I didn't heed so I had to hit the pavement at the bottom before God got my attention. It's so easy to shrug off the warning signs. There's enough drugs out there to mask the symptoms, so when we do get warning signs, we just shove them under the rug with a pill or surgery. Changing our lifestyle is a real commitment, but God calls us to honor the body He gave us.

We can respect our temples by watching what we eat and I do mean 'watch'. Keep a journal for a week or two of everything you put into your mouth. You won't get too many days into it that you begin thinking before you eat. It's a rude awakening to see large amounts of food in a journal, especially if you consider the poor and hungry around the world. God can cut your appetite as you focus on something more important than food.

As you journal what you eat, also journal the food you throw away. Wastefulness is not Biblical and America is rampant with this throw-away mentality and lifestyle. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes - that's one child every five seconds. It's easy to say, "well, we can't ship what I don't eat to Africa, so what's the difference." Actually you can ship what you don't eat to Africa and any other part of the world God lays on your heart to help provide for the poor and hungry as we are commanded to do.

There are nearly 100 Bible passages dealing with our responsibility of service to the poor and providing for the hungry. If you cut your grocery bill you can be part of this provision and reap the many blessings that come from it.

Proverbs 19:17 says, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will He pay him again."

Isn't that amazing? What you give will be given back to you, so you can spend it elsewhere and still be giving to the poor. What better financial deal can you get than that?

Many years back we decided to not waste anything and to find the best buys on the foods we ate and to eat healthy. Let me say that eating healthy is not a fix-all for health, since a stressful lifestyle will still do much damage no matter how healthy you eat. We began intentional giving to the poor by sponsoring a child. For as little as $38 a month, you will have more purpose in eating less and losing weight to make the world more balanced as we share with those who live on less than a dollar a day. It's a live and visual image before you when you have an actual child and family whose lives are changed because you simply choose to eat less.

Compassion International is the organization we chose because of their overall program of working with the child, family and community. Our cutting back on our grocery bill has not only kept our weight off, it's provided life and hope for many families over the years, and although God has surely paid us back monetarily, there is no reward greater than the words of these children who see you as a gift from Heaven. Not all of our children have been prolific in words, but we feel so well satisfied with what we know we're a part of ... and there's not many things on the shelf out there that can compare to that.

When you develop the self-discipline that comes from self-control, it spreads into other areas of life and it's easy to become debt-free because God will work with a small salary and multiply it in ways that aren't seen on paper or computer program. We chose to be debt-free in the 80's and considered every purchase no matter how small. Our hearts' desire rarely had us choose the "stuff" over the desire to be debt-free so we could provide for those who had so little.

If you only consider the interest being paid on mortgages and credit cards, families would have much to share with the poor ... and still get it all back to spend on themselves. It's one of the mysteries of God. I encourage you to step out and begin that journey today. It will fill your soul and spirit with more than you can imagine ... and definitely more than the taste of any favorite food or gadget. Consider beginning a lending program today: "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will He pay him again."

Related Article: There Is A Way Out

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Flea Products Can Hurt Cats

In light of recent government scrutiny of flea and tick products, the ASPCA is cautioning pet parents to use care when applying any over-the-counter or prescription flea and tick solutions. Spot-on products—topical insecticides applied to the skin—generally kill fleas and ticks by targeting their nervous systems. But if misapplied, these products can have devastating consequences for our furry friends.

“Cats especially are extremely sensitive to insecticides,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA Veterinary Toxicologist and Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services. “Just a few drops of concentrated permethrin, present in many spot-on treatments designed for dogs, can be lethal to cats.” Read the entire article.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fatty Diet Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

New research shows that people who eat a high-fat diet may be more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, especially if their dietary fat comes from animal foods, such as meat and dairy products.

That finding appears in the July 15 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"Our study demonstrated a positive association between dietary intake of total fat, particularly fat from animal sources," researcher Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, PhD, RD, tells WebMD. "The strongest associations we observed were from meat and dairy products."

Stolzenberg-Solomon, who is a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, says previous studies have shown mixed results on whether dietary fat is associated with pancreatic cancer risk.

The new study included more than half a million U.S. adults. When the study started, none of them had pancreatic cancer. Participants completed surveys about their diets over the previous year, which showed fat intake ranging from 20% to 40% of calories. People who ate a lot of fat were "regular eaters of fat from animals," Stolzenberg-Solomon said.

Participants were followed for six years, on average. During that time, 865 of the men and 472 of the women were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Read the entire article.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Knowing Which Product Is Best

Good Guide is a relatively new company that aspires to provide information on the health, environmental and social impacts of common products that we use in our home. They cover over 70,000 products so far in food, personal care, toy and household products category.

The best part is that these ratings and reviews are available online or via an iPhone app and also via SMS/text messaging. You can get information on products by searching on product categories, product names, and also on the bar code.

Example: You’re in a store comparing two green cleaning products (let’s say Seventh Generation Shower Cleaner and Tilex Fresh Shower Cleaner). Text “gguide seventh generation shower” to 41411, and you get a report back showing Seventh Gen’s Shower Cleaner overall score of 8.5 and Health, Environmental and Social scores of 8.0, 9.2 and 8.4 respectively. Text “gguide tilex shower” and you soon get an overall score of 5.4 (8.0 Health, 3.5 Environmental and 4.9 Social).

The website provides much more information about what’s behind these rankings. Fast, easy and helpful! Check out


Sunday, July 26, 2009

CleanStart, Popular Cleansing Product

CleanStart® is a two-week program that helps to cleanse, nourish and rejuvenate the whole body, especially the digestive system. It contains laxative herbs to facilitate the cleansing of the intestinal tract. Soothing herbs in the formula help support cleansing while soothing the digestive system. Herbs that rekindle the ability of the digestive system to properly handle digestion, absorption and waste elimination are also part of this product. Lactobacillus spores aid in re-establishing the balance of these beneficial organisms.

The digestive system is not alone in the waste elimination process. For this reason, herbs for detoxifying the accessory organs (liver, gallbladder, pancreas and the urinary tract) are incorporated into this formula. Blood purification is also an important aspect of body cleansing; hence, reputable blood-purifying herbs are components of the product. Adequate water intake is recommended during the cleansing program to help in waste elimination and to replenish losses.

The Laxatives
Psyllium (Plantago ovata) and fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum graecum) function as bulkforming laxatives. Psyllium contains the highest level of soluble dietary fiber of any grain source, and is the chief ingredient in many commonly used bulk laxatives. The laxative properties of psyllium are due to the swelling of the husk when it comes into contact with water. The resulting bulk stimulates a reflex contraction of the walls of the bowel, followed by emptying.1 Fenugreek seeds contain about 50% dietary fiber and may have a beneficial effect on gastrointestinal transit.

Additional laxative herbs in this formula include cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), Turkey rhubarb (Rheum officinale) and aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis). They help remove toxic debris that builds up in the colon.

Anthraquinones, the active component in these laxative herbs, are absorbed from the large intestine and circulated through the blood. Anthraquinones stimulate the secretion of electrolytes and water from the lumen of the small intestine and inhibit their absorption by the large intestine.2,3 They also stimulate a nerve center in the lower intestine, which promotes elimination.4,5

Soothing Herbs
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and ginger (Zingiber officinale) help to alleviate the harsh effects of the stimulant laxatives without interfering with their beneficial effects. Marshmallow root contains mucilaginous polysaccharides that help protect and soothe tissues. The soothing action of marshmallow in the digestive tract helps reduce irritation.6,7 Licorice is thought to have soothing properties.6

Purifying Herbs
Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis), red clover (Trifolium pratense), echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), burdock (Arctium lappa), Oregon grape (Bereris aquifolium) and couch grass (Agropyron repens) are purifying herbs in this product. They are recommended for periodic “spring cleaning” of the blood. They bind to and neutralize toxins. They individually and collectively purify the blood.8 Their mild diuretic effects help increase urine flow and aid in the elimination of urea and toxins. Sarsaparilla, through its sweat-promoting properties, enhances toxin elimination from the lymph and circulatory systems.9 Burdock is restorative both to the liver and the gallbladder.10

Detoxifying Ingredients
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) are both detoxifying herbs. They have great beneficial effects on the gallbladder and liver, the body’s center for detoxification. Milk thistle is believed to protect and rejuvenate the liver cells. 11

Dandelion improves the flow of bile.12 Dandelion also contains choline, which may account for its liver tonic properties.12 Dandelion has a potent diuretic effect.11

Bentonite and sodium copper chlorophyllin provide additional detoxification capabilities. Bentonite adsorbs toxins, and because it is not digestible, it holds onto the toxins and is eliminated in the feces. Sodium copper chlorophyllin is a green pigment found in almost all plants. It has been used to aid in the removal of various toxins via the liver and remains a key compound for improving the function of essential detoxification pathways.13 Chlorophyllin is a deodorizer, helpful in controlling body odors;14 thus many herbalists use it to complete a digestive system cleanse.

Other Ingredients
Other herbs and ingredients that help restore the function of the digestive system include pepsin, capsicum (Capsicum annuum) and potassium citrate. Pepsin augments digestive secretion of this protein-digesting enzyme. Anytime a deficiency of proteolytic enzymes exists, bits of undigested protein may remain in the body. Capsicum is used to improve digestion and soothe the gastrointestinal tract.

Potassium citrate plays a role in gastric secretion and enzyme reactions, helping to support digestion.

Get more CleanStart® information and purchase at wholesale prices.

1. Leung AY and Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 1996;2d ed.:427-429.
2. Izzo AA, Mascolo N, Capasso F. Nitric oxide as a modulator of intestinal water and electrolyte transport. Dig Dis Sci 1998 Aug;43(8):1605-20.
3. The German Commission E. Monograph. Banz no.228 dated 05.12.1985.
4. Yang WX, Jin ZG, Xu WS, Tian ZS, Guo SD. Effects of sennosides on cellular electric activities in smooth muscle cells of guinea pig taenia coli. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao 1993 Sep;14(5):430-2.
5. Mowery, D.B. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, Inc. 1986:58.
6. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 8th ed. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2007.
7. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd Ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000.
8. Seidel, K.; Knobloch, H.; “Nachweis and Vergllichder antiphlogistischen wirkung antirheumatischer medikamete.” Z fur Rheum. 1989; 55: 566-567.
9. Mowrey, D.B. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, Inc. 1987.
10. Castleman, M. The Healing Herbs, The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicines. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press 1991: 297.
11. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Bisset, N.G. [Ed.]. Stuttgard: Medpharm Scientific Publishers 1994: 121.
12. Murray, M.T. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing 1995: 302.
13. Fahey, J. W., Stephenson, K. K., Dinkova-Kostova, A. T., Egner, P. A., Kensler, T. W., and Talalay, P. Chlorophyll, chlorophyllin and related tetrapyrroles are significant inducers of mammalian phase 2 cytoprotective genes. Carcinogenesis 2005;26(7):1247-1255.
14. Young RW; Beregi JS Jr. Use of chlorophyllin in the care of geriatric patients. J Am Geriatr Soc, 28(1):46-7 1980 Jan.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

12 Vegetables With Most Pesticides

Bell peppers are atop the list of vegetables found with the most pesticide residue; on a single pepper, there were 11 different pesticides found. The peppers also had 64 pesticides, in total, found on the sample.

The tests, conducted by the Environmental Working Group (recently named as one of our Best of Green award winners, as the Best Natural-Health News Website) and published as part of their Shopper's Guide to Pesticides, are part of the group's ongoing efforts to educate the world about the environmental health implications of what we consume and use every day.

View the slide show of the rest of the vegetables.

One Step At A Time

by Donna L. Watkins

Sometimes life throws something so huge at you that you freeze in terror of it consuming your very being. There are many life tragedies that become so painful they are unspeakable. Only our hearts and minds contain the agony and cries to our Father for relief, hope and direction. The belief that life will one day again be "normal" or make sense.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Welcome to Bluebird Cove, Our Garden in Virginia
Psalm 119:105 say, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." In ancient European monasteries, monks walked dark corridors with candles on the top of their shoes, which gave them just enough light for the next step. That's the way God wants to lead us. We try to grasp the entire problem to make sense of it and expect to see the full plan of our way out. We couldn't handle it if we were given it.

Educator Verdell Davis' faith was challenged when her husband of thirty years was killed in a plane crash. She had no involvement in the paperwork of finances and a multitude of other things that her husband had handled, so facing a mountain of letters, bills, and insurance forms she spread them all on a table and threw a sheet over them. Out of sight, out of mind she thought.

She writes: "I knew the monster under the sheets was going to attack me if I didn't attack it first. I sat down and cried tears of anger, frustration, and loneliness. Eventually I raised my head and said, 'Okay, Lord, I'm a fairly bright girl. I'm going to open one envelope. If I can make sense of what's inside I'll open another. If not, I'm putting this sheet back ... and going back to bed.' Even that bit of levity was a little extra light for that particular step. Back then I wanted to already know how to take care of all the details ... feel confident about the monumental daily decisions I had to make ... have some clue that the steps in front of me were surmountable. I wanted the path flooded with light ... yet, it was with small flickers of candle glow that God gently reminded me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness' (2Cor. 12:9). The Psalmist said, "Blessed are those who have learned to ... walk in the light of your presence' (Psalm 89:15). I only needed light for one envelope, one conversation, one decision, and one step at a time."

So do you!

Related Article: Overwhelmed, Fearful, Anxious and Tired

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Statin Alternative in Supplement Trial

A statin drug can be a lifesaver if you're at risk of heart disease, but some people who take the cholesterol-lowering drugs, up to 20 percent by some estimates, have to stop because of muscle pain, the most common side effect.

Nearly 30 million people filled a statin prescription in 2005, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Statins include popular drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor.

Now a new study suggests that an over-the-counter dietary supplement sold at pharmacies and health-food stores may be a workable alternative for people who have statin-related muscle pain.

It seems that when combined with diet and lifestyle changes, red yeast rice supplements can lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels by more than 20 percent without a substantial risk of muscle pain (also known as myalgia), according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"For some people, especially if they've had muscle aching, taking red yeast rice and making lifestyle changes can work as well as a statin," says lead study author David Becker, M.D., of Chestnut Hill Cardiology in Pennsylvania. Read the entire article.

Related Article: Lowering Cholesterol With Fish Oil and Red Yeast Rice

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Outdoor Rooms

The resurgence of the outdoor room is a reflection of yet another new attitude and set of cultural values. The re-emergence of the front porch, screened porch and sleeping porches can be in part attributed to the New Urbanism movement that began more than 25 years ago in an effort to reintroduce traditional urban and architectural patterns as a countermeasure to suburban sprawl. This re-emergence has contributed to the growing “green” message that we must change our living patterns if we’re to maintain a livable Earth.

The green living movement has been instrumental in getting us all to re-examine our connection to nature again. In this paradigm shift, the outdoor room will again play a part in the American daily living pattern.

As we look to ways to live lightly on the land and with a better connection to nature, we’ll optimize the terraces, porches and other extended spaces of our houses. These spaces allow us to acclimate our bodies in ways that we used to and diminish the need to turn down the thermostat at the end of a hot day. And, the unintended consequence could have a significant cultural effect: reconnecting us back to each other and our community.

Want to create an outdoor room or spruce up the one you have? Check out these websites for ideas.

Source: New Life Journal.

The Magazine of Greenville had an article in it on a guy that took two city lots and turned it into a garden with the design of creating garden rooms like you would have in a home. Rooms To Grow

Pet Food Poisoners Plead Guilty

From Healthy Pet Newsletter

For those who watched their companion animals suffer more than two years ago, after the worst pet food recall in American history, the pain is still fresh. A resolution of sorts, however, is near at hand.

Two of the individuals central to the contamination that afflicted thousands of dogs and cats submitted guilty pleas to numerous misdemeanor charges and a single felony charge. The married co-owners, Stephen and Sally Miller of ChemNutra, were originally scheduled for sentencing on June 16th, but that was postponed and, as of the date of this newsletter’s submission for publication, has yet to be rescheduled.

The Miller’s were indicted for their actions of knowingly distributing more than 800 tons of melamine-laced wheat gluten imported from China in more than a dozen shipments. The couple passed off these tainted goods as high-grade protein ingredients, selling it to several of the largest producers of canned pet food and ultimately resulting in the recall of over 150 different brands of pet food.

While the maximum sentence would be two years in prison without parole and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, those who have wished for a punishment equal to the crime may be disappointed by the upcoming decision. Prosecutors handling the case have signalled their openness to leniency, recommending that the court impose a $25,000 fine against ChemNutra, $5,000 each against the Millers, and sentence the Miller’s to three years of probation each.

It is worth noting that ChemNutra is just one of the 20-plus companies required to contribute to a $24 million compensation fund, the outcome of a class-action lawsuit brought by families affected by the recall. How much ChemNutra paid into this fund is not a matter of public record, and may never be made known.

For more information and the address to write the judge, read this article: The Melamine Scandal: Sentencing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Milk Alternatives

Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. They're rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. Almond milk has only about 45 calories in a cup, whereas 2% cow's milk has 122 per cup. Not to mention missing all the hormones and antibiotics in cow's milk and the mucous-producing qualities of dairy products. Making your own milk eliminates the waste of packaging too if you're thinking green.

Organic Vanilla Almond Milk
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups filtered water
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp raw honey

Soak the nuts in water for 12 hours. You should rinse and drain the nuts at least once during this period.

Combine the nuts with the filtered water in a blender. Break all the nuts down but don't let the blender heat the mixture.

Strain the mixture through the nut bag. Add sea salt, raw honey, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.

The milk should keep for about five days.

You can get the nut bag mentioned below at your local health foods store or substitute a sieve.

Source: Happy Foody

I love the taste of almond milk, but I like the calcium factor of soy milk, so I use Tofu Moo most of the time with almond milk being a treat. I like not having a deadline to finish the Tofu Moo since I can make as little as I need at the time since it's a powder. I alter the directions by using half the amount of powder recommended which makes it $.70 a quart. It's also easy to travel with since I can take it in a jar and just add water for those hotel breakfasts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vinegar For Health and Weight Management

Researchers in Japan are reporting new evidence that the ordinary vinegar — a staple in oil-and-vinegar salad dressings, pickles, and other foods — may live up to its age-old reputation in folk medicine as a health promoter. They are reporting new evidence that vinegar can help prevent accumulation of body fat and weight gain.

Tomoo Kondo and colleagues note in the new study that vinegar has also been used as a folk medicine since ancient times. People have used it for a range of ills. Modern scientific research suggests that acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, may help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and fat accumulation.

Importantly, the new research adds evidence to the belief that acetic acid fights fat by turning on genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes. The genes churn out proteins involved in breaking down fats, thus suppressing body fat accumulation in the body.

Journal reference:
1. Kondo et al. Acetic Acid Upregulates the Expression of Genes for Fatty Acid Oxidation Enzymes in Liver To Suppress Body Fat Accumulation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 090609114939008 DOI: 10.1021/jf900470c

Source: Science Daily -

Read more on apple cider vinegar and weight loss.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Woodpeckers Drilling On House

From Birds and Blooms

For the past several years, woodpeckers have pecked large holes in the siding of our house. Owl decoys don't scare them away. Do you have any other ideas?

To the woodpeckers, your house is just another way to make sound. Thy often drill on houses—or trees, utility poles, antennas, etc—to declare their territory to other woodpeckers. The noise also helps them attract and keep mates. In other words, the tapping is the woodpecker’s song.

There are many ways to prevent woodpeckers from drilling on houses. You can scare them with noise or hang shiny strips of Mylar tinsel, aluminum or metal on your house. I’ve even heard of home owners squirting woodpeckers with water from their garden hose. Another strategy is to cover the area with netting or wire.

It takes persistence, but it should pay off when the woodpeckers move on to find more hospitable territory.

Source: Birds and Blooms

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Organic Pet Food or Not

We have sold Life's Abundance pet foods and products for a long time. They have NEVER HAD A RECALL because they use small suppliers for the ingredients and production and it's all in the U.S. Careful inspections keep them from recalls.

We prefer to buy organic foods for our pantry as much as we can and especially for produce, so I have questioned myself for the choice of non-organic pet foods which caused me to do a bit of research. When you look at labels you realize that even those labeled organic are not all organic. I love many of Newman's Own organic products because of all that the company has contributed to good causes. But Newman's Own Organics Premium Pet Food shows these ingredients for the Adult Dog Formula:

Chicken, Organic Barley, Organic Oats, Organic Peas, Chicken Meal, Organic Sorghum, Organic Soybean Meal, Chicken Fat (Naturally Stabilized with Mixed Tocopherols [a Source of Vitamin E]), Organic Brown Rice, Organic Millet, Organic Rice, Organic Flax Seed, Dicalcium Phosphate, Organic Carrots, Chicken Liver, Sea Salt, .... other herbs and supplemental nutrients.

All of the mega-corporation foods have been suspect since the incredible amount of recalls and pet deaths from them. Recently Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM, answered the question of why she doesn't formulate organic products. The response gave me some insight into the pet food industry. I hope it will help you too. There is too much confusion in a marketplace that should be simpler to understand, but then pet foods have always gotten the awful end of the deal with ingredients.

Dr. Jane Bicks on Organic Pet Food

People have been asking Dr. Jane Bicks the following question: "Why don't you have organic food?"

Dr. Jane Bick's Response:

I would love to have an all organic food as long as it fit my mission statement. My mission is to formulate and produce food with the best nutrition I can give to a dog and cat.

Unfortunately, organic meats are still hard to come by. Just go to your supermarket and you will see the small section of organic meats. The price is high because there simply are not enough organic meats produced yet.

I can't find enough HIGH QUALITY organic meats for my formula every week. (We sell millions of pounds of food). You see, the best cuts of the organic meats go to the supermarkets and health food stores.

The left overs (the trims) can be used for pet food. While the meat would be organic it would be the "throw away" parts such as the tendons, ligaments, and visa versa. Muscle meat and organ meat deliver optimum nutrition, not the later. Using organic meats today would violate my mission statement.

If you look at the label of organic foods you will notice that they contain large amounts of carbohydrates. While I believe that carbohydrates are necessary in a well formulated diet, the organic foods use more than I deem acceptable. They have to use carbohydrates to keep the cost down and to add some protein (carbohydrates have protein) because they can't get enough meat protein.

I must have a fixed formula which means that the ingredients (type, amount) will never vary from bag to bag or can to can. Many dogs and cats will get GI upsets if amounts or types of ingredients change. Organic foods have non fixed formulas because they have to take what they can get.

I understand the importance of organic ingredients and embrace it. If you look at my Instinctive Choice you will see that I have a portion of organic chicken. Unfortunately there is not very much CONSISTENT organic chicken to use and unfortunately not enough for my entire formula.

IN SUMMARY: My mission is to give the dog and cat the best nutrition I know how to. Using organic ingredients would be a plus, above and beyond the excellent nutrition. It will take a few more years before organic becomes more available.

Dr. Jane

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why Children Need To Be Outside

Today's children are the first generation ever to grow up isolated from nature. Outdoor time for kids has decreased by more than 50%, while time spent inside, plugged into electronic media has stretched to more than six hours per day.

The consequences of an indoor childhood:

* Increased lack of creativity, concentration and a decline in social skills
* Increased aggression and inability to cope with stress
* Increased use of antidepressants to treat American children
* Doubling of the childhood obesity rate with an incremental $100 billion annual cost to our public health system

Outdoor play offers undeniable benefits:

* Daily unstructured free play improves children’s physical and mental health
* Outdoor experiences build a conservation ethic and concern for the natural world
* Children who play outside are more physically active, more creative, less aggressive and show better concentration
* Outdoor experiences and education enhances children’s ability to learn and retain knowledge

Be Out There encourages families to give children a daily Green Hour®, which helps set a path toward positive physical and emotional well-being. Check out the website for activities and event ideas.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Plastic Bags Banned in Some Cities

There is a sense of shame whenever one forgets a recyclable bag and has to opt for the plastic. And for good reason: plastic bags cause litter, clog recycling machines, take up landfill space and make marine mammals sick.

We often don't think of it, but plastic comes from petroleum, so reducing plastic bags, reduces the need for petroleum. Jared Blumenthal, Director of the San Francisco's Department of the Environment, states the stats: It takes 430,000 gallons of oil to manufacture 100 million bags.

Furthermore, although these bags appear to be "free" with a store purchase, the actual cost of the plastic bags is hidden. San Francisco officials estimated that each plastic bag costs taxpayers 17 cents to remove from streets, parks, gutters, storm drains, and the waste stream.

So when in 2007 San Francisco decided to go after the source and create an ordinance banning plastic bags in large markets and drug stores, it was a big deal. Large supermarkets and drug stores, like Walgreen's and Rite-Aide are now required to use compostable bags made of corn starch, biodegradable plastic, or recyclable paper sacks. As TH readers know, changing consumer behavior, especially when it involves convenience, should be considered a radical initiative in the U.S.

San Francisco Followed Examples Set in Europe, China, India, Australia
The ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, was the first such law in any city in the United States, but not the first one in any municipality in the world. Markets in Florence, Italy, had been charging €0.10-0.20 per plastic bag for more than four years. Ireland, had already taxed plastic bags years earlier and levying bags has reduced the production of plastic bags in that country by 90%.

Other countries, including China, India, Australia, and several other countries in Europe, have also restricted the use of plastic bags. This international movement has gained traction with many cities on schedule to impose fees and bans on plastic bags.

Recently more cities in the U.S. have followed San Francisco’s lead, including Oakland, Berkeley, Boston, Portland, and Los Angeles. The state of Hawaii's Legislature is considering banning the distribution of plastic shopping bags by retail stores and supermarkets.

Some cities opt instead to tax the bags, pouring back the money collected into conservation and recycling efforts. Other cities in the U.S., like Virginia Beach, have opted instead for plastic bag recycling programs. These efforts are often coordinated by the stores, who fear a ban would have a drastic impact on their business during a time of recession, and requires some retailers to collect and recycle plastic bags at their stores.

TH hopes the once ubiquitous plastic bag, along with that well-known phrase: "you want paper or plastic?", are on the way to becoming soon obsolete.


Read about businesses and towns that have Banned the Plastic Bag. It has been estimated that over a million birds and 100,000 marine animals, including mammals and turtles, die each year from plastic debris. Visit Marine Connection

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Personal Care with Essential Oils

Christina Bethke loves essential oils and shares her enthusiasm and knowledge at her website, Nature's Healthy Essence. She has lots of personal care essential oil recipes and hundreds of other recipes and health tips.

There's a free email newsletter subscription offered or you can subscribe by feed. It's a great website. Don't miss the Q&A section. Look on the left navigation bar and you'll find a list of archives by topic. Enjoy Nature's Healthy Essence Personal Care Topics.

Spiritual Defense Against Stress

Here's six steps to defend yourself against stress and related health issues. Each item has a suggested article.

1. Wait To Worry
(Hurry, Hurry, Worry, Worry)

2. Stay In The Game
(Disappointed Dropouts)

3. Take Time For Yourself
(Delighting In Life)

4. Stay Out Of Debt
(Wanting It Now)

5. Fear Not
(The Enforcer)

6. Have The First Laugh
(Laughter As Medicine)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dangers of DEET - Choose Alternatives

Most insect repellents sold today contain the synthetic chemical DEET (short for N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). Major U.S. agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that it is safe and effective if used properly. Other academic studies, however, have found that high exposure to DEET can lead to psychological problems, rashes, dizziness, headache, and nausea, among other symptoms.

Most of the problems with DEET were found in people who applied the chemical regularly, for instance, once a day for five days or longer. DEET has also been detected in waterways.

Many outdoor clothing manufacturers have started selling clothes treated with permethrin to deter mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects. A synthetic version of the pyrethrin found in chrysanthemums, permethrin comes out of the clothing as you sweat. U.S. military research has shown that the pesticide can be absorbed into the skin.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified permethrin as "likely to be carcinogenic" — however, most levels of exposure are not considered high enough to pose a cancer risk.

EPA: Deet Facts
CDC: Insect Repellent Facts
EPA: Permethrin Facts

Source of Article: The Green Read more and get natural alternatives that work. Check out the product comparison tab too.

Make your own spray with this recipe:

5 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Geranium
4 drops Lemon
1 drop Peppermint
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
3 T. water (distilled if possible)

Pour all ingredients into a 2-ounce spray bottle and shake to blend. Spray on exposed areas of the skin. Reapply every 2 hours.

Our FIV Kitty's 13th Birthday

by Donna L. Watkins

In February 2006, our 10-year old cat was diagnosed with FIV. She had been a feral and we had her as an inside cat for about 5 years. She was always a healthy and playful cat so when she got suddenly very sick with a pupil totally dilated in one eye, we were surprised when the vet said she had FIV after testing.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Squeek With Door Prize Kitty Basket
He said the eye problem would probably lead to blindness but he did not expect her to live through the end of the week. We didn't accept that prognosis and took her home to give her 24-hour attention with herbs every few hours and water by dropperful. We used the antibiotics that the vet suggested alongside the natural treatment and in a few days she was responding better and was a tiny bit interested in food.

Well ... the end of that story is that she made a comeback and we have treasured the time with her ever since. I read a lot about FIV and some natural options to keep the immune system strong and she's appeared even healthier than she was before the diagnosis. We've used a variety of immune-building and supporting products but the constant one has been Nature's Sunshine Colostrum and Nature's Sunshine Spirulina, alternating the Spirulina on 3 weeks and off 2 weeks.

We have been VERY particular in her food and decided on Dr. Jane Bick's Life's Abundance because it's a small enough company that they are controlling their ingredient sourcing. They've never had a recall and the way they have their production set up, they certainly never should.

We're thrilled that she's having her 13th birthday today and wanted to share our rejoicing with you and to remind you that there is always hope no matter what a vet says. Research and gather information ... pray and put a plan in place to proceed. You have more vested interest than a vet that sees hundreds of animals each week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dog-Friendly Wildlife Gardening

Is it possible to share your life with rambunctious dogs and still garden for wildlife? Yes, says Kim Winter, NWF’s habitat programs manager, who owns three mixed-breed dogs ranging in size from 30 to 80 pounds.

“It’s trickier to maintain habitat,” she says. “Dogs do destroy plants.” At her home in northern Virginia, Winter takes the “divide and conquer” approach to landscaping: Her pets roam and romp in the backyard while most of her wildlife garden goes in the front.

But you can also successfully mix pups and plants, says Elizabeth Bublitz, a landscape designer and owner of Pawfriendly Landscapes in Golden, Colorado. “Create a Fort Knox effect,” she says, locking up and protecting your plants with raised beds. “Dogs see things differently from humans,” Bublitz explains. “We can use that to our advantage. Most of them see elevated beds as a big wall.” Read the entire article.

Baby Birds - Photos and Story

Baby vertebrates -- from primates to puppies and geese to geckos -- often look quite different from adults, if only because they have different body proportions. In humans, for example, the ratio of head height to body height is about 1:6, while in neonates the ratio is 1:4; this gives the baby human -- or that just-hatched lizard -- a big-headed look that may evoke an instinctive paternal response.

In other words, adults think baby animals are "cute." Baby birds are also quite different in appearance from their parents, whether it be precocial (ready-to-swim) Wood Ducklings that hatch covered with soft, fluffy down or altricial Eastern Bluebirds coming out of the egg helpless and completely naked. View great photos of baby birds at Hilton Pond along with the article.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Water Heaters To Save Energy

In a typical home water heaters account for 20% of energy use, and even more if you live in a warmer climate (average of 35% in California, for instance). And there's a major difference between the options, so making the right choice for your budget/household is important.

The most efficient combustion heaters can save 50% compared to standard models, while a solar water heater could cut 80% or more from your annual water heating bill. And now there are some new, ultra-efficient options. Check out the latest and greatest in efficient hot water heaters. Read the entire article.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ALERT! Health News Readers

During our last poll, the health topic was the most popular one on this website. The Herbs Place decided to do a health news website and I'll be posting to that as part of my job, so I will no longer be posting health news on this website.

You can read health news at The Herbs Place News website. There are options to subscribe to emails, feed, or follow at Twitter.

All of the health archives on this website have been placed on the new website, so it already has 470 posts of information. They will also remain on this website, but new posts will end shortly. There will be some duplicate posting on both websites for a week or so since there were posts already scheduled here. Visit The Herbs Place News website now to subscribe or Follow On Twitter.

Autoimmune Disease Blocker

Research is being done with Hydrangea Root to make a drug that would stop the autoimmune response in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis, and others.

The incredible part of it is that they've isolated an actual cell that goes out of control creating an autoimmune response. Dr Mark Sundrud say, "This is really the first description of a small molecule that interferes with autoimmune pathology ..."

Read the entire article.

Since I've been battling RA for a long time with natural remedies, I'm ready to give this a try. The decision was certainly confirmed a couple days after my initial read of the article, when I was told that Hydrangea Root was on sale this week!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grow a Pest Repellent Herb Garden

Growing your own pest repellents is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy gardening, create beauty and have a functional result that spares you from being the target of pests! This article will start you out on growing such a garden.

Look out for the specific qualities of herbs that repel insects. When selecting herbs, you should be looking for herbs that contain phenols, napthalene, pyrethrum and citronella. All of these chemical components are replicated synthetically or derived naturally in quite a number of commercially available products that repel pests. Here's the list of herbs to consider.

Pet Flea Control Dangers

There's a lot of research going on about flea products and the dangers of them not only for the pet but for humans also. Here's a few links you need to check out:

Flea Control Safety Issues
Are Flea Control Products Safe?
Spot On Flea Killers
Scientific Information

Bailing Out of Consumerism

Three years ago, Mike Foster had everything he thought he wanted: a thriving design business, a new, fully loaded Infinity G35 Sport Coupe, and a 3,100-square-foot home.

"I was living within the comfortable American dream," says the 38-year-old Corona, Calif., resident.

"But I was unsatisfied. It sounds terribly arrogant, but I began thinking, 'If this is all there is, I'm going to be really bored the rest of my life.'"

Mike grew up in California as a Christian and lived what he calls a simple, normal life. "But somewhere along the path, I was indoctrinated," he says.

"I bought into what the world tells us: 'Spending, buying and financing things that we can't afford is the path to happiness.' It simply isn't true."

In what Mike calls his "first act of rebellion against consumerism," he sold his sports car. Read the entire article.

We've been part of Compassion's program for more than 25 years and have been so blessed by it. The letters we receive from our Compassion children warm our hearts and help us keep our priorities in order.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Teen Solves Her Own Medical Mystery

Student diagnoses herself with Crohns disease while studying tissues in school. Although her pathologist was embarrassed, he confirmed her diagnosis. View the ABC News video.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stressed Out, Panic Attacks, Crazy Anxiety?

Stressed Out? Panic Attacks? Crazy Anxiety?

Nutri-Calm is a great vitamin and herbal formula that calms without drowsiness. When we had an herb shop we had many teachers who used this. I guess word got around. It has been a very effective natural product.

You can watch a free pre-recorded webinar at your convenience about this product. Your personal information (email address) will not be shared or sold. The webinar is provided by Nature's Sunshine. The webinar will be available from now through July 10, 2009.

Watch the Nutri-Calm Webinar
Presentation slides (PDF)
Presentation slides (Powerpoint)
Purchase Nutri-Calm at wholesale prices

White Roofs For America

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday the Obama administration wanted to paint roofs an energy-reflecting white, as he took part in a climate change symposium in London.

The Nobel laureate in physics called for a "new revolution" in energy generation to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But he warned there was no silver bullet for tackling climate change, and said a range of measures should be introduced, including painting flat roofs white.

Making roads and roofs a paler colour could have the equivalent effect of taking every car in the world off the road for 11 years, Chu said. Some states, like California, have already even mandated white-roofed commercial buildings. Read the entire article.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Laugh Yourself Happy

Laughter is truly good medicine and it can brighten your spirit, soul and your day because it produces hormones that make you feel good. I keep these two videos in a "keep" folder because no matter how many times I watch them I laugh until I'm sore. You have to love animals to enjoy them as much as I do.

#1 - There are trees that grow in Africa which, once a year, produce very juicy fruits that contain a large percentage of alcohol. Because there is a shortage of water, as soon as the fruits are ripe, animals come there to help protect themselves from the heat and they "drink up" the ripe fruits. Watch what happens next.

#2 - This bird loves Ray Charles and dances away. The further into the video it gets, the more hysterical it is. If only I had that kind of energy and endurance!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Evil of Judging Yourself

by Donna L. Watkins

The other morning I was waiting for a friend to drop something off, so I decided to do some journaling on the front porch awaiting her arrival. I brewed my herbal tea and made my protein smoothie and did my exercise rebounding and took my encapsulated herbs for my program spaced twenty minutes apart and ..... In other words I was busy with my morning routine. Then as I was about to go journal after making myself presentable enough for company, I noticed the litter box and decided to do that.

As I was cleaning it out, the voice in my head said, "You'll do anything to avoid meeting with God." Where did that come from? The devil? Some stored away anger I have with the Lord? Or was it just judging myself for being busy? I've worked hard at slowing down with a focus on BEING, so the Enemy is not too happy about not being able to keep me in a tizzy all day long.

I'm very analytical at times and can judge much too quickly when I don't understand something. As I scrolled through my mental list of options, I heard the soft voice of Papa saying, "You're quick to judge ... even yourself."

Yes, I am a morning person and most of my energy is ready to go in the early hours so I try to get the important things begun early, but I love meeting with my heavenly Father and listening to what He has to say to me in the early hours. The garden is such a holy place early in the morning. For so many years, my quiet times were all about my thoughts and questions to Him. I would ask questions but not sit still long enough without distracting thoughts to hear His answers. Now I realize He has much to say to me if I will, like Mary, sit at His feet no matter how many tasks are on my list.

Ya know, I'd never thought about judging myself. Oh yes, my brain has tried to control my thoughts and actions my entire life, when God wants us to live life with our heart ruling us. God gives us the desires of our heart ... not our minds. And the desires of our hearts are those that He has placed there. Another life lesson in the litter box.

We can control our thoughts (brain). It's been scientifically proven (see the referenced article below), but God has told us we can do this when He says, "Take every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:5). But I never considered those thoughts against myself as judging. Now it's easy to see that they are. And what is the result of our judging? Luke 6:37 says, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." So I processed through rebuking that thought and shut the process down and asked God to forgive me for judging myself. The last part was a new twist for me.

How often do we chide and rebuke ourselves unjustifiably? We are condemning one of God's children as much as if we are judging a brother or sister in Christ. God loves us incredibly well and we would live life in more peace and joy if we joined Him.

Related Article: Taking Thoughts Captive

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website:
© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Herb May Treat Autoimmune Diseases

From by Daniel J. DeNoon

A drug derived from an herb used in Chinese medicine for 2,000 years is the first to target specific cells that are overactive in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and other autoimmune diseases.

The ancient herb is chang shan, from the root of the blue evergreen hydrangea. It's been used in Chinese medicine to reduce fever and fight malaria.

The herb's active compound, febrifugine, is too toxic for use as a modern drug. In the 1960s, U.S. Army scientists created a febrifugine derivative called halofuginone as a possible malaria drug, but further study was soon discontinued.

More recently, halofuginone was found to reduce skin collagen and was tested as a possible treatment for scleroderma. But until now, nobody knew how the drug worked.

That may be because the drug's target -- a specific kind of immune cell called a Th17 cell -- was identified only in 2006. But now Harvard Medical School researchers Mark S. Sundrud, PhD, Anjana Rao, PhD, and colleagues show that halofuginone does indeed inhibit Th17 cells.

That's important, because Th17 cells regulate autoimmune inflammatory responses. That's the kind of immune response that goes haywire in a wide range of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, eczema, and psoriasis.

"Halofuginone may herald a revolution in the treatment of certain types of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases," Rao says in a news release.

Why? Current drugs for autoimmune diseases take a sledgehammer approach. They smash down many different immune responses, leaving patients vulnerable to infections and cancers.

A drug that can specifically inhibit one type of immune response would be a major breakthrough. Halofuginone may turn out to be such a drug.

"This is really the first description of a small molecule that interferes with autoimmune pathology but is not a general immune suppressant," Sundrud says in the news release.

An added bonus: Halofuginone could probably be taken orally, rather than by injection.

Yet the findings by Sundrud and Rao are based only on mouse studies. They must be refined and confirmed in humans before any actual drug is developed.

Sundrud and Rao report their findings in the June 5 issue of Science.

Source: Article

Friday, July 3, 2009

Another Heartworm Success Story

Robin Sockness at Bandit's Buddies is a hero in my eyes. She's been helping dogs recover from heartworm without the chemical treatments and has helped so many dogs get well from so many health issues.

Not only does she work with clients through her website, she also has taken in numerous rescue dogs to get them well and then send them on to their permanent home. She began Bandit's Buddies after her own dog had heartworms and was doomed to die, but being a believer in natural remedies, she and I came up with a program and Bandit checked out negative for many years after until he died of old age.

Her initial motivation was to help other dogs with a natural heartworm program, but she soon was aware that her new part-time business was providing some profits that she could donate to her local shelter and use for natural products that were needed by rescue dogs with health problems.

I just noticed her website has a new success story on a rescue dog with many health issues, one of them being heartworms. It warms my heart to know there's somebody out there making such a difference for animals. Read Read Mack's success story and many others on her website.

Robin shares her rewarding part-time business enthusiasm with others, so if you're looking to help pets and want to learn more about natural remedies, contact Robin from her website. She's always looking for more distributors to help more dogs.

Flowers and Pollinators

From Creation Moments.

Matthew 6:28:
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…

When a flower lives in harmony with and is dependent upon, say, an insect for fertilization, this is known as symbiosis. Creation Moments programs have given many examples of this, and each one defies the notion that these relationships could have developed by chance over very long times. We have another example today.

Chicory spaces out the opening of its flowers through the summer on a precisely timed schedule that is in perfect harmony with its pollinators. Early in the season, chicory flowers nearest the bottom of the flower stalk open first and, as they are pollinated, they close, and the next flower up the stem opens and so on.

There is a remarkable efficiency to this, but there is more: The flowers usually open only in the cool morning hours, not only to protect the delicate flower from the heat of the sun but also because this is the time the pollinating insects are about.

Other flowering plants open their flowers only at night and tend to have white flowers so that they are easily seen in the dark. These are the flowers that are pollinated by night-flying moths.

Such coordinated inter-relationships between the plant and the animal kingdoms could not have developed through accidental situations. They provide more evidence that the wise Creator designed these and all creatures within their relationships from the very beginning!

Dear Lord, in Your design of the creation You have seen to the needs of all living things. Take from me a mind that thinks that I must do for myself what You will do for me, and replace it with faith in Your promises. Amen.

Visit Creation Moments.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Saving God's Green Earth

For hundreds of years, the church championed the beauty of God’s creation, demonstrating in many ways how it points to the Creator. However, over the last century, the evangelical church has let the value of caring for creation slip away. In Saving God’s Green Earth, author and pastor Tri Robinson makes a compelling case for the biblical precedence behind environmental stewardship and shows the church what it can do about this eroding value.

Read Chapter One.
Listen to sermons by Tri Robinson on the environment and stewardship of God's creation.
Read reviews of the book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ginkgo Reduces Neuropathic Pain

An extract of ginkgo biloba shows scientific evidence of effectiveness against one common and hard-to-treat type of pain, according to animal data reported in the June issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).

Dr. Yee Suk Kim and colleagues of The Catholic University of Seoul, South Korea, performed experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of ginkgo against neuropathic pain, a common pain problem associated with herpes zoster, limb injury, or diabetes. Affected patients may feel severe pain in response to harmless stimuli like heat, cold, or touch.

The study provides no evidence as to how ginkgo works to reduce pain. Several mechanisms are possible, including antioxidant activity, an anti-inflammatory effect, or protection against nerve injury—perhaps in combination.

Many herbs and "alternative" drugs are commonly used without prescriptions for a wide range of purposes, despite a lack of scientific evidence for health claims. Ginkgo, one of the most popular herbal products, is widely used as a memory enhancer, among other purposes.

The new study provides the first scientific evidence that ginkgo has a real effect in reducing neuropathic pain. New treatments are needed for neuropathic pain, which does not always respond well to available treatments.

Source of Standardized Ginkgo Extract

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